Sunday, June 17, 2012

Turn Fit, burn midnight fat

I would like to take you back to  the days  when I struggled to establish myself as an Aerobics Instructor way back in year 1995 . The story goes somewhat like this:
It is two years since I added yet another facet to my multifarious personality (housewife, part -time writer, Reiki master) : I lay claim to being an established Aerobics Instructor. I get to remain fit at the expense of others not so naturally endowed . Which other career gives you this bonus in addition to a little money/ or lots of money for the lucky few in the pocket ?
 Not that it was a piece of cake , as I soon found out. First, the need to secure a big  enough hall for the workouts, at a reasonable rent in a decent  neighbourhood; next to secure and  retain the requisite number of students in order to break even. The former problem was overcome by a stroke of extreme good luck, after a patient vigil of over six months.
The lesson learnt was not lost while tackling the next order of business: not to providence would I leave the task of gathering enough students. The good news was braodcast far and wide  by mouth.
Target populations were idendtified--- pink, yellow and green fliers were sent out  along with weekend newspapers. Strategic locations were found, to hang up brightly painted sign- boards.  Aerobic demonstrations were held at neighbourhood ladies clubs and meetings. Print media was further peppered with knowledgeable articles on health and fitness by Rama Ananth ( Aerobics Instructor). The neighbourhood newspaper carried weekly panels in bold advertising, wooing individually and severally housewives, husbands, singles, doubles, students, office- goers, early risers, late risers and what have you, I had batches for everybody.
My copy writing skills were honed to perfection during this time : Witness - "Sweat out your inches and get into your jeans" 
or "Lose weight, lose inches gain confidence", 
"Want to get into your swimsuit,  come join " Shape Aerobics", where fitness is fun 
" Keeping Fit Has Never Been More Fun !" 
And I would always add "Call Now", as if it was some life and death matter.
My creative juices began to gush out like a burst BWSSB water main.
In no time , the phone began to ring endlessly (music to my hears) : I had visions of the cash register jingling likewise, not mention visions of  the morning,  afternoon and evening  classes I would conduct everyday. I would have my hands full- What do I tell the poor souls I could not accommodate?  
Please wait, you are in queue ?
 And the husband -- I would show him : I would make enough money to walk out of 16 years of drudgery.
But alas!  everything was khalas !
The ringing bell only proved to be a false alarm. The callers invariably had an excuse for not signing up. Even after long drawn sales pitches and free advice on exercising, dieting, fitness etc., the quarry didn't bite. 
I was astounded at the variety of excuses  these callers came up with : the one to take the cake was,  "I need my husband's permission",  that too in an era where husbands are thrown out at the slightest pretext, ( to think that was my plan too).
 Business was dull, I was ready to sign up as a freelance advertising copywriter provided there were any takers for the crap I came up with. The husband didn't make matters any better:  "So when do you plan to move out darling,  got some money for your plane, train, or bus ticket, or do you plan to jog all the way,  was his idea of a good laugh--- the depraved dolt.
Well things got a lot better as days went by, I was well established in my line, I continued to write articles on fitness, in the Times Of India, continued to laugh at myself in my middles in the Deccan Herald: a lot of water has flown under my troubled bridge : being the type who never give up I sailed through quite safely . 
I have learnt to master the vagaries of my profession and keep under control my seething irritation provoked by these "time pass" callers. 
 When a recent caller asked for a convenient timing at a reasonable fee, my husband, who has a keen nose for business suggested,  "start a midnight batch love, and offer a 50 per cent discount".
 Any takers ? 

Oh my God! the phone is ringing  and I can hear my cash register jingling, I have to go. Bye bye.
That was my story, did you like  it?
(Was published as a Middle in the Deccan Herald, and I got a measly  sum of Rs. 250 for that)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

London, Spain And Portugal

We visited London, Spain and Portugal in 2007, and I still can't forget how lovely the whole trip was.  In this blog I will cover only London.
We went around London all by ourselves, taking the Tube, seeing all the important places and having lot of fun window shopping (people like us can only do window shopping). It was during the month of October, the winter was just setting in, and it was pretty cold. Luckily for us during our 3/4 days stay there it never rained.
 Tate Modern Art Museum: visit this place for the entrance is free.
 Established in 2000 in a converted power station and located right along the Thames, this museum houses international and modern art from the 1900’s on. The exhibits change frequently so stop on by every time you’re in town.

Graffiti has always been the most controversial form of art. It all began some 30,000 years ago. However, defacing public property has come a long way. Previously associated with gangs and crime, graffiti has evolved into an international art form that encompasses public artistic and political expression. The illegality of spraying your name, artwork or political opinions on public property has produced an array of techniques, explored the most forbidden themes and created an international culture of unconventional artists.  The intention of the artist is to send a message to the general public.
This picture was to show that I was here.

