Monday, September 29, 2008

Weighty Issue

Usually I am not the kinds who makes New Year resolutions. And even if I do, I keep them to myself. However, this year was different. Bakshi, Pals and moi spent the turn of the year down in Miami walking our sorry asses all over the sands of South Beach. I think Jan 2008 was when I probably weighed the maximum that I have in my 29 years of existence. One thing about South Beach is 99% of the guys have that lean mean toned body (dont get the wrong idea here, I was checking out the women, but some of them had guys by their side). So there I was, belly out, standing out amongst the crowd (not in a good way!).

As the fireworks went off and the clock struck midnight, Bakshi pledged to return to India and build a company which would put the Ambani's to shame, Pals pledged to continue in his spiritual bliss and put baba Ramdev to shame and me, a man of simple dreams and for whom anything spirit-ual means alcohol, pointed at one of those lean mean toned body types and said, "I am gonna be HIM!"

So back I was in Grand Rapids, making my way through a foot of snow to the gym and using the treadmill. And then I used to walk out, feel depressed of the weather and have that chocolate milkshake to lighten up my mood. But jokes apart, I kept going through the routine like a zombie just coz I wanted to lose weight. I never really loved what I did. But just did it, coz I had to. Lift weights, run, lift weights, run. By the time I left for India I was down by some 10 lbs which I gained back in no time.

Returning from India I started to reassess the situation. I spend a good 45-60 mins in the gym, but the results dont show. And at the end of the day, I am half dead and not so happy. I stopped viewing weight loss and exercise as a directly proportional relationship and started factoring in other conditions. What did I love doing? In Bombay, I love walking around. I walk from my place to the beach which is a good 45 min walk and then walk back. When I head downtown, I walk. I love exploring different parts of the city on foot. And I started doing the same here. Walking around the neighborhood. Exploring different parts of the city on foot. The walk slowly turned into a jog. I remember my first run. Half a mile and I was panting like an old dog. In a weeks time, I was hitting two miles. One fine day, I just pushed myself and ran the 5K. And since then there's been no looking back. Running outdoors has never been so much fun. You try to get into a rhythm and stick to it. Slowly you improve on your speed. You start running different trails. You realize how to shift gears when you hit a slope. How to push yourself that extra mile. How to challenge yourself on different runs. And in the end, you run your own race and keep feeling better and better as you hit one milestone after the other.

Today I cant wait to get out of office so I can get home and hit the trail. Nine months ago, I used to get out of work thinking, "Oh man, gotta go to the gym!" I was not a happy man. Today, I have factored something I like into that relationship of exercise and weight loss. And so far its worked well. And as the results get more and more noticeable, you start fine tuning things. Now I run 3 days a week, work-out at the gym 2 days of the week and leave one day as a buffer. I still eat what I like. I never say no to cookies :). I just make sure I have run the 5K before ordering that double chocolate sundae.

Today I am 30 lbs lighter from Jan 2008. I know the biggest challenge will start a month from now when it gets cold and I cant run in the open. I cant wait for it, just to see how I tackle it. To start the transition, I have already started running one day of the week at my university's indoor track. Its not as much fun, but there are ways to entertain oneself (count how many times you passed that hot chick who is walking the track etc.). And there is added pressure since I have this documented on my blog. Most of my friends have not seen me for some good 6-8 months or more. The last thing I want to hear when I bump into them is, "Whats this? We read on your blog you have lost weight? Doesnt seem so!"

It feels good to be back to my pre-USA weight. I am sure I'll maintain it. Now will everyone excuse me while I go get that chocolate milkshake!

... 15 days to go!

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Broken Lives?

From some of my previous posts -

"The human brain is also a muscle. And like any other muscle, you have to push it past its limits to make it grow. You have to break the muscle to rebuild it into something stronger and something bigger."

"There is a saying I believe in. If you aint getting your hands slapped once in a while, you aint pushing the boundaries far enough. To grow you need to pull out of that comfort zone."

