Flying High

Be bold. Be different. Be amazing. And just know ahead of time that some people will think you’re crazy. People will feel jealous. People may try to sabotage your efforts. They don’t really hate you. They hate themselves because they don’t have the guts to do what you’re doing, and they direct that frustration at you. Love them and let them grow. Just don’t spend too much time with them or you will start to think like they do. Feel free to be yourself. Freedom from what others think of you and expect you to be. Sometimes standing out is better than blending in. The freedom to be who you are and what you want to be. Freedom from indecisiveness, fear, insecurity, negativity, laziness. What would you do if there was nothing to stop you? Let go of what holds you back, so you can soar higher.

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Feline Philosophies

Life lessons from a cat:

~No matter how small, if you find a ray of sunshine, bask in it’s glory.

~Start the day by stretching. Stretch before you do anything.

~Gather information before you take a leap.

~Be soft and furry, but keep your claws sharpened at all times.

~When in doubt, study the subject with patience.

~Meditate. Quietly gaze upon the world. Schedule your “me” time.

~Socialize, but don’t lose your individuality.

~As you fall, stay calm, regroup, and land on your feet.

~Look your best, even if no one is watching.

~Be curious. Make the world your playground.

~Have confidence in yourself and take risks.

~Take frequent naps, but always be ready for new adventures.

~Climb to the highest point and enjoy the view.

~Hiss if you have to.

~When in trouble, look cute and cuddly.

~Value a new perspective, even if it means lying down on the floor.

~Be persistent. Never give up if you really want something.

~Approach problems with focus and determination.

~Make eye contact when communicating. Even if the language is different, everyone should know your opinion.

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Reach out to the community and pass on your knowledge.

 

Sources:

~www.boredpanda.com

~www.mission2organize.com

 

Every Day Is A Purr-fect Day

“Kittens are born with their eyes shut. They open them in about six days, take a look around, then close them again for the better part of their lives.”

~Stephen Baker

Today is “International Cat Day”. Created in 2002 by the ‘International Fund For Animal Welfare’, the celebration on 8th August is an ode to the cat community everywhere. Rosa Silva has composed some poetry which is as cute and cuddly as the cats themselves. Have a look at what she has to say about our feline friends.

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Tribe Of Reader-Runners

As the book collection spirals out of control with frequent bookstore visits, buying new books, scouring second-hand shops for thrift sales, and keeping an eye out for books in general, book gifts by friends helpfully aid that spiral – a progressive spiral to add to one’s home library, and a downward spiral as far as space to accommodate, and time to read them all is concerned.

I was at a running event yesterday, and received this book by ultrarunner Dean Karnanzes from a fellow marathoner. The newest addition to the running shelf. A book for a runner, about a runner, from a runner. 🙂

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When Your Mouth Isn’t Doing The Talking…

Danny Danziger and Mark McCrum came out with a book in 2009 titled “The Whatchamacallit” – a fun and witty compilation of “everyday objects you just can’t name, and things you think you know about but don’t. ”  According to the author duo, the beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names. In continuation with our effort to add to one’s ever expanding vocabulary in the Ragtag Daily Prompt, MNL from Cactus Haiku has prompted us with borborygmus as the word for the day.

Borborygmus can be described as a stomach rumble or peristaltic sound, also referred to as ‘bubble gut‘ due to the rumbling, growling or gurgling noises produced by the movement of the contents of the gastrointestinal tract as they are propelled through the small intestine by a series of muscle contractions known as ‘peristalsis‘. The rumbles and grumbles are produced in the stomach as fluid and gas move forward in the intestines. The scientific name ‘borborygmus‘ is derived from the 16th century French word ‘borborygme‘, which in turn was related to the ancient Greek  βορβορυγμός (borborygmós – which the Greeks coined onomatopoetically).

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Incomplete digestion of food can lead to excess gas in the intestine. Hunger can also trigger peristalsis through the ‘migrating motor complex‘. After the stomach has emptied, it signals the brain to restart peristalsis via the digestive muscles. The rumblings can also be caused when air is swallowed if one is sipping beverages through a straw, or constantly talking while eating.

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As a marathon runner, borborygmus is something we often deal with. The medical terminology makes it sound a lot more threatening than it actually is, but something as innocuous as sipping an energy drink through the straw of a tetrapack while in the middle of a run can trigger fluid and gas movement, creating rumbles. If one’s meals and races or training sessions are not timed properly, it can cause discomfort while running. An athlete is often advised to not try anything new on race day – whether the pre-race meals, energy aids during the race, or nutrient replacements post the event, one should consume foods the digestive system is accustomed to. Any sort of experimentation can be left for training days.

