The Anatomy of two Classical Inspirational Songs

I wonder sometimes what makes a song classical.

In my definition, what makes a song classical is that it can give you Goosebumps when you listen to it even after decades.

What makes the difference ?

  • The Singer
  • The Music
  • The Lyrics
  • The Artist
  • The Cinematography
  • … ????

Two songs from the Tamil movie ‘Nizhalgal’ continues to be a source of inspiration to me even after three and half decades.

They are

Idhu oru Ponmalai

Madai Thirandhu

I can go back to these songs any day or in any state to lift up my mood

In some ways the above two songs marked the arrival of a generation and possibly laid the foundations for the transformation of a generation that was possibly rooted in traditions.

Also, the first song cemented the place for  Vairamuthu (Incidentally this was his first song as a lyricist), who cemented his place as one of the gifted poets for the people of Tamil Nadu

The second song in my view marked the transformation of Vaali, a established veteran by that time, who adapted himself to match the generational shifts happening around that time.

It is next to impossible to separate out any of the five elements mentioned above to dissect what stays with me. However , remove the artist and the cinematography( I think they have been captured pretty well), the song stays with me.

Now comes the tough part. It is impossible to remove the singer (by SPB), the Music  (The Maestro) and still enjoy the song.

However, what makes me go back to the song are the following immortal lines

Isaikkena isaigindra rasigargal raajjiyam enakke dhaan (இசைக்கென இசைக்கின்ற ரசிகர்கள் ராஜ்ஜியம் எனக்கே தான்) from Madai thirandhu

The above lines, for me the underlying philosophy is ‘Enjoy What you Do’

and

Vaanam Enakkoru Bothi Maram
Naalum Enakkathu Saethi Tharum
Oru Naal Ulagham Neethi Perum

(வானம் எனக்கொரு போதி மரம்

நாளும் எனக்கது சேதி தரும் ஒரு நாள் உலகம் நீதி பெரும்) from Idhu Oru Ponmalai

The above lines, for me the underlying philosophy is ‘Eternal Hope’.

In both cases, I have to say it is the lyrics which makes these songs immortal and I bow down to both the poets for having the power to lift a soul. SPB and The Maestro also are inspiring, but here I feel it is the words.

That is my view.

I do not think it is fair to separate out the singer, lyricist, composer, but I thought I will take a chance and share what brings me back to these songs and my verdict in this case is the lyrics.

What do you think ?

 

Zunder

 

Sayonora – Curd Rice ?

“The possessions themselves were not the problem, it was my relationship with possessing.”
― Chris Matakas, #Human: Learning To Live In Modern Times

curd_rice

A major portion of my identity has been associated with Curd Rice. I am not sure where and how the association started, but it generally has been that way. I hear my Periamma (Mother’s elder sister) always saying that I am a person who is generally satisfied with curd rice in life. When I was working,(Nowadays I am in deep contemplation, an euphemism for laziness and out of work) all parties and events that I attended generally had curd rice. Any functions that I am invited to, the hosts took extra care to ensure that I enjoyed the curd rice and the only question that I am asked by them was ‘How was the Curd Rice’ ? I have had instances when my mentors of long years left a curd rice in my desk, even when I was not at the desk (I used to do management by walking around) and  couple of days back when my previous boss and mentor called me to have lunch, he had by default ordered curd rice and made it to a point to say “for you curd rice”! I also remember when sixteen years back when I was being marketed to my wife’s family, my folks telling them , here is a person who just needs ‘curd rice in life’. My wife did realize it very early that my folks had done a good sales job and repeatedly makes it a point to state,  that they camouflaged a Sappatu Raman in the pretext of a guy who is only satisfied with curd rice. Well, I am a Rama in something! and to preserve domestic harmony, I dare not talk about the sales job they did on us! Out of the many things I remember about curd rice , my mother always used to chide me funnily with “Muttaluku Moru Satham” (Dumb heads eat Curd Rice/Butter Milk Rice) when I was young and was not living up-to her expectations in getting good marks in any exams. I have not lived up-to her expectations in anything generally and I commend myself on my consistency.

Well, I love Curd Rice. I can possibly write full length essays on the benefits of curd rice , butter milk and derivatives, but I will reserve them for a later day. There are a variety of curd rice eaters and the top three categories are something like this. Please feel free to skip this section, if you are one amongst the species who eats curd rice with a spoon. In my humble opinion, you are yet to experience bliss.

  • Grinders – They like their curd rice fully crushed. They will first crush steam cooked rice with their hands till it reaches the form of a paste, then mix curd, do a second level grind and examine it with their hand to check if their grind has reached the necessary softness. After that they carefully craft out a hole in the centre to accommodate the Sambar and  go inside out on with a proportion of Sambar and Curd Rice.
  • Mixers – They like their curd rice with appalam/pappadam. There is a difference between Appalam and Pappadam. These folks, get the rice, spread them out a bit , get couple of appalam or pappadam and crush it into their rice first, then have the curd, then any of the other stuff like Sambar/Pickle, mix all of them patiently and then start gulping it in delight.
  • Finishers – I love these folks a lot and have a lot to learn from them. Be it a banana leaf or a plate, once you they get to curd rice , they will make a complete sweep of everything that is left in the plate or banana leaf and ensure the plates or the banana leaves become re-usable without cleaning. Their finishing act of putting each one of their fingers into their mouth and dry them up completely. The planet needs these folks. Save water.

I belong to the Mixers category , but I envy the finishers category as they are the real folks who know how to enjoy life.

OK. Where am I heading with this ?

