Letter No 19

Hi friends,

I was running 21 kilometres for the first-ever. There were thousands' participating in the Pune half marathon. An old historical bridge at the centre of the city was the starting point. It was such an exhilarating feeling to be among so many enthusiastic people. All sorts of folks were out there - young and old, first-timers and seasoned runners, families running together and friends, solo runners, groups, etc. I'd never experienced something like that before.

I didn't know what to expect. People were pacing up and down, warming up, stretching and some were even meditating. I guess all of us have our own pre-performance routines that help us calm down and get into the mood for action. For me, I just enjoy people-watching. I was fascinated by the sheer number and variety of people. I didn't even know there are so many runners in my city. I flashed smiles at some folks, shook a few hands and even exchanged a few hugs (it's better to do the hugs before the run... one is way too sweaty afterwards).

Finally, the gunshot was fired and we all took off. There was a huge rush of energy as everyone cheered and leapt forward. I reminded myself not to get too carried away and to pace myself. In a long run, just as in any long-term game in life, it's better to learn to pace oneself and know when to go all-out, when to be moderate, and when to slow down.

The first few kilometres are always difficult as one is attempting to get into momentum. After that, the next 3 - 5 kilo-meters are a breeze as the body is warmed up and one is beginning to feel waves of energy. It is usually around the 7 to 10 km mark when most newcomers begin to feel the first wave of tiredness - physically and mentally. By now, the runners had spaced depending on their level of fitness and how they chose to pace themselves. I had overtaken a few and been overtaken by quite a few. I was beginning to feel the heaviness. My mental chatter had just started to roll - 'why are you doing this?', 'what a stupid idea this was, 'now you are tired', 'look at how fit these guys are and look at you'.

Sometimes my mind feels like an overly talkative roommate with whom I have been permanently handcuffed. The roommate goes wherever I go and incessantly speaks. Mostly it is non-sense. But I can't escape its chatter.


We cruised around a bend and onto a large main street in the old city. As I ran, I could see the old Peshwa houses with grand wooden doors and balconies facing each other across the street.

That's when I felt it for the first time.

Or should I say, I heard it for the first time. There were more than a hundred youth, dressed in traditional Maharashtrian clothes, performing the legendary 'Dhol-tasha'. Said to be a part of Maharashtrian culture since the medieval period, the dhol -tasha is made of groups of boys and girls (from age 7 to 85). There are two different types of drums - a massive barrel-like drum called a dhol, and a smaller shriller instrument played with highly flexible drumsticks call a tasha. It used to be known as a celebratory instrument and used to inspire and energise troops as their moved into battle.

I felt blood rush to my head and goosebumps on my back and arms. There was a sudden surge of energy in my body, as though someone had injected some energy-producing hormone directly into my bloodstream. My running pace picked up by at least 20%, my posture felt stronger, and my heartbeat seemed to fall in sync with the thumping of the drum beats.

I had never felt the physical impact of mere sounds before.

The beats of the instruments, the dance of the musicians and the cheering of the crowd seemed to metamorphose into real physical energy in my body. It was amazing.

Sight, sounds, smells and thoughts have a real and physical impact on us.


There are several experiments in neuroscience that have attempted to study phenomena similar to this. The most famous one is known as 'Pavlov's dog'. Look it up.


If sights, sounds, smells and thoughts affect our energy level so directly, shouldn't we be more conscious of what we expose ourselves to?

Shouldn't we be much more mindful of what we surround ourselves with?

The kind of friendships do we nurture.

The kind of conversations do we engage in.

The kind of shows we watch and the music we listen to.

The posters and art we put up in our homes.

The news that we watch.

The thoughts we allow to linger.

The books we read.

The words that we use.

All of these affect our energy in a real and physical manner.


Everything that we consume, creates us. We are made up of what we expose ourselves to. This is very very important. Change what you consume and you will change. It is that simple.

What songs, books, movies, poems and art inspires and energises you? Do write to me and tell me!

With lots of love and energy,