Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The running year gone by - a reflection

It's going to be a year since I took a first step towards fitness. It was in the beginning of March 2014 that I started walking & slowly moved on to running inside my neighbourhood park. Thanks to the internet I landed on the Chennai Runners page on Facebook & so on April 2nd 2014 I joined a group of runners and started running regularly.

From a barely 3km initial run, I started doing longer runs and decided that by December 2014 I will do a 10km in TWCM & lose some weight. I ticked both those boxes earlier than I thought. By December I had completed 2 half marathons & lost 14kgs weight.

A lot of people helped me in this effort but Venu Sir who guided me initially & George who trained me on the basics of better running stand out. I will always be grateful to them. Another person who helped me run was Lakshmi who trained with me under George & slowly we ran together & still do. A running buddy can be a great support for new comers & the high of doing my first 8km run with Lakshmi's coaxing is an unforgettable memory.

Somewhere down the line the limitations of the group I run with became glaringly obvious and to be fair to the group selflessness is a scarce commodity among people today & to expect it from others is an utopian thought. Other limitations included the lack of support for beginners, which is my biggest disappointment, the narrow minded approach that there can be only one school of thought when it comes to running and personality rather than policy driven leadership. I was part of the founding team and somehow ended up in the group that coordinates the group. With power comes great responsibility and my inability to do justice to my responsibility made me very uncomfortable. As I chose to move out from the active leadership role of the group, I went back to the start where as a newbie I was taking baby steps into the world of running & fitness. I am running and still learning, sometimes with a group sometimes alone.

I look forward to the year ahead with optimism and believe that running can be a team sport, it can be selfless, it can rise above indices of performance like the number of races finished or the ever changing personal bests both of which are incidental. Personally the joy on the face of a newbie completing a 5km for the first time is a high for me when I run with him / her. I am always ready to run with a new comer as long as they bear with my slow pace.

The targets for this year are simple:
- have fun
- stay injury free
- spread the running virus to at least one person a month

Fitness, medals and other things like I said will be incidental.

Happy running folks!

Turtle Walk - A must do in namma Madras aka Chennai

You may have seen or even run in the Ridley Rune recently, but do you know anything about the reason for the run, the Olive Ridley Turtles? With a desire to learn a little more about the enigmatic Olive Ridleys which traverse great distances to reach the beaches of the East Coast & some pockets of the West Coast of India to make nests and lay eggs, usually in the same place each time a small group landed up in the Neelangarai beach at 11 PM on Saturday night the 21st of February.

The small size of the group was necessitated due to the abilities of the organizers the admirable members of the Students Sea Turtle Conservation Network who for over two decades patrol the beach from Neelangarai to Besant Nagar keeping a keen eye out for the nests of the Olive Ridley turtles and safely transport them to nature identical hatcheries for safe incubation and after hatching the hatchlings are safely released into the water.

The team of runners from Anna Nagar with friends and family members joined the large group of SSTCN volunteers and members of the general public who had come for the walk that night. It was a pleasant surprise to see a very large turnout of women including students from Stella Maris College led by their faculty members from the department of Zoology in the walk. The group was briefed about the Olive Ridley turtles, the challenges faced by the volunteers in their conservation efforts and the scope of the walk. There was a good question answer session which also covered general environmental issues and how every little bit done towards conservation will help.

At 1.30 am the large group of over 150 members set off ten minutes behind the scouts. The scouts with scopes (thin metal tubes) to probe for nests went ahead to study the tracks and identify the nests for the untrained visitors like us. We saw a couple of nests and handling the rubbery eggs of the turtles was a novel experience for many. During the walk we also saw some barnacles and many crabs, the happiness was muted when we saw the carcasses of two turtles that had been washed up on the shore. This year due to industrial fishing that is fishing by large mechanized trawlers over 270 turtles have been killed in this part of the shore alone.

There was a break of half an hour at 3am when the turtle walkers lazed out on the beach and chatted among themselves. For many it was a first time, conversations with friends on the beach at 3am. After the short break the group set off towards Besant Nagar which was reached by 4.20am where the group separated into two. One group proceeded onwards toward the hatchery while others including us went back to our cars. At the end of the maiden turtle walk for most of us, we knew a little more about the turtles and the risks they face. 

The turtle walk was a wonderful experience and must be in the list of Top things to do in our wonderful city; this was the first for many of us but it certainly will not be the last.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Yennai Arindhal - a movie report

Yennai Arinthal, by now the reviews are out and it appears to be a hit already. Having watched the movie on the second day here are my views, for reviews you can search online.

  •  Yes you would know by all the publicity that this is the final of the cop trilogy and at the end of the movie you feel that this is a mix and match of the first two movies, which is a good thing since both the earlier movies were hits, the chances of going wrong are less
  •  There is a lot of familiarity in the movie that you can almost guess what is going to happen and that somehow hinders the movie
  •  The female leads have been etched well and they add value to the movie and in GVM style they are the modern women who are far removed from the usual “blonde type” heroines
  •  The entry of the female leads become the Achilles heel of the so far fearless hero and similar to the earlier movies the loss of the lady love is a crucial part of the movie
  •  The father & adopted daughter bonding is a real heart warmer and is a definite plus in the movie
  •  Not really sure if women fall for a middle aged man in a few minutes no matter how handsome he may be, some clich├ęs remain
  •  There are gaps in the screen play and some portions feel disjointed as if they are loose collection of beautiful montages put together
  •  GVM makes his customary guest appearance and this time in a more noticeable role than as a back ground dancer
  •  The length of the movie as with all GVM movies is a trifle too long and some trimming would have been better
  •  The usual autobiographical referencing especially the father – son back story makes an appearance
  •  Ajith dominates the movie like the  star he is and  Arun Vijay has done a great job as the villain, but both are not the best cop and villain of the trilogy
  •  The romantic interlude between Ajith and Trisha is another plus and has been done well, there are no duets in foreign locales but the romance is beautifully shown on screen
  •  I was surprised with the exuberant celebrations by the fans in the theatre when Ajith uses profanities on screen that were as usual beeped away by the censors
  •  Anushka’s hair style was comical and made her look funny
  •  The music by Harris Jayaraj was mixed and the memorable pieces are the Christian melodies that are familiar and if you have heard them before you will say “Hey I know this song!!!”
  • Vivekh is a supporting actor instead of a comedian with a parallel track and the brief interludes are genuinely funny making you wish for more
  •   The GVM touches and subtle references to other movies are enjoyable and I will not avoid being a spoiler and mention them
  •   Ajith dominates the movie and it has been written for him, the adulation, the romance, the super hero fight scenes, the emotional interludes, sometimes it feels like a tribute show

The bottom line: Go if you are an Ajith fan, you will not be disappointed, go if you like the Gautham Vasudev Menon style of movie making, you will not be disappointed, if you are neither and you are looking for a great cop movie you may be a little disappointed.

P.S. I am not sharing who I feel is the best hero of the trilogy; the villain has to be Pandya (Jeevan) for the menace. I will leave it to you to figure it out