Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Delhi Half Marathon

Ok… so this is not likely to interest many people but here it is.

Back in July while I was in Australia some friends of mine were talking about doing the Blackmore's Sydney Half Marathon which was in September. After a bit of discussion I thought I might be able to squeeze another trip to Sydney in and run it with them. So when I got back to Delhi I started training at Siri Fort on their 1km clay running track (I don't know how many hundreds of times I have circled that track).

So the challenge was set and I had to somehow go from a completely sedentary lifestyle to being able to run 21k in 2 months. But unfortunately life got busy and I realised there was no way I was going to be able to get back to Sydney in September to run with my friends. This turned out not to be a problem as one by one my piker friends had pulled out of the 1/2 marathon too. By the time the decision was made not to run I had already worked my way up from barely being able to run 1km up to about 6km. So rather than let all the hard work of running in the Delhi humidity go to waste I decided to focus on the Delhi Half Marathon which was to be run in late November. This turned out to be a good decision. It gave me a bit more time to train and Delhi is dead flat so no need for any hill training… I have no idea where I could have done that in Delhi.

So training was going well and somewhere along the line a 7k run became really easy. I guess this meant I should have picked up the pace but I am too lazy and not at all competitive. I ended up taking a short break from training mid October when I made a quick trip to Australia and I also somehow picked up a mild dose of Dengue… luckily it did not stop me altogether. So gradually I stretched out the ks and about 2 weeks before the event I did my longest run of 17ks…it was not too bad and I figured I could pull out another 4ks on the day.

So on Sunday the 27th of November I hopped out of bed at 5am after a lousy nights sleep, got myself together and headed out the door. The event was starting at the big Commonwealth Games stadium 5 minutes from my house… convenient. So while it was still dark I waited with about 8300 other runners for the race to start at 7:10am.

The race was flagged off and it took about 5minutes before I actually crossed the start line. This probably had something to do with a couple of Bollywood stars flagging the race off and then all the Indian runners wanting to stop and take a photo on their way past.

So I was on my way. Not much to tell about 21ks of running really… bit boring even with a few podcasts for entertainment.
It didn't take long to get into a good rhythm and I was heading along quite comfortably. When I got to the 6k point who should I see coming down the road in the opposite direction at the 16k mark but a bunch of Ethiopians and Kenyans running at a cracking pace… these guys were machines… they made it look so easy. To put it in perspective I was plodding along at 6 minutes per kilometre and they are running at less than 3minutes per kilometre… crazy! We are talking 21km per hour compared to my measly 10.

Every now and then during the race I would have a little mental battle with myself, especially when I was at the furthest point from the start/finish line.
14ks I was doing fine.
17ks getting a bit nervous as I hadn't run further than that before and I hadn't managed to score some Gatorade so my glycogen stores were getting seriously low. By this stage I was saying to myself I am never doing this again. My breathing was fine but my legs were weakening.
At the 19k mark Hunter and Ray were at the cheer zone. They thought I was looking strong but I certainly didn't feel it… my pace had slowed but I was still running.
At the 20k mark I was unsuccessfully trying to convince myself to enjoy the last 6 minutes.
At 500 metres to go I was thinking there was no way I could ever run a full marathon if this is what half way feels like. There was another sign at 300 metres to go and all I could think was that the last 200 metres felt like they took forever. Then before I knew it I was at 100 metres to go and then done. It took me 2 hours and 20 minutes. The longest 2 hours and 20 minutes of my life.
I was too scared to sit down as I was so worried I would not be able to stand up again. So I collected my medal and my snack pack and headed for the gates hoping I might find Ray. It crossed my mind that if I couldn't find him I would have to take the metro home and that reminded me of an episode of How I Met Your Mother where Barney runs the New York Marathon and is on the subway home but he cant get off because he cant stand up…I was so worried that would be me. But I need not have worried Ray was doing a drive by and picked me up.

So here I am 3 days later…my legs are still a little sore but I can't wait to get back to Siri Fort for an easy 7k run. And even though I swore while I was running that I would never do it again and that I had no interest in improving my time I have already been looking for events to enter… I am a sucker for punishment.

One last thing… I am not a runner. I was never good at any running events at school. It does not come easy to me. So if I can go from sedentary to running a half marathon in 4 months anyone can.

