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Sweet Nothings

As part of the new curriculum “Pathways” at Toastmasters, I was to deliver a speech which I did in June of 2018. Based on the feedback from my evaluator, I had to modify the speech and present it again, which I did on August 11, 2018. Here is the transcript of the same.

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Towards the end of a business lunch, I asked “Dessert?” “No thanks. I am a diabetic.” “Sandeep, you are barely in your 20s, with an athletic body and you expect me to believe you are diabetic? It only happens to old people, right?” This was way back in 1998, how wrong was I!

Toastmaster of the day, fellow toastmasters and guests, welcome again to my tryst with diabetes.

About a year later, I had a skin infection which refused to heal and the dermatologist asked me to get my blood sugar checked. The results – Fasting of 180 against the normal range from 80 to 100. Postprandial 225 against the normal range from 100 to 120. My cousin, a vitreoretinal surgeon, specialises in eye problems in diabetics and so is well versed. “Manish, go to Dr. Argikar right now. I have set up your meeting”. I followed Dr. Argikar’s advice off and on (more off than on). My sister, Parul, is a dietitian and so chipped in with a lecture on exercising which I did take to. Learnt swimming, began walking.

Life trudged on and everytime someone would ask me about my blood results I would cringe “You know how scared I am of injections”. I used to avoid tests not for months but for years together. My wife and sister would nag me to get myself tested but I persisted with my phobia and also began exercising.

In August 2016, my blood report was good what with the cycling, walking and yoga I was into. I then became complacent and began basking in the glory.

In February this year, I mustered the courage to go to the lab after almost 2 years. The results left me shell shocked. Fasting 188 which was the worst ever in my history and postprandial of 140. Parul called me “Do you know what you are getting into? Change your medicines, change your lifestyle, change everything but get this under control” Dr. Argikar too gave me a piece of his mind along with increased medication.

Parul, like any other dietitian, got me on to a strict diet. She sure was getting even with me for all the childhood pranks. She was in constant touch with the powers that be in the kitchen – my Mom and wife and would instruct them on what to make and how much oil to use etc. Kavya would take photographs of the dinner plate and send it to her. She would then veto if it was good to eat or not and if the portion was OK or not. Imagine staring at food, not being able to eat it and watching it being reduced even before taking in a morsel. Many a slip between the cup and the lip.

Was it just food? No. Exercise. She put me on a strict exercise regimen walking thrice a week for about 90 minutes each, walking for 20 minutes after dinner, cycling twice a week and yoga as before twice a week. Thanks to social media, she was in touch with my yoga guru and I am now asked to do some specific exercises there too.

The results weren’t satisfactory even after having shed some kilos. So I was asked to maintain my daily schedule and we discovered that I wasn’t getting enough sleep. So I changed my morning alarm from 4.45 to 5.30 and would sleep at 10 pm instead of 11 pm.

Stress was another component that added to the levels. Any increase in stress and the sugar would spurt. Yoga helped me there with deep breathing.

With all of these, I can’t say I have been cured 100% as there is no cure for diabetes. It is like your shadow, always following you. Hence what we diabetics need is a lifestyle overhaul. One may take tablets or be on insulin but what definitely works is:

  • A Proper diet. No need to completely ban sugar though you can only have it in moderation. Control carbohydrates too. Watch not just what you eat but also how much you eat.
  • There is no substitute for exercise. I must exercise atleast 5 days a week mornings and evenings be it walking, cycling or yoga. And add a small change like I did – Climb stairs.
  • An essential part of diabetes management is adequate sleep, something I learnt the hard way. Sleep early as you have to wake up early and exercise come what may.
  • Learn to destress. Stress is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but gets you nowhere.

Remember diabetes is like a roller coaster ride. It has its ups and downs but it is entirely your choice whether to scream or enjoy the ride.

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Life Lessons learnt from Ludo

Ludo is a board game which I played as a kid. Recently Kavya and I began playing on the phone. Initially, it was just to rekindle those old memories but gradually it has become an addiction as we play a game every night. Since it is a program, we can’t cheat and it is fun.

Historically or should I say mythologically, kingdoms / whatever have been lost thanks to this game.

But is it only fun? I learnt some life lessons from this game.

