Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunfeast World 10K Bangalore

On a pleasant Sunday morning of 31st May 2009, Procam International in association with Kingfisher airlines, DHL, Karnataka Government, Nike, Standard Charted bank, Doordarshan, Times of India and other big sponsors had organized the Sunfeast World 10K event in Bangalore. It was an event of exceptional magnitude with over 30000+ number of participants from all over the world, I saw Africans, Japs, Germans and Chinese. Kanteerava stadium, where the event was hosted was brimming with runners of all caste, creed and colours.

We reached the holding area, well marked by banners and arrows by 6:45 in the morning, though the our race was due to start at 8:10. I killed time doing calisthenics preparing for the run, I was aware my body was not in condition despite lot of practice. Just 2 days before damned cold, that turned to mild bronchitis, had invaded me and my windpipe wasn't all that clear. The previous week's Nike Face-off corporate challenge had also left me in pretty bad shape, coz I almost sprinted 3Km which I was not used to. I had lost hopes of breaking my previous two records, was aiming on finishing within an hour. This was my third 10K event and personally the worst among all, the first one I had done it in 49'35" and the second one in 49'12".

The 10K event for elite athletes began by around 7, majority of runners were mainly Africans and Indians, sparsely dotted by a couple of white men. I saw an Indian taking lead when the event started, but he was nowhere in the scene during the finish. We were stupefied to see the Ehtiopian Deriba Merga enter the stadium for his final lap and he finished 10-long-kilometers in 28'13"!!!!!!!! One of the Indian also made it within 30 minutes. This was followed by Wheelchair event and Senior Citizen run. There was ladies elite athlete 10K event after that.

It was nearing 8:10, the stipulated time for our Open 10K event to kick start. We had assembled close to the gate to enter the stadium and finally the gates were thrown open. The crowd was so much that we had to push and shove ourselves to enter the stadium and at that juncture something unusual happened which kinda pissed me, probably others too, off. Even before we had entered the running track, the coutdown started and people already started running and the crowd went frenzy. Few of them jumped over the barricades and started the run and by the time I entered the track, more than a minute had already elapsed.

The running started off in a very jam packed ambience...we were overcrowded on the streets and we had to nudge and dash against few of the runners initially to proceed further. The first water point was at the first kilometer almost at the end of Kasturba road, the water givers were a bunch of lethargic beings who were just unpacking their cartons of water bottles. I actually had to wait for a jiffy before I got the bottle. We then turned towards queen's road, entered cubbon road and ran all the way till Manipal center. By third kilometer, my right leg started aching which was highly unexpected. We happened to see the returning elite lady athletes enroute on Cubbon road.

We turned left on Dickinson road and immediately right on Ulsoor road and did a U turn at the end of Ulsoor road and continued to Kamaraj road on Dickinson road. There were people giving out glucose and water; also were the people who were exhorting the runners in all possible ways. There were cute little cheer girls, there were people with encouraging banners, applauding auto-drivers, protecting police, plethora of photographers and folks of the participants. From cubbon road, we continued to GPO and turned left on Ambedkar road towards Vidhana Soudha.

Running in front of magnificent Vidhana Soudha was an out-of-the-world experience. I had not seen the building in like decades and now I was proudly running in front Bangalore's historical landmark...it motivated me greatly even though I was exhausted. Even the red monument High-court was very inspiring. 2 more kilometers was all that was left from Vidhana Soudha, we entered the cubbon park and ran along the Sheshadri Iyer library before hitting Kasturba road, and ending the race in Kanteerava. I would have almost ran over a camerman who was attempting for a weird angle lying down on the road. When I tread the finish mat, the reading on my stop watch read exactly 60 minutes.

I had mixed feelings - happy to finish it within an hour and sad to see an ocean of people who had finished earlier than me. I collected water and went straight to get the participation certificate. The certficicate counters were herded as though it looked like an exodus. I then head to refreshment counter and I was appalled by what they gave - a crumpled bun, which PCA guys wouldn't feed to stray dogs, an apple and a pack of Sunfeast biscuits. Based on my previous experience I was expecting atleast a bottle of juice or bananas or oranges or some kinda health drink (some UB product!!!). It was disheartening not to receive a finisher's medal, but I realized how difficult it would be to give out medals to 30000+ populace.

