Mo Farah; this photo was downloaded from the athlete’s Facebook page and is being used here for representation purpose. No copyright infringement intended.

Great performances from Mo Farah, Sifan Hassan and Peres Jepchirchir

A world still in the shadow of COVID-19 isn’t stopping top athletes from smashing records. Three world records tumbled over September 4 and 5, 2020.

As per reports available on the website of World Athletics, Britain’s Mo Farah and Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands set world one hour-records in their respective gender categories at the Wanda Diamond League exhibition meet at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels, Belgium, on September 4.

Farah, a multiple world and Olympic champion set a new mark of 21,330m – bettering the 2007 mark of 21,285m set by Ethiopia’s Haile Gebrselassie. Somali-Belgian athlete, Bashir Abdi finished second, eight meters behind.  However, while he was leading the race, Abdi lowered the world best for 20,000 meters from 56:26 to 56:20.2. In her race, Sifan Hassan, the Dutch world 1500m and 10,000m champion, touched 18,930 meters in one hour, beating the existing mark of 18,517 meters set by Ethiopia’s Dire Tune in 2008, the report said.

Same day in Prague, Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya broke the “ women-only race world record in the half marathon,’’ another report on the website said.

According to it, on September 5, the 26-year-old Kenyan clocked 1:05:34 for the distance improving upon the previous record of 1:06:11 set by Netsanet Gudeta of Ethiopia at the World Half Marathon Championships in 2018.

All the new timings reported are subject to the usual ratification process.

(The author, Shyam G Menon, is a freelance journalist based in Mumbai.)


Photo: Shyam G Menon

I don’t know about you, but the one thing I cannot live without is music.

It has been my constant companion through ups and downs in life.

Music complements the other thing I value greatly – freedom.  Increasingly humanity has shrinking respect for freedom. It is being swept aside by the march of money. There have been many songs about freedom. No I am not talking of patriotic songs. I am talking of songs that celebrate freedom as an attribute to be cherished without need for any cause. Freedom does not require a reason to be important; it is important as it is. Why else would the physical universe be so immense? Why else, when we are in chains, do we have the ability to close our eyes and find that same universe within?

Everybody has their favorite song evoking freedom. I don’t dig lyrics much. I am more somebody who identifies with songs because they attract aurally. You find release. For a long time – practically since the first time I heard it in the late 1980s when the album The Joshua Tree was released, U2’s Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For stayed with me, an anthem for existence. In later years, Traffic’s Dear Mr Fantasy became a favorite, especially the live version by Steve Winwood and Eric Clapton from their concert at Madison Square Garden with its soaring lead guitar. Amidst pandemic and lockdown, Chris Rea’s Set Me Free emerged another favorite. Hope you like it.

(The author, Shyam G Menon, is a freelance journalist based in Mumbai.)


Illustration: Shyam G Menon

Among major shifts accompanying COVID-19 and lockdown was Work from Home (WFH). Initially it was heralded as the digital future. Now, we are worried if it may end up an annoying blend of neither the best of office nor the best of home.

Over the past few months, periodic interactions with friends and relatives threw up concerns about WFH; especially long hours of work given employee is anyway at home and available on call. The boundary between home and office has increasingly blurred. With time we may retract to a more enlightened form of WFH. However, there are challenges. Currently, there is more money in an inch of technology than a mile of human life. In world by money, we just can’t be sure what will eventually triumph. In the meantime, as with many things beyond our control, the best option we have is to laugh at our predicament.

The recent past has for some reason drawn me closer to the music of Chris Rea, the British rock and blues artiste. His debut album was in 1978. In the late 1980s, somebody gifted me his album: Dancing with Strangers. It had the hit song Let’s Dance. From then on, I have listened to his work on and off. But of late, I have grown to genuinely appreciate his style. A talented guitarist, he keeps his music simple. His compositions often evoke a sense of space and momentum (a good example being that beautiful song: Set Me Free). I like this idiom of peaceful, spatial and moving in a world becoming more and more complicated and congested.

Working on It was a song he released in 1989.

Here are the lyrics:

Oh how I’d love it girl, just you and me

Take the day and fly

But oh this job, it’s got the best of me

Tell you why, tell you why

Somebody above is in a desperate state

Some kind of urgency, the kind that won’t wait

I say tomorrow, he say today

And the man in my head well he tell me no way

Keep working

I got eight little fingers and only two thumbs

Will you leave me in peace while I get the job done

Can’t you see I’m working

Oh, oh I’m working on it

Oh, oh I’m working on it

Well they’re coming from above me

And they’re coming from below

Yea they’re in there right behind me

Everywhere that I go

And my buddy, he’s screaming down the telephone line

He say gimme, gimme, gimme

I say I ain’t got the time

Oh, oh can’t you see I’m working on it

Oh, oh I’m working on it…

A few days ago as I revisited this old song, I felt it could be an anthem for our WFH days.

Use good headphones, speakers.

Turn up the volume.

Bass matters.

Amidst WFH, shake a leg.


(The author, Shyam G Menon, is a freelance journalist based in Mumbai.)