My sister and one more close friend from the beginning of this year, coerced me into a series of self-realization programs which had the prerequisite of not eating many milk based products for a period of 60 days and there began my disassociation with my beloved curd rice. I did manage to complete those programs and though did not get to realization in any form (Mea Culpa), have noticed that my longing towards curd rice is gone. I have reached that dangerous state of being indifferent to my beloved curd rice.  There is no longer that urge of needing it. It is like this. If it is there it is ok, if it is not there it is absolutely fine! For a person who used to get laughed at for eating bread with curd ( my argument has been if I can eat bread with milk, why not eat it with a derivative of milk), the craving towards Curd Rice has completely vanished. I do not know if it is a temporary or permanent state.

Something is not definitely right.

Till the time I figure that out, Yeh Dil Mange Moru !

Stay tuned and Have Fun.

Zunder

Mindfulness, Meditation

I am not qualified to talk about it. The moment I close my eyes for five minutes I doze off. I checked why that happens and it is attributed to a lack of self-awareness. I would have to accept I was humbled. I had always thought, if I get into sleep just after closing my eyes for five minutes, I was like Arjuna, who was also Gudakesa, the one who has conquered sleep. I think I misinterpreted. I think sleep has conquered me.

buddha_meditation

There seems to be a wave of mindfulness and meditations related articles, workshops, courses, practices everywhere. Even organizations are orienting their people into this kind of courses and workshops. Google has a program called ‘Search Inside Yourself’ and that has transformed itself to https://siyli.org/

I think the below explanation given by Randy Komisar in the book Uncertainty by Jonathan Fields gives a good overview. He states

“It’s a process of stripping myself bare of all of the pressures, all of the barnacles that accumulate around you every day as you interact in the world – the pressures, the expectations, the ego, the things that ultimately make your vision unclear. And every day, my meditation is about moving those, getting absolutely clearer in that moment and open, allowing myself to open backup, to walk out into the world and to have it happen over all again”

Personally, when done regularly I could see the ‘Daily Pause’ making me more aware, involved in everything I do and rejuvenates me. It could give you a slight peek into ‘Hey you are not your thoughts’ and if you start delving deeper regularly, I think you would possibly get into some dangerously productive zones.

The question of ‘Can I inculcate this into my daily fast paced life’ may arise in everyone. I am not qualified to answer that and I found my friend and mentor Dr.Vinay offering an experiential course on this very subject. The details of the two day course can be found at http://www.catalign.in/p/mindfulness-on-go.html. Please note that neither Vinay asked me to advocate about this program nor I am qualified to write about what transformation Vinay can bring. In my personal experience of working with Vinay, all I can say is that he held a mirror to my own self, which at times I found difficult to digest and when I did slowly digest I felt better. See if you want to give it a go. I can assure you it is worth the time and money spent.

Let me figure out why I got the interpretation of Gudakesa wrong!

Enjoy Maadi.

All the best.

 

 

 

Unusually Original.

 

world_canvas

I missed out two weeks posting my weekly compilations and no one missed it . I thought I will share some original thoughts that accidentally crossed my mind. It is an extremely unusual phenomenon, this original thoughts!

Lost Identity

I have a terrible history with mobiles . The earliest one that I had was rinsed pretty well in the washing machine, the subsequent one lost in an auto. I was using a Samsung Galaxy note II for at least a couple of years , I broke the glass albeit accidentally and managed to break the refurbished glass again accidentally. Accidents seems to be repeating. I could not use the display and I did not have a spare at home. Since there was no one dying to reach me, I thought I could live without a mobile for couple of days. Now comes the interesting part. Having want to take advantage of the VC funded discounts offered by online giants I placed an online order. Since I needed a OTP(One Time Password) to use my credit card or debit card and since I did not have my phone, I placed a order for a new mobile by COD (Cash On Delivery) on Flipkart. They said they will take three days for the delivery and I had no problems with it. But the third day , I get a mail on the third day saying since I had placed a COD order of around Rs 15,000 they had to verify my purchase and since they could not reach me on my mobile they have cancelled the order!. I thought it was ironical . I had broken a mobile and I placed a order for a new mobile and since they could not reach me on my mobile, I could not get the new mobile !! I knew I had hundred other ways, but I thought I will just take the straight line path !!.

Technically, I have been an early adopter of Flipkart and the GMV of my buying over years would have been significant enough for them to ascertain if I would have paid the COD or not, but I guess their recommender systems may not be picking up stuff like this yet !! I am sure they will catch up. I love them. May be they should run this as a competition in Kaggle or give me a go at their recommender systems!

One interesting observation is that the mobile did not miss me and I did not miss the mobile, but my identity ceased without that.

Machiavelli revisited

As posted sometime back , I take my morning walk in the University of Agriculture campus. I cannot stop the flow of thoughts that rush at me and some of those thoughts bring a smile to my face. There are a lot of people feeding stray dogs in the campus. The dogs know these people and when I pass by these dogs, I somehow get a feeling that they are significantly apathetic towards me and the Machiavellian quote of ‘If you do not have status in society, even a dog won’t bark at you’. I smile to myself.

