Sunday, January 23, 2011

"You can't hold him down, he gotta move" Article on Bhasker

From Times of India, Jan 15, 2011

MUMBAI: "You can't hold me down, I don't want to be down, I gotta move."

These lines from Jimi Hendrix's famous number 'Stone Free' signifies Bhaskar Desai's spirit and Zeal. He's closing in on his retirement age, but shows no signs of tiring. At 58, he's running better than he has ever done before.

Running has kept him going despite life's many setbacks. Bhaskar lost his son in a road accident in 2006. A few months later, in January 2007, his wife followed her son. "She hurt her head badly in a fall at home. She pulled on for six days in the hospital. On the seventh day, she decided to join our son," says Bhaskar.

"I decided to honour her spirited life by running the Mumbai Marathon two days after she passed away. If she was alive, she would have wanted me to run the marathon. She would have told me, "What are you doing Bhaskar? Go for your run!" he adds.

Bhaskar has no family members in India. "All my relatives, uncles, aunts, almost everybody in India have left me," he says. His siblings live in the US. But that does not allow him to brood. "I like to spread the cheer around. I have a bigger family of fellow runners now."

Bhaskar, 58, is an IITian and a textile expert. But business is just a pastime now. "When you look back, you realize you have got what it takes to lead a decent life. I want my two slices of bread and curry, I do enjoy my whiskey, but I also feel I need to look at those people in whose lives I could bring about a change.

"We provide some employment of sorts for the warli people of Dahanu. Their paintings are put on sale, and the money from the sale is used for their betterment. We ensure their children go to school, they have clean drinking water. Now their mortality rate is up from a stunning low of 55 years. Sometimes, during a run when I get tired, I draw positive energy from these people and from my angels. I look up to my wife Nina and son and ask them for strength. Then I start again on my merry journey," says Bhaskar.

Bhaskar's inspiration may be his angels, but his strength lies in the fact that he is lightweight. He weighs just a kg more than his physical age of 58. He also keeps his mind lightweight. "I have marked a lot of people keep looking at their watches all the time. They worry too much, whether to go fast or go slow. I never plan anything. I never even glance at my watch when I am running. I find it too depressing."

Bhaskar was not a born runner though. Despite working in the corporate world, he never led a corporate lifestyle. He had his quota of fun, but the triglycerides count in his body forced him to take up running. "My count was so high that an American doctor was shocked that I was still alive! It stood at an astonishing 900!" he recalls.

Though Bhaskar was a gym regular, the count alarmed him into cutting down on all fatty food. "It was in 2006 when I used to run around 2-3 kms in the gym treadmill when a gym regular, Venugopal, inspired me to attempt the 21km run in Mumbai which was just five weeks later. I graduated from two kms to 21kms by running behind a mall in Goregaon." Bhaskar clocked 1:45 in his first attempt at half marathon. And he has only kept pacing since.

Last year was his best so far. In August he clocked 1:48 in the 21k, in November at the Delhi half marathon, he returned with an encouraging 1:43 and in Goa four weeks later he set a personal best of 1:42 for the same distance. The next week in Ahmedabad, he ran a personal best of 3:45 in the 42k.

But Bhaskar promises to put more method to his running in the New Year. "I hope like some of my friends, I too can get a little more organized while running." He also wants to continue living by his favourite quote: "I want to give a date to future so that I do not get out of date."

Article Link

Friday, August 07, 2009

Neeraj's Worli Painting in Russian Folk Art

This bright panel is hand-painted in Old Russian design style, called Gorodets. Gorodets relies on folk motifs and lively primary color. The Wooden Panel has its own style and is not only article of art, but also a good remembering gift. This is a craft with one hundred and half year’s history, alive developing phenomenon of Russian modern national culture strongly connected both with the past and the present life of the people.

The artist Tataniya has written in it behind the painting in Russian-which goes like this - those who live in the heart of their loved ones never ever die.

On neeraj

"Constraint removed at length—he too has passed
far from his native land and from this world
to meet the Saviour. Look! He strides once more,
greeting this one and that who loved him well:-
cries out and leaps, runs up, his strength regained"

- Kamla

Friday, July 10, 2009

Message from Melvin: One from a mindless runner...

'But I don't want to go among mad people,' said Alice. 'Oh, you can't help that,' said the cat. 'We're all mad here.'

Hey Neeraj, always happy to connect with a fellow mad-man! I have met you many times over through Bhasker. To date, I haven't met a father who is as proud of his kid as Bhasker is of you. Well done, kiddo :)

PS - I am Bhasker's buddy, brother-in-arms, fellow-scamster, fellow spymaster, running mate and all the bad things that sane people would not appreciate! And as we knock off marathon after marathon, he and I pride ourselves on being mindless runners; we run only from the heart, which is a tribute to you and the way you lived your life.

