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Sunday, October 20, 2013

I Am Back...With An Appeal!

It is one of those things which we think will never happen to us....or to our near and dear ones.  

In the beginning of 2012, that myth for me was broken.  My father was diagnosed with small-cell lung carcinoma.  After the initial despondency, the family rallied around and did all that was required to fight it.  After intensive treatment over the next 6 months, all traces of the cancer were destroyed.

But, the treatment of this disease takes its toll.  It takes a toll on the quality of life that one leads.  It slows the body down and has innumerable side-effects, including short term memory loss and impacting other sensory functions such as hearing.

During the course of my father's treatment, I visited the Oncology departments of innumerable hospitals.  To my utter shock and bewilderment, each of these places was choc-a-bloc with patients, of all ages and across all social strata.  I had never imagined that the disease was so widely prevalent.  Speaking to doctors and health-care workers, it became evident that it is a disease which has been afflicting more and more people over the last few years.  This is putting a severe strain on the infrastructure that exists today to treat it.

I have also in the last couple of years spent some time with various NGOs working with the Tata Memorial Hospital, the premier cancer cure hospital in the country, who are active in helping the patients cope with the disease.

The Indian Cancer Society is one of the oldest NGOs working on cancer care in India.  Its activities are focused on creating an awareness about the disease, enabling early detection and helping with the rehabilitation of survivors. Having personally seen the impact of this disease on the patients', as well as their near and dear ones' lives, I have decided to do my bit to contribute to the cause.

I will be running the half marathon at the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon 2014, on January 19, 2014, to raise money to support the activities of the Indian Cancer Society.

I appeal to you to join me in my endeavor by donating to this worthy cause. Your donation truly means so much to me and the Indian Cancer Society. Anything that you can manage would be absolutely amazing. Every single rupee donated is very much appreciated. You can make your donations at: 

Please dig deep and donate generously.  

Take care & stay healthy!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Day 49-2012 : A Passport To Freedom

Recently I had the 'good fortune' of having to deal with the Regional Passport Office, Mumbai (RPO).  My aunt's passport was about to expire and hence we needed to get a new one.  This should have been a straight-forward transaction.  However, what transpired was anything but a simple and straight-forward transaction.

To start with, there were a few logistical complications.  My aunt stays with us, but has address proofs of the house that she has lived in, most of her life.  She no longer lives in that house as it has not been 'lived in' for a long time and hence is in a state of disrepair.  Hence the requirement was to apply and receive a new passport but not at the house for which she has the address proofs for, and in quick time.  I was advised that this would need the services of a tried and tested agent. 

The process was kicked off by contacting the agent and explaining the exact requirements of the transaction to him.  To my pleasant surprise, I was assured that it would not be a problem.  The agent would arrange to get the new passport made within a week through the Tatkal process and would tell us the exact day on which the passport would arrive at the house so that my aunt could be present there to collect it.  All for a small fee, of course!  I was to send him a copy of the old passport and he would arrange for the appointment.  On the day of the appointment, I accompanied my aunt with the documentation (old passport and the address proofs of the old house) early in the morning.  A long serpentine queue outside the RPO confirmed my worst fears of a long day at this dreaded place.  My previous experience with the RPO (in Chennai) wasn't a pleasant one either.  However, the agent quickly arranged the documentation.  He then proceeded to note a code on one of the papers, and directed us to a man at the main gate who knew we were coming by the time we got there.  He looked at the code and asked us to take our place in front of the long queue!  My aunt being a senior citizen, of course!  I was duly impressed.

I have never been to the RPO, Mumbai, but as soon as we entered the main hall, where the various counters were there, it struck me that the organisation is not as bad as it is made out to be after all.  The place is air-conditioned, with neat counters and seating arrangements.  My impression of this dreaded institution was getting better by the minute.  Of course, being second in the queue (another senior citizen in front of us) added to the comfort factor.  I however, noticed that some of the others who perhaps did not have the blessings of the 'helpful code', were being treated with the same old disdainful attitude of the staff. Some were welcomed with scornful faces and some others got scolded for small corrections to the documentation that they were carrying.  But for us, the process was quick, the documents verified in no time, the fees paid and we were out of the place in 30 minutes flat! 

