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It is but with a heavy heart that I take to pen down my feelings. Sachin batted in what is very likely his last international innings today. No more Sachin. And to make matters worse, Anand lost the fifth game to Carlsen after drawing the last four games.

They measure life by the moments that take your breath away. I can reminisce my life so far by the Sachin moments I can recount. He was always there all my life. I distinctly remember enjoying what would be known as the Desert Storm, watching on my our old TV, in seventh grade. Then there was Sachin’s 98 in the India-Pakistan match in the 2003 world cup, two days before my Maths exam in HSC. And how can I forget the first one-day double century ever by Sachin; frenzied IIT-B hostel-junta was all jumping on the mess tables. And there was the World Cup India won, in 2011, when Virat Kohli carried Sachin on his shoulders. Those Sachin moments I associate with the good times I had studying Mathematics at IMSc. With Sachin retired, there won’t be any more of these moments. Dhoni puts it succinctly – “With Sachin Paaji, a part of me will be gone too.”

I respected, loved, adored, worshipped Sachin but frankly, I never wanted to be a cricketer myself. But at least for a little while as a kid, I wanted to be a grandmaster. Like Sachin, I grew up seeing Vishwanathan Anand. Chess was amazing and Vishy kept winning those rapid and blindfold games and I just idolized him. He became the World Champion in 2007 and has retained the title until now. After four consecutive draws, finally blood is drawn he loses to Magnus Carlsen. With seven more matches to go, I am badly hoping Anand resurges like a Phoenix in the remaining matches and clinches the title. It doesn’t matter if Carlsen snatches the title back from him next year. It might sound silly but, for me it’s like a battle between Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty; it would be the crowning achievement of Holmes’ career if he could defeat Moriarty. Not that I hate Magnus Carlsen, but it’s just that it would pain me to witness Anand fall.

I believe it’s not just the fact that they have been the best players in their respective sports that puts Anand and Sachin on the same pedestal. Of course, both are Indians and I have grown up worshiping them both. But the real similarity between them is that both have their feet firmly on the ground. They both are the epitome of humbleness, a quality too difficult to exaggerate. It comes only with immense patience and respect towards your surroundings. In 23 years of his professional career, I don’t recall a single outspoken statement Sachin made, nor the slightest harsh action on the field. Hit by a speedy bouncer, he would calmly pick himself up and continue to bat in pain. And Anand, well, I’m honoured to see him nay, play a game in an exhibition match with him. It was at the the ICM at Hyderabad in 2010. People asked random, stupid questions to him and he answered them all with aplomb. Take a bow, masters!

Why do we need idols?

My sadness at Sachin retiring and Anand losing a game to Carlsen got me thinking; why did I feel sad? Because I wouldn’t be witnessing my role models in action. And why do I need role models? I study Mathematics, neither of them are anyway remotely related to Mathematics. That’s not the reason I idolize them. I revere them because seeing them in action makes me believe I can excel in my field too. I equate myself with them. I want to be a part of their success, and even failure. If Sachin can persevere and perfect that straight drive, I too can push my cognitive limits and understand my Mathematics. If Anand can produce a masterpiece, may be one day I too can.

I hope Anand fights back tomorrow and comes up with something brilliant. He always has.

_________________________________________________

An article I wrote about Sachin long ago — here.

A moment to cherish:

Vishwanathan Anand and me

  • Your first (half) marathon is the most cherished one. Ironically, it’s also your slowest!
  • I ran a half-marathon at the Indianapolis Marathon today, 19 October, 2013 in 2:18:56.
  • Running a half-marathon = 13.1 miles = 21 kilometers sounds like the craziest idea until you actually run it. After that it seems trivial.
  • It was good to have Jacob and Ryan run the 13.1. Qi ran the full marathon; bow to thee, master! Tianyang’s support in cheering us was invaluable.
  • A 81-year old lady completed the 13.1 in just over two and a half hours. Highly impressive. Humans are crazy!
  • I liked the way the marathon was organized. Fully planned, everything taken care of including parking and restrooms. The concept of time tracking by a tracker attached to the shoe was amazing. I’m impressed with technology.
  • There was so much energy in the atmosphere that you just couldn’t get tired, stop. People cheering, runners discussing their past and future marathons, volunteers offering water and energy drinks, loud music.
  • All this excitement made me forget the bad weather, it was 5 degrees (Celsius of course), windy and raining.
  • A lady had “13.1 on my 30th birthday” printed on her shirt. I wished her a happy birthday! There were some people from Lafayette, we had a “Go Boilers!” exchange.
  • There were volunteers encouraging us to keep going. Randomly, I would tell them they’re doing a great job cheering us 🙂
  • I was hoping Jacob, who was ahead of me would cross me and I’d wave to him saying, “*How* is it going?”!
  • I was in extreme pain after crossing the finish line, but knew I had made history (at a personal level, in the least).
  • There’s only one key to completing the run, don’t think about running, don’t count the miles, don’t calculate your pace — Just RUN!

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Tailpiece:

October 2012 : Biked from Bloomington to Purdue for Habitat for Humanity, 125 miles in 2 days

October 2013 : Ran a half-marathon at the Indianapolis marathon.

October 2014 : (Crazy suggestions?)