I had great hopes of running alongside Deepika Padukone, forget running, I didn't even get a chance to see her. It seems, the Open 10K event was followed by Majja Run - 5K event. As the name says, it was more of fun than a serious sporting event. I heard there were people with weird costumes that probably would have looked like some kinda Halloween march or something. I can't report much on this, for I just saw few passing characters dressed weirdly. participants. Overall the event was very well organized considering the Brobdingnagian participation. Kudos to all the sponsors, all the volunteers, all the organizers and finally all the runners to make this event a grand success.

Unfortunately I can't report this article with photographs, for obvious reasons. However you can find lots of great photographs from my flickr friends here:

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Nike Face-Off Corporate Challenge

This Saturday there was Nike Face-Off Corporate Challenge, 3km running event at Kanteerava stadium. We had to face-off against SAP team in this event orgainzed by Runners for Life, sponsored by Nike. This is a short reportage of the event.



I was there at the stadium well before 6, the stipulated time for us to report at the counter. We had to present our confirmation letter to get our bib numbers and sign the indemnity letter at the Nike counters. We then awaited for the rest of team members, only 44 of them turned up from Sasken (more than 100 had replied to the mail expressing their desire to run, probably they realized that running 3K is more difficult than pressing the reply button on their mail client) and SAP were around 65. There were counters giving out water, bananas and biscuits. Running shoes were lent to the people who didn't have one.


An escort ushered us to Cubbon park where the race was supposed to begin. We were given a batton (a bi-coloured wooden stick, used for Dandiya dance) and were asked to run with that thing, but later, thankfully, they decided against that. We assembled at the entrace gate opposite to Sheshadri Iyer library in cubbon park, this guy from Runners for life taught us how to warm up and explained the rules and circuit. He told us "Go straight till the library, turn right and run till the water point at the next gate then turn back, retrace your path and go straight till the next gate, then turn back and run towards the starting point which is also a finishing point. There will be volunteers to guide you."


After everybody was clear, we split into two teams - Sasken on the left, SAP on the right and the guide shouted "On your mark, get, set, go" and we started off. I overpaced a bit, there was nobody ahead of me till the gate which he had mentioned. Then I had slow down and few guys overtook me. In fact there was nobody to guide us and there was a lot of confusion among the runners. I then paced up a little bit and finished the event in 10'15" ranking second, but our team lost to SAP. Hariharan from Sasken finished first in 9'50". There was water, glucose, biscuits and banana at the finish point.


We came back to Kanteerava stadium where they gave the first 6 fast runners a Nike sipping bottle and certificates to winning team. They photographed us, gave us discount coupons and finished the event. It was a great fun to take part, but I seriously felt the event could definitely been organized better, atleast placing few volunteers with directions in the circuit to avoid confusion and also the speed runners should have been awarded with atleast certificates instead of Nike bottles. Kudos to Runners for Life for organizing the event.


Photocredit: Al Ameen

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Missing Mexico

It's almost six weeks since I left Mexico and I must confess, the joy of home-coming is as much as sadness of departing that beautiful Latino land. It's not the posh shopping-malls or cosy cars on clean broad roads or comfortable life-style or my saving potential that I'm missing of Mexico, it's something more personal and more profound and more closer to the heart that I'm missing. This write up is about all the things I'm missing about Mexico, a land which made me feel at home even though separated by time and oceans from my motherland.

The foremost thing I'm missing of Mexico is the wonderful people of this country. They're warm and welcoming and friendly and merry making crowd. They are fun to be with and a lot funnier to party with. They're good eaters, drinkers and dancers. The thing I liked the most is that you don't need any formal invitation for parties. You can just invite your friends, just make sure that you BYOB and that's it. That way you don't burden the host and you get to enjoy the party too. They're not too much of drama queens, just drink and chill kinda people.

Next comes the food. I'm gonna murder everybody who claim that they've eaten Mexican food, outside Mexico, especially in usa. There is an earth and sky difference between what's cooked in Mexico and outside. The very thought of enchiladas (red tortillas filled in with cheese), carne asada (beef barbecue), pollo en mole (chicken is mole sauce), tacos de trompo (shepherd style pork), alambre de pollo (chicken sautéed with onions and spicy peppers), chorizo con papas (spiced pork with potatos) makes my mouth water profusely. The Friday morning breakfast tacos we used to have at Carlos' Tacos Mañaneros (esp. tacos de machacado con huevos) are something which I miss the most.

