Friday, 2 May 2014

V318 my first Time trial of 2014

“Should I take part in the V318 Time trial?”

I was pondering this question as I huffed and puffed my way back home.

“Don’t Dinesh, don’t embarrass yourself. Remember last year?” shouted my alter ego Dan.

Yes, I remembered last year at the Tadcaster time trial league. I had finished last in every single time trial that I had taken part in – a 10 miler, a 15 miler and a 25 miler.

“So why do you want to do it again? Wasn’t the embarrassment of last year enough to last you a lifetime?” continued Dan.

“But isn’t taking part more important that worrying about where you finish?” I whimpered.

“Pcach! Rubbish. To win is the most important thing. So my advice to you is to go home and watch some 20-20 IPL cricket. Help the missus and earn brownie points but don’t take part in the time trial Dinesh.”

I mulled over the suggestion as I rode home.

By the time I reached home, my mind was made. I was taking part in the Time trial.

I quickly pumped the tyres to 110psi, picked up my gloves and searched for loose coins (you need £3 to take part).

I picked up my helmet and also picked up my green reflective rain cover for the helmet.

Dan appeared in a jiffy, “Dinesh, what is that gross thing? Why are you wrapping your helmet in green color?”

“This is my secret ingredient for the time trial. To succeed at Time trial, you need to be as aerodynamic as possible. So I’m going to wrap this rain cover around my helmet. It will help in reducing air turbulence around my head. It will make me faster.”

“What a load of bull? That green cover only makes you look like a green frog. It will do nothing to your speed. If you can marshal your farts, you can go much faster than using this ugly contraption.”

I ignored Dan as always.

I picked up my Scott speedster and walked to my car. After a few bungled attempts and a huge bump on my head when my bike landed on my head, I finally managed to lock the bike on the bike roof rack.

I drove sedately to Tadcaster and just as I was about to turn right into the car park, I saw Stu Sklinar ride into the car park.

I parked up and after exchanging greetings with Stu, signed up for the Time Trial. I was given the number 23, which meant that I would start 23 minutes after 7:15pm.

Sam Straw was parked just beside me and he was furiously working away on his turbo trainer.

It was quite nippy and I was wondering if I should have bought a few extra layers to keep warm. As always, I felt that I was not wearing clothing appropriate to the weather. I shivered as I ate a banana and a gel and set out with Stu to warm up.

We rode on towards Sherbun and straightaway I recalled why I hated this course – because it was lumpy and rolling.

We rode a mile and a half and turned back. The wind pushed against us. I knew this was going to be a tough time trial. My plans of ‘evens’ (under 30 mins for a 10 miler) was looking bleak.

I tried to keep a high cadence to warm up and did a few standing sprints to get the blood flowing. We arrived back and after 10 minutes reached the starting point. My mouth was already dry and I was itching to take a leak. But the rules are pretty strict – Any rider seen urinating in public would be disqualified and not allowed to ride the rest of the league events.

I stood there straddling the saddle as tight as I could and waited for my turn.

When it was my turn the marshal held my bike and I clipped in. I switched on my garmin and looked ahead.

5……4…..3…..I stood up….2….1….GO

I pushed hard on the pedals and waited for the bike to gather momentum. After a few pushes, I sat back on the saddle and surveyed my situation.

Pain in legs -  check
Hard breathing – check
Eyes watering – check
Snot in nose – check
Hear rate high – check

-       My time trial torture had begun.

The road climbed up slowly. I kept a high gear and pushed on. The road rolled down and I clicked to the 12 on the back. I wished I had the 11 on the back as I like to flow with a smooth low cadence than rock and roll with a high cadence. The wind continued to assist and I kept pushing hard. Before I knew it, I had reached the turnaround point. I looked down at my garmin – it read 14 minutes.

I couldn’t believe it – 14 minutes to cover 5 miles. That was bloody brilliant.

I was high fiving myself even though by this point, riders 24 (Stu), 25 and 26 had already overtaken me. I was high fiving because ‘evens’ was looking like a distinct possibility.

I continued to push on the pedals. The wind pushed back. I pushed hard and looked at the Garmin – my speed had dropped to 17 mph. Shit. At this rate I will finish well outside 30 minutes. I tried again but the wind was just too strong.