Part two of the transaction was to receive the passport on the appointed day at the old house.  An added complication to this was that my aunt did not think it was a good day to receive the passport and wanted to do that only two days later!  The trick was to get in touch with our friendly neighbourhood postman and request him to hold on to the arriving passport for a couple of days (for a small fee, of course!).  The passport was collected from the post office on Friday instead of Wednesday.  Lo and behold!  My aunt was now a proud owner of a brand new passport, in spite of all the logistical challenges!  The whole process took precisely 7 working days!

The whole sequence of events got me thinking (which is never a good thing in my case!).  It was evident that though some of these government institutions like the RPO look to be a changed organisation in their outward appearance, the soul (read, people who work there) is still the same old bureaucratic one.  A service oriented approach to the functioning of these institutions is non-existent.  In fact, it seems to me that the staff at these institutions actually leverage the 'fear factor' of dealing with a notoriously bureaucratic government institution to manufacture privileges and dole them out for a premium.  The 'system' still rules!  And 'working the system' is the only way still, to ensure success. 

This needs to change.  We will be a truly free country only when this change happens.  And that is when we will all get our own passport to.....freedom!

Take care.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Day 22-2012 : A Hectic Start...

What a hectic start to the new year!  It is all happening, leaving me with little time to organise my thoughts in the form of a blog post.  Anyways, I am here now, so, here we go.  

We are already in the last week of the first month of the year!  For me, the year started with the drive back from Ahmedabad to Mumbai on New Year Day.  I completed the 550 kilometres long drive in 8 hours, with two stops, one for breakfast and one for lunch.  The road infrastructure which has been built on this stretch is wonderful, to say the least.  Especially, once you get into Gujarat, it seems like you are in a completely different country!  Maharashtra still has a lot of catching up to do.  I thoroughly enjoyed the drive to Ahmedabad and back.

After the refreshing week long break in Ahmedabad, it was time to get back to work at full throttle.  It is the time of the year when reviews of all kinds happen and one gets sucked into the whirlwind.  At home, the in-laws visited us.  The school breaks were getting over as well, hence getting the kids fully kitted for another term became a priority. 

And then, of course, the unpredictable happened!  I got an opportunity to take part in the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon.  I had actually applied for taking part in the marathon, but did not get the opportunity.  But I really wanted to run.  I had in fact started training for it as well very seriously.  However, once I did not get through, I relaxed my routine.  But as they say, if you want something really bad, the whole world conspires to give it to you!  On January 13th, a day before the D-Day, the opportunity arrived, in the form of someone who was registered but could not go.  I was happy to do the honours!  And that is how I became part of the 6 km Dream Run on January 15th.

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of being part of the event.  It was certainly worth it, though after the 45 minute run, the soles and ankles of my feet were complaining.  The half marathon next year?  Maybe...!  I must confess that I am tempted, though it will require a lot of training.  One thing is for sure, I am determined to run again in the annual event.

The next week is going to be very busy with various engagements at work as well, following which I fly to London over the weekend.  I fully expect the week in London to be hectic.  So a lot of activity overall in the first month of the year. Add to it, the cricket nets, shopping trips, team-building events and friends and relatives visiting over the weekends; and the month has just whizzed past me.  If January is anything to go by, I think this year is going to be action-packed.

I say, bring it on! 

Take care!

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Day 365-2011 : Adieu...

Adieu to a remarkable year.  A year in which the power of collective action was demonstrated time and again.  Throughout the year.  If there was one word which could correctly encapsulate the tone of the entire year of 2011, it was revolution.

2011 will be remembered as the year in which the clamor for change was heard the loudest.  People protested against everything.  From atrocities of dictators to the corruption of politicians; from women objecting to being branded as sluts based on how they dressed to people objecting to the social and economic inequality by occupying Wall Street.  Some of these were highly successful, but some weren't so.  The world today is definitely a different place after the Arab Spring.  The ouster of at least four dictators till date and a few more under siege are clear signs of people embracing the path of non-violent protests...and winning.  I grew up on news reports of the violent struggles in Lebanon and Palestine.  I grew up on reports of Pakistan attacking the sovereign borders of this country. Over the years I have watched the various extremist actions by Islamic groups across the world.  However, in 2011, it was so refreshing to see the Islamic populace adopting non-violence as the core principle of their protests across the world.  Of course, the perennial mascot of Islamic violence himself, Osama-bin-Laden, was killed this year.

