Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

No Weekends

Posted: March 16, 2012 in Cycling, Family, Heart
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Just realised that after my latest commitments, I’ve got almost no free weekends available till, possibly, mid-May! Here’s how it’s looking:

Tomorrow (17 Mar) : Meet some friends for Brunch/Lunch + Watch Milan-San Remo
Sunday (18 Mar): Ride the Burgess Hill sportive (86 km / 53 miles version)

Sunday (25 Mar): Ride the Evans Cycles’ Woking sportive (144 km / 90 miles version)

Saturday (31 Mar): Ride the Tour of Flanders sportive (134 km / 83 miles version)
Sunday (1 Apr): Watch the Tour of Flanders in Flanders

Saturday (7 Apr): Get married to this girl
Sunday (8 Apr): Watch Paris-Roubaix

Saturday (14  Apr): Dinner party with her family and friends in Chennai

Saturday (21 Apr): Dinner party with my family somewhere in north India

Weekend (28-29 Apr): Start journey back to London

Weekend (5-6 May): Ride / Drive to Oxford / Brighton with friends

Weekend (12-13 May): Finally, hopefully free :)


Posted: February 12, 2012 in Family, Heart, People
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This time, last year, I was on a plane half way to India to say good bye to grand dad. Hope the old bugger is doing well up there. Miss him loads :'(

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Based on the broad ‘genre’, I should be hating this song. Yet, I love it. Somehow, every time I watch it, it brings out a flood of memories and emotions, all related to home, the old country, the growing up years, the people I left behind, the stupid, simple, poor and beautiful life.

The stupid song makes me think. And the thought invariably is about the trade I’ve made – prosperity of goods & services for wealth of close, loving people.

Love the song for the memories it brings. Hate the song for flood of emotions and uncomfortable questions those memories bring.


Ride 8, 2011 - Uxbridge

My closest relative in this country, dad’s elder brother, lives in Uxbridge. Being the eldest son, he had gone to India for grandpa’s last rites and only came back last week. So, last Friday I went over to see him. There was also the small matter of collecting the barfi (Indian sweet) that Ma had sent for me through him :D

The ride, overall, was pretty easy – hardly any inclines, only a light headwind and temperatures not too much below double digits.

But (yes, there’s always a but), that didn’t meant there were not hiccups. For one, on the ride to Uxbridge, I decided to avoid the main roads as long as possible. That meant I had to take the inner roads with lotsa turns which meant just one thing – stopping every 500m to check the map on phone. That meant no momentum and really no ensoiment*. Was further disappointed when I finally did join the main road (A4020/Uxbridge Road) and saw that the road had dedicated cycle lanes and paths on both sides while I’d been struggling with directions and traffic on the smaller roads avoiding it.

Had a good time with Tayaji (north Indian term for dad’s elder brother) including a long chat that wouldn’t have usually happened if we had our better halves around. He even made coffee for us :)

The trip back should’ve been much easier with the earlier discovered bike lanes and the wind on my back. Unfortunately, barely 3 kms into the ride back, I felt the back tyre touching the breaks. A quick check confirmed the fears – it was out of shape again. It also reminded me that I’d forgotten to restart the GPS on the way back. I loosened the brakes enough to stop the touching but the ride thereafter was cautious, and unhappy. I haven’t ridden 500kms since I got the bike back from Evans after wheel truing last time and it’s spoilt again.

Nevertheless, the ride was easy – cycle lane to Shepherd Bush and then a quick straight route home through Notting Hill and Maida Vale. A nice and simple 50km ride to-from Uxbridge.


Sad, Glad.

Posted: February 21, 2011 in Family, Heart, People
Tags: , , ,

My grandfather, lovingly called Papaji by everyone from his grandchildren to his younger brother, passed away last week.

We were close and the news of his passing broke me. I did fly down to pay my last respects, attended his cremation and spent time with my grandmother, but nothing has been able to remove that big black hole he’s left. However much I may try, smiles refuse to linger, brain suddenly breaks for jaywalks into past and tears start bubbling up.

His passing was sudden – he hadn’t been ill or weak, other than the frailness that comes with age. And more than anything, it is that suddenness that hurt the most. I didn’t get to say good bye, to hug him one last time, to share a few old thoughts, to thank him, to be scolded by him one last time… to do those small things that help provide closure on a long and treasured relationship.

However, in that suddenness of passing, is also a sense of satisfaction. He passed away peacefully in his sleep having spent his last morning just the way he liked – chatting to ma, flirting with grand ma, soaking in the sun and reminding dad of sundry chores. It was during his afternoon siesta that he chose to leave us, with a smile on his face. I wonder what was he dreaming that brought that smile on. At least, it is clear that he didn’t suffer any pain in his passing. At his age, in late 80s, this was a blessing.