I was riding on my aero bars but now my back began to hurt. I went on the hood.

“Dinesh, what are you doing? Ride on the aero bars you fool.”

I ignored Dan. There was not much I could do. My back hurt, my legs hurt and I was filled with despair because ‘evens’ was looking unachievable.

“Dinesh, how can you expect to become a better time trial rider, if you don’t practice riding on aero bars? Just ignore the pain and get back on the bars.”

I tried but the wind and the uphill gradients were getting the better of me. I was not accustomed to riding on the aero bars and doing it on race day was not working.

Somehow, I kept going and finally looked down to see 8 miles on the garmin. I gave it one last push towards the end as the time crept towards 31 minutes. As I rolled over the finish line, I sat up and heaved a huge sigh of relief. I down shifted and just spun my way to the car park.

I got off the bike, requested Graham (Seacroft marshal) to help unpin my race number and tried to catch my breath.

When I was feeling ok, I went over to look at the result.

Dan interjected, “Dinesh, why are you even bothering to check the result? You will definitely have finished last. Just forget this time trial malarkey and go home.”

I ignored Dan again and checked the result sheet.

“Dinesh Kaulgud - 31.23”

I looked around at the rest of the times – there were two more after me.

Yipeeee! I am not last.

Dan quickly brought me back to ground, “There, there Dinesh, that is no achievement. If you ask me I still recommend that you stick to motor cycles or cars, cycling is not your thing.”

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Bollywood movie Talaash - my review

I was excited. Vaishali and I decided to watch Talaash on the first day.

After buying the customary popcorn, coke and our tickets, we entered the dark theatre and sat down in the plush seats. The theatre had about 15 people in it. I was surprised. Usually when we go to watch a movie in Leeds, the theatre is always empty. It is usually just me and Vaishali sat in a 200 seat theatre.

But today there were a few more people than normal.

I was excited too. I have no qualm in saying, I enjoy watching Aamir Khan movies.

So I know you are keen to find out how is Talaash.

I would rate Taalash at 3 stars (Out of 5).

First let me tell you about what is missing or wrong in Talaash.

I’m basing my opinion on my study of books and movies. Any good book or movie is based on a premise.

For example – Dilwale Dulhaniye le jayenge, the premise is – True love can overcome traditional opposition in a humorous way

Or Golmal (The Amol Palekar one) the premise is – A Moustache or external appearance is not an indicator of an honest person.

Saaheb the premise is – jobless person can sacrifice his whole future for his family.

So essentially a premise is a short one sentence summary of the book or movie.

Well made movies and well written books make sure that the premise is proven by the end of the book.

If you cannot summarise a book or movie in this way then you break the contract between the reader/viewer and writer/director.

So what is the premise of Talaash?

Now that is where I struggle. I cannot pin point what the premise of Talaash was.

Was it about a murder mystery? You cannot get away with murder or lying?

Was it a family drama? 'Love conquers personal setbacks' or 'forgiveness leads to acceptance and peace'

Was it about paranormal belief? Ghosts exist and influence us

Was it  - Crime does not pay – but due to some loose ends, it cannot have been this premise.

So you see, the movie had different themes running within it. Now, someone who goes in to watch the movie expecting a murder mystery will get confused with the movie. They will come back and state that it was boring. That they did not like the movie.

I personally think the movie is well made and has a hard gritty feel about it.

The casting is good; Acting is fine too. Aamir Khan is outstanding and Kareena too has acted well. But Rani does not have too much to do.

The story is about a mysterious accident. A famous film star drives his vehicle into the sea. There is no one else in the car with him and nothing in the road to cause him to swerve. Inspector Surjan Singh Shekawat (Aamir Khan) is assigned to the case. We are then slowly introduced to the various other characters in the plot. The Director also introduces us to the personal tragedy with Aamir Khan and his wife.

I liked how, the Director drops snippet within the story about the plot. However the story could do with some pace. Personally at one point – the scene when Aamir Khan and Kareena are in the hotel room, I was wondering whether the movie was about marital discord or murder mystery but then Aamir Khan falls fast asleep and the penny dropped.

The music is good. I liked that there are no filmy songs in the movie. The film is not made for the general public. At least until the climax, there is no spoon feeding to the audience. As you begin to figure things out, you do get a feeling of – Aha! – so that is why this happened. But towards the end there was too much 'voice over' as if to explain to the audience what was happening.

