Saturday, July 05, 2008

End of Week 3

I am finally back in London - came back yesterday.

easyJet as usual was late, it did alright from Belfast International right up to the aerobridge at Gatwick, which surprised me as I have never returned on time, but then made up for the punctuality by waiting to open the doors for half hour or so. Apparently, someone left a bag near the aerobridge, so they won't move till someone removed it, and then the aerobridge will not open and they need the stairs and buses, all things you can possibly imagine going wrong at 11pm. Finally, I managed to get home just shy of midnight, completely exhausted out of these five intense days, barely able to walk because I pulled a muscle on my right foot, and thoroughly undecided on what my strategy going forward will be.

But then there was good news. I lost weight. I always wanted to lose weight all my life. I have been teased for being a fat boy at school, and that remained with me. I did manage to lose weight after school, and turned skinny in my adolescence. However, as I started working, or more correctly, as I got my first desk job at Aptech, and complemented it with a daily dose of 'Double Egg Chicken Roll' of Calcutta variety (which, for the benefit of the uninitiated, is wrapped with a paratha soaked in oil), I quickly gained back all the weight I needed to fill my naturally cherubic frame. As I look back to my old photos, I know I became fat, with a distinct paunch, and kept a moustache to make me look middle-aged much before I became just that.

I must say I never cared till I came to England. Here, the general consciousness about health and food habits surely affected me. I got rid of my moustache - though don't recall exactly why or who advised me to do this - and started walking about a lot. To start with, this was not about exercising. I took up an apartment about 2 miles from the city centre, and without a job, the 80p bus fare at the time looked costly. So, I almost always walked, carrying around an almost impossible load of groceries [we shared our flat that time, so there were more people]. I also walked to work. That was a breeze on good days, as our office was near Clarkenwell and I shall walk everyday from London Bridge station, over the London Bridge and past the Bank of England wall and Moorgate. That was most probably the most pleasurable thing I ever did - not just because I saved £40 a month by just buying train ticket [as opposed to a Travel Card, which would have got me onto Tube as well], but it was great to walk with so many people, of so many nationalities, through the 'City', and through the alleyways which are so distinctly old-world, and most importantly, so similar to Calcutta.

Coming back to my weight, all of this, combined with a bit of forced dieting [more to save money], did make my weight go down steeply - down to 75 kilos at one time. I was still far off from my recommended 60 - 65 Kilo range, but a vast improvement on the 85 I came with. Prosperity did not help, I crawled back to 78 when I started doing well, as I was more often on a bus and ate outside lot of times. But this India trip devastated me. When I started this job last year, I was at 78, but by December, I had enough Biriyanis to come right back to 85. It felt wrong, and while I kept promising myself a cut on diet and a dose of exercise, I was up to an amazing 88 kilos by March 2008. A gain on 10 kilos in 9 months, I am sure I was having a great time in India food-wise, but it did not help as I was feeling unfit and many ailments, indigestion etc, started making a comeback.

The good news now is that since I haven't travelled since May - an amazing two months - and walked almost every day, this time by choice, I have lost 6 kilos in two months. Nandini claims it has become visible, and I hope it has and I can maintain this for next few months, and don't lose the habits as I start travelling again. So this is something which will be part of my life agenda and a top item on my to-do list everyday.

Other than losing weight and gaining physical fitness, I haven't actually achieved much this week. I had a rather forgettable board meeting on Thursday, where I could see that I am operating at a vacuum and there is actually very little understanding of the international markets or new business challenges from most of my colleagues. Operating without much serious competition can be disastrous, and it was plain for me to see, that most of my colleagues never bother to look beyond what they have - here and now. I was told to be 'less entrepreneurial', not for the first time in my life, but I hate that as much as anything. The value I brought to every job I did was that I WAS ENTREPRENEURIAL, seeking out new challenges or opportunities, or trying out new ways of doing things. I am always very bad at following set formulas, accepting structures and submitting to reviews. This is precisely why I always thought I am not a good employee, and in lots of ways, I would have probably done better in academia than in a corporate job. Or, may be running my business is what I should do, and I have no illusions that this isn't my business, and though I am not planning to leave mid-way [though I am tempted by some of the offers I am getting, I know they are invariably the same], it will be foolish to make any long term commitment beyond September 09 here. I have not decided that I shall walk - things may change then and I may think differently - but I am consciously trying to keep my involvement limited and purely professional.

The other significant thing I have decided to do this week is to align my studies with my interests. I have a natural interest in history, politics and international relations, and I appreciate good literature. One of my mistakes over the last few days is try and focus my studies on something which is outside my core interest, and therefore I was not making any progress on my reading list. I have now recognized my mistake - one can not achieve focus by diverting from one's interests - and thought it is most important to get my reading habit back. So, there is a huge change on what I am choosing to read, and I shall keep talking about it here.

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