Thursday, December 22, 2011

App Frenzy

The only joy that comes close to seeing your child being born is when the apps you were part of creating, come to life in the marketplace. In a short span of two and a half months, we were able to start a company in Bangalore, hire people and release 4 mobile applications to the Barnes & Noble market, the Android Market, and the Apple iTunes store. 

As the year ends, I can't but consider myself extremely lucky as I have the best team anyone can hope for. The commitment, the perseverance, the dedication and attention to detail are a few of the qualities this team possesses in abundance. Hats off to the MoveableCode family and especially the folks in MoveableCode India who have been with me through thick and thin, always positive, always cheerful and always willing to go that extra step day in and day out.

Our work has just started but we could not have hoped for a better start. Actually, it's been a dream start as I spread my entrepreneural wings for the first time in my life. The excitement is building, the challenges are growing and the team is ready to take on innovations, technology creations and do whatever it takes to reinvent play for all generations and ages! A truly remarkable endeavor we've taken up and boy have we delivered!

Another eight days to go for the new year and if I don't publish any more posts this year, let's just call this a wrap. 

Happy New Year to all!

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Wedding blues and other true colors

This time we raised the bar so high that only orbiting satellites can see it. For one, we had a five day wedding and the madness that went with it was significant to put it mildly. 

As is customary, the festivities kicked off with the Mehndi night, which the boys of the family have mastered. Fortunately for us, the 'Kolaveri' song showed up a week before so there was plenty of ammunition and plagiarism as we customized the song to fit the groom's love life much to the embarrassment of the couple. But, that only helps motivate us more.

The song medley skillfully led by the only real singer in our family was a sight to behold. About 15 of us were involved in this mess...sorry...medley and it took all of my cousin's patience and perseverance to get us through the numerous songs we belted out. Just the preparation for the medley rivaled the preparation by the New York Philharmonic since as usual no one had a clue what to do but everyone had a bucketful of opinions each and every second when we finally commenced singing in numerous beats, pitches and tones. While my cousin bravely attempted to bring a semblance of order, we all ploughed on, unmindful of her guidance. For some reason, we did get applause though the applause from the 'singers' drowned out the audience cheering.

The highlight of the show was hands down the 'Kolaveri' song which the four boys had mangled skillfully to suit the occasion but was the most entertaining event for sure.

The reception was kind of uneventful as the horde held back for the final onslaught which was the wedding day. 

The 6 a.m start did nothing to quell our enthusiasm and we even got into a musical duel with the bride's side (yes we were the groom's side). The 'Uyyaale' or the symbolic swing ceremony required a sedate song. Once the unknown old lady from the other side got going, we egged on our musical genius. Hesitant at first, my cousin soon warmed up and we started taking the lead. However, the opposition was made of sterner stuff and kept pace and volume if not matching in melody and harmony. We resorted to playing dirty and my cousin started off with a frenetic paced song in Malayalam. Game, Set, Match - Groom's family...yeah!! Take that!! We had even thought of making my cousin sing in Arabic if we had to.

While the wedding went on (endlessly I might add), sheer boredom took over the boys and we entered the realm of creative photography with my 18 year old nephew as the star. Being of a healthy proportions and hairstyle like a nuclear explosion mushroom cloud, he was the easy choice. What helped of course was his willingness and initiative to be the model. 

Fortunately for us. we had an entire length of the marriage hall protected by a dark curtain so we could do pretty much what we wanted. We began with some 50 meter races with my 8 year old daughters. After a few casualties, the photography sessions started in earnest. For props we used a large white dhoti which we 'innovatively' wrapped around my nephew.  The first session was purely the 'Guruji' photographs, a part he fit to the tee. This was followed by a surprisingly self and well choreographed 'Durga' like pose where the photo shows just my nephew and a seven pairs of hands behind him in various positions. Truly a masterful work of art that was.  We completed the photo shoot with some villanous politician pictures inclusive of the 'spitting the paan into the sidekick's hand' shot.

