Friday, October 22, 2010

Driving Me Crazy!

Sometime in August, I 'bought' a car for the first time in my life. A nice car. Nice enough that I have been allowed into VIP parking a time or two with nothing but a smile and a request.  The car purrs when the accelerator is engaged, leaving those around me in my dust ( i choose my targets  I also get a lot more respect on the road.  Taxi drivers who used to dare me to continue driving while heading directly at me, now stop, swing back into their lane, or don't bother to come at all.  Life on the road WAS good.

See this all changed about three weeks ago.  Three weeks ago, the rains came.  The meteorological service advised that there would be some rain and possible flash floods. Their warning so subdued that as usual, we all ignore them. It had been raining that entire week; everyday there would be showers of blessing leading up to the weekend, when it rained a little harder and for a little longer; by Sunday the rain was continuous and was steady right into Monday.  The system that was to later become Thunder Storm Nicole was upon us.  In true Jamaican tradition the roads were chaotic as we ALL headed out to our respective jobs. (Did I hear some laughter here?). 

 Monday night was when things got really chaotic, bridges were falling all over the Island (our old infrastructure are well past their design life), gullies were overflowing their banks, taking informal abodes with them, some with people still inside.  People died.  It got worse on Tuesday and this night was when the retaining walls fell; large walls, small walls, gully walls, they were dropping like stones and again, people died.  In total, it was reported that eight persons lost their lives and my heart goes out to all their families.

Jamaicans as a whole, lost our roads. Main roads, arterial roads, minor roads, roads that weren't even roads before.  ALL GONE.  Potholes galore.  Driving on the streets of Kingston is like an off road trek with hazards thrown at you from all angles.  You not only have to look out for the tire bursting, rim bending, car swallowing cavities, but u also have to look out for the taxi dude or the nice old (wo)man who is on your side of the road trying to get away from the sink holes that may or may not have just developed (in front their very eyes). 

To exacerbate matters, the National Water Commission (NWC) had just embarked on a program of sewer pipe installation in Kingston, generally down the centre of existing roads.  Trenches were outlined beautifully in yellow, then excavated, pipes installed and obviously haphazardly refilled and covered with black topping.  The resulting damage produces holes (i can't even call it potholes because they are something entirely different) large enough to swallow entire cars. A number of roads in the corporate area look like the picture below of Barbican Road.

It is also apparent that most of the gaping holes within what was once our streets are forming in trenches that were dug by some utility or cable company.  It thus suggests that any part of these trenches can fail at any given moment swallowing your vehicle whole.  

I don't know if you are scared, but i certainly am.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Running my Life

There are two sets of people I envy: Writers and Long Distance Runners.

Being very left brained (let's save the left vs right discussion for another post), i have always looked with awe and great appreciation on those who can weave words together that mesmerize; be it a line, phrase, poem, song or an entire tale. My aunt, a great english teacher, once told me that my essays were pure bones, no meat. I have never forgotten these words which were said to me when i was still in primary school, and though i am still convinced that the skeleton is what is important, and the meat is unnecessary drivel adornment, my envy remains. I think in part this blog was to help me face that envy head on.

Running has always been a different kettle of fish.

I was very athletic in my youth :), athletics (100m), tennis and netball in high school; volleyball, football, cricket at university and even a short stint playing for my country in volleyball. But what i could never do was run for any length of time. Excruciating shin splints, knee issues, back pain, all would surface if i tried to run for even 5 minutes. Thankfully after finally getting it all checked out, the issues seem to be pronated feet and an underdeveloped quad (vastus medialis) and with some rehabilitation and semi-customized insoles, i have been able to jog on the treadmill at the gym with no adverse effects. I thus decided to participate in a 5k for charity last weekend in the driving rain of the system that would become TS Nicole. I chose to run, thinking i would walk more than run, but wanting the option to run just the same. I finished (albeit 172nd out of 267 entrants) in 36:22 having run (jogged) at least 85% of the distance. I have been jogging consistently in the gym since and have decided that road racing (uhmmm participating) will be my new thing. I am off to get running shoes, customized insoles and proper socks.

I feel invigorated, energized and unstoppable. I feel like I can conquer the world.

Runners beware!!