Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tumhari Yaad Aayegi

जीवन के सफ़र में राही, मिलते हैं बिछड़ जाने को
और दे जाते हैं यादें तन्हाई में तडपाने को

This is almost a month too late. But this has been in the offing for each day that has went by since 21st November, 2010. If in IIT I would have hummed the above tune, am sure Tank would have immediately quipped that these lines are from the film Munimji, Music by SD Burman and Lyrics by Sahir. We might have then spent some time on discussing how good a lyricist Sahir was. But sadly, none of this is going to happen...

I have been wanting to write a note on Ashwini ever since that fateful day when he passed away. I started typing a note on 21 November itself but it is still in my drafts folder. Somehow, I could not bring myself to write that email. We go back a long way. He was my junior at IITB. Ragged him in the first year. He was a great hindi music enthusiast and there might have been many competitions where we competed against/with each other.

After IITB, we were together at Dell. I was moving from Citibank and he had just finished his post grad from IIM Indore. We did not meet often at work as we were in different units. But we met regularly outside work and most of that can be attributed to running.

He was a regular runner and many from the RFL group at bangalore know him. He used to typically do sub-30K kind of distances. As for the half marathon kind of distance, he would have done that multiple times (~40-50 times). We had made a running trip to mysore, where he ran up and down the Chamundi hills twice.

He was a great photographer and his oft repeated complaint about trail running was that he could never make up his mind if he should be running or be behind the lens! You can browse though his photo-stream here. http://www.flickr.com/photos/overcooked

He had recently moved to Delhi and was putting up in Noida with his brother. I met him on 19th Nov at a friend's (Aviral) wedding. He was looking fitter than what he was in Bangalore. I joked that he is losing weight faster than the remainder of his hair. He quipped, 'Tere bhi chale jaayenge'

We were to run the Airtel Delhi Half together. We had decided that we will start from Noida together to the run venue. However, he had some work and decided to take his car as well. He reached the starting point before us and My wife, brother in law and I joined him in the line leading to the hold-up area. I had had a bad run at the Bangalore Ultra and was yearning to get a decent time in the ADHM so I sped off at the starting point. Tank jokingly complained about that to Priyanka (my wife).

We crossed and shouted out to each other on the road leading to Rajpath where he was running with another runner from Bangalore. Priyanka met him later on the course and he was going strong. That was the last that we saw of him.

After the race, I looked for him for approx 3 hours as his car keys were with Priyanka. I checked at the medical center where I was told that no one by the name of 'Ashwini Tank' reported there. I just hoped that he had gone for whatever work he had after the run and everything was all right with him.

I had a flight to catch so we moved back to Noida. In the interim, we figured out the phone number of his ex-flat mate who gave us his address in Noida. We left the keys of his car there. We also got the number of his cousin who got through to his sister. She informed him that Ashwini had had a fall during the run and was hospitalized. I thought I will talk to him and figure out how he is doing. I finally got his brother's number from his cousin and called him up.

His brother, Achint, had received a call from the Delhi police around 1:30-2:00 PM informing him about Ashwini's demise. Ashwini was picked up by the Delhi Police Control Room Jeep and not by the medical response machinery put together by the organizers. They took him to the AIIMS trauma center where he was pronounced DOA. There was no emergency contact on his bib and hence they had to go back to the organizers to figure out his next of kin. No one else had any idea about what had happened to him till then. I was extremely shattered to hear that and was not running for a few days after this incident. He had a cardiac arrest just past the 18th Km into the run. He was too good a runner to have gone this way on a half marathon. I believe if he would have had received timely medical aid, things could have been different. One can only speculate on such things.

He was a very passionate person who was always full of life. He was a photographer, runner, friend, cook, reader, talker, philosopher amongst others. He will sorely be missed by friends and family. I wish his family all the strength they need.

RIP, dear friend!


TejnBuddy said...

Hello Prateek,
Thank you for writing this. I am a friend of Ashwini's from his Infy days. Ashwini was truly special ...he was passionate about life...always sharing the latest amazing music he had heard, cooking or exploring new foods...he spent so much time working on Math with friends interested in CAT including me!
Its really sad that they did not have the right medical help at the right time. Its truly a loss!

Abisurd said...


I did not know this guy. The way he died was really tragic. Its ironic that none of the fellow runners noticed him and that he did not get the medical attention from the organizers that could have saved his life.

I've been seeing a lot of episodes of a TV show called 'Curious Deaths' and this one now sounds less surprising than it would have a couple of months ago.

His photostream is AWESOME. I hope someone in his family keeps that account alive, to keep his photographic memory alive.

Prateek said...

@Tejn: Yes, he was truly special.

@Sandy: thanks for your email on how to keep his photostream active. Let me take it forward.

ulaar said...

When we talked at Pankaj's place last month, had no idea it was Ashwini Tank you were talking about. There were at least 2 RFL runs that I remember him from. I found this post via roxtar's blog.

It's really baffling that he didn't get timely medical help from the race organizers.

Rashmi said...

Hi Prateek,

I am shocked to read this ! I did not know about this at all. I stumbled upon your blog when I was trying to find out about another young man who passed away in very similar circumstances in Delhi last month. He was the son of a punjabi family in Fresno, CA and had was a brilliant boy - he was a Fulbright scholar and was doing his PhD in Cambridge. He went to Delhi to run a marathon with his cousin last month and collapsed due to dehydration. He was left lying at the roadside and no one took him to the hospital until his cousin finsihed the race and came looking for him. By this time multiple organ failure had set in and drs couldnt save him....I was shocked that this could happen...how people can be so callous - no one took the poor guy to a hospital and he died of dehydration !

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