Closer home, the story has been much the same.  One scam after another being unearthed by the activism of the media and the judiciary, and people in high places of power being held responsible for it, gave the common man in India a common cause to fight against, corruption.  True, corruption was not invented this year and it was certainly not discovered by Anna Hazare.  Anna and the India Against Corruption movement just grabbed the opportunity created by the prevailing mood of disillusionment caused by the multiple scams.  It was an amazing movement with a momentum of its own, causing the government of the day to grumble, mumble, stumble and tumble for one reason or the other on a daily basis.  For once the might of a government in power was dwarfed by a people's movement and was found wanting.  It was like a rabbit caught in the headlights, not withstanding the feeble, and sometimes questionable, attempts at redemption by its favorite crisis managers.

The financial services industry was not only hit by world-wide recession but also people power.  Beginning in Wall Street, groups of activists protested against the greed of the financial services sector which has ruined many economies, across the major financial centers in the world.  Occupy Dalal Street was also on the schedule, but the protest lasted for less than an hour when the 40 odd protesters were bundled off to preventive custody!  Typical of Mumbai, nobody could care less.  The looming crisis in Europe has caused discontent among its citizens as well.  People across the various countries comprising the European Union protested, either against the imposed austerity measures or against the funding of weaker countries in the union.  

However, the one common thread across all of this has been uncertainty.  The situation in Europe is still very uncertain, so is the case with the India Against Corruption and its movement for the Lokpal Bill.  Some of the Arab countries which were 'liberated' from the clutches of the various dictators, are still grappling with the problem of finding viable alternatives.  This sense of uncertainty will, I think, be the biggest challenge for the new year.  Clearly, the year 2012 is going to be a difficult one for the world, with the financial crisis and slowdown showing no signs improvement.  Political stress across the world can only contribute to it and make it worse.  Did somebody say that the world is coming to an end in 2012 as well?

Personally, it is time again for me to review my resolutions and goals which I set for myself at the beginning of the last year.  With that objective, I did go through my post on this blog on the first day of 2011.  Having read through it, I find that, all that I have listed there, are still valid resolutions and goals.  Not that I haven't achieved any of them.  I feel that I have made significant progress on most of them, however, I realize that I could do more.  Also, I am ending the year with a tick in the box for something that I have always wanted to do...a road trip to Ahmedabad from Mumbai!  I loved the 8 hour drive and am gearing up for the drive back tomorrow.

So, there you resolutions for the coming year are not very different from those that I made at the beginning of the last year.  Which was the case last year as well!  After all isn't this blog all about the sense of Deja Vu?!

Finally, I wish you and your loved ones a happy, healthy and prosperous 2012.  For those of you who plan to party hard tonight to ring in the new year, please do so responsibly and have a great time!

Take care!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Day 361-2011 : Why This Kolaveri Di?

Precisely my point u ....why?  

Why the kolaveri over u Kolaveri?  The song u which comes across as a spontaneous, casual and  a light-hearted recording u of some u silly Tanglish (Tamil & English) lyrics u over a lazy afternoon, has now become not only a national u, but an international u sensation u!  There are at least u ten versions u of the song u in various other Indian u languages.  I have also seen the Japanese do aerobics u to the Kolaveri beats u, there is an English R & B version u, there is a Bhangra Pop version u and God knows u how many more u!?!?  Last u heard u, Sony, the music label that owns the music rights u, was planning to get some  u official remixes out soon u!

So, what works for this song u?  First and foremost u, the power u of viral marketing u by leveraging the social u media!  It has won u the YouTube u Gold award u, with more than 27 million hits u for the video and counting u.  Various versions of the song u have been 'shared' u on Facebook u by about 7.5 million people.  All of these facts u show us the might of the social u media and what can be achieved if it is used u cleverly.  Within a few days u of its launch u, the song u became an internet u sensation and was perhaps u the only Tamil song u that I have heard u on FM stations u in Mumbai.  It has been featured u  on news channels u and music stations u across the globe!  All of this u, even before the music album u of the film was 'officially' released u....and, this is the best u part, at zero marketing spend u!  Do I see case studies u being made at the IIMs?

