Saturday, June 30, 2007

Cheeni Kum

Although we didn't make the sugarless 'Hyderabadi Zefrani Pulav', Sam made tangy Pasta and I made hot Sweet Corn Vegetable soup in the water heater in my room n teamed it up with the yummy Rose Flowers Sam had made on her trip home. A boring Saturday evening, all spiced up :)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Orkut Zindabad!

I joined Orkut.com sometime during my MSc days at IIT-B. At first I was against it. I used to delete all the joining requests I received in my inbox. But then curiosity got the better of me. I could no longer resist that sky blue homepage, with lots of display pics and messages in it. It seemed to be fun! I don't remember whose Orkut joining request I finally accepted (the controversy still rages on ;)), but there I was on Orkut, n have been 'Orkutting' ever since. Not a day goes by without me logging onto Orkut at least a dozen times in a single day. At IIT-B, I used to be signed in perpetually! Am an 'Orkuholic' of the highest quality ;)

Although people talk about Orkut's being a public forum and the disadvantages attached with that, I personally have only gained from it. I made new friends (several!) and caught up with the old, long-lost ones. I have in my friends' list, my 'langotiya yaars', from my HAL days at Ozar (Mig); fellow St. Columbians from Mumbai; the Anandashram gang; the JC Ruparelites; the vibrant n best lot from St. Xavier's :) , Mumbai; the entire Bioschool and almost entire H-10, and of course The Amchis :) from IIT-B; and of late am adding the new friends I'm making at IISc, Bangalore. I also have a whole lot of geneolgy in the list - my cousins, nieces, nephews, uncles, aunts... you name it, they are all there on Orkut!

Here's a very short list of the coolest people I've met n known only 'cause of Orkut...

This list is by no means complete or exhaustive; it will be updated every once in a while :)

In order of 'making fraandships' :P ...

Ajay Savkoor

Kedar Mavinkurve





My Twin Bro Chirag Murdeshwar :P

Anup Gokarn

Vijay Tavanandi


Hem Dholakia

Tintin Maam ;)

La NiNa

n the latest... "All Men are Idiots, I married their King" :D

Thanks Orkut for letting me connect, re-connect, re-re-connect n have so much fun :)

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Big Difference

This one's from the T-shirt Quotes that appear everyday in the Bangalore Times...
The difference between Data and Value Added Information... Data: 362436 Value Added Information: 36-24-36
Makes matters crystal clear, doesn't it? 
He he he :D

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Keeping Cool

All the 'mach mach' in the comments section of my previous post reminds me of my favourite poem and helps me preserve my cool... it always has been a big help that way...


Monday, June 11, 2007

'A' for ...

... and if you answered 'Apple', you won't be too far off the mark, functionally speaking. Don't get it? Well, read on ...

Since the beginning of 2007, the first letter of the English alphabet has changed from being 'A' for 'Apple' to being 'A' for 'AEROBICS' to me. It was Sam who dragged a very unwilling me to the aerobics classes at IISc in mid-January one day, and I haven't stopped since. I'm enjoying every moment of it and have only Sam to thank for it :)

For the first 4 months, it was only 'Dance Aerobics', the more enjoyable form of aerobics. We danced to songs from the latest Bollywood pot boilers as well as to English Pop n Hip Hop, with equal aplomb. To add the regional flavour, we had Kannada, Telugu and Tamil songs, and of course, the evergreen Punjabi Bhangra. For a hint of sepia with a modern touch, we even had the remixed versions of old Hindi songs. And boy, did we dance like mad! I was even happier 'cause I suddenly discovered that although no Aishwarya Rai or Bipasha Basu with the matka-jhatkas, I could still do a decent job inspite of my two left feet :)

It was a grand day for us all when the IISc Aerobics Club celebrated its centenary. We had a '100 Days' celebration (although the club was much older than that) by inviting none other than Radio City RJ Vasanthi Hariprakash as our guest of honour. Vasanthi is a fitness freak and has hosted several fitness-related talk shows on the radio. She seemed quite impressed with our Aerobics hall, complete with wooden flooring and huge Saint Gobain mirrors on the walls, nothing less than a professional studio! (She was also pretty much impressed with the T-shirts we had designed specially for the occasion). Due credit must go to our aerobics convenors then, Shantha Parthan and Celia Fernandes, for running around and getting things done.

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Happy Times: IISc Aerobics Committee before the Great Divide

And so, all was hunky-dory or so it seemed...until ... the instructor asked for a salary hike... With us, IISc students tiding over each month with our meagerly stipend, that was simply unaffordable and unfeasible. There was a great divide among the committee members over this issue, and shortly after the 100 days celebration, which acted as an ill omen, classes ground to a halt. But not for long...

