Let me be ME

Archive for the ‘Woman’ Category

Robotic surgery specialist ,a gynaec delivering babies and a tough IM finisher: Dr.Ashwini

Dr.Ashwini

A busy gynaecologist ,performed Mumbai’s first gynaecological robot-assisted surgery, a podium finisher at Kolhapur triathlon, Turkey Ironman 70.3 finisher, someone who juggles between delivering babies at the clinic and her training, mother of two, here is 47-year-old Dr. Ashwini from Mumbai.

Family of doctors

I come from a Maharashtrian family where education was the utmost priority. My mother is a gynecologist herself, and I have seen her managing work and home with precision. 

I was always a sincere, “accha-baccha,” and was awarded the best student medal in grade 10. 

My single focus was to be a gynecologist even when my mother warned me about the hard work followed by long working hours.

But I was determined about my career goal. My elder brother went to KEM to be a gynecologist, and I followed his footsteps.

I was a table tennis player in my childhood, but never an athlete. In the later stage, I loved going to the gym and was always fitness conscious.

I went to KEM and enjoyed my tenure in learning medicine. I married my classmate, and I am blissfully married for 23 years now.

Dr.Ashwini during her pregnancy

I started with my private practice immediately after my post-graduation, and I had no time for anything else. My kids were born in 2003 and 2006. I had multiple duties to address now.

I had excellent live-in help, and I knew my babies were cared for well. And hence I could focus on my work. I could manage breastfeeding by expressing milk to be given to my babies in my absence.

Work-home-work: juggling

My mother and mother-in-law both are working women, and I am very proud to mention how beautifully they have managed their work-life balance. 

Although I had generous support that enabled me to focus on my career, but due to long work hours, I could not attend to my kids as much as I would have wanted to.

When my daughter was ten months old, my full-time help left. My clinic was from 7-9 pm, and I was returning home at 10 pm.

I had to take a tough call here. I had self-talk and concluded that my children would grow only once; my work will go on.

I decided to manage my work timings according to their schedule and shifted my evening clinic hours to morning.

“There are choices to make at each point in life, but choose what makes you proud.”

says, Dr.Ashwini

The Tri-game

In 2011 two of my close friends did a half marathon, and the distance attracted me.

Very next day, I was out in the neighboring park to try out running. Not even 500m and I panted, as I had run at full speed. An unknown lady who must have been 60 years of age was watching, and she approached me and asked if I aimed to run. She then offered to teach me and showed me how to run slowly and steadily without getting breathless. And I was then able to run 2 km efficiently.

SCMM 2014

I joined a running group called Run India Run. I did my first half marathon at SCMM(Standard Charted Mumbai Marathon) under the able guidance of our excellent and inspiring Coach, Mr. Samson Sequeira.

I was in love with the outdoors now. We were blessed to train at Juhu beach, which is serene and beautiful in the early mornings. The morning training at the beach with constant encouragement and support from the rest of the group started on a positive and lively note.

In 2014 just a month before the SCMM, I incurred a stress fracture.

I was extremely disheartened but I still went to the expo and collected the bib.

I was restless the entire night before the race day, and seeing my state, my husband told me to go and run on the condition that I do not return further injured.

I jumped out of the bed as if I was waiting for some push; I went ahead and finished the run.

“Deep desires find their way.”

believes, Dr.Ashwini

I then enrolled for 42kms. I developed hyperactive airways due to smog exposure in the winter months and had to take inhalers to be able to train. In two out of three full marathons that I attempted, I had bronchospasm despite the inhalers. I still completed the distance, though I wouldn’t recommend anyone to do so, being a doctor myself. I realised that this was becoming counterproductive.

By this time, a couple of my friends had done the Half Ironman, and the idea of doing three different sports back to back intrigued me. I decided to try my hand at it.

However, I had never trained in swimming. And I had hardly cycled in childhood, and never after that. After the SCMM, I purchased a hybrid bike and enrolled for swimming lessons and enrolled for my first Duathlon at Vasai, where I stood fourth.

I started learning to swim and cycle for races at the age of 45. After the Duathlon I attended a Tri camp to understand what a triathlon was all about. Most of the people there were experienced and talking about cadence, BRM, and what not! It was like Greek and Latin to me. I felt entirely out of place.

I joined swimming lessons keeping the Goa tri in mind, to be held in February 2018.

Swimming and cycling were a substantial uphill task for me. I had to slog in the pool and put in lots of effort. In November, I tried to swim in a 50m pool and came out completely exhausted. Till Nov end, I was unable to swim 1500m in the pool. And here I was eyeing the Goa tri, where there was a sea swim! (quite ambitious).

I was determined to overcome this incompetency and gave it my best.

And one beautiful November morning, some magic happened, and I could swim the pool’s distance. I was amazed at this miracle.(well, thinking about it later – it was my ardent effort of not giving up)

Cycling was another challenge. I was terrified to ride on the road. I was scared of the traffic, potholes, being run over and falling. It took me three years to finally think of cycling as fun! Before this, it was nothing but stress for me. But with consistent practice, I grew in strength.

After completing the Goa tri, I registered for the Kolhapur triathlon in Nov 2018. I stood first in my age category and managed to shave off a good 30 mins from my Goa timing.

For both Goa and Kolhapur triathlons, I trained under Dr. Kaustubh Radkar, and I thoroughly enjoyed the process.

It was now time to take a plunge in the Ironman race. I registered for Turkey 70.3, and under the strict guidance of Viv Menon, I started my disciplined and structured training. Ashutosh Barve helped in a big way to improve my freestyle swimming.

The race in Turkey was a remarkable experience. The water was cold, and I struggled with headwinds during the bike course. But by God’s grace, I completed all the three courses of swim, bike, and run successfully. All credit goes to Viv and Ashutosh for making me worthy of this medal.

