March 30, 2014

The Gods Of Meluha !!!!!!

The below post are my personal views and are not meant to hurt anyone's sentiments. After reading this if anyone is offended , I apologize for the same in advance.Majority of my blog posts are non controversial, but I dont think the same applies to this :).

Yet another disclaimer is that this blog post is no way a review of the "Immortals of Meluha" trilogy written by Amish Tripaty, even though this post agrees to a great extent with which the whole background premise of the book is based upon. The basic premise in those 3 books is that it considers the religious figures of the Hindu religion to be ordinary people who do some extraordinary stuff and get immortalized as gods. But since these 3 books are written in the present age we know that much of the stuff is made up and are fictitious in nature. But what about those religious books (not specific to Hinduism in here) which have been written eons back ???? Do we consider them to be fictitious or the actual account of things which have happened ???

Does it make sense that a fictitious book which exaggerates things done by a person in order to glorify him be considered as a religious book, 2-3 millennium down the line. It is kinda similiar to a Superman comics which might be discovered in year 4040 AD and whatever intelligent organisms present at that time might assume that such a person actually existed.

But still I was not convinced as to why they wrote such intricate details , rituals etc related to a particular religion. hence MBA gyaan to the rescue :) . Ladies and gentlemen, let me present theory X and theory Y of employee motivation. Theory X says that employees are like little kids who need to be constantly monitored, guided in the proper direction. By default employees tend to avoid work and need external motivation to do it. This theory is basically based on the carrot and stick approach, wherein it is preached that if you do good you will get some incentives and on the other hand if you do bad you will get punishment. On the other hand Theory Y assumes that the employees are mature adults and believes in empowering them to do their work and not in micromanagement.It believes that employees want to do work and make their life meaningful with lots of achievements. They are self motivated to achieve things in their life.

So my assumption is that in the ancient times very few people were educated to know what is right and what is wrong. Hence those few educated ones came up with these easy sort of guidelines which later on became religious texts wherein its clearly mentioned that if you do good you will go to heaven, else the demons of hell will be waiting to fry you in boiling oil :P. This was like theory X I have mentioned above.  Further these texts might have been written based on the scientific knowledge of those days. Since science is constantly evolving, chances are that the scientific data of the ancient times might just be a superstition of today. But in today's modern times, the majority of the people are educated enough to reason and one would assume that those people know what is right and what is wrong. But that is the truth only to some extent. One would assume that Theory Y in religion would be great in today times. But again that is not entirely true. Consider my example, even though I was educated long back,  I started reasoning and challenging the status quo only from the past 4-5 years. And if I assume myself belonging to the cream of Indian society , what about those who dont belong to that , but still "educated" in the Indian education systerm, wherein a person is expected to remember things rather than reason ???...For them it would be an outright blasphemy to not believe in religion, especially from their family and society.

So what is the need of the hour ????? The need of the hour is that the religious texts should be updated to the modern times and not just being stuck in the ancient era. For example many texts say that doing good should be a selfless act and which will ultimately lead to moksha. But I have some contrasting views, I do good things to others because I feel good after that. I am infact greedy for that feeling and not doing it so that I might go to heaven or attain moksha.

Hence in a traditional sense I am an atheist and thankfully my parents are cool about it, even though they are staunch believers. I dont believe in any religion or the gods from those religions. I still go to temples, but I am more enchanted with the temple architecture(older the better !!!!!) rather than visiting to get blessed.  But that doesnt mean I dont believe in the concept of God. For me God is something which enables our existence in this world. So Gravity is God, a river is God, mountains are God, sun is God. Ofcourse in Hinduism some of these things are also considered as Gods , but that is where the similarity ends. My concept of considering a thing as God is to bestow the respect it deserves and preserving it for the future generations and not in the concept of praying to get blessed. So that is one of the primary reason why I get a spiritual connect whenever I am up in the mountains, up close and personal with my creator. In one of my earlier blogs I had come up with a slogan that "Nature is my God and trekking is my pilgrimage !!!!" and I believe in that wholeheartedly.

