Tuesday, June 18, 2013


A gentle breeze fills my senses with the scent of fresh sawdust. The roar of machinery and saws is replaced by a gentle rustle of leaves, and the distant hum of traffic. Lunch - chicken curry, a cauliflower vegetable and raita - eaten, I write in the moments of quiet before the tree trimmers return.

Eased of the burden of dense branches, the black walnut trees stand tall, they look trim and elegant, proud custodians of our new home. They are brothers to me, these three trees, we have much to talk about. We share a love for this quiet spot, our oasis.

This is the start of construction. With the blessing of these three trees, and the sanction of the welcoming soil, with heart filled with hope, with my mind at peace, I begin.

This new life, this new beginning. Hail!

Sunday, May 05, 2013

I wander

I walk technology streets
thin soled shoes 
so the earth
can tell me
all I need to know

I run by a river
ears open
to the flow
O, Wise River
show me the path

knowing not what I seek
no pause!
relentless search
for something
none can find

But I love the journey.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The other side

The promised rain has held off, and the overcast sky extends the spring dawn till I have chugged up the hill to the zenith of my run, and stop to eat my bag of nuts at the overlook. The quiet, placid calm of the lake seeps into my soul as I set a brisk pace downhill into the undulating road between vineyards and rolling green hills.

I shout with joy at the announcements from my GPS, celebrating each mile with a surge of strength and joy. It’s been so many weeks since the toll of training my body to compensate for the irrecoverably torn rotator cuff ‘interfered’ with the all-important sadhana of running. I am back, Dear Road, I am well, and able, and I can float into the Livermore Valley, my feet barely touching the ground, my mind soaring over the eucalyptus trees.

“Break on through to the other side”, the Doors sang.

On the other side of sorrow and failure, set-backs and bodily injuries, the loss of a loved one not to the grim reaper, but to ‘life’, on the other side lies the green of a lush valley on a spring morn. 

Thursday, October 04, 2012


This quiet spot, so green, serene and private, my oasis of calm, it drew me in close and whispered in my ear. I visited often and stood beneath the black walnut trees, listening. There was always a gentle breeze ...... the land spoke in a quiet voice, a friendly tone, and I understood how I must proceed.

I searched for a kindred soul, an artisan with a third eye. Dear Google, please find me a young Bay Area architect - a creative, passionate, caring and determined inventor of houses, an inspired soul, a listening person, who will interpret thoughts and feelings, and, with that third eye, go beyond.

She went above and beyond.

These drawings and 3D renderings are testament to the success of my search. In Mariana I found the architect I was looking for - inspired, relentlessly pursuing detail, a person who truly listens. And brings craft to the design effort - and so much creativity.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Rotator cuff

A slow start, consciously relaxing into the run, even breath overcoming fear, the sling that has been my security, my crutch, left in the car, right arm held close, warm sun bathing me. Rhythm, reassuring rhythm. Welcome sweat.

Fear recedes, peace, welcome peace arrives as I gain the trail by the river, inner mind absorbing the familiar territory, conscious mind on recovery, careful not to trip, watchful of the arm, shepherding body and mind through this first run after surgery.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

First set of plans

These lines on paper come alive in the gentle summer breeze. The rustling leaves breathe life into the sketches, and stir my soul with hope.

Elevator Pitch: Pecking Order

Running by a canal, I am joined by a feathered admirer. Pleasant companionship, till he (she?) overstayed, unwanted guest unleashing vitriolic retort when asked to leave. I stopped. He stopped. I ran, he ran. I asked him to go. He snapped, threatening my unborn grandchildren.

Impasse unresolved by runners and bicyclists who congratulate me on my marvelously trained pet. Thank you very much, but would you like to have him – for dinner?

Exasperated, I unleashed loud and angry recriminations, preferring Hindi, in case I offended passersby, casting the most serious aspersions on my follower’s parentage, his privates, the nature of his relationships. He hissed, spat and advanced. I attacked with my most advanced weapon – a stream of water from my bottle. He laughed in his own peculiar way and cocked his head.

The font of Modern Day Wisdom, powered by the Oracle of Mountain View, says he’d decided I was lower in the pecking order. That I must kow-tow, genuflect, kiss his ring. 

Memory of his haughty demeanor will bring me down to earth if ever I raise my head too high. too high.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Inky, Binky and Clyde

A litter showed up on the lot! It’s so nice to think the land is fertile, prolific – and that the neighbors care. One of them has looked after the three little kittens – it’s so endearing.

Google to the rescue!!! A friend got a cat rescue team involved, and Inky, Binky and Clyde are now in foster care, clean and fed. They need permanent homes – do get in touch if you will have one of them.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Odd Shaped Lot

There’s always a breeze here, stirring the leaves, a gentle rustle, dappled sunlight filtering through the trees, and a single monarch butterfly flitting hither and thither. A feral cat’s litter crouched below fallen bark, playful little balls of wool.

The un-built house is already home.

This piece of the planet is mine to embrace, to hold dear, to gain nourishment from. This is my springboard as much as my retreat. Sanctuary by night, launching pad with the rising sun.

But first we must construct that house and make it home. And that is a journey filled with fevers and enthusiasms - I invite you, my good friends - join me!!! In the coming months I will post designs and pictures, and reflect on challenges and joys, the ups and downs.  

Do visit me often – here, in my journal, and at the Odd Shaped Lot. I look forward to your company, to sharing thoughts, picking your brains, and to raising a toast to life. La Chaim!

Fevers and Enthusiasms

Ray Bradbury talks of a writer’s excitement and vigor. Of fevers and enthusiasm. This wannabe’s internal muse – that bottomless eternal muse! – comes alive, reading Zen in the Art of Writing.

Is there a contradiction between my thirst for serenity and these fever’s that I so enjoy, that make me come alive? Can the organism be vibrant, seeking, growing – curious, active - and ever ready. And yet – gaining calm, peace and serenity? Is it possible to be firing on all four cylinders, re-fuelling midflight as it were, and yet – stationary except for that Sunflower’s turn of the head to track heat and warmth?

It is not stillness I seek, is it? No. The river is not still. It bubbles, it flows, it is incessant. It storms down boulder strewn canyons, wearing the rough rocks smooth. It swirls in deep pools, sucking life in. And it flows on, rippling under this bridge, a pause between fever and enthusiasm.


The patch of blue water arrests my run and I pause in the cool tunnel, reflecting on the calm that has occupied my soul, displacing turmoil, fear and despair. Water ripples gently by in the shallows, in harmony with my breathing and the gentle flow of thoughts.

The water under the bridge traveled far, did it not. From glacier to high mountain stream, down rocky canyons and over the High Sierra. My mind leans towards the ripples, waves blending, playing a little ditty - a duet to mark the journey, an ode to peace and serenity.

