Monday, September 30, 2013

Mumbai Barcamp 12 Roundup

Attended my first Mumbai Barcamp ( ) yesterday. Reached there at 10:00 am on the dot and the orientation session was going on.  Do not take off your shirt - one of the rule items had. Moving on..

Picked up a sticky and put my session ( 3 Running Myths busted ) on the wiki. I had to move it around so I could attend another Running talk.

Went to the first session - it was on Meditation by Kiran. He showed a simple technique and asked the audience to try it out. Folks had mixed experience. Interestingly half already knew some kind of technique or the other.

Each session was 20 minutes with a 10 min break in between for any discussions and change over time. The volunteers cut off precisely after 20 minutes and did a great job in keeping the sessions contained.

I moved on to the next session - How an average runner can run the toughest foot race in the world and you can too! - this was a paisa wasool session for me.

I have read so much on Ultra Marathon ( especially my last book - Eat and Run by Scott Jurek ) and had not heard of any Indian from my gene pool who has run it - and here was this gentleman - Girish Mallya ( ) who has done it - and that too the toughest ultra marathon.

The run was 250kms over 6 days in the Sahara Desert and the runners had to carry their own backpack of 10kg weight. They had to run a full marathon daily and were burning almost 6k calories a day. Their daily intake was 2k calories. The muscle mass was being burnt to make up for the calories being burnt. In his words - this is very unhealthy.

He trained 4 years in preparation. He ran with his office backpack, going to and fro from work. Slept on floor for a year - as he had to sleep on the desert sand.  He ran 15 half marathons consecutively.

Every year more than 1000 runners register. There is a country wise quota and there is a waiting list of 2 years for Europe and USA. 95% of the participants completed. There were 2 blind men, one obese man and they completed it. It is more mental than physical - and anyone can do it.

Snapped a photo with Girish. I am an un-apologetic hero worshipper.

Then it was my turn on 3 Running Myths busted.

Actually I had planned for more Myths - thought 20 minutes wont be sufficient so threw away a few slides. My talk was over in 12 minutes. Luckily Girish and Kunal -the cycling hero had come to the session and we had a nice discussion going.

1. Running around a 400 meter track on the same direction will damage one leg. So keep changing direction if they allow. Some joggers park do not allow that.

2. Running on roads is also bad for the legs as towards the sides of the road it slopes to drain water - and if we keep running on the same side over long distances it will injure the ankles. By alternatively running on either side of the road - this can be prevented.

3. When I said I have started substituting milk with Soy-milk ( I went from a Meat eater to Vegetarian and now going towards a vegan diet ) - someone in the audience said that he has heard that Sperm count will go down. Bhagwan - now when I think back my response is this - heard that the polluted air we breathe will reduce the Sperm Count.

Anyway - it was satisfying. Hope I would have inspired a few to get out and run.

Next session I attended was by Kaushtubh Shirdikar, a 2nd year Electronics student from VJTI.

He spoke about his philosophy on how technology should be simple. He has created an e-bag which can charge your laptop, phone, keep coffee hot and water cold. It is still in prototype stage and has used arduino controller and weighs 5kg. I loved the idea. Had a chat with him and gave my requirements. I travel often in trains and I am always tied to my laptop bag on the fear of losing it - I can't fully doze off with my bag on the top shelf. Imagine if the bag could alert my phone that it is moving out of my range and/or the bag can sound a loud alarm too. And if it is little light, I will happily pick one up.

Also learnt about Eklavya at VJTI ( ) - they have free training sessions on arduino, raspberry pi. He gave some tips on where to procure these things, programming languages you will need etc. Time to make time for this - an adventure is waiting here.

Then lunch - had to pay for my own food. I liked it! But wish the organizers had made arrangements for coffee at a minimum. If they are against sponsors I would suggest for anonymous donations.

Post lunch attended Kunal ( - ) - our cycling hero's session - on travelling around the world on a cycle. My knowledge on cycles is nil - and this session was an eye opener.

The above photo is a typical touring cycle - and Kunal showed all the parts. The back wheel has 36 spokes. I guess it varies for different types - commuter, racing etc.

Here are some tidbits I noted :

70 pedals per minute is a good average.

A brand called shwalbe - the tyre lasts 30k kilometers and is tough

Learn to fix puncture - takes 5 minutes. Learn to change spoke, even if 1 spoke breaks in the next 1 hour all spokes will break.

Travel with Bungee cords and duct tape - they are so useful.

Bike lock - kryptonite. He also morphs his cycle with stickers trying to make it look like a bhaiyya cycle and not reveal the brand - to discourage thieves.

7 to 10 litters of water a day when you bike 70-100kms… otherwise you will get cramps - which is not at all nice.

Helmets don't protect.. above 30kms you are gone.. but it makes people think this guy is serious - atleast in india. In a few countries helmet is banned.

marino wool - sheeps wool - expensive. underpant costs 2.5k...highly recommended.

1 soft fibre trek towel - only product to buy from decathlon - small and soaks nicely and dries in 20 mins

Note to self : have to checkout this book Kunal was reading - hitchhiking across ireland with a fridge.

He can easily do 100 to 130 kms a day.

In night - dont cycle at night. Europe is pretty safe. UP Faridabad are really bad. Gujjus fed him cashews and gave sumptuous lunch dinner wherever he went.

Then went into a session - The Rational Thinkers - forgot to note down the name of the presenter - will update once I find it.

Was an interesting concept - He wants to create an online debate group, 1 topic each week that directly or indirectly affects you, no judgements and they will publish the discussions every week. He will keep the debaters limited to 100 or 150. The comments from the audience was enlightening. Hope he carries on with the idea. Today all the opinions we hear are only from people with an agenda ( You : Paid Media ). If this project of his succeeds, will make us more aware and educated. Hats off to a great idea.

When I came out saw Kunal had gathered a crowd and was continuing a session on the corridor.

Kunal was talking about the interesting characters he met during the tours. And topic went into tips and how to do cycling - he doesnt get bored talking of cycling!

My body reminded that there was no more caffeine in the system ( organizers, next I time I will sponsor  just coffee / tea anonymously if you will allow me to ) - and also I had to get home to prepare my kid for the school next day as Sangeeta was on a day trip to Pune. Missed the last hour of session and got back after a well spent day.