Monday, November 24, 2014

Another Chapter in Chennai Running

Chennai's running culture is still nascent, but growing at a steady pace.  There are more runners and more running events happening in Chennai than ever before.  All this augurs well for the Chennai brand and the wellness of its citizen.

Thanks to Neville Billimoria, Chennai running took another significant step in the form of Dusk 2 Dawn(D2D) running event.  First ever organized running event in the night.  This signifies not only the growth of running movement in the city but also 'growth' in understanding of the city administrators as well.  I couldn't imagine pulling off an event like this even just a couple of years back.

A night running event requires certain level maturity and cooperation from all stakeholders.  The success of D2D proves beyond doubt that Chennai has what it takes to pull of a night running event and there by writing the next chapter in the Chennai running history.
Photo courtesy - Neville's FB post
According to the organizers, over 7000 participated (with significant # women runners) in an event that started at 10:00 PM and ended in the wee hours of next day.  A night running event adds additional dimensions to the list organizers have to plan.  Kudos to the organizers for thinking through all that.  They did the right thing by limiting the running route to the 5k beach front and ensuring it was lit well.  City also pitched in and ensured road closures and good police presence all along the route.  In all, all stakeholders pitched in and ensure the success of the event.
photo courtesy - Jayendra Soni FB post
A word about Neville here.  More than a runner, more than a cyclist, he is a wonderful human being.  Here is a first hand story.  Neville & I ran Colombo Marathon in 2011.  Around 32k mark, he sees a 'down' runner and stops to help her.  While attending a fallen runner, Neville was hit by a passing vehicle and gets hurt.  In the ensuing melee, an ambulance arrives but can take only one patient.  Ignoring his plight, Neville ensured the other injured runner gets the required medical attention and sends her off for further treatment in the only ambulance available.  Though hurt, he chugs till the finish area and then collapses.  I took him to a hospital in another ambulance and to make the long story short,  all ended well.  I am narrating this story only to illustrate the wonderful human being Neville is.  I am not at all surprised that the entire D2D proceeds are going for a noble cause.  We are enriched by our association with you Neville and wish you the very best in all your endeavours..

Now back to D2D story..

photo courtesy - Gokul Raja FB post
For once, I didn't take my camera for the run and there is a reason for that.  I was heading to the airport directly after the run and pretty much had packed everything.  But did get to be in this photo, thanks to Gokul.  (I ran the half in 2:08).  Thanks to Raghav, I got to the airport with time to spare and now sitting in the cold confines of a small scandinavian town writing this post.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

All You Can Eat for Rs. 179

From Amma Unavagam to ID in 24 hours.. Read on..

I am generally a sucker for combo offers.  I go for mini-tiffin, Thali, buffet types as I believe you can do paisa-vasool for the money you shell out.

It is customary for us to go to iD whenever we go for movies at Sathyam complex.  We particularly like the coffee and onion rava dosa at this Restaurant.  Raghav noticed this tent on our table and I couldn't resist.  This 'Eat all you can!' had almost everything from their main menu, barring my favorites Onion Rava Dosa and coffee.

But at Rs. 179, it was a good deal and we gobbled all we could and ended up missing the first 5 minutes of the movie, Interstellar.

Not sure, how long this offer lasts.. but if you go to Sathyam movie complex.. do check this out...:-)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Lunch at Amma Unavagam

Lunch at Amma Unavagam (அம்மா உணவகம்)

Between errands, I had sometime to spare and ended up having lunch at the Amma Unavagam on CP Ramaswamy Road.  I was mildly surprised by what I saw.. You would be surprised as well.. if you read on..
First thing that stuck me was, the place was clean.  In fact, it was cleaner than some of the private eateries I have been to.  Also, another striking thing was the gender of the employees.  From cash to kitchen, it was all managed by females.

Line Please - Unlike other places, entire experience was orderly.  People actually stood in line to get the coupons and again formed a line to get the food.  Both the serving lady and cashier was very polite and helped folks who didn't speak Tamil.  They helped customers who spoke only Hindi and ensured there needs were met.

Cheap - I asked for Sambar sadam and Thayir sadam.  Not knowing the price, but knowing it would cheap, gave only Rs.20 and to my surprise got Rs. 12 back.  In other places, one would not get Rs 2 changes but that was not the case here.

Hygiene -  The entire place was clean.  From kitchen to serving table to eating hall,  the entire place was clean and well maintained.

Food Quantity - Lots.  You get served two generous servings of each rice.  This would be a perfect for pre marathon carb loading.  Seeing the food piles that were being served,  I asked for one small serving of each sadam.  The serving lady didn't understand first but even after she understood, she wasn't convinced.  She not only served me generous portions of Sambar sadam and Thayir Sadam, but also gave me one bonus serving for lemon rice.

Food Quality - Food was piping hot.  Sambar sadam was little spicy for me and Thayir sadam (தயிர் சாதம்) was actually More sadam (மோர் சாதம் ). But the Lemon rice I got as bonus was good and I enjoyed it.

My only crib is that it was all rice fare and wish it was little balanced in terms of nutrition.  Having said that, I also saw a small vendor ecosystem mushrooming outside.  Few vendors, all ladies again were seen selling pickles, vadai and sides.

I went to Amma Unavagam out of curiosity and with low expectations.  But was thoroughly surprised by the overall efficiency and cleanliness and experience.  Keeping the commercial viability of these Unavagams aside, I do feel these places fill a vacuum and serves a critical segment of the society.  I only hope this model thrives and survives changes in governments.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Want directions to Office in a new city? - Simply look for turning torso..

Recently, I travelled to our offices in a different city with the Turning Torso as the only landmark.  Wonder how?  Read on..

Earlier this week, I was asked to come to Office in a different city.  When asked for directions, I was simply told "Really easy, Look for the white tower and our office is right across from that'.  Besides the printed directions in Swedish, this all the directions I got for visiting our offices in Malmo, Sweden.  Though, I was a little skeptical, it wasn't all that difficult.

Took a train from Helsingborg to Malmo.  I looked up the schedule on net, knew the time, price & platform.  Armed with this information, getting to comfortable confines of the train was a breeze.  Though free wifi was available, it was spotty at best.  But that was enough for me to catch up with whatsapp messages and FB.

Malmo is a small little town, in the southern most tip of Sweden.  Besides housing the tallest building in Nordics, it also boasts of the longest bridge linking Sweden to Denmark across Oresund Strait.  My colleagues tell me that, the bridge has given a new lease of life to the city.  Since the bridge opened, more Danish folks started moving to Malmo due to cheaper real estate.  Live in one country and work in another.. what a concept.  I seen similar phenomenon between Evian, France and Lausanne, Swiss as well.  This must be happening all across Schengen countries.

Looking at this no hassle travel across most of the EU countries, I wonder what it would take to have open borders with of India's neighbors... That would be quite something isn't it?  But I also know the reality that, that quite something that would not happen in my lifetime.  (Enough of dreaming.. Get back to blog!!!)

As I stepped out of the Malmo station, there it was, the tallest tower in Nordics in its all twisted glory, standing tall.  With the Twisted Tower as my beacon, I walked for about 20 minutes and voila, landed where I needed to go.  More on the Twisted Tower here.

More pictures of Malmo here

A short clip

Tags - Travel, Sweden, travelogue #66