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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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.

Radio resurrected (for me atleast)

BIG FM LogoThe advent of the television coupled with the streaming video etc. would make one think that it was the death knell for the radio. Who listens to the radio is what they say and many would agree too with that.
I would disagree. Given a choice, I would love to listen to the radio over TV. Why? The unpredictability keeps you guessing. And the music is cool as ever especially if you (like me) are a fan of Kishore Kumar and Panchamda. Imagine hearing two of your favourite songs back to back!! Sheer bliss as I experienced recently.
I got hooked to Win 94.6 in the early FM days when Malishka was on the air doing the Breakfast Show. We continue to remain in touch but honestly I don’t listen to her station much these days as the music is what Kavya and her ilk like.
Mumbai has 92.7 Big FM which only plays the hits of yore. The morning RJ, Siddharth is good too as he shares a lot of trivia and ofcourse plays brilliant music. For years, I have been used to the radio in the shower. So when I hear my favourite Panchamda number being crooned by Kishoreda, my spirits soar and my day is made. The best part is that they play all kinds of songs and not just Panchamda so Mom and wifey too are happy listening to that station on the home theatre. Just that Kavya is red-faced unless the song is one she knows. But I guess she will soon realise the worth of the music being played over what is being dished out presently in the garb of music.
The other show that I love is again on 92.7 Big FM and is called Suhana Safar with Anu Kapoor. Excellent research and helps me gather knowledge and most importantly the music is awesome too. Makes the journey to office so musical and enjoyable.
Thank you FM. You are filling in a big void in my life every single day,

A Toastmaster’s journey led me to music

Singing Vaada KaroYesterday as the presiding officer of the Bombay Toastmasters Club, I gave a short speech to open the meeting. It encompassed my journey as a Toastmaster which began sometime in September 2013 when I walked in as a guest. I have so far given 8 prepared speeches since then and participated in other activities as well in the club. It isn’t all about Public Speaking but also about learning leadership skills. Also made new friends and am enjoying the ride.

One of the best learning opportunities I had, was as the co-convenor of Oration2015 which was held in May 2015. Toastmasters from all over the country had come there and I got to learn so much about what goes into the making of a 3 day event, marketing, planning, the activities in the background, getting speakers, slotting them in etc. A wealth of experience gained even though I was on vacation during the actual event.

Exactly a week ago, i.e. January 3, 2016 I got to combine the experiences of Toastmasters with Oration2015 at the Pancham Paagals event. Pancham Paagals is a group of friends who eat, drink and breathe the music of Panchamda otherwise known as Rahul Dev Burman. I don’t want to wax eloquent on his music as the Boss (another name for him) needs no introduction. Sunday was the second event we had. The first one was on June 27, 2015 to coincide with Panchamda’s birth anniversary and the event on Sunday was held to mark his death anniversary (on January 4, 2016). Falgunibhabhi was the MC with me on both the occasions. We had to organise the songs to ensure that the audience is entertained. This time though there was a change as I sang on stage for the very first time after school days. The song was Vaada Karo nahin chodoge tum mera saath from the film Aa gale lag jaa.

So what is the connection? For one, being an MC, content needs to be delivered and you have to be thinking on your feet piecing things for immediate delivery. Thanks to Toastmasters, I could do that. Secondly, singing on stage is another ball game from singing in the bathroom. I could do that too (and I had no egg on my face literally and idiomatically speaking)

Thanks again Toastmasters. I enjoy evolving as an MC considering it was my third attempt at it. Hopefully, I will sing next time too but as the song goes “Kal kya hoga kis ko pata, abhi zindagi ka le lo majaa”. And yes no marks for guessing that it is a Panchamda number sung by the genius himself from Kasme Vaade.

My P7 Speech – A tribute to my favourite, R D Burman “Musical Heartbeats”

PanchamdaOctober 24, 2015 was when I presented my Project 7 speech. It was after I gave my Project 8 speech I know but there was a reason for that. Another TM was also giving his P8 so we could defray the cost of the projector that the club would have to shell out.

P7 is all about Researching your topic and the objectives are

  • Collect information about your topic from numerous sources.
  • Carefully support your points and opinions with specific facts, examples, and illustrations gathered through research

Here is the transcript of my P7 which was a tribute to my numero uno composer, R D Burman.

In the rhythm of life, we sometimes find ourselves out of tune, but as long as there are friends to provide the melody, the music plays on. Can music and friendship complement each other? Can friendship lead to magical music? For some it did and their music continues to enthrall us even today.

Toastmaster of the day, Fellow Toastmasters and guests – June 27, 1939 is when Meera Dev and Sachin Dev were blessed with a boy whom they named Rahul. Little did they know that their prodigy would be a trailblazer, creating magic with his music while frolicking with friends.

Rahul Dev Burman popularly knows as Panchamda was fortunate to have the right people who helped him in his musical milestones and become his long lasting friends.

