Thursday, October 30, 2014

Movember - The Movement and Me

Men - a species that is loved, hated, respected, despised and everything in between. Those, for all the right reasons and the wrong. For the image they've created and the acts they've done and continue to do. But we all have our heroes in men too; in our father, brother, husband or friend. 

Men will be men; and we've got our own set of problems. There are pressures to do well in academics so that we get into a professional degree, which translates into a good a job, matrimony, so-called respect and a whole bunch of bullshit. The dramas and stress and work, managing life back home, the toll of a truck-load of budgets that are required to look after the family, children, mortgages and various expenses typically with a single income.

A recent WHO (World Health Organization) article on men's health states that "health outcomes among men and boys continue to be substantially worse than among girls and women, yet this gender-based inequality in health has received little national, regional or global acknowledgement or attention from health policy-makers or health-care providers". The article further goes on to state that on the whole, women are outliving men by an average of almost six years. 

That's for the some basic facts and stats! Flashback - in the year 2003 in Melbourne, a foundation called Movember (then November) was formed. Today, it's a leading global organisation committed to changing the face of men’s health. So far, $559 million have been raised and funded over 800 programs in 21 countries. Their work focuses on improving men's mental health and is saving and improving the lives of men affected by prostate and testicular cancer.

How it works - For 30 days of November participants are challenged to grow a Moustache, starting clean-shave on 1st November and are known as Mo-Bros! That's a challenge in its own because the clean-shaven aren't used to facial hair and guys like me aren't used to being clean-shaven. Either ways, it's a simple way to grab attention and in-turn spread the word for this great cause.

What I look these days

Of course, the challenge also is to raise funds in charity. And here comes the good part - almost 87% of the funds raised were used towards men's health programs, with the remaining being apportioned towards fundraising, administration and sinking funds. 

And it doesn't end there. The lovely ladies can equally be part of this as Mo-Sistas by supporting the men in their lives and propagating the message across. 

The noble vision of 'awareness and education, living with and beyond cancer and research to achieve the vision of an everlasting impact on the face of men’s health' is something I strongly feel for and pledge my support towards.

So join me and my Mo army for this noble cause at

And the more you share, the more awareness is what spreads.


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Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Adrenaline Rush - Jenson Button wins the 2012 Australian Grand Prix

There are a whole lot of people like me who eagerly wait the exhilarating season of Formula 1. This 2012 season is very special. Not only is it going to be the longest, with the US Grand Prix making its debut, but it is also a season featuring six World Champions for the very first time as Kimi Raikkonen makes in comeback in Lotus F1 Racing. Michael Schumacher (7), Fernando Alonso (2), Sebastian Vettel (2), Kimi Raikkonen (1), Lewis Hamilton (1) and Jenson Button (1) between them have 14 World Championships. Not only is it great marketing for the sport but also great viewership, hoping they all have competitive cars at some point in the season.

The year’s season kicks off with the Australian Grand Prix held at Albert Park, Melbourne. Though a street circuit with the Albert Park roads used 9-10 months by the public, it is very much like a racing circuit. Fortunes fluctuated during Friday and Saturday Practice with Jenson Button of McLaren, Michael Schumacher of Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton of McLaren taking top spots in first, second and third practices. Both Mercedes powered cars topped practice and looked like race winning cars.

Saturday qualifying started off with great disappointment for Raikkonen who ran wide just slightly and missed the chequered flag to set time in Q1. The Ferraris appeared to struggle during the pre-season testing and were the next set of casualties in Q2. Filipe Massa’s wrestle with his car and F1 racing in general continued as he ended with a disappointing 16th. Fernando Alonso erred on the first corner and could not set a reasonable time, yet out qualified his team mate with 12th position at the end of Q2.

The first few races can throw in some surprises and Q3 saw Pastor Maldonado of Williams, Nico Hulkenburg of Sahara Force India and Daniel Ricciardo of Toro Rosso as surprise entries. McLaren and Mercedes showed clear domination with the Red Bulls looking slightly pale. However, one Romain Grosjean of  Lotus, making a comeback in F1, spoilt the party with a superb third place finish. Hamilton took pole, followed by teammate Button.