Then comes tequila. It's not that tequila is not available here, but it's expensive as gold and tastes like piss. Also it's available only in premium bars and not the local ones we go, so I'm left with only whiskey, rum or beer to drink (I don't like any other drinks). We used to get tequila and beer almost everywhere - convenience store in gas station, super markets, bars and family restaurants, beer drive-ins on every highway and in every village. The best part is they used to pack the beers with the ice and give it for extended chill effect and ice was available in almost every superstore. I remember how we struggle over weekends here if we need ice.

Mexico is one country which I explored more than my very own country. Most Mexicans told me that I know more Mexico than them. From the Chihuahuan mountains in the north to Chiapas in the south, from Los Cabos in the west to Yucatan in the east I explored pretty much of whole Mexico. The place I liked and I miss the most is Zipolite in Oaxaca, the city I liked the most is Guanajuato. I seriously miss those travels which we used to plan and go on the fly, managing with our broken Spanish, conversing with the indigenous tribes, trying out local food, exploring mines and caves, chilling out in crystal blue rivers and getting lost in the mountains.

I miss the opportunities for learning my Spanish. I used to converse with my colleagues in Spanish and used to make lots of mistakes, but they were kind enough to correct them and help me improve the language. Now sometimes I keep talking to myself just not to forget whatever I have learnt. I miss those slangs especially, I guess Spanish is one language where in the slangs flow most fluently with the language. Probably Spanish is the most useful language after English and it definitely was worth learning.

I miss certain things which may seem to be very insignificant for others - the colourful horse-cart for collecting trash, the sound of the corn-peddler's bell every evening, Friday morning chin wagging sessions with Carlos - the taco vendor, the football craze, the windshield cleaners at traffic signals, pretty latina babes on streets, the friendly taxi drivers, my workmates in office, the adventure spots around Monterrey - Chipinque, La Silla, Matacanes and La Estanzuela.

The list of missing things about Mexico is endless. Viva Mexico Cabrones!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

BMTC Bus

I just happened to board a very crowded BMTC bus on Saturday night and here are my observations.

The BTS bus is one of the most unique creations on this planet. It's singularity lies in the fact that, it can consume people infinitely, somewhat on par with black holes (though black holes don't consume people). When I saw the bus approaching towards the bus station, I felt that it was as impossible as to raise the dead, to board the bus. For the bus was overloaded to such an extent that there were people literally hanging out of the entrance. We use a term for that...footboard, "Maga ivattu footboardalli bandhe!" is a common phrase which translates to "Son, I came hanging out of the bus today!"

But the best part is the kindness and the support you get from the people at the footboard. Each one of them is a gentleman, they get off at every bus station and make way to others who are boarding the already jam-packed bus. So they pushed me inside the labyrinth of human beings, so closely attached to each other that even a mosquito would suffocate and die in that heat. The whole place smelt of sweat and spirit, since people were gettin home after a busy Friday.

This is one place where the Netwon's first law of motion (Statement: An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.) fails miserably. I was in an inertial standing state and the driver applied the brakes as hard as he could, so I was acted upon by an external force of deceleration and that force failed to even shake me. I was so well packed and protected by the crowd.

Even though the bus was full to brim, the bus stopped at every station where not a single person alighted, but instead the bus got packed more and more. The weak hearted ones like me stepped in and regulars were hanging outside on the footboard. Probably it's a lotta fun to hang on footboard, but the BMTC drivers maneuver their buses as though they're driving F1 cars on pot-hole filled Bangalore roads. The seated people were the luckiest in the lot, with breezy windows open beside them they were the comfiest among the crowd.

Conductor of the bus is one helluva personality whose penetration skills are to be highly appreciated. Even in such a crammed bus, he can move around and sell tickets with an awe-inspring deftness. There were few drunkards who kept screaming at him for stopping the bus and issueing the tickets outside, but he was so ignorant about those curses that the clamour died down automatically after sometime. And when he doesn't have the required change to give back, he scribbles something on the backside of the ticket, that closely resembles some runic alphabet which only he can decipher and handover the right change at the end of journey.

