Thursday, March 31, 2016

Cycle For Life!

My Photograph
With the wind sailing through my hair, the only sounds I was aware of were the soft swooshes of my feet working the peddles and the steady rhythm of my own heart.  Everything else in the world had faded away as I cruised along the asphalt leading towards one of the more secluded beaches in Alibaug in the late afternoon.  There was a deep sense of freedom and a feeling of accomplishment as my two wheeler and I left the road and began up a mud trail leading over an embankment to the hard sand beach just beyond.  As the trail rose further, I passed through a large clump of pine trees that for the next couple of minutes hid the shoreline from view.  An experience such as this reminded me of just how beautiful life could really be, far removed from the monotony of urban existence.

My Photograph 
Over the past year, I had been very pleased to see that the number of people opting to use cycles for either exercise or short commutes had steadily increased.  Even more interesting, were the fine displays of high quality bikes and matching gear being used by various enthusiasts across the city.  However, as someone who is an avid cyclist I often felt a bit pained that while many shared my passion there were not enough stretches of roadway that were both safe and devoid of vehicular traffic for us to ply on at our own leisure.   Fortunately, in the month of February this year, fate decided to intervene and I did discover one of the many places, where people could get away and enjoy a more peaceful sojourn.

My Photograph
Located on the Konkan coast of Western Maharashtra, just south of Mumbai city, Alibaug offered the ideal range for riders to choose either a solo or group tour through its small town habitations, neighboring beaches and vast open fields that lay inland.  Plus, with its large swathes of farmland and pristine hillsides further down its coast, it  also offered adventure seekers a number of great camping spots post the monsoon season (early June to mid-October).  But for just the day I ventured there with a group known as the Mumbai Travellers, our journey was equally thrilling in every way.  We did visit Khim and Awaas beach and were granted the opportunity to see several spots around Alibaug that are seldom visited by tourists.  But more important for me was the feeling of elation of being removed from the usual humdrum of engines to being able to soak in the relative silence and chirps of birds in the canopy of trees above me.

My Photograph 

Indeed, this tranquility also reminded me of my love of the symbiotic relationship shared between the bike and its rider. Each needs the other to get somewhere. Plus, there is a strong reminder to the rider that unless she or he makes the effort to push beyond their own limits they are not going to get anywhere at any time any soon.  Along a journey there will be points, where the rider will have to exert themselves and at others where they can enjoy just sitting in their seats and letting gravity take care of the rest.  It’s very much like life in that respect.  If you meet challenges head on and understand that if you work hard enough to overcome every obstacle then there is always a reward awaiting for you on the other side. Next Take please!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Have A Drink On Me

Courtesy: Sunayan Shahani 

Friend: So you don’t drink?
Me: No. I don’t.
Friend: How come?
Me: Well when I turned 18, I did give alcohol a shot (no pun intended). But I just never acquired a taste for it. So I figured if I don’t like it, why do it!
Friend: You on drugs on something to come up with that? 
Me: No.
Friend: Let me guess, don’t smoke either?
Me: Nope.
Friend: Strange. But yet you listen to heavy metal….
Me: So?

My Photograph
Either way that I look at it, I’ve had this conversation numerous times with a series of people who I’ve met over the years.  It is funny when I think of some of those chats, for the friends or acquaintances with whom I was talking to, were so completely dumbstruck by my revelation that it seemed to affect their mood in some way.  Although I’m not quite sure why.  More so, a few of them seemed to lament and pleaded with me to give alcohol another chance.  But when I politely declined they seemed to slip into a bizarre state of melancholy and nurse their wounds over their favorite poison.  However, I will add that no one had or has ever been obnoxious and forced me to have a glass of beer, wine or vodka. But what amuses me the most as I recollect all those dialogues is that because I am such a big heavy metal music fan or lover, many outsiders assume that I am a heavy drinker.  Somehow all the fans of that particular music are labelled the same way.  [And now I have songs like Whiskey In The Jar, Cold Gin, Black Ice and Me And My Wine playing in my head]. 

My Photograph
But putting that connection aside, I do realize that being a teetotaler can be a bit challenging at times, which is why some folks I know who have no acquired taste for alcohol still grab a glass of champagne, Old Monk or Peach Schnapps just to fit in.  And you may ask why do they do so?  Strangely enough just the other night I was at a house party and a dear friend of mine was mentioning how having an refined taste and knowledge of wine can help you score so much new business.  What he of course meant was that having this interest helps to literally break the ice with people across the table as it is a way of finding a common ground that could help people better connect.  Nothing wrong with that at all but that is one reason why certain people force themselves to drink a bit.  The other cause as to why they would do this is to become more accepted as they feel if they don’t drink they won’t be invited to office outings, peer parties, music concerts and New Year bashes.  Honestly, I can say that isn’t a feeling to hold onto.  If you stand by your decision and are comfortable with it, people around you will respect you for that. Plus, you can still rely on other interests and common grounds like art, sports, cinema or food to connect with people and build those bridges of professional and personal friendship.  Don’t fear that you’ll become a social outcast.  But, at the same time, don’t be a stick in the mud and judge others who do drink or remain aloof when you are at any social gathering.  My advice is to be in the moment and take part in the wholesome fun but watch out for your mates and keep them safe.