Stay with me, O Gentle River, stay with me, and give me your calm.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Colva Beach

I have rested my feet hoping the cyst in my right metatarsal heals, but I feel the discomfort as my feet touch the marble floor of the resort room. Hoping the warm waters of the Arabian Sea will soothe the hurt, I slip on my Vibram Five Fingers and walk on the grass, careful to be erect, to walk naturally. I must avoid secondary injury from bad form.

The beach is clear - just a few morning walkers in sight - stretching infinitely, a white runway into the unmapped future. It’s my future, the only one I have, and though I cannot know it, I welcome its arrival, and prepare for its vagrant choices, its whims and fancies, the sudden twists and turns it holds. But, dear future, we’ve been in this movie before, have we not? Hey, you hold most of the cards – your quirky ability to bring up the unforeseen, the unpredictable moves you make, your penchant for disruptive change. But, of course!

Despite your clever game plan, I fear you not, old friend. A half century of dealing with you has given me a quiver full of arrows, and I welcome you, I look forward to our little dance. For it is a dance we are locked in, no? – not a contest, not a joust. We are wily old players, far too smart to think in terms of victory. It is the dance itself, our journey into the unknown that absorbs us. tafri me he maaza hai.

I alternate between the soft white sand on the beach and the wet yielding mud the water leaves behind, the cant barely noticeable on the shallow shore, occasionally running in the water, using its pleasant warmth to soothe my feet, and realize the discomfort has left me, the stretching and the rest have done me good. I pick up speed as my breathing evens, and exult in the sweat breaking out, the damp air filling my lungs. I find myself shouting with joy, exultant to be alive, to run this run, charging forward towards the future.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dear Toes

Spring, at last, after the long winter / monsoon – wild flowers emerge, and the campus abounds with youthful leg – and I am light as an elf in my newfound ‘barefoot’ shoes, minimal clothing liberating me from winter wrappings. I skim the surface of the pavement, a light breeze carries me on, I am unencumbered, freed from ‘elevator sneakers’, floating.

The grass by the clock tower is damp, and feels soft beneath the thin soles of my Vibram Five Fingers, and I sense the long green blades curling over my feet, their soft touch holding, then letting go. I deliberately plant my feet on a twig, and it’s rough hew is warm to my touch as I push off, leaving it unbroken.

Three miles into the run, my calves – left leg, only, actually – come alive. Aha! A complaint from long unused muscles! There has been only the slightest jarring as I pound the pavement on virtually bare feet. The feel of every crack, the edge of the sidewalk, tar, cement and stone. These sensations are so new, pleasant, so real beneath my liberated soles.

There is not only the joy of discovery – but of pleasant release from Reebok’s overbearing presence, too!!!!

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Saturday, March 06, 2010

Blonde blossom

Weary of snow and rain, I revel in the crisp air as sunlight burns off the last of the morning mist. The moist trail is yielding, elastic under my feet, making the rise from Wild Horse Valley feel easy. I am soon up in the hills, high above civilization sprawled below me: busy, creative – vital – but distant, today.

Old age, disease and death. I am no Sidhartha, but they dog my thoughts, all the same – morbidly, perhaps – haunting me, not so much challenging my mind to seek a solution as mocking me with inevitable surrender.

Sure – you’ll win. But not today, not now. And not tomorrow. This run, this pounding pulse as I crest the hill, this pause to savor the air I gulp, this snapshot of the breathtaking view …… it is here, now, and confounds you. You attack, a vile underhand attack, you infest my friend with a pestilence, an evil plague. You thrust.

But we’ll parry. Your attack will be countered. We will meet you at the bluff. And thwart your evil plan.

But that’s not the issue. It is not victory I worry about as I run down the quiet trail on the far side of the hill. The rains have been plentiful, and the creeks are full, rushing. Pulsing with life. No! Victory is assured. But there is a cost. Pain is the price, and it is not I who must pay that heavy penalty.

This run is for strength, sustenance sucked from these hills, drawn from that rushing waterfall, bundled, delivered to she who will need it so. Abundant energy to nourish her core and give her the power to win – not just win, but to smile – laugh – every step of the torturous way.

I am stopped by a beautiful flower, standing alone: it is for you, my friend, with all my love and goodwill. As you battle this diabolical fiend may this blonde blossom be by your side. I know you’ll win - it is the smile on your face we fight for. As you do grim battle, your friends are here to fuel that smile - and bask in its warm glow.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Perpetual rainbow

I am back at the falls – parked at the Canadian side, and running on a fine winter’s day, crisp sunshine and clear blue sky imported from a California summer’s day, preserved in cold storage for me, lifting this traveler’s worn spirits.

The thundering cascade pours dramatically into a bowl of snow and ice, immediately subdued by the frozen river; a magician’s sleight of hand soothes that torrent below the icy surface, and the image looks like a still, a painting of dramatic snowscapes surrounding the falls.

I run through the spray, and then in the clear, stopping on a pathway to wipe my glasses. Intrigued by the sign for a Tropical Forest, I find myself surrounded by fern and money plant in a hot house. I gawk at the Banana Tree, lonely here in this winter wasteland, and offer to carry a letter in a bottle to its distant brethren.

The sun is low in the horizon, and I see a perfect rainbow in the spray above the falls. It is symmetric, complete, and so very close at hand, I could reach out for that pot - but more important than fool’s gold, today, is the sustenance I can suck from that rainbow. Much needed strength to find the way forward, to navigate life, love and impossible choices.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Niagara - Spring in Fall

Gold-yellow leaves in elegant parade welcome me, lone survivors of the first winter storm, a splash of color against the grey sky; instantly uplifting, like green shoots of emergent grass after long hibernation. The concern shrouding my mind is broken by those remnant leaves – the vivid hue penetrates vicious circles of despair, breaking the mold, letting me off the treadmill of doubt. Warmed by those colors, I straighten my back and lengthen my stride, easing into this run for renewal.

The rumbling spray of the falls fills my mind – the cloud rising from the gorge is medicinal – smoke signals of hope – the roar of pounding water is a thousand drummers exhorting me to run faster, to move forward, to carry on. I must suck the energy of these endless waters, learn their unfaltering drive, absorb their unending passion.

I am at the water’s edge, looking down at the black rocks a hundred – no, a thousand – feet below. The gulls ignore the roiling water, serenely swooping to sate their hunger, their calm glide punctuates this maelstrom with grace and serenity. I will be this water, pounding, rushing, a driving force filled with energy. Like the rocks, I will be strong, withstanding the constant force, eternal – a survivor.

But it is the gulls I envy their peace.