Most of the loops in the movie were closed but a few were left open. Maybe it was too many things for the director to look for.

Overall it is an enjoyable film and I would recommend watching it.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

House guests and me!

“I heard something scurrying about in the kitchen last night” said Vaishali as she handed me, my morning cuppa.
“Oh no, I hope we don’t have to leave UK and go to another country,” I moaned as I drank my tea.
“What? Why should we leave UK? I don’t get it,” said Vaishali.
Maybe I need to answer - Why did I move to UK in the first place?
“It was because of house guests that I came to UK”
“What? House guests! How can you take such a major decision in life just due to house guests?” she asked
“Let me clarify. By house guests, I don’t mean humans. This is something entirely different. This is the 4 or more legged creepy crawly variety. Let me explain some more....”
I grew up in India. Brought up in a small locality called HAL Township near Mumbai. We stayed in a housing colony with around 4 to 6 houses in an apartment block.
I remember, when I was around 8 years old, my thread ceremony was performed. My parents were very clever. They performed both my brothers thread ceremony and my thread ceremony, at the same time. Of course they saved money – two for the price of one. After the thread ceremony, I was taught the various rituals that I needed to follow. For example- wearing the sacred thread around your ear, when performing ablutions. There was one ritual, which I found very strange. When sitting down on the floor to eat meals, water was poured into the right hand and then circled around the plate.
I was confused with this ritual. Why should I take water in my hand and pour it around my lunch or dinner plate?
The answer came to me as I sat on the floor with my family and cousins to eat food. Some of my cousins had still not undergone their thread ceremony, so they did not have to do the ritual of water around the plate. I noticed a stream of ants marching towards my cousins plate. Some of the ants took a detour and started towards my plate too. But they were stopped by the wall of water around my plate. Ah! The ritual was a means to protect food from ants.
This is just me hypothesising, maybe there was more significance of the ritual but I believe it had a very practical purpose. Especially as there was a time when most Indians ate food while sitting cross-legged on the floor.
So yes, that was my first ever memory of ants. There were many kinds of ants that I encountered while growing up. The large black ones. The more dangerous smaller red ones. Luckily the ants were not the kind, which could kill, but their bite was very painful. The worst part of the bites was when the sting remained buried deep within your skin. Small red angry marks would erupt at the bite site and I would scratch it, till it bled, causing me even more pain. I had to be careful when putting on footwear too. Because sometimes due to clumsy eating habit sugar or other food bits would fall into my footwear leading to ant trouble. I used to be fascinated seeing ants march in a straight line. It used to be fun, to try and break the line by putting some obstacle in between the line. Then watch as they tried to regroup and find a way around the obstacle. Sometimes some of them were very smart as they would come and bite me from behind. As if warning me – Dont mess with us Mister.
However ants did not scare me as much as the next one of the house guests – the cockroach.
I hate cockroaches. I hate them with a vehemence, which surprises me. There is something dark about these creatures, which have survived from the dinosaur era. Their ability to survive and spread disease is legendary. I hated waking up on dark nights and switching on the kitchen light to see these large black/brown creatures scurrying around. I hated it even more that my brother was not scared of them and used to catch them and then throw them on my back. He then had a laugh as I ran around screaming trying to get the cockroach off my back. I recall how Mum was very particular about not leaving any food item uncovered. This was during the pre-refrigerator era. She made sure that every night, she covered food, cleaned the kitchen but the next day we still found cockroaches on their morning walks. Until the advent of aerosol sprays, I used my chappal (slipper) to good effect to dispatch them. Now after having done vipassana meditation, I am not sure if I would be able to dispatch any of them. Maybe it was a cockroach conspiracy to have discovered vipassana meditation and sent me on a course.
The next creepy crawly is the Lizard. I remember we had a number of lizards living rent free in the house. They were each having their own individual personality. Some fat, some thin, some extremely lazy and some faster than Usain Bolt. I used to enjoy watching as they stalked the tube light waiting for a moth or fly to buzz around the light. Then in a flash a tongue flipped out and the fly was history.  Sometimes as I sat studying (or pretending to study) I would watch with fascination as two lizards met near the tube light. Then in a very human manner, they would begin to move their head up and down. As if they were greeting each other and exchanging pleasantries. To me, it felt like they were conversing:
Lizard 1: “how are you?”
Lizard 2: “Good and you?”
Lizard 1: “Yes, I am doing fine, worried about my weight though. Too much protein in my diet.”
Lizard 2: “You must be joking. You look very fit. Are you into aerobics?”
Lizard 1: “No not aerobics, its Pilates and Yoga. I watch it on TV in the living room. Though I wish I could try an Atkins diet. By the way, I hope the rainy season comes early.”
And so on... You get the drift. There were a few times when I did try to collar a lizard, only for it to shed its tail and run into a hole in the wall. I would then forget my studies altogether and sit and watch the wriggling tail for hours.
As we were growing up, we used to hear these horror stories of small children dying after lizards fell into milk. Now I don’t know if this is true. Maybe because a lizard never fell in my milk when I was a kid or if it did, I have a constitution of a superman. However even though they were a fascinating distraction to my studies, I hated their scurrying around the wall. I also did not like the “tuk, tuk, tuk” sound that they made. So that’s why a lizard would not figure in my guest list.
Though Lizards are still benign compared to rats.
In India, when we were growing up, we did have some instances of rat trouble in our home.
I remember when Mum had panicked as she had seen a rat inside the house. That evening, Dad was given express instructions to get rid of the rat. So he started the preparations. He brought a rat trap and left it in the kitchen with some food in the trap. The next day, the food was gone but the rat trap was empty. That evening, as we sat on the kitchen floor to eat dinner, (pre-Dinning table days) Mum saw the rat peeking from behind some utensils. Suddenly we were all whisked out of the kitchen and Dad was given a bat and then locked in the kitchen to battle the rat. We stood outside and heard the rattle, roar and angry expressions. Dad too was making a lot of noise.
After half an hour or so, Dad came out of the kitchen, victorious, holding the rat by its tail. The tiny rat was squirming around trying to get a good look at us. Maybe for revenge. It was soon exiled from the house.
“So there you have it, the reason I moved to UK was to escape the house guests,” I said as I drank my last drop of tea.
“Hmm.. you and your endless stories. By the way, there is a huge spider in the bathroom. Can you please get rid of it,” she said as she gathered the cups. I swear I could see a hint of smile as she turned.
I got up wearily and went to the study. I powered on the laptop. It was time to check if there are jobs in Iceland or Greenland.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

