Quantified self – 2017

As anyone who has known me for few years, I am big fitbit fan and thought I will share some statics about 2017. As I had posted in FB I purchased Fitbit Charge HR2 about year back and this definitely ranks as better one.

Here is the three years of 3 key statistics from fitbit dashboard (steps, hours of sleep and weight)

3yearStatistics

I record weight in withings wifi  weighing machine and wear my fitbit close to 24hrs each day! Sleep statistics is slightly misleading as fitbit on average discounts about 45 minutes of sleep as disturbed sleep.

After using fitbit for 6 plus years, i have finally hit a big milestone, average 10K steps/day for year! Also this was possible because I hit weekly goal of 70K steps a record 34 weeks. This meant literally walking few hours on Sat/Sun to make sure I round out.

Still my  best period was in 2012, where I went stretch of  23 consecutive weeks at 70K steps per week (Jul to Dec 2012).

steps2012

I am currently on 17 week stretch, hope to beat my previous consecutive weeks stretch.  Just in case you are curious, here is wiki link on Quantified self

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Lost and Found

This happened couple of weeks back, I lost my wallet during my bus commute and retrieved in the next 5 minutes in  near filmi fashion.

I was seated in second row right before front door and purchased ticket and stuffed my wallet into my left trouser pocket with some effort – I was squeezed in my seat and I got to my stop (Dhandeeswaram) and got down and had taken about good 25-40 steps I instinctively checked my trouser pocket and realized I had missed my wallet, I tried to run back to see if bus was near by but it was not visible in the narrow roads. I quickly got into an Auto requested the driver to head-out in the direction of bus. The auto driver drove crazily and luckily for me Gandhi road intersection was congested like another day and we caught with my bus and I got into bus and the person who was sitting next to me, was still there and he joined me in searching and he located the wallet after some searching and I triumphantly got back in Auto for ride home! I paid Auto driver handily that he was happy!

As I was walked-up to my apartment door, I was relieved about not loosing my driving license as I just had one of my friends live thru the horror trying to get a lost drivers license replaced – could you believe replacing drivers license is 10X harder than replacing passport!

One thing that kind of stuck with me is how I deal with losing something – I actually get past almost any loss very quickly because I ask a basic question “What can I change now to recover from the loss, almost 100% of the time answers is nothing, so you figure out a way to over come the sour taste quickly and move on!”. I often have wondered why and how I have developed  this ability  overcome loss- I think mostly it how my parents dealt with me when I lost things when I was young they rarely scolded me or made me feel miserable but always told me importance of taking care of things. It is also key part of my resilience, I am never intimidated by any set-up at work or in life  my analysis is mainly because I do not brood over loss/set back and I almost always look forward – it is freaking easy to do this if one has a charmed life like me, so I am not trying to trivialize other people’s struggles.

This is used to be one of the annoying things in early part of our marriage – I would loose things and get over them by time I wake-up and it was initially hard on my wife and it will sometimes  takes week for her to get over losing something!

 

Pitchaikaran and whys of giving …

It is not often that you watch a movie and  basically change  some belief system  you have held-on for close to 30 years.

Just a couple of days before I watched the movie,  I and close friend of mine were having one of those lengthy never ending late evening conversations. I had watched him carefully take out 30 rupees for bus fare from his wallet and put it in his front pocket before we walked-up to the gate. As we were in a animated conversation, there was reasonably old lady who walked-up and asked from some alms and my friend did not think and he basically reached to his pocket and gave away one currency note, basically no judgement or even to look if the person was in need or something, he just gave. After we finished the conversation some 45 minutes later and I was walking away, I was stuck by his act and was contrasting with what I do and  I was thinking maybe I need to re-think my 30 year old resolution of not giving any one begging money. As 18 year old I was struggling to kind of figure out who to help when people approach me and it was always hard to know whether they deserved it or not and I hated to be cheated by someone  And also to me with my young idealistic Libertarian  streak it seemed logical that though there were people who were indeed, begging did not seem the right thing and I giving money might not make much of a difference so I made the decision to not give folks money period no ifs and buts. Somehow I have just hung-on to that ideal and never revisited it. There were situations when my mom would ask me to give money to someone and I would give (my philosophy has always been – “It is perfect to live by my ideals but I have no freaking right to  tell anyone but especially my parents what ideals they should have”).

