Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Lose weight, ask me how

Some time ago I had posted about the 30 day WCCG challenge, I completed that challenge successfully and intended to take it for another 20 days so that I will have a milestone and some bragging rights but I ended up 4 days short for a grand total of 46 days.

While I am delighted that I exceeded the initial milestone I was a little disappointed on missing out the next one despite gamely holding on so far. The benefits of this activity were mentioned in the earlier post but I missed out the key reason for starting the challenge which I will share now.

As with all weight loss plans I decided the first step would be to visit various gyms and get their quotes before signing up for one. We were almost convinced by one gym when we decided to step into the next one which appeared to be almost deserted. Then I was mind blown when the person at the front desk gave me a quote of 350000 for 6 months, I will repeat the number in words so that you are not confused – Rupees Three Hundred and Fifty Thousand only for 90 days to be paid as a single installment. At the end of their personalized plan which be executed by a team of trained professionals, the victim er the customer will be fit enough to do 500 push ups and run a half marathon!

I have run 3 half marathons in around 3 hours in 2014 but I have never done 5 let alone do 500 pushups so while the offer was partly tempting my bank balance had the last laugh as I left the place. It was at that moment I decided to go back to what I could do for free and what I used to like doing and that is run, jog if you please. While my running will be slow even funny to others I run with the single minded intention of fat burn and burn 5 kilos I did in these last 45 days.

I feel lethargic if I do not run at the end of the day, I do not worry if I oversleep and roll it over for the next day but finish before turning in for the night. There were times when many road blocks happened but sheer will bordering on madness helped me complete the first 30 days and the next 16.

You will slowly start noticing few benefits: you tend to sleep better, often earlier than usual, you tend to eat better and the mind slowly starts to overlook junk food, you breathe better despite all the pollution thanks to the fresh air in the lungs, you feel fitter and slowly you start looking fitter, clothes start fitting better again, you develop a glow on your face and the list just goes on.

If you think you want to lose weight: just get up, lace your shoes and run. Some veterans including Milind Soman do it bare feet so it will not cost you a penny but will take some getting used to. You don’t have to run to prove anything to anyone but you, you don’t have to run races and set new personal milestones, you just need to know that beyond every grimace, every stretched muscle there is a smile at the end.

Note that only running will not lose enough weight but it is a great way to start the journey. And yes, I am open to references from members of good gyms with reasonable pricing plans for weight training and some fun company.

p.s. If you see anyone wearing that badge in the picture above, run away far away from them. They are from a MLM company trying to sell you a story that may not be 350000 but will still pinch you.

Image Courtesy: Google Images

Thursday, September 14, 2017

When three is not a crowd

Two is company, three is a crowd but not when you are the “crowd maker”. My walks in the Tower Park Annanagar have given me the chance to observe the many “crowd maker” who dot the park. If you are wondering who is a crowd maker (I made this up), it is that noble soul who offers his / her time and presence to make a couple not a couple.

You know with the moral police breathing behind your backs some private time for couples in public places are hard to come by worse if the fear of getting caught by a family member or a relative who will ensure that a little bit of hell is unleashed in the homes of those who get caught. So there you have these noble souls who make the supreme sacrifice of saving their friends with their presence and making a twosome more than that; No! I did not mean a threesome, you dirty minds.

How do you identify these crowd makers? Easy they look uncomfortable and bored sitting close but not close enough to hear but not hear the sweet nothings of the two nearby. They often hear everything but act as if they did not and hopefully they never use it to their own ends in not so good times. Mostly the crowd makers are women though there is the rare male with a heart of gold who is also found sitting busy with his phone trying to ignore the things around him.

I admire these kind souls who are making such sacrifices even today in this insular world where nobody cares for another. I often wonder what the perks of being a “crowd maker” can be:  I am guessing that brownie points from the friend, possibility of meeting a friend of the guy, free food, lot of free entertainment live, sometimes movie dates also happen in threes so more entertainment of the paid variety, lots of pointers for sweet nothings for future use could be some of the perks. I am sure that I must have missed out many because it is not so easy being a crowd maker.

So have you ever been a crowd maker for a friend?

P.S. I had been on a date along with a crowd maker, long ago. It was hilarious.   

Monday, September 04, 2017

Angels of mercy...

The Monday morning traffic at the signal was shaken out of its slumber by the wail of an ambulance. As the traffic made way for the ambulance I was reminded of the time when I last rode in an ambulance. It was in the last week of May this year when I rode in an ambulance when we were moving my dad from one hospital to another twice.  Despite the difficult time that I found myself in, I could not stop watching the drivers / support staff in the ambulance. These angels of mercy deserve a lot of our appreciation and our prayers for their roles which are seldom appreciated or thanked enough.

It may appear that those driving an ambulance operate from a position of strength; you know a blaring siren, traffic making way sometimes assisted by the traffic cops and most decent people leaving the way clear for the ambulance. Reality is otherwise, the ambulance drivers put their lives at stake each time they go out on the roads in the mission of saving the ones in their care. I was fascinated by the driving skills and the precision that comes from training on the roads, both the drivers I observed drove with inch perfect precision squeezing through impossible looking corners and never losing their composure despite the pressure they were operating under.

