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. 🙂
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).
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.
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.
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”.
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!
So, there’s this Seven Day Book Challenge that has been doing the rounds lately. I have no idea where it started from or by whom, but people have been challenging fellow readers around the world to click and share pictures of seven of their favorite books. You need to be challenged by a friend, and in turn challenge another bibliophile to continue the game of tag. (The terms ‘nomination’ and ‘invitation’ have also been thrown around.) The criteria involves taking a photograph of only the book cover – no blurbs, quotes, excerpts, reviews, narratives of how you came across the book, who gave it to you, where you picked it up from, or any sort of explanation related to why that particular book is one among your favorites. All one needs to share is a picture of the book cover.
Now as avid readers, we always have a lot to say about our books. We would read anyways, even without being challenged. And for someone who reads about seven books in two months, identifying seven books from those read over a lifetime is quite a task. I personally don’t follow any of these “challenges” that do the rounds on social media – It means having to take out time to perform the activity, and log in daily to share updates of the same; something I don’t usually have the time for. Even when it comes to “Reading Challenges” which set themes for books to be read, I prefer setting my own reading goals. Books are always handy, though, and bookworms love showing them off – new books bought, visits to bookstores, thrift scores from second-hand shops, gifts from friends – we love sharing and seeing what others are reading which can be discussed at length if read, or added to the list if not.
Here’s what I came up with for the Seven Day Book Challenge. I read just about anything – across genres and languages – and I’m usually intuitively good at picking great reads, so most of what I read is highly recommended. I could come up with these “seven day” lists everyday! For those of you who haven’t come across this book challenge yet, the pupper above challenges you – Which seven books would you list, if you had to recommend a book for each day of the week? Here’s my list, or rather pictures since that was the requirement of the challenge.
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 TataMumbai 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. “
*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.
If you ever find yourself racing at the Bay, now you know how to pace yourself!
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!
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!
“A book is kind of like a river, I simply jump in and start swimming.”
It was time to start swimming with fellow bibliophiles, as the weekend ushered in our book club’s monthly meet-up. For the uninitiated, our reading group was started by a bunch of us runners who loved to read and discuss books, and were looking for people who shared similar interests. What began as a group of runner-readers connecting over common passions, led to family and friends joining in, and ultimately had outsiders attending the book meets as well. Books connect us in myriad ways. Many of the book club members are runners and athletes, but all genres of books are discussed – not just running or sport related ones.
Our book club is referred to by the acronym DYRT. Did You Run Today was the name of our running group, which we use interchangeably for Did You Read Today, and we also have a sister writing group for budding authors called Did You (w)Rite Today.
Coming back to our book meet, the session started off by introducing the guest author – a technology professional turned writer who has three books to his credit. Vijay Raghav’s literary career began as a poet in 2012 when he published his first book, ‘The Peak Of All Thoughts‘ – a bouquet of essays written in a mix of prose and poetry. Raghav then came out with his debut novel in 2013 titled ‘Fall‘ – an emotional roller coaster of love, envy, deceit and mystery. The book he selected for today’s reading session was his newly published compilation titled ‘The Curve Of Chance‘. Released in February 2018, the book comprises four intriguing short stories entwined with threads of chance and probability. Set around the city life, the tales are a mix of fact and fantasy, dealing with timely coincidences and untimely encounters. Through our author sessions, we try and introduce readers to niche books and writers who might not be popularly known around the world. It gives readers a chance to explore books they might not have come across otherwise. If you like exploring new authors, check out Raghav’s books.
After the author’s reading session, it was time for book reviews by our reader members of two selected books for today’s meet – Burmese Days by George Orwell, and Zero To One by Peter Thiel. We usually encourage a mix of fiction and non-fiction so that different genres can be explored, which cater to varying reader tastes. ‘Burmese Days‘ was the first novel by George Orwell, published in 1934 and based on his experiences as a policeman stationed in Imperial Burma in the 1920s. John Flory, the 35-year old hero of the novel, was characterized around Orwell himself, and the book presents a devastating picture of British colonial rule. It describes corruption and bigotry in a society where natives were considered an “inferior people”. Peter Thiel – one of the founders of PayPal – brings to us ‘Zero To One‘ which gives a new perspective on what basis one should start a company, and how businesses should be run. A recommended book for startups and entrepreneurs that sheds light on the fundamentals of starting a business, with Thiel emphasizing on research and innovation and providing anecdotes and statistics to share his insights with the reader.
A fourth book that was the highlight of the evening is titled ‘Fighter‘ – about ex-navy officer cum marathoner and golfer Cdr. Ravi Malhan who succumbed to cancer at the end of last year. His wife Rekha Malhan presented the book which she published in memory of her late husband. Cdr Malhan was diagnosed with cancer of the larynx and underwent total laryngectomy, which left him unable to speak in his last days and consequently resorting to share his thoughts through the written word. ‘Fighter‘ is a compilation of all his journal writings and musings, and proceedings from the sales of the book are being donated to cancer charities. The founder of our book club, who is also an ex-Navy officer and marathoner, read excerpts from the book.
We concluded with an autograph session with the guest author of his books that were available for sale at the venue. All in all, another well spent bookish evening for all the bibliophilic attendees who could make it for the meet.
Yesterday was celebrated as World Emoji Day. 17th July is deemed as a global celebration of emojis because the date is famously displayed on the Calendar Emoji. Here’s a fun display of a marathon as represented by various emoticons – the emotions a runner goes through as the miles (or kilometers) wear on.
