A Fallen Hero

It was official. Notwithstanding the continued support they had offered through the many years prior, the UCI had now reversed their stance and upheld the verdict of the USADA. The name of Lance Edward Armstrong had forever been wiped from the annals of the sport. The hero had fallen.

For me, growing up, Armstrong’s name was as synonymous with cycling as Schumacher’s was with Formula 1. Every tour victory saw his iconic status rise to unprecedented heights, but the cloak of doubt that shrouded his legacy also grew thicker. Even after he had retired, returned, and retired again, with his name seemingly set in stone alongside the all-time greatest sporting heroes, the vultures would not stop circling. And then it happened.

Yes, he did win those tours, dope cheat or not. 3200 kilometers over 23 days, a staggering 7 times. And he wasn’t the only one trying to bend the rules, the entire sport was mired in this dark business (quoting from an article in the Huffington Post – “It is impossible to erase what really happened. Lance Armstrong won those seven races. In the rewrite of Armstrong’s records the sport of cycling would have you believe they are punishing the perfidy of their greatest rider, while what they really want is for the world to forget their own”). And that he survived life-threatening cancer before all this makes his accomplishments all the more remarkable.

Maybe there was an unselfish motive behind that win-at-all-costs approach. Maybe he just wanted to be a part of a story that would inspire millions and contribute to the fundraising work of his foundation in a major way.

But then he should have admitted his guilt. Accepting the charges, announcing his regret and continuing with the other important chapter in his life might have been a much better alternative, compared to getting into a fight he was bound to lose. Had he done that, he could have retained the respect of the many that stood by him through the years. He could also have avoided the irony of his name being associated with the foundation in a negative and deterring way, the exact opposite of what he must have originally intended.

And more importantly for me, he would have still been my hero.

Convo reloaded, memories revisited

August 18th, 2012: It had been a year, and I was itching to go back. The choice of day (convocation) meant that I was likely to meet a lot of old friends. But even otherwise, I just wanted to be there, at the place I’d called home for the best part of four years.

डोळे भरून सगळे काही पुन्हा एकदा पाहायचे होते…

En route to my destination, the beautiful Western Ghats provided an apt backdrop, a welcome change from the boring freeways of California.The day was then spent meeting people, walking through the campus, taking photographs and stopping for a bite every once in a while. By the time I was through with all this, my legs were dead, but it didn’t matter. I was alive again.

It’s so obvious, I’m not sure why the realization struck so late. Sure, life in a big university in the States can be comfortable in some ways. But looking back, my entire existence all through last year has been so robotic, in comparison with the years before that. And I’m not sure what I can do to change it. As things stand now, I doubt I’ll be staying there beyond my PhD. Yes, ambition is one thing, but what’s the point if I’m depriving myself of the little joys that mean so much to me – my family, the food, the mountains and the rain?

Throughout my return journey, I had to occupy myself somehow, but the only things I had with me were the thoughts in my head about the day that had passed. And I had a piece of paper and a pen. Soon, the thoughts were flowing in an ode to my old institute.

A year to the day I last passed through these gates,
Here I am again, catching up with my mates.
The laughs, the rants, the aimless talk,
Four memorable years reminisced as I walk.

Needless to say I really missed you,
The birds, the lake, the stray dogs too.
It was here the boy in me became a man,
Wiser he grew and faster he ran.

Fly I may to pastures afar,
Seek I may, the light of a brighter star,
But memories shall anchor my heart and soul,
And return I shall, to score another goal.

(Now that I’m reading this to myself it all sounds a little childish. But at that time I couldn’t help it, it was straight from the heart.)

Initiation – always the biggest hurdle

So I’ve finally buckled and started my blog. Why? Here’s why: http://brainz.org/10-all-time-best-answers-why/.

What should you expect to see here? Something that would catch my imagination enough to make me want to sit down and write (and I’m unbelievably lazy, believe me). So something about physics, or football or something I’d experience during one of my travels? Yeah, that’s about it, or so it seems at this point.