She is getting married today

I am feeling sad and desolate today. Where did time fly? Where have all the days gone? I cant believe it that she is now getting married. She will soon be leaving my home. I feel very sad. Its like a part of me is dying.

As they apply henna to her hands and she smiles at me, my mind travels back to the mall and how she threw a major tantrum. She wanted a wii and nothing I said could make her change her mind. As I gave in to her demands to escape social embarrassment, I could see the twinkle in her eyes. How she had laughed in the car on the way home. She had always been the same, able to tug at my heart strings and get away with her pranks. The devious devil.

I am sitting now right across her as she applies foundation on her pink cheeks and another fragment of memory comes floating in my mind. The day she had the temperature of 101℃. Even as her body burned like red hot coals, she said she wanted to eat ice cream. How I had to distract her by switching on the Television and allowing her to watch Tom and Jerry. When the temperature refused to come down, I had rushed to the Doctor and dragged him from the movie hall to treat her. How I had this strong fear of losing her. I recalled the rash driving as I destroyed the tires of my brand new Lexus. Ah! It does not matter, anything for my baby.

As I sit here and watch her getting ready, memories come flooding one after another. I remember the day I got her an admission into the expensive Symbiosis college because she wanted to study there.  Yes, I remember the day clearly as if it was yesterday, as my life as I knew it collapsed then. It was love that made me do all the things that I did for her and it was in Symbiosis college that she found love too. 

We had lots of arguments over it as I was dead set against her marrying that useless slob, but her love prevailed. 

Today as I watch her get ready for her marriage and leave my home, my heart is angry and bitter.

Today my mistress is getting married.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Did you buy the lottery ticket?

