More tripe from an amateur newsletter journalist

Looks like my previous contribution may not be good enough for our club newsletter. Doggone it ;). At least, the following submission appears to have made it:

The Toastmasters Journey

In this era of cheap flight tickets, it has become rather uncommon for the common man to travel on trains. Yet, that is exactly what a dozen of us from different Toastmasters clubs of Hyderabad did this past month as we embarked on a journey to attend the division contest at Chennai. As is normal, the members of HTM formed the bulk of this impressive contingent. Nonetheless, what they did not contribute in quantity, the Toastmasters of Synopsys, CSC and Deloitte contributed in their quality of enthusiasm and spirit. We started our journey together by savoring the mouth-watering pastries brought on board by A, the President of CSC Toastmasters. However, we were soon torn asunder because not all our tickets were booked in the same compartment. A small group comprising of Toastmasters D, S and the author of this article had to take their assigned seats at the other end of the train. To be honest, we trudged along rather unwillingly thinking there may be more treats in store in A’s bag. But, boy, were the three of us in for a sweeter surprise!

For awaiting our dignified presence was a cohort of college girls returning back to their alma mater after their holidays. As someone who went to college, I can attest that leaving your homes after a vacation can be unnerving at best and unpleasant at worst. Nevertheless, Toastmaster S regaled the young ladies with his stories and brightened up their somber mood. Yours truly did not get to know them really well because of constant interruptions by visiting Toastmasters from yonder who somehow got wind of our salubrious climes. The night was punctuated by yet another unforgettable experience. Toastmaster D was egged on by his unruly co-passengers to leverage his extensive business connections across the state of A.P. and get some spicy hot biryani delivered to us at Guntur. Those who love food, and I count myself in that group, would readily submit that the biryani that arrived was gob-smackingly good. The taste was well worth the extra inch or two that were added onto my waistline. Special props must also be given to P who liberally shared some delicious, home-made methi-rotis.

All this heavy food can and did indeed put an army of garrulous Toastmasters to sleep. Time flew past like a rocket as it is wont to do when you feel like catching a wink and very soon we had arrived at our destination. Chennai greeted us with the pitter-patter of rain. And on top of that, we were showered with the generous hospitality of our local Toastmaster counterparts. Thanks to their kindness, we were transported to our special lodgings that were literally a stone’s throw from the venue for the day’s contest. After a quick wash, all of us huddled together for a breakfast of sumptuous idlies and string hoppers. With our spent fuel replenished, the time had now come to put the pedal to the metal. And thus we set off to cheer and watch Toastmasters P, M and M2 take Chennai by storm.


The Divine Intervention

Having completed four speeches from the Competent Communication manual, I seemed to have hit a wall. Like a couch potato having second thoughts in only the second week of January about sticking to his New Year’s resolution of a daily dose of exercise, I began to soon find that Toastmasters involved a lot more work than I bargained for. To add insult to injury, there was also the unfortunate happenstance of many damsels having quit the club immediately after I set foot. The lack of ladies in the audience was indeed the last straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back.

It is in times of such grave crisis that real men often turn to their mentors; especially when your mentor is also the Vice President responsible for membership. Luckily for me though, my mentor is an expert not just at oration but also at inspiring adoration. Thanks to his intervention, I soon found many a muse — much to my amusement. While I do not wish to lower the status of this hallowed publication to that of a racy tabloid by going into further detail, suffice it to say that my quest for achieving the CC designation has received a much needed impetus.

A wise golfer once observed that in life, as in golf, it is the follow through that makes the difference. While I do feel close kinship with the below-average golfer saddled with a lousy swing, I have now found the renewed drive to make my next shot my best shot. And if I have one learning to share with the perspicacious reader of this rather prosaic prose, it is this: Turn to your mentor if you ever find yourself having a speaker’s block. More often than not, you will find a new door to knock on. Who knows, it might just lead you straight to your goal!

(Wrote this article yesterday for my Toastmasters club newsletter. But I am wondering if they would print such tripe! )

A pointer to a pointer to a pointer to a memorable quote

I came across a very nice quote on Mike Arrington’s TechCrunch. Mike quotes Yossi Vardi quoting Teddy Roosevelt as below:

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

“Citizenship in a Republic,”
Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

What I found particularly interesting was the analogy drawn by Vardi towards entrepreneurship. And as a fledgling entrepreneur, I can instantly identify with this quote.

Definitely worth noting down somewhere in my book blog.

Chak diya India

Six months ago, we were down and out of a tournament that millions of Indians regard as the litmus test of our cricketing capabilities. Led my favourite sportsperson, the Indian team lost a couple of matches and found itself on an early flight out of the Caribbean. While we did redeem ourselves a month ago by playing exceedingly well against England, the icing on the cake has really been the past fortnight.

Call it poetic justice. Two nations led by young captains made amends for what happened in the Windies and led their teams to a grand finale. As the match went up and down like a roller coaster and eventually settled within India’s grasp, one man battled like a cornered tiger and threatened to take it all away. A contest in the truest sense, Pakistan threw everything and the neighbour’s kitchen sink against India. But there simply was room for just one winner. One side passionately gave it their all for the game and their country and simply refused to buckle under pressure. And then came up worthy World Champions.