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A variation of the word has been found in literature, used to describe noise in general. ‘Borborygmic’ featured in Vladimir Nabokov’s “Ada” where noisy plumbing was referred to as “waterpipes seized with borborygmic convulsions”. In “A Long way Down” Elizabeth Fenwick described a room as being “very quiet, except for it’s borborygmic old radiator”. Graham Greene’s “Alas, Poor Maling” was a short story featuring a character who found “irritating noises taking the shape of borborygmus”.

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Have you ever wondered what your body is trying to communicate with you? Maybe you will pay closer attention to all those creaks and groans from now on. Aside of the noises inside, do you think you could identify some borborygmic sounds in the vicinity? Now you know the word for them!

Touring The World Through Races

Running season resumed here last month, post the scorching summers, and the next couple of months are going to be busy with race strategies, nutrition regimes, schedules for running and cross training – all in preparation for the upcoming races. Our running events here cater to various distance categories – 10k races, half marathons, 25k races, full marathons, 12-hr ultrathons, 24-hr ultrathons. In keeping with the race mood of the season, I have been looking up race scenarios around the world, and the escapades of long distance runners who spend hours on the road, trail or hills. Nothing like a little fun read to tide over all the serious training. In yesterday’s blog-post I wrote about canines who unwittingly entered races in the US and Australia – making themselves at home on the route, running side-by-side with human participants. Today, I came across a parody on the Mumbai Marathon (scheduled for January 2019). Marathoner and author Cdr. (Retd.) Bijay Nair presented a novel take on the marathon race, the route of which covers prominent landmarks in the city of Mumbai, enabling runners from around the world to breathe in the city as they run the distance.

Now the full marathon distance in the Tata Mumbai Marathon begins in South Mumbai, reaches up to the Western Suburbs till the half way mark at Bandra, from where there is a turnaround to return back to South Mumbai – the start and finish points are the same, thereby taking runners on a tour of the city. To avoid overcrowding at the start line and ensure participants are spaced out, registered runners are allotted race categories. Amateur runners begin at 5:40 am, while the elite start the race at 7:20 am. Unsurprisingly, the elite runners overtake the amateurs at certain points on the route (in spite of starting after them.)

Cdr. Nair has composed a hilariously novel approach to estimate one’s timing in the full marathon category based on where the elite athletes overtake you on the route – usually the Kenyans and Ethiopians who win the race. Using prominent city landmarks as indicators, one can calculate what the finish time would be depending on where you were on the route when you got overtaken. Below is his esteemed analysis from years of racing at the same event, and having the elite overtake him at various points of the city landmarks as he edges closer to the finish line. Cdr. Nair has humorously added emojis to aid this “serious” analysis from years of racing experience on the same route. The race literally takes you around the city, as evident from each of the landmarks on the route.

“The Amateur Full Marathon kicks off at 5.40 am and the Elite begin at 7.20 am, thereby providing a difference of one hour and forty minutes.  

If the Kenyans cross you at Worli Seaface while they race towards Bandra, then you rather stop running and play kabaddi. 

If they cross you at the start of the Bandra Worli Sea Link, then your finish time will be 
6.40 hrs. 

If they cross you at the Bandra toll point, you will finish in 6.10. 

If they cross you at Mahim Junction, it will take you 5.45 hrs to complete. 

If they cross you at Hinduja Hospital, then your finish time will be around 5.20. 

If it’s at Shivaji Park, it will be 5.05. 

If it’s at Siddhi Vinayak Mandir, then it will be 4.50. 

If it’s at the Passport Office, it will be around 4.39. 

If it’s on the return of Worli Seaface near INS Trata, it will be a 4.37 finish. 

If it’s near Worli Dairy, it will be 4.33. 

If it’s at Mela restaurant, it will be 4.30. 

If it’s at Mahalaxmi Race Course, it’s 4.28. 

If it’s at the Haji Ali Seafront, then it’s 4.26. 

If it’s on the Peddar Road flyover, it’s 4.23. 

If it’s at the Antilia building, then it’s 4.21. 

If it’s at the Babulnath temple, it’s 4.18. 

If it’s on the Marine Drive Seafront near Wilson College, then it’s 4.12. 

If it’s near Taraporewala Aquarium, then it’s 4.06. 

If it’s near Jazz By The Bay, then it’s 4.00. 🍸🍷

If it’s near Flora Fountain, it’s 3.55. 

If you find yourself crossing the finish line before the elite runners, congratulations!!! You win two nights and three days at Nairobi or Addis Ababa. 

~Copyright@BijayNair-2ndAug2018

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The Full Marathon route map for a glimpse of the city.

