Sunday, May 27, 2007

KTWV 08 Issue 20: Part 2: Why do I do the things I do?

(Cross-posted on all my major blogs.)

The reaction to the first part of this blog title was so overwhelming that I thought I would share another of my very simplistic theories with you.

This blog entry covers the subject of physical and mental endurance.

Beautiful Rauma.

Two scooters belonging to my friends had to be delivered to Rauma, a lovely small town in south Finland. In the normal course I would have just booked them in a truck service and sent them on.

Not having done a long distance drive since 2003, when I drove 1300 km to Helsinki and back the same day, I wondered whether I could repeat part of this by driving to Rauma and back the same day - a total distance of 1100 km up and down.

When I told Annikki my plan, she said I was crazy. She tried to talk me out of this foolhardy mission. But my mental make-up was such that I knew I had to do this trip.

I loaded the scooters onto the trailer. Just as I was tying them down as firmly as I could, my Zambian friend, Kamutaza Tembo, turned up. He did the job of tying both the scooters down as tight as he could.

It looked as if we had done a good job.

Friday was a busy day. We had been invited to dinner by Indu and Asheesh, an Indian couple newly settled in Oulu. Their 4-year old son, Karthik, is a real whiz kid. I get on famously with him.

Indu and Asheesh decided we would dine at the Indian Cuisine, the new Indian Restaurant in Oulu. The owner, Michelle, was there to look after us. She produced an absolutely great meal. For the first time in the last 10 years we had tandoori chicken which tasted as much as tandoori chicken from Moti Mahal on Chandini Chowk in New Delhi.

After this meal, eaten slowly and enjoyed till the last mouthful, Indu and Asheesh suggested we visit their new home. Indu has done a wonderful job with this flat, bright and airy and really home-like. We chatted and finished with ice cream. I had to drag Annikki away, as I planned to leave at sunrise, about 3:30 am.

When we got home, I go a shock.

Annikki said she would also accompany me on this long journey! Although grateful to have her company, I was wondering how she would last this journey, as I had no intention of stopping halfway!

She has not done such an arduous journey in the last 15 years.

I had a shower and hit the sack. I was tired when I went to bed, but I was up, fresh as a daisy, at 3:30 am. As it was raining I decided to wait till it got a bit brighter. I let Annikki sleep while I got all the paperwork for the trip ready. Just as I was going to fill the petrol at 4 am, I told her that she should be ready in about half an hour.

As soon as I hit the first bump on the road, I realised that the scooters would give me trouble en route. After filling the petrol, I thought of a great idea and put the spare tyre between the two scooters, wedging it in tight. I then re-tightened all the ropes. When I tested it driving home, I was sure that for the most part there would be no damage en route.

I was home by 4:30 and we were able to get on the road by 4:45.

We took a route which is non-traditional. Although driving slowly because of the load in the trailer, we made good time. We stopped at a petrol station for a cup of tea. I stopped another 3 times to ensure the ropes were tightened. By 12 noon we were in Rauma.

After unloading the scooters, we dropped in to see our friends, Padma and Mika. It was Mika's birthday so we had a piece of cake and some great Indian tea. We had to refuse the meal that Padma had cooked for us as Annikki and I had eaten crisps all the journey down to Rauma.

Kannan is moving to a new flat at the end of the month. We went to see his nice new apartment. Then we drove to a lovely restaurant, HR-Kala in Olkiluoto, which specialises in Fish.

The lunch, two pieces of beautifully smoked salmon, a large fish cutlet and sliced gravey salmon served with freshly cut vegetables was superb.

HR stands for the name of the fisherman, Hannu. He has two boats, a 5 metre and a 10 metre one. He fishes in the waters of Olkiluoto and sells his fish at the Rauma market. He and his wife run this great fish restaurant.

We had this delicious early dinner. By 4 pm we set on our way back, Kannan taking the trouble to put us on the highweay.

We took another route, the main road between Rauma and Oulu, but we discovered it was a ghastly mistake.

This route is lined with camera speed checkers. I am not averse to camera speed checkers, but in the Swedish-speaking section in Finland, the Police have deliberately placed the cameras in a way to catch offenders by creating them.

The cameras are set up in one speed zone (say 100 kmph). Then, all of a sudden, one hits a speed limit change sign (say to 80 kmph) and even before one has the chance to reduce one's speed to the new speed, less than 50 metres away, they have placed the camera.

In other parts of Finland the cameras are at least 200 metres after a speed change sign.

Keeping the cameras so close to the speed change sign, has one hitting the brakes, causing the cars behind you to focus on why you are braking, and then they too realise they are being forced to brake to reduce the speed dramatically to avoid being caught for speeding.

This is catastrophic and causes a great deal of mental anguish while driving.

The whole object of this exercise is to trick drivers into a mistake and then they get caught for speeding.

It was close to 11:30 at night that we were on the last stretch home. I had been driving well within the speed limit, but as the last 5 minutes were ahead of us and we were on a motorway, I told Annikki we would be home in 5 minutes and I speeded up.

Just as we were pulling of the highway I saw the Police car behind me. I pulled up, knowing my mistake instantly.

With a trailer one is limited top a speed of 80 kmph. I had been at 110 kmph. I knew I was going to be fined. The Policemen were courteous and sympathetic, but I got my dose of the correct medicine!

Because if this slight deviation from the routine we got home just before midnight.

The entire day for me was from 3:30 am till midnight: 20+ hours approximately, in which I had driven 1155 km. The real pick-me-ups on the way had been three extra strong cups of tea, two lie-downs of about 5 minutes each to rest the eyes and limbs, and a couple of stops to fill petrol and stretch my legs.

After a quick sauna, I hit the sack at a quarter past midnight and I was asleep in less than a minute. I slept like a lamb till 9 am, five hours longer than normal, but on waking up I felt on top of the world.

The moral of this story is quite simple.

Test your endurance capacity regularly as you grow older. It is important that you know where your body stands. Any weak links will be shown up immediately when stressed to the limit. Then, you can work to correct the problems.

My weak link is that when driving for a long spell, I get an ache at the knees. Stopping and walking around for a couple of minutes eases this ache completely for the next couple of hours.

I must find out the reason for this. That was the only problem I had during this 1155 km 20 hour drive day. Mental agility and reactions were as perfect as when I used to drive like this in my younger days.

Annikki also lasted through this trip without any problems. We mid-60ers can claim to be in a reasonably sound condition as our bodies have spoken!

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