I did the most unexpected thing during the 2010 Chinese New Year break by joining a group of Sai Baba ( Swami died on 24 April 2011) followers to Puttaparthi in Andhra Pradesh, India. We spent a week in the commune and while there I joined the congregation and observed the rituals. It is interesting to note that the followers comprise people from all over the world including many Europeans and people from countries from the former Soviet Union. On the two occasions when I attended the 'darshan' where devotees chanted prayers, Swami appeared, to bless the congregation. I am considered lucky by many because some people were not able to see Swami during 'darshan' because on many occasions he did not appear. While Sai Baba is said to have performed miracles, what is apparent is the tremendous development that is taking place in that area that was once (half a century ago) practically barren. Now the area boasts state of the art specialist hospital, schools, universities providing free access to the community. The success of the development of extensive network of water supply to the region especially for the poor, is an achievement that even the Indian government could not match.
One noticeable feature of the commune is the sense of peace and tranquility displayed by all present even though they are from different stratas of society (remember the caste system is still very much alive in India). After leaving Puttaparthi I stayed in Bangalore and toured the city. I also toured Mysore where there are some of the finest palaces in India.
Since my last KL marathon (16th) in 2009 the worst ever organized KL marathon I stopped participating in all organized runs simply because I feel that people like me who are nearing 70 and those seniors who are over 70 should not be made to pay to participate in the runs.We should at least be given a discount. Imagine us running with all the youngsters who could be our grandchildren and beating many of them. I know many seniors in their 70s who have been running for more than 30 years and are still active . They are an inspiration to the others. They should be given special privileges.
My fitness routine however has not changed much . I still run/jog; cycle; trekking and other outdoor activities. My routine usually involves endurance training,jogging 8 to 12 km or strength training involving push-ups, pull-ups and sit-ups. I am happy to say that I can still manage to handle 100 push-ups, 30 pull-ups and 300 sit-ups in a single day's workout. Since March 2011 I train twice a day to improve my endurance.
It may surprise many who have known me , to know that in early July 2011 I traveled to Saudi Arabia to perform the Umrah. While I have been known to be not a religious person, I found the journey to have a profound effect on me in a spiritual sense that I never thought possible. I made the journey together with my elder sister Noorain and her husband Shahrin, my younger sisters Datin Noorlia and Noor Nahar, and a niece Noorita.Needless to say,I wasn't well prepared for it but I now know that I need to be better prepared to take the same journey again in the future InsyaAllah.. I shall dwell on the subject and my experience in the Holy Land as I continue writing the blog as we go along.