Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Good Habits and a disciplined life

According to the oxford dictionary, a habit is “ something that you do often  and almost without thinking- something hard to stop”.

Habits can be good or bad. Good habits include getting up on time, eating regular meals , excercising daily, sticking to timings etc.. While  smoking, drinking , drug addiction etc  can be classified under dangerous  bad habits, picking one`s nose in public, constantly biting the finger  nails  ,  going late for any meeting etc  can come under not so dangerous but  all the same irritable  bad habits. All of us , without fail, have some habits which we find difficult to get out of. However,  good habits can help you lead a more disciplined life. Because discipline is defined as the practice of training your mind and body so that you control your actions and obey rules.

All my life I have been a `Foodie` but not a `Fruity` resulting in  my developing  a prosperous  `madhya pradesh ` as some would call it. Except banana in all seasons and mangoes in Seasons I never liked any other fruits. However old  age and growing health issues have forced me  to  change my food habits . I was advised  to include `papaya` in my  changed daily diet. Papaya is a  fruit I hated all my life. However  I am a guy who takes good advice seriously. So I decided  to include a small bowl of Papaya as a part of my daily breakfast. Though I started as a reluctant consumer of  papaya, today after two years it has become a habit- a part of my daily discipline . If I don`t have papaya on any day I feel miserable.  As  miserable as I would feel if I didn`t have my morning cuppa coffee, my daily newspaper or my morning walks.

Again for a long time I have been wanting to go on a fast at least once a week. I chose Monday as my fasting day. The kind of fast   which allows me to consume  light meals. I decided  on a diet  of only soups and salads- both fruits  & vegetables.  No rice, no wheat &  no cereals of any kind. Not having solid food meant that I was feeling hungry every three hours. So I had to plan my `Fasting menu` meticulously to ensure that I have something to eat every three hours. 

After successfully implementing my decision for five consecutive weeks, I was faced with a challenge on the sixth Monday.  I was attending a wedding  where the hosts  insisted  that I cannot leave without having the wedding feast. Temptation led me to  join the guests  at the dining table. While awaiting the service to start an idea flashed in my mind. When the servers started the service I ensured that only vegetable items were served on my `banana leaf` and prevented being served any rice, chapathys or other solid items. In addition to the  vegetables I had a cup of rasam and payasam. It was quite a satisfying meal. I got up from the table  `burping` & beaming with pride that I had passed the acid test with flying colours! Since then I have had no problem of maintaining my habit of fasting on Mondays. 

If there is a will there  is a way.  With sincere efforts one can practice good habits and also  get out of bad habits  leading to   a more disciplined life. As I am doing in my old age!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Introductions- The Madhu Model

A Lifelong journalist and editor who has made the introduction of speakers into an art- S.R.Madhu has atlast come out with his first book. Titled `Windows to the World`, it has a selection of his famous circulars about the speakers at the weekly meetings of Rotary Club of Madras South (RCMS) . He has been organising these meetings  for the last 18years  as the Club`s Programme committee chairman and enticing members and their guests with the circular.
While Madhu is famous for his introduction of speakers, I had the privilege of introducing Madhu to RCMS twenty years ago. I have had a ringside view of the tremendous time & efforts he puts in to identify a good speaker, gets their biodata and talks to them about the topic to be covered, does his own reasearch on the topic before he shoots of a circular to the members  each of which is a master piece in effective communication. Since a copy of these circulars also go to the speakers, it is not uncommon for many speakers to start their talk with a  note of thanks to Madhu for the  introduction but also complain in jest  that Madhu has stolen the thunder out of their talk by covering several points from their presentation in the circulars
While many Clubs complain about their inability to get good speakers, Madhu believes that “there is no dearth of good speakers in Chennai. This is a happening metro, it`s an intellectual capital, a film capital, a music capital. It has businessmen, economists,  entrepreneurs, scientists lawyers, sportsmen, writers,  singers,   & dancers. It is a vibrant city politically, economically , socially. It has scores of achievers young & old. It has a little army of former IAS officers,  plus thousands of youth with stars in their eyes and fire in the belly. Besides most of Chennai-ites are loquacious and they love to talk”
No wonder Madhu has been able to get excellent speakers week after week to address the Club.
Madhu`s book was first unveiled at an Installation meeting of Rotary Club of Madras South at which Natarajan Nagoji, a member of the RCMS was installed as the District Governor. Madhu credits Nagoji for motivating him to come out with the book. The book is an excellent reference book not only for Rotary and other Clubs who are looking for good  speakers but is also in a way a mini directory of `whose who` in Chennai.
To give you an idea about the contents of the circulars let me give you a couple of  excerpts from the book.
About Sandeep Narayan:
“ Sandeep is as fluent and mellifluous a speaker as he is a singer. The American upbringing is obvious but the emotional content is Indian- nay Tamil!. The Indian influence on Sandeep was enriched last year when he married Radhe, a beautiful Bharata Natyam dancer and daughter of Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev. Story-telling, public speaking, music. Sandeep excels in all three. Good reason for you to dump other priorities on Tuesday and listen to Sandeep Narayan”
About Dr.Anurdha Uberoi who gave a talk on Punjabis in Chennai;
`And Punjabis? Vibrant, Boisterous. Loud. They work hard, play hard, sing with zest and dance  with energy. They live  life king-size. The women? svelte, smart, slim ( till they get married), milk and roses complexion, articulate. They exude confidence & charm. Kushwant Singh put it better,” Punjab is known for lusty men and busty women`
Anuradha thinks that Chennai-ites are bit distant and reserved compared to the folks back at home. Make sure to give her a warm welcome.”
About Srikala Varma who spoke on `Know Your eyes`;
“You would not associate royalty with Opthalmology. And not Bharata Natyam training either. But Srikala is no common princes. You will agree when you meet and listen to her.”

As N.Ram says in his Foreword, `the book is a continuing essay in the science and art of communication`.
A Post Graduate diploma Holder in Journalism with a Gold medal from Rajendra Prasad College of Mass Communication , Mumbai, Madhu started his career with Times of India, Mumbai in 1964. After spending 15 years in mainstream journalism with TOI and American embassy in Mumbai & Delhi as deputy managing  editor of the SPAN  magazine, he switched over to development journalism when he joined the `Bay of Bengal` project of FAO- United Nations in India dealing with fisheries. As the International Information Officer of the project he wrote,  edited and produced scores of reports, books, brochures and video films , creating a new benchmark in U.N. field journalism.

It has taken over 50 years for Madhu to come out with his first book. “ a book that gives an idea of the abundance and variety of the talents active in Chennai. A book that is  also a tribute to Chennai”. I am glad to learn that he has a couple of more books in the pipeline.

     The above article has appeared in the Madras Musings issue dt. 16th-31st Aug.,2016