About Me

Thursday, November 30, 2006

I find working out in the gymnasium, especially doing weights a very philosophical thing. There are certain things I do, and certain things I don't out of sheer respect towards my fellow beings. For one, there is this equipment that helps in building the back muscles and shoulder muscles. It involves being in a seated position (like on a chair) and lifting weights behind your back and in front of you. There is a stack of weights that are connected to the suspension wires and the number of weight units (each of 10kg) chosen decides the weight one is lifting. I understand that a reader of this piece, gets a feeling that the author assumes him to be one without knowledge of basic physics in lifting weights and of gymnasium equipment. The reader could not be further away from the truth. I am a novice when it comes to gymnasiums and their perpetually plotting equipment. Plotting to make me feel weak, week by week!

The previous 'gym' I had been to was in reality an akkada. Called Iyer's Gym and in one of the 'tougher' parts of Bangalore, it had the rowdy elements of the area working out on a daily basis. All of them had bulging stomachs of pure muscle. Weird! I think I draw my current shape from those folks there. My friends had suggested a certain routine to me on the eve of my tryst with Iyer. It included that one exercise I despise the most - ab crunches. Along with me was a debutant who I swear looked like he was a product of lean manufacturing concepts. Shockingly (for me) both of us were given the same routine. Like hell I was going to follow that. But, along with 'love thy neighbour', I am a strong believer in the tenet 'Listen to thy gym instructor'. After 2 days I had added an extension to the tenet and it read 'Listen to thy gym instructor... when he is present physically in the gym'. I started doing the crunches inspite of him telling me not to do that, as soon as he went out for his morning cuppa. 20 minutes later on his return, I realized he was staring at me with bloodshot coffee stained eyes. What I lacked in brawn, I made up in brain back then. (now I strongly feel I lack both). What had happend was that Kumar, the friendly 200 pounder, 6 footer had ratted on me and told the gym owner that I worked on abs in his absence. There have been very few occasions when strangers have attached street vernaculars to my name. Iyer was an early bird into this list. The next day, I had voluntarily quit the gym. There was a nagging doubt about me getting back my princely 50 bucks, paid for the first month (Yes, there indeed were gyms that charged that much). I suspected there would be more vernaculars to describe me, and the fraility of the pectorals and the sensitivity of the self didn't let me take the risk of seeking refunds.

This is my third attempt at working out. Seems good until now. 8 consecutive days (sparing the Sunday when the gym is closed) I've been to the gym. My first question to mezher was 'I'm a smoker, is it going to affect my work-outs?'. Most folks with IQs in the 30-45 range get the answer to that one right! Mezher isn't your regular bloke. He's got an IQ higher than 4 or 5 heads of such average folks, strung together with a skipping rope from the gym. 'Smoking ... its ok, it burns calories, it should not be a problem'. 'But for holistic health, I think you should stop'. I'm not lying folks.. I'm not! My fellow 'gymmer' Rahul will vouch for that.

I also am a strong believer in following the right diet. Every alternate day, after a fairly rigorous work out, I have had energy drinks. Last friday, it was beer with masala peanuts, french fries and some other starter I can't recall. Skipped dinner! Last saturday, I had to change the routine. I settled for some whiskey, without experimenting too much from the Friday haul of starters. Dinner skipped again! Sunday, as God wants it, was a rest day for me and the gym.

Monday and Wednesday has seen me appreciating the finer fizz in beer once again, with a different friend this time. Unfortunately I had to have dinner on both these days. I find myself feeling heavier everytime I have beer and masala peanuts as a combo deal. I think the masala peanuts don't go well with me. Will try the salted format this time.

So folks, do remember, its not just sufficient to go to a gym! Its necessary to go to the right gym! Its not just necessary to go to the right gym, its pertinent to have the right energy drinks after working out. Eat healthy, be healthy! Right!!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Dweepa - award winning movie

