My P6 Speech at Toastmasters – Projects from the Incompetent Husband’s manual

Woman Shouting with Bullhorn --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis
Woman Shouting with Bullhorn — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

The aims for this speech project ie P6 are to use your voice to complement your message by enhancing your:

  • pace
  • pitch
  • power and
  • pauses.

Your voice is the best tool in your delivery toolbox. You must learn to use it effectively to enhance your presentation.

Also just for the information of the uninitiated, at Toastmasters, we have 2 manuals to start with the Competent Communicator Manual and the Competent Leadership Manual. The speech title was a take off on those manuals.

God created the earth and rested. He created man and rested. But ever since He created woman, neither He nor man have rested.

Toastmaster of the Day, Fellow Toastmasters and guests, like with all married men, my wife too has a laundry list of my shortcomings. But I will sound you on the pitfalls of married life after joining Toastmasters.

Fast forward 20 years of marriage. The year 2013 is when I meet someone by the name of Suneel Agarwal and we hit it off. I enter BTM with him as a guest and become a member. The icebreaker is delivered on January 25, 2014 – How can I forget that day? The only meeting attended by her Highness, Pauravi Kamdar. She is all smiles in the room and so I think I have a platform that meets her approval. As we get into the car, I ask her “What do you make of it?”

“Ice breaker? It’s a head breaker. Looks like a clan of people who have nothing better to do but stand there and talk to each other. You think I will waste my time at this Loudspeaker?”

Kavya interjects “Mom it is Toastmasters and not Loudspeaker”

“Kavya, you keep out of this. They all mean the same. You stand there and talk or you go to Shivaji Park and cry yourself hoarse – no one cares. Atleast not me.”

Gradually, we start having trainings, Leadership Conclaves, contests on Sundays in one remooooooote corner of the world, Thaaaaane.

“You said it was alternate Saturdays. Now you have started going on Sundays too. I am glad you go cycling on Sundays even if you return home and snore away till 5 in the evening. Now this? You say you will return by 4 and knowing you, will sleep till 7. Why do I get a feeling that you have washed your hands off teaching Kavya? If her grades suffer, I am going to shut off this loudspeaker. And leave aside Kavya, what about me? You just ignore me and I will not take it lying down. I have forgotten what a movie hall looks like ever since you have joined this Loudspeaker.”

“Honey, Bajrangi Bhaijaan is being released this week. When would you like to go watch it?” White flag waved.

On Valentine’s Day this year, I find other ways of romancing – I am preparing for my P5. As usual, Kavya is my timer and my wife, the eternal Arnab Goswami

“You want her to sit with you and listen to your Loudspeaker? When is she going to study? In all these years have you ever thought of me? This morning, our neighbour comes over and flaunts the beautiful necklace her husband gave her. And me? I don’t even have a rose to show her.”

“But darling, I am taking you out for a nice dinner tonight.”

“Nice Dinner – my foot. You are taking me for the Club night at Matunga Gymkhana and I jolly well know it is a free event for members and their kids. You think I am so naive?”

I let the argument blow over.

With a spring in my step, I return home “Kavya, I was adjudged the best speaker”

“Yay” High fives, hugs and kisses follow while a pair of roving eyes is staring at me as I feign ignorance. The lights go off and the floodgates open like the swollen Bhakra Nangal dam, “Why is it that all your speeches revolve around Kavya, your sister, your parents? Don’t I exist in your life?”

“Sorry Honey. I promise my next speech will be all about you and only you.” My P6 topic is decided.

The level of a Toastmasters commitment reaches a new peak with Oration2015. Meeting Suneel and Atul is a given over weekends. Foodies that we are, whether we work or not, binge we will. One evening on opening the door –

“Don’t they have a wife and family? Every Saturday you have something planned with them. Is this a loudspeaker or a loud eater? Have you bothered to look at yourself in the mirror lately? The bulge is worse than before?” Before I can digest the barrage, I hear “Tomorrow you will take Kavya and me out for a nice dinner.”

Thank God, we’ve smoked the peace pipe.

To all the unmarried Toastmasters out there, never try to understand your wife. No man ever has, no man ever will.