Monday, January 05, 2009


“We must be the change we want to see in the world,” Gandhi’s quote greets me, as I stand in line for a second class return ticket to Churchgate. Obama and McCain both embraced change, using its promise to stake moral high ground. I wonder how the city of my youth will have morphed. The busy market outside the train station gives me hope.

As I step onto the platform, I am quickly reoriented, and am soon sharing the open doorway of a southbound slow train, leaning out into the wind, anticipating each station as the names come back to me. The youth looking forward to a day in the city, thirty five years ago, has given way to the balding seeker, eyes closed, luxuriating in the familiar clatter of the wheels. Comforted by the familiar rocking as we enter Dadar station, I step inside and find a seat.

Though they have changed from Bombayites to Mumbaikars, I recognize every occupant sharing the bench with me. A pastel shirt, handkerchief tucked under the collar, a pair of black shoes shined by the boy at the station, the man selling chikki, four young men listening to film music on a transistor radio. There are no cell phones in use, perhaps because it is early on a Sunday morning – but there are no MP3 players in evidence, either; I suspect modern day electronics has not invaded Bombay as it has done in other cities.

A weighing machine with dancing colored lights draws me in with a wink at Churchgate station, challenging me, as an old acquaintance will, to recall his name. We chat about the years gone by. The conversation is cheerful – not for us the traditional lament about the good old days. No. This fine day is just as good for us old timers as the last time we talked, in 1978. I congratulate my friend on his looks. His light bulbs have not faded with time, and he stands erect, ready to weigh his next customer. He lies gallantly, ignoring the absent hair and the lined face, wishing me well as I set off on the run.

There are more cricket games in the Oval Maidan than I would have thought possible, giving it a buzz of entropic energy that befuddles me. Unable to separate the games, I run on, marveling at the focus each player must have to field the ball. The grand melee includes a football game, some joggers, and a couple walking their dog.

I arrive at the Gateway of India as an Elephanta cruise pulls in. One difference I do see is that the hippies of yesteryear have given way to trim haircuts and khakis favored by today’s software engineer. There are security forces in the area, and some parts are cordoned off, but the air is casual and easy going. A sign offers free books on Islamic culture, rejecting terrorism – Muslim graveyards in this city refused to bury the attackers, and I am glad to see Muslim shop owners and tourists unafraid, at ease. Bombay has had more than its fair share of fanaticism in the past, but rather than bringing fresh incidents, the recent carnage has bonded the city; Bal Thackeray and his ilk have been silent.

A chain link fence surrounds the old Taj building - a uniformed doorman pleasantly asks me to return in a few weeks. I gaze at the blackened roof top, and realize it is nothing – a mere pimple. Burnt at the corners by an unattended oven, the black forest is still delicious, the singed portions are being skillfully done over, and the cake will grace the table again, served as always with exquisite grace.

I am hungry as I near 4th Pasta Lane, and decide I will eat breakfast, rather than a snack bar. The bearded old man behind the counter with a shaven upper lip sends a bespectacled waiter ambling to my table. I use soft, fresh bread to remove green chillies from the omelet, and sip hot, sweet tea with my left hand, as always.

I remember the iron pillars protecting the alley leading from 4th Pasta Lane to Wodehouse Road, and stop to recall my youth in the fourth floor flat at Badhwar Park. The fishing village is busy as I step off the road onto the beach, and watch as men use rafts made of broken styrofoam held together by old fishing nets to paddle to the boats. The terrorists came ashore on this beach. The few steps from the road into the village has altered the frame significantly – I leave quickly, feeling the disquieting gaze of enquiring eyes.

Nariman point is much closer than I imagined, and I am soon running past the National Centre for the Performing Arts, and then the Oberoi. I see the hotel is fully functional, and does not carry any marks of the attack, except, of course, for the layers of protection around it.

Marine Drive stretches before me, curving to the left, and I run past the old hotels and apartment buildings I would so love to inhabit some day. There is peace to be found here.

Hoardings announce a Marathon on January 18. I suspect all of Bombay will run that race. This city will triumph over every difficulty; it is the hit man who will regret his deeds, his rejected remains a mark of shame on the hatred that created him. Wasted lives give pause to all who care, but the city of my youth transcends sorrow. In its stoic, unchanged middle class lies its strength, its wisdom, and its future.

Elevator Pitch: Tea at Leopold Café

It is crowded despite the late hour, and I share a table with two Dutch tourists. The security guards in the street make no difference to the atmosphere – it is a pleasant afternoon, with tall beer jugs adorning tables surrounded by men clinking mugs.

I buy a T shirt to remember the day, then add a mug for a friend. “Drink Beer: for tomorrow you may diet”. I wonder whether the designer added that last “t” for political correctness!

Sunday, November 02, 2008


Lamp light glistens on the wet surface as I set off in a light drizzle; there is no wind, and it is not cold. The familiar pavement welcomes me back after the long flight from Hyderabad. Jet lag woke me early to a morning shifted by daylight saving time, allowing an additional hour to continue my learning about coma.

The first winter rains have filled the twisting pathway on Stanford Avenue with debris from the trees, and I pick my way carefully over fallen branches. The gate to The Dish is locked; 7 minutes to go. I run on Junipero Sierra, past an old couple, the woman, in a yellow jacket, wishes me a cheery good morning.

Turning back, I enter The Dish, and manage the first steep hill without stopping, and pick up speed on the slope. The drizzle has turned into a fine rain, and the sky is filled with thick clouds. My thoughts are with Paddi, in bed, half way around the world, in dazed unconsciousness. My research taught me hearing is not impaired even in very deep coma; the mind registers words, and chooses not to respond. I am glad I spoke to her though I thought she was not listening.

I am on the long uphill where I must trick myself with short term objectives. Dear Mind, just reach that bush on the right, a hundred steps away, and you can consider rest. Go on, the spot where the squirrel ran across the path, you can get there.

I reach the big dish without stopping - my mind succeeded in tricking itself. Paddi’s mind has chosen to withdraw, shrouding itself with darkness, a trick perhaps to cover the pain?

A panoramic view of the valley opens up as I reach the top, and coast along, taking my cap off to let the scenery soak in. The sun has risen, and burned the clouds away; in minutes, the world around me changes to a beautiful sunlit morning, and a perfect rainbow adorns the sky, arcing from the distant hills in the West, and ending ahead of me, in the trees below.

The rainbow glows in the blue sky, unnaturally bright, challenging the sun. Paddi spoke to me on the phone, before I left on this run. Her words were muddled, unclear, but, at the end of the conversation I heard with complete clarity, “I love you, son.”


I am in Hyderabad, where I grew up. We know our mother is very ill, and the realization she is in a coma has begun to sink in.