It was a delight to see my family cheering for me at the finish line. I was genuinely grateful to complete the race, but I couldn’t cherish the moment the way I had imagined it. 

My partner in crime, my best friend, with whom I had trained for all the races, had two punctures on the bike course and couldn’t complete it. She was genuinely happy for me, though, and I hugged her with teary eyes.

Next race, I look forward to crossing the finish line together with her.

Managing the clinic, training hours, and children were challenging, but then it had to happen, so it did.

I remember episodes when I have rushed to the clinic for emergency delivery calls and came back home to finish the remaining cycle training.

Learnings at 45

There is a learning in every race. I have grown from a person who didn’t know swimming, was scared of cycling to a successful finisher in Turkey Ironman 70.3.

I recall a childhood episode where I was in the pool with my cousin, splashing about at the shallow end. He jokingly dared me to jump into the pool’s deep end (15 feet) from the first-floor diving board. Without hesitation, I went ahead and jumped. He was shocked and scared, as I didn’t even know swimming. “Giving-up” and “turning away” from challenges doesn’t come to me easily, I keep fighting until I attain my goal. This one incident pulled out the fear of open-water away from me.

Last year, I thought I would try to do the same thing. Now I knew swimming, and there was nothing to fear! But believe it or not, I walked to the edge of the first-floor board and couldn’t muster the courage to jump! I turned back on two occasions.

As children, we are far more fearless and daring than adults who are gripped in uncertainty and anxiety. Childhood experiences can translate into valuable life lessons. Skills like swimming and cycling when learned as a child remains for life.

Dr.Ashwini

I have also come across people who have labeled my race participation as a mid-life crisis. It is difficult to explain the finishing line’s joy even when I haven’t won the race.

“The more you explain, the more they will ask. Put your heart into your dreams; the questions will wither.”

be firm,stay firm and belive in yourself

Mother, gynecologist, working women, athlete- what’s the Gyan for women audience?

Mother– As a mother, you’ll always have unending responsibilities. You have to be the strongest pillar of the family. It is vital to find some me- time, however. Take care of yourself first to be a caregiver to others.

Gynecologist– Women need to do weight-bearing exercises, including strength training for better bone density. Strolls won’t help to make bones stronger.

Medal hanger designed by Ashwini herself. She says, if you want it then earn it

Please get back to the routine soon after childbirth. The best time to lose weight is during lactation when you can actually eat 500 calories extra and still lose weight if you exercise a bit. So start working out, and you’ll be back in shape quickly.

Working womanIt is imperative for a woman to be financially independent, whether she needs to contribute to the household or not. A woman must have an income of her own. Children of working women are usually well adjusting, confident, and independent.

Athlete– Discipline commitment and hard work, my training has made me A better human being with lots of patience. 

I can prioritize my work and other obligations. I have started oil painting again and joined music classes too.

My approach towards personal and professional life is more organized and structured.

Never think that you are too old to learn a new skill or start your journey on fitness. It all boils down to only one thing-

How badly do you want it, and how hard are you willing to work for it?

if you want, you will- Dr.Ashwini

I would say take the plunge, and soon you’ll be on the racing track!

DHUNTE REH JAOGE-A WINNER WHO IS FAR FROM SOCIAL MEDIA FANFARE: DR.UMA VINOD

“When I first saw the racing arena, zooming cycles, training jargons, and high energy at the event, I was almost hypnotised. I never imagined that such a world existed. I made up my mind that I’ll be a part of all these high adrenaline events.”

Dr.Uma

Meet 47 years old Dr.Uma Vinod. Ahmedabad based Ophthalmologist and a  mother of two boys. First rank holder of Gandhinagar Triathlon 2018 and winner at several cycle racing events(you will not find her on any social media although)

As Dr.Uma says,

I got married immediately after my MBBS and completed my Post Graduation in Ophthalmology.

I was soon engrossed in all motherhood duties, work, and house chores—a typical story for most married women. 

The race euphoria 

In 2012, I participated in my first half marathon and finished in 3.45 hours. I was at cloud nine that I finished the race.

In 2014 I witnessed a cyclothon in Ahmedabad. I was aghast to see the zooming cycles, the cheering crowd, and pumped up, high energy athletes. I was stunned by the entire event. I never imagined the existence of such a world, as if it was a parallel universe.

In the same year, I registered for a super sprint event. The main reason to register for the event was – Milind Soman(blushes).

The race briefing was an eye-opener. I heard the terms like wet-suit, cadence, cut-off timing, and several other jargons that seemed like french. The trainers talked about cycle gear ratio and cleats while I came to participate in the race on my son’s bicycle!

For the event, I got my first BSA “thin” tire bike assuming it’ll make me go faster. Only thin tyres don’t make you win a race but training and effort do.

With all the learnings of the previous event, I got my first road bike and participated in a Duathlon in 2014. I stood first!

By now I was in deep love with cycling. 

I started participating in cycling races and winning too. I was utterly mesmerized by the sheer joy of zooming on the bike and winning as well.

I was a hypothyroid patient until the age of 40, but then I decided to lead a healthy life and gifted myself a significant weight loss.

Do it, because it makes you happy.

In 2015, I went to Manali-Leh biking, and as it is known that the route is not for the lesser mortals. I was surely not the one. It was a life-changing experience for me. It was my zen moment of putting all the elements of the body together and strengthen the mind. 

Winner at Gandinagar Tri 2018

I was gaining expertise in cycling, but my running was still lacking. I started with proper training in 2017. Guided practice, along with a proper diet, helps a lot in improving the training performance.