It seems Airtel were too scummy to remove the copyright info off my free photo

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Interview on

Recently I received an email from asking if I would like to be interviewed for their Expat Interview page. Thinking it sounded like fun I went through the interview process sent in a few pics and now it is up and published... Have a squiz by clicking on the link below.

Expat Interview

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Would you like me to arrange your marriage?

Today I received a wedding  invitation. It said...

We cordially solicit the honor of thy noble presence
Love it!

So this got me thinking again about arranged marriage. Before coming to India and really taking the time to understand it, I thought arranged marriage was outdated and ridiculous. But now having spoken to a few people who have had arranged marriages I know think the idea has some merit and here is why.

Arranged marriages do not let feelings get in the way of making the life altering decision of who to marry. When arranged thoughtfully marriage usually takes place between the children of two families that know each other or through a person who knows the two people involved, recognises the compatibility and makes the suggestion. It seems that these marriages work and work well. The couple sets out with the same family and religious values then develop a deep respect and then ultimately love for each other.
Of the few couples I have met the prospective bride and groom have had the opportunity to meet for coffee or the like so they have a little understanding of the other person and then get to say yes or no based on that meeting.
At one of the weddings I went to I was told that the groom had asked his father to find him a wife and had left it entirely up to him. When questioned on this he simply said 'I trust my father'
Not all weddings here are arranged. I have been to two weddings that were 'love matches' whispered behind the hand. I don't know why this is so whispered about… everyone at the wedding knows what's going on.

Don't get me wrong not all arranged marriages end in happily ever after. At my previous apartment our downstairs neighbors were an older couple and their son and his wife of less than a year. I met the young wife a couple of times. She seemed nice and I got the impression she may have been a little opinionated and headstrong… though I could be wrong. So one day our front door was open, as was theirs, and we heard an enormous row. They knew we would have heard it…awkward. If only I understood Hindi. Anyway, after that day we never saw the new bride again and there was a big dirty rectangular mark on the wall where their wedding photo used to hang.

Interestingly the divorce rate in India is very low. Only 1.1% I wonder if this is due to arranged marriages based on similar values or because marriage is in fact a commitment for life.

I am not to sure about the arranged marriages that are organised via matrimonial adds in newspapers and the like. They do seem to place importance on matching class and religion but I don't think you can really have as much insight into whether a good match can be made without a matchmaker who knows both the parties involved. I must admit I do quite enjoy reading the matrimonial section of the paper. Such an eyeopener. Here is a selection from different periods over the past hundred years… how values have changed-

1930's- Seeking handsome, healthy, virgin girl.Western fashioned, highly educated need not approach.

1960's- Seeking family with connections and a  groom in government service.

1980's- Seeking fair, tall, homely, and convent educated girl (speaks english)

Today- Delhi based reputed Gupta Medico family seeks alliance for their beautiful, fair, smart, slim daughter 23/5’5 MBA (U.S.), pursuing CPA from US, and working in respected bank in US. Looking for tall, handsome, below 28, well placed professional. Preferably qualified Medico. Match from Status family only“.

Of course there are the ones that are downright hilarious as well… sorry I mean no disrespect but I have to share…

hello.... My name Arthi..... I am a good characterized woman. I want to run my life happily. I expect the good minded and clean habits boy to marry me soon.... who may be in the same caste . If anyone want to Marie to me u can visit to my home

Hello, To Viewers My Name is Shekhar , I am single i don't have female, I am not a good education but i working all field in Bangalore.. if u like me u welcome to my heart...when ever u want to meet pls visit my resident or send u letter.. Thanks yours Regards Shekhar

I want very simple girl. from Brahmin educated family from orissa state she is also know about RAMAYAN, GEETA BHAGABATA, and other homework (Homework?)

Wants a woman who knows me better and can adjust with me forever. she may never create any difficulties in my life or her life by which the entire life can run smoothly. thank you

She should be good looking and should have a service. she Should have one brother and one sister. she should be educated.

I am a happy-go-lucky kind of person. Enjoys every moments of life. I love to make friendship. Because friendship is a first step of love. I am looking for my dream girl who will love me more than i. Because i love myself a lot. If u think that is u then why to late come on ........hold my hand forever !!!

I am simple boy. I have lot of problem in my life because of my luck now i am looking one gal she care me and love me lot lot

I want a girl with no drinks if she wants she can wear jeans in house but while stepping out of house she should give respect to our cast


Whatever she may be but she should feel that she is going to be someone bride and she must think of the future life if she is too like this she would be called the woman of the lamp. (What the?)