Secondly, the product itself u is good.  The 'kuuthu' beats u work u wonderfully well u with the silly Tanglish lyrics u that Dhanush himself has penned u.  Kuuthu music in Tamil films u, can almost always be banked upon u to deliver a catchy number u, this one has just found u resonance worldwide u.  The silly lyrics u, as Dhanush himself calls them, works u for the audience u, notwithstanding Javed Akhtar's u views u on them!  I saw the video after a couple of days u of its release u on social media, when someone shared u it on one of the groups u that I am a member of, on Facebook u.  I liked u it instantly!  I couldn't help but u share it on my wall u.  To me what sounds good u is good enough.  The almost casual atmosphere u seen in the video of the song recording u, suits itself u perfectly well to be marketed u through the 'casualness' u of social media.  The colloquial Tanglish u with a distinct accent u is a good do as well.  It appears u that Dhanush, Aniruddha u, Aishwarya and Shruti were having u a lot of fun making u the song u.  And, of course u, the wide toothed u innocence of Dhanush's smile works u with the girls u!

Last u, but not the least u, as most of his fans u would have worked u it out by now u, the song u works because it has  Rajini connect u!  It is also rumoured u that the superstar u is going to feature u in a special appearance u for this song u in the movie.  

Looks like Rajinikanth knows u why this kolaveri di!  Should I be surprised u?

Please take care u!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Day 340-2011 : Coming soon...Eurogeddon?

It has been on the slow boil for some time and there is every possibility now, that it might just boil over.  The failure of the politicians in Europe combined with the toothless actions of the European Central Bank has ensured that we are probably very close to witnessing the death of the unified currency, Euro.  There are however many who still believe that it is simply inconceivable that the Euro might break up, mostly politicians and their side-kicks.  Must I remind that the sovereign debt crisis which is at the root of this existential question for the Euro, has already resulted in a few governments being evicted.  It is certainly time to seriously take a look at what went wrong and what are the options now. 

What went wrong?

One size cannot fit all.  One currency with 17 different economies, the fundamentals of every economy being different due to the unique mix of resources that they have.  The fiscal and the monetary policies, which drive the management of these resources towards continuous growth and development also did not have any commonality even after the single currency came into effect at the turn of the century.  The stronger core countries like Germany and France used the compromised parameters of the new currency to push their exports contributing to actual GDP growth.  The other peripherals, namely Greece, Ireland, Spain, etc. bungled fiscally under the false impression of a strong currency and overspent to put themselves on the same growth path as others in the union.  The result:  Huge globs of sovereign debt, which these countries are finding increasingly difficult to service.  The expectation is that the stronger (and richer) countries help pay off the debt of the weaker ones.  However, the baker in Frankfurt will now ask his government as to why should he pay for the sins of his 'European' colleague in Athens.  At least the governments of the stronger countries fear so.  Quite justifiably so.

What are the options?

Businesses world-wide are already making contingency plans and running stress tests on the various possible scenarios.  So what are the options?  There are numerous permutations possible, however, broadly, there are three:

1) A Partial Breakup:  It is widely speculated that this is the most likely scenario which might play out.  The withdrawal or expulsion of the peripheral, weaker countries like Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain from the unified currency.  For the stronger countries and the advocates of the continued unified currency, this might be their best option.  It will however have severe consequences.  The change will have to be controlled, failing which this can snowball into a free for all.  The weaker countries do not have a choice.  They will have to implement severely restrictive austerity measures if they have to continue in the union.  They will also have to brace for a severe devaluation of their new currency if they pull-out of the union.  It is a choice between the devil and the deep sea.  There is the probability of returning to long term sustainable growth, however, to get there these countries will have to make innumerable sacrifices and prepare for the worst, including a run on the entire banking system of the country.

