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Cycling trip to Nagaon beach

October 2nd, 2014 was the day I completed my first ever century ride but no  need to wax eloquent about that.
 
A few days ago, on October 2, 2018, we went to Nagaon beach just for the heck of it. I had never been there on my bicycle so was all pumped up and it was worth the effort.
 
We started at 0530 from Ruia College Signal and reached Gateway of India by 0615. Rony and Shivkumar accompanied me as we pedaled away without the traffic or such save and except for that black dog who came running behind me 😞 Everyone seems to be aware of my fear of the canine species.
 
As luck would have it, the first launch was cancelled so we had time to watch the sun come up and take some pictures.
 
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We then left by the ferry at 7 am which put us at Mandwa jetty by 0830.
 
Going to Mandwa
 
Started cycling in the roads laced with greenery and trees so it was enjoyable. Rony had his music system playing and with Panchamda playing, what more could a Pancham Paagal ask for? We rode almost non stop to Nagaon beach (only halt we had been to grab a pav vada for breakfast) and were there by 10 am. Good weather.
 
Ride from Mandwa to Nagaon
 
Rony and his selfie abilities even when riding
 
Shivkumar and I went wading into the water. Despite being a public holiday, the beach wasn’t so crowded.
 
Left from there around 11 and just as we got out, heard a huge whissssshhh. Rony’s rear wheel had a flat. We first tried to fix the puncture but it turned out that the rear tyre was damaged so decided to put him into an auto rickshaw and send him to the jetty.
 
As we were walking ahead looking, for an auto, someone asked, Puncture? And we nodded yes. So he directed us to this gentleman barely 500 metres away who had his cycle repair shop in his cottage itself. He was God sent honestly. Fixed the puncture and the tire but the air again leaked so decided to replace the tube. Rony being Rony was fully geared up with spare tubes despite this being his foldie and not his regular bicycle. We finally started off at 1220 from there.
 
Decided to skip Alibag and proceeded straight to Mandwa Jetty. On the way had sugar cane juice, a banana and water. The heat was seriously getting to us. We made it to the jetty by 2 pm just about the time when the catamaran was leaving. Hurriedly picked up bottles of water with some chips and rushed to the catamaran.
 
Return leg
 
Came back to Gateway of India by 3.30 pm. The catamaran was faster than the morning ferry. Guzzled water and started once again to reach home by 4.30 pm.
 
It was a fun ride even if hot. Ended up with 85.8 kms which was short of the century done 4 years ago but it was truly a memorable ride.
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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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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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Imagination and what it can do for you……

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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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Mind games during the city ride on the day of Holi

Yesterday was Holi and hence I could plan my ride in advance. No one was around to accompany me but I was determined to go solo if needed so I set off at 0600 and went without a break all the way to Mulund toll naka. Took the customary pee break and then continued all along on the Eastern Express Highway. Too a U-turn from Ghodbunder Road junction and messaged my family and friends where I was. Of course, it is now a given that I share my location on Google maps with them so they can actually see where I am thus not needing to call to check about my well-being.

The mind is funny and it begins playing games. Around the u-turn, I was thinking of going to the McDonald’s for breakfast and I knew that post breakfast, it would be difficult to ride for long. Without thinking much I took the u-turn and continued for a kilometer or so just so that I would not go back.

The weather so far wasn’t all that bad. Continued the journey back and around Ghatkopar, the mind games started. “Maybe I should continue straight and head home. It is getting hot.” Somehow I overruled my brains and turned left from Priyadarshini Circle and moved on towards Bhakti Park. Went in for a good 2 or 3 kms before halting to message. Informed all that I was heading to town.

Continued pushing myself and went through the BPT road all the way to Colaba. Ended up at Regal and so Cafe Mondegar it was. Had a yummy omelet with a toast. By then had done 71 kms so was feeling good. The next challenge was to get home. As I left Mondegar, it was 11 am and the sun was in its full glory.

Went to Nariman Point and turned at NCPA to continue down to Wilson College where I turned in and went to see my Father in law. Carried the bicycle up and right into his living room which surprised a lot of people but I wouldn’t risk my bicycle for anything. Was there for around 20 minutes and then rode back home.

Ended up doing 89 kms. But lesson learnt, that the mind does play a lot of games. We need to overcome the chattering that the mind produces.

I regret not having completed 100 kms but I guess it is OK now. I will have to work on the route to ensure that I do it next time.

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Yes I am a diabetic!!!

Diabetes

My close friends and family know I am a Type 2 diabetic but I am now coming out in the open with the admission.

Last Tuesday, I went for my blood test after 18 months. I was in for a rude shock as the values were the worst ever in my diabetic life of over 15 years. Fasting of 188, Post lunch of 184 and A1c of 8.4. I was ashamed of myself. And these results were despite all the exercising, walking and yoga I do!!

Many calls with my sister, a dietician, who had always lectured me on controlling portions. She said, “It is 20% Exercise and 80% food and portion related”.

What am I doing now?