Sunday afternoon saw an action packed race with a great start by Button taking lead in the first corner.  The first corner dramas saw a tragic exit for Hulkenburg while Grosjean’s dream run stalled early with a broken steering on lap 2. Both Ferraris made a great start to stomp into the top 10, with Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg running up to forth. With Raikkonen at the back of the field, there were fireworks guaranteed and he did not disappoint. 2011 World Champion Sebastian Vettel followed up by a good move on Rosberg and started catching up with Schumacher. The seven-time World Champion who was looking good had a bitter end with a mechanical failure after not being able to select a gear.

Kamui Kobayashi of Sauber is one who never holds back to pull off some very impressive overtaking moves especially with the car he has, and does them quite cleanly, provided enough action in the midfield battle. Raikkonen too pulled off some fantastic moves; probably the best being on Kobayashi who intern was then trying a move on Massa. Massa eventually retired and one of the commentators echoed my feelings – he just hasn’t been the driver we’ve known after his accident in Hungary 2009.

Just around the second round of pitstops, Petrov’s Caterham broke down and bought in the safety car, which helped Vettel leapfrog Hamilton. The top five then stayed as in until the race end but once again the midfield battle wasn’t something to miss. Maldonado who drove a brilliant race to be up into sixth made a rookie mistake on a kerb to crash out on the last lap with Rosberg seeming to loose drive towards the end. Kobayashi and Raikkonen made the most of the situation to finish sixth and seventh, with less than a second separating the last five finishers. The last lap had enough action to warrant at least half a dozen separate replays.

When the five red lights went out, it was Hamilton, but the man to take the chequered flag was his teammate Button. Here’s a bit of trivia, the last five drivers to win the first race of the season have gone on to be World Champions. Statistically, it’s a good time to bet!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

City Bites: Mumbai Terror of 26/11; Justice Denied

This blog got featured in Mumbai DNA 'Around the Blog' on page 7, 5th Dec 2011.

This post isn't really a dedication to the people lost their lives and to those who are still suffering from the terror attacks in Mumbai on 26th November 2008 (26/11). The only dedication to them today, can be justice. 

Today, I saw political parties get another opportunity to put up banners and pay a tribute to the people who lost their lives in the terror attacks three years ago. What I also saw were elaborate photo and video shoots to show that 'We did something'. 

This is telling them that all of their something is nothing as long as justice is not served. We don't care if its a cold-blooded decision; we need it! Someone after all did say that justice is a meal best served cold!

Innocent Indian people here,
Candle marches as tribute to who are dear,
That’s how we people face the fears,
Innocent Indian people here!

Our government though takes us for a ride,
Only these simple things do they drive,
The only condemn the done and prise the peoples’ strive,
That’s how our government takes us for a ride!

How else would one explain this fact of life,
On the convict is spent 50 crores to keep alive,
But both justice and money is denied,
To all those families who lost a dear life!

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Friday, November 25, 2011

Sadda Haq…Jhapad Rakh, The Harvinder Singh-Sharad Pawar Slapgate!

After a million requests, RTI, petitions and pleads; a hundred thousand peaceful protests and a few hundred candle marches, and one Anna Hazare, the common man lost it. A courageous Indian by the name of Harvider Singh slapped the daylights out of the Indian Agricultural Minster, Sharad Pawar at the New Delhi Municipal Centre; you can watch the video here

As always, there are divided views as to how can one slap a minister, this is sad and is condemned, and accolades for Harvinder Singh on the awesome job! It would have also been doing the rounds on social media like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and likes. Sachin Tendulkar also must have heard about it during a forced drinks break and decided against his hundredth hundred; or postpone it to Friday. And then there were news that our PM Dr Manmohan Singh, who is in dire needs of a good PR, said he ‘condemns the act’. And now you know why; be it terror attacks, bomb blasts, scams or this slapgate, all our PM does is just condemning the act; and of course, nothing thereafter.

