Thursday, August 17, 2017

The WCCG 30 day challenge


On August 17, 2017 I took up a challenge by the Chennai Cyclists, Annanagar Chapter. I took up the challenge because I was desperate to get out of my extended spell of lethargy and do something about my shape which had started resembling a menhir of Obelix. The challenge was quite simple – a physical activity from walking, running, cycling, yoga, core workouts for a minimum of 30 minutes for 30 consecutive days.

Today after Day 17 when I am sitting nursing a blistered feet after a brisk 3km walk after 9 pm I looked back at what I have rediscovered after a long time:
-          You become disciplined: this is by far the first step to any fitness regimen. Self- discipline is the start of many good things that follows. It takes discipline to set a routine and stick at it
-          You become aware of yourself: you are now aware of your heart beat, your breathing patterns and you discover yourself. You realize what a miracle it is to simply breathe
-          You become responsible with your food: once you start a fitness routine you become responsible for all that you eat and all that you do not eat anymore.
-          You start to feel one with nature: you hear the sound of the birds, the cool breeze, the drizzle, things that you usually ignore
-          You enjoy your aches and pains: Instead of a painkiller that you usually pop in for a small head ache, you revel in the aches and pains from muscles that your barely knew existed, because you know that you are a little better than yesterday
-          You feel incomplete when you miss your work out: you find out that the day is not complete because you miss that adrenaline that kicks in each time you pushed yourself for the next step and the high at the end of it all
-          You realize that time and distance are incidental: despite all the physics lessons of years ago, after you get into a fitness routine both time and distance become incidental
-          You realize that the journey is more important than the destination: initially you may worry about small targets like weight loss, speed, mileage etc but after some time you delight in the process where all these are incidental
-          You realize that life is worth living: does it need to be explained?

Wish we luck for the next 12 days.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Tale of a shark and trolls



If you missed out the trolling of a journalist by fans of actor Vijay simply because she commented that she did not  like a film made over 7 years ago, then take my word, you are better off not watching any more of actor Vijay’s movies.

The movie in question Suraa (meaning shark) is abysmal and the general consensus among people I know is that that it is so bad that watching it will give those without a migraine one and those who have migraine the agony of watching it relief from their migraine.

What makes a terrible movie? Many things but this movie will be on the heap of other similar movies made by movie makers who wanted simply to milk the star value of the actor. Another movie from back then called Pudhiya Geethai also would give similar migraine effects to those brave enough to watch it, but for now let me say that there are movies and there are bad movies and every actor has his share of bad movies and it is part of their professional life.

Suraa had everything going right and therefore it went wrong. The basic premise of a do good fisher man has been tried and tested by many but I guess in the popularity stakes it will be won by MGR hands down. Coming back to the ingredients:
-         A super hero who does everything right without a cape and the fisherman’s garb is incidental
-         A villain who does everything wrong and will get his butt kicked in the end
-         The dumb blonde heroine, ok that is going too far, we do not have blondes here, so the dumb blondesque heroine whose antics made you wonder how she ever signed on to this parody
-         The one line of a story which got lost in the middle some where
-         The obese comedian who still gets repeat play on the comedy channels for his lame jokes and toilet humour
Everything above are caricatures, while it is acceptable in the typical masala movies how do you manage grotesque caricatures after a few minutes? How much can you suspend disbelief? There should be a tipping point somewhere and this movie was it.  

To see a troll army hounding a journalist who makes a personal opinion with abuse is pathetic. These hero worshippers are nothing more than parasites that are living off their frustrations in the exploits of their celluloid hero and when their bubble gets pierced by someone who is grounded they vent vitriol. It is these misogynist failures who do not understand what it is to respect women forgetting that they will not exist if it were not for the women in their lives. These clowns believe that stalking a woman because their hero got a dumb blonde will land them dumb blondes forgetting that the joke is on them.

If these trolls are encouraged by the silence of their star, then the star has lost a fan of his better movies. Yes he has a good body of work among the trash.

To the trolls, keep trolling, as your hero said this world is a circle. “What goes around, comes around”


Friday, August 04, 2017

Write...


Recently I wrote a letter. No, it was not the official respected sir type, this was the simple humble dear type. You may remember before we started using WhatsApp, emails and social media to interact there was the option of writing to one another.