Clapping Hands

I generally wonder to myself when attending conferences and seminars ‘Hey Zunder, how long will you be clapping and cheering everyone like this. When are you going to take the stage ?’. My lizard brain immediately assures me ‘Hey Zunder, do not think like that, you are fine’ and to reassure the good affects of clapping I get a message on whatsapp(pasted below) which reassures the good effects of clapping

Amazing Benefits of Clapping :

  • “Clapping” a Simple Striking of Hands but it’s much more than you Think.
  • Normally People clap to Appreciate others for their Good works and achievements or when they are in mood of Joy.
  • People also Clap while Singing songs, Bhajans, and Prayers at Holy places.
  • It is Scientifically proved that Clapping is very effective Exercise to cure many Human Diseases.
  • Clapping activates the Receptors in the Palms and cause activation of the large area of the Brain which leads the improvement in Health.
  • There are 39 different Acupressure points for almost all Organs on our Palm which are activated by Clapping and this action improves Your Health slowly but effectively.
  • Daily 10-20 minutes of Clapping in morning keeps You Fit and Active.
  • Clapping is an effective Medicine for the Person who suffers from Digestive Disorder.
  • Best Cure for Back pain, Neck pain and Joint pain.
  • Gout is a common problem with Old age People and can be easily cured by Clapping.
  • Helpful for Patient of Low Blood Pressure.
  • If someone is suffering from any Heart and Lung related disease then Clapping plays important role in curing these diseases also.
  • Clapping removes the obstacles from the Main and Collateral Channels and keeps You Fit and Healthy.
  • Children that practice clapping exercise daily make only few Spelling mistake and are Hard worker than others.
  • It improves their Handwriting.
  • The whole abstract of above given points is, Clapping sharpen the Brain of the Children.
  • Clapping increase the Immunity of the Person which provides the Strength to the Human body to fight against Diseases.
  • So clap clap clap

The lizard brain seems to be a clear winner.

Humanity in Calamity

The Chennai floods did affect me in some way and though I did not lift a finger except for sharing some great people’s acts. My sister called me and told why I am not going to Chennai and helping people out there. If she was not outside the country, she would have gone out there and that is her commitment towards the place called Chennai. Quite frankly, that is the only form of helping I also know to do or rather I can do, but when I checked through my few sources, I was told , please do not come here and create well intention’ed nuisance. We have more than enough people to help us see this through! What a response and I cannot present an easier excuse to my sister. I have to salute the spirit of everyone in Chennai and other places who have repeatedly demonstrated that humanity shall remain the ultimate winner. Apart from humanity, there is one clear entity repeating itself everywhere. The mighty Indian Army. Karma Yogis. No better example.

However, some of the below questions keep coming back to me

  • Do I have to show humanity only when calamity strikes ?
  • Will I show humanity when calamity strikes ?
  • Have I long lost my day to day civility and humanity ?
  • When did I last smile or lose myself in laughter with my own family and friends ?
  • Do I have wait to lose a loved one to proclaim how great they were , which any way they cannot feel or hear ?
  • Why am I not practicing ‘Carpe Diem’?

How will you measure your life ? asked Clayton. M. Christen in his classic HBR paper

I am afraid, I am seeing a sociopath in the mirror.

Books and Podcasts

I shall possibly come back with a separate post regarding this section, but somehow I stumbled onto a rather healthy overdose of good books and discovery of amazing podcasters. I am just listing them below and I do hope to get back with snippets of wisdom from these books and podcasts

Books

Podcasts

I have substituted music for couple of days in a  week with listening to podcasts during my morning walk and I find them very intriguing, inspiring and invigorating. You could download the pocketcasts podcast app or any other podcast app of your choice from play store and subscribe to these podcasts. For iPhone, there is a channel in iTunes for all of the below podcasts.

If you are smiling, frowning or cursing, do not worry. They are perfectly normal natural reactions.

Just press like or share or shout  or ignore . All are acceptable.

Stay Tuned and Have Fun.

Self Reliance – Demonstrated. Nearex. Ready to Scale

mayank arun

This post is a slight deviation from my occasional ramblings and the weekly copy and paste. This is about two individuals who have inspired me , continue to inspire me and thousand others. To rephrase Shakespeare, the saying ‘Age does not wither them nor custom stale their infinite variety’ holds true for them .It is very difficult to write in a page about these individuals who possibly shall occupy a book, but that has to wait for my next e-book , where I expect to increase the number of readers by 100%. My first e-book fetched around 70 readers :).

I am talking about Mayank Sharma and Arun Tanksali, the founders of nearex. I was incubated into my working life by Mayank and a significant portion of my erstwhile career, I spent with Arun. I had the good fortune of working with other great individuals whom I shall write about in a later day.

I was lucky enough to be called for the opening of their Bangalore office on the 6th of November 2015. Very few places I walk in and get a feeling of possessiveness. There used to be my now non-existent home at Chennai, then the office(s) of two decades that I retired from and possibly this place, when I walked into. I had no reason to feel like that, but feelings are feelings and I felt it even more strange as my contribution was zilch.

It is just not that simple to give a key take away when writing about how people have touched your lives. I find it hard to compress twenty one years of learning’s and observations into a twitter like heading, but if I have to give, I will give it as ‘Self Reliance – Demonstrated‘. Period. Period.

These two guys epitomize what Emerson says in his essays on Self Reliance

What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is the harder, because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it. It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.”

Quite simply, they are able to live this way is what amazes me. I think all their product ideas also have been mostly like that and nearex also falls in that category. They work hard in solving  hard ‘real’ problems and you can take a look at what their product does by clicking here. As Matt Barrie , founder of freelancer puts it, courtesy hacktheentrepeneur,Every company needs to solve a problem, which you can compare to the function of a pain killer as opposed to a vitamin. When we have a toothache, we want a painkiller, not a vitamin, and we’re willing to pay for it.”

Nearex, in my humble view is a pain killer and in my very humble view is possibly on its way to becoming a zero to one company as defined by Peter Thiel in his classic Zero to One.

A final note about this post. All views expressed in this post are mine and does not have the acceptance of these two gentlemen, who are going to be mostly after my life on why I wrote this post.

I told Arun, that I will work for nearex free,he refuted in his characteristic way and said something which translated to “Zunder, it took me two decades to get rid of you”. Some people are damned slow in getting a hint and I possibly happen to be one of them.

I just thought I should share ,that, behind the smile that went in inviting us to the opening, I could sense the sweat , blood , tears, and that defines character for me and plenty others.