Kishore Kumar was his dear friend. After Padosan, Kishore Kumar despite the songs he sung wasn’t getting any offers. He decided to return to his native of Khandwa in Madhya Pradesh. When R D heard of this, he said “Kishore, don’t go. I will speak to Dada Burman (S D) and get you a song in the next film.” As luck would have had it, S D fell ill during that film and Panchamda had to assume the mantle to compose the unfinished music. Kishore got not one but three songs in that film despite Rafi being S D’s favourite. The film was none other than Aradhana and the songs were Mere sapnon ki rani kab aayegi tu, Roop tera mastana and Kora kagaz tha yeh man mera. The rest as they say is history. But it was not only work that they did together, they even enjoyed. During the recording of Jai Jai Shiv Shankar for the film, Aap ki Kasam, the producer, J Om Prakash (Hrithik Roshan’s maternal grand father) was livid at the princely sum of Rs. 50000 to be paid to the musicians. He made no bones about it and Panchamda had to bear the brunt of his verbal attack. Pancham confided in his friend Kishore. Kishore in his inimitable style sang in the end “Bajao Bajao, imaandari se bajao, pachas hajaar kharch kiye hain”

Rajesh Khanna’s super stardom can be attributed to the hit music and all credit goes to his association with Kishore Kumar and RD Burman. The song ‘Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai’ from “Kati Patang”, which is probably one of the most romantic numbers to date, has an interesting fact. This song was never planned to be featured in the movie. It so happened that the superstar Rajesh Khanna and Panchamda were travelling together on a flight to Delhi. In between the conversation Rajesh Khanna said “I am so jittery. Pancham why don’t you just hum a tune?” Panchamda felt obliged and the tune of ‘Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai’ was heard. Rajesh Khanna liked the tune so much, that he prevailed on the director Shakti Samanta to create a situation in the film only to include the song which went on to become a blockbuster track and continues to do so even today. Small wonder that these two went on to make some of the greatest hits of all time.

Panchamda’s friendship with Gulzar started in 1972 with the movie Parichay which was also directed by Gulzar. The first song Panchamda composed was “Musafir Hun Yaaron” Panchamda went to Gulzar’s house at 1 in the night to hum the tune made for this song. Both of them sat listening to the tunes in the car and discussed it till morning! Like all geniuses, they were eccentric – definitely yes but extremely passionate. There were tunes that Panchamda composed and then would not give them to anyone else saying “Only he will do justice to this tune with his lyrics” So much was the mutual confidence. They were such thick pals that Gulzar was called Safed Kauva, white crow for he would always dress up in white. Gulzar in turn called Panchamda “Laal Kauwa” for his fetish for red shirts.

After Panchamda’s demise in 1994, his buddy Gulzar reminisced in his poetic style “Zindagi ko akele nahi jhela jaata. Hamaari to team hai. Aa jao ya bula lo!” which means “I can’t live this life alone. We were a team. So either come back or call me up there.”

A great song needs a mix of not just the music but also meaningful lyrics, singers to emote the lyrics and good artistes to picturise the song on. Panchamda was indeed very lucky to have such thick friends who helped him create magic that is enjoyed even today. I am lucky to have friends like these and do hope each one of you have such lucky stars in your lives as well.

Random Thoughts mid air

random thoughtsThese are random thoughts that I penned down mid-air so pardon the incoherence in my mind. As it is I am challenged there:-)

My journey to the USA has always had some kind of a twist. When I went in 2010, my mother in law was in hospital but at that time I was going alone. This time the three of us were traveling and dates were known to us well in advance but not announced. My father in law was to be operated for his spinal problems but somehow or the other it kept on getting postponed and finally it happened only on April 20th when we were leaving on 25th. We did leave but not without wifey getting extremely tense and continues to remain tense.

The day of the journey, 25th was a day to remember. We were booked by the 1515 flight to Dubai and from there we had to take the 2215 flight to Atlanta. So we were set to leave around noon. Just as the baggage was being loaded, some sixth sense told me to check the web site for timings. Thank God I did. The Dubai – Atlanta leg of our flight was delayed by over 14 hours which would have meant we would have had to sit idle for 20 hours as we had a 5 + hour lay over in Dubai. Called up the Delta call centre and spoke to them. They too weren’t aware of the delay as she said the flight is showing as scheduled when a simple Google search told me that it was delayed. Finally reality dawned upon them too and they agreed to reschedule us. Put us on the 0220 Air France to Paris and then after a 2 hour 40 minute lay over we were to head to Atlanta. Things worked out well and I am writing from the Paris Atlanta sector right now. Unfortunately they do not have a plug point to charge my lap top. All they have is a USB so will have to switch over to the iPad in case I run dry.

What have I done? Watched some TV shows. Watched a movie called Humpty Sharma ki Dulhaniya which was recommended by Kavya too. Honestly she was watching it and I was only aping her. Slept. Black coffee. We are about 4 hours 30 minutes away from Atlanta says the online map. We have completed the trans atlantic leg almost and will soon enter Canada and from there head south to Atlanta.