As we later recapped the events, my nephew was surprised to learn that there was a wedding happening in the background.

A great end to the year with lots of fun an celebrations in the family. Waiting in eager anticipation for the next wedding. Or if someone wants a Mehndi planning, execution and participating team, we're available at short notice... 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A fresh start (up)

Earlier this year, I was wondering about what the heck I wanted to do with my life. Looks like that question pretty much got answered a couple of months back. A casual conversation with an ex-colleague from my first job days turned out into something really concrete. Things have been a whir ever since then and before I knew it, I had started a company, hired people and was into product development.

Any start-up journey is always exciting and mine has been as exciting as any other. Right from getting the legal and tax requirements done, to finding an office space, hiring folks, the excitement has not abated from day one. A few noteworthy candidate interviews that I want to share here:

- One guy insisted that the first interview round HAS to be done on the telephone and he wouldn't come to our office
- One guy showed up with his friend for the interview and they sat by side while he answered questions
- I had trouble convincing one person that even though I am not a HR person, I still would like to talk to him for the initial discussion. Apparently, it is against protocol to have 'Engineering' have the first contact

The net result is that, our days are never dull and boring; there's always something going on and it's all good.

On a more serious note, I truly believe I have hired some of the smartest folk and striving to get more brilliant minds into the company. Oh, and I need to tell you what we do. SoLoMo Play applications for kids and wannabe kids alike. It doesn't get more exciting and invigorating that that!

A big thanks to the founder who made it all possible though. It's been a joy working here and looking forward to tremendous growth and tons of fun....

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Distance may part and seas may divide us

I racked my head for a while to get an apt title for this posting and my eyes fell on a line from our revered hymn book. I couldn’t have found a better heading.

As I begin writing now, I can’t help but feel a lump in my throat and a tinge of wetness in the eyes. What a ride the last four days was! It’s going to take a long while for all of us to get over the 25th year reunion. And when I say all, I mean each and everyone who made it, including the amazing bunch of spouses (spice as we now call them) and lovely set of kids who made our gathering one of the most magical moments of our lives.

Preparations for our get together probably began a couple of years ago by a group of determined and driven folks in our batch and to see it all come together was a crowning glory. Right from the hotel stay down to the fleece jackets, T-shirts and bags for the spice and kids, the thoughtfulness and care taken was something else. The 300 odd songs from our school times on two CDs was an extremely nice touch!

We landed up in Holiday Inn Ooty on the 3rd of May in a mini convoy of cars from Bangalore constantly trying to keep the red dot of a car in our radar. The dinner at Shinkow’s was more significant for the nostalgia than the food which has deteriorated since our school days. I guess around thirty Old Lawrencians from our batch showed up with families and the booze and food created a riot of activities and merriment that was a portent of things to come.

One of the salient aspects of our gathering was that despite things being informally done, somehow they fell into place and was more fun than a series of choreographed and military like events. The picnic on the 4th is a good example. We all knew we were going somewhere but no one knew exactly where. Depending on whom you asked and when, you got different answers which just made it all more fun. Finally, someone figured out where to go and the buses and assortment of private transports got going.  As was the trend, the spot was great and even though we had a ‘Purple Uncle’ fall off the jeep, we all had a ball! One of our wonderful spices had organized a team game by the lake which our team handily won thanks to dogged exhorts by her Lawrencian hubby. It’s another matter that two of us landed in a team by accident but that’s another story.

That evening is arguably the most memorable and touching ones of our lives. We had invited the family of one of our batch mates (who is no more) for dinner. A 30 minute slide show (of close to 500 photographs) put together expertly, professionally and with brilliant accompanying music ensured copious tears as we looked on a past that was so much a part of what we are today.  A rush of memories long lying dormant in the inner recesses of our brains was out in full force. Each photograph evinced shouts and comments as each one of us travelled back in time reliving our childhood and the thinking of the way things were. Our hearts and eyes took quite a beating to see the visuals of our departed classmates along with thoughts of our times with them. Though I had spent less time in school than most others, the memories were still overwhelming and I furiously wiped away the tears as fast as they were appearing. The most touching moment for me was when my eight year old daughter ran to me right after the show to give me a big hug with her moisture laden eyes. I don’t think we have all recovered yet from that thrust into our formative years that this slideshow evoked. Amazing work by George, Sanjay and Lekha for the brilliant effort on the photo slides. I am going to stop writing more on this right now just because I have too many emotions which words just cannot do justice to.