I came across a comment of an eminent news honcho Rajdeep Sardesai saying that ‘All those who justify the slapping of Pawar should be ashamed. Violence of the mind breeds physical violence.’ Whatever little bit I had towards the Indian media simply died off with that comment. Either Sardesai resides outside India, he too has a Swiss Bank Account that’s fed regularly by Indian politicians or is just another double-standard cold-blooded media guy who wants to stay within boundaries and run his channel as well. Does he forget the enormous corruption levels in the country fore fronted by politicians and the violence and vandalism political parties’ lead for their own motives? However, a common man’s slap is VIOLENCE, such is the travesty. And what if this was an act of an 80 year old retired man living on meager pension? Sardesai would have come out in support saying 'the common man has retaliated'. And I wouldn't be surprised if some years ago he loved Rang De Basanti and watch it with great adore!

As far as the slap goes, I’m a little disappointed with Sharad Pawar. If all Indian politicians claim to be avid Gandhi believers, why didn’t he put forth his other cheek and go ‘hit me baby one more time’? As far as Harvinder Singh goes, he’s building quite a name for himself to be a slapgate specialist. First he hurled slipper at Sukhram, the former telecom minister, when he was sentenced to jail for his involvement in a telecom scam and now Sharad Pawar. 

Now as much as I enjoyed the video of he slapping Sharad Pawar, the question that comes to my mind is how? How did Harvinder Singh make it out there and manage to slap Sharad Pawar with that ease? I perfectly understand terrorists coming across the seas and land, beating the shit out of our intelligence and conveniently killing a few hundred innocent people, but Sharad Pawar? Knowing that politicians can stoop to any level of disgust, I won’t entirely be surprised if Harvinder Singh could have been planted. Or may be just the political party came in the mood of vandalism and breaking loose and getting a public holiday and took to course as part of actions against their leader? Or a deep routed political move that we don’t see now?

For now though, I sincerely hope on being wrong on it and without being devil’s advocate, could the Harvinder Singhs please slap up a few more ministers; a lot more?

PS: Anna Hazare, the man who only supports non-violence, had the cheek to say 'Sirf ek hi mara?' (did he hit only one (slap)?); quite contrasting to his own personal belief, isn't it?

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Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Adrenaline Rush - We’re Boycotting the First Indian F1 Grand Prix Event

As India gears up for hosting its maiden Indian F1 Grand Prix, three key people who should have made it for the event, eventually decided to boycott it for its first year.

But haven’t Sachin Tendulkar, Shahrukh Khan, Arjun Rampal, Deepika Padokone and like all said yes? They may have, but we haven’t. And we truly consider ourselves as are ardent F1 fans and devote fans for Michael Schumacher and Ferrari. Oh yes, we love Fernando Alonso, SebastianVettel, Red Bull Racing and are very fond of  Force India F1, Rubens Barrichello, Felipe Massa and Mark Webber too!

Passion for F1 dates back long enough for us, so much so that even our initials spell out as CAR – Charan, Ashish and Rohit (yours truly)! We didn’t make money when we were delirious about the sport but even today, our passions run high enough for us to have travelled to the Singapore Street Circuit, F1’s only night race and Sepang, Kuala Lumpur. And we’re just ordinary hard working men with simple day jobs!

CAR and their leap of Joy at Sepang, 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix. For more photos on the Malaysian Grand Prix, click here.

Schumacher made his return last year, and almost the year before that, and the one thing we rued the most was not having seeing the legend drive in person. Today for us, it is been there done that; one step further is that we’ve met the legend! That’s our adrenaline rush, that’s our passion. 

 Autograph signing at the 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix. For more photos of Malaysia, click here.

