Some Story Telling Session…

25 03 2008

This moment is filled with sheer nostalgia. A chip off the memories at the IMDR personality development classes.. I do wonder at times about the things that haven’t changed, looking back at those days when we did that four princes story telling session and impersonated one of the prince’s exile story with utter glee. What I loved was the beginning of the story, the entire group gathering and the joy of offering the non-material gifts.

That was some day when that sane wise man started his session like this: “Once upon a time, long long ago, just about yesterday, far far away from here, just around the corner was a kingdom a kingdom not too large, not too small and like all kingdoms its boundaries extended to East, West, North and South to the extent of the known world…” And then we went through a racy ride over a kingdom blessed with four princes, each with his own unique skills and two unique gifts from his fairy grand mother, all set to reign the world.

The two gifts for each prince were intriguing too. While one gift fetched success in public, the other gift acted as a mirror in the closed quarters. First Prince got the Book of Knowledge and an Ever Smiling Doll, the Second Prince was gifted the Magic Sword and the Roaring Mouse, while the third prince is left with the Magic Box of Potions and the tear bag and the Fourth Prince had the Magic Cap and the Magic Wand. Faced with a challenge to live a two year exile period out of the comfort zone of his kingdom, each prince marches in the designated direction at a certain age to make his life. There the story was left open and the participants made their own journey impersonating the prince of their choice.

Little did I know at that time that my instinctive choices haven’t changed even after three long years. I am still that rolling stone, the prince of laughter, gifted with magic cap and magic wand.. What felt like fun sounded frivolous at times, yet I guess the beauty of that experience lies in its inherent contradictions. It engaged our creativity while making us introspect and reflect on our choices. It held our interest and spread a lot of cheer while making us ponder over the deeper implications. We all need mirrors at times, to see how we have evolved and how we have changed over the sands of time.





In Pursuit of Happiness..

11 03 2008

There is a moment in that movie where Will Smith says, “It was right then that I started thinking about Thomas Jefferson on the Declaration of Independence and the part about our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And I remember thinking how did he know to put the pursuit part in there? That maybe happiness is something that we can only pursue and maybe we can actually never have it. No matter what. How did he know that?”. That did made me ponder about the futility thats inherent in the pursuit of happiness. Yet, I shut my inner voice to indulge in that movie, as I loved the father and son chemistry very much there.

I get quizzical when people come and tell me that they are in pursuit of these. Happiness. Joy. Laughter. Peace. Through out life, they keep these very things that they long for at bay running after materialistic pursuits , trying to ensure that they would be eternally happy ensconced in luxury in the end. Finally, most of them end up rudely surprised by the bout of misery and dissatisfaction that surmount them even after reaching the pinnacle of achievement. What went wrong? How could these tremendously intelligent people miss the bus of holistic Life?

This nagging thought is consuming me in all intensity. Though I can debate endlessly about the origin and location of happiness and proclaim holy statements that look with in one self, what makes me wonder is the continuity of effort that happiness demands. My moods, and state of mind are in constant flux, and there are always things that can make me rattled or cheesed off on a daily basis. It really requires detachment, determination and a great deal of focus to keep up my cool in times of crisis and uncertainty.

Two days back, I was very unhappy about a certain situation. My mind and emotions were really disturbed and then, in an attempt to tease myself out of thought and in pursuit of peace, I went to Ragi Gudda Temple. Even, the God couldn’t numb my worry and a little reflection told me that I desperately needed an attitude change more than the location or work. Probably seeking pleasure or happiness would inherently invite misery along. For, I believe that any activity inbuilt with a sense of purpose is a blend of pain and gain. We struggle, and we learn. We cry and we earn. We can only try to attempt a state of mind which can rival the lotus leaf that can stay untouched by the water even in the middle of a pond. We can be happy only if we choose to be happy. And that requires a constant effort indeed. For now, let me try to digest Karma Yoga (The Yoga of Action) of Swami Vivekananda which advocates about the pursuit of knowledge instead of pleasure. Hoping to garner some reflection there.