Uncharitably called snail mail today the simple act of writing and posting letters is something many will never do. There is some magic in writing letters and words may not be enough to explain it. I had pen pals in school and they included some from overseas too. We kept in touch with a letter every fortnight or month and these letters kept us closer than the social media of today where despite knowing much we still did not know enough to reach out to the other.

Those were the days when the unopened letters brought about a lot of excitement and expectation when they were received. Once read and usually savoured then starts the task of replying to the letter, a good habit that is rapidly on the decline. In this age of instant messaging, people have stopped acknowledging the messages because they receive too many. Every development in communication seems to have kept people at a distance.

When ecards replaced the conventional cards many sent cards but today greeting cards both offline and online have become a rarity. I remember many pleasurable hours spent in Archie’s and Landmark spending time to select the best card for the occasion. Each card was selected that they spoke to the receiver as if it was said by the sender and I miss those days. Emails replaced snail mails and though earlier we did use Hotmail (now dead), Yahoomail etc till the gorilla Gmail took over and changed the way we communicate.

I miss the yahoo messenger of old with its cute emoticons which spiced up many a chat room and personal chats. The line “Aiyo unoda intelligence paathu kannu koosudhu!” was a gem among many others. I miss reaching out to people and genuinely sharing with each other by mere words when pictures did not take up so much of our communication. Yes we had our photographs but they were few and far in between and so did not become so ignorable as today. A picture may speak a thousand words but that is for the verbally and mentally challenged, the combination of words and the human imagination is a far better combination and can spark more than a thousand words.

So what are the benefits of writing letters?
In no particular order:
-          A letter is a physical thing, it is something tangible that can be seen, felt by everyone and it works even without power
-          A letter connects people both the writer and the reader in a way that an email cannot
-          A letter calls for effort on the part of the sender, good hand writing is essential so that the other understands
-          A handwritten letter that has no corrections  is the effect of a clear mind that has already drafted it before the pen hit the paper
-          A letter requires patience, diligence, neatness, clarity of thought, eloquence, brevity and so much more to convey the right message to the receiver
-          A good letter becomes a part of history and gets preserved for the future generations
-          A letter usually elicits a reply and the circle continues which brings the two persons closer
-          A letter is usually a part of the person who sends it and can become a part of the one who reads it
-          Writing letters was the first step of people in the media industry including authors
-          An open letter carefully planned and executed makes celebrities of even wannabes
-           A letter is usually an act of love

Try writing, it may make a difference to you and the person you write to.



Images courtesy: Google Images

P.S. I have posted the letter now waiting for a reply, excited. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

It takes bravery...



There are brave people and there are brave people.It takes a particular kind of bravery to be called truly brave.

It takes one kind of bravery to eve tease, rape, kill, plunder, lynch and destroy because one is in the company of many other similar brave persons

It takes one kind of bravery to come into public life and hide from the same public behind several layers of security men

It takes one kind of bravery to deprive the right of others because of the family background and positions held

It takes one kind of bravery to do what is wrong because of the web of deceit and lies that has been spun by some for their ulterior motives

It takes one kind of bravery to trample on those below oneself because of the person’s baggage of unearned but inherited privileges

It takes one kind of bravery to turn a blind eye to all the wrongs that go on in one’s presence

It takes one kind of bravery to stand up for what is right despite the world disagreeing

It takes one kind of bravery to look in the eyes of the other person and own up for a mistake that was done

It takes one kind of bravery to do acts of reparation for those who have been wronged

It takes one kind of bravery to stand for those who have been wronged even if means that the person will become an outcast

It takes one kind of bravery to follow the hard, long and right way when others laughingly take the short cut

It takes one kind of bravery to walk that extra mile for another despite knowing the personal costs

It takes one kind of bravery to listen to one’s conscience

It takes one kind of bravery to be true to oneself

It takes one kind of bravery to be a good human being


It takes bravery, the kind is up to you. 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Po poi velaya paaru...


Silly Hindians, not knowing & not using are 2 different things. You don't know that many here know Hindi, you only know that we choose not to use Hindi, because it's our choice. Frankly it’s none of your business, what we wear or eat or speak.