But again I dont criticize those people who religiously follow a traditional God. Because religion gives peace of mind to a lot of people and I respect that up till the point where it doesnt affect others in a negative way (read the extremists). Religion is a personal thing and shouldn't be forced on anyone. A person especially the educated lot should reason with themselves and follow the thing which they truly believe in. With that it is easy to get moksha in the present life itself and not wait till eternity!!!!!

March 18, 2014

Pushing My Boundaries: A Saga Of Cycling 210 kms !!!!!

"Why in the world do you want to cycle 200+ kms ????? "
"Because cycling 100kms is so ordinary and every tom, dick and harry can do it :P."

That pretty much is my cheesy answer whenever I encounter the above question, and believe me I encountered this question a lot, before the ride and during the ride especially from the villagers. This plan of riding 200km was in offing from a long time since I rode 150kms up and down to Nandi hills , way back in 2011. When I started cycling again in my adult life, 100km cycling seemed tough and 200km cycling seemed totally impossible, hence it was more of a psychological barrier. But instead of doing it solo I had come across this concept of randonneuring where a group of cyclists try to complete distances such as 200km, 300km, 400km, 600km, 1000km within a predetermined fixed time and with no external aid , hence forcing the riders to be totally self sufficient. Unfortunately from a long time I wasnt able to participate in this, since most of the brevet events would be conducted on Saturdays and with my Saturdays busy with my MBA classes, I had no option but to wait for the right time to attempt this.

A long Q of cyclists in front of an ATM in Hosur

Making Some New Friends
So fate had assigned March 8th 2014 as the day when I would be attempting my first brevet (a randonneuring event is called so). Initially me and Shashi were planning to do this together, but with an emergency at home, he had to drop out. The brevet was to begin at 6 am and everyone who wanted to qualify had to complete the 210 km of cycling in 13.5 hrs. The route was  Sarjapur Road(Bangalore)->  Bommasandra-> Hosur-> Malur-> Bangarpet ->Kolar ->Hoskote- >Chiktirupathi ->Sarjapur -> Sarajpur Road(Bangalore). Since I had never ridden such a distance , I was apprehensive as to whether I should ride my bike to the starting point and back, which would have increase the count to 240km !!!!!. Finally pessimism prevailed and I decided to take the bike in my brothers car to the starting point. The ride started exactly at 6 am with around 75 people attempting it. I arrived a bit late and by the time I finished the formalities it was already 6.15am, wasting 15 mins of precious time already. Anyway started the ride and caught up with my first fellow cyclist : Kumar from Chennai, who had specially come to Bangalore to ride in this brevet.

Some Bad Roads
Even though we were provided with the Que sheet, we missed the first ever turn towards Bommasandra and overshot it by around 2 km, before it actually dawned upon us that we might have missed it completely. Took a U turn and returned back to the cross. We knew that for every mistake we commit now, we would have to suffer its consequences in the latter part of the day. However this route was great, tree lined, very minimal traffic and I was riding at a good pace. There was a difference in the strategy I adopted on this day , wherein I cycled at a comfortable pace and not overexerting myself , which is what I usually do on my routine 40km weekend rides. Reached the national highway and for the first time I cycled out of Karnataka and into Tamil Nadu while I reached Hosur. In process got separated from Kumar and in Hosur we had to collect an ATM slip to show the organizers the proof of entering. After this rode solo for the remainder of the day, interacting with fellow cyclists every now and then.  Unfortunately there was a huge Q of cyclists in front of the ATM and by the time it was my turn the ATM crashed. Anyway took a selfie snap for proof and soon enough was back on the road. A lot of cyclists took a stop here to have their breakfast, but I was of the opinion that I should keep on cycling and cover good distance before the sun becomes too hot and for the other belief that having a heavy breakfast would just bloat me and slow me down. Hence for the entire day I survived on chikkies, snickers, electral water, biscuits, tender coconut which I used to have at regular intervals.  Even had a Thumbs Up for the sugar and caffeine content when I really needed it in the blazing afternoon heat !!!!!!