Half-marathon! Pu-Ma runners

I wish to pen down (key in?) a singular event I happened to experience, something that I wouldn’t forget soon. This blog post I hope will serve to me as a refresher down the memory lane, years later.

On Alex’s advice, I decided to run hills. (In his words, “You’ll hate yourself running uphill but I know no other method to improve your running speed and stamina.”)  I biked to the top of “Mt. Salisbury” and after running it up and down, was on my way back home. On the bridge on Lindberg Rd, I saw a girl drooping, leaning across the bridge. I gave her a second glance and biked ahead wondering if it she was running and the sun dehydrated her. But who runs in their sandals? I turned back and rode toward her.

“Are you alright? Do you want some water?”

She started sobbing. (Uh oh!) She drank some water and hugged me. My turn to freak out, because it wasn’t a brisk hug but a painfully long one.

“Whatever it is, it’ll be alright.” (I offered my two pennies of  solace).

“Would you help me commit suicide? I want to jump over.”

“This won’t help, it’s too shallow” (Who commits suicide jumping in a bog? She wouldn’t even have fractured herself! But I agree, this isn’t the best reply you can give to a girl contemplating death. In my defence, I handled it good enough, overall.)

She fell on the trail and I sat next to her, wondering what action to take. I asked her which direction her home was and that we should walk that direction. She told she was drunk, a fact I deduced during the aforementioned hug. I compelled her to keep walking to her home and get some rest. On the way, we embarked on a (trivial) discussion about the existence of god and the goodness in people. She told me how other people on the trail ignored her and walked past. She was a Purdue undergrad; her life was in shambles and she had no one. (I believe the last part is false; for you need some parent / guardian who’ll fund your undergrad, especially in this country. I didn’t challenge her.)

She also mentioned she had been contemplating suicide for years and that I should help her. (Now I am of the opinion that if a person truly wants to die in spite of being counseled, the government should give them the opportunity. In India and Indiana, it’s a felony. Nonsense; but I’ll save this discussion for another day.)

Now this girl jumps over the railing and stands on the road, waiting to be hit by a car. The speed limit for that road is 30 mph, so again an ineffective way to kill oneself. Again I sprung into action and made her jump to the other side. At this time, she collapsed in the grass. I felt it the perfect moment to call 911. She rose up and tried to snatch my cellphone but I overpowered her. Sensing trouble, she ran away in the direction of her home. I gave her description to the authorities and no sooner than I traveled some 100m than I saw a Sheriff car (without sirens, interestingly!) turn towards the apartment complex. They caught her as soon as she was about to enter the house and interrogated her. My role ended with me narrating the cops this incident and giving my identity.

———————————————————————————————————————-

Tailpiece: Do you think we have free will? Was it my own free will that made me turn around and help (?) the girl out? Or was I programmed? My life would have been a bit different had I chosen to ignore and bike past her.

Assume for the moment that we do have free will. Was I right in doing what I did? For all I know, this suicide attempt stays on her “file” possibly throughout her life. Perhaps she was suffering with a terminal disease and death was her best option. Even then, I think I acted wisely. I think I can justify my actions. What do you say?

(You might have read about my running the first \pi miles. This is a rather different experience).
 
(Edit: 6 July, ’12 — If you have fractured a jaw and are looking for a liquid diet, see this post I wrote recently).
 

Today evening I completed running \pi miles on the Wabash river trail. I have done it more than a hundred times in the last few months. But today was special. Completing the track was a liberating moment. For one, I completed it with less-than-usual oxygen; I breathed only through my nose and not once through the mouth.

As I write this, I feel the steel wires and rubber-bands in my mouth. My teeth are fixed, the jaws are immovable and there are six stitches on the chin. I can feel one molar chipped off and one week after the accident, I feel pain in my wrist.

It was on the evening of 26th May that the four of us set out for biking. We were around 10 miles from Purdue where I had this accident. It was a reckless daredevilry, something that I am not proud of & something I wouldn’t like to recollect¹. After the accident, we called a friend and also 911 (the latter came before) and I was taken to the Emergency room of the hospital². I had the X-ray and CT-scan done but already knew my jaw was fractured. The doctor stitched the chin-injury and discharged me with the desperately-needed painkillers. Three days later, I had a surgery with an oral surgeon who (after knocking me unconscious) implanted steel braces and rubber-bands in my mouth thus completely immobilizing any jaw movement. For six weeks, I shall not be able to open my mouth. No coughing or yawning please! And only liquid diet.

Tailpiece:

I realize that the pain-killers have subdued any painful sensation in my jaws. Most of me is perfectly fine, most importantly my brain. And I am doing Mathematics with acetaminophen. Just like Erdös!³ Hope I am able to come up with some theorem in these six weeks!

¹ In my defence, I blame the reversed role of left/right brakes controlling left/right cycle tyres in the America than India.
² In retrospect, although spilling out blood from my mouth, I was surprisingly relaxed. Rather, one of the friends had a panic attack seeing me spew blood!
³ If you are unaware, the legendary mathematician Paul Erdös took amphetamines and said the drug helped him do mathematics. Read his biography here.

About me

Abhishek Parab

I? An Indian. A mathematics student. A former engineer. A rubik's cube addict. A nature photographer. A Pink Floyd fan. An ardent lover of Chess & Counter-Strike.

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