In 2018 I participated. in the Triathlon in Gandhinagar. Due to fewer women participants, the organizers kept an open category for women 18-55. I stood first in the race!

I then registered myself for the Berlin Marathon in 2019. I was hesitant to go on my own, but my elder son persuaded me to travel. Technology and I don’t have much of a friendship. To navigate the phone to find a way or even to use google translator is tough for me. 

But I did. Because it made me happy, very happy.

says, Dr.Uma

Women in endurance sports- lesser lady

Is it a new discussion? I face the same set of questions each time,

Dr.Uma in one of her training sessions
  • what fun do you get in killing yourself in training?
  • You are always either running or cycling, do you even spend time with your family?
  • Why are you going alone for your races, take your children along too?
  • How will your family manage without you?

I’ll miss cooking a great meal over the weekend, but I’ll never miss my training, this gives me a title of – lesser lady.

Dr.Uma in her training session

I mostly train alone and do not share that moment “ME” with anyone. It is my meditation. My alarm buzzes at 4 am and I go out for my run. Being dark at that hour, I can’t go far for the practice; hence I run in loops at a stretch in front of my building. I have informed my guard that if I don’t turn back within time or he hears my scream, then he should run to trace me. 

There will be questions, allegations, and stereotypes to face, but the choice is yours, either pay heed and remain in your cocoon or be a butterfly. What will you choose?

asks, Dr.Uma

Male dominance and raising boys

I have five males in my family: husband, father-in-law, father, and two boys (18 & 15).

I am a working female, and along with my training and work, the house responsibility doubles up. There were days when I could not prepare the meal, and my boys made their tiffin and went to school. In the growing years, my children understand cohesive existence. They also see that I have a liking towards sports gadgets than fancy clothes.

There was a point where I was fulfilling all my duties as a mother, wife, daughter, professional, but I wasn’t doing anything for myself.

It was a tough call to prioritise my liking over everything else. We live in a society where women are meant to be more focused on home, but

Elder son at IIT Kharagpur

I believe that when you don’t negotiate you’ll never be taken for granted.

Younger son after his first Tri

Today my elder one is studying in IIT Kharagpur and is in the college squash and running team. He is a swimmer as well.

He says, “mom, sports gave me recognition.”

He prefers a girlfriend who loves cycling!

My younger one has already completed a triathlon and is looking forward to more.

Mothers are the first and most significant influencers, see that you prove this to yourself first.

believes Dr.Uma

What lies ahead?

I aim to improve my race timings and keep winning as a mother as an athlete and emerge as a more robust version of myself.

Sutli bomb: Dr. Nandita Paranjape Joshi

This petite looking, a small structured girl is the right synonym of the Sutli Bomb(Jute twine bomb).

Nandita Pranajape Joshi

She is a powerhouse of endurance and strength.

Once a patient of sciatica, backache, irritable bowel syndrome , permanent asthma, several health issues, poor lifestyle-induced diseases to an Ironman Podium Finisher.

Here is the story of Dr. Nandita Paranjape Joshi, a 36 years old, mother of a five-year-old girl, Kolhapur based Gynaecologist and infertility specialist.

As Nandita shares her story,

National level lawn tennis player 

I had a beautiful childhood. There was a strict rule in my house that we siblings need to learn one art and one sport. I chose badminton but shifted to lawn tennis soon.

With the winner’s trophy for Lawn Tennis

I was pretty good at it (collars up) 

I represented Maharashtra thrice and played till nationals. 

Back then, participation in tournaments was a simple affair with non-branded clothing or shoes. I am from Sangli, Maharashtra, a small laid back town, and sports were all about strict training under my father’s supervision. Our relationship during the training was not like father and daughter but as a coach and a trainee, hence there was no mercy.

 Marriage, children and hectic work hours 

Children will always do the opposite of what their parents will tell them, and I was no exception. I did my medicine even when my parents asked me not to. Both my parents are doctors, and they knew the long working hours in the profession. 

I completed my MBBS from Aurangabad and DGO too.

I got married in 2010, and my daughter Nabha was born in 2015.

Nabha was eight months old when I joined back to work. 

Due to stressful work hours, an infant at home, and erratic work schedule, I developed a lot of lifestyle-related diseases. As the medical facility was easily accessible to me, I would do MRIs even for a minute symptom at the drop of a hat. I was in a persistent unhealthy phase. A childhood sports enthusiast was now under medicines and constant fatigue.

The push

All thanks to my brother, who pushed and pursed me to get back on track. With a lot of reluctance, I joined lawn tennis again, my lost love. But lost love doesn’t find existence in the present; hence I shifted to running.

I could not even finish 400 meters in 35 minutes or so. I was huffing and panting all the time. 

My brother made me do a 10K in some event, which I finished in 1.40 hours and slept off for two days. I cursed him with all my heart.

Being a doctor myself, I sensed my alarming physical state. I had to take charge and got into systematic training.

Races and training

A structured training plan helped me get back to my earlier fit and good form quickly. I took great care of my diet, as well. In 2016 I did my first Kolahpur half marathon. 

Things were going fine until I met with an accident. 

I traveled to Spain for a conference where I had a terrible fall. MRI showed ligament tear, and I was completely bedridden.

All my hard work came to a standstill. I had to start from scratch now.

At this point, a friend who was not allowed to travel on her own for the event registered me to the Belgaum Triathlon (sprint distance- 750 m swim,20 km cycle, 5 km Run).

I had no idea about triathlon, I followed the racecourse, and to my surprise stood 3rd! I was utterly clueless.

By now, I had started loving the entire endurance training and registered for Kolhapur Triathlon, Olympic distance(1.5 km Swim,40 km Cycle,10 km Run), and stood 2nd. 