I would like to go on and on, but at the moment , I would like these two gentlemen to take a bow and wish them the very best from the bottom of my heart. Take time to smell the roses, gentlemen. You have earned it.

And finally, thanks for the curd rice.

Stay Tuned and Have Fun.

With Respect

Zunder

The Anatomy of a 100 Kilometre Walk


Recently we completed the OXFAM India trail walker (http://trailwalker.oxfamindia.org/) and I thought I will ramble about that.  I dedicate the title of this article to a close professional colleague who had somehow read my mind and said ‘Are you going to write with this title, once you finish it’? Though I regretted that I was becoming somewhat predictable, but he was bang on. I wanted to give that title only.  So, I owe it to Vikaas for the title.

Though this write-up is coming up because we succeeded in completing the walk, I am capable of writing with the same candor even if we have not completed the walk. The only difference is that I may have not hit the ‘publish’ button!

Background

I had messed up on the Bengaluru full marathon. I gave up after 24.5 Kilometres. Generally I am extremely compassionate towards my own self and recover fast from most failures. However most of my failures were due to lack of skill, competence and dozen other shortcomings. I felt this specific one was due to me losing my will and that is something I cannot afford to lose. Life went on and I saw the advertisement about OXFAM India trail walker. I thought this was one more opportunity to test my will. I forwarded that to some of my colleagues, who were more friends than colleagues and whom I felt had some penchant about adventure, walking and also who had put up with me for some or rather many years. I kind of got responses from all of them in couple of hours and we formed two teams in the order of which responses came! Each teams had to have a group of four people.

 Apart from the early bird registration fee for Rs 4500 per person, we had to raise funds of Rs 50000 to enter into the competition. This was one thing none of us had done before as well. As usual, we said to our lazy selves, we have enough time and let us cross the bridge when it comes. And true to our own self one of the teams did an all nighters on the penultimate day to pull off the fundraising and be eligible to participate in the race.

With that background, I will start the ramble.

Event Organizers

I have to tell about OXFAM a bit. Well there was all round scepticism about if this is true, if the money we collect will finally reach the needy, if they shall live up-to their word and other things. Frankly these things have never mattered for me. If somebody is willing to do well at a scale larger than I can never imagine, I trust them to do their bit. This has worked for me. The trail is in its fourth year and the increasing number of participants and collections holds enough evidence for the good they have been doing and I do not wish to delve into that much. This linkgives some of the details about the walk, the work they have been attempting and also many other details about the walk as well. I am a kind of person who never bargains with a vegetable vendor even though I am aware of the fact that I am being fooled, just for the fact that he will give me a warm smile to me whenever I go (For him, ah! The fool has come). However, I am also aware that I am being a bigger fool when I walk into those shops in the malls!  I guess I am drifting and that can wait for some other day.

I owe a great salute to the event organizers and the hundreds of volunteers who were round the clock for complete forty eight hours cheering each and every individual checking in and checking out of the check points (Hold on a bit, the details about the check points are coming!). The medical volunteers at each check points, thanklessly helping everyone to get their stretches done, wrapping bandages, putting blisters pack on terrible looking stinking feet and not one moment demonstrating a sense of remorse. I have been at the good side of the receiving end of many great services of many volunteers at many a place and in some places and I did not have sense of decency to thank them at most times. I really have not figured out why these volunteers do what they do so caringly and to me they are already on the stepping stone of servant leadership. I have been only a taker so far and may be these wonderful volunteers shall inspire me to be a giver one of these days. I take a bow to that wonderful clan of volunteers.

Given the trail and the places where the check points were placed, the food served and facilities were as best at it could get. In any event of this nature, there is always scope for improvement and I am sure the organizers would have got more objective feedback from people more qualified than me in these things.

I wish OXFAM the very best in its equality drive.

Support Crew

I will give in. We were plain idiots. We did not even understand the concept of a support crew till the first two check points. Support crew are a wonderful set of people who tag along with the team and see them through to the finish. They cheer you, do everything you ask them of with a smile and never let you give up. In other words, they are the executioners of your plan and have everything in their arsenal to see that you hit the finish line. Some of my friends did mention to me about this before the walk, but I did not understand or appreciate at the need and passed it off. When the OXFAM India CEO awarded us the certificates and asked our team leader Syed where our support crew was, he blinked for nanosecond and managed to come up with ‘we were supporting each other’ with a great smile while cursing our stupidity internally.

But we did have our support crew in different forms.

·         The all mighty almighty

·         Family who just checked if we were alive or not

·         Friends who were tracking us on GPS, taking status on whatsapp and alerting other friends

·         Fellow team members nudging and urging each other

·         Some inspiring souls trailing, crawling, limping to the finish line with everything that can go wrong with their bodies, gone wrong.

·         Some of the people who funded us

·         Team members who had to retire under various circumstances and never let us retire

Support crews are a blessing. Please plan for them. Do not let stupidity or ignorance stand in your way.

Trail Path

I would rate the trail as being moderately difficult and one particular stretch was monstrously difficult. The view was pleasant mixed with scenic lake views, small ascents and descents, with pockets where we can understand silkworm to silks, houses with open spaces where you can go and take a nap if you want, with no one worrying   We went through variety of villages which were each distinct in their own ways and villagers unique in demonstrating a lack of frenzy in approach to their life style and living. Their seemingly poise and contentment with their own selves made us wonder what the heck we were doing in our daily lives! Also it was a pleasant surprise to children greeting us and waving throughout asking us the following questions

·         Hi

·         What is your name?

·         All the best

·         Bye

I am not sure if they have been engineered that way as I felt it was more of a spontaneous enquiry by them on seeing funny strangers, but whoever did that to them was definitely a far decent engineer than me.