"Till you dont push yourself out of your comfort zone you'll never know what you can achieve. For 20 years I stayed at the same job and didnt move, because of the security. The comfort. I finally decided to move here so I could be closer to home and give more time to my business. Now I wish I had done this 10 years ago. You have to get out of your comfort zone. Initially its hell, but in the end its worth it"

"If you look at something (roadways, buildings, code, people) and dont see any de/construction going on, then either they are dying.... or perhaps, already dead."

The human body works on a similar mechanism. Your skin will shed layers and regrow. Cells are destroyed and created faster than you can say "Chamarrione Balasubramanian". Growth starts with breaking things down. In most cases.

I wonder if its true when it comes to life? Life gives us shit (sometimes), or so we feel. Flunked that test even after studying super-hard? Boyfriend left you? Divorced? Lost your job? Life was smooth till someone close to you is suddenly no more? Has there been an event which has broken you down?

When you start training for a marathon (or a 5K), there is a good chance you will collapse on day 1 after running for a mile. There is a good chance you will collapse with muscle pain at two miles, or three miles. And there is a good chance you will give up. Those who do not give up, their muscles rebuild, endurance levels rise and once they overcome the initial pain, they can run the entire length.

Replace the marathon with weight training. Start lifting heavier weights and you will feel the pain. The muscle breaks, but rebuilds into something stronger.

The same goes with challenging yourself on a mental plane.

Is it the same when life challenges you? All of the above are voluntary actions. You decide if you want to run the marathon, lift weights or enjoy a game of Sudoku. What you do not decide is whether that hurricane is going to blow away your house. Or if you are going to marry a psycho who looked perfectly fine before marriage. Its something no normal human would plan or implement. But if it did not happen, perhaps you would not see life the way you see it now. Perhaps its life's way of rebuilding you. Of making you stronger in areas you never would have volunteered to experiment.

Remember, when the muscle starts to break is when you feel the maximum pain. But if you keep working on it, this same pain turns into your strength. All you do then is look back at how puny you were then and laugh at it, or how fat you were then and laugh it off. When your life starts to break up, is when you feel the maximum pain. If you can still keep going and push yourself through this temporary phase, you will come out stronger. And in the long run, you will look back and perhaps just laugh at it.

... 19 days to go!


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tag Karma

I think its high time I caught up on some tags before 'tag karma' bites me back. I have no clue what tag karma is, I just made it up, so dont ask! Anyways....

I was tagged ages ago by
Solitaire to list down some embarassing moments (like every other post in this blog was not enough). I think there might be a thin line between embarassing and funny, and in most cases, I cant define that line. Everything looks funny to me. But well....

- When I was interviewing for this job, and had my interview with the hiring manager, I ended up sitting in his chair. He went out to get coffe, asked me to grab a seat (I swear he pointed in a direction which led to his chair) and when he returned, there I was enjoying his comfy office chair. If any of you are wondering, yes, I did receive a job offer and I did take it up. And no, its not the place I currently work at.

- I cant think of any other embarassing moments. Heck, yeah, once I refused to wear pants (please note I was 5 years old then). I have no clue why, but one fine morning I refused to wear pants. So my Mom threw me out of the house and that freaked me out. This resulted in a lot of loud crying, which brought out the neighbors. So here I was, standing outside my house, minus pants, with neighbors staring at me. Please note (again) I was five years old. And I am not too sure who was embarassed more. My neighbors, or myself. But why am I not surprised that one of my neighbors moved out all the way to Spain after that incident. Abhi's (who is my neighbor) mom still keeps smiling when she looks at me and my third neighbor just cranks up his TV volume so in case I repeat this act again, he wont hear me cry and hopefully miss out on the event! Once again people, I was 5 years old, so stop imagining things! And Mom, if you are reading this - thank you for tossing me out of the house, else I would have never worn pants!

And now that I have grossed you guys out and done my one evil deed of the day, I shall move on to my next tag.

So I have been tagged by Khizzy in her top five choices for a 'Brilliant Weblog' award (I tell ya people, I am so moving to Pakistan!). You could probably go read the rules etc. on her
post. You just have to pass on five people whose blogs you find interesting. Thats tough for me, coz I have a ton of blogs I visit and find many interesting. But I'll throw out five here, which for some reason captivate me. I shall omit those who already have this award, those I have already tagged in this post and those who are not blogging so frequently.