Listening to some remix music. Currently listening to Hare Rama Hare Krishna (not the movie) but the chanting of the Lord in remix format. I wonder if any other religion would have the tolerant nature to admit that we could listen to remixes of God’s songs. Sometimes I feel like Hindus are the most tolerant lot but let me not get into that.

The new Airport at Mumbai was impressive thought Kavya. She was over awed by the brand stores at the airport in Paris but Mumbai Airport was far better she felt. I think I would agree with her.

Just heard yet another remix of my favourite, Yeh Vaada Raha which happens to be the title track of the movie. I always loved that movie and it’s soundtrack composed by none other than my favourite, Panchamda. I thought the movie and the soundtrack were both a hit but got to know only later that the movie didn’t do too well and so the soundtrack too suffered. What a tragedy!! Remixes have brought some songs back to life but honestly the original sound track is so so good. My other favourite was Harjaaee again composed by Panchamda. Some awesome soundtrack that was too. Don’t know how that movie did in reality. Panchamda produced phenomenal music but maybe the generation did not understand the brilliance then. I now realise it after so many years. We have indeed lost a great composer.

Children grow up so soon. Kavya went for some haircut which included some really stupid hair style “Flicks” which I find ridiculous. Tells me “Papa, you don’t understand girl stuff and you don’t have an idea about fashion” No choice but to agree. Daughters really know how to handle Dads and make them accept any and everything.

Wow…. Music these days make your feel so much out-of-place…. Finally found something I know in the Live Concert clips. Opening song is Scorpions’ Rock you like a Hurricane. But the doubting Thomas in me has the gall to think, is he singing really or is it lip syncing? These days you never know what is possible and what isn’t. Even the guitar pieces could be orchestrated with the stage mic switched off? Who knows? Do they have LIVE as in really LIVE concerts? I wonder. But for now let me enjoy Scorpions.

While I knew the Scorpions, there was another artiste I knew Tina Turner but the song was unknown. Must give it to her that even at this age she can show her energy on stage. She is a grandmother.

Now Cyndi Lauper – She looks so different now. Normal hair!!! No colours on her hair which is a record of sorts. Though her eye shadow et al are in a multitude of colours.

Kavya’s Annual Sports Day – 2014

Sports DayThe Annual Sports Day at Shishuvan – Kavya had to report at 0640 so the entire household was working in tandem to wake her up and then ensure she is pushed out of the house on time:-) I too was challenged today as went to bed quite late but was categorically informed by her last night that I had to be present as I had never attended her previous sports days (Why? Search me – Maybe traveling – a very convenient excuse to feign)

I reached at 0705 when they had just begun. Nice weather and the setup looked nice. Reminded me of the Sports days we had at DPYA at St. Xavier’s ground in Parel all these years. Checked in on the phone and as expected got a response from Prasanna about memories of those days. And another friend, Atul confirmed that he attended his son’s sports day last year at St. Xavier’s. Good old DPYA…. Nothing has changed except that the gang of 1983 is out in the open world now:-)

Coming back to the day today – what struck me is the march past. Kavya was one of the two flag bearers for her class. I spoke to one of the teachers there on how every class has a different design. She informed me that they had divided every class into different groups and each group came up with their own design after which the entire class voted for the best design. The selected one became the flag for the class on the Sports Day and the kids then all got together and made the flag in the Art Class. Impressive! Democratic process plus a chance for the group to express their rationale on designing what they did and why. So the children learnt (hard) selling their ideas too. Gearing up to pitch to potential investors in the future? Who knows…..

Another concept that I loved about the school is the chance for all to participate on the Annual Day (something that I had conveniently forgotten when at DPYA and bragged on stage always – apologies to my batchmates yet again). For the Sports Day also, they had the same principle and all the children participated. When I asked Kavya why some other person was not chosen as the flag bearer, she told me that he had done that role earlier. Impressive. Inculcate the leadership instinct in every child and make him / her feel special.

The games weren’t the usual 4*100 metres or such but consisted of fun games but which needed concentration and skill and they performed as a team. Honestly the games reminded me of Tele match that we had on TV during the black and white days. Fun yes but surely needed skills.

The announcements made by the Emcee/s pertained to the skills needed to perform in the respective game. Another notable thing was that children from the different classes read out parts of the speech which contained something that they had learnt. As a toastmaster (who has just given his first speech), realised that every child was playing a different role and was trying to excel in whatever they did however big or small, however visible or not.

I never knew the school had a band of their own (I thought that DPYA was the only one honestly and had then found the idea ridiculous). Having been for R D Burman’s events recently, realised that their band had a lot of focus on the brass section a la Kishore Soda and the children played it with aplomb. Of course they were from the senior section but kudos to them for doing so well.

Different themes they had like Kavya’s class did the Dandi March, the 4th standard children had lezim depicting the monsoons etc. Towards the end, some 50 parents also participated. After which the teachers participated.

All in all had a great time there and learnt first hand that every child is a leader – whether an R D Burman or an extempore speaker or an Olympic sprinter, only time will tell.

Photos uploaded here