A pink taxi

A pink taxi

March 16, 2014

Pink Taxi Runner

I have collected my kitsch medals and taken the kiss-your-medal selfies. I have ran to my relatives at finish lines and also collapsed in run-villages on my own. I have driven the distance and will even take a plane, to make it to a marathon race. I am a runner because I have raced five times since I started my first 5k run last March. 

I am a runner because I have added 85 runs to a run program that shot-off July 8, 2013. I have only stopped to recover or taper, and I have trained continuously and constantly. With endurance and passion. 

‎I ran in the shadow of the Petronas Towers at twilight, and woken up twelve hours later to the same red track in Malaysia's humid dawn. I prefer to run at the brink of day or at outset of evening, when the sun and light are dramatic. But I have also run in the middle of the day, in autumn and winter, in New York and Geneva, seeking the warmest time of the day, wearing windbreaker and woolen hat‎, remembering how hot and sweaty I could get in August and September in Dubai!

No puddles, or rain, or party nights, or excuses have stopped me from running, except that I couldn't run a metre without my thumping music, or without the desire to capture what I see. ‎The phone-camera is a must come! Because I run alone for the most part, perhaps sometimes joining a community run, or joining a pack of runners in a park, or going on a random run with a friend, pushing my intervals with another! 

Most of the time, it is still dark, and the track undiscovered and aleatory, and I am all alone. The world is still‎ and I have found my music and my zen. My thoughts are void. My worries and concerns delayed. My distractions minimised. I may be running past SanDiego surfers, or Nice beaches, or NewYork foliage, or Vietnamese scooters, but they are fleeting sights, they are foreground views.  I am focused on heart rate, I am checking with my body, I am learning about pace, and I am breathing, smiling, laughing, gasping, swearing,singing!

‎I never was a runner till I became one. Impossible becomes possible only after you have done it! 

October 6, 2013

Running Progressive Tense

I run for the images I collect, for the wonders I encounter. I aim for landmarks, I wish for discoveries. I observe time flowing with the transformation of light. Running can take hours and even if I run my sprints back and forth, or around and around, I notice the changing skies.

When I run, I zone out automatically. I am in touch with my body. I check on it frequently. I ‎study my heart rate, I gauge my breathing. I pay attention to the terrain, seeking softness whenever I encounter sand or a patch of grass. I fly up slopes and carefully descend hills. I glance at my surroundings, I fill my lungs with scenery.

I listen to music, I react to voice, I accelerate to beat. I remind myself that I am moving in a horizontal dance that takes me further. I may hear the lyrics, but I never link them to anything or anyone, if not for a fleeting moment. My world is now abstract. I am in motion and I must keep moving.

And all I want to talk about is running. How are you questions can result in a deluge of running talk! But writing about it is dosed with the modesty of knowing tha‎t I am not a runner per se, that I am merely an amateur runner. I only started 6 months ago and not seriously before my recorded 30 runs!

‎While I am running, I thought it unjustified to write about it, because there is so much left to feel, to experience, to see and learn and an essay would be superficially inexact.‎ Don't I want to write about running in NewYork or in SanDiago? Shouldn't I wait for the November race or the Dubai marathon?

I am running in the progressive tense, training for an event that is merely a moving target for me to organise, learn and live my newly found passion.

I may run slow and steady, my timings below those of natural born champions. But I run with verve. I burst out at dawn, or even before dawn in dozy darkness. I slip out of a sleeping house into empty streets and abandoned landscapes. At twilight, I collect my stocked up energy and run past sunsets and illuminated cities. I run wild, like a cage door has been set open and it is the only thing on my mind. I don't run to escape. I am always running towards the unknown.

But where do my runs begin and end? Do I not keep a distinct memory of most of them? Do I not dream ahead of the future runs? Every single run is an event and I have not dreaded or disliked any of them, no matter how tedious or challenging. ‎Instead, I anticipate the next run, I push for the new speed, I imagine the next distance.

"I can't tell where the journey will end, but I know where to start...I am caught up in a dream" Avicii

May 2, 2013

Mehdi Farhadian: at the edge of Nature.

Imagine strolling with an artist in his universe. Telling him how his world and colors affect you. At Lawrie Shabibi art gallery, I had that enjoyable experience with a startled Mehdi Farhadian. His art took me the edges of Nature.

I can recognize Farhadian's palette from a distance. The infinite melange of blues, greens and pinks translate in the ephemeral light of dusk and dawn. His canvases are huge and his brush stroke expansive. I can imagine the physical effort in his work.

