Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Alice: Cultural Learnings of a Full Marathon for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Never Never Land

map loading...

beep Beep BEep BEEp BEEP BEEP BEEP! BEEP!!.... well there you go the 'R' rating. Errr.... well actually the phone alarm woke me up from my dream. A dream where a lot of confusing things were happening and you are glad that you finally wake up. But as Natalie Goldberg says, when you continue to stop yourself from going all the way in your subconscious and coming to a deep resolution, its not a dream you wake up from, but you carry the nightmare out into the streets.

And those streets happened to be the streets of Mumbai, where like the many others you decide to run the full marathon, all 42.195 kms of it. You decide to click snaps along the way, since this could be your only attempt at a photo finish :-) A GPS logger dangles from your side which you can use to geo-tag photos later on. The route is lined with people cheering you on; with pompoms and balloons and music and all sorts of colorful things. TV crews and sponsors names are everywhere. Many other corporates use it as a platform to advertise their brand and the thought of 'guerilla marketing' brings a smile to your face.

Birds rise from their feeding ritual along the beach, as the mist blends with the buildings at the far end across the sea. Families, localities, chawls came out in numbers to support us, while some just came out to observe. Initially the children were a bit shy but then they lined the roads for that ephemeral high five, only to be enforced with a culture later on, stifling the right to develop their own.

Initially you run alone, then you join someone along the way and move together for some time and then move on. You meet Dr Roy who is 74 years and who maintains a steady pace. Some complain about cramps and impending catches but the water stations at regular intervals provide electral, ice packs and spray to relieve you. A nun was also distributing sweets to the runners. The volunteers at the stations remained till the end, long after the front runners had past their stations. And if stations were not in sight then you help each other out. You do so willingly and without a second thought, which makes you wonder what stops you at other times. Maybe its cause you are running the same route at this moment, oblivious or maybe just skeptical of its authenticity at other times.

The full marathon started an hour after the half marathon, and it should have been the other way around as it started to get too hot for mere mortal runners like me. There was one girl who was using an umbrella towards the end. The traffic at some places took over the roads and we had to walk along the footpaths. The cheering had reduced but still a few people stood their ground to cheer us on. I forgot to drench my body with petroleum jelly and that mistake started to manifest itself with blisters and abrasions due to friction with my clothes. Music soothes all uncalled for manifestations; jazz, latin, arab-andalusian, heavy metal, old hindi songs, and instrumentals; without prejudice, just doing their job.

I met a fellow Bangalorean who was attempting his first marathon, with about 5 kms to go. He was 43 and used my cell to ward off his wife's worries since he was taking more time than expected. That and his wife didn't want him to go all the way to Mumbai to run a full marathon. He told me that he just liked running and had completed the half marathon (21 kms) in bangalore in 1 hr 50 mins. He complained about the heat and wondered whether it was worth it to torture ourselves in the heat and whether it really mattered since we were walking anyway. Both of us fell silent and we walked a little further, trying to find reason to our madness. I then broke the silence and asked him if this was his first marathon to which he smiled and replied that it would indeed make a big difference if he completed it.

There were people of all ages and backgrounds running the marathon. Some were running for a cause; some for charity, some for farmers, some for peace, some for fun, some for life, some for a clean and green mumbai, some for freedom, some for health, some for the free drinks along the way, and some for Shilpa Shetty to stop racism against her from some UK folks on the 'Big Brother' reality show. But then again is anyone running to stop racism between the different parts of India, the north against the south, the south against the south, the north against the north, the east against the east and the west against the west. When things get toooo confusing you decide to run for yourself, not for anyone or anything but for yourself; since you know that everything is related in all its intricacies and will eventually be overwhelmed by the domino effect. So you run for yourself, so that you may go all the way and come to a deep resolution; and when you wake up from your dream, you only hope that you no longer carry the nightmare out into the streets.

Do it yourself links:
Google Maps APIs
Map in your blog tutorial
How to geo tag an image
Blogger for Dummies
Google Map Mania blog
EXIF image format


Goli said...

Kudos to you alice.....Your post reminds me of forrest Gump.... :D

Just Another Brick said...

hey.. nice post again! looks like you 've become a pro at marathons. and.. I'm sure the Earth has lessened her hold on you after all these marathons :)

yeah. i went solo. I had to move to San Diego from portland. so..
it was fun.

Hope you are enjoying Kerala. I miss it often.

Vivek said...

great post man,,and good stuff with the geotagging.

Alistair D'souza said...

@ Goli
yeah life is like a box of chocolates but you have to enjoy parts of it before you get diabetes :-)

@ Ligeo
nope.. the earth's pull on me is still pretty strong... started gyming again though... not used to this strong a pull :-)

@ Vivek
I'm into application engineering so part of my job includes trying out all these things and bridging the gap between ease of use and the techy stuff... and then see if some product can come out of it...