Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Mohit Chauhan

I remember the days in B-School hostel, we'd get the guitar and start practicing Scorpions, Pink Floyd chords when I first heard of Silk Route. Dooba Dooba made them famous. I liked the song in an instant. Thats how it works most times. You hear a new song and your mind makes decides in about 30 secs whether it likes the song or not. I loved the song but never heard another good song from Silk Route. Later the group fell by the way-side. When digital mp3 players came, I downloaded the song and it became part of my collection.

Then in 2009 I was visiting India and we were returning from Kashet when I heard Masakali. Loved it in less than 10 secs. Then came doorian and I became curious about the singer. Isn't it great that even as we grow older and set in our ways we can still be excited about new songs and new singers.

Over the last few years Mohit Chauhan has sung several good songs. I love his laid back style, the way his voice modulates. He has no formal training in Music(like Kishore Kumar) and yet he continues to build his repertoire. My favorites include
- Ye Doorian
- Masakali
- Abhi Kutch Dinon Se (reminds me of Dooba Dooba)
- Man Lafanga
- Tujhe Bhula Diya
- Tum se hi
- Pi Loon

Hope in coming years he keeps adding to this list. Know what, part of the credit is Pritam's. I like Pritam's music.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Random Thought

Someone dear to me lost his mother last week. It has shaken him up a bit and its but natural. I spoke with him yesterday and he started talking of spirituality. Not my cup. However, it intrigued me. I haven't read any scriptures. Not true. I tried Gita a few years back when my daughter was born but did not find it very engaging and I haven't thought about it since. Until now.

Anyhow, here is the thought. Most of the events around us are triggered by factors we have no influence over. Be it 8.9 tremor off Japan coast or 1984 Bhopal Gas Leak or the traffic jam during rush hour. As these are governed by nature or unintended consequence of human behavior, to me these are acts of God. And while I did not trigger them, I still need to respond to them as they affect me.

Here comes causality. As I understand my reactions are a combination of my nature and nurture / conditioning. Research shows, a man is mostly governed by his intrinsic nature. To me intrinsic nature is also an act of God as its mostly chance, largely random. Nurture is the only partially controllable variable. Even here, social environment, peer group etc.(external) have fair amount of influence compared to parental nurture(controllable).

So, with so much up to God / Chance, the responses to these externalities should also be random. Does everyone inherently have the same power to tune one's response to these happenings(nature once again)? If not, then has God has played dice with each of us and indeed some of us are blessed, while others are not and guess what, its random.

An then, if this were true, how do you explain the contrast in human behavior in the aftermath of Katerina and Japan Tsunami? Both were acts of God and yet in one place there was widespread looting while in another, there was none.

Losing it!

It all started in September of 2009. My family was visiting me in Virginia and my wife made some unkind remarks about my exploding waistline. I was pushing 200 pounds and it was showing up everywhere. The tell tale buckle marks on the leather belt, the triple chin, you name it... The blood report confirmed the indulgent lifestyle, with soaring cholesterol and triglycerides.
After they had left, I tried taking a shot at redemption through exercise. For the first time in about a year of living there, I ventured into our community Gym. It had 3 treadmills and 2 ellipticals. I climbed atop one of the treadmills and was pretty impressed with the results. I did about 4 miles in 30 minutes. I went around boasting about it to others in my office till finally another guy living in the same complex finally burst my bubble. It seems all the 3 treadmills were seriously mis-calibrated giving fools a false high. I decided to validate the theory. I got a free one day pass to a near by Washington fitness center and tried repeating the magic. To my embarrassment, I hardly completed about 0.5 miles @8 miles an hour before I had to get off the treadmill panting.

I finally switched over to ellipticals and found them most useful for burning calories. They don't stress your knees and yet they could be as effective (or more in some cases) as the treadmills.

I also started to read up about losing weight, probably for the first time in my life. It seems one needs to burn 3500kcal to lose 1 pound. Typically if you exercise hard like a regular you could burn about 700-800 kcal in an hour. It meant if I did not change my diet, I would have to exercise about 5 days a week to lose a pound. And so in another first, I started looking out of healthier eating options. I found a great app, loseit on iphone and I started keeping track of what I ate and how much I exercised. Loseit is a great app, and I'd recommend it to anyone trying to lose weight. Unfortunately, it does not have good data on Indian food. So I had to research the net to find the cal value of butter chicken, chole and some and add them to the list.

The results started showing in about 6 weeks. Loseit kept count of cal deficit and with minor adjustments, I calibrated it to weighing scale at home. By the time I returned to Mumbai, in May-10, I had lost more than 25 pounds and 2 inches off my waist.

For the first time since leaving grad school(10 yrs), I could fit into 32" trousers. It felt great. I actually threw away all my 34" trousers with a commitment to self that I'll stay within 32" waistline.

Its been almost a year since my return and I have to admit that the battle of "bulge" is never won. I have to keep an eye on my food as every now and then I binge and then it shows up on the weighing scale. So far, I've been able to keep my weight and my promise to self, but then I fight this battle every day.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

End of the Road for Ikon

My first car happened to be Ford Ikon. Ikon had it good for a few years after launch, especially around 2003-2004. It was sporty, inexpensive and fun to drive. It had a horrible mileage though. But then Ford never really worked on modernizing the car. And finally here is the Obituary for iconic Ikon. RIP my loved one.