Summing Up The First Quarter..

8 03 2008

Recently I turned 25. Its kind of tough to think through the passing moments, really. Especially when you consider the first quarter of life as a milestone that passed by, acceding to no will of yours. Much of the complexities of being a twenty something is already addressed by some blessed soul over here. I identify with most of it. Yet, life is more than just a summation of miseries, woes, troubles and confusion and I don’t choose to cast a negative cloud on what has been an enriching journey. There is a lot of sunshine, some perfect moments, a few relationships of lifetime, reflections, solitude, lessons earned, studies unlearned, and some cherished people who filled my life with fond memories. Through the walk of life, I discovered joy in music, books, writing, woods, friends, family, mentors and myself which filled my life with love, laughter and a sense of celebration.

My experiments with life have evolved with the different phases that I whizzed by trading my innocence with apathy. Now, am wondering as to how to name those stages? Should I call them Childhood, Adolescence, and My Struggle to Grow Up or should I adhere to the society standards and treat them as Education, and Settlement? πŸ™‚ When I got all I wanted or asked for, there was a sheer joy of achievement and when I didn’t, there was a huge lesson hidden in the reflection of that experience. It wasn’t all roses, yet while looking back, I realize that those little setbacks and failures taught me more than those larger than life kind of victories (they seemed that way when I was there πŸ™‚ ).

Now let me confess this, I had a fabulous set of memories of growing up. My first 25 years that rolled by left me no regrets! Life is indeed beautiful. Call me Ulpasantoshi or easy to please, yet that is the big truth of my life. Words fall flat if I have to express my gratitude to my loving family which shaped me and been a pillar of strength, fabulous mentors who watched over when I faltered, friends offering companionship and acceptance in need and deed, and a lot of strangers and acquaintances who knowingly or unknowingly etched their footprints through innocent interactions. It is indeed people and nature, and the relationships I created with them which made me what I am.

Every day that I wake up in presents me with new challenges or opportunities,of which I passed up some, while exploring some. There is some realization and an immense depth of learning along the way, which I plan to record here for my sake so that when I look back after another 25 years, I can muse on what changed and what stayed on. I know it sounds rather ambitious, but I plan to stay around savoring life for another 3 quarters at the least. πŸ˜‰

I have learned to appreciate elders, value experience, cherish people, share a smile, care with empathy, love without expecting reciprocation, cheer for the fellow men, endorse goodness whenever I can, enjoy my company in those moments of solitude, face uncertainty, live in the moment and to accept myself for what I am. And am practicing with myself to incorporate them in every pace of life. There are some things that I am trying hard to give up. Like wondering about cosmic questions like the purpose of life, playing the Nostradamus, Ignoring the present in an attempt to design future, postponing happiness, procrastination, transactional relationships, materialistic pursuits and being a rat in the race. That’s a constant battle that I wage on a daily basis with the inner demons, to get that right equation for holistic life.

This first quarter is all about developing roots, as I can feel that a lot of my convictions have only become stronger with age. Glad to trade my innocence for those wonderful moments, memories and experiences that altered me in minute ways, I see a long road ahead to work with myself in translating values to action, moments to memories, and dreams to reality.

To sum it up, let me borrow from Robert Frost.

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”




My Observations with Dieting

23 02 2008

I have had my share of experimentation with all sorts of diets. Going through this GM Diet made me shed some years and revive some memories..

SSY

Guess my first brush with dieting came some ten years back, even before entering my Engineering College. I tried out the SSY programme in Rajamundry, as my mama was a fanatic that time and I had little choice. That’s a 14 day programme clubbing yoga, pranayama, meditation, raw vegetarian food, and community prayer which is followed by a 3 day external outing where you eat almost nothing, sleep not more than a couple of hours, take a mud bath, dance and play most of the time. Yet, that was a great experience at that time. I ate only raw vegetarian food, flavored with lemon, nuts and some masala for the whole of 14 days and guess it worked because of it being a community experience. I never knew that will power, and quality of life can draw strength from such little sustenence and yet leave you so energerised.