Then came Goa Ironman, first-ever Ironman 70.3 (1.9 km Swim,90 km Cycle,21.1 km Run)event in India, and I enthusiastically registered for it.

I had never cycled 90 km ever before the race, and I seriously doubted my capability.

Podium finisher at Goa Ironman 70.3

Swimming is my strongest point as I have learned swimming in the river, but it was a tough course to tackle even then.

I was utterly exhausted in the last lap when I heard my husband and daughter cheering me, “why are you walking? Run! You are in the second position. Go run to the finish line”.

I was pumped up immediately and finished 2nd in my age category.

Training in a small town and Maharashtra flood hero

It is a challenging affair. I have to be very careful on the route, the hour of the day, and the company during my training. I was advised to dress up like a boy to avoid eve-teasing.

My training gear is either half or full-sleeves t-shirt and long tights.

There is always a lot of questions from the society and even peer group regarding my training. 

At one point, I started doubting myself on my competency to manage my family, especially my child, and focussing more on the training. 

I shared my concern with my husband, and he assured me of going by what I think is right.

As a woman, you have to prove your worth always, and it is pressurising. 

During the Kolhapur floods in 2019, I promptly took charge to rescue the trapped people and saved 50 lives. My name flashed in all newspapers, and since then, there are no questions raised on my training or races.

Personal growth

Endurance sports require strict discipline, hard work, and a tough mind. It sharpens your thought process and decision-making ability. 

After strenuous training and long work hours, I used to get irritated and vent out my anger on Nabha. With a systematic approach towards the training, I could manage my mood swings as well and developed self-awareness.

The field of Embryology and fertility requires precision, accuracy, empathy, attention to detail, emotional strength, and patience, and endurance training enabled me to acquire all these traits.

says, Nandita

I can tackle stereotyping with much grace and confidence. These things don’t bother me anymore.

Want to represent India at the Global Platform

Does hunger continue?

Of course! It will. It has just begun. I aim to work for better stamina and much better timing in all my races.

India lacks pro-athletes in international tournaments; I wish to represent India at the global platform.

Be fearless and independent. Nabha wants me to be the next Lucy Charles, and I’ll put all my efforts into being the best one from India.

Note to my daughter, nabha
Nandita and Nabha

Note to all the mothers.

Extract one hour for yourself for your mental and physical well-being. Each one of us is unique and fighting a battle of their own.Comparison is the worst enemy for growth. Do not compare yourself to anyone, it spills a beautiful relationship called friendship.

If you are happy, you’ll keep your family happy.

P.S: Nandita is also a great cook and a sculptor. She’s been making eco-friendly Ganpati idol for the last eight years at her home.

Snail-paced cyclist to a Podium finisher: Ritu Kudal

Small town to the city of dreams

Snail-paced cyclist to an Ironman finisher

Determination is the second name of Ritu Kudal, a Mumbai based 41-year-old mother of two beautiful girls. 

Bahu(bride)
To a babe !

Pallu (veil)clad Marwari to a girl in running shorts.

Ritu has quite a few finisher medals in her kitty like Dubai 70.3 (1.9kms swim, 90kms bike, 21.1 run) 2020; Kolhapur 70.3, 2019(Podium); Hyderabad 2018(Olympic Distance-1.5kms swim,40kms cycling, and 10kms run), Full marathon 2017, countless half marathons, 10km and 25kms pacer.

Let’s read Ritu’s story in her narration.

How and why?

I studied in Udaipur and was into sports right from childhood. Kho-Kho and running were my favorite sports; I have even played until the state level. I was selected for national and had to travel to Nepal for the race; my mother was in doubt. Firstly coming from a Marwahi community, there was a stigma for girls to participate in sports, and secondly, pursuing sports was not a serious discussion. Even I was unsure, so I left where I started and continued to study further.

Soon I was married, but I am glad that my parents respected my opinion to find an educated match for me. 

I came to Mumbai after marriage and continued to pursue my Charted Accountant course. My husband, Tarun being a CA himself, helped me in the completion of the course. 

I carried on with my duty as a dedicated housewife and managing children.

When my elder one was six-months-old, just to come out of boredom, I started to learn swimming. The oldest student was in the swimming class was 60 years old.

There is no age to learn anything new

First lesson
Ritu with her family

It was during the Ganpati celebration when I was sitting in the pandal, holding my second child in my lap when my elder daughter’s gymnastics instructor uttered under his breath that I look like a Ganpati. I went home and looked at myself in the mirror, and he was not wrong. What had I done to myself? With a chubby body and bulging belly, I surely looked like Ganpati.

Do not neglect yourself after childbirth. Your body needs a lot of attention.

Second lesson

I developed hypothyroidism as well.

I started walking and mild exercising until one-day, I met someone who had completed his half marathon. I was shocked by the distance he covered when I was struggling to walk even a 5K. When my younger one was six -months old, I ran my first 10K Pinkathon race in 2013 and finished in 1.02hrs.

It is always challenging to take the first step but dare to take it, and it’ll make all the difference. 

Third lesson

There was no looking back then. I did the Goa marathon, Kundalika river. Marathon, Stara Hill run and, after four years in 2017, ran my first full marathon with systematic planning and training.

The race moment

My first Triathlon was Hyderabad 2018, Olympic Distance. I chose to race here to test waters, and surprisingly, I stood 4th in my age category. Next was Kolhapur 2019 70.3, and the (OWS )open water swim came into existence. Ah! to face the fear of open water and then to swim through that distance was a tough task. I trained hard and was a podium finisher at the race.

Dubai 70.3 was announced by now, and after talking to Tarun, I registered. A race that I can never forget.

