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Interview

This category contains 8 posts

Interview with Musab Abid, Managing Editor of Sportskeeda


Who and what is Musab Abid? Define yourself.

If I had to define myself in one line, it would be – ‘A tennis nut and a writer, with a bunch of obsessive compulsive disorders that make me perfectly suited to correcting mistakes wherever I find them.’

Musab, you’re currently Managing Editor with Sportskeeda. What prompted you to quit your job with KPMG as a Tax Executive , throw it all up as it were, and join a start-up like SK? Did you have any apprehensions while making that decision?

I have always loved writing and sports, and I didn’t get to be involved much with either of those things at KPMG. It’s not that I hated my job as a Tax Executive; it’s just that Sportskeeda offered me the chance to do so many things that I love. As for apprehensions regarding the fact that SK is a start-up, let’s just say that I’ve always had immense faith in myself and the people I choose to work with. I was always fully confident that SK would turn into a success story with Porush and me at the helm.

As a managing editor at SK, what does your typical day entail?

As much as I’d love to have a ‘typical day‘, the reality is that the term is alien to me now. Every single day brings new challenges, and sometimes I find it hard to predict what I’ll be doing two hours from the present. Whether it’s motivating the team members, evaluating the site metrics, communicating with clients or even editing articles myself, my work changes with every passing minute.

Four years, four months into SK, what are the highlights of your career there?

We’ve seen a lot of important milestones during the time I’ve been at SK. There have been the traffic milestones, the referencing milestones (where SK has been lauded by external sites for our work) and even personnel milestones. I think I personally have had a lot to do with the gradual quality improvement of the site (although there’s still plenty of room for more improvement there), as well as the strength of our social media.

What’s the best part about your job?

The best part about my job is that very little of what I do feels like ‘work‘. Many of the things that I do are what I’d like to do in my leisure time too, which is probably why I end up working a fair bit on the weekends too.

What’s the worst part about it?

I guess the worst part is that with all the day-to-day management work that I have to do, I get very little time to pursue my creative interests – mainly, writing.

It has been remarked that editors can’t write after having to wade through other people’s work. Has that been your experience too, a writer’s block? How do you get over it?

I personally haven’t found it difficult to write because of my editing work. I actually don’t get much time to write these days, as I said above – that’s the only reason why you won’t find too many articles lately on my writer profile.

Sania Mirza in Citi Open Tennis on July 31, 2011

Sania Mirza in Citi Open Tennis on July 31, 2011 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently, you published an interview with Sania Mirza at the Australian Open. Can you tell the readers about your experience meeting India’s tennis diva?

The most striking thing about meeting Sania is that she’s hardly a ‘diva‘ in person. All those stories about her being an arrogant, spoiled child are either fabricated or a result of her forthrightness. She is honest to a fault, almost blunt, and that is refreshing to see in such a high-profile public figure.

What sports are you into besides tennis, of course?

I like cricket a great deal, and I also occasionally follow badminton and F1.

Do you have a fitness routine? Can you tell us about it?

About the only fitness activity I religiously undertake is playing tennis over the weekend – 2 hours each day. I do occasionally hit the gym, and on other days I try to do a small workout at home, but I’ve never been able to do either of those things with regularity.

Besides Sportskeeda, what are your favourite sites on the web?

I love tennis.com mainly because of Steve Tignor, and I also follow Jon Wertheim’s columns on Sports Illustrated. For cricket, Cricinfo has been my go-to destination for about a decade now.

What next for Musab Abid?

Perhaps my worst quality is that I never plan for the future; I’m dangerously fickle-minded. I honestly can’t say with certainty where I’ll be 1 year from now, but I do think it’s a strong possibility that I’ll be helping Sportskeeda take the next big step in its evolution. Either way, I hope that wherever I am, I am doing good work.

 

Musab Abid is the Managing Editor of SportsKeeda,”the largest all-sports website in India, reporting on more than 30 different sports with a focus on indigenous sports.”