DewdropDream - Love the way she plays with words. If I apply to B-school, I am hiring her to write my essays!

Tazeen - You got to love her. She takes inspiration from me telling her that her blog is boring. So she holds a live grenade in her hand and clicks photos of classmates sleeping (alone and with each other) during a training in Italy!

Princess Banter - She will blog once a month, but make the wait worth it. I just like her style and ways she blows you off with some of her theories (or her friends theories)

Menagerie - She can put down the most ordinary day of her life in the most amazing fashion possible.

Iyerospace - Just so everyone believes I am not reading blogs written by women! But Iyer is Iyer. Leave your brains aside and read his blog. Its like watching a Govinda movie. Dont apply too much logic to it. A good break from the serious sorts!

Mahi - I know I was supposed to tag only five, but I have to tag Mahi more out of fear, else the next time I log onto gchat, I am in for a message which goes something like, "WTF dude! Why was I not tagged! I should be #1 out there! Tag me! NOW!!"

... 21 days to go!

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Dog Wars: Revenge Of The Bitch

Some things never change. Dogs chased me then, dogs chase me now! In fact, its become a routine.

I jog every other day around the block and there is this one dog who chases me the entire length of his lawn (thank God for electric fences). Its 15 seconds when we are running parallel, 3 meters from each other. Its like he is almost waiting there, everyday, 6 PM, thinking "Where is that fat Indian asshole? Just, where is he?!" And as I make an appreance, he does his little canine gig!

Another half a mile into my run and there is a stretch of houses, each one with a dog. So when I run past them its like a dogs musical. The first dog will let out a bark which will warn the others to line up. Within a fraction of a second, each one is out on his/her lawn, growling, barking, randomly running to and fro trying to get a piece of me. There is a miniature pinscher which might be as big as my palm, but likes to come out and bark at me as I run through. Sometimes I wonder if I went running at 6 AM, it would wake up the entire neighborhood.

In the past I have thought of making a movie (or perhaps a reality show) on these dogs (or bitches?) chasing me around and calling it Dog Wars: Revenge Of The Bitch (ripped off from Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith). Why do I feel most of America is crazy enough to tune in to a live feed of an Indian running in Michigan, and being chased by dogs. Perhaps every dog could have a number and they could take bets as to which one will break through the electric fence and have a piece of me! Or perhaps I am just going crazy!

Today as I walked into the main entrance of my apartment, I noticed a flock of Geese standing right there, staring at me. I tried to shoo them away but they would not budge. And when I got too close, they tried to attack me! So here I was, being chased by Geese (those birds are mighty cool tho'. They put their head down and come straight at ya!).

I tell ya, I am so a candidate for prime-time NBC reality shows!

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Wet Balls

Michigan has three primary religions. 20% Christian. 2% other and 78% FOOTBALL.

And now that football season has kicked in, every Saturday is spent with friends, drinking, eating and cursing Michigan as they fumble, get sacked and lose!

Today, in midst of the Michigan v/s Notre Dame game, which was watched by 9 drunk Casucasians and 1 drunk Indian, it started raining (at the game). The commentator says, "Both teams had been expecting rain and were seen practicing with wet balls before this game"

Yes, we are still laughing.

... 30 days to go!

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Why I Should Move To Pakistan!

Coz women in Pakistan who are chosen as "blogger of the month" nominate me in their pick for top 5 blogs (Ok, only one woman does, but what the hell. My 2 secs in the limelight!).

Here is the article. Look for #7.

And also I could hunt down Wasim Akram. Dont ask me why. I just need him to help me out with my run-up and bowling style. Abhi had a post on my bowling style, unfortunately I couldnt find it to link to it. Anyways, I digress.


...31 days to go!


Sunday, September 07, 2008

Fanaa: Attack Of The Gujju Ladies

I was reading the many posts I had in draft and came across this one I wrote way back in June 2006. Since its been a while that I have blogged about being hounded by Gujju aunties, here goes, a blast from the past!