It was a nice experience to be inside the infernally jam packed BMTC bus, without any worldly pleasures for few minutes. It's a harsh reality that every lower bourgeoisie class have to use such crowded, chaotic and comfortless means of commutation to earn their breads.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Shoba-Ashok Wedding

Mallesh, one of my best friends had invited me to attend his sister Shoba's wedding at Hubli. It was a very special wedding for me for various reasons. For the first time ever, I happened to attend a Lingayat wedding, it was so different and much simpler than the Brahmin ones. Secondly I tried doing some wedding photography (second only to Ernesto's wedding), I've tried to keep most shots as candid as possible.

Let me try to brief the wedding in as few words as possible. It seems on the previous night the couple was bathed with turmeric, this ritual I missed for I arrived only the day of wedding. It started with the actual wedding ritual where the bride and groom are made to sit facing each other accompanied by their parents on their sides. The priest made them sprinkle water, throw flowers and rice on coconut and betel leaf arranged in a silver plate. Exchange of garlands was followed by the most important ritual of tying the thaaLi across the bride's neck (that explains the etymology of the phrase tying the knot). After that the groom puts vermillion and then the ring on the toe of bride's feet. This event was followed by a short period of inactivity during which breakfast is served. Wedding reception followed next, where the entire crowd threw vermillioned rice at the couple as a mark of blessing after which couple received all their relatives on the raised stage.

This was followed by lunch which consisted of delicious jolada rotti, chapathi, badane kaayi yeNgaai, payasa and other delicious dishes.








Saturday, May 16, 2009

Market Analysis

This is an interesting story the guide at Cervecería Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma (CCM) told us when we took the tour. It seems initially there were two different cervecerías (beer breweries), Cuauhtémoc and Moctezuma. Just the way it happens in our IT industry, Moctezuma suffered losses and Cuauhtémoc acquired and saved the drowning beer industry.

Now Moctezuma had their own brands of beers and Cuauhtémoc had their own too and after the merger, things were going smooth. Moctezuma had one eponymous brand which the CCM market analysts realized that it's sales were kinda going down for unknown reasons. The superficial analysis didn't help and the marketing guys had to do some technically profound field research and they did so.

There were analysts not just sitting in the CCM office, but they were sent to some chosen bars where Moctuzema beer was sold. Analysts disguised themselves as waiters and started serving the beer esp. Moctuzema. So the drunkards ordered their first beer, second, third, fourth and fifth. After the fifth one, somehow people couldn't order the beer properly...their brains had lost control over their tongues and the whole scene of beer ordering looked like this:

una moctuzema por favor
una mas moctuzema por favor
joven una moctuzema por fa
Oye joven dame una moctuzema por favor
una moczema por favor
Discuple senor, una mozema por fa
una mo...mo...mo...a chinga! mo mo modelo por favor

translation:
one moctuzema please
one more moctuzema please
boy one moctuzema please
Hey dude gimme a moctuzema please
one moczema please
Excuse me sir, one mozema please
one mo...mo...mo...F*#&$! mo mo modelo please

Now as u see, after fourth beer people could no longer say the beer name properly, worse still, in the end they started ordering Modelo which is another beer from a different beer brewery.

Now that they found the reason for the decline in sales, CCM management called for a board meeting and it was decided to rechristened to "Indio". Definitely with just three simple syllables, even after their 15th beer people could easily say...

Joven un pinche Indio por favor (Dude one f*$&ing Indio please)

Glorieta de seis huevos

Before I forget some of the funny things about Mexico, I better make a note of it in my blog. This is one such thing, which my friend Nacho told when I went with him to Nevado de Toluca.

We were passing through the city of Cuernavaca and we had to cross this roundabout which bore the name "Glorieta de Emiliano Zapata" (Emiliano Zapata roundabout). It's a huge roundabout with 4 main roads joining and in the center is located a stone monument of Emiliano Zapata proudly sitting on his horse. I noticed that there were traffic lights which were switched off, there were cops who were lazy and lethargic to control the traffic and crossing the roundabout seemed to be a Herculean task. Nacho told me the Cuernavacans call the roundabout "Glorietas de seis huevos" which translates to "Six balls roundabout".