2) Full Euro Breakup:  The full blow-up could have major consequences across the globe.  It is very obvious that any exposure (by means of a financial or non-financial contract) to the Euro will mean instant impact.  The failure of one of the major currencies in the financial markets most certainly will have a domino effect on all asset classes.  EU is a major export market for the US as well as many emerging Asian economies like India, Thailand and China.  The denomination of the Euro into 17 different new currencies will bring with it the currency risk of severe devaluation / revaluation.  This is apart from the logistical challenge of creating (printing, valuing & distributing) a new currency overnight; remember, the member countries had almost a decade to plan for the common unified currency.  Clearly, this is the worst case scenario, and it will take down more than the European Union countries with it.  Major economies across the world will feel the pinch and may even be driven into a prolonged recession.

3) Do Nothing; Maintain Status Quo:  This is what has happened till date.  We are living this scenario right now, thanks to the prolonged procrastination of the leaders of the European countries.  However, this scenario is clearly not sustainable.  The idea of robbing Paul to pay Peter is not sound economics.

Whatever be the outcome of the unique situation that the world finds itself in today, there will be plenty to learn from Europe's expensive experiment with a unified currency.  The Afro....and the Asio (?!?), beware!

Take care!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Day 324-2011 : Shame on you, Mumbai!

On 20 October 2011 Keenan Santos, Reuben Fernandes and a group of their friends, who were standing outside Amboli Kitchen and Bar, at Andheri in Mumbai, were assaulted by a mob. The assault was in retaliation to an altercation between Reuben & Keenan’s friends and a member of the mob, who was drunk and had fallen over one of the girls in the group, earlier. In the fight that followed, Keenan Santos was killed and Reuben Fernandes succumbed to his injuries 13 days later at a hospital in Mumbai.

Sounds like an everyday event in a metro like Mumbai?  Maybe, but it raises several important questions about the cultural ethos and the moral fabric of the city.  This is a story of how these two bravehearts stood up against the anti-social elements, to fight injustice and for what was right.  Something that all of us have been taught since our school days, by teachers and parents alike.  This is also a story of a violent attack happening on a busy street of Mumbai, where nobody remembered those morals and values.  No one on the bustling street came forward to help the victims, in spite of the girls screaming for help.  There was a crowd of bystanders watching what was going on but not a single soul from the crowd had the courage to help the victims. 

Much has been said in the past about the much celebrated 'spirit' of Mumbai during various crises such as the flash floods and terror attacks. Where was this 'spirit' of Mumbai when this incident happened? I am sure this was an incident which could have been controlled by such ordinary citizens at that moment, if they had the courage to do so, unlike the floods and the terror attacks. The fact is, there is no such 'spirit'! The fact is that we are all scared. The fact is that the repeated blows to the cultural ethos of the city due to terror attacks and riots have made us all insensitive. Insensitive to anything other than what concerns us. We go about our lives quietly, not interfering in other people's affairs.  Do we have the courage to stop it? Next time, if you see a girl being harassed, will we have the courage to act?

Much has also been said in the past about how Mumbai is such a safe place for women and how it is different from say, Delhi. Such a claim, frankly, sounds very hollow to me. When a crowd of people could not stop a bunch of eve-teasers on a busy street in the city that never sleeps, how safe is it?   I have repeatedly written about how Mumbai has changed in the last decade for the worse in my posts on this blog and this is just another reminder of the continuing degradation.  But the fact is, this could have happened anywhere in the country and Mumbai is no different from any of them. Not any more. 

Another interesting fact in the story is that the girls with the victims did try to contact the police using the 100 number, while the boys were fighting off the goons.  It is alleged that the call was on 'waiting' and it would take 20 minutes before it could be attended to.  Did the police and its delayed response mechanisms contribute to the death of the two men?

This case has been taken up by the media with great gusto, helping the families and friends of the victims to get justice.  The accused have been arrested.  But the question remains.  Will Keenan & Reuben get justice?  Only the other day, one heard that Manu Sharma, the convict in the Jessica Lal case has been granted a 5 day parole!  What kind of justice is this?

The campaign to support the cause of delivering justice to Keenan & Reuben implores Mumbai to 'wake up'.  Will Mumbai wake up?

Take care.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Day 309-2011 : iPad...or just a fad?!?!