It is warm as I pay the auto rickshaw and set off on the dirt road between the big, beautiful British bungalows we lived in - The Railway Colony. Fruit trees grace lush gardens; my first stop is 306, the house with the enormous L shaped verandah and huge bedrooms, and I remember the huge mango tree at the back. I see the window of my parent’s bedroom under which I smoked the stub of one of my father’s cigarettes.

I recall one night, she found me in the garden picking leaves, for no reason, breaking them. She asked me if I would feel good if some giant broke my fingers. I thought, then, that was an unfair comparison, but I do not idly pick flowers or leaves, anymore. I remember her crying one night, sitting on the machine stool that stood at the cast iron sewing machine.

Evenings in the large drawing room with the fireplace that is rumored to have hosted a cheetah that surprised some past tenant. Guests arrive. Hot snacks served in little plates. Drinks; rum and water for the men, lemon barley for the ladies. Paddi bottled the lemon barley, and my father added a dash to his rum, acquiring the taste. The conversation moves from politics to spirituality. J Krishnamurti, yoga.

I have run two great circles around the area, stopping each time at the front gate. The long driveway we played cricket in. I am a fly on the wall of a time capsule. I see the kitchen; my grandmother would shoo me out if I staggered in unwashed, in the morning.

Homeopathy. The free clinics. People coming at odd hours to tell their case histories. Paddi sitting with the giant materia medica, with its thumb deep separators. A famous doctor named Kent. Success stories shared in the verandah.

I see the portico with round white washed pillars. Lush red bougainvillea grew over it. The family gathered to see me ride a bike for the first time, and I crashed into my father's car in the driveway. Dented it. Grim faced, he found my mother's slippers in the car, and flung them out and drove off to work.

The old Citroen is large in my memory, polished, with round headlights poised over the gleaming bonnet. The stick shift was a little lever on the dash. She often touched100 mph on tank bund, on the way to school.

I run a third circle around 306, and then find my way to the old IRISET building, the college for Railway Signal and Telecommunication engineers my father started in the 50s. They moved to a large new facility when he was still there, but I must find the old building. The area has changed, like everything in Hyderabad, but I find myself running past Hostel II, and know I am on track. We used to dress up for the weekly 16 mm movie projected on a rickety screen on the lawn. I remember Frank Sinatra in The Devil at 4 O’Clock.

The old IRISET building has been abandoned. I pick my way between piles of metal rods being cut in the yard and find the steps leading up to my father’s office; the door is locked. His Head Peon, MS Muthu, used to preside over him, giving us hilarious performances of scenes from the office.

The metal rods dissolve to an Independence Day Flag Hoisting. My father in white cotton trousers and a khadhi shirt making a speech. Paddi, gracious in a crisp starched cotton sari, serving tea and samosas.

I run on, thinking about her life. The large family. The charities. So many people in our lives.

Peace. That is all I wish her. Peace. For the body and for the soul. A quiet, restful peace.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


The new shoes inspire me to think about life as a never ending quest for doors. It is two months since the artichoke run and I have been dogged by injury. Or so I thought, as one run after the other left me in discomfort, that smooth flow of passion and energy eluding me. It was the shoes that did it. The earth feels soft and springy beneath me as I set off on Page Mill Road, I feel whole again, strong, good vibes flowing.

It is hot. The brown of the hills around me and the relentless sun in the clear blue sky remind me this is a desert. Though my legs feel strong I soon realize this will be a difficult run. A patch of cloud gives me a brief respite that pushes me over the long hill, and then I am sailing down the slope towards I280, and am soon at Arastradero Nature Preserve. Two women at the water fountain eye me with concern. I realize I am drenched in sweat, tired, frazzled by the heat.

Doors that open quietly on well oiled hinges, revealing new vistas, bringing us closer to the unknown. It is wonderful to stand before a new door, push hesitantly on it, see it yield, a crack showing light beyond. As one steps into the light, one knows not what lies ahead. There is mild trepidation, a little hesitation, some small fear of the unknown; however, there is also a thrill, a quickening of the pulse as one gathers oneself to plunge into new discovery.

The sun beats down harshly as I take the gravel path past the little lake and enter the hills. It is hard work and I allow myself walking breaks. Then there is the long downhill through the lush green trees, cool, serene, as I feel my legs relax and let go.

The rhythm is back. I let me mind shut down and keep pace to a metaphysical metronome, succumbing to the pleasant fatigue, moving forward in a daze; no more conscious thinking. The road goes by and I float.

So much of life lies before us. I look forward to the wonderful times in the days ahead as new doors open. I am enthused, energized as I run through the trees on Old Page Mill Road.

Miraculously, a cool breeze springs up to shelter me on the last stretch. The promise of pleasant discovery as I step over the threshold.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


The sun has risen over the hills as I drive down the Pacific Coastline. It is a stunningly beautiful morning. Crisp, cool and clear. Blue sea melts into blue sky, not a cloud in sight, a white line of foam with sea gulls diving in for breakfast. Quiet, deserted beaches, and rock formations showered by foamy waves, full of life.

I resist the temptation to walk by the water, and drive inland to Pescadero.

I am in a small farming town, fruit and vegetable orchards hedge the few houses, with rolling green hills beyond. There is a single tavern, closed, grimy windows reminiscent of a John Wayne movie. The Mexican store across the road is doing brisk business, as runners line up for the restroom, then wander in to sample the food. A quiet walk takes me to the church, and then a pretty little bridge over a tiny river.

I register, then select an artichoke, the prize awarded in advance, finding it a cool spot in my car, and wander back to the start line. I am at the back of the pack of some sixty odd runners, an easy camaraderie setting in as we realize how small the race is. We set off, some ten minutes late, running by strawberry fields, the sun now hot. Entering the hills, we feel the heat, as the long uphill stretches ahead.

There are occasional houses, whose quiet I envy, one with a little lake to watch grandchildren grow by.

A woman rides by on her bicycle, encouraging me on, then promising me ‘air-conditioning’ in the second half of the race. The course is in the shape of a Y, with two turn backs, and I see the quicker runners go by on the other side of the road, as I plod on the long uphill to Butano State Park.

Entering the second leg of the Y, I see the point about the air-conditioning. Tall coastal redwoods hide the sun, and it is suddenly cool, and I run on the padded trail by the road.

This race does not have mile markers, and I have to estimate my pace by gut feel. The open road is now cooler, a sea breeze providing relief, and it now feels downhill all the way, as I try to pick up the pace. I sense I will not have to walk at all, and push myself. My earlier best was 2 hours and 21 minutes, and I hope for 2.15, as I pass a few runners, pulling myself upright, self congratulatory at having conserved energy earlier.