*kabaddi – a team sport from South Asia, played on a field

*Bandra Worli Sea Link – a cable-stayed bridge which literally connects the city from South Mumbai to North Mumbai, and is only accessible to pedestrians on the day of this marathon.

*Antilia building – a twenty-seven storied skyscraper in South Mumbai which is a private home in it’s entirety.

Some pictures I found online of different sections of the route.

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Tata Mumbai Marathon 2018

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If you ever find yourself racing at the Bay, now you know how to pace yourself!

 

Cuddly Canine Competitors

The sports section of yesterday’s newspaper featured the Goldfields Pipeline Marathon in Australia. It was not the runners, however, who were the focus of the article. A dog called Stormy took up the challenge and diligently ran the half marathon route (21.097 kilometers or 13.1 miles), completing the distance in two and a half hours. The crossbreed was said to be very friendly, and prior to the start of the race was even seen at the half marathon section saying ‘hello’ to his “fellow competitors”. When the event took off, the doggo promptly raced alongside the humans, revealed race organizer Grant Wholey. At race stations along the route, he was seen having a little runaround and greeting the volunteers and participants who had paused for a water break. Stormy kept following the crowds, keeping to the middle or back of the pack, and finding running companions by teaming up with random runners on the route. Wholey added the black and brown canine came from a nearby Aboriginal community, where school teachers revealed the locals called him Stormy. He belonged to a community rather than a single owner, and was said to be a year old. Stormy successfully completed his half-marathon near the West Australian town of Kalgoorlie in a time usually taken by amateur runners. He was awarded a medal for completing the race, and winning the hearts of his human competitors. Rangers impounded the pooch when no one claimed him after the race, and Wholey revealed some of the runners are keen on adopting him. Some podium finish for this doggo who stood up to the long distance running challenge!

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Keeping the pace. That’s how it’s done.
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Seen passing through each checkpoint along the course, which made him eligible for the finisher’s medal.
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Proudly sporting the medal.
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Kept in a pound for seven days, and put up for adoption when no one claimed him.

In similar news, a canine from Alabama accidentally ran a half marathon and finished in seventh place. While human racers train ahead of a race for months, the two and a half year old pet hound dog completed the distance in an impressive 1:32:56 for 13.1 miles (21.09 kilometers). Ludivine was said to have snuck out of her owner’s garden and joined runner’s at the start point of the Trackless Train Trek Half Marathon (in 2016. It is now known as the Elkmont Half Marathon.) Her owner April Hamlin admitted to Runner’s World that her pet regularly wanders off without her in the town of Elkmont, and was embarrassed that her canine companion may have got in the way of race participants. Ludivine was seen bouncing around in her collar, so racers assumed she belonged to someone and would turn back home after a head pat. The canine racer was seen running off to romp through streams and sniff around yards for a while, before she got back in the race and decided the challenge was on again, determinedly passing fellow runners. Volunteers at the race happily clicked pictures of every participant, including the non-human one, and sent proof of Ludivine’s long distance running prowess to her owner. The finish line picture at an impressive seventh position was also captured. Hamlin explained this was the first half marathon in Elkmont, and the organizers and participants were parents of kids who regularly run cross country and wanted to raise funds. Ludivine unwittingly brought more publicity to the event. Doggos continue to win hearts all over!

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Be courteous to all volunteers.
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Interesting things might happen off-route…
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But it’s important to regain focus.
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Why follow the pack when you can lead?
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Seventh position in a trail half-marathon with 1:32:56. Show the humans how it’s done!

Sources:

~www.telegraph.co.uk

~www.abc.net.au

~Mid-day newspaper

 

Weekend Kitchen Experiments – Handvo

Weekends are a time for trying out new recipes and experimenting in the kitchen. I love baking and usually tinker with sweet dishes, but had some extra time on hand yesterday and tried out this savory preparation for breakfast.

Handvo is a vegetable cake originating from Western India – a part of the cuisine specific to the state of Gujarat. It is often made with bottle gourd, though other vegetables can also be used as filling. The commonly used ingredients are wheat flour or rice, a mixture of lentils, bottle gourd and/or other vegetables and sesame seeds, making this a wholesome meal to enjoy by itself or with a side of pickle or chutney.

There are four parts to the ingredients – the dough, the vegetables, the tempering, and the garnishing. For the dough, rice and gram were soaked the previous day for a few hours, ground, and then left to ferment overnight with yogurt. Bottle gourd, carrots and ginger were peeled and grated, fenugreek leaves were finely chopped, and green chillies were crushed. A tempering was made by heating oil, adding mustard seeds and turning off the heat once they started spluttering. Sesame seeds and dried red chillies were added, followed by all the remaining ingredients assembled earlier. The medley of food components were mixed well.

