Tuesday, June 10, 2008

IndiaPositive

The India Positive blog is an amazing collection of good things about India. Something I would have loved to have written!

I came across this blog while looking for blogspot.com blogs that mention Dr. Ashis Roy.

Surprised to see someone has already put in the effort to highlight the positive aspects of India in an organized manner on a web log - easily accessible for anyone with internet connection.


I would love to meet up with Venkatesh Kanna - the author of this blog. Wonder why he has become less active in 2008 - with only one entry so far, after having 304 and 194 posts in 2006 and 2007 respectively.

Monday, June 9, 2008

An apt Role Model for Today's India

Met with Dr. Ashis Roy yesterday in Washington DC, where he is staying with his daughter's family on his visit to US.

Delhi based Dr. Roy is one of a kind! He is 75 years old and has completed 82 marathons so far, and has plans to notch up the hundred mark before he is 80! His next marathon will be at the Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota on Saturday June 22nd.

When Indian nationals are a rare sighting at even a 5K or a 10K in the US, Dr. Roy's feat of completing 82 marathons seems totally out of this world!

I had come across his name in a newspaper article about his completion of the 82nd Marathon recently at the Delaware marathon. I contacted the author of the article to get Dr. Roy's contact information, and wrote to him last week. After a couple of phone conversations and email exchanges, we set up a "running date" this past Sunday.

It was a pleasure running with Dr. Roy. We had a long conversation about his life, the various marathons he has run, his experience at those Marathons, and about good running practices.

He has been a runner all his life, growing up in Shillong, Meghalaya, running and walking to faraway school from early age. He was a Ranji level Cricket player in his youth. He had joined the Indian Air force in 1957 with am ambition to represent India in long distance running at the Olympics. The plans to represent India in the 10,000m race at the 1960 Rome Olympics failed to materialize as work pressures took over.

After retiring from the Air Force as a Wing Commander in 1978, Dr. Roy started a private practice in Delhi, and had gained a lot of weight over the next few years.

A chance encounter with an ex-colleague who could not recognize Dr. Roy with all the weight he had gained, made Dr. Roy to take up regular running as a physical exercise to reduce weight. He ran his first marathon two years later, and has been going from strength to strength ever since.

He has accumulated amazing amount of knowledge about running through his long years of running. A beginning / intermediate runner like me got quite a bit of useful advice from him about good running, some of which I share below for the benefit of my readers:
  • Run slower and longer; taking a walking break breaks the rhythm and the warmth of the body. I ran 6 miles with him in 1 hour 19 minutes at a slower pace than usual and ended the run very strongly, feeling very comfortable.
  • It is advisable not to spit out saliva and instead to swallow it. Saliva is the fluid content in our body and we need to conserve it, not throw away.
  • Good running shoes - which provide good cushioning to the sole with Gel - are mandatory for long running career.
  • A total newcomer to long distance running is advised to run 5Ks and 10Ks for the first two years, and go for a couple of half-marathons before attempting the first marathon. I am right on track to follow this advice, having competed in a few 5Ks over the past three years, and now training for the first half-marathon in July. My first marathon might be at the end of this year. Or early next year.
  • The run should be preceded and followed by a good stretching work-out. When we ran yesterday, we stretched for a couple of minutes before the start, and spent around 15 minutes stretching after the end.
  • One advice to me and to the many Indians (and non-Indians) who have bellies of various sizes: Make sit-ups a standard part of your work out. He does a 100 sit-ups everyday as part of his training. That is the key to get rid of the belly fat!
Rather surprisingly, Dr. Roy swears by Indian Vegetarian food!

Some interesting links about Dr. Roy on the internet:

Four score and seven years ago ....

On my drive back from DC yesterday after meeting with Dr. Ashis Roy, I took the long way back and stopped over at the Gettysburg National Military Park - a place I wanted to visit for long. Having learned about the Civil war during the road trip with Jon Hoffman last summer, and having visited the Vicksburg National Military Park during the same road trip, I was very keep to visit Gettysburg - a must see place for a Civil War buff!

It is appropriate that I visited Gettysburg at this juncture when I am questioning my commitments - or the lack of commitment. Hoping that President Lincoln's invitation "........ It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work....." as part of the Gettysburg address to inspire me to dedicate myself to my unfinished work and commitments.

The theme emphasized many times at the Gettysburg National Park is "A New Birth of Freedom" - taking a piece off Lincoln's address at Gettysburg. It is an apt description of Gettysburg's role - or for that matter, the Civil War's role - in American history. It can also serve as an apt metaphor for a periodic rebirth on a personal scale - an instance of one such periodic rebirth I have been engaged in at the moment.

The History Channel movie, the museum exhibits, the walk through the Cemetery, the Soldier's National Cemetery monument where Lincoln stood while he delivered the Gettysburg Address, the monuments to the thousands of soldiers who fought and died at the Gettysburg battle - all are quite inspirational!

Took a few photos with my iPhone; check them out at the Gettysburg Visit Set on my Flickr Account.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Arpita's choice

2 year old Arpita was having a ball of a time with Mana Mana video and a few other kids' videos the other day when I was visiting Amrit's place. Here I am compiling a list of such videos - for the benefit of kids and young-at-heart everywhere.
A warning : The music in these videos will get stuck in ones mind very easily!