That Green Milo Notebook.

The year was 1999. I was a bournvita kid (I think I had bournvita till I was 25 or something; for those of you who don't know, Bournvita is a chocolate powder produced by Cadbury).

Bournvita however, didn't come with too many great free gifts. Maybe it was because their taste was so much better than their competitors, they didn't need to offer free gifts. One of their competitors, was Nestle's Milo.

It tasted horrible. And I really didn't like it. But in 1999, sometime near the cricket World Cup they launched a free notebook. I still remember it, it was Green and it had a batsman figure as a watermark on every page and it looked very cool. Cool enough to entice a 9 year old.

1999 was also the time my family wasn't doing so well financially. If you know my father, you will know that he is one of the most knowledgable people on earth. He knows everything there is to know about electrical engineering. I can still bet many electrical engineers don't remember the Star-Delta circuit; but my Dad even after graduating in 1981 knows that, by heart. And my mother is one of the most tenacious and strong willed people I know. She is as smart as they come, from a young age she managed her household responsibilities (which was normal in 1970s) and studied. She cracked the best commerce college in Asia and even when she gave an officials exam in 2012, she studied more (both in terms of volume and efficiency) than I ever had done in my life.

But my parents are very simple hearted. Especially my father. He was trying to run a business and people who were in business with him were using him. That business soon ran aground. He briefly had a job where he had to commute over 120 kms, one way on a scooter. Work 10-12 hours and then ride the scooter back to the house. (Rohini to Panipat)
I once did a brevet(222k) on that route.

My face is black from the pollution, in 1 day of riding. My father was doing this and working on a daily basis.

Then we moved houses, which was a big financial investment for my parents but they did it because they wanted me to grow up in a better neighbourhood. My father didn't have a job during that period. My mother was still working and it really wasn't a time to be extravagant. I mean, with that level of financial investment even the richest people back down a bit, we were already on the backfoot.

Obviously, I had no idea that this was happening. I was 9 and oblivious to the world. Whatever I am writing now, is by piecing together information I learnt later in life.

I saw that Milo notebook and I really wanted it. And my parents were right to say no to it because a.) I didn't drink Milo and it would be a waste of money b.) It was an unnecessary expense as it was quite expensive. But do you think rationally when you are 9 years old? No.

And it is not really in my nature to be greedy but hey, I was a child and I loved cricket. Everyone else had the notebook and I really wanted it. So days went on and one day I returned from school. My father opened the door and I went to my room.

On my bed, was the notebook.

I was delighted and my father just smiled.

Our financial situation hadn't changed or anything. Somehow, despite everything in life my parents made sure that even my most stupidest, most extravagant request was fulfilled.
(Just for the record, they didn't spoil me. I was 9 and they didn't want me to feel left out.
When I was 19 and in college, and in a band I did not get an electric guitar even though my parents could very well afford it. I had a backlog in Electrical Science and till I cleared that and earned my guitar, I was denied. So no, they did not spoil me but they knew when to say yes and when to say no.)

So why did I bring up the notebook? I don't even know if my parents remember this incident, but I do. It really left an indelible mark on me. That notebook didn't mean that much to me then, but as I grew older and began to think of the story behind it, it became more and more meaningful.

Whatever I have achieved in life till date, be it Ultraman or my Ironman finishes or my 7*70.3s or anything at all, it came from being able to shut the noise in my brain and not quit. It came through my ability to will myself through tough situations, not taking no for an answer.
It meant making tonnes of small sacrifices: leaving my bed with 4 hours of sleep to get in a tempo run at the crack of dawn, struggling through injuries and setbacks, spending time away from the ones who I care about, embracing the heat, the wind, the cold, the dark, the rain or the snow just to move an inch closer to what I want to be in life.

Obviously, to make that effort you need a drive, a will to succeed. People get motivated when they see someone achieve something big in life and they draw inspiration from them. My parents, they had no inspiring figure infront of them. They were simple people who just wanted the best for their son. And they were beyond motivated. They were driven enough to achieve that. My mother travelled 2 hours one way on a bus to get to her office and 2 hours on the way back. Despite that, she showed up to every single swim class I attended since I was 12 years old. Just so that she could catch 5 minutes of me swimming and she could see that I was doing well.

They didn't have role models. But they didn't know, they were becoming role models.

When they gave me that notebook, despite having to go out of their way, knowing very well I would not drink Milo and it would be a waste of precious money, they taught me the meaning of life.
That notebook on my bed taught me not to say no if someone's happiness relied on me. That notebook on my bed taught me to go the extra mile, to make the sacrifices and to never, EVER quit.

I don't usually tell my parents how much I really admire them. I'm not that good in expressing things verbally. And they are smart enough to know, whatever I have achieved, I have drawn inspiration from what they did in life. I've drawn inspiration from that stupid green notebook and the effort they put into getting me that.

I know I am pushed down right now and I am struggling. But I won't quit. I cannot. I was raised by people who didn't quit their whole lives. I did a research paper on the impact of socio-economic upbringing on the mindset of elite endurance athletes. I am far from being an elite, but trust me that small incident, that A4 sized notebook was enough to inspire me to never quit for the rest of my life.

PS: As my mom and dad will read this, I just want to say. The next time you feel worried that I am working out in terrible conditions or working out at some ungodly hour, you have yourself to blame. I don't know any better. I wasn't raised to say no. I was raised to be a fighter. 😛.


  1. Dear my heartiest love for your nobel thoughts regarding us. Here I will clear that it's your adroblity and persona to get this love and attachments from us. You always been a super kid for us. One more suggestion you enjoy this phase of life too as this is only a teething problem for the best future you are going to get. You are strong and keep yourself motivated in this smallest transit period. Love you ,be happy, be motivated and motivate us by your writing skills through your thoughtful blogs.


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