Thursday, February 26, 2015

Swimathon Goa 2015

Even before we attempted the marathon, about which I posted last week, there was this notice about ‘Swimathon Goa 2015’ on the notice board of the Ponda pool. I had been looking forward to this ‘Swimathon’ for quite sometime. After a lot of ‘should I’ and ‘shouldn’t I’ last year, I had decided not to go for it, repented my decision and had resolved to participate this year. Again, nothing big. Just the 250 meters ‘Dream swim’. I Usually swim about 500-700 mts in the pool everyday and have done 1000mts a few times. But the open sea is a different ball game and I decided to test the waters with 250 mts. I registered for ‘Swimathon Goa 2015’.

When I mentioned about the event to our group, the response was tepid. Most of our members routinely swim about 1 km in the pool. But at the first instance, no one was keen to try the open sea. Then I let it out that I had already registered. I am the oldest and the slowest member of the group and my decision to take part in the event pushed others forward. By the end of the week five more registrations were in. We had three for the 1 km race and three for the 250 mts dream swim.

So, there we were, the six of us at the Colva beach on the morning last Sunday in an attempt to confirm ourselves that we haven't been swimming all these years for nothing. As it turned out it was an enjoyable event except for the wait in the hot sun for our race. Swimming in the sea was certainly lot more difficult even though it was easier to keep ourselves afloat, because of the higher density of water.You do not have the security of the four walls that you are used to in the pool. A wave is always there waiting to hit your face when you lift your head to breathe. And since there are no lane markers in the sea, you need to repeatedly lift your head up to see where you are going. The salt water irritates the eyes, skin, nose and throat - because you invariably swallow some of it, and since the visibility under water is zero you do not know what is around you. Of course there were no sharks or snakes around but there were a number of jelly fish with a sting that could be irritating for hours. But once you got the hang of it, going was easy.

One of our members who went for the 1 km swim was heading for Mumbai and had to be guided back on to his path, but in the end all of them finished the distance in time and were back in one piece.

The rest of us could swim the 250 mts with ease but another of my friends complained that the waves bothered him a lot. In fact they were bent up on bothering him and swelled up to their full potential especially when he lifted his head. 

I think it is enough of the 'Swimathon’ and if it is of any interest, you may please go through the pictures. 

 Colva Beach - the venue of Swimathon 2015

The life guards - on the ready 

The stating pointg

The compulsory but cursory medical check

Parents and relatives trying to spot their wards amongst the orange dots bobbing at a distance

Two girls from our pool who finished the five km swim

A group of under 14 boys wait for the 1km race.

Our friends finish 1km
Another gentleman after the 1 km race. Three cheers to his spirits
We do our bit. After the 250 mts 'Dream swim'.

A scene at the venue

A scene at the venue
Happy that we went there. Ready to get back.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Goa Marathon 2015 - At Ponda

 We thought that all work and no play may make POP a dull group and decided to give up the cleaning drive today and instead, go for the ‘Goa Marathon’ organized by the Dr Ramani Foundation at Ponda. None of us are capable of running 21 kms but we thought we could give a try for the 5km ‘dream run’. I do not know why it is called the dream run. May be because you run five kilometers in the morning and since the aching limbs do not allow you to sleep at night, you just dream. Dream of a life devoid of marathons!  

We assembled at the Ponda sports complex grounds at six in the morning and had a very enthusiastic discussion about running and marathons.  We joined hundreds of other enthusiasts at the starting point and to give credit to the group, all of us did run the FIRST FIFTY meters. Then on we managed run/jog/ walk between 2-5 kms as per individual capabilities but all of us enjoyed the event. There were runners who did 21 kms with ease and some of them barefoot. We watched and applauded them. Some very senior citizens did the 3km stretch. It was inspiring and we have decided to start practicing from now and run three kilometers when we reach that age. We have given ourselves about 15- 25 years to practice and perform. Our president Dr Dev finished the full five kms to save our face. Following are some of the pictures of the marathon. 

Fresh and spirited at 6 in the morning
Joining the group at the starting point. My camera captures the dew better. 

Waiting for the run to begin.
A group of young boys run past the Almeida high school

Some very senior citizens begin the 3 km. run

Dr Dev completes five kilometers and saves our face

Scene at the ground

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Delhi Results And The PM's Suit.