Finally!  After many months of thinking about it, many months of talking to Apple devotees and weighing the pros and cons of owning an Apple product and finally, as a tribute to the designing genius of Steve Jobs, I am now the proud (?!?!) owner of an iPad2!   Staying true to the ultra conservatism of a 'madraasi maama', I went in for the basic '16GB Wi-Fi only' model.   Bought at the spur of a moment (the multi-month deliberations did not help me reach a conclusion), as all my technology buys have been in the past, the iPad, in my first week of ownership, gets a 3 star (***) rating.  Apple aficionados might kill me for saying so, but I am hoping I shall get the benefit of doubt as I am still getting up to speed with it.  This happens to be my first post using my new toy, so people, you will have to excuse me for any grammatical or formatting errors.

First impressions first.   The moment I held the tablet in my hands for the first time, I knew that I am going to love this gadget.   It just felt so light and comfortable holding it.   Getting started is nice and easy, once you know what to do!  Slightly different and cumbersome compared to getting started on a new PC. However, the great thing about iPad is that it is shipped with a fully charged battery!  This was so helpful because the product was shipped to me from the U.S. by my cousin. It took me a few days to procure a multiple-pin adaptor to be able charge the device.  The size of the screen and even more importantly, the inbuilt keyboard do take some getting used to.  The user interface is slick and creates the impression that one is using a product designed with the user and a high benchmark of quality in mind.

Once you are up and running, the next challenge is to figure out how and why would this gadget be useful?   For someone who uses a PC to do no more than the three basic tasks of checking emails, accessing social networking sites and posting blog messages, it is very difficult to figure what more value could this device add.  Mobility?  Yes!   However, I will now have to get my Wi-Fi router placed in a more strategic position to be able to use it everywhere in the house. Just more work to adapt to the new gadget.   This is not done yet, so the mobility of this 'new kid off the block' is restricted to my study as of now.

I also learnt in some of the conversations that I had with existing owners, that the lure of iPhone and iPad is due to the millions of 'apps' that can be downloaded to the device for various useful purposes, including 'loner' entertainment!   Apart from the mandatory social networking apps, I have only been able to reach as far as a dumb 'Drag Racing' game and a 'Parrot' which flaps it's wings whenever I tilt the iPad in any direction. I think it also tries to curse me but, it isn't very clear to me what the content of it might be!  Also, I have still not figured out the methodology to uninstall an app if I do not like it.  In the due course of time, I am sure I shall be able to discover many more (free) apps which will add value to my digital existence.  But till then, I will have to use the trial and error method to get to the apps which I might find useful.  I have prodded existing users who were drooling about the gadget and its uses, to help me get up to speed quicker on it.  Unsolicited feedback on this topic is quite welcome as well! 

This is as far as I could get to in the first week, at the end of which, I am left hoping that the iPad does not turn out to be just a fad!

Take care.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Day 302-2011 : Gym Time!

The alarm on my mobile phone rings at 6.00 AM. I open my eyes immediately and manhandle my phone in my attempt to press a button...any button!  Usually it is the 'snooze' button which gets preference and the cycle repeats itself in another 5 minutes.  I have to be careful not to push it, as the lady of the house, is in deep slumber, along with the cubs, and the incessant ringing of the alarm bell might bring her to life!  If that happens, meri to khair nahi...

The idea of the entire exercise above is...well....exercise!  The goal is to be able to reach the gymnasium, which involves a torturous 300 metres walk, by 6.30 AM.  The first thought that comes to my head is, 'Is it Thursday today?', as the gym is closed every Thursday.  The next question that I ask myself is, 'Does any part of my body hurt?  Ankles, back, etc., etc.?'  If so, I surely do not want to aggravate any of it.  That done, I quietly try to find out, if by any chance, the boys are awake.  If so, I can engage them rather than go to the gym! Once I get through this elaborate validation exercise and find no excuse for not going to the gym, I pack my gym bag and walk those 300 metres to the gym.  Getting to the gym is definitely the most difficult part of my exercise regimen, each morning!

