She has been trekking for 28+ years. She has been running for more than 10 years now. She communicates with animals and nature. She has successfully completed a solo expedition in the Welsh mountain range.
She is Manjiri Latey our very own Punekar, one with boundless energy and passion.
It was a typical Tuesday morning and I was extremely excited to meet her. We connected instantly. Our conversation lasted about 2 hours over Spanish omelette and a cottage cheese akuri. For once it was not the food at German Bakery but the pace at which our conversation was going, that kept me wanting for more (approximately 8 mins / subject). I felt like this little girl lost in la la land where I wanted to talk, ask and hear about this’s and that’s. All of this making sure that neither of us lost any chain of our thought. Big task and what is even bigger is conveying all that through this article…Manjiri I hope I have done justice to the person that you are.
From being born to mountaineering parents and married to a naturalist, Manjiri is the quintessential outdoor person. She believes that if you have the urge to travel, all you need are some bare essentials and the camp is your luxury hotel.
Trekking has been a “way of life” for Manjiri. She has trekked around northern states from J&K, through Himachal & Uttarakhand to the hills of Arunachal and Nagaland. Her star treks have been the Everest Base Camp (EBC), Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) both in Nepal and Sandhakpu in Sikkim.
Just as my way of life revolves around which restaurant to go today, which new club to party at; for her its “come on let’s trek!”. Her avoid list includes red meat, fried food and sugar, she drinks a pint of beer once a month and does not party.
Ask her all about her why’s and how’s of running, pat comes the reply “Running for me is NOT a means to shed weight”. She has never been bothered by her weight, ever. During the Goa River Marathon a lady sprinted up to Manjiri and breathlessly exclaimed, “Hey with a physique like yours you run rather well”.
She began running 10 years ago with friends in Koregaon Park and Kalyani Nagar in Pune. She stayed consistent with running and soon moved to running half marathons (21km). So far she has run well over 20 half marathons. Running to her is not a RACE and hence she doesn’t bother about the PACE . It is easy to spot her running solo in the Pune University campus. She runs 3–4 times a week, cycles or hikes twice a week and hits the gym a minimum of 3 times a week. Doesn’t add up? More than one activity a day will.
Long time runners, especially distance runners, are known to have suffered some injury sometime. Manjiri tells me that she has been advised against any major physical activity. She has been termed as one with Congenital hip which means a skewed posture and a skewed spine. But what surprises me is her next sentence à “because I WANT to run, I take care of the other stuff; you definitely have to listen to your doctor but you MUST listen to your body too. For me I listen to the latter. Even though I have a congenital hip, I run as long as and as much as I can; for WANTING to run makes ME communicate BETTER with my BODY”.
Manjiri loves organizing events, be it a local running event, a triathlon or outdoor tours for groups. She is an active member of the major sports groups in Pune and much sought after for advice and help.
This is probably an extension of her innate people skills. Add modesty to her traits and she is a friend much loved and clasped on to.
Manjiri’s equation is simple; running is MEDITATIVE. “If you enjoy doing something, do it. And while you are at it you are meditating”.
She believes that while you run you surrender to your body in a unique way. The first few kilometers you are aware of the speed, the motion you are in, and the fact that your body is out of its comfort zone. You push yourself through this and reach a point where even if you have the urge to stop your body is set into a rhythm and unknowingly your mind and heart surrender to the “thak thak thak” of your body. That’s what sportspersons call “being in the zone”.
Each one of us has this unsaid, unrecognized capability to do what we want to do. What sets us apart is the intensity and enthusiasm. Manjiri loves what she does and it clearly reflects in her demeanor. As we talk and laugh about a number of things, I realize that we seemed to have similar thoughts on how one can be happy status quo and how utterly important it is to BELIEVE in your inner self.
At this, I quietly look down eat a few pieces of my omelette and as I chew I try to digest every bit of what she just shot at me. I feel a sense of happiness for being there, look up thank God and tell her “Manjiri, you Rock!”
Each one of us has this unsaid, unrecognized capability to do what we want to do. What sets us apart is the intensity and enthusiasm. Manjiri loves what she does and it clearly reflects in her demeanor.
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