A First: A selfie while riding a bike

The route was actually great. It was filled with rolling ups and downs and was a great route for cycling. Reached Malur and then took a right towards Bangarpet. The route from Malur to Bangarpet was simply awesome , being newly paved and with minimal traffic. The advantages of attempting a brevet just a month before the Lok Sabha elections :P. Ofcourse there were some bad patches too. Reached Bangarpet exactly at noon , went to the ICICI bank for the proof of entering and while I was at it, had a chat with a lot of curious onlookers and answering their never-ending questions. Initially they would think that I might be some alien and start conversing in broken English, but when I reply back in Kannada they would be mildly surprised :P. One roadside mechanic even went to the extent of calling me "The next Armstrong !!!!!", and it was my turn to be mildly surprised with his knowledge, leaving alone the controversy surrounding him.

Kolar to Hoskote Highway
The afternoon ride was especially painful and once I hit the treeless Kolar to Hoskote route the going was tough and slow in the blazing heat. All the problems of long distance cycling started to creep in, saddle sores wherein I had to constantly adjust my bum on the seat. Sore neck because of my semi-aero position. In order to counter this sore neck problem I came up with a new but a much riskier type of riding. Since the Kolar to Hoskote highway was a National Highway with 4 lanes, it did have a continuous white line running along its shoulder. So my strategy was to scan the next 200m of the road and then put my face down and just cycle ensuring that I am cycling in parallel to this white line :P.  Hence this provided some respite from the pain. Reached Emerald Isle Resort and with a quick snap thanks to fellow randonneur Mohan, was back on the road towards Chikkatirupathi. At this point the odometer was showing 155km and this was the farthest I had ridden in a day beating my Nandi hills ride. The ride through this country road was pleasant with some cloud cover and tree line. Reached Chikkatirupathi at around 5pm and met the father-son-attempting-brevets-together duo of Sanath and Manoj. I still had 26km to go in around 2.5 hrs. It now looked just like a formality to be completed. Was just hoping that I wouldn't get a flat during the ride and thankfully didnt get any.

Odometer 155: The farthest I have traveled ever
But after this I took a lot of breaks because of exhaustion. The going was slow, but I was sure that I would be able to finish within the designated time. Hit the congested Sarjapur town and then final sprint towards the end point.  As soon as I entered the Bangalore city limits there was an another headache of weekend traffic waiting for me. The stop and go traffic was a bit irritating especially when you have ridden 200+ km since early morning. Reached the end point at 6.45 pm, taking 12.5 hrs for the ride , but officially 12 hrs 45 mins since the start time is taken as 6 am. Had a great sense of achievement, but with a very bad case of saddle sores :P. During the drive back home had a hard time of keeping my eyes open due to exhaustion and somehow reached home safe and without any incidents. Surprisingly the next day I didnt have any body aches even after my body endured such a feat, however I had got a really bad case of sore throat thanks to riding all day in the sun and gulping cold water at every possible instance.

Now the wait starts for my brevet medal to arrive from Paris which usually takes around 6-8 months. So with a 200+ under my belt, whats next ??? A 300 brevet probably, but again not immediately and definitely not in a MTB. Have to upgrade to a road bike which obviously would take some time :). But till then I would be satisfied with my new title.... "Hell Yeah, I am a Randonneur !!!!!!"

[Shaky Cam Video of the Ride]

Trip 'O' Meter : 210 + 3 (getting lost :P) = 213 km
Time Taken -> 12 hrs 35 mins

Career Stats:
200's------------------------------>1 (213)
100's ----------------------------->3 (107, 150, 104)
50's ------------------------------>7 (70,55,86,91,55,81,57)
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