Liquid blues to dive in, translucent waters against mineral rocks, or cascades with slippery footings and a bikini clad sun bather. Another canvas so cold, that the ice has turned into a frozen fluorescent blue. And there, a Douanier Rousseau canvas whose moss and foliage grow in the greenest forest of airless density. A pink phoenix and daphne escape in flight. On another canvas, a monstrous honey comb nest hangs above a still river and a fallen body, the texture of the honey visibly sticky.

Many species of birds populate Farhadian's works: here some pelicans caught in a net, there eagles swarming over golden specs and in this canvas three pheasants attempt escape from Napoleonic shooters in landscape of lawns, Washingtonian palms and mountains. Lions are slain, or are still in statuesque form.

Two canvases make exception. They are painted in black and white. A fire forest is left to gray ashes. He has deprived the fire of its burning bright colors so that we can hear the tragic roar of its destruction. On the seascape, he has stripped the sunset's precious colors to leave us w a glittery silver baroque sky, with voluminous clouds and a reflective ocean.

I expressed all this to him, and halted my speech with a single question: how have you learned the wonders of Nature?    

April 21, 2013

The Finish Line

It just clicked. One day I wasn't a runner, the next day I became one. Just like that.

It takes a push. And much trial and error. It takes bottled up energy and the desire to express it.

I wanted to row indoors. My sister encouraged me to run outdoors instead. My son made me an awesome play list. I made a realistic decision to run 3k. Set up my ipod for the distance.

I had to inform the world. Tweet my intention. I departed for a 3k. It sounded impossible. But it was twilight. I had example singing on a loop. BurjKhalifa as a target destination. I would try. Simply try to run.

I had attempted running during the summer. I had followed my sister on Mediterranean trails and roads. I had managed hills and admired seascapes. But I ran with difficulty, I measured my pain, I stumbled on my breathing.

Here I was reaching the 3k goal, running through it to 5k. Then the next day, attempting 5k again and running through it to 7k. I was running through urban landscapes, past Dubai skylines, palms and metro lines. Architectural highs kept pushing me foreword.

And then it happened. I considered 10k on a simple thought. I leapt through Zabeel neighbourhood, the once reluctant cardio practitioner I had been. I didn't think of my breathing, it came naturally. I didn't want to stop. I wanted to run past palaces and gardens, flower beds and after peacocks. I ran through twilight in search of cityscapes and found an over-pass, on which I took a halt for a photo op!

Empty, royal Zabeel stood still, if not for the few cars to the right with their cigarette-red lights. The roads leading me to the horizon, and to the periphery attracting me like a moth, the illuminated mosque. All under skies of twilight clouds. A delicate street light prepared to turn on.

Flywheel, the indoor cycling activity built my cardio stamina and contributed to my steam. Trained for strength at Evolve and mentally stimulated by the Inner Fight philosophy provided me with the self confidence needed to run the distance. Music and the surrounding wonders gave me spring.

I reached the finish line that Snow Patrol sings about, and I now feel, according to the tune, that this is where I would begin. Running.  

January 15, 2013

Have You Ever Tried Crossfit

@bonddxb: @pinktaxiblogger what" take on crossfit, have you ever tried it?

Welcome to the world of twitter, its casual questions and answers. Have I ever tried cross-fit? Of course I have, I pride in being a cross-fit chick or more precisely an Evolve chick, which is a nuanced take on cross-fit: editing the bad, retaining the good of that sport.

I answer this tweet, in the form of a blog, because 140 characters wouldn't suffice to explain that I am the cross-fit client, not the trainer. That my understanding of this fitness practice is based on professional supervision, but that I follow directions and never initiate the program.

Indeed, be it with Dan Harrison, my coach and motivator, or under the influence and contact with Marcus Smith, Inner Fight, that I experience the cross-fit activities. It was therefore opportune and certainly challenging to answer the question, as I quote this tweet:

@InnerFight: @bonddxb @pinktaxiblogger look forward to seeing this answered #innerfight

Cross-fit is a training that makes every workout an event. I anticipate every session with a certain type of anxiety: how hard will it be this time, how many reps and what challenges will I encounter? I am frequently timed or I am always building up to break my personal records. This is hard training but it has an element of fun. I have never done a same circuit twice!

This leads me to answer a final tweet, that attempts to demystify crossfit.

@bonddxb: "In the real world, the best physique belong to people who have functional capability." #glassmanscoff #crossfitismything

While I spend most of my energy building my fitness by way of cross fit training or what resembles it, I believe I am an active woman, using that fitness in such sports as swimming, scuba diving, horse riding, pilates, bikram yoga, indoor and outdoor cycling and even running. I firmly believe that I put my strength and fitness to use in these sports. Skiing for example, prior to cross fitting, wasn't the same experience. Now I can use my legs differently!

