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Ravi Shastri: What he said, really meant and definitely didn’t 


Ravi Shastri traces a bullet. 

What he said:

“There’s a bit of Sachin there, there’s a bit of Viru there, and when he walks, there’s a bit of Lara there!”

Ravi Shastri, the Indian head coach, can’t stop gushing about latest boy sensation, Prithvi Shaw, and his exhilarating debut against the West Indies at home. 

What he really meant:

“Shaw bats like a dream. He’s a kaleidoscope of the bright colours of Tendulkar, Sehwag and Brian Lara. He’s my rainbow.” 

What he definitely didn’t:

Why did I omit Viv Richards in this comparison? Kohli wouldn’t permit me. That’s why. He insists that sobriquet’s exclusive to him.” 

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From Sofa to 5k: A Review


“In the morning of 3rd February, 2007, I was lying naked on a cold metal table. My entire body was being shaved, except the head. I was joking with the hospital attendant that this was a contrast to the tonsure at Tirupati, where the head was shaved and the body hair left untouched!

I was praying hard to HIM that my Coronary Artery Bypass Graft procedure (CABG aka Open Heart Bypass Surgery) should go well. So were my family members who had assembled outside.”

Thus begins the preface of P. Venkatraman’s book, “From Sofa to 5K: A Beginner’s Handbook on Running for Good Health” with a foreword by renowned cardiologist Dr. Aashish Contractor who  is also  an avid long distance cyclist and runner.

Contractor concludes his foreword as below:

“May fortitude hasten you and let temperance chasten you.”

Venkatraman outlines his  story in the prologue describing his family history of heart disease beginning with his grandfather. His father and younger brother too were similarly affected. 

Venkat details how he was always health and diet-conscious throughout his early life. 

The author began running in 2004 and by the very next year was completing half-marathons. All this physical activity, however, could not prevent a 100% blockage of his left artery.  And in Feb 2007, Venkatraman underwent heart surgery.

In January 2008, he ran the Mumbai half-marathon once more highlighting the  second coming of the inspirational founder of You Too Can Run.

You Too Can Run’s mission is ‘To Promote Running For Good Health’.

Venkatraman divested his stake in one of India’s largest BPOs where he was a Promoter Director and founded his social enterprise.

The book is an attempt to inspire others to take up running for their health and is published by You Too Can Run Sports Management Private Limited who have registered themselves as a publisher with the HRD Ministry.

Chapter 5 onwards tackles the actual subject of running for beginners.

IITian and running coach Daniel Vaz is the technical editor of the book while nutritionist Kinita Kadakia is a major contributor to sections dealing with weight loss.

Venkatraman initially  lists the psychological, social and physiological reasons for running.

There follows an entire chapter devoted to getting started—the most interesting part is how to handle aggressive stray dogs. 

Chapter 7 deals with progressive loading and has a beginner’s 5K running plan pull-out.

Most beginners are astounded that they don’t start losing pounds immediately or sometimes for quite a while despite being quite regular and disciplined with their exercise programme. Kadakia answers these questions in the chapter ‘Running and Weight Loss‘ and how losing weight is simply about burning more calories than you consume i.e. a calorie deficit has to be created and maintained.

Finally, ‘Staying Motivated‘ is simply about that—how to keep oneself going and how it all begins with setting a goal.

The book also provides a Daily Health Log sheet that  helps runners cultivate a habit of checking their progress towards their goals.

The book is of value specifically to someone who wishes to start a running regimen.

Recommended for beginners—you could do worse.

Sanjay Manjrekar: Coaches


“The coaches that actually make a difference to Indian cricket are those that coached players like Tendulkar, Dravid and others, when they were kids. The grassroots level coaches.”—Sanjay Manjrekar.