SportsKeeda

Disclosure: The interview was facilitated via email. Answers are published as-is.

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Rahul S Verghese: Running, living and marketing


The first part of the interview can be read here.

What is the S in the Rahul S Verghese? I believe it’s Salim.  Is there a story there?
My middle name is Salim – as mentioned on the cover of my book – Running And Living. My parents decided to symbolise the diversity of our wonderful country 🙂
 
 
 
Your TEDX video tells us a lot about your journey and the founding of Running and Living. Anything you’d like to add?

As in one of the TEDx videos’s, this is a journey of passion and that has fewer business plans but is more about like minded people connecting – whether as customers, or as partners. We constantly seek out people with passion, and that’s what drives us.

 
 
R & L organize 30 races over 10 states in a year. Most of these destinations are exotic such as Sikkim, Rishikesh etc. What’s the thinking behind choosing these kind of destinations? What are the kind of stories that runners bring to these races? Where are they from? What do they do?

People come from across the country and from varied backgrounds and with the intermingling, apart from the fun, we all learn a little more about life, and some aspect of our planet. Birdwatchers, photographers, environmentalists, explorers, trekkers, come to life as we all step out of our work clothes – and they come from across India – from all walks of life and varied professions.The country is vast and varied and has so much to offer and we are increasingly stuck in our air-conditioned offices. Our runs are about an immersion into the environment, whether near or far from home, and falling in love with it, and in an oblique way, getting people more engaged about ecology and sustainability.
Mumbai appears to suffer in comparison to the other races organized by R & L. The race at Aarey hardly stands out from the other races in Mumbai. The race organized at Borivali National Park is more scenic. Any comments? Would you recommend the Alibaug run instead?

Don’t agree with you at all that Mumbai suffers in comparison. Aarey is a lovely green space with leafy paths and is accessible and provides the additional toughness and the twist in the tale. A run on a beach is a different experience, and that’s what we strive to provide – different experiences – across the country.

Which race amongst the R & L ones,  in your opinion,  has the toughest course?

The Aarey run in June, the Aravalli run in July, Shimla in Sept are tough, but the Rishikesh 25k is the most challenging.
You call yourself a marketing company, not a running company. Why?
A marketing company with a passion for running and where running is the fun platform to connect. Thats how we strive to make our experiences sustainable.
You talk to corporates about “enhancing productivity, shaving off 10-15% of total employee cost to company, Building a high performance team”. Is that an easy sell?
Nothing path breaking is easy to sell. If it is, its not path breaking 🙂
 
You have a co-founder/partner Anita Bhargava whom your site lists as Chief Running Enthusiast. Can you tell us more about her? Is she the ‘yin’ to your marketing ‘yang’?
Anita is now more of a mentor at this point of time and is engaged in a variety of other activities.
 
Your father B. G . Verghese was a renowned journalist and a recipient of the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay award. What are your best memories of him and what inspiration do you draw from him?
Straightness of character, standing firm if you feel you are correct even when in the minority, and being ever optimistic are a few of the things I draw from my memories of my father.
You quit your job at Motorola in the States to pursue your passion for running. You were a director there. How easy or difficult was it for you to uproot yourself?

If you think of it as ‘uprooting‘ anything is tough, if you think of it as a transition of fusing 25 years of marketing experience with 7 years of running experience, it is not. Any transition has its challenges and entrepreneurship provides its thrills, tests and rewards. And I thrive on challenge and adventure.

You studied at IIM Ahmedabad from 1980 to 1982. The IIMs are facing competition from several management schools both private and foreign. What are your thoughts on this phenomenon?

I think the IIM’s are poor marketing and business organisations, and the huge governmental control does not help their case. They need to shake out and do case studies on themselves and get their students – freshers, mid managers and senior managers to ideate on different strategies and get their management teams to go out and build an exciting vision and move forward.

How would you define yourself now?