  • Early days so far but I have started having an omelet every morning with a slice of bread. I use 2 egg whites and 1 egg yolk. And I add a lot of vegetables, not just the routine onions and tomatoes.
  • I have stopped sweets completely since December 2017. By sweets, I mean the external sugars. What comes in the food/fruits naturally can’t be avoided.
  • Cut down on chappatis from 3 to 2.
  • Stopped rice (though I have been advised that there is no need to omit it completely)
  • My toughest time is when I get home in the evening as I pig out on whatever I can lay my hands on. Trying to curb that habit. So far I have been having generous helpings of soup (without any milk, cream etc.) followed by dinner.
  • So far so good but need to change things drastically around my eating.
  • Exercise wise, my earlier schedule was Waking about 9 km each on Mondays and Thursdays, Cycling about 30 km each on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Yoga for 90 minutes each on Wednesday and Saturday and finally cycling anything from 50 to 100 km on Sundays. I have changed that a tad bit (not that I liked it). I have stopped cycling on Fridays and instead am walking. I hope to get the sugars down and then get back to cycling on Fridays soon.
  • I am an early riser with the alarm going off at 0444 every single day. Now have changed it to 0530. I sleep by 2230.
  • Also, I had this dirty habit of keeping the phone right next to my bed on the side table. Would check emails in the middle of the night. Now I keep it a good 8 feet or so away from me in the bedroom just so that I can switch off the alarm.
  • I now climb stairs to get into the office though I don’t do that at home. About time I started that too.
  • Another admission I am mortally scared of the injection. So much so that I have to shut my eyes to avoid looking at the needle or the syringe. That is the reason why I don’t go for blood tests. This time I have taken my Doctor’s appointment for next month and also noted down in my calendar, the date for blood tests.
  • Stress – The real killer. Trying to calm down so I listen to music/audiobooks on my way in the car. Earlier, I used to talk on the phone thanks to the Bluetooth feature in the car (not that I don’t now but sparingly).

Trying to change my lifestyle gradually for the better just so that I can bring down my weight and my sugar.

Decided to take diabetes head on and counting on the support of each one of you to help me get through it.

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The Pagoda ride and then coastal ride

I was longing to go to the Global Vipassana Pagoda near Gorai. Had missed a ride earlier when friends had gone there. Finally, we decided to go there on February 4, 2018.

As is typical of me, I announced it to my friends and family and of course my accountability partners just so that I had no means to chicken out. And it worked. The previous night I slept past midnight and when the alarm went off at 0444, I was two minds whether to go or skip. But I jumped out of bed rather than listen to my silly sleepy mind and left home at 0600.

Reached the meeting point at Dadar TT and met Rony. He had got my tail light so he fixed that. We finally took off at 0615 just the two of us for what was to be a superb ride. The weather was pleasant so no complaining.

We rode over all the bridges starting from Andheri as the Metro construction work has made the roads below a living hell. Turned left at Kashimira and went in towards Mira Road and Bhayandar and other spots. The road does get a little uphill but it wasn’t so bad.

We reached Gorai beach around 0930 and clicked photos to preserve the memory of my first ride to Gorai beach on the bicycle.

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After the photo session, we left from there and found a simple restaurant which served us some lovely egg bhurji with paav. It was filling and kept us going through the sunny ride.

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We started around 10 am and rode to the Pagoda. The grandeur of the Pagoda is breathtaking indeed. They have a nice, clean restaurant which serves pure vegetarian food. Since we had already finished our breakfast, we had delicious buttermilk there and boy was it delicious!! Had another round as well. We decided that the next time we ride here, we would have our breakfast at this restaurant. They have a swing opposite the Buddha statue and I have a fetish for swings so enjoyed that as well.

Left from there and rode to Manori jetty. It is a short ride of about 9 kms. On the way, we spotted this house with bougainvilleas in full bloom. It was an amazing sight.

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We then took the ferry from Manori Jetty to Marve which is a short ride across so it would hardly take 10 minutes.

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From Marve we cycled again this time to Madh jetty via The Resort and The Retreat hotels as also Aksa Beach. This was another 9 kms but it was fun. You suddenly felt the traffic of the city though not as much as the normal Mumbai traffic.

We took a short trip on the ferry across the waters to reach Versova. Honestly, it was shouting distance so to say as the ferry took us to the other side in less than 5 minutes. It was tough manoeuvring the bicycle through the sand. No, I wasn’t even riding but just dragging it in itself was tough. Don’t expect any pristine beach or such as we landed on to the fishing village and it WAS DIRTY. What followed was an ordeal as the road leading out was extremely narrow and two trucks came face to face. Even a cyclist couldn’t get through. Finally, they managed to move from there and so we could move. We hit Yari Road and we spotted a Subway so had a filling meal there.

We took off from there and then continued the journey back home trying to avoid traffic as much as possible. We took the road via Juhu beach just so that we could be near the coast as much as possible. After all, we wanted to do the coastal ride.

Took the usual route thereafter and we returned home. There was less than usual traffic honestly. Maybe it was a Sunday so people were enjoying their siesta. I made it home at 3.26 pm having done 94.7 kms. All in all, it was an exhilarating ride and the view of the Pagoda was breathtaking.

A big thank you to Rony who always motivates me to complete the ride (especially during the uphill climbs). Without him, I would be the king of DNFs. (Did not finish). The two of us will definitely be riding there once again and maybe after reading this, we will have more cyclists joining us.

Here is the map of my ride from Strava.