With the untiring efforts of the present co-convenor Sudarshan Iyengar, ably supported in his efforts by present convenor Sameera P, and other equally responsible committee members Shriprakash B and Adarsha Rao, classes began in less than 15 days after they stopped. The chief aim of this group was, and still is, to provide IIScians with an aerobics facility that is second to none; which is on par with those that are professionally run. Sudarshan invested a lot of his time (and money!) calling up and meeting qualified aerobics instructors in Bangalore. The aerobics committee arranged for 'Demo sessions', wherein all past and present members of the aerobics club were invited to attend a class by prospective instructors, question them on various aspects of aerobics and then give the committee their feedback as to which instructor was better. The new instructor was to be the one whose workout session was liked by most students, was found to be scientifically sound and of course, one who agreed to the salary that we could afford to pay without us feeling the pinch on our pockets. It was a decision that all aerobics enthusiasts at IISc would take collectively, and was not to be the diktat of a chosen few, to be followed by all others unquestioningly. But one thing was clear - We would settle for nothing but THE BEST. And by the grace of God and of course the unceasing efforts of the Aerobics Committee, we have found one such instructor.

At first sight, Dr. Swamy does not look one bit like an aerobics instructor - no flashy clothes, no swaggering walk, no prominent body piercings, no 'airs', nothing at all. He has this totally unassuming personality, with a firmly set but forever smiling face and looks every bit of what he really is - a Martial Arts expert, a 6th degree Black belt, in not one, but three different schools of karate, ji jitsu n I-forget-what! He even fights with Samurai swords n daggers! Whoha! or should it be Hie Ya!

Besides that, Dr. Swamy is a certified aerobics trainer and is the proprietor of 'Authentic Xpressions', the most popular and expensive gymnasium and fitness centre in Bangalore. To boot, he is a qualified medical practioner who specializes in sports medicine. He has trained several famous sportspersons in and around Bangalore, and takes an active interest in designing ergonomically right sports equipment. It's almost too good to be true to have him teach us at the IISc Aerobics Club! We posed him the question that was upmost in our mind, "Why did you choose to teach us at IISc, when you could have earned oodles of money in those 2 hours training people outside?" Guess what he had to say... "I'm an academician by passion. It feels good to train you bright young minds and help you develop not only physically, but also mentally." Quite flattering, coming from the general Secretary of the Basaveswara Educational Trust, whose dream it is to open a school where education would not only include bookish knowledge, but lay equal emphasis on music and sports as well.

So, a weekly schedule of the workout, under the able eye of Dr.Swamy, runs as follows: Mondays: Dance aerobics & Ab workout Tuesdays: Circuit & weight training (Dumbells) Wednesdays: Cardio Kick-boxing Thursdays: Circuit & weight training (Dumbells) Fridays: Step aerobics All this is of course peppered with a generous dose of Pilates, Stretches, Power Yoga and not to forget Endurance Training - the Push-Ups! (these are my favourites btw - I aim to get them right, all 150 different types ;)).

They say, a picture is worth a thousand words, so I'll let this poster designed by Sameera do all the talking...

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But the best part (what I personally like about these workout sessions) is the amazing way in which our new instructor handles the classes. He is ever-smiling and makes us smile too, by cracking PJs that no one understands, but everyone laughs at none-the-less :) His high energy levels throughout class inspire one and all to keep going right till the end, till 'the globe is held' and the class is formally done for the day. It's nice to feel the 'pleasure' in our muscles as they 'work', (I've stopped calling it 'pain', again on Doc's orders :) Besides, its not really 'pain', never felt any pain yet, its just the stretch in the muscles). Gives one a real high, and a great sense of satisfaction too.

Besides all the exercising, Dr.Swamy plans to give regular talks on 'Eating Right' and 'Exercise for Researchers', which the aerobics committee plans to keep open for all IISc students and faculty, not just members of the aerobics club. Plans are on to have seminars on 'Striking a balance between body and mind'... as Dr. Swamy is prone to say, and we all agree wholeheartedly, "It's all in the mind" :)

No wonder then, with such an excellent fitness programme, registrations in the past month crossed 75! It had never been more than 55 previously. This month, the number has been fixed at 25 students per batch so that all members can have a comfortable and spacious workout area in the hall. But with requests for registrations still flooding in, not only from within campus, but also without (NCBS, JNC), the Committee might have to start at least 2 more batches, in addition to the existing 2!

With the money earned, the Committee now plans to buy and provide all members with good quality dumbells, exercise mats, medicine balls ans steps. Plans are on to have a rubber padding under the wooden floor to give that extra cushioning effect for a high intensity workout like aerobics. With the tireless efforts of the IISc Aerobics Committee, all these will soon see the light of day... the dumbells already have! :)

So, that's the story of Aerobics @ IISc till date. I wish the IISc Aerobics Committee all the very best for all their future endeavours. U Guys Absolutely Rock !!! :)))

And coming back to where I began... I say 'A' for 'Apple' and 'A' for 'Aerobics' functionally imply the same thing 'cause - both keep the Doctor away! Dr. Swamy is an exception though, and we sure hope he isn't going away anywhere in a hurry :)

Happy Exercising! Enjoy the Workouts! :)

Friday, June 08, 2007

A Bitter Pill

For a change, I will write something 'bitter' in my blog... after all, it's titled 'Lemony Snippets: the sweet, sour and bitter tastes of life'.