More drinking and dancing followed along with photography sessions with every conceivable group and formation. Guys only, girls only, House-wise, primary school wise, city-wise; we pretty much exhausted all combinations. A great musical performance by Sunita was all that we needed to cap off a remarkable evening.

5th morning saw our ‘86 group at school, a first time in many years for a lot of us. We showed up in full strength to inaugurate the solar water heaters that we had sponsored. It was wonderful to see a tangible outcome of all the money we had put in. Again, more photographs in nostalgic locations and positions followed. With the kids and spouses left to their own devices for a while, we all showed up for the OLA AGM which was in the girls’ school. For the first time, we guys were actually welcomed into this highly sought after area of our school (during our school days that is!). I actually didn’t follow much of what was going on in the meeting, my sole contribution being the distribution of some documents to the attendees.

Dinner at the Savoy was a relatively quiet affair with some of us joining the professional Badaga dancers for some intricate moves. One of us with a unnaturally good memory and aided by others regaled us with tales from our school days, most stories which should never have got out in the first place! All in good taste and definitely brought laughs and groans depending on who the target was.

The moment we were all waiting for. The Parade on the 6th morning! Bright and early we all got into Top Flat (the big ground) to witness and be part of the 153rd Founders’ Day.  A flurry of emails and Yahoo group postings on dress code still failed to deter some of us from flouting the agreed upon attire though we still showed up smartly dressed but non-compliant.

The parade was actually very well done and we were especially impressed with the girls’ guards which just seemed a tad more sharp and coordinated than others. Our great time finally arrived. 75 of us from the batch of 1986 joined the parade in organized chaos and marched past the guest of honor marking a record attendance for any alumni batch in the history of the school. Granted, the entire march lasted about 20 seconds or so but for us, we were back in school, back to that uncomplicated childhood, for a moment our present lives and pressures forgotten; just happy school children marching away to glory without a care in the world. Not many outside our group will really understand how much that fleeting instance in time mean to us and I will not try and explain it either. Suffice it is to say that 75 hearts beat as one during that march and nothing has or will come close to how we all felt right then.

The final dinner on the 6th was the culmination of one of the biggest emotional rollercoaster of our lives as we internalized what a unique group we were and the fact that so many of us had made the effort to come together from all corners of the world for a once in a lifetime event.

I won’t go into details of the other activities we did except say that hosting a lunch for the teachers of our batch was a very caring and sensitive gesture. I’m sure I’ve missed a lot of stuff that happened but the idea was not to give a ball by ball account, rather capture the essence of my reunion experience.

Personally, I got to spend precious time with some people whom I knew better than others and also to chat up with those I didn’t really know too well in school. We caught up with each others’ lives and exchanged contacts vowing to undo the self-imposed isolations of our last 25 years.

Our batch is no more a bunch of kids who went to school together but an extended family of sorts that to my knowledge is non-existent anywhere else. Hats off to Mathew, Aparna, Palani, Rohan and the multitude of others who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to implant priceless memories in us that we will talk about and cherish for the rest of our lives. Here’s to the class of 1986, the best family to ever come out of our glorious school!!

Friday, April 29, 2011

The passing of a generation

I was always in awe of the two ladies who always were different from anyone else I knew in my grandparents’ generation. My mother and her siblings were definitely a bit wary of them and I guess that rubbed off on me. However, I don’t remember ever being reprimanded or spoken to in a harsh tone by the sisters of my grandmother. They were strict and led disciplined lives but were never unreasonable or austere.

For whatever reason, neither of them got married and lived with each other until the end. I remember their home in Fraser Town with the large tiger skin carpet complete with the head of the tiger. There were always the most interesting things in that house, from the artefacts picked up around the world to the rare collection of wonderful books in the dining room shelf.

Both were extremely active, teachers by profession, and conducting home tuitions until very recently. My interactions with them were always wonderful and their command of English and world affairs fascinated me to no end. Unlike most people of that generation, these were two practical people. Not once did the do the usual emotional blackmail of me not visiting them, that they’re old and dying and that our generation doesn’t care for them…blah blah bah. Whenever we met, which wasn’t very often, we conversed like we had met the day before and all they would say was ‘Do come by when you have time. We know it’s not easy with your work and personal commitments, but know that there are two old ladies to visit when you can’. I loved that!

Almost everyone in that family circle who ever fell sick would land up in their house. They pretty much looked after anyone who needed any kind of care. All this was done as routine – as part of their lives, never once feeling that they were doing a favor or that they were going out of their way to help. Eternally cheerful and full of good humor, these were role models of a rare calibre. Nothing bogged them down and nothing was insurmountable.

My first grand aunt died a year and half back. Her sister died on April 26th this year. I think the passing away of the elder  one took a lot out of her. She had wanted her body to be donated to the medical college and I went there on 27th morning to pay my respects to a great human being. Not that I was every close to them (mainly because I hardly saw them), but seeing her lying on the stretcher brought a few tears to my eyes. The inevitable finality of it all hit me and the fact that she was the last of the siblings of whom my grandmother was one.

To their dying day, my grand aunts were strong independent women, cherishing life and spreading happiness and positivity all around. I will miss them and think of them often as I attempt to lead my life the way they did; trying to make a difference in an uncomplicated manner. As I write this piece, I can’t help but wipe a tear from my eye as I realize how much people really mean to us and we find out only after they are gone. May their souls rest in peace.

Friday, April 22, 2011

First Act

One of the first plays I remember seeing was from a British troupe that had come to my school in Ooty. For some reason, one of the lines from that play remain stuck in my mind. It goes something like this:

When Shakespeare played

The Stage was bare

and the throne of England

was just a chair

My own foray into theatre began at the tender age of 42. A chance conversation with my nephew saw me don the hat of a 73 year old ex-Vaudeville performer in Neil Simon’s ‘The Sunshine Boys’. Frankly, I had no clue as to what it takes to act in a play, my experience being limited to being a casually interested audience. One look at the 60 page script gave me strong misgivings especially being in the lead role. For some reason, my eternally optimistic nephew felt I could pull it off and I went with the flow.

The first few rehearsals were cause for much merriment and mirth. Reading directly from the script didn’t seem to be very tough and not having a performance date set in stone contributed to my lackadaisical attitude. My nephew too, probably out of deference to his uncle, let me be. A couple of changes in the cast and a few weeks later, we pretty much had a good set of actors for all the roles.

The date of play was finally decided as April 1st and that’s when reality slowly sank in. Rehearsals became more serious and durations became longer. Practice sessions that happened in the club house of our apartment complex slowly shifted to a rented out room and then to my cousin’s house which was lying vacant. One big motivation for me not to do the rehearsals at home was the constant ‘feedback’ from the spouse. Enough said!

D-Day dawned and the plan was set. All stage settings ready at 11 a.m, stage rehearsal from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m and a break from 3 – 6. Yeah right! When the stage was ready, it was almost 7 p.m. and there was frantic scrambling to get the props. Most furniture came from our house and almost everything that could go wrong did. We had dubious help backstage and my nephew did most of the running around, in addition to being the director and one of the main performers.

Though 8 p.m was the start time, we finally got going around 8:30. The sound went wrong in the first few seconds, props could not be found and nothing was where it should be. A comical scene was when my nephew says (in the play) ‘It’s freezing in here’ and he’s dripping with sweat due to the back-stage work he was also doing. Anyway, as one of the lines from the play go…’still we got terrific applause!’. The hundred or so in the audience seemed to genuinely enjoy the humor and comedy. We had a large family contingent which was also helpful and I remember most of my lines, doing some improvisations as we went along.

An eventful first performance, got lots of encouragement from everyone near and dear. It was great to see my Lawrence buddies make it to the play in the heavy downpour that decided to grace us on show day. Looking forward to a lot more acting opportunities in the coming months. Who knows, this could be my calling!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Zen and the art of auto surveys

Unfortunately, this is a second hand narration and didn’t happen to me but it warrants documentation of some sort. Apologies to my nephew if I failed to capture the sequence accurately:

So this guy shows up to do a survey on cars people own. I’ll now change into movie script style  and call my nephew ‘A’ and the survey guy ‘SG’. Creative huh? Okay, here goes:
SG: Sir, what car do  you own?
A: A Chevy. You can see it over there
SG: Sir, can I write BMW 3 Series?
A: Er...sure
SG: What is your next car?
A (Really getting into it now): A Phantom
SG: What is your dream car sir?
A: Ferrari
SG: Sir, please can I write down ‘Hyundai Verna’?
Based on one data point, we now  officially have someone with a BMW who’s planning to buy a Rolls Royce but secretly desires a Hyundai.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Thai off-site

A sure fire way to get stickiness of a new employee  is to take him/her to Thailand for an off-site immediately after joining. Well, of course, the bar is now set so high that it’ll be tough to beat that start!

About 30 of us ‘senior’ leaders embarked on this 2 day extravaganza to Pattaya (oh yeah baby!). The bus ride from Bangkok to Pattaya was undoubtedly the highlight of the day. The personal introduction of each of us pretty much took care of the two hour journey. You learn a lot about people from their introductions. The director for one seemed to have had two failed crushes in college and both girls had the same name. One of us also indicated that he was the better half of his manager though the intention was to talk about the domain he owned. He also went on to enumerate the various modes of transport he had personally driven and ended with the now famous line…’and the most interesting part is I have also done a goat and a hen’. Oh well, it could be worse…I guess…

The most fascinating person was our guide Tony whose narrations and stories progressively got more sleazy with the tour. He explained in some detail the vegetarian and non-vegetarian massages available and also went into a lengthy discourse on the ‘lady-boy’ concept and culminated with ‘you never know for sure if it’s a man or woman, just your luck’. On the way back he took it upon himself to regale us with his own brand of humor. Though lacking in humor, the narrations more than made up for the lack of punch lines. One of the jokes that come to mind is the story of a dad and son in a village and the punch line is that the son tells his dad that the only way he can get 600 villagers to work on his farm is to go to a village and impregnate 600 women in one night. I'm sure the actual humor was lost in translation and context but he did seem to think it was hilarious.

I did get to bond quite a bit with Tony as I couldn’t handle the Indian food for every meal. Over some spicy Tom Yum soup he talked about how he was on the deathbed and his heart had stopped beating. His mother prayed in the Shakthi temple and he was miraculously revived confounding the medical community in Thailand.  His wife (four years his senior) is Chinese and he had to do a lot of convincing of his mother-in-law to get the girl of his dreams. He also had uncanny perception and was able to talk about my better half’s nature just by glancing at her photo. I’d rather not go into what he said for fear of bodily harm to me.

Good trip overall and we even managed to get in a few working sessions in between. Looking forward to more trips and bonding expeditions…

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Back to reality

Almost feel like a child going to school for the first time. Got some rare time off between jobs (over a month actually) and now there’re withdrawal symptoms as I begin my new job tomorrow. Wondering if it’s really worth it to have a regular 9-6 job. I mean, the money is good and all that but the heart just doesn’t seem to be in this forced regularity and expected monotony. People ask me if I got bored not working but frankly it was fine. Lots of time spent with the kids, running, cycling, jogging, reading – the days went by just fine. The wife made sure I kept busy with tons of errands which were all duly completed and did some more just to over-achieve Smile !

At this age, you are supposed to have it all figured out and know exactly what you want from professional life, but I don’t. I know what I don’t want to do but have no clue what I really want to do. Kinda scary huh? Yeah, especially for the better half who is acutely aware of every mood swing and emotion I go through.

I know I want to write something substantial and do so with more passion and discipline but that big idea just isn’t coming to me. It will, one day. Until then, it’s back to the rat race giving it my all. Just wish I had something figured out during the break that I could for the rest of my life! Oh well

Note: Wrote this deliberately in a grey font as that’s the color I feel I’m in right now. Cool huh?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The enigma of Nagaraj Rao–A humble tribute

On a warm summer’s evenin’ on a train bound for Mysore, I met up with the bookseller…

Sound familiar? Yeah, it’s a rip off from the Kenny Rogers song ‘The Gambler’. An account of the magical words/translations of the master needs to start where it all began. The suspense needs to build, the irrelevance unclear and the punch line obscure.

My nephew, being boredom disposed hailed a passing travelling salesman in a train and acquired the now historic manuscript known as ‘Great Jokes’. Little did he or anyone else in our family fathom the powerful and everlasting influence this deceptive book would have on us.

‘The Book’ and the contents are now part of lore and fantasy and while I will not delve in the actual writing, I will make an honest attempt to describe ‘Great Jokes’ to the best of my ability. I have delayed so long on the writing of this piece solely due to the inability to grasp the full depth of the master’s words. Like the proverbial onion, the layers never end. A doctoral thesis is probably the only way to analyze the Sistine Chapel of Humor.

There about 280+ jokes in all. The opening number sets the tone for the remaining masterpieces with a grand finale that ends with ‘Do it before my husband comes’. In terms of comprehensiveness, no genre or discipline is left untouched. Topics cover sports, psychology, horror, sleaze, politics, international, religion, drama, theatre, arts, music education and pretty much anything else you can think of.

The author takes creative and utmost liberties with punctuations. Commas, periods, parentheses, upper and lower case alphabets, quotation marks pretty much appear in the most unexpected of places with the parentheses affecting your sanity the most. Words in braces could appear on either side of the word requiring more clarification but in most cases, either the word in braces is the same or has no bearing on the original word. On a few occasions, both the words inside and outside the braces are not in English so a pure Anglophile  is left confounded as is everyone else. Some gems include a joke with this title  - “Gunda”  (““Gunda””) and one with the title – Gunda (“Able Gundas”).

Most jokes contain names and details which are completely irrelevant to the actual ‘joke’. A few examples here provide some insight – Chinkurli Sheenappa, Kempegowda, Hanumi are just some of the stars that speckle this fine book. The professions of the characters also leave you dumbfounded. Srinvas Rao is a gazetted officer and multiple readings still do not reveal the relevance of his profession.

Of course, there are those jokes where details would have been good but are marked by their complete absence. The abrupt endings and punch lines of the jokes are undoubtedly designed to whet the readers’ appetites as well as providing complete freedom to draw your own conclusion on the humor.

One of the biggest challenges you will encounter when attacking the mother lode of humor is connecting the title of the joke to the actual joke. I can vouch for the fact that many including yours truly have attempted and failed.

The rather abrupt one word sentences are also imposing barriers in comprehension. The sometimes rather sleazy phrases are now part of our family’s everyday vocabulary. While the impact of these phrases cannot be felt outside the jokes, here are a few – On seeing a good looking woman, a man’s reaction is described thus – ‘Mouth watered'. Or this classic – ‘She looked at him with one and a half eye’. Or still better – ‘He made a castor oil face’ and the creative ‘she made an asafoetida face’. Irresistible and spine tingling.

The ‘horror’ section is ably addressed by a lengthy narrative where the ‘doors of the windows kept opening and shutting’.  Liberties have also been taken with spellings ‘She did shought out loudly’ is one such diamond that readily comes to mind.

In a few jokes, the writer invites reader interaction and often provides his own commentary on the events unfolding. In one where he talks about the value of education, he enquires and rhetorically states ‘In olden days, no value for education. But how about now?’. This kind of interactive dialog between the author and reader has so far remained untapped.

