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.

P9 Speech at Toastmasters – It’s just a hill… get over it.

cycling-uphill-headeaderJust gave my P9 today, September 24, 2016, at Bombay Toastmasters Club. It was after exactly 11 months that I gave a speech in different circumstances but the will to deliver the speech was high and so could do it. The speech objectives were:

  • Persuade listeners to adopt your viewpoint or ideas or to take some action.
  • Appeal to the audience’s interest.
  • Use logic and emotion to support your position.
  • Avoid using notes.
  • Time: 5 to 7 minutes.

How many of you sit in front of the computer all day? Did you know that sitting is more dangerous than smoking and kills more people than even HIV? We are sitting ourselves to death. Prolonged sitting increases the risk of developing serious illnesses like cancer, heart diseases & type 2 diabetes.

Toastmaster of the day, fellow Toastmasters and guests, welcome to the uphill journey

Now that you are all ears, the next thought that comes to your mind is to join a gym. But then far too many people quit going to the gym. WHY?

  • Time constraints – You don’t wake up early in the morning think “Wow! I am going to hit the gym and will enjoy myself sweating it out”, do you?
  • Expenses – A Gym membership costs money and if you, like me, know you are going to be regularly irregular then why waste money?
  • Prolonged results – We expect to become Salman Khan having done 2 weeks of gymming. The mirror doesn’t lie and one look in the mirror is de-motivating enough.

What if you have an outdoor regimen with the cool wind blowing on your face early morning as you explore new places, see the sun rising and hear the birds chirping? And in the midst of all of these, you could actually exercise? I discovered one – Cycling.

Apart from all the fun, cycling has tremendous health benefits.

Cycling is low impact and hence easier on my joints than running – Marathon runners, Hasnain, Omkar and others please note. And it is low impact for the road too. The BMC Commissioner requested me in private not to run in Mumbai saying “We are already drawing a lot of flak for the potholes. God forbid if we have swimming pools or craters, we would be finished. Elections are coming up so please help us.” Jokes aside, in case of cycling, the injuries per 1000 hours is 6 whereas the same count in case of running is 11.

It improves heart health – A study found that cycling 35 kms a week can reduce your risk of heart disease by as much as 50%. Much like toning your leg muscles, your heart muscles need to be put to work to stay healthy as well. When I started cycling, 10 kms and I was panting. Now I do 30 kms on weekdays and on weekends I do anything from 70 to 100 kms.

It helps lose weight – I know you are wondering if it has made a difference to my body at all but someday you will see that change in my waistline. My weekly goal is to complete 100 kms on the cycle during the 3 days that I go for it. Don’t give me those dirty looks please!

It helps strengthen muscles – My yoga teacher will confirm that I am now able to lift my leg up 90 degrees on the wall in poses which I could never do before. Your legs definitely end up much stronger as you go on pushing the pedal. And if you are riding on slopes, you will huff and puff on the way up but the ride downhill will make it worth the effort.

Is it all health related only?

Cycling makes so many friends. By participating in group rides, I come home smiling having met new people. And we have a group of our own, The 3 musketeers and our Sunday rides are always centred around a food joint.

It teaches teamwork – When you ride in a group, you have to hasten the slow movers and at the same time slow down the bullet trains. If there is a puncture or any other breakdown, the whole group stops and comes out in support of the person affected.

Goal setting and achievement – When I am on the saddle, my only purpose is to better my previous time. It is always a race against myself to better my average speed. And I did it from 14 kmph in 2013 to over 18 now.

Can I have a show of hands on how many of you are willing to take to cycling? Go to the nearby cycle shop and rent a bicycle. Set a target and work towards it. My target is to go to Lonavala in 2016 for which I am working hard. After that 2017 would be the BRM 200 in which you do 200 kms in 13.5 hours. After all, it is just a mental hill that I can ride and tide over. So why not? Come join me at 6.15 tomorrow morning at Dadar TT.

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.

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.

P8 – The Evergreen Inferno

SholayYesterday I gave my P8 speech at Bombay Toastmasters. The objectives of P8 are:

  1. Select visual aids that are appropriate for your message and the audience.
  2. Use visual aids correctly with ease and confidence.
  3. Time: 5 to 7 minutes

Here is the transcript of my speech. Also attached is the link to the video of the clips I used.

4 decades and one week ago, we celebrated our 29th Independence Day. It was Friday, August 15, 1975 as we proudly unfurled the tri colour in school (Slide School). Little did I know that there was history in the making on that very day. Like the freedom movement then, it was now India’s turn to rid ourselves from the clutches of a tyrant – (Slide Gabbar Singh)

Toastmaster of the day, Fellow Toastmasters and dear guests, Ramesh Sippy’s magnum opus, Sholay (slide) has in my opinion been his best ever movie in more than one way. Let me today highlight a few small but unforgettable gems of this classic.

Sholay – the moment one hears the name, it brings to mind Gabbar Singh and his immortalised sidekick <Video Sambha>

While the scene was to be shot, Amjad Khan remembered a dhobi from his childhood days who would call out to his wife: ‘Arre O Shanti.’ The lilt in Gabbar’s dialogue came from this dhobi.” Mac Mohan who played Sambha traveled 27 times from Mumbai to Bangalore for the shooting of the smallest role. When Macmohan saw the edited print, he was distraught and rushed to Ramesh Sippy “I am reduced to an extra in the film. Why don’t you just edit me out?” Ramesh Sippy said “I have edited as much as I could and the censors did their bit. There is nothing I can do now. But I will tell you, if this film works, no one will forget Sambha”. Unhappy that Macmohan was, he never attended the premiere. It was only when people on the streets recognised him as Sambha and asked for his autograph, reality dawned upon him. In the end of September, after 6 weeks of the release, he decided to watch the movie with his family. He was mobbed in the theatre and had to show his face on persistent demand from the audience. The police had to be called in to rein in the audience and let the STAR leave. 

<Video Clip – Tera kya hoga Kaalia> 

Kaalia – the character was enacted by Vithal Bapurao Khote popularly known as Viju Khote. He had a 7 minute footage in the entire film but his dialog is permanently tattooed in the minds of Bollywood fans. Ramesh Sippy had asked him to come to his office. As he was getting in Amjad Khan walked out and said “Viju, do this character. It is good. We will enjoy this film together” There was no semblance of what lay ahead for him. He had to practice horse riding and bear the brunt of a mare who knocked him down several times during the shoot. 

<video clip – Itna sannata kyun hai bhai?>

Rahim Chacha – enacted by A K Hangal – His dialog “Itna Sannata kyun hai bhai?” remains etched in our minds. The portrayal of an old and blind father who has lost his son was heart wrenching. He was given a brief outline about the blind, orthodox, Muslim Imam he had to play, and he prepared for the role by studying blind people and how a devout Muslim offered namaaz. The way in which he dramatized the scene was a great example of understanding the value of silence. Viewers identified with the emotions and could cry easily.

Just like these small characters in Sholay who made a mark for themselves, in life, does it really matter what our title is? Do we perform better because our business card has the fancy hierarchical words? Will you instantly become less productive if those words were taken away? I would rather focus on The kind of work I get to do, The level of responsibility I have, The opportunities for me to grow and The values I stand for.

https://youtu.be/pN62yIGJERc is the link to the visual stuff I used.

Ended up joint winner for the best speech at the club.

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:-)