One little girl named Sujata who was sitting alone under the branch of a tree and I could not see a soul in sight in a close perimeter, walked to us in confidence, shook our hands, said all the best to us. Quite frankly, if this is the confidence the villagers are building into their wards, I thought my fundas are somewhat messed up. Again I am drifting, but I hope you get the drift.

In one villager’s house where we stood to take some cucumbers and loads of water (where the lady of the house was tirelessly giving water to everyone without charging for it!), a seemingly innocent bystander nailed me with this question. He asked me in Kannada which roughly translates to

‘Why are they doing this to all of you’?

I did not have a damned clue on how to answer it or may be some questions shall remain as questions.

A note on Check Points (CP)

Check points (CP) were spaces where one can take a break, get our muscles stretched, get treated for an injury. These were the points where the support crew pampered their team(s).  Also at each check point you had to announce your arrival and departure along with the team. Given the trail, my view is that the check points were reasonably spaced and the arrangement was the best given the constraints.

Team Formation

We formed two teams. One was Johnnie Walker and the other was Road Rollers. A brief team profile is as below

Johnnie Walker

Syed .  He was the team leader for Johnnie Walker and most fit from an overall point of view owing to his daily gym visits. We shall see his fitness being tested to the core in the course of the walk.









Santosh – He is the endurance guy for the team. He can stay on and on for hours in any form of activity. He was in action till CP3. But boils at unscrupulous places and a personnel commitment the next day made him retire at CP5. We did not try to persuade Santu, because, if Santu says he is in pain, he is in pain. You do not see a need to motivate people like him.

Girish – He sets the pace for the team and he has been asking for a practice walk of at least 50 kilometres repeatedly before the actual walk. We conveniently ignored those repeated requests and paid the price as you will discover.

Zunder – That is me. I am the fattest and the slowest amongst the lot, but steady though.

Road Rollers


Satya – An enthusiastic walker and keeps the team enthused with his steamy one-liners. Developed an ankle sprain after CP3 and had to retire.

 
Rajas – The fastest walker amongst the lot. He was one amongst the first 35 teams to reach check point 4. He literally ran the course till check point 4. He had to choose between finishing this run and finishing an exam the next day morning. He chose to take up the exam and retired after CP5. In the next iteration, he has promised that his team will be amongst the top 30 teams to finish.




Mahesh – The team lead for road rollers and a steady walker. He is named Mahesh, but actually Krishna as he attracts lot of people towards him naturally.  By completing the race alone, he was simply the champion amongst all of us.

Harish – The Technology Man. He will have all kinds of gadgets around him to measure the steps he takes as he believes every step that he takes forward is precious. A personal emergency made him not take one step.




Santosh, Satya, Rajas, Harish though retired did not let us retire. They were continuously pushing us to the finish line. Without their continuous support, we would not have made it.

Fundraising

Johnnie Walkers started early the fund raising objectives, through standard mailers, phone calls and literally harassing some individuals till they paid up. Interestingly enough some of the initial respondents donated generously even without checking with us and set the pace for our fund raising campaigns. We did manage to achieve 140% of our stated fund raising goal and though we were accused of sugar coated begging, we realized begging pays! We can pat our backs saying that we have some credibility left in us and we had to finish the walk, if not for us, but for the people who contributed to us so generously.

RoadRollers, coming in from mostly an innovation background did something  very different. If you have heard the Shiva,Parvathi, Ganesha, Karthikeya story, where Shiva and Parvathi told Ganesha and Karthikeya whoever goes around the world first and comes back gets the fruit.  Karthikeya starts off to go around the world, but Ganesha feels that the parents are the world, does a circle around them and grabs the fruit. Roadrollers started negotiating with OXFAM, did something and scraped through the fund raising round. I have no idea on how they managed it till now.  Johnnie Walkers were more like the stupid Karthikeya in the story.

On a more serious note, I sincerely thank the people who funded us. I was pleasantly surprised on the number of well wishers we had, who not only funded us, but also were eager to know our preparation and progress about the walk.  If I needed help, I only needed to ask and that is something I will remember. Your contribution would have definitely benefitted somebody, somewhere. Please be assured about that.

Preparation

I will keep coming to this time and again, but our preparation for the walk was abysmal. We kind of had two trips to Nandi hills, two trips close to Airport, not one of them crossing totally 25 Kilometres. Looking back, I feel that we made these trips only for the hogging we used to do after the walk. We had this absolutely astounding logic of ‘Yes. We are able to do 6 KMS in an hour, so even if it drops to 5 KMS, we will finish 100 KM in 20 hours’. Unfortunately for us, this kind of extrapolation backfired miserably.

Planning

As I mentioned before, generally in life, you can recognize idiots. We were that idiots. Till midway, we did not even realize that we need a water bottle to carry for ourselves. Putting it positively, we were the epitome of self-confidence and belief. I was the super idiot. I was the one who announced at 5 KMS/ hour we would be at CP3 (30 KMS) at 12:00 PM, CP6 (61 KMS) at 6:00PM and finish at 2:00 AM. In reality we left CP6 at 2:15 AM. I will not embarrass myself or others further by talking about our brute force approach, but honestly our tag line was ‘Keep Walking’ and we assumed anything further than that was unnecessary.

