Sunday, November 30, 2014

Hypocrite Western Media

I had heard a lot about the hypocrisy of the western media, especially against the developing third-world countries, but never experienced it first hand. However, a couple of incidents in the recent past firmed my belief in this theory doing the rounds.

Incidence 1:
On September 24, 2014, India celebrated a significant day in their space program when its first ever interplanetary mission, Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), also called as Mangalyaan was successfully deployed in the Martian orbit, making India only the 4th country in the world to have a successful mission to Mars in its name. One can get to know its significance by reading some of the amazing facts about this mission. Now, this is a big achievement for a developing nation and we expect the developed countries, or any other country for that matter, to appreciate it. Instead, The New York Times published a cartoon (Image 1) mocking India’s achievement.

Image 1
Image 2
A few weeks later, an unmanned US rocket Antares exploded during its launch. Yes, I certainly believe that it's not a very appropriate moment to mock. But sometimes you need to give some people a taste their own medicine so that they don't repeat the same mistakes again. So, I felt that the befitting reply (Image 2) from Hindustan Times was very apt on this occasion.

Incidence 2:
How often do you get to read stories about marathons in India? That too from the famous western publishers like WSJ and NYT? Marathon running community in India is still in a nascent stage compared to the developed western countries. Bengaluru, a city which is seeing a surge of runners recently, hosted its first city marathon on October 19th, 2014. The marathon was a huge success, barring a few glitches which are expected from the first-time organizers. The marathon saw a lot of positives, including a whole bunch of prizes for the winners in each category, a number of promo runs in the various parts of the city which included free breakfast and t-shirts, well stocked water and aid stations delicious breakfast served on the marathon day, and a lot more.

Now, marathons have been organized in other Indian cities for quite a few years. But I don't remember seeing any mention or a word of encouragement from any of the western media. However, one small error in the first-time organized Bengaluru Marathon caught the attention of the western media and they went gaga over it and I'm not sure why. They were not present at the event to cover it. The event wasn't an international event and was meant only for the Indian participants, being organized for the first time. Was it just another case of western media trying to demean the developing countries or is WSJ just a tabloid not to be taken seriously? If they really wanted to cover the event, they should have also reported how the runners ran their best despite such challenging conditions and many other positives that the event had. I was not surprised when the same media failed to report the decision of the Bengaluru Marathon organizers to compensate the runners who suffered from the error. They also failed to report when the same mistake was made in another marathon conducted just in their neighborhood.

So, dear western media, yes, we are an emerging country and will take some time to reach your level. A little bit of support and encouragement would be more useful than this kind of bullying.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Why I run

All my life, I had been zero in sports or anything remotely related to fitness for that matter. I was a total bookworm almost until the end of college days. So, before entering the corporate life, I had decided to change for good. I resolved to devote some time to fitness on a regular basis. So, I joined a gym and I was so determined to get fit that barring a few initial hiccups, I went to the gym regularly for a couple of years (needless to mention the enormous amount of mental and physical agony that went into it). After all this hard work and determination, I developed a decent physique for the first in my life. But after a while, gymming started feeling monotonous, but I still  kept going on, because I knew that if quit, I will go back to my original physique very fast. Eventually, I got kind of hooked to working out first thing in the morning. Whenever I was out of station, I started missing workouts. As gym was not always available when I was out of station, I started jogging/running in addition to some body workouts just not to break the workout regime. I noticed that I had built a decent stamina to run 20-30 mins continuously. Then one fine day, two of my best friends pushed me into a 10k marathon. Although I was against marathons and used to often joke about people paying to run when they can run for free, my friends forced me into registering it. Without much practice, I finished the marathon in a decent time. I felt really good throughout my run and even better after completing it. But still I was so much against marathons that I did not think of continuing it and thought of it as a one-time activity. But then after a few months, to my own surprise, I was totally engulfed into running and wish to continue running forever; here is why:

1. I came to know that diabetes and heart diseases are hereditary and I don't carry all the right genes. And then I came across this quote somewhere: "It's not that diabetes, heart disease and obesity runs into your family. It's that no one runs in your family." Therefore, I run.

2. Since childhood, I had been getting sore throat on a regular basis, especially during cold weather. And the strange part was that with regular gym, I was able to avoid all other common ailments, but sore throat. I consulted many specialists, but without any luck. Then I myself discovered that I generally don't get it when I'm running regularly. In fact, whenever the sore throat starts sneaking in or I feel feverish, if I go for a run, I get rid of it automatically more often than not. Same is the case with upset stomach. This is probably the best fitness gift that running has given to me and I'm indebted to running for that. Therefore, I run.

3. And the last but not the least. I'm a foodie. Running gives me that extra leverage to go overboard with yummie (sometimes unhealthy) food once in a while. At the same time, running also make me conscious about the food that I eat, so I tend to avoid unhealthy stuff anyways. Therefore, I run.

Miles to run before I sleep...

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Three big strategic failures of AAP

The one thing that always worked for Aam Admi Party (AAP) during their honeymoon period was their strategy. Be it the selection of party symbol or be it the style of campaigning or be it the culture of holding public referendums, the various strategies always set them apart from the traditional parties. But like every human being, their strategy failed miserably in three circumstances, which eventually led to their downfall.

1. AAP should have held a public referendum before quitting the Delhi government. When they took so much time to think about formation of the government and held a referendum too, the sudden decision to quit the government took everyone by surprise. Most of the people felt it highly contradictory to their previous decisions without even giving a hint to the people. There was so much happening at the government functioning that they kind of lost touch with common people. I think they shouldn't have formed the minority government in the first place keeping the promise they had made earlier of not taking support from other parties. They would have made an excellent opposition party.