So, AAP has used its broom very effectively to sweep out BJP (and all others) from the capital. I never thought that AAP had a chance after its leader acted like a joker while he was occupying the Delhi CMs chair.  May be he had his reasons and may be it was part of a bigger plan. I do not know. But that is how it appeared to a distant lay man.

Now the experts will analyse the result and will ‘bah, blah, blah’ on the media for the next day or two. It may be Amit Shah’s over confidence, BJP’s infighting, Kejrival’s  ‘common man’ approach or the 'out sider' Kiran bedi. I do not know. I am not a psephologist or a self proclaimed expert and in any case nobody will care for my view. But I wonder if the PM’s  famous striped suit turned out to be much more costlier than its tag of Rs 10 lakh?

He had his critics and some of them were justified. But I did not feel they mattered much as far as the PM’s image was concerned, till he exhibited his Rs 10 lakh suit. I don’t grudge an Ambani or Adani their arrogance and indulgences. They have their money or their father’s money, well gotten or ill gotten. But I do grudge when our PM expresses arrogance and indulges with my, the taxpayer’s, money. I have no problem with his Bungalows and BMWs.  He is entitled. But a very personal suit with his name written all over, I feel , is different. We expect our PM to appear humble and frugal. If he had worn a 10 lakh suit which had  ‘Swachch Bharat - Sundara Bharat’, ‘Pehle shouchalay - Badme devalay’, ‘ Make In India - Made in India'  or any of his other slogans which fetched him votes before, it would have been acceptable. But he chose ‘Narendra Damodardas Modi’. No. Not done.

May be the voters of Delhi felt the same and they made him pay for it. Much more than the ten lakh it was worth. Are the ‘achchedin’ over?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Everything Is 'Andhaa-Dhundhi'.

Recognise the uniform at the corner of the picture? Yes, it is the traffic police official posted in front of SBI Ponda. Notice the double parked scooters? Yes, that is what he is supposed to prevent. But he appeared to be least bothered. We usually ignore both. Today I decided to question him about it.

“Sir, do you see those two wheelers which are wrongly parked?”
“Then, what are you doing about it?”
“They have just gone to the ATM”
“But going to the ATM is not an excuse to double park their vehicles and you are here to prevent that and take action. Not to justify wrong parking.”
“What to do? Eevery thing has become haphazard” (“Kite karpache? Sagle andhaa-dhundhi zaale”)
“My dear sir, I am supposed to say that. Not you. Things are ‘andhaa-dhundhi’ (haphazard) because YOU don’t care. Do you understand that?” 

He was not interested in continuing the conversation with an old idiot who did not have anything better to do other than pointing out silly things. He looked at me with pity (as we usually look at mentally unsound people), smiled and walked away.  I took his full picture and also his name and buckle number. My first thought was to write a complaint to his superiors. (Not that they would do anything about it). But then I thought about it and felt that he is not the only one to be blamed. I made a list of those whom I would like to blame.

1. We, the citizens - who consider these matters as silly things not worth bothering about and accept them because that is how things are in our country. We consider these uncivilized actions to be an aspect of our ‘Indianness,’ many of which we see everyday everywhere and are actually proud of it rather than being ashamed. We have grown with it and we bring up our children in the same way. Have any one of us questioned such things any time even though we notice them everywhere?

2. His ultimate superiors - Our ‘Netas’. Who have many weighty things to bother about and who have themselves set examples by being lawbreakers a number of times. Here is a small example of their attitude related to traffic. Few months back, five of the Hon. MLAs of the Goa legislative assembly, rode on their two wheelers - Enfield, Harley Davidson, Yamaha and such other glittering things - instead of their cars, on a fancy. Nothing wrong with that. But, none of them wore a helmet, an offence for which hundreds of citizens get ‘challaned’ every day. The police at the gate saluted them smartly and let them in. But some media fellow, who did not have any thing better to do, took their pictures, questioned their action and demanded that they be punished. It took three days for our MLAs to accept that they did something wrong and say that they would pay a fine. But I don’t think any of them did. At least I have not read anything about it in the papers. This is a trivial issue (as many may say) but with 'law makers' like these, what else can we expect?

3. His immediate superiors - who have failed to instill a bit of pride in him about his job and also have not drilled into his head the necessity to take his job seriously. Probably they themselves just say “sagle andhaa-dhundhi zaale” and close their eyes, an action which their underling follows.

4. This constable is the last to be blamed.

Whenever we from POP (Our group, People Of  Ponda) have talked to the traffic cell about haphazard traffic in our city, the usual response is that the PWD has not installed enough sign boards or that they (traffic police) do not have enough staff. I understand that, right now there is an exercise going on to redefine parking areas, one ways, no parking zones etc etc in our city. I would like to point out to the people in charge of traffic cell that they are wasting their time redrawing traffic arrangements if they are going to be as indifferent to the new system as they are to the present system. What we need are not new/more rules/arrangements but only effective implementation of what we already have. All they have to do is come out of their indifference. Nothing else.

(I also noticed the same situation in front of Padmavi hotel and in front of Canara bank where there were not one but two police officials in each place, including one having Two stripes on his sleeves.
 POP has intentions of talking to the top cops in traffic about traffic management in Ponda city and I intend mentioning this to the higher ups in the police force if and when we get to meet them. Hope we find a receptive ear and not an indifferent one)

I wrote this piece and tried to think why did I write? Is it just to have something posted on the Facebook page? I don’t think so. I feel strongly about these matters and want to do whatever I can, to bring about a change. Making others aware is one of the ways. Some say that I am just banging my head against a rock. A rock called our ‘collective attitude or the system.’ May be. But I hope that if everyone of us bang their heads - lightly, not very hard - it may cause a small dent on the rock one day or the other. Like drops of water falling over the ages. I do not hope to live to see the day but may be, my great, great grand children (if and when they are born) will be part of a civilized society.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Clock That Displays Qualities

See the picture of the wall clock? It has reached there after a long journey and like many other objects in our house it has a story attached.

It had been ordered online, meaning, that my wife had asked her sister to bring a ‘decent looking’ clock from the US, and the ever obliging sister (what are sisters for, if not?) purchased one, packed it in her suitcase and checked it in. The suitcase passed through the tender and loving hands of the luggage handling systems of four air ports and arrived in Ponda, along with my in laws, to a warm welcome. When my sister in law took out the ominously tinkling package and started removing the pieces of the clock, which had been converted into a zigsaw puzzle, I counted thirty eight pieces. Nineteen pieces of glass, two pieces of metal, thirteen pieces of plastic, three pieces of paper and the only intact part, the quartz timer. (The black square thing at the back where you insert the battery)

My sister in law was crestfallen. She had searched so many shops, selected  the clock - keeping in mind all of her sister’s specifications, got the approval (on ‘skype’), paid good money, packed it carefully and had brought it. Now, all that she had to show for her efforts were some pieces of glass and plastic. But she recovered in no time. She took the timer, held it to her ears and exclaimed excitedly, “It is working. Hear!” She pressed it to my ear for confirmation.

“This timer is working. But your brain is not.” I was curt. “What can you do with that timer alone? Tape it to your ear and count seconds?”

“The timer is what is important. Other parts can be repaired” she replied “The frame is plastic and the pieces can be glued together. We can get glass of that size in any glass shop. The dial can easily be taped.The needles are only separated, not broken. We just have to put the pieces together and fix the needles properly.”  So simple!

She is like that. Optimism personified. Decades back, when she was a student, she had an accident which cut her face, broke her jaw into two pieces, broke her skull into four pieces and four front teeth into eight. It happened just before her final year exams and it tried to break her will. But it failed there. Once she regained consciousness  - which took about three days - she took a look at the situation through her blackened eyes, found that the brain was working and the will was intact, got the other things repaired, grit her teeth (which actually required no effort - they had been wired together), bore the pain, wrote the exam, and came out with flying colours! No signs of the ordeal exist now but for a faint scar on her face. What was this broken clock in front of that!

But I have enough pessimism to balance her optimism and spare some.

“Don’t be a fool the second time. You have been foolish enough to waste your money and efforts trying to bring that clock through four airports in one piece.  Don’t waste more time and efforts. Just throw the pieces out and forget it. You sisters have no sense whatever. She asks for it and you bring it.”  I was angry. It was such a waste.

“It was not at all risky. I have brought things which are even more delicate. This time I made the mistake of packing it at the top of the suitcase instead of putting it in the middle between the clothes, that’s all.”  She was not prepared to accept any fault.

My wife was hearing the conversation. It was a surprise that she had not joined us yet. Now she did.
“You don’t have to be harsh on her. She has taken such a lot of trouble for our sake. I have been telling you that we need to buy a good wall clock and you don’t care. Since our bed room clock stopped I wanted another one in its place. None of the others that we have (we have four others) suit there and moreover, they are required in their places. Your Ponda shops just don’t have a decent clock. You have selected such a place to live. Actually I did not ask her to bring the clock. I just mentioned this to her and she has been considerate enough to bring one for me. Don’t blame her. You don’t care for anything (substitute ‘my feelings’ for ‘anything’). I am lucky that I have a sister who does.”

My father in law was observing the goings on. His hearing is poor. His ear, now, has stayed tuned only to the frequency of my mother in law’s voice and she has to covey things to him. He looked enquiringly at her but  before she had completed her second sentence he had gathered the essence. “If you can get me some Feviquick and adhesive tape I can attempt repairing it. If the timer is Ok and if I can fix those two needles in proper position, it should work.” He likes such activity and here was a chance to keep himself (and others) busy during the visit.

I could not bear it anymore and I could not tell him that he is talking through his hat. I was certain that it  was a hopeless situation and I only said that it is not going to work, told them to be careful with the glass and walked off.

When I came back from the clinic in the afternoon there was a package on the table which contained tubes of Feviquick, Aralditel and a roll of adhesive tape.
“I bought them from the corner shop. It hardly cost thirty rupees. We have nothing to lose. Let me try” - F in Law.
“Let him try. If it can be repaired, why not? As he says there is nothing to lose and he is getting bored” - S in Law.
“Do whatever you want. Tell me after you are done and I will dispose the pieces properly. Don’t throw them in the trash bin.” I could not bear with their stupidity.

Whole of the afternoon and evening my father in law was tinkering with the clock exclaiming now and then “this Feviquick is very fast” - “this Araldite is taking too long to dry” - “if I had something to hold this in position for a while it would have worked” etc etc and was putting all others to work, fetching him a screw driver, another one with a smaller tip, a piece of card board, tweezers, so on and so forth. Sister in law was overseeing the operations with helpful suggestions. I ignored it and waited for them to give up and allow me to throw the thing out.

Next morning when I left for work they were still at it. When I returned from the clinic in the afternoon I found the frame of the clock full and square, resting against the wall. From a distance, nothing looked amiss but for a big hole in one corner. The dial was patched up and was drying in the balcony. The hour and minute hands had been set in the timer and were actually moving. I had to appreciate my F in Law’s patience and perseverance and out of curiosity, I took a closer look. 

The Patched up dial
The frame had been joined quite well except for the hole in the corner and there were four pieces of plastic remaining.  “I am sure those four pieces belong there but I am not able to make out how they fit. Please see if you can find out.”  F in Law drew me into the operations. I like to try my hand in such things too but this had looked absolutely hopeless. Now, after twenty four hours of sustained efforts, the situation had changed and there was some hope. I sat with the frame for the next half an hour and managed to fit three of the remaining four pieces. One was left. The last piece of the puzzle. It was the right piece for the slot but due to minor irregularities in gluing a dozen pieces together, one corner was not fitting. I took it to the clinic, trimmed it with my denture trimmer and it slid into place. The frame was complete.

A corner glued together
After that there was no looking back. The in laws got into the task with renewed enthusiasm and hope. By the third night the other parts had also found their places and the clock was on the table almost complete and ticking.

It continued to keep perfect time and the next evening, when it was time for them to leave, my sister in law pleaded. “See it is working. Please don’t discard it. You just have to fit a glass now. It will be fine.”

I checked it for the next forty eight hours and it was doing well. I took it to the glass dealer, got a piece of glass cut to size and fixed it. Then I hung it on the wall. It looked fine. It has been there for two weeks now. I am happy to accept that I was wrong in my assessment and wish my sister in law could see it. She would have been very happy. She will see the picture anyway.

She was a young girl at the time of my marriage and I have seen her grow, set goals, achieve them and reach for new heights, in all spheres of life. She has an unending supply of optimism, hope and the ability to work tirelessly to get what she aims for. This clock, sort of symbolises, the challenging tasks (sometimes appearing to be foolishly hopeful) that I have seen her attempt and succeed.