One of the best movies I've seen in a long long while. Not that I watch too many movies. Surfing through the channels late Sunday night, I struck upon DD1. They were showing some regional fare with the usual English translations scrolling at the bottom of the screen. Paid some closer attention and realized the language being spoken is Kannada. The movie was "Dweepa" by Girish Kasaravalli. They were speaking in the Kodagu accent which is different from what I've grown up on, so it took me more than a couple of seconds to figure out what they were saying. Initially I had planned to watch the movie for a few minutes and surf on. But those few minutes went onto become the entire length of the movie. Nagi lives with her husband Ganappa and maviah (father-in-law) Duggayya on an island (dweepa - hence the name of the movie). The government asks all folks on the island to move out of it and onto safer locations since the dam being constructed will submerge most of the island and make the rest inhabitable. In exchange is a mediocre compensation. Like the mice that followed the pied-piper, each of the families leave the island accepting the meagre compensation being given, with the fear that even that may not reach them if they refuse to leave now. Ganappa is the temple priest on the island, a job that he's assumed as a family responsibility. With the passage of people, nema, the prayer offered through the priest by the devotees becomes less frequent. Inspite of being coaxed by all his fellow villagers who have long left the island, Ganappa decides to stay put since Duggayya does not intend to leave the village. He believes the river goddess will protect him and the island from submersion. The rainy season is at its onset and soon the family realizes the rising water levels. Also looming large is the threat of a tiger that has entered the jungle atop the island. Unable to manage the physical labor on their own, Nagi brings along with her Krishna, a youth who wants to have a change in the environment after personal failures in Mumbai. Krishna though a simpleton like the rest of the people around him, is slightly more aware of the worldly affairs. The four of them are the only ones on the island. Nagi's brotherly relation with Krishna is mis-understood by her husband Ganappa who asks her to send him back. She refuses saying that it is they who requested him to come here. The beautiful relation shared between Nagi and Ganappa soon begins to sour. Duggayya is still adamant about accepting the compensation and moving out of the island. The waters by now would have consumed their hut on the shores of the island and they move to higher grounds and occupy a bigger home that has been vacated by the deserting villagers. Ganappa rows Duggayya to the temple one night on his request. Duggayya intends to perform a night long nema to ensure the island's safety and to bring happiness back to the family. In the morning, when its time to bring back Duggayya, Ganappa refuses to go and asks Krishna to bring him back instead. The hatred he has for Krishna and the suspicion he has about Nagi is now complete. Krishna refuses to go, upset because Nagi now refuses to speak to him. Nagi herself rows to the temple, only to find the temple submerged and her father-in-law dead, separated from the nema attire made out of leaves and other things from the forest.

Soundarya and Avinash in Dweepa

In the movie, Girish Kasaravalli has done as much as he has with the interplay of words, as he has with silence. The feelings of hatred and suspicion that Ganappa has towards his wife and Krishna, is captured in one cynical look that he throws towards Nagi. With things getting worse, Nagi asks Krishna to leave them and go away from the island. Upset that on returning to his own village, he would be considered a failure in both the cities and the villages, Krishna leaves the island on boat, the only way by which Nagi and Ganappa might have escaped the wrath of the waters. Kasaravalli intercepts the dialogue and the visuals with powerful lines from Akka Mahadevi's works (a 12th century Shiva Devotee and Kannada poet).

When they reach the shores, who remembers the boatman

A lake at the back, a snare in front
Can there be peace, tell me.
Still water behind, full stream ahead,
What's the way out, tell me.

With Krishna and the boat gone, the rising waters threat the higher parts of the island too. And like the overflowing waters, their troubles increase too when the tiger kills their only source of milk, a buffalo. Ganappa has given up all the hopes he has of a survival and refuses to help when the tiger approaches their home in the night, when the shed in which the buffalo calf is kept collapses, trapping the calf beneath, and when debris blocks the only drain for the water to go out. With gusto and a heavy heart, the strong arms of Nagi continue to work hard at fighting all these troubles, not once does she keel down.
The morning reveals to her the receding waters around the island and she runs to the top of the island to find out the reason. The dam levels have been breached and the waters have been released. Tears fighting her eyes, she runs down to wake her hopeless husband. The news invigors him and he becomes ecstasic. Words of thankfulness flow out of his lips to the God above and he credits the God for saving them. Nagi is shocked! Not one of her efforts have been acknowledged and Ganappa tells her that she was only the tool in God's schemes. Her effort was nothing. The movie ends, with Nagi remaining disheartened.

