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PeAcE WiTh GuNs

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Photos from Baroda

Went to Baroda over the weekend. Check out some photos.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Slog it out

This is an article that I wrote for my office magazine. Its meant to be preachy so read it only if you want to. Its preachy because I hate this typical attitude that we software engineers (and also other professionals) develop when we start working. This article is like a kick in the butt for such people.
“People are crazy and times are strange, I’m locked in tight, I’m out of range”. Bob Dylan’s words ring out loud when we see the life of an IT professional these days. Working 8 hours a day, 8 stretching to 12 sometimes – we all have lost out on the experience that was the original meaning of the phrase “slog it out”.

Slogging originally meant hitting something hard. The term might have been most popularly used in cricket where slogging was trying to hit the ball as hard as possible, sometimes without caring to follow proper technique. Generalizing the term, “slogging it out“ meant a hard day in the outfield playing some sport in our youth - maybe a round of cricket, football, a lap around the ground, a swimming session in the hot sun. Maybe a tough round of bench presses at the gym.

These days though, slogging has acquired an entirely new, if not an antonymic form – sitting at the desk, working!

Times have changed surely, but is there a need for a drastic change in our definitions this way? We see reports everywhere of people having heart attacks at ages that were considered immune from such maladies. People leading unhealthy lifestyles are a common story now. Every evening, we go home tired. Are we manual labourers? No. Then why are we tired? Mental stress they say. Maybe. Why do we feel out of breath within minutes when we take that run down the beach on our annual vacation to the sea? Much as we hate to admit it, we are unfit. Even those who think they can do a 10-mile jog every morning, think in relative terms to a few years ago before we started working.

If we go back in time and look at our mindset, we notice that one thing missing now - the enthusiasm for sport. Five years ago (or maybe ten) it wouldn’t be tiring to slog it out playing cricket in the blazing sun for 4 hours. Now when we have inter-IT cricket matches half the team never turns up for the second match because they deem it too draining. It was draining back then too. Even if you’ve managed to keep up your health, the difference is probably just the motivation.

It is common knowledge that sport helps people concentrate better. It helps your reflexes. It improves your blood circulation. It strengthens your muscles. In short, it improves your physical and mental health. I’ve myself never felt more relaxed and more enthusiastic than after a draining game of football. There have been times when I’ve come back with aching knees, ankles, calves, tarsals and a back that was killing me and still felt at a mental peak. Times when a session at the gym at 6:00 a.m. has helped me concentrate better at work 9:30 onwards were proof of that argument.

The question that pops up in mind is “How do I manage to be actively involved in any sport with the schedule that I have?” The answers aren’t easy. The very first thing you will need to ask yourself is how much you value your health. The answer to that should provide you with enough motivation to at least get started. Enroll for badminton in the evenings. Badminton courts are often open till late nights. I have a lot of friends who go out to play badminton after dinner at 9:30. The age old court near my home is full of people pushing 50 competing at a very high level of expertise at these hours too. It’s just about making a firm decision.

Once you get started, often you lose the motivation and drop off after a few weeks when the enthusiasm dies down. I’ve found that the best motivator in such circumstances is a great training partner. In fact, if you have a dedicated bunch of friends that pushes you to come to the playing arena every day, rain, wind or storm, you know you will be leading an active life. As a part of the group, you will play your own role of pushing someone else when that person is lacking motivation. It sure beats watching T.V. at home and making sure your thumb gets more exercise than the rest of your body!! Sorry guys, but having a thumb that’s build like Shchwarzenegger’s doesn’t quite qualify as a hot bod for the ladies.
Next time your HR announces a sporting event, make sure you are the first to make a dash for it.

So friends, slog it out…the right way.