The bag of bones protests, but I begin to recognize land marks, finally getting to the home stretch. Age, and Physics, beat me though, and I clock in at 2.17, quite happy with the performance.

Later, that night, we place the artichoke in a jar of 151 proof rum, and I promise to write a note to my second granddaughter, who I gift it to. I see her in my mind’s eye, playing by a lake, sweet, innocent, full of fun, happy and smiling, listening to a story. I wonder when she will be born, and who to, and this little time capsule forms a link to the future that, like a hand firmly grasped through a hole, will pull me through to the sunlight on the other side.

Escalator Pitch: Shin Yokohama

We have traveled through Japan all day, with a lot of luggage, and a large demo kit in an outsize box. Finally at Shin Yokohama station, we are confronted by a staircase, and ask if there is an escalator or elevator we can take. A Ticket Collector directs us to a turnstile. Beyond that, we see an escalator going up – and a cab rank downstairs. We think there is a mistake, and ask the girl at the counter. She says Chotto Matte Kudesai (please wait a moment) and heads down a flight of steps. We see a policeman stop the traffic on the escalator. When it is clear, she turns a key and hits some buttons. The escalator stops, then changes direction! Arigato Guzaimasu!!! Japanese kindness is just incredible.

My boss remarks : ‘Try getting that done in New York!!!’

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Yokohama Bay

In the past few years, I have delighted in running here. Created posts in my mind, many a time. Finally, the time has come. Thus far, I have stayed at the Inter-Continental, with it's magnificent views. Now in the lesser Monterrey, I have to go out to catch the magnificence - is that why I finally write up the run? Or is it the wonderful bar experience I just came away from. The Three Martini bar. My new friend, Yamashita-san, told me it is a twist on 'Dry'. Please figure that out and write up a comment!

The Perfect Martini. That eternal quest continues. Yamashita-san moves it a step forward, with his stirred Martinis. He has 1600 bottles in his little bar. And he knows them, as a lover would know the ever changing scent in his beloved. He is a scotch fanatic, but it does not stop there. He mixes his drinks with the fervor of the true lover. Tastes each cocktail with a long spoon. That then gets put back in to a jar at hand. The little bar filled with his presence, cigarette smoke spilling from his lips, talking scotch to a customer, focused and passionate. Bespectacled, tie askew.

Yokohama Bay. So very un-Japanese. Large, spacious. The 3 Queen Towers. A hulking moon. The sun has set as I start off past lovers kissing in Yamashita Park. The long bridge with the views. That beautiful sail boat, the schooner, all lit up, in the distance. Tourist boats in the Bay, showing more life than a teenager set for Prom.

Soon, I am runnning past the Red Brick Building. Only the Japanese would make something of a red brick building. Cell phones clicking, as I run by the crowds, a hundred suimasens, get to the huge, hulking sail boat. Then the world's largest Ferris Wheel. Colorful, bright, luninous. A beacon. It really must be a metaphor for something. I love that dumb Ferris Wheel. It just goes on. As life should.

I run by the Queen Towers. Memories - mainly of restaurants! And then Pacifico. The views from the hotel come to mind, magnifico! I am in the park nearby, a little bridge, a view of the bay, it is balmy, pleasant, so comforting. Waters lapping by my running feet. Lovers on a bench. It feels wide, open, California beckons, across the water, joy in the air.

Wood slatters on a bridge. I run past a mosaic of wood, brick, stone. Suddenly confused - I think I am running into a wall. Work it out.

Back at Yamashita Park. I pause a Japanese Pause.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Hsinchu Science Based Technology Park

It is warm, already, as I set, off a little later than usual. Cloudy. No typhoons, or rain, fortunately, but Taiwan in August is tropical, humid.

I set off slowly on the familiar pavement. Broken brickwork, the weather ages the walls with mildew, green edges to the road, lush overgrowth, apartment buildings seem to droop, and wear an air of neglect. So like Bombay. Street dogs. A rush of scooters.

I am soon past the high school, and near the industrial park. I have often run there, past the hulking semiconductor fabs. TSMC and UMC. And AUO’s LCD facility – now the largest in the business. Together, these companies probably churn out more semiconductors than the rest of the world, combined. It is thrilling to run here. But strangely contradictory. Elsewhere, I choose nature trails, and seek out parks and trees. Here I think of the parry and thrust of the marketplace, design wins, and volume shipments. And failed start-ups that bite the dust.

I have always taken a left and run past the biggies. Know that path well. This time, perhaps because AUO dropped off the cliff, I see LiteOn away to the right, and follow the bike path – tiles monogrammed with a large wheel bike. LiteOn was the first Far East customer I worked with, many moons ago. Sprawling Taiwanese dinners with Jamie. Smoke and mirrors demos.

I pass Hwy 1 and turn into the industrial park. Familiar companies. SunPlus, WinBond. It is very hot, the sun now bright and strong. The humidity has me drenched with sweat. I make a few turns, and find myself in ChipMOS’s parking lot. Go thru and follow a curve in an inner road.

I should now be well on my way back, and begin to realize I have a problem. I am unsure of direction, and did not note the position of the sun, when I started. I am soon lost, and back track several times. The familiar names now confuse me further, and I realize some of these companies have multiple facilities here. I try to understand the maps at the bus stand, but they are impenetrable.

I am past my limit, tired and worn, running low on water. I ask for directions to AUO, and am not surprised I get pointed the way I was coming from. I back track to a major road, now very busy with scooters and cars heading to work. They do not respect pedestrians here! I dodge traffic to cross the road, and am on the bike path. Befuddled – cannot remember which way that large wheel pointed.

Regain posture, head up, lean, lift your feet, pick up some speed. I try to conjure up a cool breeze.

Bravo! I see the huge glass walled AUO building. I am hot, exhausted and thirsty running down the broken brick pavement. The stumbling Foreign Legionnaire lost in the swirling desert sand.

I stare at the large arrangement of flowers. Very symmetric. It is on a round table by the elevator. It takes time to realize I am standing in the lobby of my hotel, welcome air conditioning misting my spectacles. I am thirsty. I find I still have that last gulp of water I saved in the bottle.

Must be more careful about the bread crumbs!

Elevator Pitch: A weekend in Taiwan

I am so glad to be wheeling my bags out of my 21st floor room, this Saturday morning. I am surprised to see this very relaxed looking American, obviously not traveling today. He tells me he flew in on the Friday. Does this once a month. Visits the local office to plan the week ahead, and then spends the weekend catching up on jet lag and preparing for the week!

I’d never have dreamt of that one – I’d even consider heading home for a weekend, and returning on the Monday!