We visited Hyde Park, searched and searched and finally found Petticoat lane market, and found it was closed, so we went and saw an adjacent market which was useless.

 More window shopping and more walking, we would get dropped at some central point around 8.30 in the morning, and we would roam the streets of London till evening around 5.30, the drop and pickup was done by my husbands sister, who is a Doctor there.
 The famous London Bridge
One cannot leave London without a mandatory visit to Harrods. Forget shopping, for either some things are not worth buying for the amount mentioned, or there are things that are good but beyond our means, so the next best thing is to just look around. You can also get yourself photographed by your husband, who is absolutely bored  with the whole idea of window shopping or any shopping for that matter .
From its humble beginnings as a grocer and tea merchant in 1834, to the Terracotta Palace filled with luxury merchandise, Harrods continues to go from strength to strength, guided by its philosophy ‘anything is possible’. I like their motto.
 The Tower of London

The Big Ben.
This pretty green bridge is the Westminster's Bridge.

The observation wheel turns slow enough for people to embark while it is moving. A complete turn takes about 30 minutes. Thanks to the construction of the glass capsules on the outer side of the rim,
the passengers have a great 360° view over London. Many famous landmarks are clearly visible, for on a clear day you can see as far as 40 km (25 miles).

 The well known Red Telephone Booth, had to take a picture here

No. 10 Downing Street is the official home and office of Britain's Prime Minister. Have a look at the building looking through the gates from Whitehall. Have your photo taken with the house in the background

 Trafalgar Square
 A view of the London Eye

 I simply loved these row of buildings, they looked so strikingly neat and beautiful
The Changing of Guard Ceremony is free to watch, if you have the time and interest.

Although Guinness may appear to be black, it is officially a very dark shade of ruby.
Studies claim that Guinness can be beneficial to the heart. Researchers found that antioxidant compounds in Guinness, similar to those found in certain fruits and vegetables, are responsible for health benefits, because they slow down the deposit of harmful cholesterol on the artery walls. I had to taste it, and believe me it tasted  real good.
Oh, there are so many things one can do in London, the best part is walking everywhere, taking in the  atmosphere, enjoying the really chilly weather and one can go on and on, but only as a tourist, for I don't think I would like to live in a place that, for most of the time looks pretty grey and gloomy and wet.
Looking back, I feel very grateful, that I was fortunate enough to visit this lovely country, in this life time.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Grand Canyon At Sunset

We are always fascinated by sunsets and sunrises. There are so many places all over the world, where people have gone out of their way,  just to witness the magic. enacted by the Sun.  I witness the magic of the sunset every evening from our  house, it looks beautiful as ever, I feel the sunsets are always beautiful from anywhere.
Anyway, during our visit to Grand Canyon, I felt my trip would remain incomplete without viewing the world famous sunset there, so here are some pictures of the sunset at the Grand Canyon.

One has to be very patient to watch the sun set, and to wait for the beautiful colors to unfold itself slowly, be ready with the camera to capture as much as possible. We didn't carry a tripod, because, it is kind of irritating to carry anything extra during vacations. But everybody who was a professional was there with one. One has to be very careful, for the rocks could be very slippery, one should always keep looking where we have set ourselves to take the pictures.
 It was also threatening to rain heavily any moment, but luckily God listened to my sincere prayers, and we could take a few pictures there.

Some how,  the sea, the river, the clouds and the sunsets, the snow capped mountains, never fail to take us into deep meditation, despite finding ourselves surrounded by people, somehow one is drawn so deeply into these natural beauties, that one hardly is aware of the background: one just becomes one with nature.
Of course in India, you would mostly find such places very noisy, and distracting, but in the Grand Canyon, it was as if, there was a un- written rule of silence that everyone followed : each one of us positioned at various vantage points, waiting very patiently for the Sun to come and demonstrate his skills: it was simply awesome!
There was pin drop silence: except for the clicking of the cameras

One can sit forever and watch the changing play of light and shadows thrown by the sun

Look at the riot of colors, that keeps changing every second, that one ends up taking so many from the same angle : only the colors are different,

Just behind me is the rainbow, not very clear, still it felt good to stand there and get photographed
I don't exactly remember, but, I think, we took these pictures from Hopi Point, which is supposed to be one of the best points to watch the Sunset, without any obstructions.
I read somewhere,"The Grand Canyon is about seeing the beautifully exposed pile of rock that makes up the Canyon and this changes from every view point you visit."
Each location has its own beauty of sunset to be enjoyed
 If you have the time, then visiting as many view points as you could would really be good. One should also come and visit this place during the onset of winter. It is indeed fascinating, to observe how monuments and temples make entrances and exits and change shape as your angle of view varies.
If one has the time, interest and money too,  many things can be done at the Grand Canyon. However people like us with limited budget, and time have to be grateful we could at least see this beautiful place in our lifetime.

(The pictures were taken by Ananth).