A passionate adventurer, keen to live life to the fullest, who wants to get millions of others to do the same.

Final word for the readers-

The most critical thing about running for you is to enjoy it rather than it being a chore, or being stressed out about some aspect of it, or being too caught up with distance or speed or form etc. There is a time and place for each one of them, but the backbone has to be enjoyment. Have fun.

Rahul Verghese is the founder of Running and Living.

Disclosure: The interview was facilitated via email. Answers are published after running spell-check.

Rahul S Verghese: Family man, marathoner and musician


RahulVerghese0Rahul Verghese is the founder of Running and Living, “a marketing company with a passion for running.” Their goal is to get 200 million Indians running: man , woman and child. Their marketing goal? Let’s talk about that later, shall we?

When did you start running? What was your first race? How many races have you completed so far? Can you break it down by distances?

I started running in December 2000 and ran my 1st Marathon in Oct 2001 in Chicago. Have done 54 Marathons and Ultra marathons across 6 Continents so far.
You’ve written and published a book, Unleash Your Potential. (I haven’t read it.) What’s it about?

My book – “Running And Living – unleash your potential” is about Running And Life and the several parallels and learnings between them. It’s about the multiplicity of impact points that running can have on you as a person and fire you up with passion, get you to start dreaming, and then going on to living your dream, whatever it may be.

Lots of lessons from Running that I incorporate into my daily life – read the book – Running And Living 🙂

Have you ever not completed a race? When and why?

I have had one DNF at a 50km trail run in Faridabad. I had not trained as required and paid the price with getting cramps and opting out at around the 40km mark. Big learning that like on Wall Street you are only as good as your last quarter.

Have you run races injured or sick? What’s your advice to runners concerning it?

I have never run a race sick, I have run a Chicago marathon post hernia surgery in 2003 and a San Francisco Marathon post a fall on my back. I took it really easy in both and kept a strict watch on listening to my body. I never take pain killers as that would mask any signals I need to listen to. I would suggest that if you are sick or injured – run a shorter distance if possible, else run much slower than planned – or change your objective to having fun – carry a camera, cheer people on – or else just opt out of the run and perhaps volunteer or spectate. There is always another run to participate in when you are back to normal.

Where do you usually train? How often?

There is no usual place that I train – the usual place that I train is – Outdoors – wherever I am. I am in the Himalaya this week and I will be running at around 12000 feet. But its not training for some event. I am just running to enjoy myself and be out in nature.

I came across a picture of you holding a guitar in one of your Facebook posts? Are you also a musician? What instruments can you play?

I like playing the Guitar and Harmonica and singing 🙂

You’re married. What’s your spouse’s name? What does she do? Any children? What are they doing?

My wife Jamuna runs on and off. She’s a banker and now consulting with PWC. My daughter Diya is working with VISA and my daughter Naina is studying economics and psychology, with a year more of college to go.

If you were to do it all over again, what would you change? Why?

I wouldn’t change anything if I was to live life over again. I have enjoyed every moment so far and will continue to do so.

 

 

Part II of this interview will follow when Rahul Verghese returns from the Himalayas on May 10.


Disclosure: The interview was conducted via email. Answers are published as-is except for spell-check.

Newton D’souza: Sportsman, sporting guy and more than just a running enthusiast


FB_IMG_14617537254754513_resizedHow would you define yourself?

A fun loving , Positive, full of energy person who believes that Life is very short and we have to make the most of it.

When did you start running? What was your first race? How many races have you completed so far? Can you break it down by distances?

I used to run during school days in races however lost touch after that when life’s hectic schedule took over . The Weighing scale touched 100 kgs in 2007 and that’s when I realised, I need to start running again.

The SCMM Dream Run in Jan 2008 followed by the HM in 2009

1 full marathon, 12 Half marathons, one 25K run ( BNP endurathon) and approx.. 17 nos 10K runs

Which race in your opinion is the toughest course?

