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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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My speech as outgoing President of Bombay Toastmasters Club

June 30, 2017 was my last day as the President of Bombay Toastmasters Club. On Saturday, July 8, 2017 the new executive committee (Excom) was inducted and I gave my farewell speech. Here is the text of the same.

“On June 25, 2016, I was installed as the 9th President of Bombay Toastmasters Club. It was and will indeed be a matter of honour and pride.

On behalf of the entire Excom, I would like to thank each one of you for the support and encouragement throughout the year.

I would be wrong if I said we were the perfect team but then I had a ringside view of what went into the making of the meetings, contests, education sessions at the Club. And hats off to these 6 people who worked tirelessly to ensure that the experience of members and guests was positive.

Komal – the Sergeant at Arms. Let me admit that her role was always challenging as one slip up on her side and it would show up. Kudos to her for maintaining her smile even under tremendous stress. Every meeting was handled perfectly.

Pratibha – the Secretary. I would rather call her Aunty after that hilarious speech that she delivered at the Humorous Speech Contest. We truly discovered a new Pratibha that day. She has been meticulously minuting the proceedings of the meetings and circulating them every time.

Omkar – Don’t get conned by the smile. He is the dreaded Omkar. When it came to money matters, his response always was “I have so much budget only. If you can manage it within that fine, else forget it”. Performed the role of the treasurer to perfection. Our big achievement for the year was thanks to Omkar. We now have a KYC compliant bank account in the name of Bombay Toastmasters. I am sure this will go a long way in helping us manage our banking transactions smoothly.

Harshad – I have known Harshad for nearly 2 decades and so my input about him would be completely biased. He is a social media recluse and thanks to his role as VP PR he atleast started posting events on Facebook. Thanks to him for posting the image across clubs in Mumbai and creating awareness. Harshad I would love to see you on Twitter too.

Atul – How many times did we receive mails at 2 am from membership@b-t-m.club? Thanks to Atul who automated so much during the year thanks to his knowledge about Google. Thanks again to him that the Excom members have their personalised e-mail IDs. I distinctly remember during one of the meetings, guests received information on their e mails in the middle of the meeting. Always my shoulder to cry on in times of trouble.

Anand – the cool and composed Anand. Don’t know what we would have done without him. Be it contests or roles for the meeting, he was just cool as a cucumber as I would be edgy. Hats off to you Anand. Thank you for always patiently listening to me as I vented out my fears.

There are so many Toastmasters I have to thank for their guidance along the way but if I were to name them, it would be like reciting the names from the roster. Besides, the timer will show the red card.

On behalf of the entire team – thank you, members. We have achieved the coveted Diamond Club award yet again.

If any of us have knowingly or unknowingly hurt someone, my sincere apologies. It was unintentional.

Wishing the new Excom all success in the coming year. May we achieve greater heights and continue to grow as leaders and speakers.”

Now I have taken on the mantle of the Area Director for Area A04 with 4 clubs under me. Let us hope for the best.

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ACB 1 Speech – Mind the Gap

 

After achieving the Competent Communicator (CC), I embarked on the ACB (Advance Communicator Bronze) journey. The manual I selected was the Entertaining Speaker so, have to complete 5 speeches to meet the objectives. The first speech of this lot was delivered on Saturday, April 29, 2017. The objectives of the speech are:

  • Entertain the audience by relating a personal experience.
  • Organise an entertaining speech for maximum impact.
  • Time: Five to seven minutes

Here is the transcript of my speech.

Mind the Gap

“Please mind the gap between the train and the station”

Elbowing “Wake up Papa. Our station has arrived”

As some of you have experienced, sleeping comes to me so naturally that even on train ride from Santacruz to Vile Parle, I can fall asleep. During conferences and meetings, if you are sitting around me you will know when I am asleep as I SNORE loudly.

Toastmaster of the Day, Fellow Toastmasters and Guests. Welcome to the sleepy times which are now sleepless.

That fateful day, Kavya and I were going to watch a movie, Ra.one for the first day, first show. Was it due to SRK’s marketing prowess or his charisma with the female audience? I still don’t know and don’t want to know either. As we enter,

“Don’t fall asleep. It is really embarrassing as you snore so loudly and heads turn to look at you and HENCE me. Worse they laugh!!”