I hope this clock keeps ticking for a long time and apart from keeping time, keeps reminding me of all her qualities, which I appreciate and admire, every time I look at it.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Betul Boat Ride And Shantadurga Kunkallikarin

One of the messages on whatsapp received recently, said “The last week end of 2014 - Enjoy it”. Our swimming group ‘The early Birds’ took it seriously and decided to do something about the suggestion. An invitation from one of the members to visit his village near Cuncolim for the annual ‘Jatra’ of ‘Shantadurga kunkallikarin’ and have dinner in his house came in handy. The invitation had been there for a week on the  ‘whatsapp’ group and had not received any response. I do not know who let out the word that the major component of 'Teerth' in the ‘Teerth-Prasad’ is going to be ‘Chivas Regal’, suddenly on the Sunday morning there were half a dozen takers. We have another friend whose in - laws live in the nearby village 'Betul' and own a fishing boat. He offered to provide ‘Tea’ - Just real tea - and take us for a ride on the fishing boat in the sea if we could leave a bit early.  A full fledged plan of a ‘pleasure cruise followed by Darshan and teerth prasad’ got in place in no time and was notified.

We were to leave by four but we left by five due to force of habit and when we arrived at Betul it was just past six.  Just a few minutes spent exchanging  pleasantries and we were in the boat.

Getting into the boat - carefully  
Heading towards the open sea. Calm water, cool breeze, beautiful sights, pleasant going. 

The family watches our departure. 
 I got to know some of the facets of fishing as an occupation. It is not a pleasant joy ride for the men who head towards the sea every day. They usually leave at about four in the morning and return by noon or leave in the evening and return after midnight. Tough timings. You spread the nets and wait. I believe the fish move to and fro at dawn and dusk and get into the nets during the process. The catch depends more on your luck than on your skills. And so are the chances of returning alive - when the sea is rough. Out there you are on your own. Our friend's family has lost a son. It is nearly eight years now. The wound is still there - but life goes on.
A resort across the waters. If only the 'teerth prasad' was served here!

It is not so calm in the open sea. The nose rises up and dips down constantly. It is getting dark and some stomachs are turning queasy.
Our hosts do not mind going on for some more time but it is getting dark and there are a few requests to turn back. The light is low and the camera refuses to work. We head back. 
What looks like some christmas decoration is the fishing net hung out to dry. 
  After the stomachs relaxed, the group refreshed itself with Tea and snacks and headed for the Jatra.

'Deepasthasmbha' in front of the Shantadurga temple at Cuncolim.

And the temple at 'Jatra' time.
Paid our respects to the twin deities Shantadurga kuncallikarin and shantadurga fatarpekarin, partook the teerth prasad at our friend's place where the teerth flowed liberally and returned home after a nice evening - the last week end of 2014.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Some More Action - Hope we do not go too fast and end up losing steam!

In my last post I mentioned that we intend meeting people who matter, inform them about our work and involve them in the process. We learnt that our MP from south Goa, Sri Narendra Sawaikar, was in town and met him. He was appreciative of our efforts, eager to provide help and offered to  join us in our next programme. He sounded keen to dirty his hands ( in the literal sense) and since he was available today, we fixed this morning 6 am to clean up another eyesore. I do not intend giving you a overdose of garbage and hence have kept it short and posted just a few pictures. 
Again, work began early in the morning and our MP was punctual. I was happy to note that he was not there just for the photo-op. He meant what he said, spent a full two and a half hours, did considerable amount of work, dirtied his hands and seemed happy that he joined us. He is the one in the center, bent down.  
This is a place where people throw their garbage packed in plastic carry bags and the Panchayat arranges to set fire to the littered garbage when it feels like. The trash mixed with the melted plastic was not easy to clear and required spades and shovels. 

We raised enough dust. Hope it was noticed.

An adjacent construction site which needs to be filled up, comes handy. 

The spot was in front of the sports complex and some of the walkers and  players were waylaid and pulled in to lend a hand.
Requested the next door fire station to give the finishing touch with a spray of water and they obliged. 

Where is yours truly? Since there were enough hands, I evaded work
and busied myself with the camera. Just my shadow was enough to get things done!