Friday, March 23, 2012

Hunting Again

And so we are back in the hunt again. Less than a year after we moved into the current place, we are looking for a house again - to buy, this time. With a year's worth of earnings in the bank, we have become so bold as to  think we can own a house.

Of course, we are low-budget buyers. We can't afford the Sobhas and the Purvas of the world. So we try the not-so-high-name builders, and the slightly older flats.

As before, it is a disheartening and dispiriting hunt. There is something extremely depressing about entering other people's houses and lives. The stained toilets and the washed underwear hung out to dry. The framed wedding photos and the multitude of gods on the shelf. The realization that this is how our lives would look to strangers, too.

And the houses themselves make the hunt even worse. Our spirits go down as we are asked to cross the posh locality mentioned in the ad and enter the not-so-posh locality nearby. The roads get narrower, the buildings closer together. There are no trees, there is no wind, there is nothing to see except buildings and clothes lines and electricity wires.

The flats are dim and ill-lit, the cupboards are of plywood. Children's voices echo from outside, women pace balconies and fight on the phone with distant people.

We leave each house dispirited. Our budget looks increasingly puny in this crowded and dusty city. On our way back, we stare with envy at the huge white houses of the posh locality. When, we wonder, will we live in such houses?

We will, of course. We are young. We are up-and-coming. We'll get there. In the end.

But till then, wish us luck. Wish us a cozy place close to the main road, with lots of natural light, and enough water, and maybe some open space around. Wish us a home.
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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Murakami - Running, Writing and Life

I gave up on Murakami some time after I finished reading Kafka on the Shore. Don't get me wrong - I enjoyed the book hugely while I was reading it. But a couple of days after I finished the book, while I was in the 'digestion' phase, I suddenly felt like I had missed a lot of layers and meanings in the book. Why had such strange things happened? What did this incident mean? I suddenly felt I had read a different book from the one that Murakami had written. And that completely threw me off reading any more of his books.

But a colleague of mine, who had got to know about my new found habit of jogging, lent me What I Talk About When I Talk About Running last week. I had seen it in book-stores a couple of times, and had been vaguely thinking of buying it, so she definitely picked  the right book for me.

WITAWITAR is very different from his other books (no cats, for instance!). It's a short book, quite introspective, and quite philosophical. He is mostly talking about running - about marathons, about triathlons, about the emotions in his mind when he's running, his experiences. But at the same time, he's also talking about writing, about willpower, about ageing, about life.

For a new runner jogger like me, it's extremely interesting to know the 'behind-the-scenes' story, so to speak. What goes on in a runner's mind during those grueling miles of the marathon? When I read about Murakami's first 'marathon', which was a solo run from Athens to Marathon on the Greek shore, and how hot it was, and how he had to push himself to finish the last few miles - well, I looked at myself and my puny 5 kilometers a day in the pleasant early morning weather of Bangalore, and felt rather foolish.

Murakami also expounds on his theory that writing is in general such an unhealthy profession, that writers need to do something intensely healthy in order to re-create the balance in their lives. Otherwise, they would burn out from sheer exhaustion.

The one thing I have realized after reading this book is that I will never become a marathon runner. I don't think I have the willpower to push myself to those limits. Murakami may be able to push himself to run the second half of an ultra-marathon (which is 62 miles as opposed to the 26.2 miles of a normal marathon) despite suffering from cramps. But personally, I would have just taken the cramps as a very welcome excuse to stop running. (I expect that's why he's a best-selling author and I'm not.)

Okay, I've just looked up the Bangalore 10K run - it's on 27th May this year. I may not be a marathon runner in the making, but a 10 kilometer run looks manageable, right? Let's see.
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