“Young lady, I am footing the bill for this ridiculous movie not to mention the popcorn and the coke that you consume and I don’t even have the right to sleep in peace?”

No marks for guessing what happened in the movie but after that experience, she now keeps elbowing me lest I fall asleep.

Wake up to their fashion ideas – Jeez. I feel like I am from the ice age. The other day, Kavya sports a pair of jeans which in my humble opinion are torn and tattered.

“Kavya, have we fallen on such bad times? You don’t even have a decent pair of jeans?”

“Papa, you just don’t understand fashion”

Talking about jeans, I just hope those low waist jeans that were once in vogue don’t get to her. It was such an embarrassment watching people with those jeans and I always wondered if they would fall off in absence of the belt.

Oh Lord!

When it comes to shoes, she owns 3 of the 5 drawers in the shoe rack.

“Shoes have to match the attire”
“But what is the logic of using different coloured shoe laces on the shoes?”
“Papa, my friend has different coloured shoes on her feet. Atleast thank me for not doing that.”

Mind the gap!

Communication – This generation has a way with Technology but as a Toastmaster I just can’t digest the acronyms that they use. Using K in place of OK!! How many milliseconds will you save if you just typed the extra O? Dis instead of This, Y in place of Why, Dat instead of That…. The list goes on. They don’t just murder, or even massacre, they simply annihilate the language in broad daylight and I would second Arvind Nair’s anguish at that one.

Maybe the time saved is used for their obsession, selfies.

I don’t know what their poses mean especially that pout and the two fingers. And they adapt to technology changes so fast. Kavya is the tutor in the house as my wife, father and mother are coached by her – not on using the phone, but on the correct tone, manner and form of clicking the all-important and almost reverent selfie.

Mind the gap.

Ever heard of fingies? That is the selfie but of their hands.

Friday evenings, hours will be lost in fixing fake nails which to me look more like claws. Or then she will apply nail polish which to me WAS a shade of pink but now, I realise that nail polish can be in myriad colours including black. (Remember Eastman Colour Kodak from our days of yore?) She applies a certain colour on half the nail. After it has dried, she applies another colour so you see two different colours on the same nail. She will then garnish it with some drops of white on it. Voila! A good hour is consumed in this futile exercise. Come Sunday night and the room smells of acetone as the nail polish remover is working feverishly in getting rid of the efforts put in barely 48 hours ago. Why oh why do you apply it in the first place?

I honestly have lost it completely with this generation. Blame it on my age or call it the generation gap, these kids are just impossible to fathom. Nirav, as a father of two princesses, get ready. You don’t know what is coming. Kshitij has already been through this phase so he needn’t fret. Yet please mind the gap between fathers and daughters.

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Installation Speech as President of Bombay Toastmasters Club

On June 25, 2016, I was installed as the President of Bombay Toastmasters Club. Here is the text of the speech I made on that day.

On behalf of the entire Executive Committee, let me thank you all. It is an honour and a matter of pride to be the President of Bombay Toastmasters Club, where leaders are made.

September 14, 2013 is when I walked into BTM as a guest and then became a member. Little did I know then, that someday I would be standing here as a President. Thank you all for the encouragement.

We have in the past 8 years had illustrious presidents who have gone on to become leaders not just in their respective fields but also in Toastmasters. And taking over from Toastmaster Hasnain is by no means a small responsibility, as he led us throughout the year despite all the challenges. There have been trying times for the club, but thanks to the unconditional support from the senior members, the club already has laid a solid foundation. Thank you one and all.

In keeping with the mission of Toastmasters, this is a platform to enable each one of us to become better leaders, better speakers, better listeners and better communicators. We are all from different backgrounds but there is one thread that binds us all – our craving to learn and improve. Let us keep that fire in us burning as we embark on this new year.

Today, we have chosen a new set of people to serve the club as officers. While we may not be as experienced, we certainly have the passion to learn, to help and to grow together. We will continue to build a fun-filled and cheerful atmosphere so that you come here not just to improve your speaking skills, but also to make friends, to learn from one another, and become a better speaker as well as a better leader. We shall continue to build an inspiring atmosphere so that you feel happy, inspired and come home with a feeling “I have learned something new today”.

Thanks once again. Let us make the new year more rocking than ever before.