Podium at Kolhapur 70.3

My coach Viv Menon and swim coach Ashutosh left no stone unturned to turn me into a beast by gruelling training plans. My day started very early, and after preparing the breakfast and packing my kid’s tiffin boxes, I used to head for my training. There were days when my body gave up, and my legs ached, but I had a massive target in front of me, and I didn’t pause.

Before the race day, I packed my bike, learned how to mend the puncture, made my mind to travel alone. Yes, it was my first international travel on my own. It was a great accomplishment to get the visa stamped, issue a new SIM card, and manage everything on my own. 

After the trial swim, I was down with a cough, cold and high fever. I panicked as my body was too weak to face a tough race ahead. 

On race day, my swim went well, but due to coughing I had gulped a lot of seawater, I started vomiting while cycling. My left side of the body was almost frozen, and I had severe pain. I was tensed not because of my state, but what if something happens to me? I have children back home.

My mind could not register a DNF (Did Not Finish), and I pushed myself hard to the finish line.

Dubai 70.3

The glimpse of the India flag at the finish line, the sense of victory and achievement took away all my pains, aches, fever, and anxiety.  It was a moment of pride and triumph.

You have to put effort on your own to achieve the impossible.

Fourth lesson

Gratitude

Mom, you can do it

I am very grateful to my parents, who ensured that I get a proper education. I can’t thank my coach Viv Menon, Ashutosh, enough, who pushed me hard and beyond my limits.

Most importantly, I could have never done any of my races without Tarun. Whenever I step out for a competition, I always ask Tarun to put his hand on my head. It fills me with immense confidence and trust. That cheer from my kids,” Mom, you can do it!” kept ringing in my ears all through my racecourse.

Is the hunger over?

No, the hunger to chase the impossible will never get over. Once I was back from Dubai 70.3, I enrolled for the Goa swimathon for 5K. My coach asked me, “are you ready to fail, Ritu?” I replied, “it’s not about failing or timing, but I want to test myself.” I am glad I took a plunge and finished the 5K swim.

Dare to dream and have the courage to chase your dreams. What seems impossible now will become a reality soon. 

Ritu’s mantra

Learnings from being a Badass mommy

Getting married or having kids is no reason to stop you from achieving your dreams. Never stop learning, never stop dreaming, and be happy for yourself and on your own.

Dream Believe Chase Achieve 

concludes Ritu

No, I am not running

Ignorance is bliss when we are into unwanted arguments, but definitely doesn’t hold good when it comes to our health.


With few triathlons and marathons lined up all through 2019, I was in my all-time high of ignoring the pain, swelling and persistently strained IT band .
When I enrolled for triathlon, I was in full enthusiasm and awe of that finish line, but I never knew what’s in store.
Relentless practice, the guilt of missing out on any workout, conscious eating, backbreaking work, and discipline was the training part, but the significant component to take care was – time management.

With boys grades declining in each term, teenage catching up, workload increasing bringing in not-so-much needed stress and anxiety, I was in a zombie zone. Ice packs, signoflam was the love of my life.


I kept ignoring everything.

Standard Charted Singapore Marathon 2019

I understood the gravity of the situation when I finished my Standard Charted Singapore Marathon on 30th November 2019. After the mandatory posing with the finishers medal, it was time to walk to the metro station to board a train for my hotel.
It was the longest and most painful walk of about a kilometer after finishing the half marathon.
I was in a hurry to reach the hotel as Sid was attempting his first 10K the next morning, and he was waiting for me in the hotel.
I was sore, limping, and had a swollen knee when I reached the hotel.
As ever, my lover came to my rescue, and I can’t thank her enough, my dear Ibrufen
Sid triumphantly finished his 10K, and we flew back.
I was in so much pain that I had to ask for wheelchair assistance at the airport.


SCSM was the last race of 2019, and the final phase of my ignorance as well.
I started with my physiotherapy regularly. I slowed down majorly. Listened to the advice given by my coach, followed the prescription, obeyed every instruction like a good student.


Came 2020 and the first race of the year also the most awaited one which was happening in my city, TMM(Tata Mumbai Marathon). I did not run.
I collected the bib, didn’t calibrate it.


I saw the finishers pic of my fellow runners. I went through all the zeal and happy faces on social media. But, I did not run

I am often questioned on why I am walking and not running? Why am I not doing deadlifts in the gym? Why am I not lifting heavier weights? I always get a lump in my throat to reply- I can’t.


I cried out of my misery, my pain, my inability, and above all, my ignorance. But, I did not run.


I am still on rehab, signoflam, cold compressions, guided exercises, posture correction is a part of the routine.
It hurts, it pains, it’s frustrating, it’s killing, but I am not running.


Injuries are a part of the life of an athlete, but listening to your body comes first.

My coach said,

“if you have to run fast, go slow”


It is said that God resides in each body, then the body is our temple, worship with all your devotion.

Hold, wait, breathe. P.A.T.I.E.N.C.E

My recovery may take months, or I don’t even know how long but the journey right from the injury to ignorance till recovery is teaching me lessons of life which no textbook ever taught me.
Patience
Hold on
Breathe in
And
Rise like a phoenix

Love yourself and your body the most, this is the only thing that will stay with you forever.

Vietnam: Coffee and beyond

I was searching for a cycling trip, and as ever, my focus was on my favorite destination, Europe. But by the time I decided and finally made up my mind, it was already winters, and Europe was ruled out.

The extensive search began again for the best countries to travel in December. None other than south-east Asian countries reflected in my search.

My cycling friends suggested doing Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam.

And I was back in my exhaustive search. 

I was mailing to cycling touring companies, getting the best tour deals, searching for best deals on flights, AirBnB options, checking on reviews, bike hire, planning an itinerary. Phew! I was exhausted.