With an oven pre-heated and a baking pan greased, baking soda needs to be added just before you are ready to pour the batter into the pan. Sesame seeds were sprinkled on top and the mixture was baked for about half an hour. (The top needs to turn crispy brown – baking could take anywhere between twenty-five to forty-five minutes.) It was left to cool for about twenty minutes before removing from the pan. I sprinkled chopped coriander leaves on top before serving. Additional sesame seeds or flaxseed powder can be added to the garnish, if desired.

Handvo is usually prepared and served as a cake. I baked the mixture in two sets, resulting in two “flattened cakes” instead of one thick one. It does not affect the taste – I just wanted to start eating while the second lot was still in the oven, and the flatter version baked faster. And this is a very nutritious meal – with it’s assortment of grains, seeds and vegetables, and the fact that it is baked. Minimal oil is used for the tempering.

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The “flat cake” since I divided the mixture into two sets for baking.
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Garnished with coriander leaves.
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All set for a healthy breakfast.

Considering the time required for soaking and fermenting the grains, and baking the entire mixture, this is a longish meal preparation. The ingredients, however, are mixed and set aside and the dish otherwise does not take up too much of time. Give this one a go if you like trying cuisines from around the world and are looking for healthy alternatives.

Live A Full Life

“There is no friend as loyal as a book.”

Today is Ernest Hemingway’s 119th birth anniversary. The American novelist, short story writer and journalist is a commanding presence in the literary world, and had a strong influence on 20th century literature. He produced most of his works between the 1920s and 1950s, and even won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954. He published seven novels, six short story collections, and two non-fiction books. Three of his novels, four short story collections, and three non-fiction works were published posthumously.

His debut novel, The Sun Also Rises, was published in 1926. He based the 1940 novel For Whom The Bells Toll on his journalistic experiences during the Spanish Civil War. Soon after the publication of The Old Man And The Sea (1952), he went on safari to Africa, where he was nearly killed in two successive plane crashes that left him in ill health for a major part of the rest of his life. In 1961 he shot himself in the head in his house in Ketchum, Idaho.

Hemingway’s works are considered masterpieces of American literature. However, even the finest works of fiction pale in comparison to his endeavors in real life. Winner of both the Pulitzer and Nobel prizes, Bronze Star recipient, war correspondent, sports fisherman, game hunter, bullfighting aficionado, boxer, War hero – the list of his many non-literary pursuits is endless.

Hemingway learned to handle a gun at a young age – his interest in hunting ranging from pheasant and duck shooting, to big game safaris in East Africa later on in life. He was an amateur boxer, and won several fishing tournaments – his love for sports reflected in many of his short stories. His lifelong zeal for the hunting life can be seen in his masterful works of fiction inspired by his own adventures. From his famous account of an African safari in The Short Happy Life Of Francis Macomber, to anecdotes about duck hunting in Across The River And Into The Trees – he considered hunting as a means to explore man’s relationship to nature.

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Duck hunting in Idaho
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With a blue marlin

“My writing is nothing, my boxing is everything.”

He used boxing analogies in interviews, had a boxing ring built in his backyard and sparred with guests, and even attempted to teach the poet Ezra Pound to box during his years in Paris.

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Amateur boxing

“He is without question one of the most courageous men I have ever known.  Fear was a stranger to him.”

~Colonel “Buck” Lanham, a close friend and later a Major General, when Hemingway was awarded the Bronze Star for Bravery as a war correspondent.

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War hero – He served with the Red Cross on the Italian front in WWI

“I suppose the most remarkable thing about Ernest is that he has found time to do the things most men only dream about.  He has had the courage, the initiative, the time, the enjoyment to travel, to digest it all, to write, to create it, in a sense.  There is in him a sort of quiet rotation of seasons, with each of them passing overland and then going underground and re-emerging in a kind of rhythm, refreshed and full of renewed vigor.”

~Marlene Dietrich (actress and close friend who commented on Hemingway’s life to a biographer)

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Hemingway’s life experiences contributed as resource material to many of his literary works, and much of his life is reflected in his fiction.

“In going where you have to go, and doing what you have to do, and seeing what you have to see, you dull and blunt the instrument you write with. But I would rather have it bent and dulled and know I had to put it on the grindstone again and hammer it into shape and put a whetstone to it, and know that I had something to write about, than to have it bright and shining and nothing to say, or smooth and well oiled in the closet, but unused.”

~Preface to The First Forty-Nine Stories

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“We are all broken. That’s how the light gets in.”

 

Sources:

A. E. Hotchner Papa Hemingway: A Personal Memoir

American Author’s Series Ernest Hemingway: Wrestling with Life

Ernest Hemingway, Sean Hemingway, Patrick Hemingway Hemingway On Hunting