Yes, weight loss was noticeable, but then, it was not the goal of the programme. I became more peaceful, and could control short temper that was so typical of an adolescent kid.

What I liked about SSY

1) The Carefree atmostphere of the group, and the candid discussions
2) Interesting raw recipes which were easily edible. (Thats the first time in my life when I had raw greens)
3) I felt lighter and happier and I had my first lesson on restraint and patience.
4) My first and the only real meditation experience for an hour of their ‘So Ham’ meditation technique

What I hated about it

1) After 20 days of such diet, I couldn’t digest any cooked food at all. Even a little bit of it could fill my stomach. It took me 3 months to even taste or touch non vegetarian food as it used to feel so heavy!

Probably that was the reason why I left that lifestyle, as I forged my bond with Osmania University hostel for four years during which I had exposure to some real atrocious and lethal stuff cooked out of our mess. Yes, Hostel food really prepares you for the world!

Gymming and Exercise

This is a consistently inconsistent part of my life. Either I get my long walk of around 40 minutes on a daily basis or I head to the Gym for some chat, and exercise. But I can never combine gymming with dieting as that can lead to a fainting spell on a treadmill. (Speaking from experience). So far, I never had a noticeable change in weight due to exercise, gym or walk. They help me maintain my weight and make me feel fit. And yes. All those endorphines that spring to action due to physical activity make me happy.

Crash Dieting

I had to do it for one simple reason. Weight Loss. I became rotund and inactive and that did little to my ravenous appetite. Finally I ventured to discipline, when the things were getting out of hand, and my sedentary lifestyle did little to help it.

I started with an objective: To loose 8 kilos in the fastest way possible. One goal every day- to limit my daily calorie intake to 600 cal. One simple arithmetic. I pretty much counted everything I ate, did a lot of exercise and survived on lemon tea, water, curd and idly. And that helped big time. I lost around 7 kilos in a month and never regained them.

What I liked about it.

1) As it was self imposed, It was quite flexible. I could try a lot of variety of foods, like fruits, nuts, bread, tiffins etc. Since it was self designed, I allowed occasional binges, like a treat on weekend or a Chinese meal for dinner.
2) It had to do with a lot of mental training and will. Call it stubbornness or resolve, I felt no hunger pangs.
3) There was an instant gratification angle to it too. You can see a noticeable weight loss resulting in you due to the manipulations you do. Thats what I called experimenting with myself in true sense.

GM Diet

I tried it just for the sake of it. Mere curiosity. And probably the guilt of emotional eating and all that binging that I did during the past two months helped me hold on I guess.

What I liked about the GM Diet

1) I have become conscious of the water that I take, so much to the fact that I have started counting the no of glasses I drink.
2) Surprisingly there is no craving for sweets, namkeens or junk.
3) I feel lighter and smarter (*wink*)
4) I really learnt restraint. Resisting the temptation during the starting days was quite tough. πŸ™‚

What I hated the most about it

1) The signs of weakness that I experienced during the process (Headache on Day One, Nerves Pain on Day 3 and 4.)
2) No Inclusion of Yogurt or Nuts at all in the diet.

Bottom line of GM Diet is that it works. Its a quick and dirty way of loosing a couple of kilos in a week. And guess its easy to follow as the plan is already laid out.





Living Through The GM Diet..

