Monday, October 30, 2017

Run but with care...

“How can you run 10 kms if you cannot walk 10kms?!” This incredulous question that had a tinge of anger came from a veteran runner and triathlete of Chennai. He was sad about the demise of his friend and veteran runner who passed away recently. He was visibly upset at the way people were taking up running without thinking about the side effects. Recounting parts of the discussion with him below:

If you are planning to run to become fit, lose weight or any other reason you must first start walking. Start by walking slowly then move to a brisk walk. A thumb rule is to be able to have a regular conversation with others during the brisk walk to understand the ideal desirable pace. If you are gasping too much then you should slow down.

After consistently walking for two weeks at least the next step will be walk run where you walk for 4 minutes then run for 1 minute,  gradually the walking will reduce and the running will increase till the ideal balance of running 4 minutes and walking the next minute is achieved after a period of atleast 3 months. Take it slow, there is no pressure to prove to anyone that you can run because you know that you can run and that is enough to motivate yourself. Increasing mileage and speed can cause injuries and / burnout. 

You can walk and run with a group but always look out for people of similar abilities and work with them. Avoid increasing the mileage rapidly or planning to run in events immediately. There are enough events organized these days that you will always have one when you are finally ready in body and mind to participate instead of just making up the numbers.

To Group leaders - Have separate plans for beginners; it is very dangerous for beginners to run with the regular experienced runners without any guidance. Pacers must accompany new runners and they should ensure that beginners gradually work their way in.

To beginners joining a group - Do not succumb to peer pressure and do what everyone else is doing or what is popular because it may not always be the right thing for you. You can plan for 3 days of run walking in a week with 1 day of only walking or some other workouts like cycling, swimming, strength exercises or yoga. Ensure that you take adequate rest and never compromise on your sleep. If your sleep is lesser than ideal then it should ideally be deep undisturbed sleep.

Running should be fun not a chore or something that is being done to prove something to someone. In the end be responsible when you start physical activities for the first time. Consult your family physician, take a master health check up with a stress test to assess your physical condition and if you can do it. Do not over exert yourself. 

 Run responsibly, run with a smile...Run.

Image courtesy: Google Images

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Be warned, running in a group can be injurious to your health

In moments of deep sadness you often wonder what could have been if?

I heard of a fitness fan who ran and was also into core work outs who died recently after returning home at the end of work out session.

IMHO large fitness groups are a recipe for disaster with mob mentality and one size fit all plans that lead an unsuspecting new comer the wrong way. Today many people are led by what they see others doing and enter into gruelling physical activity without considering if they can do likewise.With the rising incidence of heart attacks among younger, physically active people it is a cause of concern. One of the biggest takeaway that i have from my years of working in the life insurance field is the relative lack of self awareness of people about their health condition.

People are not aware if they should indulge in high intensity activities to achieve their usual target of weight loss. The question is Should I?  and not Why can't I?

Large informal groups lack ownership to the members and while in the good times they stick together during an injury the person fends for himself. Can injuries by avoided completely? No. Can they be minimized? Yes.

A running group that I belonged to from its inception disillusioned me in some time. This group due to a variety of reasons not least the enthusiasm of its ever growing membership base became a beacon for all fitness fans in the area, this beacon effect was aided by the peacocks who ran to flaunt their PB (personal best an absolutely meaningless figure) to the adulation of others. Though i gained a lot from the group and from running itself, few things scared me and prompted me to act.

There were two initiatives inspired from my observations of what I saw around me:
1. A basic health declaration form with a disclaimer that sensitized every member to the risks of physically enduring sports. Few basic questions were sought to ascertain the basic health conditions and family history. Also blood group & ICE details were sought. This had many objections and did not see the light of day. This is very surprising today considering most paid event organizers conveniently hide behind a disclaimer that frees them from all liabilities or injuries during the event they run. This is like buying a parking ticket to park your car but the ticket says we are not responsible for anything.

2. A master health check up plan with a focus on the stress test (CTMT) to assess if a new comer or an existing member can undergo stress and the acceptable levels of stress this to be corroborated by the personal family physician of the member. The response for this was next to nil.

It is nice to hide behind the disclaimer of every one is mature and is an adult to take care of their health status , it also means that there is no need for a group to exist. Leaders need to take responsibility for their members especially new comers and those who may be unaware of their health status. It is incredible that a new comer just walks in and starts running!!! During core work outs people are asked to do as may reps as they can, now this can becomes extremely subjective and extremely dangerous when the person who trains and hands out such gems of wisdom is either unqualified or has no obligation to those he trains.

Leaders should rise above their personal Landmarks /goals and care for those who come behind them. If not, they should make way for others. (I left from the group in some time). Let people run or do activities alone if the group cannot watch out for them. Working together responsibly and growing fitter together should be the goal. The other things are simply incidental.

The onus is on every individual wanting to be in a group to be extremely responsible more so the leaders to make them aware of their responsibilities.


#metoo should not have happened. It happened because finally women spoke up and yet they should not have been pushed to this. Our women have been subject to harassment of all kinds at all places and yet they soldier on. They do this because they are made of a tougher substance than the weak ones who attempt to harass them.

Why do men harass women? I know that the safest excuse is the media and the movies, but movies reflect society. So without stepping into the chicken and egg conundrum let me say that children are moulded by their parents and by what they see their parents do. The other day when my father-in-law mouthed an expletive while travelling with the family it took me a lot of self-restraint not to react in the presence of my daughter but therein lies the danger. We do so many things not caring what the children in our family are seeing or hearing.

Children growing up in homes where the father abuses or just disrespects the mother can never be expected to respect another woman. At an impressionable age children both boys and girls should be taught the importance of respect. The importance of giving and getting respect be it a boy or a girl. Every girl deserves her respect and she should be made aware that it is her right and cannot be denied by anyone. Likewise every boy should know that every girl he comes in contact with deserves the respect as much as is due to him.

When we ingrain the importance of respect I am sure that movies that show otherwise will fail to make the same impact as what is in their value systems. When children see their family members treat each other with love and respect, they will know that there is simply no better way around. It can be tough to be different when the role model at home or even work is a misogynist but they say that the difference between good and great is just a thin line. 

I hope that the next #metoo campaign will be by men who will proudly say, I respect women, because I am a real man. 

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.