At other times, he ensures that he has our undivided attention by simply asking a ‘how’ or a ‘what’ in the middle of a joke and consistently at a totally unexpected juncture. A few classics have jokes where the title is longer than the actual joke. I mean, really! Who else can do that???

I will stop here as I don’t want to spoil it for you and also to give you the opportunity to invest in and get engrossed with the surreal world of Nagaraj Rao. However, I’ll leave you with some titles that you absolutely must not miss. ‘Raised Arrow Cannot be Downed’, ‘When Observed a Handsome Girl’, ‘In Thotadappa Choultry’, the ‘Beechi Told’ series and the ‘Gunda’ series.

Now for some closing words…

(Special writer commentary): Unfortunately, I know of only five copies in circulation and by a twist of fate, all these five copies reside with members of my family. I still hold the Gold Copy which has now been sent for binding since it’s coming apart due to constant use and extensive research. In fact, my nephew had suggested sending the book for binding with a police escort and an armored truck to prevent fraudulent copying, plagiarism or even theft. However, I have been assured that the copy is safe and the book is due back in mint condition tomorrow. I have a good mind to send a copy to the Library of Congress where I know future generations can imbibe the nectar and partake the intense cistern of knowledge that I’m sure is there somewhere in the book. An expedition is in the works to trace the author through the publisher in Balepet which will be prove to be the nadir of our achievements to unravel the powerful works of Nagaraj Rao. (End special writer commentary)

Blog writer’s note: Nagaraj Rao ‘Great Jokes’ is not for the faint of heart or for the faint of humor. Dollops of patience and perseverance are required and of course lots of time. Best handled as a group (of like minded individuals) activity with all members suitably inebriated for the full and lasting effect. And do remember, a raised arrow cannot be downed…


Sunday, January 09, 2011

Passage of time

Another year rolls by as I plod on into my 40s. Wondering what I should be doing the remaining years till the big Five O. Still don’t feel it. Maybe it will hit sometime soon? Until then….enjoying life as it comes and living it to the fullest. Nothing to complain about, everything is how it should be. Wonderful kids, amazing partner, can’t ask for more. Time to do something useful? Smile

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Tales of Beedu the Bard

A gross injustice would be done if premium blog space is not dedicated to the last 6 months I have been under the tutelage of the master sports trainer.  For that, I will need to take you back now to early July ‘10 when I first encountered the enigmatic and energetic person that is Beedu.

My cousin discovered that a person at Kanteerava stadium in Bangalore provides physical training for athletes, sports people and also the supremely unfit. No points for guessing where I fall.

The schedule was for Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. The first day was brutally torturous. First we were made to run 10 laps around the running track. We followed it up with intense stretching, jumping, sand-pit jumping and medicine ball throwing. Not very far from the training G.I. Jane had to go through. I could barely walk after that day.

In time I did get used to the physical activity, even getting there as early as 5 a.m. to do some extra running but to talk about the various physical activities is not the intent of this piece.

Beedu is a short individual with a healthy pot belly, probably in his late 50s or early 60s, hard to tell. No amount of accomplishment is good enough for him. We constantly get compared to teenage athletes, tennis players and cricketers who are able to twist and turn their bodies at unbelievable angles. When we do hurdles, he explains the correct way to leap over the hurdles in this fashion – ‘Don’t go over like a donkey, do it like a dog peeing’. Who can resist this kind of encouragement! When we don’t show up on the regularly scheduled days, he asks us if we did some running instead. When the response is not affirmative, his refrain is ‘Just like you brush your teeth every day, you need to exercise regularly too’. Often, he stops all activities to launch into one of his lecture sessions (theory portion apparently). His English is quite atrocious which he readily accepts but it does make for hilarious narrations. At times, when we are unable to bend our unwilling bodies in certain contortions (incidentally he can do every single exercise that he makes us do!), he eggs us on with these encouraging words – ‘When you don’t get shit, don’t you keep trying till you get it? Well, keep trying the same way now’. There’s really not much you can do or say after that, is there?

