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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.


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


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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Size Does Matter – my talk at the BTM Humourous Speech Contest

ObesityYesterday, August 23, 2014 was the Humourous Speech Contest at Bombay Toastmasters. I participated despite wanting to chicken out (Thanks to fellow Toastmaster, Suneel for goading me on not giving up. He just said “Enjoy the experience”) So there I was as Contestant Number 5. Here is the speech transcript.

“Lose weight, ask me how.” These were the words on the badges of a lot of people near my Bangalore office. I wondered why? These people would rush towards me when they saw me walking on the way to office. I surely wasn’t a damsel in distress looking for my knight in shining armour so why were they coming to me? I then realised that they were visitors to some office nearby which sold products that SUPPOSEDLY made people lose weight. And I was a sitting duck for them to achieve their targets. Don’t blame them, they are doing their job.

Contest chair, fellow Toastmasters and guests – please understand what a precarious situation I am in.

Jadya, Jaadi Buddhi, Motu, Dharti ka boj anaaj ka dushman, Kis chakki ka aata khata hai? – these are phrases I have been used to right from school to date. I realised I was challenged at the girth when I came to the fifth grade. During the summer holidays I had a dog bite and had taken 14 injections around my navel. I used that as a crutch to explain my bloated stomach. In hindsight, I realise what a lame excuse it was but I also learnt that I had the knack of spinning yarns from that age! While I was spinning yarns on one hand, I was desperately trying to lose weight one way on the other. But like that famous dog in the TV commercial, it followed me everywhere. Finally I was forced to accept my weight as a congenital defect and decided to live with it.

Having lost my mind but not my weight, I want to share with you not just my yearnings for food but also my learnings.

Let me start off with something I LOVE – Food – You will find some people who eat to their hearts content and yet not a milligram of weight but me? I put on weight just by breathing. God, why me of all the people? Buffets are my weakness with sites like Groupon always visited for such deals. I always enjoy a meal for two, all by myself. On the other hand, I am no saint rather a super hypocrite. I actually write blog posts for my sister, a nutritionist and a weight loss specialist. One of my posts is about what one should do at an all you can eat buffet. I just had to write exactly opposite of what I was actually doing – pigging out.

Then come clothes – It is always hard to find readymade shirts that fit me. Pants have to be custom made as my body is custom built. I started with size 40 and graduated to 46 slowly but visibly. The most embarrassing moment is when you walk into a shirt shop and ask for a 46 shirt, they say, sorry the largest we have is 44. The world is so cruel.

Finally physical activity – I took to swimming at age 44 and all began asking me – is there any water left in the pool after you get in? But I persisted and learnt. Before I could get anywhere near Michael Phelps, my ear infection took charge and so had to stop. Started BKS Iyengar Yoga and have been doing it for over 5 years. Even after such a long duration, I can barely bend and hold my shin bone while others put their palms on the floor. My instructor blames it on my belly which she refers to as an over inflated truck tire. I am always made to repeat a pose just for others to see and learn how not to do yoga! For Shirsasana, I need to be lifted from the thighs. Why? They do not permit cranes inside the building!! So maybe my next sport – Sumo wrestling.

Friends, the next time you receive an SMS on weight loss, smile and remember it was intended for me but somehow made it to you. Also if you see a dietitian, think of the hypocrite me ghost writing:-) Never ask a woman’s age or a man’s wage so goes the adage. For me please don’t ask me my tonnage. It embarrasses both the weighing scale and me both so we parted ways a long time ago.

And guess what? I was the first runner up!! My first time in a Humourous Speech Contest. Thanks BTM for giving me this opportunity.

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No more swimming for me….


For someone like me who learnt swimming at the young age of 44, it is painful indeed to say that I will be going off the pool. My ear is infected yet again and this is due to the water / my being a diabetic / whatever. So happened that 10 days ago, I went swimming on 2 days back to back. I use ear plugs but somehow the water did get in. I was experiencing some irritation so decided to cycle and stay dry. A couple of days ago, I felt something oozing out so despite having kept my hands off ear buds, I inserted one with the cream prescribed. Lo and behold, the infection has now multiplied no end. Yesterday was in office but consumed pain killers. Last night had the pain killers before sleeping at 11 pm and as the effect wore off, I was up at 0345! In terrible pain and unable to focus on anything. I am working from home but the pain sure is killing. It is better to cycle and stay dry than to swim and get back this pain. Will of course have to visit the ENT today and as ever he is going to give me a sermon on not using ear buds etc. But then I have decided No more swimming it is for me:-(

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Excuses for not exercising


For someone who is challenged, when it comes to the girth, excuses come most easily for not exercising.