There is a lot of Hindi everywhere in Tamilnadu and often many are forced to use Hindi to communicate to the staff. If you observe closely there are many non native workers in Tamilnadu in the service industry. While many other states may have a welcoming attitude to people from other states who take up local jobs Tamilnadu has always welcomed them. Chennai or Madras has always been vaazha vaikkum Chennai, meaning it gives room for people to earn their bread in their chosen field. We still have Chinese dentists (the last few sadly) who don’t speak Mandarin here but Tamil to their patients in their clinics near Flower bazaar, Chennai. The supervisors of many service industries from shops, security service to hotels give instructions in Hindi to save them learning hundred other languages (yes we do have so many languages in our country, not everyone speaks Hindi).

The infamous auto man speaks Hindi when he wants a ride, the flower seller speaks Hindi when she wants to make a sale. They may have learnt it from TV or conversations, some even go to Hindi Prachar Sabha for the famed classes but it is a matter of choice. You “educated” outsider have no business asking people to change their choices because you are linguistically challenged and restricted to one language. If you came here on tourism, follow the local language and culture, take Google translate, get an interpreter but stop your whining. If you are here on work, learn Tamil quickly and earn your bread. Remember you are en economic immigrant who has come to a land of plenty from a land of none, if your land was better than stay put there. We are happy without you.

What annoys us most is the ignorance you exhibit by doing silly things as calling an official language as a national language, walking out of a music show by a Tamilian composer because he played some Tamil songs. When we hear the Bollywood version of some of the special songs by the Mozart of Madras we have a knowing smile; because we know how much better they sound in the original where the words spoke to our hearts.

With the highest number of tourists in the country who come primarily to soak in the art, architecture, history and culture of our land we have something worth holding on to. We do not care for your silly ideas and idiotic justification which equates knowing a language to patriotism. Yes there is a big difference between patriotism and what you think is patriotism. We are Tamil and Indian. Yes we are a part of this nation and Tamils existed long before our nation too birth 70 years ago. We will forgive this lack of knowledge on your part too. Our simple advice to you is:

Po, poi velaya paaru.


(Look up Google translate, I am not interested in translating it for you)



Images courtesy: Tamil memes / Google Images

Monday, July 10, 2017

I came, I saw and I wrote



Romeo & Juliet, the classic tragedy by Shakespeare, reimagined and adapted to the music of AR Rahman, presented by a Dance Company. The show was produced by an actress / dancer with a film back ground that should ensure good production values in addition to good media coverage. The sum of it all seemed to be a Sunday evening well spent when I bought the tickets for yesterday’s performance.

The show started half an hour late which was a good thing considering the parking challenges and the traffic, the sparse crowd in the balcony also gave us a choice of seats in the free seating Music Academy.  The opening credits started with the National Award winning “Chinna Chinna Aasai” that made me feel warm inside and look forward to the evening ahead.

The stage had very basic props with one gazebo hardly being used and seemed to be taking up unnecessary space, the famous Juliet’s Balcony however on the other end of the stage was used more and despite the lack of height it served its purpose. The backdrop as with many other plays these days was a screen with digital images and some were quite beautiful to see. At that moment you will be amazed at the skills of the stage designers of old who manually painted and built backdrops that had to be changed by hand instead of a simple click of a button. The screen itself had a minor issue there was a protrusion that made the images disjointed and was a little disconcerting at the start.

The musical / dance / drama started with me on a high and then it started unraveling bit by bit. The positives of great music and some good dances were slowly getting obscured by what happened in between. The language used was an odd mix of Tamil, a little Malayalam, Hindi, English and some Shakespearean English. Now it if fairly obvious that this is a deadly mix if not handled well and can back fire badly as it did last night. The fictional town of Alamara I am guessing has been set in Kanyakumari or nearby by the use of Tamil and Malayalam however the mix did not work well as it may have been conceived. The sound, especially the mikes of some of the performers were weak and I lost quite a few lines because somehow there was no improvement in the same despite a good sound team on the spot.