Amongst the ones I have run.. It is BNP Endurathon because of the Steep climbs it has.

Have you ever not completed a race? When and why?

Never… Crammed once but completed within qualifying time

Have you run races injured or sick? What’s your advice to runners concerning it?

Ran one race in 2011 where I had just recovered 2 weeks prior to the race from having water deposited in my lungs and mild fever .

 

My advice, is know your body really well and then take a decision. Run that race for Fun and ignore the timing part if injured or sick.

Have you ever been a pacer? When, where? Would you like to do it more often?

Yes.. At Aarey Half Marathon in 2010. Was a 2hr 30 mins pacer.   Yes , would love to as its an amazing experience…

 

What, in your opinion, is an accessory every runner must have?

A Simple Stop Watch

 

You’ve always been a sportsperson from a young age. What sports were you into when you were much younger? Could you list your medals and/or awards?

Football , Hockey, Cricket, Athletics  &, Langdi (Guess this game developed my strong legs for running).. on a lighter note.

 

 

It’s all during school Days ( 100 M , 200 M , 400M , 800 M ( won 3rd place at State level in junior category) )

 

 

Is it true that even if you’ve not been active physically for a time, the base you’ve built when active stands you in good stead when you resume? I’ve read articles that say so. What’s been your personal experience?

 

Yes its true and I am a prime example. From being an active sports person during younger days to a fat obese man in the thirties to a Sub 2 hrs  half marathon runner in the 40’s)

 

At one time, you were considering doing the triathlon. What prevented  you?

Still not confident about completing the swimming part of it as well as .. don’t have the time to practise for it.

Do you draw any lessons from running that you incorporate into your personal and professional life? What are they?

Yes.. Personal life is nothing but a marathon race. You do not have to win the race or be a top category runner to be a marathoner… Which many strive for and get disappointed with life because they hav’nt achieved it. You have to only complete the race  and enjoy it and  keep striving to getting your personal timing/ Life better.

 

You travel quite often for work. How do you fit in running into your busy schedule?

Yes I Do..    Somehow try to manage it when ever I have the time. To be honest, I haven’t been practising much for the last 2 years due to travel and work.

 

Where do you train? How often?

Mostly at the Air India ground in kalina and at times on Juhu beach or Bandra Mount Marys ( for hill runs)

On an average .. twice a week

 

Any last words for the readers?

Birds were meant to fly, Fish were meant to swim and Human’s were to Run.   It  comes Naturally.

 

Newton D’souza is a friend first. He’s also Senior Management level at Tech Mahindra Business Service Group a  Reputed ITes & BPO company. His running motto is: I don’t have a Runners Body but this Body can and will always Run.

Email: ndsouza946@gmail.com

 

 

Disclosure: The interview was conducted via email. The answers are published as-is.

Jenil Dholakia: Yoga instructor, flexible yet dynamic


Who is Jenil Dholakia?

Namaste! I am Jenil. Well, ‘Who am I’ doesn’t have a very definitive answer. I am yet on a journey of exploration. Taking each day as it comes. Experiencing emotions, people, places, things & more. I strongly believe in “Do not worry about the destination, but enjoy the journey!”

 

What are your interests, in order of priority?

Practicing & teaching yoga, writing my heart out, reading inspiring authors, travelling to newer places, healthy cooking & simply exploring!

 

What makes your day go ‘Boom Boom Boom’?

A day that begins with yoga, stretches into some simple joys, a moment of serendipity, a quaint corner, my super awesome boyfriend, enriching conversations, a great book, sunshine, fresh air & bohemian state of mind.

 

What makes it go ‘Kaboom’?

Days I don’t do yoga or days when I know I am not giving my best to anything that I do.

 

Is yoga your pick-me-up, your stimulant? What does it do for you?

Yoga is a way of living for me. It is not just what I do on the mat for an hour, but also what I do for the rest of the hours off the mat. It is a practice that has become inseparable & almost natural with me!

 

What is the Yoga Alliance?