To all the married ones, I fully sympathise with you. It is a herculean task for us to come here braving the wife at home. The rains, traffic, table topics, grammarian’s role – all pale in comparison.

To the ladies out there, have mercy on us men. We are running out of white flags but still will wave whatever is left of them ALWAYS. That is a Toastmasters commitment.

And yes…. I ended up being voted as the Best Speaker of the Day too:-)

Pain in the ear… yet again.

Here I am battling serious ear infection with the pain making me feel that it is even worse than probably the pain experienced by women during childbirth (due apologies women). And who is to blame? Me, myself and I. Shameless that I am. What are my problems with the ear?

swimmers_ear1Due to swimming I often contract some or the other ear infection and this is prevalent in the summer times when the rush at Matunga Gymkhana increases exponentially (my earlier post). Even though the image says swimmer’s ear, I seriously doubt it is as serious as that from what I have read. Water gets into my ears and you need to shake it out. Have used silicone ear plugs (thanks to Yogesh) but not of much use and then even got Mack’s ear seals from the US (thanks to Bunty). A couple of weeks back, I had the same problem and went to Dr. Karnik, one of the best doctors I have come across. (Incidentally his Dad used to treat my Dad too so kind of our khandaani ENT you can say.) I showed him the Mack’s ear seals and he recommended that I instead use Ear Band It which happened to arrive only today.

ear budNow why this long story? Disclosure: I am a diabetic so prone to infection. Despite the umpteen warnings given by Dr. Karnik, I used the ubiquitous ear bud to clean my ears after swimming. Dr. Karnik is very candid that this is something that I should never be doing. What happens is that we tend to push the buds right in and in the process scratch maybe the inner ear or such which leads to inflammation and pain. Being a diabetic, it magnifies in cases like mine. Lesson learnt yet again today and from now on no more ear buds. Better be safe than sorry.

earphonesNow swimming is something I have been off for atleast 10 days since I was travelling and then the after effects of the infection. So this time the wise man in me decides to watch a movie on the flight back home from Delhi to Mumbai on Wednesday evening. So far so good. Friday morning I was off to Lonavala for a weekend break and started popping Crocin 500 tablets (2 at a time thrice a day) to keep the pain in check. Friday and Saturday were so far so good. Yesterday things went from bad to worse. The pain was throbbing and I was completely lost. Began losing temper (frayed nerves) thanks to the pain. I popped in about 10 Crocin 500s in a span of 24 hours but the pain was nowhere in control. Could not sleep all night and must have slept for 90 minutes in two tranches honestly. There was some pus like fluid oozing out of the ears all night. Drove back somehow this morning but before embarking on the drive, I called up the clinic and was told all appointments full. No problem I said, I would come and wait there. Finally went at 4.35 pm today evening and was taken in immediately (Thank God). First thing I admitted that I watched a movie on Wednesday night using the earphones which went in the ear and did insert a ear bud a couple of times to soak the puss out. He looked at it and said it was a bad case of inflammation and pus  He put me on antibiotics galore so as to bring the inflammation down and has asked me to come again on Wednesday evening for a clean up. He again said no to in ear phones. He said the slightest abrasion when inserting the earphone is enough to start something like in this case. Use over the ear ones but now I have decided no earphones at all for me. And no ear buds either.

So folks please please please learn from my mistakes. No ear buds ever and no in ear phones ever. You don’t know how humiliating now I feel as in pain I have flown off the handle today on my wife, daughter and God knows who else. Sorry folks but honestly the pain is unbearable and I am the only one to blame 100%. And BTW I am off swimming for a month now. Cycling it is for me once things stabilise.

Gymkhana Elections – Such a hullabaloo

Tomorrow is the big day or so it seems at Matunga Gymkhana as we have the Elections and the AGM too. One may wonder what is there to post about? This is the first time honestly that I will be voting at MG. Last year had attended the AGM and honestly it was an exercise in disgust as you see people come in with bloated egos trying to make their worst possible bit to get their way. Anyway this year is something different it seems. There are panels formed and we have been receiving a volley of print mailers, e-mail blasts, SMS blasts, phone calls and the handshake every time you are seen at the Gymkhana. Battle lines are drawn. People suddenly have woken up to marketing or so it seems. While I have seen these things happening at Otters (They have a much much bigger corpus and so stakes are much higher surely) but seeing this at MG makes me wonder. On my way back today from yoga, I saw a huge poster asking people to vote for a particular panel outside a building under construction. That I felt was stretching things a bit too far if you ask me. Maybe there is something that is I am not aware of? Some fringe benefits? Who knows? I for sure don’t. I am going to participate in the elections tomorrow but my vote is surely going to my friends / people I know only.