The dances while good in insolation somehow stood out as stand-alone set pieces rather than part of a congruent whole (remembered Shankar movies). The same dances also served as a distraction with the few side acts that happened at different parts of the stage during the dances where small touches were easily missed. (The brilliant AR Rahman songs after awhile seemed to have been inadequately used as while brilliant as individual songs to aid the narrative could have been better used by mixing up / mashing up medleys which would have also conveyed the messages better but that is my personal opinion.)

The costumes were good and despite the short changeover times the performers managed to go about the scene changes quickly. The acting was passable at best except for one or two performers. (Yohan Chacko stood out with his voice modulation; however his character sketching made me scratch my head, since he seemed to have a different character every time he came on stage.) Since many of the cast were dancers it was not entirely unexpected and can be overlooked.

The writing deserves special mention, how can you take a classic and yet get challenged? Two lines stood out, I am reproducing the gist of both:
“You came, you saw, I spat!” (made me cringe, despite its origins)
“It is a church despite being within 500 metres of a state highway” (made the audience crack up)
The latter line alone served to show how much this performance could have been memorable had the writing being better.   The writing was poor and quite a disservice to the classic despite the good intentions. No matter how noble it may seem Tanglish to the Bard’s English cannot seamlessly flow unless a lot of work is done to make the transition smooth. Towards the climax a few including me could not wait for Romeo to kill himself. Unfortunately I did not stay back for the final credits after the cast and crew took their bows as it was a late night but I left with a longing for what could have been, if only the writers had stretched themselves out of their comfort zones.


I looked for a Shakespeare meets Crazy Mohan but ended up with Loose Mohan. 

Friday, April 07, 2017

A rambling random post inspired by traffic

Body language is such a crucial part of communication which is often ignored or not given its rightful due. This post is about few body language signals that are seen on the roads of the city and their interpretations, for easy understanding some common examples are also given.

The “my way or the high way type”: This is when you see a motorist who decides to cut in irrespective of the traffic lights, vehicles, lanes etc. This is exhibited by a simple nod of the head with an Up Down motion. You are free to interpret as you please but the common interpretation is “I am coming in and you can do what you please”. This behaviour can be understood by remembering the VIPs in their beacon lit cars and escort vehicles who just care for nothing more than their “right of passage”.

The “I see you but I don’t” type: This typical behaviour is when a motorist blatantly rides on the wrong side whether it is a 2-wheeler or 3-wheeler or a 4-wheeler is inconsequential. These people have slightly weaker balls (more on this in the next behaviour) and so they do not want to see you in the eye, so you will see them looking everywhere else but straight ahead more often than not looking at some point high above on their left or right. They know they are wrong but hey, they didn’t see you see them so they have the right to get away. This behaviour can be understood by remembering the now Hat wearing politicos who know that they have messed up but will not own up to it but want their way in.

The “I see you, yes I see you, do you know who is my father…” type: Remember the weak balls, this type of behaviour is exhibited by those who have somewhat iron clad balls, nothing fazes them. They will be on the wrong side of the road but they will stare at you defiantly often cowering the other side into submission, because of the baggage they carry: A beacon, security guards or goons and other paraphernalia. This type of behaviour is understood by the 25 times slipper beating politicos of the world whose egos do not permit them to acknowledge that they are in the wrong and because they have the baggage they can get away with it. These people often have the habit of getting their paternity origins confirmed from some rank outsiders because they tend to forget it.

The “I am the boss” type: This is the behaviour where a show of a hand like the symbol of a political party is enough to through the entire traffic into a tizzy on most roads. You will encounter this when someone suddenly decides that the signs above, the stars are perfectly aligned and his auspicious time is right now for him to cross the road always on foot and puts up his hand and walks across the road. The parting of the Red Sea may have happened something like that all those years ago but minus the blaring horns, screeching tyres, cursing motorists etc. This type of behaviour is understood again when we remember the VVIPs who decide it is their right to lord over the people whom they have sworn to serve because they are having the V or the VV behind their descriptions. So the traffic makes way for them to reach their destinations.

The “weary grin” type: This type of behaviour is usually the behaviour of the vast majority who for want of a better option grin and bear when they encounter any or all of the above mentioned types on the road.  Often they get resigned to their fates by statements like:
“This is India!”
“What’s your problem?”
“Is this your grandfather’s road?”
“Do you know who I am?”
“A#$%^&, M!@#$%^&, B%^&*(), F!@@##$&*,W!@#$%$%^”

These are the type of people who often go by the term “common man”, the common man who makes the people above him important, who is part of the public whom the public servants are duty bound to serve, who pays the taxes directly or directly and thereby their salaries and yet grins and bears it.
So what type are you?





Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Life in colour


During a recent conversation I came upon the term “gender neutral colours”, wearing such colours is a safety aspect for women on the roads especially at dawn / dusk times when visibility is lower. So if you are wondering what would be a gender neutral and safe colour, I learned that white is a strong contender for the top spot.

Recently when I was in my daughter’s school waiting to pick up my daughter, I observed a long line of students walking to the gate led by their class teacher. Suddenly a parent near me turned and said that he was amazed to see more than 75% of the class carrying a pink school bag. I racked my brains to see if there were any other colour options in the store earlier.

We were picking up a gift for an infant at our regular baby item store when the shopkeeper showed us two gift boxes and appropriately colour coded for boy and girl separately. I do not want to mention the colours because by now it is a given that you will not mix them up.

I have a set of shirts that are from the pink colour family and ever since fashion experts came up with the term metrosexual (I still crack up over it) and what is appropriate dressing for metro sexual. The experts deemed that purple and pink are acceptable colours for these metrosexuals and so they are available in stores for men.

The other day we dressed up for a wedding, sometimes it just happens that we (the better half and I) end up colour coordinated and this time the colour we ended up was black. We looked good together but then to some relatives it seemed that we had come to grieve because we chose the unsuitable colour.

In the mornings if you were to see me, I will be unashamedly wearing a top in the shocking shade of a flouroscent green or even orange. I take great care to ensure that the colours are as bright as possible so that I may be visible for the errant motorist who suffers from blindness when he is one the road.

When I dress up for work it is usually black or blue because well you know work tends to do that to you…

What is your colour story?


Sunday, March 19, 2017

So you are a runner? Nice!


After a long hiatus and many excuses I have started taking baby steps into a renewed fitness journey.  There is no point in dwelling in the past when I lost weight and was fitter and etc. it is now time to look at the present and gradually in the future about where I want to be with regard to my fitness.

Most people take up sports like running or cycling or swimming separately or together when they hit middle age when either under threats from their doctors or close family members or a clear mirror they decide to huff and puff their way to a sleeker new version of themselves. While the intent is good, there are many grey areas that often get overlooked in these fitness journeys.

One of the first challenges is finding a good group to do these activities. Chennai has seen a rash of running, cycling, triathlon and other fitness groups and their growing memberships prove that more are seeking to get fit through a mob. Yes the mob mentality runs through these groups where mindless peer activism tends to lead people wrong. Every individual is unique and every ones fitness status is different therefore using a one size fits many schedule and plan may not always produce the best results.


Groups may not have the structure to allow a new comer to discover himself / herself gradually and then evolve step by step. The standard term is “How much?” Meaning how much are you doing today. 

For a new comer it may be acutely embarrassing to admit that their PB or personal best is probably half a kilometre at best.  A better option would be to simply say let US run and let us focus on the time we run rather than how much we run.
                                                       

Then there is this mysterious number called PB.  Mysterious because of the value people attach to it, you will find at least one in most groups who cannot stop himself from displaying his PB each time forgetting that it does not mean anything to the others. Worse sometimes this may cause fool hardy imitation by a rank newcomer at times leading to injuries since these displays are usually commended by a few others. A PB is personal best, meaning it is a personal number and ideally it should be personal. I wonder if people run just to post on Facebook for the likes.
                                  
     
 Injuries are a given for sports and prevention is better than cure. One way to prevent injuries is to avoid sports altogether the other way is to be careful. The best way to be careful is to carefully listen to one’s body. A mandatory requirement for most sports activities especially if the person is unhealthy is a clearance from the individual’s family physician, an annual Master Health Check-up after the age of 30 for every one can be a life saver. Many join up for such endurance sports with scant disregard for their current body conditions, these sports can be extremely stressful to the heart and therefore a stress test like a Treadmill will help alleviate any fears and also make the individual aware how much he can push himself. Life style diseases are on the rise and sports can be a killer rather than a panacea for the ills.