22 02 2008

15/02/2008

It all started with a seemingly innocuous lunch conversation yesterday. A lot of guys expounded on the benefits of dieting, GM Diet, cleaning system, and what not. I sat there listening to all arguments and thought of having a first hand knowledge. So here I am, going through an unlikely experiment of GM Diet. Its kind of a tough resolution for an emotional eater like me, let me see how it goes. πŸ™‚

Day ONE: (Only Fruits Except for Banana)

Had a couple of Strawberries in the morning and a fruit chat at 4 PM. My head is throbbing like hell in an hour and I resisted the temptation of the Cappuccino lingering around in the meeting. Had a china pear for dinner and that numbed my head ache. Like a true Andhrite, I promised myself a grand Hyderabadi Biryani, if I survived through this diet. See my gluttonous wishes haven’t changed much since college days. πŸ˜‰

So far, it feels easy. My tough challenge would be wading through the weekend.

Day TWO: (Only Vegetable with a cooked potato for breakfast)

So today is a vegetables day with a potato for breakfast. I hunted the kitchen to discover a tiny potato and steamed it to heart’s content. Probably it must be the first time in my life when I relished a cooked potato sans seasonings. Indeed a lifetime experience. Then tried to play the rabbit by munching on to the carrots and peas. πŸ™‚ I felt that headache returning to me by evening. Had a lemon soda and saw that ebbing away. Silently I added Chinese Hakka Noodles to the self promises, I I stick around this diet till Day Seven.

I checked my weight today – 58.7 Kg

Day THREE: Fruits and Vegetables (No Potato and No Banana)

I woke up at 7:00 AM as hunger pangs hit my stomach. Man, what a self imposed misery it was! Thankfully I found grapes in the kitchen and almost finished half a kilo of them in the early morning for breakfast. Who called this diet, anyways? πŸ™‚ Steamed Ridge Gourd, Tomatos and Garlic together with some spices and had it for brunch. Sipped lemon juice (no sugar) while watching Jodhaa Akbar and ate amla and fruit salad for dinner.

I checked my weight today – 58.4 Kg – – No major change from yesterday

Day FOUR: Bananas and Milk

I can claim myself a milk allergic. 😦 So That leaves me with bananas. Am actually considering substituting Yogurt for milk. Lets see How it goes. Yesterday I shopped for the largest bananas ever found in the market and bought three of them. Had a nice cold badam flavored milk for dinner. I had a tough timing sleeping today, as I felt a tinge of nerve weakness. My entire lower body ached in minute ways and most of the sleep time went in discovering new postures for comfort. No Jokes, I hated this sign of weakness.

I checked my weight today – 57.1 Kg – Voila A Whopping change!

Day FIVE: Beef and Tomatoes.

I woke up early morning, with a gnawing hunger and looked at Tomatoes with revenge. Steamed five of them along with pepper and salt and had some real trouble eating them. Now that was a real proof for my culinary abilities. πŸ™‚ I still haven’t figured out what can I substitute for Beef. I had around 50g of steamed chicken for lunch and by evening, my knees started aching. So I didn’t stick to rule book today. Had a couple of pieces of Guava fruit, one lemon soda, along with one phulka and 100 g of dal instead of the lean meat that was advised.

For those who are looking for vegetarian option, don’t plainly substitute rice for beef. Instead, to replace a 3 oz (85.05 g) serving of meat, use:

* 1 cup (236.59 mL) cooked dry beans, peas, or lentils.
* 3 oz (85.05 g) tofu (soybean paneer).
* 4 Tbsp (59.15 mL) peanut butter.

I checked my weight today – 56.9 Kg – No major change from yesterday

Day SIX: Beef and Vegetables

I experienced a fleeting sensation of fainting problem. Since Beef was out of question, I had a single phulka with steamed carrot in the morning. This time I am not going to miss my lunch at all. Had 10 oz. fried chicken for lunch. And I took a bowl of steamed and spiced carrots and peas for dinner. No Signs of weakness at all. I guess the worst is over by Day 5.

Day SEVEN: Brown rice, fruit juices and vegetables

Finally the last day and the easiest one too! πŸ™‚ Had a bowl of vegetable rice cooked with Potato, Onion, Cauliflower for breakfast and lunch. Dinner saw me gulping two glasses of watermelon juice.