2. The generalization and bashing of media was really uncalled for. Although Arvind Kejriwal keeps denying this always, but no one can argue the role media played in AAP's Delhi win and the overall rise of AAP. Although there's a lot of corruption in media, I'd like to believe that at least a handful of media people are honest to their jobs. In such a case, making a statement that all media is corrupt and would be sent to jail if AAP comes to power was really arrogant, uncalled for, and against the party values. This statement really rubbed the media wrong way and AAP was bound to get a negative publicity by the media after that.

3. Fielding Arvind Kejriwal against Modi in Varanasi was a big strategy failure. Firstly, the belief that defeating Modi and Rahul Gandhi would put an end to BJP and Congress sounded too illogical. Everyone knows how traditional parties play their politics. To give a simple example, a defeat in Lok Sabha elections would do no harm to Arun Jaitely's chances of becoming the next Finance Minister. They will always find a backdoor entry. Manmohan Singh never won any election and still was the Prime Minister for 10 years. In such a scenario, investing so much of energy and time on this so called battle was unnecessary. This resulted in other constituencies getting neglected and AAP losing everywhere badly including Varanasi.

Despite these failure, it would be interesting to see if AAP can form a miraculous strategy to revive themselves again. Otherwise, I see no chances of their revival until the time corruption charges start leveling against the Modi government.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Nike+ Run Club - Bangalore

If you are looking for a running group in Bangalore or if you are a beginner and want to learn a few tricks from the experts, Nike+ Run Club (NRC) is one the best places for you. NRC has been around for more than six years now. It happens every Sunday at 6am. It sometimes happens on both Saturdays and Sundays, generally a couple of months before the TCS World 10K event. All you need to do is show up at 6am at the Nike store on brigade road. On your first visit, you would need to fill up a simple registration form. You just need to fill up basic details such as name, DoB, address, etc. No need of carrying any documents. You would get a bib, which you need to preserve and carry with you every time you come to the club. There are two star coaches to train all the runners:
K.C. Kothandapani - Fondly called as 'Coach Pani', an experienced runner, and one of the humblest guys you'd have seen.
Reeth Abraham - An Arjuna Award winner, an olympian, and an inspiration to all.

A typical session at NRC involves the following:
- Warm up jog starting at 6:00 AM from Nike store, brigade road to Cubbon park
- Warm up and stretching exercises at 6: 20 AM near badminton court, Cubbon park
- Run at Cubbon Park. The type of run and distance varies every Sunday depending on the schedule prepared by the coaches.
- Stretching, strength training exercises, and yoga based breathing exercises at 7:30 AM
- The training concludes by 8.30AM

Sometimes, there are special sessions on nutrition, sports psychology, injury prevention, motivational speeches, etc. especially around the TCS World 10K time. There is a baggage counter available at the Nike store where you can keep your belongings and attend the session.

A few motivations for joining this club:
1. It is FREE...yes, absolutely free. Thank you Nike for this noble cause.
2. Water station providing water, glucose, biscuits, bananas, etc. available at Cubbon Park
3. You can try out Nike shoes. You can pick up a pair Nike shoes of suitable size from the trial counter at the Nike store at the beginning of the session and return those when the session ends.
4. If you are a regular at the club (don't forget to mark your attendance every time you visit the club), you can get a free pass to the Nike Lounge at the TCS World 10K event. In there, you get to brush your shoulders with celebrities, have breakfast, massage, live music band to name a few luxuries.
5. You get to meet top runners in Bangalore and sometimes celebrities too. Most of the top runners have started their training with NRC.

So, if you are a runner in Bangalore looking for a running group, I see no reason why you shouldn't give NRC a try.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

I run, therefore I am

If you are living in city living a sedentary lifestyle, exercise is not an option for you, it's a must. Running, brisk walking, swimming, gymming, yoga, dancing, cycling are some of the popular options available for people living in a city. Although a regular gym-goer, I personally vouch for running because of the following reasons:
1. Running is convenient. You can virtually do it anywhere and you can do it alone. You don't need any equipment beyond a pair of shoes (you don't even require these, if you go for barefoot running). So, running is cheap, easily doable, accessible, and easily maintainable even when you are traveling. 
2. Very few exercises can be continued once you are past a certain age and running is one of them. I have seen more 50+ marathon runners than 25-. You can start running at any age.
3. One of the reasons people get addicted to running is the release of mood-enhancing chemical Endorphins (a morphine-like substance originating from within the body). Endorphins increase the sensation of pleasure (also called as Runner's High), which is why people feel euphoric after they complete marathons.
4. Don't even get me started on health benefits of running. 
- Running is classified as a vigorous or high-intensity form of aerobic exercise. One minute of running works your body as hard as roughly two minutes of moderate-intensity activities such as biking or brisk walking. The calorie-burning effects of running are even greater in relation to other forms of aerobics. 
- Running is one of the best forms of exercise for losing or maintaining a consistent weight. 
- Running increases your levels of good cholesterol, boosts your immunity, and significantly lowers your risk of cardiovascular diseases. 
- Not all of the benefits of running are physical. Running can provide an noticeable boost to your confidence and self-esteem.  Running is one of the best ways of relieving stress and tackling depression. 
- Running improves your sleep quality and can help you quit junk food and bad habits.

Of course, as with any other form of exercise, running is prone to injuries and fatigue. But with proper training and knowing your limits, you can easily eliminate those. Running will leave you feeling more energized, more focused, and you would be able to enjoy your life better than before. Happy Running!