But finally, the plan was laid we were set of our trip, cycling in Vietnam

Excited as we board the flight

Day 1

With fewer flight options, we took a flight to Hanoi via Kolkata from Mumbai.

No one knew what was in store. Not even me, even though I had planned for the entire trip.

We reached Hanoi in the eve, and after a little glitch in coordinating with the pickup guy(as language was an issue), we were heading towards our stay.

We reached the small bylane, and our host leads us to our apartment.

With our host Thang

All the hotels and buildings in and around our stay were more vertical than horizontal, same as Hongkong. Our apartment had two rooms on each floor with three stories and a swirled staircase. We all captured one place each, luxury of staying in a condo than a hotel.

After a quick freshening up, we were out in search of food and beer. As we were walking around the street, we realized that we were staying in the central city, and we had lots of eating and drinking options.

The cosy Czech Bar
Happiness is BEER

We spotted a Czech bar and headed straight in without wasting much time.

Day 2

According to figures by the Ministry of Transport, there are 45 million registered motorcycles. For a country with a population of 96 million, that’s close to one bike for every two people. Hence our guide,Tom suggested we move out of the town and then start the ride.

All set for the ride

We reached our ride venue, assembled and checked our bikes, and were all set. The weather was terrific, and we traversed through beautiful small villages, rough patches, dirt roads, canopied trails, and places where you’ll not find tourists. We loved it. It was just our group that was riding on those beautiful trails.

We crossed Nin Bingh, did not go for the caves ride because it takes three hours for the tour, and we were running short on time. The ride around the mountains was breath-taking: beautiful, serene, and no traffic. 

Nin Bingh
All geared up

We carefully saw the banana and pineapple plantation.

Pineapple plantation

After a great riding day, we packed our bikes and cushioned ourselves in the van to ride back.

Day 3

We were up early and about for another riding day. Today we were to start our ride from the city and then move to the outskirts. While crossing the road, our guide was pretty impressed by our ability to crisscross the streets, after all, Mumbai traffic has taught us all!

We picked up the bikes from the cycle store and started our ride. We rode past the narrowest bridge I have ever seen, explicitly meant for two-wheelers. It rumbled, shook, and rattled as if it’ll breakdown any moment. I held my breath all through until I crossed it.

Resting after lots of Orange stealing from the farm
Crowded streets of Hanoi

We then rode across the periphery of the city, crossing the cabbage fields, talking to farmers (google translate came handy here), flower fields, stopping now and then for clicks or just soak in the beauty around. Weather played a significant role in making the ride favorable.

Sunflower fields behind
Chor chor.. Oranges Chor !!

Another fantastic riding day, and we were back with all smiles.

This eve we also went for a little stroll and watched the water puppet show. It’s just a 45mins show, and the artists clad in traditional dresses, playing traditional musical instruments narrate different scenes which are common in Vietnamese culture. Go for this show ONLY to experience the music. I booked the tickets in dance via Viator; you can choose your preferred timing and seating. Opt for the first row if possible to get you a clear and uninterrupted view.

Chilling at the night market after the water puppet show

We then chose to sit on the rooftop café and sip our coffees and also roam around the night market. The place was vibrant and lively. We loved the vibes around and spent almost entire eve here.

Day 4

It was a day to fly to a close-by island. We packed our backpack (as Veitjet Air allows only 7 kgs of handbag and you pay for everything else – that’s how low-cost airlines work) and headed to the airport. There are very few domestic airlines that fly between the islands; also, they are very poorly schedules and unorganized.

Off to Hoi An

But we had no choice, and with few glitches, we landed in HoiAn. Our host was excellent and very prompt in communication, and she also arranged a vehicle for the pick up at the airport. We enjoyed all these luxuries because Vietnam is not an expensive country to travel, and we were paying bills like a multi-millionaire in lakhs and billions. Uh, la la !

Our apartment was a beautiful two-floor bungalow and all to ourselves. While searching for lunch, we landed at a beachside restaurant with a breath-taking view. Vast, beautiful sea with lovely breeze made the environment all the more soothing. We had a heartfelt meal and were not at all keen to go anywhere else but just plonk ourselves on the couch.

The food and drinks- that’s all !
The beautiful sea

We somehow forced ourselves and landed on the cycle seats. We decided to explore the night and lantern market that day. It was a beautifully lit market with well-placed shops and neat lanes. 

I would suggest visiting the night market at HoiAn than Hanoi. 

Lantern Market- Hoi An

After exploring almost every lane and tasting the food and drinks, we rode back to our apartment.

It was a beautiful eve as we sat and chatted for a very long time and ended the day with a great spa.

Another amazing day 

Day 5

We took the day easy as the weather also demanded the same. We went for a stroll by the beach and had a sumptuous breakfast cooked at the apartment. We then got on to our bikes and, after a little discussion, decided to head towards the pottery village and coconut village. Knowing nothing about the route, we started riding. Our google map showed coconut village closeby, so we obeyed every direction instruction.

Cafe enroute coconut village

While on the way to the coconut village we saw a beautiful café and we stopped there to have a coffee. We chatted with the host and sipped our coffees. We then continued our ride in search of the coconut village. A lady midway guided us to the village, and we were there within no time. We hopped on the round boat and went an hour-long ride. The experience was terrific. A must-do when I Hoi An.

Making friends on the way

We had our lunch, which was the toughest part for me. Myself being the only vegetarian in the group found it challenging to remove chicken from the chicken fried rice and eat, but I had to as there was no other option. That’s how travel makes you learn and adjust to all types of situations.

Here and there, somewhere
Pottery Village

We strolled all through the town and were back to our apartment by evening to board the flight back to Hanoi.