Yoga Alliance is the largest nonprofit association representing the yoga community. Their mission is to promote and support the integrity and diversity of the teaching of yoga. It certifies a yoga teacher who has received a certain standard of yoga teacher training at a Registered Yoga School (RYS), which is recognized & honoured across the globe.

 

Why go all the way to Rishikesh to learn yoga? Why not somewhere nearby? 

What better place than Rishikesh, the birth place of yoga to do my teacher training from! Surrounded by the Himalayas on one side & Mother Ganga on other, the entire atmosphere buzzes with great energy. My entire stay there was very immersive with highly experienced teachers & inspiring fellow students.

A smiling Yoga instructor at Parmarth Niketan,...

A smiling Yoga instructor at Parmarth Niketan, Muni Ki Reti, Rishikesh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Why did you decide become a Yoga instructor? 

 

I discovered yoga by chance and began practicing as a way to deal with daily stress & remain fit. As I pursued it formally, I discovered how much more there was to yoga then just its physical aspect. It started to give me a larger understanding of self, life and environment and thus it has become an integral part of my life.  This journey with yoga has continued to enthrall, inspire and challenge me – to the point where I am highly inspired to teach and share this love of yoga with the world.

 

Now that yoga is listed as a sport by the government, what are your thoughts on it? 

I can see how yoga could be considered a sport and will be beneficial to promote it & build more awareness for it. But most sports are competitive and I would not like to see yoga as such. Where do you draw the line between sport and spiritual practice, and can the two ever be combined?

How is yoga beneficial to sports persons? Anything specific you’d like to tell runners?

Yes, it is very beneficial in many ways to sports persons. It is an appropriate practice providing physical exercise, breath control and flexibility, as well as mental focus. Yoga relieves muscle tension and loosens joints, hips, hamstrings and shoulders. Athletes who practice yoga gain greater ability to manage their breath — maximizing oxygen intake and lessening loss of energy during endurance training.

Practicing yoga is beneficial to runners because yoga helps maintain the balance between strengthening and stretching, absorbing the impact frequent running has on other areas of the body.

 

Anything you’d like to tell the readers about yourself, your business or any other message?

I would like to reach out to people who are afraid of yoga simply because they think they are not flexible enough or have any other misleading pre-notions about it. Yoga is very welcoming. It is for everybody. It is just a movement of breath & body.

 

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Jenil-Dholakia-Yoga-705150189615189/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

 

Instagram: jenildholakia_yoga

 

Email: jenildholakia@gmail.com

Jenil is a Registered Yoga Teacher certified through the Yoga Alliance. She has completed her 200 hours yoga teacher training from Rishikul Yogshala, Rishikesh – the birth place of yoga.
Jenil believes in applying yoga as a path of personal harmony and transformation. A standard class will consist of dynamic and static practices of the traditional Hatha Yoga. Asanas, pranayama and meditation will lead in connecting the mind and the body. The teachings will be based on the scriptures of Sage Patanjali’s Sutras to retain the true essence of Yoga. It is her intention to have students leave her class feeling centered, grounded, and balanced & feel the innumerable benefits in their daily lives; not just on the mat. Her class will be the one that is filled with people of all ages, languages, and cultures – where all bodies are welcome and our common spirit is celebrated.

Disclosure: The interviewer is neither a practitioner nor student of yoga. The interview was emailed.

 

Shanthakumaran Sreesanth: What he said, really meant and definitely didn’t


Sreesanth would have been a Scottish tearaway.

What he said:

“All I wanted to do was go to Scotland, study, settle there and marry a blonde.”

Shanthakumaran Sreesanth admits that he was never interested in politics when he was young.

The banned fast bowler turned politician is standing for elections to the Kerala State Assembly on a BJP ticket.

He laughs:

“When I was younger, I was not interested in politics or even knowing about the ruling party. All I wanted to do was go to Scotland, study, settle there and marry a blonde.But my life changed because I decided to stay back.”

