In January 2011, I first participated in half marathon (21 KMS) of Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon (SCMM) running event and post that I started managing my calendar in such a way that I do not miss this event. From the time I first participated in 2011 to 2015, the start point of this event has been from Bandra Reclamation and it ended just before Azad Maidan outside Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST). For January 17, 2016 event, I did not find it necessary to check the start point and landed at Bandra reclamation at 5:19 AM. A cop standing over there told me to go on and find the start point “somewhere ahead”. As I moved on I started realizing that I goofed it up very badly and for this year the start point must shifted somewhere else.
I asked one of the volunteers and I was told the` good news’ that the start point for this year’s half marathon would be just outside Worli Dairy which was about 7.5 to 8 kilometers away from the place I was standing at that point of time. I cursed myself and started looking for alternatives to salvage the situation. Another volunteer suggested that I take a tempo which was carrying loads of water to be consumed by the participants of the race to reach the starting point and the tempo driver promptly declined this suggestion saying once he reached over there he would not be able to move out as the race would began and he would find himself in `No Vehicular Traffic Zone’. He was right in his place and my probability of running sixth consecutive half marathon was coming to an end as the watch was advancing at speed while I was far off from the start point of the race.
I saw two volunteers of this events discussing about the action plan to be carried to manage their part of the work for this event and I approached them with my request to drop me at the start point with a very miserable and hopeless face. One of them looked at me and asked me to sit on his bike. By the time I sat and settled, his bike was roaring on Bandra-Worli Sea Link. Whosever tried to obstruct or stop the bike was managed by this chap with his ID and in the next seven and half minutes I was dropped at the start point. Even now, I have to get over what actually happened with me at that time…! Before landing down from his bike I could barely ask him his name and while telling his name he had already started riding at brisk speed back to his appointed place of duties.
I made efforts to get over the entire nervousness and guilt as a result of blunder committed by me before the start of the race and quickly started moving towards the start point. By the time I crossed the start line of the race it was almost 5:46 (the start time was 5:40 am) and I slowly started working towards getting my rhythm for the journey of 21 Kilometers. In the end I managed to get over all the hurdles created by me myself and completed the race in 1:59:53 hours.
Throughout the race I was thinking about the incidence and happy end of the episode.
Currently, I am associated with the company which is representing brands and products to drive their digital business strategy. The tag line of this company is, “Digital Technology. Human Touch.” We always tell our clients, “There is a wide-spread, misplaced belief that e-commerce runs on auto-pilot after the initial set-up, understandings and agreements since it being a technology driven activity; while in reality it is subject to lot of human interventions, behavior & sometimes whims and fancies of individuals.” And that’s where this human touch is needed by the professionals who understand this technology very well. I found this human touch in Prasad Panchal. Yes, the name of the young lad who dropped me at a brisk speed to the start point of SCMM half marathon on January 17, 2016 at or about 5:40 am is Prasad Panchal. I felt very sorry for the simple reason that I could not even properly thank him for what he did, though he did not think that he had done anything `extra-ordinary’ or `out-of-his-way’.
I owe my `memorable’ half marathon run on 17th January, 2016 to this `human touch’ called Prasad Panchal.
(In case, Prasad Panchal is reading this he is requested to get in touch with me. If any other person reading this blog knows Prasad Panchal who volunteered for the event of SCMM 2016 event, please help me getting in touch with him.)