Though I could guess it partially, I asked him why so. He said "Dos huevos de Zapata, dos del caballo y dos de algien tienen que tener para cruzar este glorieta!" which translates to "Two balls of Zapata, two of the horse and two that someone need to have to cross this roundabout!"

Playing Safe

I was counting on photography as an alternative during recession times, but then I realized that it was not all that safe profession to opt for, especially when people won't have money to burn. Finally I decided upon the safest option, all are welcome as long as you pay the bill.


Monday, May 11, 2009

Janapada Loka

Janapada Loka (translates to Folk World), is located on Bangalore-Mysore highway on the outskirts of Ramanagara. It's a 15 acre area containing museum, photo gallery, demo village, lake and open-air amphitheater. The entrance tickets are priced Rs. 10 and the photography permit inside the museum costs Rs. 100. The garden is well maintained with lots of flowering plants and bamboo trees as a result of which there is a healthy fauna presence inside. I was told that every second and last Sundays of all months will have folklore performance and the place is closed on Tuesdays.
























It's a good idea to start visiting the area from Lokamatha Mandira, the museum which has got a great collection of various materials used by the villagers in their routine - cradles, measures, ladles, vessels, grinding stones, storage jars, knives and many other tools. This tool called "kavae", made of coir rope for pelting stones to great distances made me nostalgic, I remember when I was a kid my uncle used to make it himself and I used to take it to areca plantations near Thirthahalli to chase the monkeys pelting stones with that. Me being born and brought up in the countryside of Karnataka, I was already aware of most of the tools that were put on display in museum. There were beesaNiges (fan to be used by hand), beesogallu (grinding stones which my granny used to powder the rice and wheat), marada toTTilu (probably I was made to sleep in the wooden cradle when I was a baby), shaavige vottu (an wooden machine used to make vermicilli, I used to love pressing vermicilli in that machine...it was fun and the result was delicious), eeLigemaNe (a huge cutting-cum-coconut-shredding tool), pingani jaadi (ceramic jars my granny used to store pickles for ages) and so many other tools which really made me go back in time.
































Next to the museum is Chitrakuteera, a circular building with the outer circle having photogallery of various dance forms of Karnataka and the inner one briefs the life of Mr. H.L. Nage Gowda, the founder of Janapada Loka. There are photographs, scriblings and writings, tapes and recorders, books written by him and other sundries that belong to the honourable founder. Loka Mahal, the other museum has life size Yakshagaana, Halakki, Goravayya dolls and various art forms like Ganjeefa art and Togalu gombe (puppet dolls) are on display.


























Next to Loka Mahal, there is a pottery village where there is a furnace to bake the pottery works made by local artists. There is also a room full of fisherman's tool, various forms of tools and nets. Shilpamala, has a courtyard full of sculptures and a Ganesha temple in the center. Opposite to which is the Loka sarovara, the artificial lake with boating facilities. On the otherside of the bank is located a nicely built open air theatre. There were few families of playful monkeys, which formed a good subject for my photography. The session ended with JoLada rotti oota in Kamat Loka Ruchi.








Saturday, May 09, 2009

ITP Bangalore

International Tech Park Bangalore, at a very first sight, is an awe inspiring concrete jungle with gigantic buildings enveloped by shiny blue tint glass panes, artificial waterfalls, lush malls selling stuff at exorbitant prices, proud and pitiable techies flaunting their laptops, cool gizmos and plasticky smiles, restaurants with diverse menus but bad food. Though it has the word Bangalore in it's nomenclature and google map shows it in Bangalore, it's no way located in or near Bangalore. It's a place where everyone, except the bricklayers, have made their fortunes - the builders, the investors, the employers and the employees.

Today was my virgin visit to ITPB and the experience, as expected, was not too pleasing. I took the BMTS vajra bus service from Vijayanagar, though it was air conditioned and dotted by few IT babes...one of them was smoking hot in her sloppy saree showing off her deliciously voluptuous curves...the journey was definitely not worth 2.5 hours of derrière resting. The bus driver, probably, loved his job so much that he took the longest possible route to reach ITPB from Vijayanagar. IPod kept pumping out heavy stuff in my ears and the book, Climb was advancing like a snail. I was in no mood for anything - music, book, babes or even for dozing off.