“Did you buy the lottery ticket like I told you to?” asked Gita.
Varun nodded his head; his attention was drawn towards the Television. Chennai Super kings (CSK) were playing Kings XI Punjab and CSK needed just 10 runs to win with 4 balls remaining.
“The same numbers as I had told you -12031980?” continued Gita as she dried the dishes.
Varun nodded his head again. Oh no Badrinath gone, but no worries Dhoni was next. If anyone can do it Dhoni can.
“God, you and your cricket. Please pay attention to me Varun. Please can you give me the ticket? I cannot trust you with the ticket.”
Varun turned to go to the bedroom to fetch the ticket but stayed put to watch the last three balls. He breathed a sigh of relief as Dhoni cracked two fours and finished the match with one ball to spare.
“Varun, I asked for the ticket. Please bring it. I need to sleep early, as I have an early start tomorrow.”
Varun rushed into the bedroom and brought the ticket. He offered the ticket to Gita.
“Varun, how many times do I have to tell you. Not with your left hand. You should always offer things with your right hand,” said Gita as she refused to take the ticket that Varun offered with his left hand.
Varun sighed and switched hands.
“Don’t just do it. I’m serious. It is not good luck to offer things with the left hand. These things are important. I bet because you have offered this ticket with your your left hand, there is no chance of us winning. And next time please don’t do things just to humor me. I hate it even more. Ok now, I don’t have time to lecture you. I’m off to bed.”
Varun watched as Gita walked into the bedroom. He turned back to watch TV and hear his favorite cricketer wax eloquent about team work and winning.
The next day
Gita woke up at 6am and went into the bathroom. She tiptoed up to look into the mirror. God, why did Varun have to set the mirror so high? Just because he is 6 feet does not mean that she with her 5 foot frame would find it easy to look in the mirror. She wiped her face and looked closely at her reflection. She looked at her worry lines, which had appeared, on her forehead. She would need to do something about them. Thank God her hair was still black. Most of her friends already had grey hair beginning to appear when they hit 35. She was pleased that she did not have a double chin or extra fat anywhere on her body.
She walked into the kitchen and brewed a cup of filter coffee. She sat on the kitchen window drinking coffee and surveying the colony waking up to a new day. Oh no, there goes ‘Mau’ the black cat. Mau was her neighbors cat. She hoped that Mau would not cross her path today. Every time a black cat crossed her path, she faced some bad luck.
She finished her coffee and took a hot water bath. She picked out a yellow salwar kameez and put on her red bindi picked up her lunch box and she was ready to go.
She tentatively opened her front door and peered out. Damn, Mau was sitting right outside her door.
“Shoo….Shooo,” she said and gestured wildly with her hands.
Mau looked at her and then completely ignored her.
“Billi, Shoo….Shoo.. Go away,” gestured Gita. Why do people keep cats. That too black cats. All black cats should be shot. Horrible creatures.
Mau did not even turn her head. Like a proper cat she pointed her nose upwards and surveyed the ceiling of the staircase.
Maybe I need to change my tack, thought Gita.
“Mau, sweet Mau. Please go home. Don’t just sit there dear Maun,” cooed Gita.
Mau looked at Gita and stood up.
Thank God, the cat does have some brain.
Gita looked shocked as instead of wandering away, the cat just sauntered towards her.
“Oh no. Bad Cat, Bad Cat. Go away cat. Go. Go… Shooo,” shouted Gita and shut the door.
She rushed inside her home and went into the bedroom. “Varun, Varun, wake up.”
Varun woke up. He sat up in bed wondering what had gone wrong.
“Varun, come here. Come with me,” said Gita as she dragged Varun out of the bed and marched him to the front door.
She opened the front door and peeped out. Damn that black cat was still sitting outside the door.
“Varun, please open the door and walk out. There is a black cat sitting outside. Please kick it out from there. Then make sure you cross the path that the black cat has crossed. Otherwise it will bring me bad luck.”
She watched Varun walk out and heard the sound of a cat wailing. After some time Varun walked into the house and without saying a word went into the bedroom.
She opened the door and looked around. Aah! the damn cat was gone. Gita heaved a sigh of relief. Thank God. Otherwise there is no knowing what bad luck the black cat would bring.
She quickly went to the downstairs car park and started her Honda Activa. The white Honda activa buzzed to life before giving away. Dammn the effect of the black cat crossing her path had started.