PSS - Coming weekend (July 18th, 2009) we run the Great Tibetan Marathon; the world's highest altitude marathon at 11,500 feet. We are landing there without any preparation, but that's no worry cause we have the only fuel we need - inspiration from you, your mom and my dad, who we collectively refer to as Angels.

Cheers, mate....till the next run.


Monday, March 09, 2009

Message from Priyanka Kamath

I just found out about Neeraj’s death. Two and half years after the fact. Yet, even with the time which has swelled between now and then, the shock is still as raw and…painful.

Neeraj was a truly a special soul. His mind was like a sponge and his zest for life…hard to keep up with. In spite of his whizzing energy, he managed to stay down to earth and connected to his community and people. He was rare and charming combination of modesty and immodesty.

I am assured that his soul is bright and that light will keep him shining and leaping from life to life. I’m jealous of those whose lives he’s lighting up right at this moment, but it’s hopeful to know that his energy lives on.

Goodbye Neeraj. You were a good friend for as short a time as I had known you.

priyanka v. kamath

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Warli Painting of Neeraj's Life

Click picture for full resolution version

Neeraj was the only child of Bhasker and Nina Desai of Mumbai. After his death, Neeraj’s parents had this folk painting of his life created by the Warli tribal Indians. Warli folk art shows images of human beings and animals, along with scenes from daily life. These tribal paintings of Maharashtra, India are traditionally done in the homes of the Warlis. Painted white on mud walls, they are pretty close to pre-historic cave paintings in execution and usually depict scenes of human figures engaged in activities like hunting, dancing, sowing and harvesting. We hope you enjoy viewing this unique, cultural gift and gain inspiration from Neeraj’s short life.

Nikola and Bhasker with Warli painting of Neeraj's life, which is displayed at the Children's Art Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Poem from K. Murti

To Neeraj who I never met... but who is beside me now and for always in my trying days……

Neeraj, you had a true love for life and a smile for all.
Fly with eagles, baby. We all love and miss you.
You live in our hearts so that just makes you just a Heartbeat Away
Your smiling eyes & grin will forever be etched in our minds
I know you are free now, soaring above & forever in our hearts.
Till we meet again…only don’t know when….thats the mystery called life….
I thank Bhasker, for sharing you with me

(BD’s buddy for keeps)



Each morning as I wake
To the beautiful song of birds
Singing in the cleared fog
I think of you as I stir
I realize in my drowsy state

There is something special about you
Which gives me joy to live-
You made me realize...
How beautiful each morning is
I can't imagine never knowing you

No mom could have been more proud
than Nina was and is of you.
You were always there for anyone, anytime they say
And its true coz I can feel you here with me all through.

Wish you to know baby,
You are in Bhasker’s heart & mind as much today
as the day you were born.
And he lives each day every moment for you.

He loves and misses you so much,
and knows someday
he will hold you very close again….
I only wish I am there before him to see it happen through….

You helped so many people in your short time here.
people young and old
all tell of how you always were there
when they needed a shoulder to cry on,
or a friend to laugh with.

But I know in my heart you have peace,
love and happiness with the angels.
I bet you keep a smile on all the angel's faces too!
we all are here baby,
living each day to the fullest only for YOU!!

SOURCE: The deep recesses of my cerebral cortex----

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Tribute from Abhishek Mehta (Senior Manager at BOA)

It is tough to write tributes…as they try vainly to immortalize memories…and I am still not convinced what we have left behind are merely memories

I am not a man of few words, yet have never been more deserted of them as I sought to string something coherent together. This is not for the faint hearted…and for once I find it tough to muster the wit necessary to make it out.

I miss him… its like the sucking sound of an imploding star pummeling to its black hole. Yet, certain in that inevitability, it still manages to let out one last hurrah…which is as radiant in its death as it was in birth. And quite extraordinarily that thought manages to brighten my day.

Almost every feeling of pain, grief, anger, befuddled astonishment is balanced with the calm realization, inane warmth and charming stupidity every experience of Neeraj brought with it. It is difficult to let any thought of him, even the worst ones, not leave without indulging a smile.

Am overwhelmed by the sheer joy of a beautiful life lived many times over each day in anecdotes, circumstantial events, crazy stories and sweet exaggerations (that he himself wove). Disappointed that will never again have an opportunity to be touched by a life more accomplished in humour, wit and intelligent absurdity that made it all ‘special’. Fortunate to have become part of a new family that is as irrepressibly charming and functional as the one each of us craves, and privileged with that association.

I have realized it is not that difficult to find common ground with everybody, no matter how disinterested the other one may be in seeking it out.

That it is natural to be as completely selfless in making a fool of oneself as it is in love.

And it is important to prioritize in life, even though it means a good bottle of hair gel is a close second to friends and family. As long as it is a close second.

A dose is a way of life, a style statement, a pair of uber tight jeans, a sincere love and an unending friendship...

...cheers to the ride he created called life, and bollocks to that sucking sound!