A really long domain name

Internet is a funny place:-) Everyone these days has a domain registered but whether they use it or not is another matter altogether. If websites are made out, they are rarely updated. For the past few years that I have been actively using some facility or the other at Matunga Gymkhana, I always have looked at this hoarding on my way home. Finally took a picture last night around mid night. What always struck me is the long long domain name! Imagine if he were to use this for his e-mail ID and the name was a typically long south Indian name like Narangampuram Srinivasan what would it look like? A mile long e-mail ID? The length of a domain name has always been a factor and the longer it is, the more likely it is going to be misspelt. (BTW this name is not a figment of my imagination. Had met this gentleman years ago and his e-mail ID was loooooonnnnnnnnnnngggggggggggg)

Just out of curiosity, I checked the web site and as expected the site is not up. The domain seems to be registered to someone in Matunga so it is existing in cyberspace but not:-)

Free style swimming finally:-)

A journey that began a year and a half ago…. And finally I can say that I have got the hang of free style swimming. This is considered the simplest of strokes I am told but for me it has been one of the most difficult tasks. Breast stroke was a cake walk but this called for some struggle for sure. Then came a spate of breaks (Who would like to wake up at 2.40 pm on a lazy Sunday afternoon and go into the pool at 3 pm?) Kavya would mock at me “Papa you STILL don’t know free style” That did it and I decided I am going to give it my best shot. She comes in the batch after me at Matunga Gymkhana and so today the coach vouched for me and told Kavya that yes your Papa knows freestyle now. Now he wants me take up backstroke next but that is after I have mastered the breathing which is still some what out of sync at times. Hum honge kaamyab ek din:-)

Free Style Swimming finally

After a long break I am back to the blog…. Yesterday for the first time I swam 25 metres ie half a lap of the pool that too twice. What is the big thing one might say? For starters I am a 44-year-old young man and to top it all I did it free style. Since I started swimming classes over a year ago, I learnt breast stroke and do 20 laps in the mornings non stop now in under 50 minutes. Have been trying to learn free style for some time now. But when it came to free style, I always made a hash of it by mixing the two strokes. I found it extremely difficult to unlearn breast stroke and get on with free style. Normally people adapt to free style first (or so I am told) and then take up other strokes but I am unique:-) I want to learn swimming at the ripe young age of 44! Kavya learnt free style first and is now learning breast stroke. She is always bewildered at the fact that I don’t know free style which she learnt so easily. But well she knows how to dance too whereas I am born with 2 left feet. But whatever be it I am now able to swim free style even if just a little. Some day I will dance with Kavya too:-) Who knows?

My first AGM of Matunga Gymkhana

I attended the AGM of Matunga Gymkhana for the first time today despite being a member for almost 5 years. The experience was nothing to write home about. People came in with their personal (bloated) egos in tow and the only objective I thought they had was to object to any and everything possible (much like the Opposition in the Parliament in India). What is the purpose? The Managing Committee members are honorary members and not paid employees to get involved in such nitty gritties like the questions put forth. Yes there were some glaring errors but then they were accepted so get ahead. I never knew AGMs were such and felt that the meeting was so meaningless. The worst was when they wanted the constitution of the Gymkhana to be sent to each and every member (3000 of them) and that too not on e-mail but in hard copy form. This was a herculean task as it involves so much money and worse it involves so much paper. Believe me hardly 5 or 10% of the members would even care to read it. But jeez they had some sadistic pleasure in getting the secretary to announce that the copies would be couriered. Jeez!!! I would rather put it on the web site and let people download it and read at their convenience. Why print? The world is talking about going green, using less paper etc. but here we are encouraging usage of paper and that too expensive paper. Wish there was something like common sense!