Every Wednesday and Saturday morning, I go for Iyengar yoga and my teacher will vouch for me being most regularly irregular. Why? Sometimes I am travelling so can’t avoid that (but that shouldn’t stop me from doing yoga there … well that is another story). Sometimes I arrive by the late night flight on Friday and can’t sleep so waking up on Saturday morning is a challenge. Sometimes, I am lazy. I don’t feel like waking up or then since I usually rise early, I am working on my lap top and get carried away not realising that I am missing class.

Cycling – Much as I love to do that, I always have a google search of why I should not go cycling. The wheel has a flat (only once) or the pressure is less (I have a hand pump at home mind you) It has rained so roads would be wet and what if I fell? Forget the enlarged crater on the road, what would happen to my bones? I am always alone cycling (now there are tons of groups that I am a member of on Facebook but have never taken part in any of the rides – don’t know if I will match up to their high speeds, yet another excuse)…. A laundry list ready to flow….

Swimming – The idea of this post struck me when I was in the pool in this morning working away my arms and legs. Most often, I swim on week days when Kavya has school so have a hard stop at 0815 to get out of the pool, then shower and get home. So post 0730 I am always thinking “Oh God I am so late now. no point in swimming….” Now why would I let the clock go past 0730? I am working on mails, reading the newspaper in the morning, watching the early morning news or all of these put together. All in all I am again being lazy and no more.

Yesterday went for yoga and then decided that come what may today I would swim. This morning I was reading See you at the Top by the great Zig Ziglar, heard some motivational talk by Robin Sharma and Suneel Agarwal which would ensure that I am not skipping exercises. Yes I did work on mails but then I did swim for 45 minutes. Tomorrow is another day but I will do something instead of coming up with innovative excuses and if at all I do have something of that kind, I will put it up here.

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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.

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Cycling – A week past – Findings


I am enthused by my new-found love for cycling. For the past week I have been using it off and on and let me tell you every ride has memories of one form or the other.

Day 1, Saturday March 30, 2013 I went to Hanumanji Temple in Wadala and 5 gardens. A trip to 5 gardens always brings back my educational years – first to pass is Ruia College where I did my XI and XII. Then comes my school, DPYA where I spent my formative years right from Nursery to X. Then further down is VJTI where I did my Engineering so nostalgia is all around.

Day 2, Sunday March 31, 2013 I went to Siddhivinayak Temple which was the farthest I had travelled on my maroon BSA SLR bicycle and from there went to Mahim, passed by the office building and came back home.

Day 3, Friday April 5, 2013 Started from home not knowing where to go so got on to the main road at 0645 and rode on. Reached the Byculla zoo and then turned back. Must admit I was impressed by myself. Wrote on Facebook and was enthused by the Likes and messages from one and all.

Day 4, Saturday April 6, 2013 This was probably a hectic day. Morning 90 minutes of yoga. After that was all set to cycle to office as everyone wanted proof of my having cycled. Went in shorts but admit the traffic was bad. Return journey started at 1400 and it was terrible as the sun was shining mercilessly and the humidity was phenomenal. 1500 to 1600 Swimming coaching (Still don’t know free-style but am learning in all earnestness). Came home and went to meet an ailing school friend at Bhandup. Post dinner at 2215 went for a walk with my better half to Dadar. Came home and slept like a baby:-)

Day 5, Sunday April 7, 2013 After yesterday I was banking on a friend to accompany me for early morning cycling today but he dropped out at 11 pm last night so woke up at 0630 only. Left at 0745 and decided to drive to Priyadarshini building along the Eastern Express Highway and then via Bhakti Park, came home. On the way went up St. Joseph’s slope which during school days was always a challenge.

Takeaways from all these escapades – Please do not avoid a helmet at any cost. Traffic sucks. Early morning the number of cars maybe less but at that time no one pays heed to traffic signals or traffic rules of any sort. “Cycle to the left of the road” – This is what Mrs. Pereira had taught us in Standard III but look at the left of the road and you realise that is the most unkept side of the road. Even the smallest stone makes your bottom go up in the air and thud you come crashing back down on the seat. With a bottom like mine, IT HURTS! Watch out. Don’t expect any car, bus or truck driver to show any respect for you. They are ruthless. While crossing major roads, I have walked across. Can’t take on these mighty vehicles. So better to be safe than sorry. Eyes – Please protect your eyes with some form of glasses. I forgot my spectacles today and went on without them (I have a miniscule number so doesn’t matter) but when going down a slope you need to be extremely careful. Hydrate yourselves – I have been advised by all my cycling friends (rather gurus) to keep myself well hydrated. My 31-year-old habit of 1.2 litres of water first thing in the morning helps me there as I have enough supply of water in my body but will sooner or later need to carry a bottle as the temperatures rise.

Every road taken has brought me memories of one form or another so while I cycle my mind is wandering into the past. Enjoy the ride.