The first ambulance was from EMRI (108) the two young men who operated that ambulance multitasked between themselves, from moving the patient, first aid, moving the gurneys etc. Though they appeared to be a little rough in the way they handled patients they did not leave their posts despite the long hours and missed food when they were with us. The driver also gave a complete inventory of all the things at the site of the accident where they picked up my dad and also gave us small words of reassurance. At the end we gave them some money as is the custom but I am not sure if that and the words of thanks can ever be enough.

I managed to have a few words with the driver of the second ambulance which came from the Apollo Hospitals (1066). Compared to the EMRI hospitals this ambulance is a world apart. Though both the ambulances are built on the Force Traveller chassis the insides are as different as a government hospital and the Apollo. I was informed that the ambulance supports minor surgeries and is adequately kitted for the same. Every ambulance came with an attending doctor and their operating protocols were amazing to behold. They handled patients very gently and their kit was also superior. What seemed to be amiss among the professionalism was the apparent steel in the personnel which was removed from the warmth in the clumsiness of the other crew. The driver of the Apollo ambulance drove the vehicle like a limousine, it was so incredibly smooth and I do not recollect any bumps on the way. The training for these crews is quite extensive and they have regular assessment tests for the same.

The next time you hear an ambulance, make way for the same each time and every time, every passing minute could be life-saving. As the ambulance passes say a prayer for the patient in the ambulance and another prayer for the unsung warriors the lifesaving angels who put their lives on the line so that the ones in their care get well.

P.S. My dad passed away on June 1st from the injuries suffered from a fall off his scooter. He was sent to the hospital by an unknown good samaritan. After the fall he was under the care of the ambulance crew of 108 till the hospital doctors took over.  

Monday, August 21, 2017

A post about a song...

Micheal Madana Kama Rajan is probably one of the most under rated film ever. If you think that this is an exaggeration, pause this post, go and watch the movie on Youtube. You can come back to me with your opinion. The chances of you not having seen this gem is almost nil if:
-         You are fan of good comedy movies (&/)
-         You are a fan of Kamal Hassan (&/)
-         You are a fan of Kamal Hassan & Crazy Mohan movies
So now that you have seen the movie let me celebrate with you one of the most enjoyable songs of the movie, a song that tells you many stories in one, a song that will bring a smile to your face, a song that will make you remember the movie all over again.
You would have guessed the song already but before I proceed any further let me state a few disclaimers:
1.     I am not a big fan of Kamal Hassan, read on
2.     Point No 1 is because I always feel that he is over bearing with his prodigious talent and tends to overshadow everyone else in the scenes
3.     Kamal Hassan tends to over indulge himself in his movies again to his prodigious talent that sometimes it becomes a little nauseating
4.     Nobody does comedy better, sly comedy is unparalleled, overdosed as we are with slapstick our new generation comedians need to watch and learn from the master Kamal Hassan, be it body langiage or voice modulation. Kamal with Crazy Mohan is legend levels but the other movies seem to pale in comparison
So let us come to the song, Vechalum vekkama ponalum…What a brilliant song! The choreography and visualization of this song are simply amazing, the song by itself is a short movie and is immensely enjoyable. I will leave the musical description to the experts and the purists but what I will discuss is the visual and the effect on the viewers.
You will know from the disclaimers above that Kamal tends to overshadow others but here there is not one Kamal but 4, there are 4 roles played by him and yet they do not overshadow anyone, sometimes the hero and heroine merge into the back ground while the supporting actors take over.
The number of characters in the song is more than a handful and each of them get their moments in the limelight (from Wikipedia):
·         Kamal Haasan as Michael (petty criminal), Madhanagopal (businessman), Kameshwaran (wedding and special events cook) and Subramaniam Raju (firefighter).
·         R. N. Krishna Prasad as Venugopal, a rich businessman and father of the quadruplets who abandons them.
·         Jayabharathi as Sushila, wife of Venugopal.
·         Urvashi as Thiripurasundari . Thiripurasundari marries Kameshwaran.
·         (An incredibly cute)Kushboo as Shalini Shivaraman. Shalini is a painter who falls in love with Raju.
·         Venniradai Moorthy as Shivaraman. Shalini's father.
·         S. N. Lakshmi as Thiripurasundari's grandmother
·         Nagesh as Avinashi, Madhan's manager
·         Praveen Kumar as Bheem, Madhan's bodyguard
·         Santhana Bharathi as Michael's foster father
·          RS Sivaji

Each of the above characters get their moment and the main characters of the song Raju and Shalini gracefully fade out. The music is good but may not stand out as a typical Ilayaraja gem but what shines are the little quirks for the scenes that unfold including the use of percussion.

I will not explain the song because it has to be seen to be enjoyed but watch out for the different body languages exhibited by Kamal at times in the same shot, the little interludes by the supporting actors including RS Sivaji.

Yes, much has been said about the other songs in the movie but for me this is my personal favourite simply because it gives me the movie in its 4 and odd minutes.

Go ahead, watch and have a smile on your face.
Vocals: Malaysia Vasudevan, S Janaki
Lyrics: Vaali
Music: Ilayaraja
Director: Singeetham Srinivasa Rao
Sadly I could not track the choreographer online, but I would believe that Kamal and the director had a big role in the making of the song)

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


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.