Congratulations India. Well played Pakistan.

Mother of God!

Bumped into this article on an email forward. The scientists compare this to “changing a Macintosh computer into a PC by inserting a new piece of software”.

Yours truly (who has an opinion on every thing in this world) thinks this could be the craziest thing (wo)mankind has ever attempted!

Judge taken to the cleaners

If you are a 24/7 netizen, you must have already heard about Judge Pearson. In case you have a life or if you’ve been living under a stone, here’s the story:

Pearson is a judge who filed a lawsuit demanding over $60 million from his dry cleaners over a case of misplaced pants. According to Pearson, the dry cleaners had displayed a board “Satisfaction Guaranteed”. Pearson filed suit as the cleaners had failed to satisfy him. Unfortunately for Pearson, he’s now lost his suit and his pants!

The headline writers are going ga-ga reporting this story. Here are some:

Judge loses his pants, then his suit

Korean couple keep their pants

 $54 million pants suit does not have legs

and many more…

Our first podcast interview! has just published a podcast interview with Anand, “the Ringmaster” of In his write-up introducing the podcast, Ashish (of pluGGd) has this to say about Anand:

Anand (and his team) pretty much represents the rising entrepreneurial culture in India . If you are a wanna entrepreneur and still thinking of whether to startup or not, I strongly suggest you to give this podcast a listen. I promise that it will add tremendous value to you.

Hope you like the podcast!

Walking back in time features an indepth interview with Anand, the Ringmaster of Anand walks back in time and narrates the story of our entrepreneurial journey that began exactly four years ago.

The post is titled: “When you aren’t blessed with the talent of a sportsperson or an actor, the next best thing to do is to become an entrepreneur“.

Have a heart

One of the best things I ever did over the past year, besides starting of course, is to join a class of cardio-kickboxing. Despite not having conducted a survey of every single fitness trainer on the planet, I am willing to confidently place a bet on ZP, my instructor, ranking amongst the world’s best. Most mornings, I trudge out of my bed and reach my class at about 7:00 am; but once there, my despotic trainer makes all the kicking, punching, weight-training and the running (out of your breath) a lot of fun. Occasionally, he mixes the exercise with a dose of advice on nutrition and diet. Therefore, forgive me, dear reader, for suspecting we were in for another of those “Eat Healthy” talks when he stopped the class 20 minutes into today’s work-out session.

When ZP started off with a story of how he had two massive heart attacks some time ago, I could hear a lot of eye-balls pop out of their sockets because one does not normally associate fitness gurus in awesome physical shape with a health problem of this magnitude. Who woulda thunk? Nevertheless, having caught our attention with his near-escape-from-death narration, our instructor proceeded to draw the shape of the heart on a black-board and explained the functioning of this amazing human organ. It would not be a far stretch of imagination to say that he knew a helluva lot more about the heart than those armed with a medical degree amongst us initiates.

Anyway, he proceeded to explain how cholesterol, lipids and other fats constitute the plaque lining the arteries, thereby constricting the flow of blood and causing a heart attack. Apparently, an increased area of coverage of the plaque is more damaging to your heart than having a more concentrated occurrence of this deposit in a similar spot. Because if any of this plaque breaks away and blocks your aortic arch (I think that’s what he said), then you can book your one way ticket out of this wonderful world and say goodbye to staring at Paris Hilton and reading about her escapades on your idiot-box-monitor. Hmm.. on second thoughts, that might not be too bad after all. Hell ought to definitely have less vapid and more beautiful morons.

Now, how would you know if you’ve stuffed your tubes with mouth-watering cakes and pastries? Well, interestingly, you don’t have too many options. But, ZP, went on to dazzle us with his knowledge by explaining how an EBCT (Electron Beam Computer Tomography) scan works. While he wasn’t sure if such a thing exists in Hyderabad, as yet, the EBCT device is supposed to be smart enough to know if you’ve been a naughty kid like little Johnny, eating sweets and telling lies to your near-and-dear-ones about it. The bottom-line was again “Eat Healthy”. Who woulda thunk it again? Exercise alone will not reduce your chances of having a heart attack. What is more important is a strict diet with no processed sugars and fried foods!

I am aware that this blog, filled with an amazing number of less than mediocre posts, could have caused at least a heart attack or two (assuming, magnanimously for a second that this blog attracts at least one more reader than me). So, I am keen to make amends with this post. Since we don’t have a 911 service in this country that can get you to a hospital in record time, be sure to pay heed to some if not most of this advice. And yes, also try to have a big heart!

Are you the Dude/tte?

Back in land, we launched a contest today named “Be the Dude/tte” to reward the most popular dudes and dudettes on the site. To be eligible for the prize, members are required to invite and get at least 99 friends to join The 25 most popular dudes or dudettes would each win an iPod Shuffle. Contest ends on August 15th 2007. Be sure to read the contest “Terms and Conditions” for more information.

Here’s a friendly tip for all of you: You can paste your unique friend invitation link from the “Invite a Friend” page on your blog, your email signature or your profiles on other sites. Any tolmolbol city-zen who registers by clicking on this link will be directly added to your friendship network.