Why I Run


The alarm woke me up at 5am. It was dark. A faint light streaked into the room through the window. As I was lying there, a struggle was going on within me. One strong  voice was beckoning me to stay on the bed, while there was a feeble one asking me to go out for my run. I asked the strong voice why should I stay back? Take some rest, he said. You have been running like crazy for the past several months. You deserve a break. What would happen if you do not run? The other voice was meek and weak. It didn't try to reason or give any justification. It just said something about feeling good after the run. I pondered on it. Yes, waking up early every morning is a big price. But the feeling that you get after the run is priceless.

The strong voice was still going on and on. I stopped listening and headed out.... 

Now, feeling blissful!!! 

This is why .. I run.

Book Review - A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Hosseini

Couple of years ago, I had read the book, The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini. It was some book! So, when I got the opportunity to read this book, I lapped it up with gutso. I knew what to expect. Khaled's books are about war torn Afghanistan and how life of simple people are impacted by the war.

This is the story of 2 women who are born at different times. The first woman,Mariam, is born out of wedlock, and raised in a small tenement on top of a hill. When her mother dies, she was married off to a old man by her father and his other wives. The story narrates how life for her changes in the unhappy marriage.

Years after, the Taliban takes over and ravages society in Afghanistan. Families are separated. Many die. A girl from the same locality, Laila, is saved by Mariam .
Mariam's husband wants to marry Laila. He tells Laila that her lover and friend, Rasheed, has died. Laila agrees as she wants a father for her unborn child. Later Laila also gives birth to a son from her husband.

Years later, Laila's lover, Rasheed appears. They meet. When her husband comes to know of the meeting, he is furious. He beats both Laila and Mariam. In a bold action, Mariam kills him. Mariam is killed publicly by the Taliban in the stadium as punishment.

Laila with her children goes away to Pakistan and marries Rasheed . Later, they all come back to Afghanistan to restart a new life after the war is over.

The narrative as usual is gripping. Once you pick up the book and get into the groove, you can not just stop reading. Khaled has done immense research and knows the customs and traditions of Afghanistan and it's tribes very well. Overall, this book is a great read, help you understand Afghanistan and how devastating war can be. A peculiar thing that I noticed in Khaled's writing is that the main characters are of children born out of wedlock. It was the same in Kite Runner. One more story based on it, and it becomes trite.

Khaled had a uniqueness in his storytelling. There is something in his writing that forces one to go silent, stop thinking and just be. The power of the story hits you hard. You are not the same person as the one who started reading it.

My verdict : