Monday, September 1, 2008

Settling Back In

Great shot of some of the guys at the Rocherolle compound in Stamford, CT. Not sure I can name them all from memory (or whether I can spell their names), but let's try, starting from the back row, left: Kripan (leaning), from Boston; Jwalanta (blue shirt), from Germany; Sahadeva, England; Durdam, Connecticut; Gangadhar (Durdam's dad); Sujantra, San Diego; yours truly; middle row, left: Don; San Diego; Papaha; San Diego; Golapendu, San Francisco; Jeevan (my bro), S.F.; Devashishu (Sahadeva's older bro), England; and across the front, left: Prakash, Connecticut; don't remember the lad's name next to Prakash (sorry, anyone who knows, please give me a shout); Narendra (Durdam's older bro), CT; and finally the mighty Arpan, CT. (Photo credit, I think, goes to Durdam's and Narendra's wonderful mom, Gayatri. Thanks to Narendra for sending it to me -- great memories!)

In the wake of the Peace Run, I was relieved to be back in New York. And with August Celebrations (1989) complete, I began to settle into a routine. Before I digress further though, let me pay tribute to the Rocherolle family, who were kind and generous to me when I needed it.

The Rocherolle family lived in Stamford, Connecticut, where they own and run a bonsai nursery called Shanti Bithi. Gangadhar and Gayatri joined the Center in the late 1960s or early '70s, where they raised their two fine boys Narendra and Durdam.

Narendra and I never got to know each other all that well. After high school in Connecticut, he went off to Princeton and then Stanford for graduate school. Narendra would go on to create Webshots and become a driving force behind numerous Internet start-ups. (Check out Narendra's blog here.) Durdam, however, spent a little more of his free time in Queens involved with Guru's activities. That's how I got to know him.

When I first moved to New York, my running partner was Sundar. For a time, Sundar and I joined a couple of other guys -- Kalatit and Pahar -- for speed work at the Queens College track. Pahar often brought Durdam along with him.

By the time I joined Peace Run '89, Durdam was a full blown athlete himself. Aside from tennis -- at which both brothers excelled -- Durdam was a skilled track and field man. Over the years, his exploits have been as varied as competing against world-class fields in the decathlon, in adventure races, and even in the world body surfing championships.

In the wake of the Peace Run, though, both Durdam and his mom told me that if I wanted to get out of New York, then I was welcome to come stay at their beautiful home in Stamford. For my own reasons, I couldn't accept their generous offer. But it's one I've not forgotten. When some disciples seemed less than enthusiastic about my acquaintance, the Rocherolles offered their open arms.

For better or worse, however, my path lay in New York. Back at Trishatur's place, my new routine included half-days working at Victory Factory and lots of exercise. Typically, I woke up each morning and went for a run. I'd then wander into work around noon and work until 5 p.m. After work, I'd either lift weights at home or head to the YMCA to swim. In my leisure time, I began reading voraciously, particularly the works of Ernest Hemingway and John le Carre. The building psychological narrative for me was "adventure."

I also began going to the movies. Going to the movies was frowned upon in the Center, so I went alone or with the few other guys who were over such prohibitions. And then there was television. Trishatur had cable television in his room, which had only recently made its way into Queens. In the late afternoon hours before Trishatur came home from work at the United Nations -- or at any other time when he was not at home -- I was free to watch. How I relished seeing The Godfather for the first time in that room!

It would be another film that I'd watch that fall, however, that would drive the final nail into the coffin of my disciple life.

Gayatri -- Narendra's and Durdam's mom -- has published a book of her own. Order it here.

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