Finally I lived through the GM Diet schedule. Yes, there are slips in certain days, I do acknowledge humbly. But those slips did indeed make a positive difference. I lost around 5.5 pounds, but thats not all. My observations and cribs would call for another post as I don’t want to spoil the joy of this experience with analysis. πŸ™‚

Update: Looking at the tremendous amount of attention this post has received from people scouting for information on GM Diet, I couldn’t help but recommend these posts here. Worth taking a look.

My Experimentation With Different Types of Dieting

Some Food For Thought here for those who are forced to do this.





Health And Fitness..

24 09 2007

I was comfortably numb in Chennai, having become a little cozy with the desk bound role and hectic weekend partying. I stopped the regular dose of exercise, went on a binge, loaded myself with Chinese, Moghalai and Punjabi fare, and became a mobile restaurant guide for friends. I bought myself a backache by the slouching couch potato posture in office. That phase lasted for over three months till an Aha moment nailed me in my head that I have become horizontally endowed. There started my bulge battle and I dieted perilously to loose almost eight kilos.

Since dieting worked for me, let me give you some insight into it. I tried gym for about three months to shed those additional pounds, but mostly I did weight training. So I managed my weight around 65, which is rather on the higher side. After hearing my mom complaining, I did my research and went on extreme dieting. I counted everything I ate, drove myself to the verge of starvation by surviving through out the day with lemon tea and a fruit, mentally trained myself to ignore hunger pangs and lost eight kilos over 40 days to reach my current weight of 58. But what I consciously sacrificed through that is stamina and that’s a big thing for me as I never planned to be a delicate swooning swan.

After coming to Bangalore, I have discovered to my delight that there is a Gym in the office campus. So the regular slapstick excuses like playing the busy woman didn’t work, as I can always find an hour with in 8 to 8 regime. I literally drove myself to gym as I could realize that my stamina has come down in a hard way with the careless experimentation that I did with myself. In spite of my prejudice towards treadmill, I started loving the regular routine of good exercise pepped up with groovy music and after a month, I can comfortably claim that I had reinstalled fitness regime as a regular habit. The first benefit of regular exercise is happy state of mind. It makes me feel active, fresh, energetic and alive. Thanks to endorphins, they leave me in a heady and happy state. And that adds a holistic purpose to life too. I feel and look fit and this post is for that little pat on my back and to confess all that mess up I did after I set it right!.:-)





Who Said Resignation Is Easy?

30 07 2007

It did take a lot of struggle, loads of head and heart ache, countless gyan sessions to melt that idea of dream job away. And finally the matter is decided in perfect solitude, over a cuppa, away from the noises of the world, throwing caution and comfort zone out of window.. And thus the event happened out of an instinct! Thanks to a few great pals in TCS, I got my release almost immediately and here I am, back at my easy chair, relishing rare days of unemployment at home before I head to join Accenture in Bangalore..

Goodbyes have always felt awkward and sentimental for me since ages. Its none so different this time. Its so tough to handle them for, I believe that people who matter are never far and those who don’t were never in the picture anyways. Yet, there are things, places, and patterns that can grow on you.. I managed somehow to break free out of it..

When I came to work at TCS, its like a dream come true. Working for Tata Group has always been a cherished idea for me. Guess I fell in love the engaging company culture, quality of work life and especially the down to earth and casual air of the people here. I loved what I did for an year and half.. Yet, there is this nagging need for change, and a persistant sense of direction which provoked me to take a detached view of the career and life in front of me. Finally patience didn’t do the trick. TCS is a great company, yet there aren’t many opportunities that came my way in the area that I choose to be. I am not exactly thrilled by my decision, yet sometimes, I guess its ok to say ‘I have to’ for reasons unknown even to oneself.

All is well in the end. I have had quite a bit of learning by living through this experience of uncertainity. I have made new friends, changed some relationships, gleaned whatever I could and I moved on, away from Chennai: a city which I called home for two years and far from TCS: my first love in the dream company list. No regrets apparently!