His motivation technique is out of the world. I once heard him tell a gentleman in his 40s – ‘Start running with that old man. You can’t run with the other young man anyway’. During the sprint, when a hapless kid ran with his palms outstretched and facing downwards – ‘Close your fists and run I say. You are not Usain Bolt to cut the air and run’.

Since I am one of the first ones to the stadium, I often get bonus lectures for free. Topics range from food & nutrition, health, medicine, social & personal relations and of course some special anecdotes from his education in Germany which is he is justifiably very proud of.

The regimen continues this year and if there are new gems that Beedu comes up with, I will make sure to provide updates. Highly recommended for the unfit and fit alike. It’s the well rounded training and education which makes all the difference. After all, we try and try when the shit doesn’t come out, don’t we?

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Off Writing and Blogging

A little disappointed with myself in 2010. Wrote very little, didn’t run enough and gained some weight Sad smile. Hoping to do a lot more writing, blogging and running and gonna do my darnest to lose some weight.

A few things to look forward to this year. New job starting in a few weeks, Auroville half-marathon, hopefully moving into our own home, hopefully getting a bike and the 25th year high-school reunion in May!

There will be a lot more restaurant reviews this year which kind of slowed down again last year mainly due to laziness though the eating didn’t really slow down. Really looking to write something noteworthy this year and get cracking on music and yoga.

No new year resolutions though; just a process of commitment to various things I want to do from now on and for as long as possible. Let’s see how things go and do a review at year end. Smile

And it’s a wrap

2010 ended well with a road trip to Waynad. Some last minute intense planning and swinging into action saw us in Fringe Ford in the hills.  What’s really cool about this place is that it’s in the middle of the jungle and there are only 4 rooms for guests. Also, other than the establishment, no human civilization is available as far as the eye can see.  The last 10 km climb in the hills is a steep and narrow ascent with one side of the road falling off into the valley below. Quite breath taking actually!

Food was a bonanza as it was completely home cooked (unlike resort/hotel cooking) and the two ladies did a remarkable job with the simple, yet delicious fare catering to the taste buds of the grass eaters and meat eaters alike.

Our jungle guide Shaji was one helluva of a guy. Despite being well off and with decent education, he prefers to stay at Fringe Ford and has even given up eating meat due to his love for the flora and fauna. He regaled us with tales of the wild and supernatural though insisting that he doesn’t believe in ghosts at the end of each terrifying narration. We learnt of specific way to scare off tigers, bears, wild dogs, snakes, elephants though I can’t recollect what needs to be done for which animal. I do vaguely remember that we are supposed to shout and advance a few steps if we are destined to come face to face with a tiger. Hmm…quite an interesting proposition that. Anyway, he did have the uncanny knack of figuring out when animals showed up near our rooms, even waking us up at 5 a.m. one morning to see elephants which were grazing right next to us.

The first morning was a 4 km hike in the jungle to a waterfall.  The three little girls in our group ensured that no animal over 100 gms ever came within viewing or hearing distance from us. However, we did see the fast disappearing hind side of a couple of elephants.  Being early morning,  Shaji showed us various outputs of elephants and leopards, which disconcertingly looked fairly fresh and healthy.

The waterfall itself was quite amazing. At least 60 feet in height, the water was crystal clear and tasted wonderful. The highlight of our journey was the leech fest that occurred at our feet. Luckily, Shajy had provided us leech-resistant socks but the speed at which these suckers latched on to us was quite amazing. The maid who was with us actually killed a majority of them with her screeching and screaming and the rest were handled by a generous dose of salt on our socks and shoes.

The second day was a shorter hike of about a kilometer to a stream and a smaller waterfall where yours truly actually succumbed to the temptation of bathing in the wild.

A great and relaxed trip overall with a bonfire every night and a warm glass of milk for the two male adults (the kids refused to drink any) before bed time. Would love to go back very soon.

A wedding in Chennai

It's been a while since we had a massive wedding on the wife's side of the family. This one was especially important as it was the...