Elevator Pitch: Blue Diamond Almonds

We chat about having flown in the previous night, and he tells me the traffic out of Sacramento was bad. He looks like a well traveled Sales Guy, and I ask about hi-tech in Sacramento – turns out he is in the agriculture business. Sales guy for Blue Diamond Almonds.

Tells me there is a major market for California Almonds in the Far East. And that he visits India once every quarter, big sales around Diwali!

Elevator Pitch: Recruiting Korean kids for Schools in the UK

She is in a smart business suit and has an unmistakable British accent, asks which floor the breakfast restaurant is at. She lives in Hong Kong, and works for British Schools, helping to find Korean kids who go there to study a few years, and learn the language!

Just another Sales guy!!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Pacific Coast Highway

We took a vacation week to drive down the California Coast on Hwy 1, from the Bay Area to San Diego. Made stops at several very nice spots on this scenic route, where the incredibly blue ocean stretches out forever, lovely, lazy beaches invite surfers and sand castle builders, and the sky seems to get bluer with every passing smile.

Here is the PCH, thru the eyes of a sweaty pedestrian.


The Big Sur area has this wonderfully remote feel – a rugged coast line, the road snaking through hills, several hundred feet above the sea, Coastal Redwood forests, and picturesque streams, artistic homes perched on hillsides, and this history from the 60’s, of hippies and yoga, pot and TM, long haired bikers and Jim Morrison.

The Ponderosa campsite is 13 miles from the coast, some 3000’ up in the hills, extremely remote. The nearest store is at an Army Camp, 12 miles away. No showers – a nearby pool in the creek the only place to bathe, as was testified by the ‘bouquet’ from the delightfully quaint campground host.

I set off early, downhill, in a cool, crisp mountain morning, and am soon past the other campground. Spotted water taps there, and decided I could run far, and refill, later. It is quiet – I occasionally hear what sounds like distant trucks, but do not see a single vehicle the first 7 miles – or a human! The shade deepens as I climb. It feels intensely private, so alone, I am wrapped up in the run, the trees, and the mountain I realize I am climbing. I have run over two miles uphill, when I turn back to fill water – reached my time limit. One could just keep going with this perfect weather. And the quiet.

I had run the Big Sur Marathon in my mind, when driving the coastal road. A difficult course – so many hills, but rewarding. So very scenic. And some really interesting sidelights, like a fine gentleman, playing his Grand Yamaha at Bixby Bridge, dressed in tails. Doing it in a car, I was daunted by the hills, and decided to stop dreaming of Big Sur – but this long run up the mountain has me thinking - the ground here has good vibes!

The sun is out, now, and feels good. Warming. I pass three cars, and see some activity at the lower campsite. No water there! Rescued by mine campground host, who fills my bottle with water of some questionable origin and age.

Morro Bay

There’s this large rock jutting out of the ocean, off the coast of Central California. It’s pretty dumb, actually, but they’ve built a nice little touristy town around it, and the fine weather. The sunset at Montana Ore was spectacular.

I run early morning, the sun just coming up, along the shore. Nice homes with a great view. Piers with a variety of boats. I pause to ask directions. A clean cut guy, wearing a Stetson and an apron. Curious. Says he is a visitor too. I find my way to the State Park and run past a ridiculously crowded campground.

I pass my friend again. He has set up an easel, and is half way through a painting of the rock, and Morro Bay!

It’s Just Malibu

Santa Barbara turned out to be ever so nice. A cloudy morning, and then a pleasant, sunny afternoon. Very posh homes, and up market malls. A town that shows its wealth.

Malibu. Houses perched on hillsides, far apart. Endless beaches. Surfers riding swells. Young kids on surf boards, getting lessons, their instructor in the water, bellowing, mothers in bikinis taking in the sun.

I run a ‘back country’ trail. This rich, spoilt area has picnic tables and porta potties on a back country trail! Signs point to Reagan House and the site they filmed M.A.S.H at. Some stretches of the trail have concrete road. The creek is brackish and uninviting, but the hills are picturesque. It is hot, in the sun.

I see two burnt shells of jeeps – all that is left of M.A.S.H. A lady walking her dog points out where MediVacs took off in the opening scene of the movie. She says ‘when you watch the movie, you’ll know it is not Korea – it’s just Malibu’!


We head down the coast to Southern California. Palm trees and endless beaches. Surfers. It is laid back, relaxing. There is a vacation atmosphere, even in the office complexes.

I run through silent streets in Oceanside. Such a lovely name for this little town. I take the Coast Highway through town – a mistake – no views of the ocean. I veer towards the beach as I enter Carlsbad. Low tide. The water is way out on the shallow beach. I run in the soft wet sand. Just pad along – could do this barefoot!

Groups of surfers, where the waves are high. They look so good, paddling out on their boards, in wet suits, riding the waves in. I see ocean kayaks in the water. Reflect on holidays, and the lifestyle one could have in this suburb of San Diego.

Off the beach and on the promenade to cross a finger of water snaking inland. I see a long distance runner on the beach. Recognize the gait, and tell tale supplies hanging off her belt. I keep pace with her, from up above, and am happy I am able to do this, 10 miles into my run. I have never looked for a running partner, or a group, preferring my thoughts, and the time to focus on posture and style, and to reflect.

The sun is warm on my face as I run bare chested, enjoying the sensation of the soft beach, listening to the gulls. It is wonderful to end this long run with a dip in the ocean. The cool water so pleasant on tired legs.

I could get used to this!


It is the last day of this glorious holiday. The boat slips around this resort hotel are full in the early morning sun – just a few vacationers up for a walk, yet. I run over the bridge to the next stretch of sand. More sail boats.

San Diego seems to have more boats than cars, and more surf boards than people! I see a pony tailed man setting up his fishing rod. Beach bum or Qualcomm millionaire – who knows?

By evening, we are back in Bay Area traffic, reflecting on the intensity here, the drive, the passion. So different and so far removed from palm trees and beaches!

I vote for drive and passion.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Palo Alto

I have planned this run all week, 16 miles over two of my favourite local runs. This, my longest run since that injury, daunts me. I now use Google Maps to list milestones, and my new Timex watch to record the time every mile. I thought this would add a new dimension, a source of tension, but I am learning it is actually nice to break down a long run into individual ‘little’ miles. I have learned how much time I waste at rest stops, and have realized my timing can get a big boost simply by stopping less.