                                                                                                                                           

One more peer related issue and this has a connect to the PB is the accessory standards. Running or cycling clothes, shoes, the cycles and then the gadgets. 
GPS trackers, Heart Rate monitors, Fitbit bands the options are endless and sometimes it becomes a simple "Mine is better". The activity at times revolves around the gadgets and not the other way round.                            


   


Keeping it simple may not be a bad thing and the chances of a heart burn due to non syncing of a device after a grueling activity is less.





The final challenge in this fitness journey is in one knowing how much is too much for him.  This is another personal number and is best known by the individual or maybe his doctor.  Group activities can make this number become a variable quantity. The best fitness plans will factor in adequate rest and recovery however unless the individual is clear and committed to his personal plan these two crucial elements are often given the go by. Since most groups are heterogeneous and people come from different work styles fitness plans can never be standardised.

So should one give up all these? No. It all comes down to balance and knowing oneself. A fitness activity will lose its edge the day when the person no longer enjoys it so it may be a good thing to mix it up and vary the intensities. A game of badminton or Frisbee or even a walk may be the need of the day and the moment. The challenge therefore is to understand and act accordingly. Groups serve a limited purpose, they will make it fun, they will provide the buddy network, they will give the social cushion but optimum fitness is down to the individual. A buddy usually helps, so it may not be a bad think to work out with a buddy or more than one buddies but the challenges that one takes up every day are with oneself after all it is a personal milestone.


So get out start running or cycling or swimming or any other sport, it is fun, it is healthy and it is worth doing, just be responsible along the way.








P.S. In case you are wondering, i have completed a MHC last year and my next one is due in a few months. 

Images courtesy Google Images.


Friday, March 10, 2017

The three rings...


This is a picture of a gutter in a place called Annur near Coimbatore. This gutter brought back some strong memories and my eyes wandered to my ring finger.

You would have heard the joke about marriage being a three ring game:  Engagement Ring, Wedding Ring and Suffe Ring. This post is about the second one and it is written after 10 years of it being on my finger.  There are two pieces of jewellery that are constantly on me both have a connection to special women in my life. The first is a cross on a chain that is a gift from my mother and the second is the wedding ring. I seldom take off both however this post is about the times when the ring tried to get away!



Instance 1: This happened few years ago during a trip to Tuticorin. This was on a flight from Tuticorin after the inflight meal when the attendants were collecting the trash, the ring fell off into the trash bag. I did not notice and when I did I got frantic and called the air hostess. I asked to look into the trash bag but she asked me to wait then I saw her wear gloves and patiently sort out the entire trash bag, finally after she retrieved it she washed, dried and gave it to me with a smile. I know for sure that my Thank you will never be enough but I said a silent prayer for her as I left the flight.

Instance 2: This time I lost my ring in Tuticorin but at the hotel. Somehow I contrived to leave my ring among the bedcovers and realized it a few hours later. After much panic and retracing my steps I discovered it safe in the room

Instance 3: This takes me back to the gutter at the start of the story. As I got out of a car my finger got entangled on a string hanging near the car and as I attempted to pull free my ring slipped off my finger and fell into the gutter. My colleague who was with me found his cell phone light to be insufficient and bought a flashlight from a shop nearby. Then both of us started flashing the light and tried to spot the ring without much luck. Few bystanders and locals who noticed us asked us what was the issue when we told them that we lost a ring and they realized that it was worth a sovereign or so they started giving multiple ideas none of which seemed workable. Then two of them got into the gutter and literally poked around till they found it. They gave it me as my colleague found some water to wash it. I kept repeating thanks and thought of giving some money in gratitude, they just smiled, washed their hands and went away.

Instance 4: This time I lost it in a bus when my ring got struck in my bag and in the rush to pull it free the ring pulled free and disappeared. This time quite a few of my co passengers joined me on my knees looking for the ring. Soon it was found and it returned to its rightful place.

                            
By now you may be wondering why I keep losing my ring so often? I wondered too but in time I learnt:
-         That there are many good people around who help without any returns
-     No matter what happens marriages are forever and despite every set back it will come back to its rightful state that is togetherness.
-         Staying married is hard work and needs a lot of help.