  1. Everyone begins equal. We all have to wait for our turn when the die shows up 6 so that we can begin our move. In life, we all have come into this world with nothing. Will take nothing with us. Just wait for the right moment to move and enjoy.
  2. Never give up – You may start late or maybe the last one to get a six and move but remember it’s not over till it’s over. You will get ample chances to change the course of the game just as you will in life. The opera isn’t over until the fat lady sings.
  3. To win doesn’t mean that you just move ahead. You also have to attack the opponents. Remember if you don’t attack, doesn’t mean they won’t attack you. Life is like that. Just because you are a vegetarian doesn’t mean a lion won’t eat you. Be alert and be prepared at all times. Go for the kill as needed.
  4. Play to win. Kavya often plays with her cousins and when someone is to attack the emotional blackmail starts – will you do this to your brother/sister? There are no mercies in life. We all have to play to win. Life is a bitch so get ready to fight back.
  5. Strategise – Like the earlier point, play to win. Work on a strategy as you play. And it is not static. You will have to keep altering your strategy along the way so be dynamic. Life is like that. You keep the end goal in mind but you change the course along the way to ensure that you reach your end goal.
  6. Don’t look down upon others – You may be the first to move out but doesn’t mean the last mover is at a disadvantage. Strategies may differ and luck may not favour you. You could be in a winning position yet end up losing. Such is life. You never know when life could turn the tables on you.
  7. Watch out – It is not a bed of roses. Just be on the lookout for the other players on the prowl. You never know when who will attack so be prepared at all times. Life is like that too.

Every game is an enjoyable journey and has its twists and turns just like life. So enjoy the journey.

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Toastmasters Pathways Began my journey again

Pathways

I restarted my journey at Toastmasters under the Pathways Program which is a modernised program. Delivered my P1 speech on Saturday, April 28, 2018. The objectives of P1 are similar as before and it is the icebreaker. Given below is the text of the speech.

The late bloomer

What’s common between Madhuri Dixit, Juhi Chawla, Akshay Kumar and me? I can’t dance like Madhuri Dixit, I don’t sport the same smile as Juhi Chawla nor do I have the physique of Akshay Kumar. Yet, there is one thread that binds us together. We were all born in 1967.

Toastmaster of the Day, Fellow Toastmasters and guests, Welcome to the discovery of my passions in life.

Born and brought up in Matunga in Mumbai, I never left the place and continue to love it even today. My Father has retired now and my mother is a homemaker. Academically, I am an Electrical Engineer even if I can’t change a light bulb. Professionally, I am an entrepreneur who is into software and hardware solutions for the Enterprise and hospitals. My wife, Pauravi has the herculean task of raising two children, one of who is standing before you and as you can see is slightly overgrown.

Our lives weren’t complete until I was 37 as that is when Kavya entered the world and since then things have been different. She is the best thing that has happened to us and I am the lucky one as I get to be called HER father. She knows how best to get her way be it with her grandparents or parents.

I started BKS Iyengar yoga on May 1, 2008. A friend of mine asked me to start that and honestly being well endowed with fat, I thought it would be an easy way of getting rid of oodles of adipose tissue. How wrong I was! It is almost 10 years since I have been doing that (well whatever I can do). My target is to do shirshasana someday without any help.

Kavya learnt to swim at the age of 5 and one day she mocked at me “You still don’t know swimming?” That made me take up swimming lessons at the young age of 42 and believe me it wasn’t easy. But thanks to her, I atleast can now do breast-stroke. My target is to learn free-style swimming.

In March, 2013 I rekindled an old flame as I restarted cycling which I had left off sometime in 1986 after I began driving. Started with a few kms and happy to say that I have done a single ride of 155 kms once and can do 100 kms very easily. Target is to complete 5000 kms this year. 

Thanks to Suneel Agarwal, I got introduced to Toastmasters again in 2013 and got back to my passion for the English language especially grammar so much so that people call me a Grammar Nazi. Enjoy speaking when I can like I am doing today. And it is not just speaking, I had the opportunity to be a VP PR, VP Membership, President and now Area Director. And I would like to continue to learn which made me restart my journey under Pathways.

As a Toastmaster you also attract opportunities for speaking at or hosting events outside of Toastmasters. Suneel once recommended my name as a compere for a musical program. Got to meet some like-minded people there who were equally passionate about R D Burman or Panchamda and we formed Pancham Paagals. I was the default compere for the events and once I sang too. The audience response was good and so I took to singing my versions of Kishore Kumar and R D Burman numbers be it as a part of Pancham Paagals or at my club.

In hindsight, I find that the things that you are passionate about are not random, they are your calling. I discovered a few of mine and continue to discover more at this age of 50. What is your passion? What is your calling? Don’t let it stifle inside you. Let it show up and enjoy life.