Note: The post is as was typed in June 2006.


26th May, Vin and myself decide to head out to the desiplex cinemaplex at Laurel and watch the 9 PM Fanaa show. Irrespective of what people had to say, I couldnt miss an Aamir-Kajol starrer. As is the norm when one goes with me for a movie, we reached a good one hour early. I always like to be a lil early and get the 'better' seats.

"We will start entry by 8:30 or so", said the lady who handed me the tickets. Half an hour passes by and I jump into the cinema hall and go grab one of the 'better' seats. Vin walks in a few minutes later, amused at my antics. And then, one by one, all the Patel, Shah and Mehta families start walking in. The row in front of me gets loaded by aunties who should be charged double for admission, and the row behind me by a family who prolly needed 3 vans to get them to the theatre. And then the row in front and the row behind me realize they know each other and start yapping across in the most fluent Gujju.

Row behind me: "Aitla aagad kem, aiyaa paachad aavo"
Row in front of me: "Aitloo paachad thee majja naa aave, aagad thee saras"

(Translated, "Why so in front, come here behind" - "Its no fun from behind, front is good").

Vin does not understand Gujarati and I really didnt wanna translate this. Couple of minutes pass by and soon the entire theatre is getting jam packed with Gujjus. Worse. They happen to know everyone around! And the scene soon resembled one of a Mumbai fish market, minus the smell. And in all this a friend of mine (also a Patel) calls up.

"Where are you?"
"In the theatre, for Fanaa"
"Ok, even I am coming, can u buy tickets for me?"
"5 tickets. I have my finacee, bro in law, mom in law and dad in law. So buy 5 tickets and hold 5 places."

So I walk out and get 5 tickets, and Vin n me are now strategically seated. Me on an aisle seat, and Vin, on the other side, leaving 5 seats between us. And this is when all the fun starts.

The cinema hall soon gets all packed up. And Gujju aunties keep walking up to me.

"Are those seats taken?"

Thats how the conversation went most of the time. With a few exceptions.

One Gujju Auntie walks up and starts going past me, assuming the people on the first row were all blind and missed these five spots in the back-row.

"Sorry, someone is coming here"
"Oh, I just want one seat"
"Yes, but there are 7 of us, so we need all these seats"
"You cant give me one seat?"
"I am sorry....."

Then walk in two hot super-hot ABCD chicks.

"Are these seats taken?"
What followed was the biggest trauma of my life. Do I say yes and ask them to move on, and live the rest of my life with the Patel family, or, do I say no, and live the rest of my life with super-hot ABCD chicks. Happily.
"Yeah, I am sorry. But you can sit on my lap"
"All of them? We just need twooooo seats", says one of the super hot chick, all pouting, as she runs her fingers through her hair.
"Yup, all of them. I have some folks coming in soon"

So while I sit there all frustrated, Mr. Patel calls, saying he is outside. Vin says there is no way he can handle the Gujju clan while I am gone, so he happily volunteers to go out and get the Patels, while now I have to man both sides of the fort. Vin = sissy!

And this is when two Gujju ladies with a little kid who apparently looked more clever than the ladies start walking past me.

"Ma'am, these are all taken"
"All??? I just need two!!"
, said Gujju lady 1, staring at me, with wide eyes. Trust me, scary sight.
"Sorry, I have someone coming here."
, she screams at me in the most rude fashion, almost making me jump in my seat.

And her rudeness suddenly makes me snap.

"They are in the restroom. If you wait for a couple of minutes, you could meet them. But if you are really anxious, you can go to the restroom"

Gujju Lady 2: "Whats he saying?"
Gujju Lady 1: "He says we can wait for few minutes and if no one shows up we can sit"
Gujju Lady 2: "That is so stupid. Hull-o? You cant say that. We want to sit."
Me: "Ma'am, I didnt say that. These seats are taken", and I repeat what I had said, minus the meeting them in the restroom part.