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Toastmasters P5 – All shook up

My P5 the 5th speech project from the Toastmasters Competent Communicator Manual. The objectives of P5 were to complement your message with your body during delivery. Specifically, be aware of:

  • posture
  • body movement
  • facial expressions
  • eye contact

Thanks to Kavya I could bring in Lungi Dance into this speech and I enacted it as well. The icing on the cake was when I was selected as the Best Speaker of the Day. God knows what I would do without you, Kavya. Here is the text of my speech.

Kavya completed 10 on November 29, 2014. During the four months in the run up to this date, she’d return home from the numerous birthday parties and would talk about the theme they had be it Snow White or Pirates etc. And I’d think “She is only describing the good time she had there”. Lightning struck me in early November when she asked me “What is the theme you plan for my birthday party?” I was all at sea. As a child, my parents decided on birthday parties but they too would never have thought of themes. Cutting a cake was the only thing I knew aside of inviting some friends. Wake up and smell the coffee, Manish! Times have changed

Toastmaster of the Day, fellow toastmasters and guests, enjoy the time capsule ride.

“If music be the food of love, play on” said William Shakespeare. Gone are the days when we would strain our ears to listen to Ameen Sayani on Radio Ceylon for his Binaca Geet Mala on short wave. As a child I used to think that Ameen Sayani was a Sri Lankan who would play Indian music sitting there. Now we have a plethora of FM stations and Kavya having already met Malishka, insists on listening to 93.5 RedFM only. I for one prefer those soulful melodies sung by my favourite, Kishore Kumar composed by stalwarts like Panchamda and the likes with meaningful lyrics. Today when Kavya and my nephews sing “Char bottle vodka”, I just want to hang my head in shame.

Dance then was a form of art what with the classical ones teaching you movements of fingers not just the hands. Also expressions using the eyes! Now we have Shiamak Davar and other styles which honestly are nothing more than aerobic exercises put to rhythm. But wait! How could I ever forget we also have dances now like Lungi dance which make absolutely no sense but are extremely popular!

Telephones – This generation has never experienced a phone with a rotary dial but I do hope you have noticed the black contraption they show in those antique Hindi films. Yes I grew up with them. I am sure you did not know that there was no direct dialing facility then. You had to book trunk calls, pay double for urgent calls and pay 8 times for lightning calls. During the rains, we experienced something which was called delayed dial tone. All you had to do is pick up the phone and hold on for atleast 2 minutes while saying a silent prayer just to get a dial tone.

And now you have mobile phones. No dial tones, no delays whatsoever and no costs to worry about. Kavya thinks talking to my sister on the phone is so downmarket. She believes only in using FaceTime with my sister so that she can flaunt a new dress, new shoes, trinkets etc. and then also some new dance step she learnt from an upcoming Bollywood movie.

Letters – One thing I would wish returns for the good of all. I have pen friends since 1982 and am in touch regularly with them. We used to write letters and I distinctly remember my longest letter was 22 pages to my friend in Australia. She responded back to me using an audio cassette. Aside of letters, we exchanged currency notes, stamps, coins for our collections and built some weird hobbies. I, for one, collected and still collect postcards, knives, forks, spoons from airlines. That was before 9/11 happened. Now of course we have only plastic knives and forks. My French friend still collects newspapers from different countries. Another friend collects wrappers of different kinds of cheese.

Kavya I doubt would ever realise the joy of letter writing. Her generation is completely electronic what with e mail, Whatsapp etc. I know what is there for homework even before she has reached home as enthusiastic parents post it immediately on the Whatsapp group. Their birthday parties are organised on Whatsapp complete with invitations. Parents beam pictures and videos on the Whatsapp group from the party. As if someone would hang you if you posted the pictures after the party.

Friends, we are living in this weird wired world and the new generation is fast adapting to technology. Children are far more intelligent than we were at that age. Gone are the days when we could say, “Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone.” High time we changed ourselves or our children will move on and we will be left stranded singing I am all shook up, hmm hmm hmm…..

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My P3 at Toastmasters finally – The Relationship Cycle

MyHercules ACT 110 Project 3 Speech was kind of jinxed as it took me quite some time to write down and then when I was due to give it, I had to call it off as had to travel outside town. Finally on September 5, 2014, I gave it as a Test Speaker at a corporate club, Recall. Thanks to all who made this possible. I finally got the monkey off my back. Here is the transcript of my speech.