The weather report has failed me – I set off in bright sunshine – a cloudy cool morning would have helped. I stash spare Gatorade in the bushes as the first loop begins, crossing the pedestrian bridge over the freeway, the thrill of running a few feet above cars zipping by. I am soon on the trail by the Golf Course, a view of Dumbarton Bridge in the distance. My right knee suddenly hurts, and I stop, walk, and set off again. I have to repeat this again, worrying I will have to abandon the run, but I am sailing along again, as I get to the little airport. Marshlands on my left, the Bay in the distance, and the bright morning sun drenching me with sweat, as I watch the twin engine planes take off. The sun is well over the East Bay hills, golden brown in the summer heat. ‘There is gold in them thar hills’.

I see men fishing in the little lake in the marsh, one sadly with a near empty bottle of rye. Photographers with long lenses capturing migratory birds. What snobbery to have a ‘Palo Alto Duck Pond’, just for grandparents to take little girls with a bag of bread!

I’ve made good time – less than an hour to complete the 5 mile loop and retrieve my Gatorade, and I run on towards Stanford. Quiet, urbane Palo Alto streets. Old trees, and nice old people. I offer ‘Bokar Tov’ to a brightly dressed Jewish family heading for the train station.

I am soon running the length of Stanford Avenue. Each cross street is a famous college - Yale, Amherst and so on. Apartments give way to professorial bungalows, and then I am past the half way mark of my run, wishing learned toffs good morning, as I get to the olive trees at the end of the campus. The sun is getting hot, and I eat a snack, as I go on, energy flagging.

Several distance runners on Junipero Sierra head towards the Dish. I pull myself together, straighten up, and try to get form and speed together. I am nearing the thee quarter point of the run, it is hot, and the body craves rest. Sand hill Road is a welcome distraction. This one road has the offices of all of the best Venture Capitalists. Billions of Dollars both in investments, and in personal net worth, come to work in the plush offices here. Which attract incredibly good looking staff, as well, as if that helps the rejected entrepreneur! I reflect on the year I spend doing the rounds at Sand Hill Road. Learned so much, yes, but did not get funded.

I give myself a 3 minute break at Stanford Shopping Center to refill water, and freshen up. This tired state is not conducive to looking at mannequins wearing outlandish costume, or to the music tinkling from Brooks Brothers. The mall is not open yet, I run through empty corridors, and get back to El Camino Real - 'King's Way'! I had decided to treat myself with a very slow pace, the last 3 miles, but some last bit of determination spurs me to try harder than that through downtown Palo Alto. I use the cracks in the sidewalk to lengthen my stride, pushing myself. The body can go on - it's the mind that plays tricks, convincing oneself it is perfectly acceptable to give up, to slow down.

I run past the church on Channing, and know I can make it - beat my 3 hour 15 minute limit to be back by 10.00 am. I am running against myself - who else cares? There are times I come almost to a halt, barely moving along, but straightening up, getting focused, makes it possible to go on, and to pick up some speed again.

I have used my stopwatch to mark each mile long lap, and, later, I am amazed mile 14 went by in 11 minutes. The mind can be trained to do endurance running. The bag of bones just goes along for the ride!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Heat and Dust

Bharath Desh in summer. Masala Dosa and mangoes for breakfast. The water tastes so different!! I agonize over routes here, more than elsewhere. So many considerations – emotion and nostalgia battle safety and traffic. Potholes, broken pavement and stray dogs require concentration and focus. As do places I grew up in, or lived at, 15 years ago.

I start at Lalbagh, morning walkers abound. A crowded stand up idly restaurant. I run thru Cubbon Park and onto MG Road, newspaper delivery services littering the roads. I am able to run down Brigade Road, in the middle of this normally impassable street.

I swing past Lilian Zavier’s home. Our old garage now a block of flats titled L’Sam. Caesar’s kennel is now a storage area, the proud owner clearly having moved on. It is warm, now, and I feel dust caking my face, as I run past the Army Barracks on Airport Road. My thoughts on old friends and good times, in Indiranagar, mirchi bajjis and too many beers, card games and easy banter. The new flyover looms, and I navigate it’s folds, and see the first buildings of Kormangala, in the distance. But, first, the Call Centers. A large Dell facility. Other companies I have known.

I am out of water, dry and gasping as I end my run at a bus stop. Stretching, I reflect on my changed perception of distance, time and space. I love this land, but worry I can never be local again. Though I try to prove repeatedly I am, at some level, there is this nagging doubt.

(note – This run was on April 30, 2006. I neglected to post this)

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Orchard Street

Stepping out of the well air conditioned lobby at 6 am, it is dark outside. A warm humid, damp, and still morning. The neon signs and bright lights of Orchard Street reflect off empty pavements, the bustle of this prosperous city state still some hours away. No rain, but the air is pregnant with the wetness that is an essence in this tropical city.

Running here has a different tenor. The warm wet air seems to envelop you, to add weight, and slow you down, not that the Singapore Slings at the Long Bar of the Raffles Hotel helped. Giggling women at the next table, nicely accented tipsy as only Englishwomen can be.

Impossible tall buildings, surrounded by lush green vegetation. Palms, creepers, bougainvillea, and thick large tress, but it’s just vegetation that you really notice. Beautifully landscaped lawns at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – wrong turn – a guard points me in the right direction.

It is still dark as I enter the Botanical Gardens and start dropping mental bread crumbs. The world transforms. Now the traffic and the skyscrapers are gone. It is a jungle, dark and mysterious. The first lake. Placid. A subtly lit palm tree at the center reflects serenely, as I run on the path around the still water. A delightful lotus pond. Small and removed.

Now I am at a rise. An open plain of manicured lawn, set there to catch dawn rays. Pink sky through the laden clouds. Another day, and I gather speed to meet it. Good to be alive.

A large Tai Chi group. I wonder about disturbing them, but they do not break their cadence as I go past. I pass a sleek runner, well balanced. Tai Chi sword in hand. Swans in the lake doing their own little ballet.

I am now in a Rain Forest. It is dark and humid. Tall trees and mysterious depths. The sound of the cicadas now replaced by a cacophony of insect calls. The noise is an almost visible presence.

All too soon, back in civilization, I see the traffic has thickened. I am drenched in sweat as I have never been before, as I grab lung fulls of cool air in the hotel lobby.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Cherry Blossom, Kami-Suwa

We arrived late at night, exhausted, at this small town in Japan. Got no sense of the place from the dark train window, or the short taxi ride. I woke early to a dull gray day, and found a map in the room – we are right on a lake – decided to run.

Stepped out after a quick cup of Green Tea – low clouds and a sharp wind cutting to the bone, as I set off on a path by the lake. Cold. I soon realize this is a winter wind – we are some 3000 feet up, and spring is probably not here yet! I take shelter running in narrow streets, deserted, the occasional morning stroller huddled in layers of woolens. About to turn back, I come up to the local palace – just a Lord’s House, I find later. A Moat surrounds the wall – inside, I find a truly perfect garden. Cherry trees in full bloom, a pond, rocks and a pebbled beach. Groomed to perfection. It is raining, now, but in this Zen Garden, the rain drops line up, and fall with geometric precision.