Start to Finish – The Walk

We started off around 6:10 AM after the evidence creating photo sessions. We kind of kept good pace. Syed and Girish took a formidable lead. I and Santosh walked relatively in a relaxed fashion with Santosh reducing his speed to give me company and educating me about the type of crops on either side of the road. We also discussed about the unhurried life style that people were having just 40 kilometres outside of city life and felt envious. After reaching CP1, we checked in and checked out relatively fast. We choose to have breakfast at CP2 instead of CP1. At each check points, you would have to check in and check out as a team. Those were the rules of the engagement. We proceeded to CP2 again with relatively consistent pace and this time Santosh did not wait for me. Girish, Syed and Santosh were kind of racing everyone and I was struggling to keep pace with them. We reached CP2 in good time and had breakfast. We should have had breakfast at CP1 as upma had got over at CP2 and we started from CP2 as we did not want to waste time waiting for the upma. We did take some customary photo shoots here and there.  As we were getting out of CP2, the Sun was out in its full glory and that was beginning to take a toll on us. Again the trio took the lead, with me lagging. This phase was toughest for me and unknown to anyone; there were moments of weakness I felt in this stretch. Luckily we reached a villagers house, where cucumber and free water revived my spirits. To add to my pain, here is where one villager cracked the ultimate question “‘Why are they doing this to all of you’?” As we were reaching CP3, our bodies were showing signs of exhaustion. We dipped ourselves into a stream that was flowing by and crawled our way to CP3.We were at CP3 by 12:30 and we were not way off from our plan. On reaching CP3, Syed rushed into the medical facility and got all kinds of stretches done with the help of the physiotherapists out there and that became a ritual for him at the rest of the check points. The ever energetic Santosh looked slightly weak. We took some rest, limped back to have the nutritious lunch. Nutrition and Taste are mutually exclusive. Rajas caught up with us during lunch and narrated in his interesting way on how he reached CP3. Rajas is more scientific in walking, running than all of us, educated on us some essentials and was eager to get going towards CP4. We reluctantly started towards CP4 with Sun showing no signs of let down. Girish and Rajas again took a formidable lead, with me following. Syed and Santosh trailed behind. CP3 to CP4 was a killer for me in terms of the heat, in terms of the ascent and at one isolated place where I was resting; I was thinking if I should give up? One gentleman who passed by me, cheered me up saying it is only 3 KMS till the next CP and asked me to keep moving.  Finding all my reserves of energy, I reached CP4, checked with Girish and was thankful when he said that they reached only 10 minutes before. I went to crash. Syed and Santosh joined 45 minutes later and rested for another 45 minutes. We were literally evicted out of CP4 by the organizers who convinced us to move towards CP5, as CP4 was getting over crowded with people resting. Santosh started some developing some boils and indicated that he would take stock at CP5 if he wanted to continue. The Sun was setting and we started walking towards CP5. Here we discovered a priceless asset. We saw people walking with professional walking sticks and we somehow found remnants of some branches of tree and make a walking stick out of that. This stick played an extremely crucial role to our finish. We reached CP5 around 7 PM, while according to the original plan we were supposed to be at CP6 at 6 PM. So much for the planning. Girish had developed a headache, I had blisters, Syed just needed any 6 feet bed to crash and Santosh’s boils had developed into bigger sizes. Rajas had estimated that he will not make it to his exams, retired at CP5 and had left for home. Santosh’s boil could not make him continue; he retired and left for home.  I was nurturing my blisters and was wondering, when Girish came and told me ‘Sir – we have taken money and we are answerable’. That one sentence changed my frame of mind. After that I just made up my mind, we are going to finish this one. I realized I became a robot after that. Thankfully some hot pongal, idly and vada rejuvenated our spirits and we chose wisely to proceed towards CP6 instead of halting at CP5 for the night. We decided to stick together for the night journey. Also some wisdom set in finally and we bought bottles of water for each of us. Also owing to the presence of elephants in the original trail, the organizers arranged an alternate route with the same number of kilometres. Thanks to Girish’s advice , all three of us took a pain killer and made our way to CP6 in record time. This was our fastest pace in the overall trail. We just walked seeing the beautiful stars in the sky, ignoring the stars our body was going through. This walk rejuvenated Girish’s belief in himself and he said we shall finish by 10 AM the next day. We will be proven wrong again. Once we reached CP6, we went for some juices and I went for my usual dressing up of the blisters. The medical facility looked like a refugee camp and I felt every third person had a blister of some sort. I waited for my time and the wonderful people there nursed my blister and I was set. By the time Girish who had never done a stretch, got a stretch done with the help of a physiotherapist. Syed had disappeared. We did not bother to hunt and crashed for 30 minutes.  We started the hunt for Syed around 1:15 AM and realized he was sleeping in the resting area, but we could not figure out who was Syed. As all the bed sheets to cover were of the same nature and everyone was sleeping with the bed sheets wrapped. We were in a fix. We realized Syed had pulled a fast one on us !. Girish became Sherlock Holmes and I became Dr Watson in the search for Syed. Finally, we nailed him down. He had taken a V looking branch as a walking stick and that was next to him. He did not cover that. We hesitated a nano-second before waking him up and the look on Syed’s face said it all. If he had a Gun, he would have shot us both down. But since he was used to handling irate customers for the most part of his life, he asked us ‘What is the plan?’  Girish told Syed ‘We have to get going’ with a straight face and I think I lacked sensitivity when I said ‘Banana leaf Lunch is being served. Let us get going’. Syed pleaded for one more hour of rest, we negotiated with him for 30 minutes and then started walking him again at the 25thminute. We gathered finally and started our walk towards CP7 at 2:15 AM. CP6 to CP7 proved to be the most monstrous stretch. It had pointed gravel all throughout and made our walk as miserable as it can get. Only positive thing about the whole walk towards CP7 was we choose to do it in the wee hours. We were one hundred percent sure we could not have done it with the sun torturing as well. Even Girish’s resolve was being tested in this path. But he will bring out sudden war cries of ‘Amma’ and ‘Shiva’ with such intensity; I was worried he will bring some animals towards us! When we reached CP7, each one of us ran for our respective beds and any guesses who won the race. Syed. We woke up around 7:30 AM and grudgingly acknowledged the need to carry on. I got my round of blister packs done. We had become animals by then. We started having our breakfast. Nothing like brushing teeth or equivalent. Each one of us tried in vain in our own way to get our morning biological system normal and we did not succeed. The stink inside was also increasing! We started towards CP8 and the shining sun started. I and Girish were tagging along each other with Syed left behind. After a point we were worried as his mobile also was switched off. We caught hold of an organizer car, asked them to go and check on Syed and relayed a message to switch his mobile on. We had schemed also saying that at CP8, we should not let Syed near a bed! We failed in that. He managed to find a bed and vehemently refused to start with the Sun right above his head. He said ‘ I will start only in the evening’! However Sun God proved to be merciful and Syed agreed to start with the condition that we will not leave him and go. We agreed to that and started our limp towards CP9. We hydrated ourselves with plentiful servings of coconut water, followed by nutritious and tasteless lunch. Luckily GOD balanced our Karmas and we were helped by a cool breeze instead of the scorching sun we had 24 hours back. Syed was regaining his jovial self and was walking like Moses of Ten Commandments. Our crushed spirits of the CP6 to CP7 walk was getting revived and though every kilometre looked like two, we managed to get our cheer back and in this stretch were cheered by little children who kind of posted us a standard questionnaire. I also pitched in with my doses of borrowed philosophy like ‘Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional’ for which Syed quipped back ‘Everything is inevitable’. We did check on Mahesh and as I had assured all of them, Mahesh was with good company.  I kind of put an analogy like ‘If I say Hi to people’ they will turn their back on me and wonder why they ever greeted me, while if Mahesh says ‘Hi’ they will never go away from me and that has proved true. We reached CP9 and in any case it was a small check point. There were no beds to Crash and Syed did not need any as well. Girish and Syed refilled with Maggie Noodles and as Girish was about to sip on his Maggie Noodles, I accidentally knocked it off. To cover up my fault, I gave a futile lecture on ‘Marshmallow test’ and ‘Delayed Gratification’ to both of them. Girish got a replacement cup and both of them finished their noodles and were geared up for the home run. We started towards the finish line with ‘Insha Allah’ (God Willing) and like all check points Girish’s enthusiasm did not reduce a bit at all. He said we will finish it in 75 minutes, I said 120 minutes. The home run did not prove easy as well. Syed raced us and gave us the punch line of ‘For once, I am waiting for you guys’. We were happy to see him like that. We got past the 98 kilometre mark and 99 never seem to come. Syed was saying we will hit directly 100 , Girish was saying we are nearing 100 and I maintained we have not hit 99.  Finally I spotted 99 pinned at the end of a tree and showed it to Syed. Both of them cursed me, but took a snap near 99 and resumed the final , final , final kilometre.  We kind of asked everyone who was passing by on where is the finish line and finally we saw it. We reached it together and the clock read 36:05:42 .