I therefore recommend cross training to other sports people: the tennis, rugby and soccer players! Moreover, I also adhere to the idea that crossfit helps me in my daily activities: carrying heavy objects, handling many kids, climbing stairs, dancing! Functional fitness is certainly my motto!

November 4, 2012

Atiq Cineaste: Lettre Ouverte

Cher Atiq,

Combien d'ecrivains sont assez adroits pour interpréter leurs romans en film? Combien de cinéastes sont littéraires? Je te présente, cher ami, auteur du Prix Goncourt Sangue Sabour et metteur en scène du même film.

Je tiens a te remercier personnellement, mais aussi de la part de mes enfants afghans, pour le patrimoine artistique que tu nous lègue, moi ta lectrice dévouée, et mes enfants, tes compatriotes, qui te tiennent en fierté sans encore connaitre ton oeuvre.

J'ai lu Sangue Sabour une seule fois. Je me souviens encore des nuits passées a le lire lentement, a savourer les mots, a apprécier sa philosophie. On n'aborde pas un chef d'oeuvre avec irrévérence, on ne l'engloutit pas dans un bus, on ne le transporte pas dans son sac a main. Je lisais donc le roman et je prenais des pauses. Pendant ces pauses, je t'écrivais. Quelle veine! Ecrire a un ecrivain. Lui poser des questions et avancer des commentaires a fur et a mesure.

Vouloir comprendre le pourquoi d'un roman? Mais n'as tu pas ecrit spontanément? N'as tu pas rêvé la narration et mis au jour les personnages? N'as tu pas peint le décor simultanément avec des gestes rapides de brosse sur la toile?

Quand j'ai vu le film, quand j'ai revu le décor, les personnages et la narrative, j'étais ravie de la fidélité du film au roman. Néanmoins cette fidélité tenait de ta propre interprétation du livre. Je l'aurai lu d'un autre point de vue, d'une imagination personnelle. Mais voila que tu répondais a toutes mes questions. Toutes celles que je te posais et plus car tes personnages et leur décor filtrent si clairement a travers tes mises-en-scene photographiques. Spectatrice, je capturais ta lumière, le tempo de l'histoire, l'haleine de tes acteurs.

Et dire que tu avais imagine cette histoire en Francais car la langue original du roman est de Molière. Dans le film, tes personnages avaient repris leur langue nationale: le dari et toute sa poésie!  

October 22, 2012

Flywheel, Where Music Matters

My sister had not always been entirely musicaly enthused. At least she didn't obsessively think and talk about as she began to do so about two years ago. But about two years ago, things began to change, and we began to refer to songs, hits and lyrics over geographical distance and time zones: much of our blackberry chat was about Wiz Khalifa, Eminem or Madonna's MDNA.

My sister became obsessed with music as she delved further into her new passion: indoor cycling at Flywheel New York. At the time, I couldn't relate to her cardio work outs. I couldn't comprehend why she would wake up at dawn to take a class before her kids woke up, nor could I fathom the thought of taking two classes a day the way she does. She spoke to me of an alien activity that was fueled by her energy and also her love of music.

When she recommended the same activity to me, when she told me "cardio would make the whole difference", I tried Flywheel Dubai half heartedly.  Then, I used the pretext of socializing as motivation: you can fly with friends, with family, even with your teenage son! Indeed, I have always gone accompanied, me the usually solitary type who sports alone. I now consider Flywheel to be my "party zone", because the music is so loud and fun!

I then got onto the bike and listened to the music, eventually I began requesting some, battled with some on tough uphill rides, allowing my adrenaline and body rythm to get carried away by the tempo. Yes, I did "get in the zone" in the dark room with my peers and the fabulous four instructors.

Music at Flywheel Dubai is taken to another level: abstraction. I lock my cycling shoes in, the instructor talks us into it, we start off very quickly, and poof...the outside world disappears behind me. I am in the dark room, the music plays and I follow its cadence, I study my progression, I strive for the record, I participate in the race. I lose my sense of time. I don't care if the lesson lasts 45mins or 1 hour. I always think the ending is too abrupt, wishing for more. The instructors always end while I am still having fun.

Sometimes I feel more or less tired at the start of the class, depending on the time, or the day, but I give it all I can and the endorphines always kick in. Speak to me after a class and I won't make sense, as I am on a high! My Flywheel high!