I am now a regular at the gym, the regularity gradually increasing over the last few years.  But this year, I have spent the most time in the gym compared to any of the previous ones.  It probably also has to do with the fact that the place is more than a gym, it is a club.  It houses a fully equipped gym, a swimming pool, a steam and a sauna room, a badminton court, a billiards table, a table-tennis table and other assorted board games, including carrom!  This is the Raheja Vihar Club House, where I spend an hour, 5 days a week.  The 6th day, Sunday, is an extended session of 2 hours.
Back to the morning routine.  It is quite interesting, the fact that, throughout my walk to the gym, my workout at the gym and the walk back, I almost always end up seeing the same faces!  On the roads, it is the female group who gossip more than they walk, the uncle group whose discussions range from national politics to....society politics, the young couples who seem to enjoy the company more than the walk, the serious runners preparing for the upcoming marathon with all kinds of jazzy gadgets strapped on, the teenager who seems to be barely awake (probably pushed out of the bed by his parents to go and get some exercise) and the pot-bellied uncle who is always on the mobile phone while he walks!  In the gym, again, the same faces each day.  The frustrated, but narcissistic actor who has a larger ego than his biceps, a middle aged uncle who watches the gym equipment more than using it, a young lady who does the most strenuous routines, the other lady who keeps looking if someone is looking at her, the badminton pro who plays with the men on the court everyday and beats them and a sincere Sardarji who has lost probably more than 10 kgs since I started seeing him in the gym.  It looks like we are all a slave to habits and routines.

My routine is a modest one, the aim being to burn 300 calories in 60 minutes.  The routine includes 18 minutes on the treadmill with the speed changing incrementally every 2.5 minutes, another 17 - 18 minutes on the elliptical / normal cycle with incremental levels of difficulty and 24-25 minutes of stretches and weights.  I tend to change the routine some days and replace the gym workout with 25 laps in the pool.  The result till date: About 4 kgs and one waist size lost in the last 3 months, not bad I would say. 

Problem is, my BMI says I am still 'slightly overweight' and all that has been lost can be back in no time if I lower my guard!  But, I am more than determined not to do so!

This is a battle of will....and it has to be won!

Take care.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Day 301-2011 : Life is like that...

It has been a while since I posted something on this blog.  A month and three days to be precise...

A lot has happened in these 33 days.  When I published my last post, I was looking forward to celebrating my 37th birthday, which was 5 days hence.  I had already decided that the happenings of the day would make a good copy for my next post.  However, life has this peculiar knack of deciding its own course and things do not necessarily pan out like one intends them to. 

In the last one month, so many things have happened.  The economic crisis in Europe has only worsened while Sarkozy now has a daughter from Bruni. Sonia Gandhi is back in the thick of politics after her surgery, probably accelerated even more by the dismal performance of her party in the recent by-elections.  The silken voice of Jagjit Singh has been silenced by fate, sparking a brisk sale of his albums across music stores in the country.  The designing genius of Steve Jobs is no more, just a few days before I am about to own an Apple product for the first time in my life.  The eccentricity of Gaddafi's character has been lost to the global policing of the Americans.  Mumbai Indians have won the Champions League, without anyone from Mumbai actually playing in the eleven, India have paid back England in the ODI series in India and the festive spirit has set in and is in full flow since Navratri and Dussera, followed up by Diwali a couple of days ago.  Also in the meantime, I have subjected myself to the Annual Health Check, prompting me to be at the gym more often and a cricket team has been formed with work colleagues.  I have also been able to visit a couple of friends' places, fulfilling longstanding promises, have picked up a book to read after a break of a couple of months, finished reading it within a week and bought a few more.  But perhaps the most profound happening in these last few days has been my visit to a crematorium for the first time in my life! 

as though no one is watching you,

as though you have never been hurt before,

as though no one can hear you,

as though heaven is on earth.

- souza 

It is not that I haven't had the time to file a post since the last one; I have just not been able to write.  Call it a 'writer's block' or something else, I just haven't been able to write, in spite of some of the regular readers of this blog prodding me for the next post.  Someone mentioned that it is probably due to a philosophical concept called Smashana Vairagya, which, when it hits you, reveals the impermanence and insignificance of life very clearly!  Probably.  I did realise that day, on the eve of my own birthday, when the body was being cremated, that there will not be another opportunity to say goodbye.  Strangely, it took some time for that feeling to sink in.  I have been told that one gets over the feeling once he gets out of the crematorium and gets going with the duties of this material life.  I however think that, maybe it might be useful to carry little bit of that realisation to our day-to-day lives.  Nothing is permanent in its physical form and nothing is too significant ultimately. 

We might then probably take life a little less seriously.  We might then live life to its fullest!

Take care.