I've not seen better action than this from Soundarya and the rest of the cast are equally brilliant too. The old actor portaying Duggayya has done a fantastic job with his toothless smile and sullen grimace. His panic run to the interiors of the house when he sees the cops approaching the island by boat, is a brilliant metaphor for the common man's fear of the unyielding government.
Many from Karnataka believe that Kannada film is dead and long gone. For every 100 pathetic commercial movies made in the state, if even one such movie is delivered by a Kasaravalli or Karnad, I would say that the art of film-making survives. The industry may die, but the art won't!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

More on the gym!

Gymmie is my name.. gyming is my game.. and the next few lines talk of my fame. There's this machine that I think Hercules (Heracles, for the Greek friends I don't have) might have worked out on in his 6th task. It involves trying to lift several pieces of uniform stacked weights, behind your back and it apparently helps in developing the pectorals or some such muscle. I say 'apparently', since if done wrongly, it helps in developing a whole lot of other muscles assymetrically, make you seem like a subject from Picasso's paintings on Cubism. Not a bad choice I suspect. You'd be posthumously worth a few million dollars and would get fondled with soft brushes by hot art-renovators a few years later. But that's not the point of this piece of blog..
After a fairly rigorous warm-up session (where I suspect I might have gone into 'heat' mode due to the girl warming up by me), I went down to meet my destiny for the hour - the back-cruncher or.. more subtly put, the bone-breaker! 4 sets of 10 repetitions each said Ishwar. (Read previous blog for intro on Ishwar and why I should not listen to him). I agreed. Rule 1 of the gym - Don't argue with the instructor!
Into the 3rd repetition of the 2nd set I think, a good samaritan with biceps at 20 picked up the locking pin that was fallen on the ground and gave it to me. He mentioned that I had forgotten to plug it in, meaning, I wasn't lifting any of the weight units. I counter-pointed out to him that it wasn't a mistake. With my current strength abilities, all that I could lift was just the equipment handles or a bottle of beer, depending on what was closer to my hand. He failed to comprehend the concept. I simplified it for him - "can't lift any weights". He nodded.. and felt embarassed himself. Rule 2 - In the land of the six-packs, if you are the only one with a spherical presence, compromise on the self-respect and ego parts.
Post the repetitions, I took the pin from the ground and placed it at the bottom most weight in the stack and walked off with the hope that the stranger wouldn't discover the truth.
I am now 15 minutes away from reaching the gym, and am fervently praying that the guy who pointed out the missing pin is not around. After all, self-respect can be compromised, but not on consecutive days. I'm missing gym tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Having wallowed in self-pity, hiding behind layers of adipose for many a year, I've finally decided its time for a change. 'Crunch' was the answer that I found to the cellulate questions - 3 floors above the ground, 1000 bucks deep into my wallet and a 15 minute chauffered drive (autorickshaw, I pay the chauffeur on a daily basis, mostly depending on the meter that runs as well as I do on the treadmill) away.
'O beh******th us saand ko dekh' was the first of the wise remarks I passed while waiting for the elevator. Ishwar, the subject in question, was later introduced to us as the gym instructor. With bisceps like his, I feel in retrospect that I should reserve my comments to appropriate forums - mostly those that permit anonymity. If Ishwar ever runs a blogger I think I'll reiterate my observation after selecting 'anonymous' in the comment section. And then I'll tie myself to the lats worker in the gym and drag it into the ocean along with myself and blogger's servers.
I'm afraid Ishwar might have overheard the remark..my staring, with 3 parts disgust for every 2 parts awe, didn't help. I'm afraid the routine he'll ask me to follow could leave me a demented dwarf with a biscep growing near my thigh..
The 'warm-up' session involved us bending at our images in the mirror and trying to tickle Narcissus. Felt like being punished in nursery, where a frustrated 'miss', unable to give you the thrashing she so much wants, isolates you and makes you stand facing the wall for the rest of the period. You cast nervous glances at the otherside through out the time.. in nursery and in the gym.
Yesterday night was my first session at the gym. Today I woke up feeling refreshed and with a new glow.. a new intellect.. one of discovery! While attempting to brush those teeth I discovered 6 new muscles and all of them ache with the grace of a Rakhi Sawant on stage- at all the wrong times. And as I speak I feel a heavy muscular hand on me.. my friend who joined the gym yesterday with me. He was a puny 140 pounder day-before. Time to go!