Day 6

Cheers to not just one but many more rides to come

We planned for a short ride around the town but visited the local cycling shops instead. After a hitch start as there was an ATM fiasco that took time to get sorted, I left the situation as it is and headed for our destination. Another learning, struggle until you can else leave the issue and move ahead. We then walked around local markets and shops until it was time to leave for the airport.

The beautiful, mesmerizing, filled with laughter, secrets revealed, countless beers and so much chatter in this trip.

Our last lapse of the trip was here.

Day 7

Back to base

Back to the pavilion and reality.

Must do when in Vietnam:

  • You can land at Hanoi or HoChiMinh city; both are crowded and chaotic
  • Don’t expect clean and organized lanes. You’ll have a Bangkok and Mumbai feeling there
  • Do use google translate, and it helps a lot
  • People are amicable, sit with them, and talk. It’s a beautiful experience 
  • Leave the central city as soon as possible (if you are keen for main tourist attraction then visit water puppet show, night market and center of the town)
  • Look out for experience tours where they take you to local villages showing you the essence of a country. You can opt for walking or biking tours
  • Cave boat ride to Nin Bingh 
  • Halong Bay Cruise
  • Try egg coffee, coconut coffee and even other flavors of Vietnamese coffee
  • Eat local food, also if you are vegetarian like me do try the regional cuisines
  • Two days at each place is more than enough
  • You can club Myanmar and Combodia too
  • Check for hot air balloons over golden pagodas in Maynamaar
  • Hoi An has lots of high-end hotels as well so if you are keen for luxury can check those too
  • Shopping, eating is very cheap there so look out for pieces of stuff made out of bamboo
  • You can easily create a week’s trip in less than 60-65K, which will include your flight, stay, eating, shopping, and roaming around.

Useful sites

  • Skyscanner
  • Trip.com
  • Viator for local tickets
  • Airbnb for stay

Useful links for stay and local restaurants

Bull’s eye

After a very long time, I got an opportunity to watch something other than Marvel, Avengers, or those heavily animated movies. I don’t say that they are all crap, but for the sake of family time, we end up watching what the boys demand.

This weekend I had time for myself, and we decided to go for Sandh ki Ankh. watch the trailor https://youtu.be/-uA-ONin_5M

Bollywood lover in me was wholly engrossed in the movie, and as ever, I also assumed myself as one of the characters in the film. The movie plot comes to life, and whatever goes on screen seems to be happening with me as well.

This movie, Sandh Ki Ankh, is amazingly gripping, talks about the determination, struggle and fight for daily survival as well as personal existence of women living their life under the veil with no permission to express their opinion too.

I have been to one such village in one of my field visits and even stayed overnight at lady sarpanch’s house. I could relate to the situation. Check the video below, and this is the place I’ve stayed. https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-asia-india-37701026/the-indian-women-refusing-to-wear-veils

The movie revolves around a typical village family and how men treat women. Women are nothing more than the cattle in the house and an object of desire for men. The plot changes when accidentally two grandmothers of the house discover their talent and expertise in shooting. It is quite interesting to watch how they manage to move out of the house to participate in shooting competitions even when they were not allowed to step outside their village all these years. They were now keen to train their daughters for this sport, and then the entire story shows their battle against the taboos and society. They wanted their daughters to lead a meaningful life. 

A life of purpose, passion, and above all, a life that gives them their identity.

“Yes, I’m a feminist because I see all women as smart, gifted, and tough.” ~ Zaha Hadid

The movie shows the daring of a woman. All the instances in the film clearly state the power a woman holds within her. I have always been a firm believer in the power of mind. I also believe in the transfer of energy.

When Sid(my elder son) went for boarding, he was unable to adjust despite being in an experiential environment and very cooperative teachers. It was difficult for even me back home as I missed him on all occasions and family outings. It was terrible. When I met his school counselor, she told me to “release” him

I pondered over it for a long time and realized that my love is binding him, and I am somehow transferring my insecurities to him. I started working on my circle of energy consciously, but somehow he gave up and was back home with us in the family.

Since then, I am very cautious about the kind of energy I am creating around because I know that Sid would be absorbing my vibes.

“When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.” – Sophia Loren

The movie also said a similar story. The daughters absorbed the hardships of the females around them. What also came along was intense energy and self-power.

Bringing up children and instilling values is the duty of both parents. Still, as per my opinion and observation (views can vary ), a mother plays a vital role in the emotional well-being of a child.

A mother is a creator, and she has the power of the universe within her. She has the capability of nurturing and forming a complete human being from her own body- so, imagine how much strength she beholds.

“A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture, and transform.” ~ Diane Mariechild

Right now, as I write this blog, I feel actively responsible for my boys. Children learn a lot by just observing. At every point, one has to be careful and conscious of their actions as somehow, children are silently watching us. Having said this, it doesn’t mean that we fake – well! They are smarter, and they read this too. But, we can genuinely try to adopt the same behavior that we want in our children.

“Men are what their mothers made them.”

Whenever I think about “children observing me,” I keep humming, 

Every breath you take

Every move you make

Every bond you break

Every step you take

I’ll be watching you

A man and a woman may differ in physical strength, that’s how nature has done the creation, but the immense mental power a woman holds is unmatched. 

Rani Laxmi Bai – Grit

Mother Teresa – Humility

Helen Keller – Making the impossible possible

Nur Jahan- Only female Mugal ruler

Aisan Daulat Begum – major contributor in creating Babur’s personality

And I can go on quoting several examples, who have played a vital role in bringing in the major transformation in their family and society.

For any mom who feels even for a moment that there is no energy left or you don’t have any vital role to play anymore then please go and watch Sandh Ki ankh, because it’s a reminder to direct my and your energy to hit the bullseye.

Nothing comes easy!

“You’ve lost so much weight!
You look so toned
Your abs are finally showing
You look super fit”

I am overwhelmed and accept all the above compliments in absolute humility.