She took the activa off the stand and stepped on the kick to try and bring it to life. After a few kicks the scooter sprang to life. She eased out of the car park and turned into the main road. She drove through the maddening traffic and reached her office in 45 minutes. She looked at her watch – Shucks she was half an hour late. All because of that infernal black cat.
“Gita, the boss has said he wants to have a word with you once you are in,” said Maithili her colleague as Gita walked in and sat at her desk.
“Why what happened?” asked Gita.
Maithili shrugged her shoulder – “Don’t know.”
Gita got up and walked to her managers office. She was sweating from the journey but she was tense about why her manager wanted to see her. In her four years of working life, her boss had never asked to see her.
“Sir, may I come in?” she said as she knocked on the door.
“Come in Gita, have a seat.”
Gita sat down and stared at her manager. His name plate was plonked in the middle of his desk – Pritam Das. Why did he need his name plate on his desk? Our office is a back office and no customers ever come here.
“Gita, do you know why I have called you?”
Gita shook her head – I don’t know you idiot. If I knew then I would be sitting in your chair.
“Gita, we have a situation on our hands. We have an economic recession and business has dried up. So we need to let go of our staff. Now you are very bright and I’m sure you will easily find a job elsewhere. So we shall be letting you go. By the way the redundancy package is very good. So you should not have to worry.”
Gita sat there shocked. She sucked in a deep breath. Redundancy. She was being sacked. Of course it was that damned black cat. Always a case of bad luck.
“Gita, I know you are shaken up with this news. So I suggest you take leave today. We have arranged HR support to help you through this tough time. So please don’t hesitate if you need to speak to them or me. Ok. Don’t worry. Wish you all the best,” said Pritam Das standing up and offering his hand.
Gita stood up in a daze and shook her managers hand. She walked out of the office and went to the car park. She was about to leave when she decided to call Varun. She dialed his number. “Varun… hello…... There is a bad news…… I have been sacked……Its all due to the bloody black cat….. what?.........of course Varun it’s the cat, what else can it be?........Hmph…I’m on leave today….I will see you at home in the evening…...Bye”
She kept her phone in her hand bag and started her activa. She drove aimlessly around the city wondering what she should do. If only they had not taken a house in the colony with cats. People look for vegetarian houses, instead she should have brought a house in a cat hating locality.
She stopped at a signal and was still lost in her thoughts when a young boy came selling lottery tickets, “Madam, lottery le lo madam.”
Huh, lottery. Wait a minute. I have a lottery ticket that I need to check. Pchah! No chance of me winning a lottery ticket now. Speaking of luck, I have just been sacked.
The signal turned green and her activa spluttered to a stop. Oh no! Everything that can go wrong is going wrong. I should have poisoned that black cat instead of asking Varun to kick it.
She got down from her scooter and dragged it to the pavement. She tried a few times to kick-start the scooter but it refused to start. She looked around her when she noticed the newspaper shop.
She walked over on a whim and picked up a newspaper. She turned the pages until she reached the lottery section. She read out the winning number.
It read - 12031980.
12031980! Wait a minute, that was the same number she had asked Varun to buy. Did it mean she had won?
She pulled out her lottery ticket and checked the numbers again. Indeed it was the same numbers. She had won.
With shaking hands she picked up her phone and dialed Varun’s number. She waited excitedly for Varun to pick up her call. Varun was not answering her call. No problem, she would go to his office.
She dragged her activa off its stand and kicked it hard. It started.
With a laugh, she rushed into the oncoming traffic. She did not see the Ford Mondeo which was speeding to avoid getting caught at the signal. The last thing she remembered was a sickening sound of steel scraping against the road.
She woke up in the hospital and looked around trying to get her bearings. Her head hurt and as she began to come to her senses other parts of her body screamed for her attention.
“Gita, are you Ok?” asked Varun. He was sitting by her bedside and looking at her anxiously.
Gita nodded her head. “Varun, where is my purse?”
Varun smiled. “Don’t worry, your purse is safe. The lottery ticket is safe too. I know we won it. Rs 10lacs! Awesome isn’t it. And by the way Gita, you were very lucky. The Ford Mondeo just clipped your scooter. If you were a little more fast, the activa could have come under the wheels of the car.”
Gita shook her head and whispered, “Did I not tell you - Black cats are bad luck. The first thing we need to do with our lottery money is move to a place which has no black cats.”