Irrfan Khan: Heroes


“It pains me when a film actor or a cricketer is a youth icon. I don’t have anything against them. They are great entertainers; they are useful to the society. They contribute to people’s lives. But they are not heroes. We haven’t redefined heroes. Heroes are different people. Heroes are people who sacrifice their own concerns and do something bigger, who change people’s lives. We film stars and cricketers shouldn’t be aspirational in such a big way for the healthy growth of the society. It’s a sign of consumerism at its extreme. That’s why I find it so cool and so hip to see that photograph of the women scientists of ISRO celebrating a launch. That’s heroism. That’s cool, that’s hip! Lekin main agar kahin se udhaar le kar, kuch bana ke, thodi der ke liye aapka time pass kara de raha hoon, just because I am famous, you aspire to become me – that’s not cool, that’s pathetic.”
Irrfan Khan.

English: Irrfan Khan at the launch of NDTV Lum...

Irrfan Khan at the launch of NDTVLumiere’s The Orphanage (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

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.

 

Watering the IPL…(Updated)


Lok Satta Movement

Lok Satta Movement (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The water shortage in the state of Maharashtra will not affect the IPL or that’s what the High Court states. But the drought hit citizens of Latur will be wondering how water could be utilized for grounds and pitches but they have to rely on out-of-state water trains that arrive late.

The IPL is a socio-economic activity and provides employment to people. Hence, it should not be stopped.

The BCCI must exercise corporate social responsibility and monies from ticket sales must be made available to suffering victims. Simultaneously it must try and make its stadia more ‘green‘ utilizing sustainable practices such as water harvesting and treating. It would go a long way towards making cricket fans and players feel more responsive to social needs.


The Mumbai High Court delivered an historic verdict that all May IPL games in Maharashtra are to be shifted out-of-state.

The BCCI seem completely blind-sided by the decision of the judges.

Such a scenario was probably never envisaged by the cricketing body.

Arguments that non-potable water would be used to hose pitches and contributions by state franchises and the BCCI to the Chief Minister’s relief fund should be adequate recompense and response to Latur farmers’ grief and pain melted no ice.
While it’s no one’s case that the judgement will actually resolve the acute water shortage problem in the state, the public interest litigation drew national and international attention to the plight of ignored peasants in the country’s most developed state.

A photo of a match between Chennai SuperKings ...

A photo of a match between Chennai SuperKings and Kolkata Knightriders during the DLF IPL T20 tournament (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The real heroes of this story are not the BCCI, the players, the franchises but the litigator—Loksatta Movement—and the judiciary.

The dying farmers of Latur needed to be heard and the Loksatta Movement became their voice.

Others such as Sunil Gavaskar and  Rahul Dravid may disagree calling the IPL a “soft target” against which the ire of aggrieved or suffering parties is directed.

Public opinion that the government and the BCCI whose executive committee consists of leading politicians such as Sharad Pawar and Anuraag Thakur cutting across party lines care very little for societal problems was at the crux of the suit brought to the notice of the bench.

Ironically, the esteemed  judges were more aware than the BCCI—who runs the IPL like a corporate entity—that molding perception plays a huge role in handling a ‘crisis‘.

While not quite a crisis for the BCCI, the IPL management team can draw a leaf from crisis management texts to avoid such onerous situations in the future. Scanning the horizon for perceived threats must also be an integral part of scenario analysis and forward planning.

Access to potable water in 2005.

Access to potable water in 2005. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Indo-Pak cricketing ties derailed by opportunistic politics and unrealistic expectations


It’s a crying shame, really.

Shahryar Khan, former Pakistan Foreign secretary.

Shahryar Khan, former Pakistan Foreign secretary. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Shashank Manohar may have begun ‘Operation Clean-Up’ on the right foot but the even-handed BCCI President couldn’t prevent Shiv Sena activists from barging into his headquarters in Mumbai and disrupting the scheduled bilateral series talks with Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) counterpart Shahryar Khan.

