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In that case I’ll buy a cheaper car

January 26, 2012 Leave a comment

Pic: courtesy Bing/Mercedes-Benz

A conversation between our 6-year old (A) and his mom. I was just a fly on the wall.

A: When I grow up I’ll buy a Mercedes.

MOM: Why Mercedes?

A: Because its your favorite car.

MOM: (gives him a sentimental hug and replies practically) Then you have to study VERY hard in school and college, get a REALLY good job, save money for SEVERAL years and then you may be able to afford a Mercedes.

A: Then I’ll buy a cheap car.

MOM: (looked at him disapprovingly for shirking hard work).

A:  But I want to buy a car as soon as possible.

MOM: Ok, so when you get a job, buy a nice used car and keep saving until you have enough for a Mercedes.

A: Thank you Mama, I really DO want to buy a Mercedes for you.

 

My 8 year old weighs in on the barefoot running debate

January 10, 2012 2 comments

Pic: courtesy summerscurry.blogspot.com

Last Saturday, our 3rd grader had his annual school sports day. Since he had qualified for the heats in two categories (75 meter and 30 meter sprints), he was tickled pink and excited for weeks leading up to this event. Sadly, it was a low-key event with parents not being invited. When I went to pick him up, the first thing I noticed was that he was barefoot. As the sports meet was not over yet I was looking for body language clues on how he had fared. Besides flashing his usual gorgeous smile, there was to be no indication (I made a mental note that we need to play Charades more often).

As the line of 3rd graders walked towards the waiting parents, one of the kids turned to my younger son with “Your brother came first!” A few minutes later, a beaming S walks in to the frame and jubilantly announced that he had won the 75 meter sprint and came second in the 30 meter sprint. In one fell swoop, S had won more sports medals at school than the last few generations of Kurugantis combined.

For last year’s sports meet, S had trained for his runs with “spike shoes”. In a strange anti-climax, he ran his races in his regular canvas shoes because he “didn’t get time to change.” This year I advised him to just run in his canvas shoes since he had not trained with the spike shoes.

S couldn’t wait to tell us about his adventures in barefoot running. The story came out in breathless bursts on the drive home as he (and his brother) chomped down on 5-Star victory bars.

S: “I ran the first qualifying race with the canvas shoes. Came fifth but still qualified for next stage.”

Me: “Hmm…”

S: “I noticed a few of my friends running barefoot so I thought let me give it a try for the next race. I ran barefoot in the ‘semi-final’ race and came first. So I decided to run barefoot for the rest of the races.”

Me: “Interesting. So how was it running barefoot, S?”

S: “I LOVED it! I could grip the ground soooo much better, especially with all my toes! I’m going to run barefoot next year too. Can I run barefoot for the next 5k race too?

Me: (Clearing throat) “We’ll talk about your next 5k race later.”

S (chuckling a bit): “You know the best part about winning the 75m dash? …(continues) Beating AM, who was even wearing spikes!”

(AM is a good friend of S and they share a friendly running rivalry. Last year, AM had beaten S quite comfortably. On a coincidental note, AM’s father and I were classmates in Timpany School, Vizag circa mid-1980’s).

Back in November 2011, after reading The Once and Future Way to Run (by the legendary Christopher McDougall), I started giving serious consideration to barefoot running. Perhaps in the 2012 season, I thought to myself. Turns out my 8 year old has beaten me to it.

Can you live so completely that there is only the active present now?

January 23, 2011 Leave a comment

From the chapter “A fundamental question” in Jiddu Krishnamurti’s The Awakening of Intelligence. This chapter was from a lecture delivered in Madras on Jan 12, 1968. The closing excerpt (reproduced here) made an impression on me.

Questioner: Sir, if we are not in the past, but in the present, does that also become the past and the future – how are we to know that we are right?

JK: You don’t have to be sure you are right — be wrong! Why are you frightened about being right or wrong? But your question has no validity at all because you are just talking, you are just theorising. You are saying, “If this happens, that would happen.” But if you put it into action then you would know there is no such thing as “going wrong.”

Questioner: Sir, when we go back home we see our children and the past comes in.

Questioner: Shankara may go.

JK: I hope it has gone. Shankara may go but the children remain. (Laughter) Are the children the past? They are in one sense. And as they are living human beings, can you educate them to live completely, in the way we are talking about?

Questioner: Right Sir, you have answered it, sorry.

