Thursday, December 4, 2014

Udaipur: A trip report

We decided to visit Udaipur this time around. It had been some time we took a time off from Mumbai to not visit family. After informing some folks who were surprised by our choice, my desire to visit the place grew stronger.

On landing in Udaipur my first surprise was the temperature. I had lander at a 13 degree Celsius place from a 31 degree Celsius place. It felt amazing to experience this type of chill after a long time. After settling down at the hotel we decided to start off with a local eatery for breakfast. The food is very good at most of the places. The local cuisine stands out. I wont get into the details of what I ate and where. But most of the websites on the net give you pretty good reviews and places to eat. All food is served with love. Spare a second to let them know how you enjoyed the food and look at them beam with pride.

The next thing that impressed me was the amount of foreign tourists that visit this place. On my return flight 60% passengers were not of Indian origin. The locals have adapted well to the influx of tourists. The taxi driver I spoke to informed me that during the tourist season, he is a taxi driver while the rest of the year he is a farmer. The local businesses speak fluent English with an American accent (very well faked) and broken German and French. Many cafes can be found in the heart of the old city. These cafes serve good burgers, coffee and tea. There are places that fit into all the budgets.

You would not miss the palaces and lakes in the city. The place is well planed with man made lakes. By lakes I mean water bodies which are 700 Ha in size. All these lakes are interconnected. There are around five major lakes in Udaipur. Stay around lake Pichola if you want to be close to the happening places. You will save a bucket load of money on rickshaws.

Last but not the least, travel to Udaipur with an empty bag. You have lots to shop for. clothes, handicrafts, leather goods and memorabilia. The shopkeepers are good. I had one instance where I bought some hand made leather shoes and went my way. As they are hand made you don't find sizes imprinted on them. I was on my way to other stores looking for stuff to buy. After a while and about 500m down the road in a different shop, the guy whom I bought shoes from comes in and shows me another pair of shoes and says that they fit me better. He made me try those shoes and of course they did fit better. After exchanging the shoes he was on his way. That was an experience at customer delight which will stay with me for a long time. Do not miss out buying local clothes,bed sheets,shoes, belts and woollen clothes.

To be continued...

Monday, November 3, 2014

First Bangalore Marathon - "Trip report"

Bangalore is labelled the runners capital for a reason. It had all sorts of tough races like the midnight marathon, ultra marathon and weekend trail races. However there was no official road race. You can guess the excitement it generated when the race was announced back in June-2014. I too was pretty excited about the race and registered for it the moment it was open. My reasons for registration were many. Firstly I call myself a proud Bangalorean even though I don't live there any more. Secondly that was where I started running. Last but not the least, since the race was in October,I thought what better place to try for a personal best (PB) timing when I know the weather was meant to co-operate. I have run in many races at different places like Mysore, Mumbai,Mangalore among others. So I thought about participating. With family supporting my decision to travel to/run in Bangalore there were no second thoughts. I had decided that I would run only 2 paid marathons in a year. For now they are Bangalore and Mumbai.

The race by itself was fantastic. Even before the race was to be held the organisers announced a multiple set of promotional runs. I have heard these were nothing short of the best organised races in India. Even with a nominal fee of Rs 800/- they organised free promotional runs with free T-shirts for runners and free breakfast.
Now coming to the actual race day. I reached the venue pretty early. Even though I was teh first runner to arrive the place was bustling with activities. The baggage counter was in place and so were teh volunteers who collect the bags. In contrast too Mumbai Marathon last year, I was the first runner to arrive only too be welcomed to a desolate scene. No one was present to take my bag or even to check me. Once In the venue I met hordes of runners from Bangalore. Met my runner friends for a warm up and off we started at 5:00AM.
True to the hype associated with the weather it was as if sun forgot to come up that day. With the cool weather supporting my run I could maintain the pace I had in mind. I went in with a target of 4:45:00 to finish. Starting from Shree Kanteerava stadium we raced through Cubbon going on to MG road, Ulsoor lake and over Domlur flyover and on to Army area, Indiranagar, Inner ring road, Koramangala to Adugodi and back. The highlight of the run was t the inner ring road. About 500+ army men stood on the road along 3 kms clapping and cheering for us. Even their claps were in sync. It was humbling experience. These fit men who could complete the marathon in almost half of our time stood there cheering for us. There were many jawans reading my name from my bib and cheering me up. I again met they from KM 30-33 (approx). This is where I generally give up running and resort to walking. Then a jawan cheerfuly shouted to me 'Khheecho Sir' (Buck up). Made my day and also my race. I did not stop due this and continued running.
For me there were some hiccups. I sprained my lower back a week before the race while picking up my little one who makes us run a marathon by herself every day. Also my little toe discovered the edge of a wall the same day. I was pretty doubtful of the run. This is again where my better half put some sense in me saying just go there and atleast walk the race. By about 25K my back pain returned on the race day but disappeared with the some spray and ice. The little toe still hurt after a month.
This being the first road race of such scale there were minor hiccups. Traffic could not be blocked for such a long duration (Mumbai does well in this count). There was even a major altercation at Trinity Circle. On the return leg we had to run with traffic near the MG road area and also wait for traffic to clear up. There were runners who cribbed about no crowd support in the early morning. Mumbai has too many people cheering you all along the 42.2 KM, but in Bangalore the crowds came in later. One group of runners were saying 'look this is the spirit of Bangalore, we need to knock on their doors and drag them out' I was in half minds to tell them that we like our spirits in the evening, preferably chilled. In the end good sense prevailed and I moved on.
I finished with a 4:36:40 timing,my PB by about 25mins. I met some more friends after I completed, some after 3 years.

Inspite of all this, the marathon was organised by runners for runners and they had taken care of all the cribs I have after the race. They even treated us to sumptuous breakfast and hot filter coffee. All said and done I wiil return here next year.

Technical details of my run:
1. Timing India - Results page
2. Garmin Link
Customary PS: Another long blog coming about my preparations for this race.

Monday, January 13, 2014

I feel like writing a blog, but am not sure what to write about. So ironically, I write about not writing. With the Mumbai Marathon looming just around the corner and me facing the risk of a DNF*, my mind is gone blank. Or is filled with too many things.

*DNF - Did Not Finish