The Relationship Cycle

In 1976, a 9-year-old boy accompanied by his father was out to buy his first bicycle! There it stood in the corner, a BSA resplendent in maroon beckoning him as he was all set to spread his wings and fly. His eyes gleamed as he was only too eager to escape from the clutches of his sister’s hand-me-down bicycle. That child is slightly overgrown now as you can see but his love for the bicycle remains unchanged.

Contest Chair, fellow toastmasters and guests, join me on my two-wheeled excursions.

I continued to cycle in and around the building. 2 years down, started cycling to school with Mom’s stern warnings about the traffic. The short distances gradually increased but the maximum I rode was 6 kms away to Siddhivinayak temple. For 7 years, this bicycle remained an inseparable part of mine till someone stole it from Dadar. I was devastated as I cried my way to the Police Station. Alas it was never found. At the end of the academic year, I begged my parents for a new bicycle and bought the same maroon BSA. This cycle was with me till the second year of Engineering when 2 more wheels got added and I began driving in 1986.

Driving a car is indeed different from riding a bicycle. I buried my love for the 2 wheels somewhere deep in my heart for 27 years. Finally on March 29, 2013, after a lot of deliberation, I bought a shining blue Hercules. Like the new-found possession in 1976, I started cycling the very next morning. Mom being Mom continued to warn me every morning. What started as an exercise, soon became fun as I rekindled an old flame. I got hooked to Mapmyride on the phone which measured the distance covered with the speed. It posted the stats to Twitter and Facebook so I could brag about it to all my connections. More importantly, it made me accountable as friends questioned if they didn’t see such posts. This added to the pressure.

Having pedalled for over a year all alone, I mustered the courage to cycle with a group. I was shy and always thought others were fast riders but this group was headed to see the flamingos in Sewree, my backyard. This was transformational. Made so many new friends and began learning. I learnt that my low-speed was because I was riding in the wrong gear for the whole year!

Social media got people to support my passion for cycling. It was now time for me, the cyclist to give back to society. On May 25, 2014, for the first time I cycled for a cause to support the Multiple Sclerosis Society of India. About 50 cyclists from across Mumbai rode in maroon T-shirts. Some of the patients travelled in vehicles and one of them was so enthusiastic that he let his young son pedal with us all the way to Haji Ali and back. It culminated with two senior neurologists explaining to us about the disorder. I decided then I would organise a ride on World Parkinson’s day in April 2015 to highlight the cause of my Dad and others suffering from Parkinson’s.

Now that I have told you about my cycling journeys, let me also tell you about my first love, food! I always relished the local breakfast be it the fresh karela juice at Yeoor Hills, the delectable Mushroom and cheese Omelette at Mondegar or the freshly baked Mawa cakes with Brun paav at the century old B Merwans, Grant Road. Along with food, I also discovered the grandeur of Colaba’s Afghan Church, the greenery of Aarey Milk Colony and the steep hills of Yeoor in Thane to cite some spots.

In conclusion, don’t let your childhood passions be buried somewhere in the corners of your mind. Get out and take the first step – Rent a cycle from the neighbourhood cycle shop. Cycling is the new Golf for networking. Join a group if you can but remember you are not participating in a race but just for fun. Don’t forget to invest in a proper helmet to protect your head and a pair of decent gloves to avoid blisters. Pedal for a cause and I am sure you will be pedalling for life.

The video recording of my speech is here. Sorry but taken on the phone.

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Powerful dialogue from The Amazing Spiderman 2

The_Amazing_Spiderman_2_posterI haven’t watched the movie but someone sent me a mail on what he took away from the movie. And believe me I was floored too. Very very profound. According to the mail I received, one of the characters after graduation made this speech:

“I know that we all think we’re immortal, we’re supposed to feel that way, we’re graduating. The future is and should be bright, but, like our brief four years in high school, what makes life valuable is that it doesn’t last forever, what makes it precious is that it ends. I know that now more than ever. And I say it today of all days to remind us that time is luck. So don’t waste it living someone else’s life, make yours count for something. Fight for what matters to you, no matter what. Because even if you fall short, what better way is there to live?”