And so, now that we’re in a classified but sadly unknown league above the who’s who and like, we bloody well have good reasons to skip the big daddy of all events.
  • It happens only in India – We’re Indian to the core no matter how badly our government treats us and how corrupt it might be. And even though this is a private event, we’re known to have sweaty palms and cold feet for any major event. Dare I say it, but some disaster/embarrassment/fiasco is waiting to happen. The track was just about homogenised (approved) and ticket sales, scheduled for March, only began sales late September. 
  • Event management - Having seen races before, we know for sure what treat and privileges fans get for an F1 event. Whether that would happen for the first Indian GP, we were not sure. And then we didn’t typically want to throw our unknown weight around trying to complain and advice how the show ought to be run. 
  • Traffic Management – Singapore was excellent but we had our fair bit of problems on our way back from Sepang, Malaysia, who are 10+ years strong hosting F1 races, when we took an hour longer than what we should have. I can’t even imagine how our pot-bellied gutkha chewing and pan spitting traffic cops would have run the traffic. 
  • Pricing – Rail/Air tickets, Race tickets, stay and food. Watching an F1 race is by no means a cheap and convenient affair like cricket might be. As the first ever event, the organisers have set the ticket pricing a little too steep instead of having promoting it. Being festivity times, train tickets were long gone, and that’s talking within 10 minutes on the opening day (90 days prior when we thought of going simply because Metallica were coming too) and the airfare is beyond reach. The city would no doubt be over crowded and stay wouldn’t come cheap either. Trust me when I say this – KL and Singapore worked out cheaper for us from Mumbai. 
  • No Event Calendar – An integral part of any F1 race are the associated events. As fans, you also get to watch a few other races (Formula 2/3, Porsche/BMW series), air shows, take pit lane walks, go for autograph signing and much more.  None of this was listed on the official Web site, and didn’t make it even until early this week. Few of the above may not even happen; disappointing! 
  • F1 Rocks – F1 is not just about the racing. Glamour has been an integral part to which music events like F1 rocks have been added. And these are part of the ticket price, where we managed to watch Shakira, Back Street Boys and likes. Metallica lured us and the only reason why we decided to go; but that was separate? Worse, the race is in Greater Nodia and the performance in Gurgaon? How on earth does that qualify as F1 Rocks? And let me not go to the money raking events like LAP, the after hours party with Lady Gaga, Roger Sanchez and many more international artists. 
  • It’s the First – We love to brag and who better than the capital city; and so what if we don’t know what F1 is? I’m a VIP in Delhi (which every second person happens to be in the capital city) so I am going to get my contacts going and ensure that I’m there at the first ever Indian car racing thing or whatever that is; yeah the one that has Fraaree shraaree! And then – ‘Oye sale nu overtake karna bhi nahi aanda’ (the guy doesn’t even know how to overtake). VIPs, VVIPs, celebrities, their entourage cum dummies guide and their security. Thank you; we’re better off home. 
  • A Virgin Track – The Greater Nodia tack, Buddh International Circuit is a fantastic track that’s going to be great for drivers and fans. But is it really ready yet for an F1 race? 
 Sebastian Vettel in his Red Bull Racing F1 car at Sepang, 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix. For more photos, on the Red Bull Racing team, click here.

Having said all that did we still feel that we are missing the event? Yes! We still wanted to be there and almost made a last minute impulsive dash as well. But in practicality, are we missing the event, probably not, because we’re having the last laugh/glad that we boycotted the event. 
  • Friday practice started with a show down between Lewis Hamilton and a dog!
  • The track surroundings still look far from being ready; I wonder if Bernie Ecclestone would have okayed had it not been India.
  • The track lacked grip, which was expected, but the amount of dust around it is just not acceptable; classic example was turn 5 and turn 7 that saw additional kerb being deployed and Massa eventually breaking his suspension going around it.
  • The evident vibrations on the long straight after turn 4; I hope all cars endure it for 60 continuous laps.
  • Lights out – Nodia faced a major power cut on Thursday which affected the media centre and pit garages. You’re saying they did not have adequate power backup?
  • You’re now getting a 60% discount on F1 tickets. Good morning organisers!
  • F1 Rocks or should I say sucks? Metallica’s live showdown in Gurgaon; need I say any more?
And the race hasn’t even begun!
At the end though, no matter what, today, 30th October 2011, will go down as an eventful day in the history of Indian sports or any Indian event for that matter. I just hope that it is not for ALL the wrong reasons.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Adrenaline Rush – Sebastian Vettel - A Bio

Apart from producing great beers, Germany also has a legacy of producing fantastic racing drivers; like the current Formula 1 World Champion from Heppenheim, Sebastian Vettel. 