Later, when my Customer took us to lunch at their Club House, walking thru a hillside of pine trees, it started to snow, incredibly, the Gods not having checked Internet Weather, and we walk uphill, wondering if sunshine and snow gets us a snowbow.

A bright crisp dawn wakens me early – this really is the Land of the Rising Sun. I set off around the lake in bright sunshine, a cool, clear day, ducks quacking happily, crows feasting on early worms. I can see right across and around the lake, it is a delightful morning, Japanese perfection in evidence all around, as I turn into the gentle wind and set off. Politesse abounds. One woman has a strained expression as I near her; she says ‘Good Morning’. I wish her ‘Ohaiyo Guzaimasu’, and silently thank her for the effort.

Running over a bridge, I realize I am looking at snow capped Mt Fuji. I bow and ask Fuji-san to give me …….. wisdom …….. patience? Fuji-san has to figure out what I need most. Stronger knees, to be sure!

Pheidippiddes is at the Gates of Sparta in my current book. Modern man runs for a different reason, but the opportunity to reflect, and to get in touch with nature, ones’ surroundings, body and mind is the same.

Cherry Blossom trees in full bloom ring the shore. Some near white, some almost pink. Lush blooms. School girls in uniform and the layered socks that are in fashion. Father and daughter setting off in a kayak.

The run seems to lengthen – I am stretched – have not run this far since my injury. Other runners overtake me, as I tire. At last! I am back, and stretching on a grassy bank. Tourists and locals taking pictures by the Cherry Trees. Spring has arrived today.

Friday, April 14, 2006

The Dish, Stanford

Rolling hills behind the campus. Several very large satellite dishes at the top. Green and lush, after the plentiful rains this winter brought. The path around The Dish is some 4 miles long. Difficult because of the seemingly endless climb, and then the almost precipitous down to the entrance.

It is cloudy and cool this spring morning. A light drizzle as I run on Stanford Avenue to warm up, then set off uphill. First really difficult run since the accident. In the past, I have challenged myself to run the dish without slowing to a walk. Mind over matter – the trick is to focus on little achievements. Get to that trail marker just 50 yards away, then think of stopping to catch your breath. Keep going. Trick the sniveling organism.

I soon see the Stanford Campus laid out below. Lights blazing over the games fields. Red tiles. Did Leland ever walk up here, contemplating where the main quad should be? Did he vision 21st century achievement stemming from his university, feeding the creativity of The Valley? Low clouds over the East Bay, but it is clear to the North, and I can see the tall buildings of the San Francisco Business District, in the far distance.

As I turn to the West, Portola Valley is below me. I hear the rush of traffic on 280. A visiting poet said The Valley is a Wasteland. Endless stretch of homes and offices. I wish I had him with me today. That sound is a river of creativity, bringing driven souls to the center of my universe. To create the next iPod, to dream up The Next Big Thing. Infinitesimally small companies daring to dream. Products and concepts conceived from coffee and guts. This is not a wasteland – it is the fountain of youth!

I chug on, as I run past the big dish at the top. Hulking over the path, clouds swirling behind, like The Beast, with a rose clutched to his hand. A pleasant old woman runs past, smiling hello. I pick up speed as I crest the top, and exult in the thrill. I can run again! I see Dumbarton in the distance. Soon. I will run over that bridge. I will run and breathe and think and rejoice. And I’ll see my product at Fry’s.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Driving Across the Bay

I had planned a last long run across the San Francisco Bay, preparing for the Napa Marathon on March 5. A dramatic route, over the Dumbarton Bridge, from Palo Alto to Fremont.

Slipped on a wet and muddy sidewalk, and wrenched my knee! My good doctor suspected a ligament tear, and asked for an MRI. I drive across the Bay to the Fremont Center for my MRI. 7 am. Sunrise - just the time I had planned for my run across Dumbarton! A beautiful morning. Clear skies, and a crisp sunrise over the hills. To see this from my car - I am close to weeping.

The knee is healing, and I hope to be running again, soon. There will be another marathon, sometime! More importantly - I'll still run across the Bay, at sunrise, some other equally beautiful day!

Friday, January 20, 2006

Bridge on the River Han

Siberian wasteland, freezing sub-zero winds cutting through layers to chill me to the bone. Icicles hanging off cold, bare trees. Those are my memories of Seoul in winter. Incredibly, there is no snow or ice, this visit. The days are clear, crisp and sunny. Blue sky. The temperature hovers around freezing.

Some fortunate streak of optimism must have told me to pack gloves and a second layer, and I set off for an early run. Spurred by the cold I make good time from this hulking hotel past the Department Stores and posh apartments in the Gangnam area. 5.30 am. This sleepless city still seeing it’s last revelers home. Bleary eyed, drunk executives. Well dressed call girls. A party of happy young people. Two girls clap, and run a few yards with me.

Traffic lights, normally a welcome relief, where I get a few moments rest, are now my nemesis, as I run figure of eights to stay warm. A Japanese businessman at the Co-Ex Mall traffic light watches me curiously, and raises his hand in salute.

I get to the Han. This wide river, curving it’s way through a city of skyscrapers and traffic jams, the one unhurried sight in a rushing, overworked city. It is cold on the bridge, the steady stream of cars blowing a chill wind, but it’s just too wonderful an opportunity to miss. The city spreads in all directions. Lights shimmering on the water.

Dawn breaks as I return to the warmth of my hotel. None the worse for the wear, except for a frozen right arm.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

The Toroko Gorge Run

This trip to Korea and Taiwan, I found myself with four blank days in the region. Tried to get into a Budhist Monastery to learn meditation - could not find something - settled on a nice hotel in Toroko Gorge in Taiwan.

Ran 17 miles, today. It was hilly all the way. From the hotel at Tiansiang, up the winding road to Huitouwan, and then the lovely trail to Bamboo Garden. Exhilerating views of the river, way below. The weather is just fine, this time of year, in Taiwan.

It took me a good hour and 45 minutes to do the run to Bamboo Garden, over a couple of dramatic suspension bridges, an eerie tunnel - no lights in it, and it has a couple of twists, so it is ever so dark. I had a flash light, but it still was scary. Noises echoing in the dark. The drip of water. Some parts way too steep to run.

Rich vegetation. It rains in Taiwan all year round. Friendly people, waving, shouting a cheery 'ni ha'. Riding scooters up this hill!!! There were even some hill folk riding small motor cycles on the trail.

The old bag of bones in bad shape after that very hilly run. Tired. Thrilled I could do it, though.