Today is the 13th of December exactly three months from when we kicked off the MeraTerahRRRun;  I suddenly remembered that I had left the question of “Why 13” unanswered.

Many ask me - Why 13, why not 9 or 11?

Thirteen is considered unlucky in many cultures and countries and many people suffer from “triskaidekaphobia” or the fear of number 13. (The word itself is quite a mouthful and I am sure is on the list of many spelling bee contests). Well, in the Hindu culture, 13 does not seem to have anything negative associated with it, why else would Hindus consider it auspicious to buy gold or silver on Dhana trayodashi or Dhanteras, the 13th day of the ‘Ashwin’ month? Anyway none of this really answers “Why 13” does it?

My or should I say ‘Our’ Tryst with 13: This year we have had a very interesting relationship with the date 13. It was almost as though we were trying to defy all myths, when we set off on the challenging Dhumdarkandi pass trek, on the Friday the 13th this year. Why do I use “we”- because one of the co-trekkers, was none other than Brijesh, a sah-yatri in this yatra. All of us returned in one piece, despite many near misses, read about them in eloquently blogged by Shilpa Deo.

In 2012, Bijesh, Vinit, Bharat and I were sah-yatris on another adventure, the Everest Base camp. While we started the journey from Bangalore on 14th April, Brijesh, insists that he and Bharat began their Everest Base camp journey on 13th April, because both of them left their homes on 13th to come to my place. I cannot argue with such logic can I ? We did the classic route and returned safe and sound, with a collection of beautiful photographs, all shot through Bharat’s very professional lens.

To cut a long story short, I think that 13 is just a poor little number which has received a bad rap. And so, when it came to planning this journey, I decided to take up the number 13 full on. The fact that a Half Marathon (13.1 miles), which is the minimum respectable distance for a long distance runner just made it easier to design a train-cum-road journey around 13. Needless to say,  it was the number 13; that has drawn so much attention to this event and even lent itself to a very inclusive name the “Mera - Terah RRRun”; which would not have been possible if I used 9 or 11.

Well did you know that:

The current President, Pranab Mukherjee is the 13th President of India? That  today was the 13th anniversary of the attack on the Indian Parliament which happened on 13th Dec 2001?. – Jagdish Damania

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When you travel in a train in India, the journey is always replete with many challenges, events and experiences. The biggest challenge, according to me, remains that of luggage. Indians tend to carry a lot of luggage, unnecessarily so, though an alternate belief is that we carry our town and state wherever we go. It’s a tough task to enter the train when the doors are all stacked with tons of bags and suitcases of those whose journey is coming to an end.

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The Flying Ranee & Hoops of Joy! [caption id=“attachment_195” align=“alignright” width=“300”] What I wanted to be when I grew up..[/caption] “Yaaaay! Gayaaaa! Dug-ugg! Dug-ugg!” Sounds, shouts, railway tracks and memories. That’s what my early schooling days in a suburb of Bombay (I can’t still get myself to say Mumbai), Jogeshwari were all about. Come recess time (tiffin break) and we’d rush out to the railway tracks close to our school and place these bottle caps of Fanta bottles, ‘billas’ we’d call them, on the tracks and wait for the big blue mass of metal and smoke and massive metal wheels rumbling past us, going over the billas.