And I was the best speaker for the day too 🙂

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Importance of sleep – My personal experience

sleep-and-diabetes

I am a diabetic as I mentioned earlier.
Working hard to bring down my blood sugar levels and that is done with medication, thanks to my doctor and a proper diet, thanks to my sister.
Since the fasting levels were out of sync even after changes in medication and diet, my sister insisted on knowing what time I had dinner and what time I slept and woke up.
I am a regular at 5 am thanks to Robin Sharma and sometimes even if I slept past midnight I would be up at 5 am.
For the past two days, the sugar levels at home were 140 and 150. Yesterday since I had a late night due to a medical emergency in the family, I switched off the alarm and slept for a good 8 hours.
The fasting level as predicted by my sister dropped to 135.
I now realise that it is not just diet and exercise that matters. Even the rest that we give to our body matters. If you are like me, working hard on reducing the sugar levels do think of the amount of rest you give your body.
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The bane of remixes

No remixes

The other day, I tuned into Saavn.com. Being a die-hard fan of Panchamda, I was looking for his music.
I found a dedicated channel with his music on Saavn and like a child with a new toy, I was overjoyed.
But it was short lived.
As I tuned in, I discovered that they had remixes / cover versions of his music.
I was outraged honestly.
As a die-hard fan, if not a fanatic, I felt betrayed as I was looking for R D Burman’s music and not the music made by others by messing up with the genius’ composition.
Remixes / cover versions are no where near the original. Infact, I would go on to state that they are actually an insult to the composer, the singer, the lyricist and all of those who made the music happen.
A case in point is the title song of my favourite soundtrack, Yeh Vaada Raha. The movie when it was released didn’t go to well with the audiences and so the music too supposedly wasn’t so popular. The remix made a decade or so ago, was disgusting and the video was even worse. I was appalled but somehow the audience lapped it up I believe.
There are so many such examples but I for one am a purist and detest these remixes with the bass levels increased not to mention the terrible visuals.
I suggest Saavn.com and gaana.com should have pure music for people like me who prefer the original stuff and nothing but the original.
I hope they are listening.
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Imagination and what it can do for you……

imagination2

I have borrowed this title from my dear friend, Parin’s Diploma speech at Nazareth Speakers’ Academy way back in 1989.

On Wednesday evening, I went through this video by Bob Proctor which spoke on imagination and how it could help everyone.

Set my mind thinking. What was my mental block? I for one always felt I was a slow cyclist who took too many breaks when cycling. I imagined what it would look like if I did 40 kms the next day within the same time that I did 30 kms. It called for an increased cadence, something that I wasn’t much used to.

The next day, I woke up late and left only at 0645. But I had a clear picture in my mind of throwing my hands up in the air as I would complete 40 kms. I planned to take off to Airoli Circle and back but the traffic on the return leg scared me. So I decided to go back to my tried and tested route of BPT Mahul Toll Road. I normally do 3 loops of the toll road and return via Bhakti Park and Sion. The distance is about 31 kms which I complete in just under 2 hours. On Wednesday, I started on the road, riding non-stop. I lowered the gear a bit just so that I could continue riding with a good cadence. I also started counting the number of times my left leg would go down. That way my mind was occupied. I completed 4 loops against the normal 3 and then returned as per the normal route. When I got near home, I realised that I was 3 kms short (thanks to my sister for the Apple Watch) so went around to complete the planned distance. Came home having completed 40.7 kms in 2 hours and 9 minutes at an average of 18.9 kmph. Not bad considering my average speed is 16 kmph.

I was glad and so bragged about it to all 🙂

Next steps? Tomorrow being a Sunday, I plan to undertake a dream ride for me atleast. From home to Airoli Circle to Belapur Railway Station via Palm Beach Road and back the same way. It would be a distance of about 88 kms return. Let us see how it pans out. I have company for the first 22 kms to Airoli Circle after which I am on my own. But well that experience is for another blog post.

Till then, keep imagining and achieve your goals. Keep riding, stay fit.

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2 years without coffee and counting….

March 17, 2016, was the day I quit coffee completely. Why? I was a caffeine addict and I am serious about the word, addict. Morning and afternoon was my dose when I started, but then as luck would have had it, early morning, breakfast, mid-morning, afternoon, late afternoon and during the evening I would be consuming coffee.

Worse, I graduated to black coffee so the caffeine kick was extra effective. Gradually the strong milk coffee consumption dwindled to nearly 80% of black coffee.

Life was tough indeed for a week after kicking the habit. I did not wean off gradually. In fact, it was a sudden decision. So much so that on the morning of the big day, I was enjoying my coffee not knowing what lay ahead for the day. Around 10:30, I decided enough was enough and in a flash announced to my friend that I was off it.

The week after, was indeed a living hell, as I had splitting headaches, I was fidgety and God knows what I was undergoing. But I used painkillers to curb the headaches and overcame that. Gradually I slipped back into normal mode. It wasn’t easy but at the same time, it wasn’t impossible too. It was a test of my will-power and my commitment to my friend. I just couldn’t let him and hence myself down.

All those who still are thinking of kicking the habit (be it tea, coffee or smoking, which thankfully I don’t), you can do it. It is just a decision that you need to make and STICK to it come what may. Yes, a week’s torture is what it will mean (maybe more) but always remember you can do it.

I did it and am off coffee for 2 years now. I am certain you can too.