I had not read detailed review of the movie and had no clue about the plot-line and so as I watched the movie and thought on the topic few days back was fresh and it became clear to me I had to change my ideal for  it is very hard to figure out person in need but even if I can help 1 in 10 person or 1 in 25 person then I should be doing my bit. I may not give to everyone that asks me for money but I am going to help as many as I can.  So I have started training myself to just help people without judging about their needs and I have started to give money when people ask me …

Now let us get along to my review of the movie!! Movie’s basic premise is “we all will almost to do anything if we know our beloved ones life can be saved by our acts”. Movie shows those begging on the streets and other marginalized people as human beings and how they lead life in realistic manner but without making them caricatures. There were multiple hilarious sub-plots that are well executed and logical – Traffic cop, radio show call-in advice,  The movie as such maintains momentum and tight script helps keep movie moving along nicely. Even the way director kind of paused right before the anticipated climax and gives a brief interlude , which  kind justifies his cinematic reason for miracle at the end.

I think it is probably not surprising for folks who know me that I have stubbornness and ability to stick to something for ever but at the same time I am willing to change and evolve with ease.

irudhi suttru – state of sports in India

What prompts me to write a movie review ? – generally either something really touched me or I am spending a lot of time thinking about a movie after I have watched it.I do not review technical aspects of a movie as  Movie making mechanics is not something I have tried to learn about  but it is incredibly hard thing to do is something I appreciate. To me often movie is snapshot of happening in society  around us at this moment in time –  filtered thru directors life experiences and what and how he/she chooses to present them in less than 3 hours.

First the review, Movie Irudhi Suttru was very crisp,  and made its key point very clear “In country that does incredibly poor in International events, we have raw talent that is sometimes not discovered, not nurtured even worse stopped from attaining great heights”. It depicts lives of folks living on the margins while maintaining a cosmopolitan touch to the movie. It shows inner working of sport governing body without dwelling too much on theatrics. A woman director handling sexual exploitation of young athletes without giving it more than the necessary screen space  was refreshing (if anyone thinks this is limited to developing countries read this long form on Swimming coaches in US). It depicts the ego of fading star who feels he does not have to bow but ultimate the system humbles him until he is vindicated. Sports body head show in this movie is not fictional – > 70% of sports associations are run like this is a fact we need to freaking bow our head in shame (there are lots of well meaning but less capable folks like Nazer character or even coaches and official who do not hesitate to spend their own money who sustain in sport in India, not demeaning them)

After having lived in US, one thing that has always resonated with me is that you can make professional career in lots of sports even after your active playing career ends and the system has openings at various levels from school to college to development league to pro-league, that is big contributing factor (+economic might) for US to excel in lots of sports. While the earning potential of men and women is still very lopsided at least men can make a career focusing on Sports. I have always wanted this(sports being professionalized) to develop in India, this movie has made me thinking about what will make sports more mainstream in Indian middle class psyche, so here are my thoughts. One could argue Public sector  and private sector sports quota did provide some help, while they helped it is not same as sports persons making a career in sports.

So I was very happy when IPL (a professional domestic sports league) happened but cricket (men) was successful even before and even if you performed at state level you could make a decent living. For the past 20 years cricket stars from Urban centers are trainied systematically and they produce >80% of  Cricket stars ( we seem to stumble on fast bowlers from hinterland – Munaf , Praveen, shami ). IPL was squandered opportunity make cricket structure more professional and created a crony capitalism in Cricket. But IPL  success has create whole bunch of leagues but these are not building any echo systems just cashing on popularity of existing stars and these are narrowly focused on couple of months in a year but still these organizing bodies are controlled  by same old vested interests that stifles talent than enables them.