Medals are more than just mementos of an event. They are reminders of what it took to reach that occasion, and everything you strove for to get there. Those of you who have been following my blog since a while, might be aware that I was in an accident last year. I suffered from nerve damage – the entire right leg being paralysed from hip to foot. For a marathon runner and dancer this was a tremendous setback, to not be able to move. With intense physiotherapy, yoga and Pilates, I have picked up the pieces (and paces) gradually. A few weeks ago I had posted about returning to the stage. This weekend, I ran my first event since the accident.
This picture is of the medal which was awarded to runners at the 8th anniversary run of a city-wide running group, that brings together running clubs from all over to celebrate running together as one community of long distance runners. I ran a measly 5k – a far departure from the usual 26.2 miles I’m accustomed to, but it was great being on the road again with fellow runners. Racing season has started here and I look forward to more events – stepping it up gradually to 10k and half marathon races. I doubt I’ll be able to run full marathons this year. But this medal is a pleasant reminder of what I was and where I can be. Time to resurrect the training plans, running gear, and the runner herself, whom the roads have been waiting for all along.
‘International Yoga Day’ and ‘World Music Day’ were recently celebrated around the globe, with both occasions coinciding on the 21st of June. Yoga and Music are two subjects close to my heart. I have been a yoga practitioner for almost eighteen years now, and have dabbled in various musical instruments over the years.
A friend of mine, from the percussion class where I had learnt the doumbek, is currentlyin Bucharest, Romania for a gig. He uses music as an aid to travel and explore, just as I run marathons around the world – clubbing the pursuits that are dear to one’s heart. I play the doumbek as a hobby, but he is a professional musician and drummer who is equally adept at the various percussion instruments. He shared this picture just before the performance yesterday – an array of sounds contrasting the spectacular architecture of the concert venue.
When you follow your heart, the world treats you to it’s many wonders.
On the weekend celebrating Father’s Day, Alice Ozma’s tribute to reading is a fitting book that highlights the parent-child relationship and the bond forged through books.
This is not a book about books – If you’re looking for a list of titles to pick up and authors to check out, you’ll be disappointed. The Reading Promise is about the very act of reading, and how books connect people. This is a book about individuals having the quilt of their lives woven together by the books they shared. It is a tribute to the words on a page, the person who read them to you, the one you read them to, the memories associated with each book you have ever read. For Alice Ozma, reading is an act of love, and she describes her book as a love story.
When Alice was nine years old, her parents went through a separation. Her father ended up with sole custody of Alice and her sister Kath. Dad wanted the girls to know they would always be his priority no matter what. And the bibliophile that he was, he made a pact with the girls to read to them and with them everyday. Books ensured they would always be there for each other – whatever else might separate them in life, reading would be the one activity that bound them.
Kath did her own reading (she’s seven years elder to Alice), but dad and Alice took up a challenge to read together for a hundred consecutive days. This was a fun activity for a nine year old – she got to read and spend time with dad. They successfully completed the challenge and realized there was so much fun and learning on the way that they set a new target for a thousand consecutive days of reading – even giving the project a title, “The Reading Streak”. Avid readers, however, will always read – target or no target. The 1000-day goal ultimately resulted into 3,218 days – the reading streak continued for nine years, only coming to an end when Alice left home for college.
“The Reading Promise” beautifully takes us through the father-daughter relationship and the role books played in their lives. As a single father raising two daughters, dad relied on literature to get him through parenthood – according to him, anything you ever needed to know could be found in books. And this love for books is what he shared with his children. As mentioned earlier, this book is about the memories associated with books read over a lifetime. Alice’s mum’s attempted suicide, her parents’ divorce, her sister leaving home, her first accident while driving, road trips, visits to museums – from the ages of nine to eighteen books backed her every step of the way, whether to learn how to cope from characters going through similar situations, or just as a diversion when situations got too overwhelming.
Each chapter begins with a quote from a book she was reading at that point of time. So, from a child to an adult the reader is taken through an assortment of books that grew up along with Alice (or rather helped Alice grow up).
Anyone who has been raised by bibliophile parents and grandparents, who has literally been born and brought up around books, who has tonnes of friends who are bookworms, and has in turn introduced one’s children and grandchildren to books will love “The Reading Promise”. It’s an ode to the unsaid promise that books have always been there for us and we will always be there for books. And as we share books with the people we love, we promise them that we will always be there for them. Books, and the memories of reading them, are treasures we entrust to our loved ones. A reading family will identify with this greatly. (Even Alice Ozma’s name has a literary story behind it – Dad went all out right from the time of his children’s births.)
“The Reading Promise” was written when Alice was twenty-two years old. (Hence the tagline of the “promise made thirteen years ago”.) The writing is simplistic and childlike – not intended as a literary marvel but more as a compilation of the bookish antics of the father-daughter duo. Read this if you have bonded over books with your parents/children. A fabulous read for all bookworms, though fathers and daughters will particularly enjoy this one. A single father raising daughters and using literature as a medium to have “the talk”. Or dad showing up at the theatre because rehearsals have gone on too late, and arguing with the director that it’s nearing midnight and the day’s reading is pending. Alice’s writing strikes a chord of how protective dads can be, no matter the age of the daughter – that eagle eye will always be on the lookout for “injustices” (however trivial they might be). As it pays tribute to this special bond and the role books play in the equation, this is a must-read, on Father’s Day or any day.
P.S. There is a detailed list of books the pair read over nine years, compiled at the end of the book. At a glance, it literally reflects how the father raised his children through books and how their reading choices evolved over the years.