For the most part I am glad to see people enjoying themselves and being pleased with the alcoholic beverages that they do have. I’d add that I am a bit envious when I see how passionate some people are about their favorite liquors.  Of course, though I don’t feel the same way as they do, I still think it’s pretty cool. So to all those happy people I have known, do know and will know, I say cheers and have fun.  Pass me the heavy metal and you keep the ice. Have a drink on me! Next Take please!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Unchained And Unbound

My Photograph
If there is a singular reason as to why I love to fly on an airplane, it is because it feels like you are being freed from the shackles that prevent you from truly discovering more about life.  Soaring into the heavens gives you a sensation of breaking away from all the rut and sometimes subtle chaos of reality that seem to smother you in their diabolical dance.  Being onboard and gazing out above the cloud line is awe inspiring either at dawn or at dusk. To watch the beautiful play of light and the color display that nature and the universe put on is truly breath taking. I find flying to be more than just a means to travel from one point to another. It is an opportunity to reflect and in an almost childlike way be inspired by the magic of how something that is made of metal and plastic, can carry you forward into a somewhat new realm of existence.

My Photograph
Further to it, there is something utterly wonderful about being seated in a plane facing the open runway and then with flick of a switch you can feel the engines roaring to life.  With the rising force that pushes you back into your seat as you shoot down the space in front of you before you head upwards is quite a rush. Observing a plane taking off, reminds me of the metaphor of where a person in a similar fashion confronts a challenge head on and just like the engines, they too push themselves forward and preserve until they have won over it.  In fact, each time I fly I reflect back on various times when many naysayers and skeptics, whom I have encountered in my life, would attempt to block my path towards success.  But having learnt from the aforementioned metaphor, here I am today on the verge of ascending towards the illustrious pantheon where the great women and men of our time reside, while pushing myself forward with everything I have so that I to can reach that abode a lot sooner than later. And I must admit the journey ahead does have me excited.

My Photograph
But coming to the power of flight itself, its creators too had to deal with many antagonistic groups and people over the centuries, who held the banner high, which read that “Man cannot fly and should never attempt to do so for that would be against the wishes of God.  For if it was the wishes of the latter, he would have given the former a natural pair of wings.”  However, just as the metaphor describes, the great minds of the past century defied that reasoning and showed that “God did indeed intend for man to fly, which is why he gave him the brains to create his own wings.  For by doing just that could people not only appreciate it but also develop it further so they could be carried beyond any horizon in the world or distance in space.”  Such has been the importance of flight and so it applies to our lives as well, which is to do the impossible and to have the childlike spirit to enjoy every moment of it. Next Take please!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Poison Tastes Sweet

My Photograph
For the past year, I have been experimenting on myself! No, nothing dangerous or overtly radical mind you. Instead, I have proactively aimed to avoid any consumption of sugar in all its forms.  This even included using sugar in teas and breakfast cereal. Taking it a step further, I even avoided packaged foods as well, which included tetra pack fruit juices, milk based drinks, baked beans, biscuits, noodles etc.  I wanted to see if my wife’s hidden suspicions were in fact true.  It was her view that although I consumed very little of the above mentioned items, the sugar or preservatives in them were in fact the reason why I had quite literally ballooned up in size. 

For most of my adult life, my waistline and weight had never crossed 32 and 75 respectively.  However, I began to notice, shortly after crossing the age of 30 that although I had made even greater efforts to sleep better and exercise more, I was in fact gaining weight rather than losing it.  My medical tests showed that I was normal and that I was not suffering from any particular disorder or sickness that would explain my almost sudden weight gain. 

My Photograph
Well, I stuck to my commitment and waited to see if the desired results would reveal the truth. A year later it did.  I was quite puzzled to find that my weight began to drop significantly and the more I pushed myself to sleep, eat and exercise better, while following my new diet, the less of a circle I became.  But understanding the true impact of cutting out sugar and sugar preservatives in all forms was quickly revealed to me after a few studies and real life cases my wife and I read.  We found that while most normal human bodies will burn a moderate amount of sugar quite effectively for the years of childhood and adolescents, it slows down and fails to work as effectively once a person crosses the age of 30.  In fact, after that point, if you aren’t too careful, your body just stores all that sugar as plain old fat.  But more importantly, it gets stashed away along your face line, stomach, love handle region, thighs and yes your butt too. 

My Photograph 
After having made this discovery, I was deeply elated that I had in chosen the right path. But interestingly enough, I also found after the year experiment when I tried to consume some tea with sugar in it, I just couldn’t.  It felt awful and dare I say violently distasteful.  This revealed to me just how my system was rejecting the substance that I had happily consumed for most of my living years. Pretty amazing, when I think about it!  But more than that I noticed that my energy levels increased and I stopped suffering from acidity attacks altogether.  Of course, the greatest joy was being able to fit into a size 32 very comfortably once again!   However, I would like to state on record that nowadays, I may consume a tiny piece of sweet or chocolate now and then (very rarely I might add) but nothing else.

Courtesy: Prapti Doshi Moorthy
Hence, I would encourage other adults struggling with their weight to consider what I did.  Many people I found worldwide, have followed this and have seen some interesting things happen to their physiques.  Without, hopefully, not sounding too preachy, I would suggest that if you can’t cut sugar out completely, at least make a conscious effort to reduce the amount you consume by being more selective of the foods and drinks you normally like to have.  For though it may sound crazy to some, the taste of sweetness really is a poison in disguise at times.  So for the love of who you are, do make that effort to take care of yourself and be healthy always! Next Take please!