I have stared playing recreational badminton about a year back and observing some interesting development. First some recollection of Badminton in India early  recollection from my childhood when Prakash won all England (1980) it was great deal and he started an academy in 1994 because he mostly practiced in Marriage near where lived and wanted to create facilities he enjoyed in Denmark in India as there was only one decent facility in North – Lucknow was other badminton powerhouse in India.  Next big jump was Gopichand winning All England (2001)  (he got to refine his talents in Padukone academy and so Gopi started this academy goodwill of  CBN in Hyderabad. In the past 15 years these and other academy has started throwing a stream of budding talent Saina, Srinath, Sidhu etc which kind of creating ripples in sport dominated by fellow asian and couple of Scandinavian countries.

An interesting phenomenon is people who used to play in open courts in public parks have migrated to playing in Indoor stadium and number of these facility in South Chennai unbelievable (I need to check but I am pretty sure Bangalore & Hyderabad have similar facility). Lots of folks in all ages are playing the sport with reasonably good facility, which means children have more facility to play at and parents are more likely to persists with training regime for kids  giving longer shot at talents to surface and reach their full potential. I personally think Badminton has reached a tipping point and we going to keep producing a stream of young talent that is going to keep winning in international level.

This movie made me think this is way forward for other sports in India, we can learn from proliferation of Badminton  and replicate in other sports. We need to move away from Government run facilities for sports to excellence-in.

Hat-trick it is …

It all started about 3 years back when Kavitha & I,  very casually decided we will run/walk 10K event in The Wipro Chennai Marathon 2013 and now that we have done it three time a row we can claim to have started a tradition …

Collages-001
3 year picture at start and after finishing

First time is always a charm, you are not sure you can do it, and generally I was walking for about 30-40 minutes regularly leading to first 10K, so was confident worst case I can just walk the entire stretch  but being first time did not know what would be good time to go for. Ended-up finishing the 10K without much discomfort but also confident I should be able to do better.

Second year I was hoping to start preparation early but never got around to exercising and was in two mind to try & risk injury but made decision to do it anyhow and was able to finish 10K but was awfully cramped-up was limping at work for about 3 days. I kind of resolved this should be last time to do 10K without preparation.

Given second year experience there was a desire to better prepare but I was lazy and way behind on my plans. One of the things I wanted to see was if I could jog end to end and Dec 6th I was able to Jog for 1 hour without break and that gave me confidence that maybe I can Jog from start to Finish it. Then rain forced event to pushed out this gave me more time. Captured below is Runkeeper summary of my preparation and final run.

Progress
About two months of not so well planned preparation

Once I could do 8.5 km in 65 minutes on 16th Jan 2016, I was trying see if I could improve my finish time and was trying to push, I was using each session splits to see if I can could go a bit faster . Below is splits of some of session to show progress and how I was able to use Runkeeper to pace my Final run!!

Splits
Splits of different key training session and final run

Few Key Highlights of this year run – I jogged end to end non-stop, I grabbed water from final two aid station (vs. taking a 15 sec break in every aid station previous 2 years). BTW I ended-up clocking the best family time in three years!

  2013 2014 2015
Kavitha 1:28:00 1:20:20 1:21:36
Sathya 1:28:53 1:34:30 1:18:06

While I proud of what I and Kavitha having been able to take part in city tradition for three years and wanted to use this blog to brag a bit about it. But I wanted to convey couple of key messages

  • Often we do not really know what we can accomplish and we set ourselves a ceiling that is probably way below what we can do with a little bit of push (I often re-assure people at work when they try something new that we will not know how good we are until we try!). I would not have imagined about doing 10K in less 80 minutes few months back.
  • There is all sorts of technology available today that we can easily create our own training plan and track, which was super cool and fun for me as I prepared. In fact this something like a runkeeper can be used to build some kind of competitiveness to preparation in a group.
  • Finally this year we participated as group from work which was cool, though I would imagine atleast 3 times number can easily participate (everyone from work who got up to this point be ready I am going try and sign everyone of you next year!), so next time there is an event in your town, please go out participate and make it a bigger event.