Boria Majumdar puts it aptly in his column:

“In India we celebrate cultural tolerance and plurality, we are forever ready to uphold freedom of expression and speech and most importantly are always open to dialogue. What happened in Mumbai goes against the very grain of what we stand for and that’s what has left us all with a sour aftertaste. Had Shashank Manohar been able to tell Shahryar Khan that the series is off because the situation is not conducive or the government has not given bilateral cricket a go ahead, it would have been far better for both cricket Boards. But to see a meeting stymied by a few political extremists who barged into the office of the BCCI president, which was left unguarded and to see these pictures being transmitted round the world is rather disconcerting.”

Shiv Sena

Shiv Sena (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The shame is not that a bilateral series between the two countries has once again been pushed onto the back-burner.

To be realistic, if the two boards were really intent on continuing relations, they could have easily opted to play in Abu Dhabi (as other cricketing nations have been doing) thus avoiding security concerns and untoward elements in either country.

That is not the nub of the issue.

If you were to read the newspapers and media reactions to Pakistani writers, cricketers and artistes, you would believe that anti-Pakistan sentiments are at an all-time high.

Is that really so?

Isn’t it more likely that certain opportunistic parties have raised the bogeyman once more to gain political mileage and divert attention of the general public from more pressing concerns about governance or rather the lack of it?

The more closely you look at the matter, the more apparent it becomes that having any sort of ties with the ‘enemy’ across the North-West border is a political decision. The mandarins in New Delhi have the final say.

Perhaps, realpolitik dictates otherwise.

For actual progress to occur, a nod must begin from the Prime Minister’s office and then only can the nation rest assured that change is in the air.

A bottom-up push is not the way to build bridges across a diplomatic divide.

That would be a revolution.

Is Sairaj Bahutule’s move to Bengal ‘unethical’?


“To put it bluntly, Bahutule has been unethical in his approach,” was the response from Dilip Vengsarkar to former Mumbai legspinner Sairaj Bahutule’s decision to throw up his position with the U-23 squad and take up the offer from Saurav Ganguly to coach the Bengal Ranji side.

Vengsarkar is currently an MCA vice-president.

The Colonel added:

“That he would do something like this behind our back is unimaginable. If he wanted to coach a Ranji team, why did he leave Vidarbha and then Kerala, or was he asked to leave? If he is getting a job to coach a Ranji side, then would he leave the same team halfway through if he is offered to coach say Bangladesh or Zimbabwe? The whole episode has shown him in extremely poor light.”

English: Sourav playing. Cropped picture of or...

Sourav playing. Cropped picture of original (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The former India chief selector may be right to show his displeasure at the sudden turn of events. And can rightly voice his disappointment.

However, to term Bahutule’s move ‘unethical‘ is to stretch a point.

Bahutule has every right to decide whether to stay or leave based on his assessment of the opportunities afforded him in his current position or elsewhere.

Similarly, an employer is well within his right to terminate an employee for a variety of reasons ranging from non-performance, indiscipline to closure of business. Wrongful dismissal can always be challenged but that’s another story for the courts.

Can an employee then not term his employer ‘unethical’?

For Vengsarkar to cavil at Bahutule’s abrupt departure is to ignore the dynamics of an employer-employee relationship.

The right to work is secured under Article 41 of the Indian constitution just after the Right to Privacy.

This should in no way hinder Bahutule’s right to work mobility as well.

The question Vengsarkar and his colleagues within the MCA should be asking themselves is how can they attract and retain the home-grown talent that is currently farming themselves out to various states not just as coaches but also as players.

Vengsarkar admits:

“The fact is that former Mumbai cricketers are offered huge amounts of money by other associations, not only because of their coaching skills but also because of the way they played the game. They try and inculcate the same values and pride they had when they played for Mumbai. The Mumbai cricketing system makes the players mentally tougher, smarter cricketers. Besides, Mumbai has a great history which no state team in the world can match for the next many decades. As a result, a Mumbai player or coach is always at an advantage while bargaining better deals for himself.”

I have always been a huge fan of Mumbai’s Ranji team. That the side now struggles to even make the knockout rounds tells a tale of declining fortunes in recent times.

Perhaps, it’s time the MCA took steps to shed some of its ‘khadoos’ image specifically when it comes to reclaiming their own.

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