We congratulated each other and somehow we seemed to be devoid of any feelings. Not of ecstasy, not of pain, not of relief. Nothing at all. We got our certificates, got our medals, went home. We heard from Mahesh that he also completed in 42 hours which we were sure he would.

Lessons

Looking at our timings, we feel we could have done it easily within 25 hours, but quite frankly we were in a race against no one but ourselves. So we will not kill ourselves on that. The other things that could have possibly helped are

1.       Better plan. We had no plan except the extrapolated plan.

2.       Better training. Not the ad-hoc one we used to.

3.       Better Equipped. We did even have a water bottle to ourselves for the first 50 kilometres

4.       Actual Support Crew. While the virtual support crew helped, the physical support crew brings in the right interventions.

5.       Extrapolate with Evidence. 5 KMS in one hour does not get you 100 KMS in 20 hours.

Knowing our own selves a little bit better, do we think we will take care of it in the next walk? Not a chance. We like the label of idiots and remain the eternal optimists that we are.

Tailpiece

Murakami says “You have to show your muscle who is the boss” and guess we did that, though blisters came close to ruining it! Though the above statement tantamount to some kind of arrogance on ourselves, We actually became a trifle humbler than what we started the walk with.

When you are thinking about doing something and it feels scary, when it feels like this big lion is waiting at the finish line and he’s roaring and he’s ferocious and he’s going to tear you apart… you should just run toward that lion anyway. Run to the roar – Tina Essmaker

Timing Analysis



Check Point (CP)
Destination
KMS
Reached at
Left at
Walking Time in Minutes
Wait Time
Speed (KM/Hour)
1
Govt High School, Barona Doddi
8.8
7:40 AM
8:00 AM
90
20
5.87
2
Govt High School, Uyyambhalli
8.1
9:35 AM
10:05 AM
95
30
5.12
3
Nallahalli
13
12:30 PM
1:45 PM
145
75
5.38
4
Govt. Primary School Kokkrehosahalli
10
4:00 PM
5:45 PM
135
105
4.44
5
PU College Rampur doddi
6.6
7:10 PM
9:15 PM
85
125
4.66
6
Chokkanahalli
14.7
11:40 PM
2:20 AM
145
160
6.08
7
Govt. High School, Maralawadi
13.2
5:30 AM
8:15 AM
190
150
4.17
8
Avaremale Rampura
10.2
11:00 AM
1:30 PM
165
150
3.71
9
Gottigihalli
9
3:50 PM
4:20 PM
160
30
3.38
Finish
Nettigere
6.4
6:05 PM
105
3.66


Total Walk Time
21.92 Hours
Total Wait Time
14.08 Hours
Average Speed
4.65 KM / Hour
Average  Wait Time Per Check Point
1.56 Hours


Pictures

Both of our teams managed to get one photo with Rahul Bose as well.  He was cheering the team which collected the money from the largest set of sponsors.