But let me say this- Nothing comes easy, just nothing.

Few are lucky to get everything on the platter, but I don’t fall into that category. I have to struggle hard and very hard for every single thing, same applies to shedding weight and getting into shape.

And it burned my arse to attain the body I wanted although the journey isn’t over yet.

Trust me, it ain’t a cake walk!I am writing this piece precisely for those who have started following a proper regime, picked up running, have got into a routine, or have started with a diet plan after seeing my results.

I feel good that my little contribution has got a few if not many, into a healthy lifestyle.

So, let’s start with the journey,
2005- 84 kgs after Sid was born, age- 26 years
Did nothing towards a healthy lifestyle as I was reeling under severe postpartum depression(which went unnoticed)
2009- 86 kgs after Abhi was born, age – 29 years
No clue about myself leave aside following a healthy lifestyle, post-partum depression worsened.
2015- 79 kgs, age-36 years
Went for Bhutan mountain biking trip was and ended each ride in the support vehicle.
This year I started running and also followed some basic workout routine
2017- 72 kgs, age 38 years
I realised something was missing hence contacted a dietician and began with the plan. I also got a personal trainer at the gym and got into serious training.
2018-62kgs, age 39 years
Now the triathlon bug was already in so I was now following baap-of-all training plans. Gym, cycle, run, swim without missing a single day.
2019-59kgs, age-40years
I still have a long way to go as my body needs more effort to build up the stamina and come into shape.I can blame it on my genes.

All this required great mental strength.

Following a proper workout plan and that too for a triathlon was not easy at all. I had to discipline myself further and schedule my day according to work, travel, and kids.

I followed the diet plan for a year, and afterward took things in my stride.
No processed sugar, not even on any festivals, no late dinner, no late nights, no carbonated drinks and a lot more.

During my work travel, I did not miss my workout. Being a vegetarian foreign country doesn’t leave you with many options, but I was mindful of what I was eating and never gained weight.


There were several personal battles to be won as well,
I am asked time and again, why training so much? Stay at home, look after children, take care of the house, why do you have to go to another city or country for a race? What will you gain out of this? Take your children along for runs. Why are you spending so much on your races and training?


“IT WAS NEVER EASY, IT NEVER WILL BE”

If you are looking for a transformation, physical or mental, then discipline and hard work is the key.


Just keep going, pause, restart but keep going

There will be plenty of setbacks to stop you, but the choice is yours to look beyond them or succumb to them.
Each body, stamina, genes, metabolism is different so listen to your body and then decide what suits you.

Following a regime is not about fitting into the a glamours dress but to tame your mind. After all, it’s all the mind game.

I wish you all the best!
Thanks again for keeping me as an example to lead a healthy life.

That’s all !

Sulu : Just like You and me

sulu-tumhari-teaser1-678x381

Power to dream and fly

Writing in haste else I take few days to finish a blog. I think and rethink, then try on some excellent reference, but this one is a no-brainer. It comes directly from the movie I watched today.
I took my help at home for Tumhari Sulu this afternoon. She was free and was excited to join me. I canceled one of my meetings, and we went for our movie outing.
I loved the entire storyline, acting, drama and the execution. Vidya Balan as ever stole the show. She is fabulous, but I think she should shed some weight (she inspire many women around and keeping good health can be a way forward as well). Sorry, the fitness freak in me sees the tummy and arms bulge first, others can ignore.
The movie talks about the struggle of a woman when she decides to step out to make her mark .The “mark” is a little not-so-accepted-thing. How her own family, leave aside the society discourages her and holds her responsible for all the chaos in her OWN family.
I could relate every moment . I am sure so many of us around can relate too.
Sulu gets a job in what she was good at.
She excels in her work.
She truly enjoyed her work.
She tries to manage everything back home.
She lures her husband as well (which so important).
But still, what she gets? Backfire… from everywhere.
When her son doesn’t behave well, and the school suspends him, the blame is on her. She is asked to leave her job. She is asked to spend time with her son. Take care of the house. Why? Because she is a mother, wife, daughter, homemaker and it is her responsibility to take care of all the errands of the house. She has just started to work, and her salary raise will take time, but she is asked to quit because she is the one who runs the house and without her ,home is a mess.
I thought that when a woman is held responsible for everything, mostly bad- mark it and mainly when it comes to children it is SHE. Just imagine the immense power she holds in herself. The fantastic capability to manage the show yet she is blamed. Her expertise is at the highest level, yet she backfired for her irresponsible management.
I loved a particular scene where the school suspends her son , and his entire clang was blaming her, yet she lifts her bag and moves out for work.
That is the kind of kick-ass attitude a woman must possess.
I also loved a dialogue where she asks her husband, “you are in which team ? mine or theirs ” (“their” are the relatives who were asking her to stop working)
No matter how much she kept the husband in the loop, lured him, gave herself (willingly or unwillingly), it was the husband who doubted her and questioned her work. But thank god, the husband got enlightenment in time else this woman goddess wouldn’t have let anyone come in between herself and her dreams.
The dedication she had for her family, towards her child, husband and household responsibilities is remarkable.
Trust me it hurts when YOU are held responsible,
for poor house management
poor grades of your child
poor tiffin packed for lunch
misbehavior of your child
for not giving enough time to children
being over ambitious
being passionate
But ,
I loved every bit of Sulu.
She is a dreamer
She is a happy soul
She knows her responsibilities
She knows how to keep her man (that’s a tricky business)
She has immense love for her child
She is a dutiful wife, mother, and caretaker of the house
She is outgoing, yet she knows how to keep unwanted men at bay
She is fierce yet beautiful
She is a woman as YOU and ME.

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