Since it was my first visit, I had to undergo the customary entrance procedure for getting the visitor's badge. The scene closely resembles a queue at a ration shop when kerosene is distributed or a queue at a public tap when water is supplied. Just that people were somewhat more polished and they were not calling names. When my turn came, the lady at the counter gamme a form to fill and with all gentlemanliness I requested her, "Can I borrow your pen please?" I don't know what was so offensive in that, she gave an ugly grimace and reluctantly handed over her pen, as though I was never going to return that pen again. She asked me for my mobile number, I told her I didn't have one. She asked me how to contact me in case I lose my card, I assured her that I would safeguard it and left, after surrendering my office badge.

My destination was "Discoverer" building. For the uninitiated, the buildings in ITPB are creatively named Discoverer, Navigator, Innovator etc. though nothing so creative happens inside. In the basement are located restaurants and the aforesaid mall, in the courtyard you find techies sipping their daily dose of caffeine and sniffing in tobacco to stimulate their numb brains. Then I enter the office and wish the known-few a "Good morning" with a smile and their response seemed to speak out, "We've lost everything in life and this sonna-bitch says good morning huh? Mind your own goddamn business!" Yeah! Seriously...few of them didn't bother to respond and few of them repeated my words not even looking at me.

And then the work started, we worked as though the sky is gonna fall the next moment, as though a bomb is gonna explode the moment we stop working, as though the client is gonna slaughter us if we don't send the report before 11:17:32, as though the manager is gonna go crazy if you don't answer his mail within 2.34 seconds of it's arrival!!! There is no compassion, no smile, no humanity, no greetings, no life - not a thing.

When I went out for lunch, I overheard a few conversations of the people around and the only thought that came to my mind was, "How lifeless are these mortals!!!" Let me brief give an excerpt of what I heard:

In the lift:
"Hey did you send your excel sheeta? That one which Mark was asking with daily IPT status?"
"No ya...after lunch I'm going to send that thing along with IT status also"

In the lobby (over the mobile):
"ICL is released...it had too many issues but still we're done with release Rashmi. Then Suresh chickened out to answer why it had too many issues and I got bashed up in the meeting. Yeah yeah, release is finally done...mainteance starts from next week"

In the lawn:
"Sad, I need to work this Saturday ya...I worked last Saturday too"

In the restaurant:
"When MAC recieves data blocks, it starts a timer"
"OK"
"And then it starts a counter too, to keep count of number of retries"
"Fine"
"Then it unpacks the data and processes it and pushes down to layer 1, but at the interface, we're having some problem. The pointer is getting corrupted."
"Damn...that's kinda difficult to debug right?"
"Lauterbach is driving me crazy"
"The curry is good na?"

In the pantry:
"This cell search algorithm is somewhat slow maga. It's lapsing some extra frames."
"Prashanth is acting real bossy huh! He was asking status every hour kano."
"DSP is responding too slowly and the CQ issues are being raised at the rate of Indian population"

In the loo:
"The W3T board is not booting man, the revision 2 variant is OK, but revision 3 is crashing"
"Did you try with Monday's build? The 18.9 one? I guess it should work fine on rev 3"
"I did, but it still had some boot issues"

To use the most cliched IT term, "By end of day" I was exhausted and depressed by this ITPB. It was too geeky, too boring, too not-my-kinds for me. I thought of tell every damn person "Get a Life!!!" There are too many nice things in life people...trust me. It's not just your customers, your deadlines, your releases, your boards, your databases, your issues, your mails, your computers, your technologies...think of your family, your friends, your passions, your hobbies, your health. I know none of the latter ones give you money, but I seriously suggest you guys to, atleast once a while, to get out of your work-is-everything mentality, talk about things more meaningful, more aesthetic and more lively. Try this out once...get out of ITPB at around 4, go home at sunset, if possible watch the sunset, go out for a short round of running or cycling or swimming, have a nice dinner with your family and hit the sac early...and tell me how it feels.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Hebbal Lake

Hebbal Lake is surely a preferred location for nature photographers in Bangalore. Most of the Bangalore photo groups in flickr are crowded with some mind blowing photographs of this place. I happened to go there yesterday and captured some photographs during dawn and here I'm sharing them.