Born on 3rd July 1987, while other kids were still figuring out how to spell ‘kart’, Vettel was behind the wheel of one. His first major success came by winning the Junior Monaco Kart Cup in 2001. He may not have bagged his drivers’ licence yet, but in 2004 he stomped his authority by winning 18 off 20 races in the Formula BMW Championship. 

Sebastian Vettel at the autograph signing session at Sepang, Malaysia, for the 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix. For more photos on Formula 1, check My Third Eye.

In 2006, BMW Sauber gave him his ticket to Formula 1 as a Test Driver where he went on to become the youngest driver to set fastest lap time, during Friday practice. His maiden race came with BMW Sauber in 2007 when he substituted for Robert Kubica at the US Grand Prix and ended up scoring points; again the youngest ever to do so. 

His talent was identified and nurtured by the Red Bull Team who gave him a drive thereafter in 2007. He justified their faith when he stormed from 16th to finish fourth in the Chinese Grand Prix. With consistent results in 2008, he then did the unthinkable; grab pole and victory at the Italian Grand Prix. That was good enough to get a promotion to the Red Bull Racing team for 2009, with whom he finished runners up. 

Sebastian Vettel takes lead in his Red Bull Racing car at Sepang, Malaysia, for the 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix. For more photos on Red Bull Racing, check My Third Eye.

Behind his boyish charm, jovial nature and witty humour lies a fierce competitor who wants to excel. The hunger within him saw him win 3 off the last 4 races of the 2010 season with Red Bull and become the youngest ever Formula 1 World and Double World Champion. In a short span, the charming heartthrob has an envious track record that makes him nothing but a prodigy at 24! 

Congratulations to him on winning the 2011 F1 Driver’s Title. 

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

City Bites - First Class Crap

This blog got featured in Mumbai DNA 'Around the Blog' on page 6, 17th Oct 2011.

After very many ages, I have had the misfortune to return travelling in Mumbai Suburban trains. For those fortunate enough to have not seen what the popularly known as local trains look like, by and large, they are nothing more than 12 massive ugly red and yellow garbage tins put together, with a few doors and windows, on rails with people infested during most hours. And this of course is the best possible treatment for India’s financial capital and highest tax paying city.

There are three routes; Western – which runs Churchgate to the Western suburb of Borivali and beyond; Central – which runs from CST to the Central suburb of Mulund and beyond; and finally harbour that runs from CST along the docks to Mankhurd and beyond. Society has always seen divides and the Suburban trains are no exception. The Western lines have now managed quite a few rather sophisticated and swanky trains, which the Central line is struggling with and the Harbour line has barely managed. 

Coming back to my misfortune; after debating whether there are more viruses/flies/mosquitoes and like in Mumbai or more people (and I think the later wins), I went ahead with a ‘First Class’ monthly pass. Now, apart from the compartment for ladies and those with special needs, the local trains have ‘First’ and ‘Second’ class. So, what do you get for a First class upgrade? State-of-the-art Shape-of-the-arse no-more-foam cushioned seats, only three people sit on a 3-foot long seat instead of 4 people, possible less infestation and a possible hint of a vague cologne amongst hundreds of perspiring bodies. Sure, you don’t want to know what goes on in the other Second class!

A view of the interiors of the First Class compartment in a Mumbai Suburban Train. For more pictures of Mumbai, click here

So yeah, I entered one such train on the severely step Harbour route and I am faced with a great travesty of recent times. After having paid 3.5 times the cost of a Second class season ticket, I was faced with even more sagging seats and backrests that what I ever imagined and a compartment that desperately needed to be sanitised; may be garbage trucks abroad are cleaner. 

You'll now understand why they need to be sanitised. For more pictures of India, click here.

There was a joke doing the rounds when I was a child – A foreign national touring Mumbai was caught by a ticket checker in a First class compartment with a second class ticket. The TC told him he did not have a valid ticket and hence he would need to pay a fine. The tourist replied that his ticket is valid indeed because the source and destination stations are correct. To which the TC replied, ‘That is correct, but having bought a Second class ticket, you’re in a compartment which is First class.’ The tourist jumped off and exclaimed, ‘You call this First Class?’ And yeah, the TC hung his head low, and walked off!

I wish we Mumbaikars can slap off the same statement!

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