Sreesanth’s father was a Communist leader.

On questioned if politics is merely a shortcut to return to cricket, the ex-cricketer replied:

“My decision to join politics has nothing to do with my personal life. The first time I was asked to contest (from Madhya Pradesh) was two years ago when I had just gotten married. So if I wanted a shortcut, I could have done that back then. I haven’t even spoken to Anurag Thakur yet. Even after being given a clean chit by the court, I was told very clearly that the (BCCI life) ban will remain. I am not someone who looks for favours — in fact, I was not even the most liked player by my captains.”

Power is what draws him to this game of Russian roulette.

He adds:

“Power is everything. But there was no support till I won the (match-fixing) case.If I can change somebody’s life with a bit of power and help from the government, that’s the best gift I can give someone. I am done with the game……I am putting it on hold for now.”

What he really meant:

“Life was simpler when I was younger. I had simple dreams and Hollywood tastes.”

What he definitely didn’t:

“If I were to do that now, would you term that getting away Scot-free?”

 

Maria Sharapova: What she said, really meant and definitely didn’t


Maria Sharapova retires rumours of her retirement.

What she said:

“I know many of you that I would be retiring today announcing my retirement but if I was ever going to announce my retirement it would probably not be downtown Los Angeles hotel with this fairly ugly carpet.”

Tennis diva Maria Sharapova infused some humour into an otherwise sombre press conference where she announced that she failed a drug test during this year’s Australian Open. She faces penalties from the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) that range from a ban of one to four years.

Sharapova added:

“For the past 10 years, I have been given a medicine called Mildronate by my family doctor and it also has another name of Meldonium, which I did not know.

It is very important for you to understand that for 10 years this medicine was not on WADA’s banned list and I had been legally taking the medicine. But on 1 January [2016], the rules have changed and meldonium became a prohibited substance.

I was first given this medicine by my doctor for several health issues I was having back in 2006.

I was getting sick a lot. I was getting the flu every couple of months. I had irregular EKG results.

I had a deficiency in magnesium and a family history of diabetes, and there were signs of diabetes. That is one of the medications, along with others, that I received.”

What she really meant:

“If I were actually announcing my retirement, I would have done it at the Oscars on the red carpet.”

 

What she definitely didn’t:

“Red carpet, green carpet, magic carpet, who cares? Meldonium, thy name is Mildronate.”

Novak Djokovic: What he said, really meant and definitely didn’t


Novak Djokovic wolves down Grand Slam titles.

What he said:

“It’s much easier for the wolf that is going uphill and running up the mountain—not easier, but he was hungrier than the wolf standing on the hill.”

Novak Djokovic savoured his 11th major and sixth Australian Open overall with a meaty metaphor.

Comparing himself to a wild canine on top of the mountain, he said that he could not relax as his competitors were wolves too and hungrier.

He added:

“You can observe it from different sides, but, I believe that all the guys that are out there fighting each week to get to No. 1 are very hungry to get to No. 1, and I know that. I can’t allow myself to relax and enjoy. Of course I want to enjoy, and I will, but it’s not going to go more than few days. After that I’m already thinking about how can I continue on playing well throughout the rest of the season each tournament.

Kind of a mindset that one needs to have if one wants to stay up there. Because I think you need to work double as hard when you’re up there.

I believe that I can win every match I play (and) I’m playing the tennis of my life in the last 15 months. The results are showing that.

But you can get a very big slap from karma. I don’t want that.”

The Djoker rounded off his reverie by assuring his listeners that he was ravenous to clinch his first French Open.

He said:

“Very hungry. But the wolf needs to eat a lot of different meals to get to Paris. Paris is a dessert.”

What he really meant:

“It takes more to stay at the top than to get there.”

What he definitely didn’t:

“What a wolf-pack we male tennis players are. Woo-hoo, Woo-hoo! Ready or not, here we come! Call me Wolverine!”

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