My Posts

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.

sweet-nothings.jpg

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.

Advertisements
My Posts

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 🙂

My Posts

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.

My Posts

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.

My Posts

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.

My Posts

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.

My Posts

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.