He had lived a long life and varied life – born as the eldest son to an extremely rich landlord in what is now Punjab in Pakistan, lost a little family and all his possessions during partitions, spent 30 years working in the UK away from his wife, mother and kids, and then came back to spend his last decades as the patriarch of a large and loving family. To pass away peacefully at the end of it is just the way he would have liked it.

Yet it hurts. And not just me. My sister, my younger cousin siblings, dad’s younger sister and grand dad’s younger brother – all people who had been really attached to him, all people who were far away when he passed away, all people who didn’t get to say their good byes, all people who quietly sob in a corner whenever left alone.

We all miss you Papaji. We all inherited your strong head, now is the time we need your strong heart as well.


Your grandson.


Topic for the day is: Who is your greatest hero of all time?

I will continue to break with convention and name many, instead of one, heroes. Helps me by not having to choose one as well :)

Let’s start with my long time, and still, hero – Gandhi. Gave up his entire life, family, possessions and even, when required, the cause he’d been fighting for, for the sake of his beliefs. What he achieved made him a legend. What I admire him for, is how he achieved it.

Next up is Nelson Mandela. Spent over two decades at the prime of his adult life behind bars on an island while his supporters were brutally oppressed with an unrestricted use of force. What I admire him for is that after suffering such oppression, he had the calmness of mind and greatness of stature to pardon the oppressors and dream of a united nation.

He may be controversial and much derided by many, but Julian Assange is a hero for me. The shortcomings of his personality are trivial compared to the his belief in an open society based on freedom of information. The world we live in is one where powerful governments and corporations have strong rights to privacy while they intrude further into individuals’ private domains every day. That he had the vision, tools and courage to see this duality and challenge it is what makes him a hero for me.

I love cycling. I know how hard the small London hills are for me. I realise that most people do not finish a single Etape du Tour every year. And I know that winning 7 TdFs requires not just a strong body but a really strong mind and immense character. But that is not why he’s my hero. I admire Lance Armstrong for being a great cyclist and bringing cycling into such limelight. But he’s my hero for taking on cancer, beating it, and, most importantly, encouraging and supporting the world to beat back the disease.

They appear late in the list, but are the ones I admire most – my parents.
Ma, for working so hard, so many years, with that broken back, while raising us and taking care of her not-so-supportive in-laws.
Pa, for his ever cheerful spirit, his optimism against odds and his goodness of heart. A bit too good, at times, for his and our sake.
Both of them, for bearing with me through my rebellious, arrogant, stubborn years (still on). For never letting us feel a pinch while they cut back on everything to give us the best they could afford. For being there whenever we wanted them, even though we were not always there when they needed us. For having such a strong bond of love & trust. For giving me the spirit to go for what I wanted. For being my biggest inspiration.

Last, but never the least – those common, faceless people who keep our world running. The tube drivers, the bus drivers, the cops, the cabbies, the street cleaners, the drivers, the Charlie who grits the side-walk every time there’s a chance of snow or ice, the Kusum who use to calmly clean the house while we slept, the shack workers who threatened off eve teasers and even the the security guard who shares a kind word and warm smile every time he sees me pass by, the ski instructor who dove into freezing river to save 20 odd people, the soldiers who drove of the invaders but didn’t cross behind them because the orders said so… While the leaders – corporate, political, military and community – get the accolades, my heroes are these every day people who keep things working to make our lives better, easier and more secure.

So, there. Those are some of my heroes – some having had a bigger influence on me, some more celebrated, some even hated and others barely known – and I look up to all of them.


Dear beautiful daughter

Dear beautiful daughter, on Flickr

To my dear beautiful daughter,

I’m writing you a letter. That’s right, a good old fashioned letter. It’s a lost art really, like handjobs.

I have a confession to make – I didn’t like you very much at first. You were just this annoying little blob who smelled nice, most of the time, but you didn’t seem to have much interest in me. Which I of course found vaguely insulting. It was just you and your mom against the world. Funny how some things never change.

So I cruised along, doing my thing, acting a fool, not really understanding how being a parent changes you. I don’t remember the exact moment everything changed, I just know that it did. One minute I was impenetrable, nothing could touch me, the next, my heart was somehow beating outside my chest, exposed to the elements.

Loving you has been the most profound, intense, painful experiance of my life. In fact, it’s been almost too much to bear. As your father, I made a silent vow to protect you from the world, never realising I was the one who would end up hurting you the most. When I flash forward, my heart breaks. Mostly because I can’t imagine you speaking to me with any sort of pride. How could you?

Your father’s a child in a man’s body. He cares for nothing and everything at the same time. Noble in thought, weak in action. Something has to change. Something has to give.

It’s getting dark, too dark to see. …

I like all prose from this series and this one is no exception. What takes my heart away is one particular sentence. The one which is closest anyone has come to pronouncing my self-image, noble in thought, and my reality, weak in action. Too close.