Have Fun
Zunder 

Freedom and Responsibility – Two Variables. Four States.

As I reflect in my personal and professional spheres, these two words keep coming up and I thought I will put a simple model around this two words. To give a background, most of the TV’s in some of my friends’ home are cut as their kids are giving their exams. I keep debating with them on why are they practicing this kind of control and why don’t they give them the ‘freedom’ to be ‘responsible? They give me a cold blooded stare and tell me without blinking an eye ‘Let your turn come man’ and then we shall have this debate. Well, I have been proven wrong many a times and when my time comes I have a feeling that I will operate no differently.
I pondered over these two variables and kind of arrived at a simple model as below.
 
The assumption here is ‘Freedom’ is given to me by someone and ‘Responsibility’ is taken by me. There are equivalent derivatives of responsibility like accountability, but as the beautiful culture lens below reveal, accountability was not a word till the early eighty’s. So someone possibly discovered it for some convenience and as like many other words, this word has been marketed well and its usage possibly will exceed responsibility in the coming decades. However for the purposes of this discussion responsibility encompasses accountability. Also in the circle of life I wear the various hats of giver and taker for freedom and responsibility. https://books.google.com/ngrams/interactive_chart?content=Responsibility%2CAccountability&case_insensitive=on&year_start=1800&year_end=2008&corpus=15&smoothing=2&share=&direct_url=t4%3B%2CResponsibility%3B%2Cc0%3B%2Cs0%3B%3Bresponsibility%3B%2Cc0%3B%3BResponsibility%3B%2Cc0%3B.t4%3B%2CAccountability%3B%2Cc0%3B%2Cs0%3B%3Baccountability%3B%2Cc0%3B%3BAccountability%3B%2Cc0%3B%3BACCOUNTABILITY%3B%2Cc0

Encage
Personally, I like this state. This is a state where I am happily in a cage, knowing that there is little freedom and there is little willingness or scope to take responsibility. This is a state where I am perpetually trapped and where neither I take any steps to move along the responsibility axis nor does the environment around me take any step to move along the freedom axis. As long as I chose to be cog in the wheel, this is a peaceful state to be in. No questioning of status quo! I like this state because this is where I have accepted that I cannot do a thing and possibly remain blissful about it. I also put people into this state. A live example is as follows
Son – Appa, Can I go to play?
Me – Yes, of course. But before that please ensure the following
·         Finish your homework
·         Clean your desk
·         Practice Music
·         Drink Milk
·         Do not play near this…
·         Do not play with ….
·         ….
·         Be back before 6:00 PM
And the time will be kind of between 5:30 to 5:45 PM when the conversation happened
It really is a Hobson’s choice. Isn’t it?
Enrage
This is the state where I fight the lack of freedom. I want to take on more, prove my worth to my stakeholders in every aspect of my life but I do not just get the space to exhibit my sense of responsibility. I am like the tiger in the cage, who wants to get out desperately, but will continue to make hurried strides with the cage. I can relate to the TV example here, when the kids say they are willing to watch it in moderation with responsibility and I deny them that freedom. I think in professional life there are countless instances where I would have killed many vibrant dreams possibly without giving the space for exploration of that dream. I would have accumulated bad karma by the sheer volume of people whom I would have pushed into this state! My only defense is, well I was not mature enough to have understood this explanation at that time!
Escape
This is the state where I deceive myself completely and I kind of act as if I am unaware. I will find out all possible excuses on ‘how not’ to accomplish an objective be it personally or professionally. The sheer variety and diversity of excuses that I can come up on ‘why I will not do something’ and conveniently shift the blame on everything around me can open up a category in the ‘Nobel prize for excuses’. A simple example is ‘weight management’. I am obese and I can convince anyone in the world to agree with my view point of why I find exercise boring in a face to face meeting. (I am kind of shifting from this view point off late, but I am positive that I will go back into my erroneous zones). In a professional setup, sometimes I wonder the time I spend on explaining and preparing on why I could not meet a commitment far exceeds the time I could have invested in making the commitment happen. If you want to test this, keep a repository of excuses that people give when they fail to show up for meetings on time and you would possibly smile at the point I am making.
Empower
This is the state of where I am in complete harmony with myself. I have felt that this is the state where I am trusted, no one is watching by back and I am fully aware that ‘The buck stops with me’. I have nothing to prove to nobody except my own self. This is the state where the mix of freedom and responsibility is optimal and that allows me to bring out the best in myself. Coming back to the ‘weight management’ example, the day I do get to step on the dreaded tread mill and beat my previous pathetic record of the 5K run, I feel liberated and for that one micro second I do feel light.  The days I have stepped in and attempted to change status quo for betterment, I have felt this state. It did not matter if I change status quo or not, but took the call to change the status quo. You would have been possibly in this state when someone uttered to you ‘Take Care’.
There is a box in the middle termed ‘Mid life Crisis’ and sometimes I have felt that I am in perpetual ‘Mid life Crisis’. I have to admit that till certain stage in life, I was not aware of these two variables. In my view ‘Mid life Crisis’ sets in when I am hopelessly confused about the relative positions of these two variables in my respective spheres of life. But the question I have repeatedly asked myself is, even after I became aware of these variables and their relative positions, did I exercise the choice to move along the axis to become truly liberated?
Any such complex question has only one answer. ‘It Depends’, but to end philosophically, “Are we not the sum total of the choices we make”?
As far as the TV problem which made me to get into this mess, the Jury is still out.
So which state you typically are in?
Are there any other states that you think given these two variables ?
Which state do you put your folks in, be it professional or personal?
Time to ponder
Have Fun
Stay Tuned