JK: That means I have to help them to be intelligent, I have to help them to be sensitive, because sensitivity, highest sensitivity is the highest intelligence. Therefore if there are no schools around you, you have to help them at home to be sensitive, to look at the trees, to look at the flowers, to listen to the birds, to plant a tree if you have a little yard — or if you have no yard to have a tree in a pot and to look at it, to cherish it, to water it, not to tear its leaves. And as the schools do not want them to be sensitive, educated, intelligent (schools only exist to pass exams and get a job) you have to help them at home, to help them to discuss with you, why you go to a temple, why you do this ceremony, why you read the Bible, the Gita — you follow? — so that they are questioning you all the time, so that neither you nor anyone else becomes an authority. But I am afraid you won’t do any of this because the climate, the food, the tradition is too much for you, so you slip back and lead a monstrously ugly life. But I think, if you have the energy, the drive, the passion, that is the only way to live.

 

Looking for cross-training ideas? Here’s one: 4-year-old on a bicycle!

October 24, 2010 Leave a comment

For almost a year now, my Sunday morning ritual has involved my two boys with their bicycles. The seven-year-old “S” is the veteran – having a couple of years of cycling miles under his belt. The younger one “A” (almost five) is going through a cycling growth spurt. After graduating to the big-boy cycle 9 months ago, he has become virtually unstoppable. His feet don’t reach the ground yet so I taught him how to get off the cycle without mishap – it’s the getting-on bit which remains to be mastered. Does this constrain his bicycling? Not a bit.

As he bicycles around the inner Raheja loop, I run alongside – the only time in the week when I look forward to up-inclines (where he labors) and dread the down-inclines (where he canters). The few Raheja denizens who are up and about would have probably heard me mouthing one of the following: “SLOW down or I’ll have to stop you!”, “STOP pedaling when you are braking”, or “DON’T go through that puddle!”. Meanwhile, the older one is not content merely riding solo so he constantly creeps up, eggs his younger brother to ride faster, making me yell “Don’t come so close!” or Don’t make him ride faster”.

After every lap or so, I’d ask him whether he needed a water break. The benign question (that it was!) would usually be answered in the affirmative or negative. Lately, he’s been countering with “Do YOU want to take a break, Daddy?” He’s catching on, for sure. He’s also started to notice my labored breaths after a few laps, slows down proactively and adds, for good measure, “I’m going slow so you won’t get too tired!”. And then two Sundays ago, he dropped the bombshell.

“Daddy! Today I was cycling faster because I wanted YOU to run faster!” He added: “I want you to win the next marathon and… increase your running distance to 50k and then 100k!” The hunter had become the hunted. The trainer had become the trainee.

So where did this come from? On Sep 19, 2010, my two boys saw me complete my 4th marathon at Srirangapatnam and noticed that (hmm…) there were several people who finished before their dad. Regarding the 100k distance, I had introduced them to Yasuhiro Honda as “the fastest 100k ultra-runner in Bangalore” – apparently it had made an impression!

So if you are a long distance runner and tired of the boring routine of tempo runs, interval training, and gym routine, you know what to do! If you aren’t yet a parent with an appropriately old kid, well! look around you – I’m sure ONE of your married friends with kids can oblige. Now why does this remind me of that Volkswagen Jetta ad from 5-6 years ago?

Chitchor – Alternate Endings Suggested by a Seven Year Old

September 26, 2010 Leave a comment

The kids got to see their second Hindi movie – the 1976 movie Chit Chor starring Amol Palekar and Zarina Wahab. The second grader is learning Hindi at school but, since we mostly speak English at home, has a long way to go with his conversational Hindi. Our younger one (in Montessori) was completely at sea with the dialogues but still seemed to enjoy the movie. Given this backdrop, we’d pause the movie every once in a while and summarize the storyline. At one such paused moment, we were explaining the quandary faced by ZW’s character — whether to choose Amol P or Vijayendra G as her life partner. Here’s the conversation between the second grader and his mother:

2G: “She can marry both of them, can’t she?”

Mom: “No, she can’t! Only one of them!”

2G: “She can get married to one of them and become best friends with the other, right?”

(yes – but which one?)

2G continues: “Or she can be good friends with both of them and marry a third person also…”

Lest we read too much into these alternate endings uttered so casually, here’s the bed-time conversation a few hours later.

Mom: “So what was your favorite part of the movie?”

2G: “The part where the jeep was overtaking the car.”

Mom and dad looked at each other and said in unison “Never mind! Good night sweetheart!”