WorkTeam.jpg

Go Green – follow-up

I started out the year by trying to see if I can reduce number of days I drive to work in car and in some ways I am glad I set out a goal and made it public. I got obsessive about tracking the goal and then for couple of months I was barely meeting the Goal, so I started Aug by I am going to front load this and try and hit the goal in first two weeks. After two weeks I realized I had used the car for two days and then started thinking what if I reversed the Goal -“From counting days you leave your car to counting days you take your car”   Once I got this Idea in my head, I became excited.  So for the past 5 months (excluding the rain period) I have on average taken car to work once a week. For example whole of Jan 2016, I have not taken car to work a single day.

There are quite a few folks at work who regularly check over the past year on how I am doing on this challenge big thank you, each time it was re-enforcement and opportunity for me reflect and pat myself on the back!

While I feel accomplished and want to encourage others to try  and do this few times a week couple of thoughts.

  1. A friend of mine having his car impaired due to floods has been able to come to work using Bus, it is going to be interesting to see if he can keep up with not using his car at least for couple of days a week once he gets his car serviced – bottom-line a lot of us can do this if put our mind to it
  2. Using public / shared transport is question of time and convenience, while I can brag about my accomplishment, I try and not be judgmental about who can or should do
  3. Finally now when I  have to go out alone even on weekends, I am now naturally thinking of using public transport, which is big mindset change

I just want to repeat my previous  Call to Action  –  We all need to be willing to give-up something, I have found something that works for me and have set a Goal, can all of you think of doing something – It could be cycling, walking, sharing a ride that will make this place a better place to live for all of us and our children.

 

Kaaka Muttai

Watched this movie last week, a movie that has a simple story-line that effortlessly portray’s characters – folks living in slums without demeaning the key characters !!

  • Celebrity endorsements and their public appearances create aspirations and desires in everyone’s mind
  • A family struggling to feed itself can get two freebie TVs on the same day but is not able to get ration provisions!
  • picking charcoal spilled from goods training transporting them to thermal station for about Rs.10 a day is a reason to not send kids to school
  • no matter what some folks find a way to throw away everything good fortune that comes their way
  • The haves discriminate the have not based on how they appear without ever realizing it (at the minimum are judgmental)
  • How news channel are driven about the sensational aspect of news- news anchor is doing a high-pitched reporting from the spot about two kids and they walk past and no one notices them
  • How every kid can be enterprising when there is a need – distribute pots of water, drunkard retrieval service, trade pani poori for shirts

The director impresses and gets lot of kudos for not  obsessing over any one aspect of slum dweller’s life, instead crafts a brilliant story-line around everyday life and moves the plot at rapid pace. There was lots of opportunity to create filmy histrionics but he has resisted temptation and let the characters he has build play it out. Like me if you have very little about the movie there are times when you anticipate a certain plot trajectory and director uses subtle twists to take plot in another direction. Focus on key characters -two kids for 90% of time but avoid any possible situation to reveal their actual name is movie making at its brilliance. The movie so engrossing that we debated after the movie if it had sub-titles or not (actually had sub-titles)!

This small family at the center of plot displays innocence that can be assigned to their surroundings/upbringing, experiences small dramas, bouts of sadness, helplessness, even small pleasures  but wakes-up everyday and tries to live life fullest with whatever they have. So one of those movies I enjoyed watching (there was lots of places where there was spontaneous applause from audience), able to empathize with key characters and their daily struggles, yet emerge from the movie energized  with hope  and possibilities of humans …