This story has the same beginning as many others... it all started with Temptation. I gave in to it and that was it! I took a bite off that juicy red apple dangling invitingly in front of me, all against my better judgement, and see what it has done to me today. In my case though, it would not really have been the apple, but a glassful of Mosambi juice that started all the trouble.

The Choudeshwari Juice Centre near the Yellow Bridge caters to the health-concious IISc minds that gather there to have thier fill of a variety of healthy fresh fruit juices that the shop has to offer. It's a ritual the sporstmen in campus follow religiously - after a good day's play on the cricket/ hockey/ football fields and the volleyball, basketball,tennis and badminton courts, the Sachins, Dhanraj Pillays, Bhutias and Bhupatis of IISc end their day at the juice centre. Men covered in mud from top to bottom, with rivers of sweat pouring down their face, order '1 sapota, solid', '1 mosambi', '1 watermelon' or whatever it is that pleases their taste buds. Never have I seen such bonding between men of the earth like the one that takes place at the juice centre in the evenings, they might be arch rivals on the field, but at the juice centre they are all one big group of close buddies having a great time together. The juice centre is also where the lovebirds and family people alike, flock to share a cool drink and some equally juicy gossip. All in all, the Juice Centre is the happening place in IISc in the evenings... And this is precisely the place where my troubles began.

One fine evening after aerobics class, I was tempted to have a fresh fruit juice at the centre. (btw, Aerobics @ IISc simply rocks!!! A separate blogpost on that later :)) SPB has fruit juice everyday after aerobics. I generally watch him gulp down a refreshing glassful and wonder if I should give my fragile digestive system a shock by doing the same. Then one day I could bear it no longer... as SPB ordered for his 'Sapota, solid' I went right ahead and asked for '1 glass Mosambi juice'; and THAT was where I made the mistake. I ordered the wrong stuff. I should have said '1 glass Mosambi juice SOLID'. And no, 'solid' doesnt mean you get a frozen concoction, it simply means that you want no water added to your juice and want it squeezed right out of the fruit with no sugar added to your drink either; you want it as natural as it comes. Sometimes I really wonder how a pro like SPB could have overlooked the fatal error in my placing of the order... probably because he has been living on 'solid' juices for 5 whole years now ;) and could never imagine that an amateur like me would get things muddled up the way I did. Anyway, my mistake was left uncorrected and that's that. I emptied my cuppa of watery juice and then it was the juice's turn to empty me out completely. The loose motions and stomach cramps I had that night will remain fresh in my memory, as fresh as the fresh fruit juice that gave them to me!

Absence from the lab and a visit to the Health Centre were inevitable the next day. Doc there gave me Voveron (a pain killer, of all things!) and said it was the water in the juice that had done the damage. I agreed with Doc and also told him tall tales about my fragile GIT, but no amount of persuasion would make Doc give me an antibiotic to kill whatever it was that was creating havoc in my stomach. So, armed with a dozen strips of Voveron, I marched back to my room and lay on bed for the next two days. Credit must go to NiNa for religiously pestering me into telling him how many times I ran between the wickets on those two fateful days.

Was that the end of my troubles? Of course not!

A sudden change in the Bangalore weather from the hot and dry to the damp and wet brought me crashing down with sinusitis, allergic rhinitis, bronchitis and possibly the rest of the respiratory '-itis' family too. Add to it the zealous cleaning (dusting, sweeping and mopping) of my room, which was necessitated by cirumstances beyond my control, and my extreme allergy to dust, I was as good as gone for the next few days. Another trip to the health centre saw me come back with a barrel full of Voverons (oh, they are much-loved in the hc!). Three days, and the swollen throat was still the same and the intermittent fever that I kept having did nothing to subside; and I still had an year's supply of Voveron with me!

That decided me. I packed my bag and away I went to my Aunt's. Showed myself to a good doc, was relieved when he prescribed a dozen antibiotics, but NOT a single Voveron; and right now am lying on bed typing my blog, with a slight glow of victory on my face. I beat the Voveron! V for Victory! V for Voveron! V for Victory over Voveron! Yay to that! :)

And so dear friends, that ends my bitter story. What was so bitter you ask? Try popping a dozen pills twice daily and see what it does to your system... loss of apetite (not at all recommended when you have a chance to savour delicious home cooked food instead of hostel food), extreme drowsiness, inability to eat, sleep, drink, read and write are just a few of the side effects. It's a miracle I haven't fallen asleep typing this post! And what to say of the bitter after-taste the pills leave in your mouth... yuck!!!

But what to do? That's the bitter truth you see...

P.S.: If anyone anywhere in the world is in need of Voveron, you know whom to contact, right? And for the Smart Alecs, the answer's NOT the IISc health centre, but Me, Moi, Maya... get it?