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Sunday, October 04, 2015

Marathon Musings

I've been following this sudden spurt in Fitness culture among Indians, more specifically at close range in Chennai and Coimbatore, where am currently on a sojourn!

For a while, the Marathon culture is steadily spreading among the urbanites. It is a good thing. Some run for fitness, some run for a sense of achievement, some run to prove to themselves that they can in little doses push the boundaries of their endurance, some run for records, some run for medals, some for the cause behind these Marathons... and there are also a few wannabes, like in every other vista of life. They just don't wannabe missed out in the next day's or next week's thambola hob-nobs, or miss out on FB status updates or more simply miss out on an opportunity for a selfie!

I happened to accompany my daughter who took part in the morning's annual Coimbatore Marathon organised for creating consciousness to fight cancer. It was so gratifying to see a sea of people, all up and geared since 4 a.m. The organisers must be really commended and lauded for their unsparing efforts to make the event as smoothest as it can be. It was, too. The experience must have been so fulfilling for all involved - organisers, volunteers, runners. I was a watcher-by for all these events. Well, every event needs an outsider perspective, right! So, there I was.

They had a novice class - a 5 K.M run/walk, a 10 K.M run and a 21 K.M mini-marathon. There were close to 12000 people participating from what info that could be gathered. Of course, the selfie culture and ego aggrandisement that has inevitably crept into our westernisation process was self-evident. Some even just landed for the sake of it... one of those random events of early-out-of-bed experiences where they communed with their friends they had parted from only 5 or 6 hours since. It was obvious from the way they continued or picked up conversation half-way from where they had left earlier, without as much of a starter pack! Some had just landed, registered, but did not hit the starting line... traipsed or trudged or ambled or lolled the other way and walked through a short cut to the finish area. They couldn't care to collect their medals: well, they knew they won't get one or deserved to get one, didn't they? Honest Souls, lol! Some... but again... were loaded with precautions to the hilt even though they were doing the novice class. And resolved, even before the race began, inspired by the refreshing and rejuvenating electricity of the atmosphere, that they would attempt to get up this early each succeeding mornings of their post-marathon life.  Some... it was routine. They were there, been there, done that and were doing it... and would do it... by default.

What was it that inspired this tribe, I wondered, that made them commit to these marathons! They sure were no Ethiopians or Kenyans, though one could notice the inevitable African presence at marathons, here too. Yes, there were non-locals and non-Indians too. There was a bunch - rather a few unrelated bunch of people from Kerala. These are Marathoners who travelled from Marathon to Marathon by habit. Fitness freaks? No, I would say. What it is... I can't say. Inspiring it was, I can say.

Cold War Resurrected. Thanks for being the shit, Mr. Obama!

The US-Russia points of divergence continually keep surfacing to an odious extent and to the point of silliness that it is beyond people to react. People are really getting comfortably numb at this noisome vapidity and fulsome platitude of political muscle flexing.

Why on earth would Obama admin now try to undermine Russian efforts at countering IS when they also want to achieve the same end? Why is it acceptable to the US Govt only if every other nation who wants to fight terrorism follows their methodology and means? Is that not blatant and hypocritical politicisation? This casts a spectre of doubt on the genuineness of US' attempts to combat global terrorism. This is very analogous to how Congress keeps opposing anything BJP tries - the very same thing they would have resorted to or done. Or vice-versa.

Whom does this political posturing benefit? Is it that important to the suffering millions what underlying political agenda Russia has, when it wants to extend support to Syria in its bid to counter terrorism? When someone tries to waylay these attempts, does that not smack of insecurity? Issues with Iran and Al-Assad must be set aside for achieving a bigger goal, that is to ensure there are no more refugees. The magnitude of problem that Europe is going through, as well as those Syrians who do not want to migrate anywhere, leave alone to Europe or Turkey, is much simpler to handle if these two joined hands and brought all their allies together in one massive global umbrella. That would ensure peace for everyone who matters; no EU countries that cannot handle any more influx of population more than that they can handle, would be unhappy. These smaller countries with their own wobbly economies would not begrudge the refugees and probably welcome the miniscule that have till yet been forced upon them with forthcoming hands of brotherhood, because these small countries - mostly splinters of erstwhile united countries - know the pain of seeking refuge and migration. By joining hands with Russia, only because they started the raids first, the US would do Europe a world of good, and redeem itself as a gracious ally, in this war against militancy. It would be the same case, if US had started and Russia were to adopt the current US stance. That's what grace is, magnanimity of heart is, genuine global cooperation is.

What if the two powers came together on a mission with common goal against a common enemy and then sort out their skirmishes in private? And this coming from Mr. Obama proves that he is no better than his political forbears on either side of the national divide, that he too is a pawn of strong inner-national lobbies. This really is surprising given the notion that he is not going to run for another term, however much he probably wants to or would like to; when you go out into the sunset, why not set an example of having broken new paths, travel roads less travelled, blaze trails for others to follow! That, now, is the kind of example that beacons of wisdom do, to be remembered for eternity on the sands of time. Mr. Obama is not a man for all seasons or reasons. I am disappointed, because 8 years ago, he really looked set to do that, but now he doesn't mind being judged unworthy by history.

The only way, again, for the global powers to make Vlad Putin feel comfortable to give in in his other transgressions and perceived aggression within the vicinity of his immediate borders, ingressing into the splintered nations of erstwhile USSR, would be to show him what a largesse of accommodative political gesture can be, what the power of magnanimity can be, instead of behaving like Scrooge!

As the Bishop tells to Jean Valjean, "Sometimes one has to do much for the devil to do little to god." Amen.