Gujju Lady 1: "This is not correct. You cant reserve seats like this. I am going in."
Me: "Ma'am if you are so the believer of the right and the wrong, and what is correct and what is not, then it is only virtuous that all the people who asked me if they could sit here before you did should get the option of sitting here, rather than the front row they are sitting in now. So let me go get those people first and if they decline my offer of a better seat to what they are seated in for now, you could sit here. Dont you think that is 'correct'?"

And I have never seen such confused faces. And then I heard the words I was so expecting to hear.

Gujju Lady 1: "I am calling the manager"
Me: "Sure, I know you need someone to translate my last few words of wisdom If I were you, I wouldnt waste my time. Coz by the time you get the manager, my folks would be here, happily seated, and you would not be able to prove anything. More so, by standing and making a senseless argument here, you are losing some of the available seats and might end up on the front row"

Mentally, I was wondering what the hell is taking Vin so long. And also, when is she gonna slap me.

Fortunately Vin appeared with the Patel clan, and Gujju Ladies gave me the 'I would kill you if I could' look and moved on.

Vin: "Whats up with those ladies man? I am scared of this place. I have never seen so many Gujjus in Bangalore. And this is freaking Maryland, USA! I am never coming here again"

Me? I am going for the next big release for sure. And holding up seats. I have never had so much fun. And I have never seen this side of me before. The arrogant-screw-you side!

The two Gujju ladies, I thank y'all for awakening the devil in me!

**Disclaimer (to any Gujju reading this, or anyone who found any content offensive):
I love Gujjus. Many of my close friends/family are Gujjus. Please take this post in the same humour as its written. I also know its wrong to hold seats, but all the Gujjus should forgive me since I was holding them for five Patels!

.... 37 days to go!

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Macchar Jhol

I headed off with a good school friend to this bar in Chicago where we were supposed to meet a group of his friends and their extended friends. Very soon there were some 20 of us in a bar with music so loud that I could not hear their names when introduced. So I settled down with my regular drink and caught highlights of the Michigan v/s Utah game and drank some more over Michigans loss.

Just then this girl crashed onto the barstool next to mine. Almost out of breath with the dancing and perhaps a little too drunk. In my eyes, entertainment had just planted its butt next to mine.

"Tired?", I asked, sipping on my rum n coke.

She turned my way and slowly checked me out head to toe. I put that down to too much alcohol as she nodded a yes.

"I dont think I got your name", I said, taking another gulp of my drink.

"Shar", she said (name abbreviated for privacy concerns). A very typical Bengali name.

"Allow me to guess", I said, "Its Shar Banerjee?"

Still no. This was not going too well. I looked at my fifth glass of alcohol, looked at Shar and said to myself, "Go for it".

"So can you cook Macchar Jhol?", I asked, and made a self note that I must be the first guy ever in a crowded Chicago bar to ask a chick high on alcohol about cooking fish, Bong style.

The reaction was even more surprising. "Nope. Cant make it, but can eat it", she said and then looked at me rather suspiciously. "How do you know about Macchar Jhol?"

"I am a Bong"
"No way! Whats your name?"
"Arvindo" (yes people, I was trying my level best to keep a poker face here)

And then my dear friend X turns up out of nowhere, "Hey Apoorva, get on the dance floor with me". I am pulled into the crowd despite many a protest and Shar is lost in the background.

End of the night and we are walking out of the club when I come across Shar again. "Apoorva, do you know why you cant be Bengali?", she asks. "Hey! Apoorva can be a Bengali name. Just pronounce it as Opporvo", I reply.

We both laugh and she says, "No, because Bong men just cannot dance".

"There can always be exceptions", I protest, "Else all Bong women would know how to make Macchar Jhol"

We laugh again, and say our goodbyes, knowing we'll never meet again. I weave my way through hundreds of people crowding Chicago's Rush & Division neighbourhood to X's car, wondering if she just said that I am a good dancer? I cant dance for nuts! She must have meant Bong men can dance. But thats not true as well. Except Mithun Chakraborthy.

Hugs, good night and a pillow!
...41 days to go

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