My name is muhamad and i am unmarried. please you marriage me please please please please please please please

I want one girl who love me or my mother. she love me heartily or she have frank she's skin color 'normal' not a black or not a whitey. I Think the main think is heart if your heart is beautiful then you are beautiful. but iam not a handsome guy or not a good looking. but my Mom say that Iam a good guy. My father already expired . THE CHOICE IS YOUR. bye bye.

My color is black, but my heart is white. I like social service

I'm looking out for who lives in Bombay, girl simple who trust me lot should be roman catholic, LOVE ME ONLY.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

"I am sick." "I have Chickungunya" "No, I didn't make that up"

Well, we managed two and a half years without being afflicted with any mosquito born viruses. Unfortunately this year our luck ran out with two cases of Chickungunya and a mild dose of Dengue.

The first one in our family to bite the dust was Hunter. She woke early one Friday morning with a raging temperature, a strange rash all over her body and joint pain. Despite feeling so unwell she was determined to go to school for 'International Day' So I kept her home for the morning and we would go to school just for the International Day performance.
At around midday we head downstairs; Hunter looking very unwell. I sit her on the wall outside out house and look for a cycle rickshaw to take us the two kilometres to school. Then she vomits all over the driveway and says she feels much better now. So I run upstairs to get a face washer and clean her up… yes she still wants to go despite regurgitating an apple and some red drink all over the driveway. After dispersing the pile of red vomit with a bucket of water I flag down a rickshaw and we hop in. A few hundred metres into the journey she leans out the side and vomits again… that's it we are going home.
So I get her back home and onto the lounge. Now she says she is feeling heaps better and if we leave now we can still make it… her temperature is nearly 104 (40c) but she is determined. So we head back downstairs, she sits on the wall why I try to flag down another rickshaw. A second later she calls out and says she is not feeling so good and doesn't thinks she can go. So we head back in the gate towards the house. As I turn from latching the gate I see Hunter face down sprawled over a couple of pot plants… she has fainted (In hindsight it looked quite funny. I am tempted to ask her for a re-enactment so I can get a photo). So I go to her aid and she comes to asking 'where am I? I don't remember coming in the gate." I prop her up on the bottom step and survey the damage: bruised cheek, huge bleeding graze on her thigh, cut on her neck and a broken earring. I think it's time to head to the hospital.
Ray was on his way home at the time so we waited on the steps. He carried Hunter to the car and we head to Max Hospital in Saket.
Let me just say this hospital is fancy-shmancy. Great service, super organised and efficient. I would say it is as good as any private hospital in Australia. So we make the rounds with our dedicated personal orderly… emergency, observations, paediatrician, blood test and then home. The paediatrician offered to admit Hunter for a night due to the fainting spell but really it wasn't necessary. The whole adventure cost around $70… bargain.

Later that afternoon we called the paediatrician to get the blood test results… It was not Dengue, probably another viral fever such as Chickungunya. This is good news as Dengue, though very similar to Chickungunya, is a little more complicated due to the platelet issue and the potential to develop a haemorrhaghic disease causing internal bleeding and potentially (though not often) death.

So the next morning another one bites the dust… this time Ray. Same fever, rash and the crippling joint pain.

A few days later Hunter is back to normal except for some lingering joint pain which causes her to hobble around like an old woman. For Ray the joint pain takes a little longer to subside. This is the nature of Chickungunya, the older you are the longer it takes to get over the arthralgia. It can take well over 6 months.

The night before I am due to fly to Australia I develop a bit of a headache behind the eyes. I know what causes this kind of headache… Dengue Fever. The next morning I am up a 4am to get a taxi to the airport. The skin on my back feels strangely sore and sensitive and the headache is still there. I manage to get thought the next 17 hours of travel and layovers while feeling just a bit off. When I get to the in-laws house in Sydney I see the characteristic Dengue rash. Blah.
I am quite fortunate really, I never actually get the fever or the bone breaking pain. In fact 80% of cases of Dengue are asymptomatic.
So I spend my first week in Sydney feeling headachy, sensitive to touch and fatigued. And every morning I wake up with the itchiest hands and feet… so weird. Despite feeling like crap for most of my trip home it was still worth it.

I am just so thankful we all got through it all relatively easily.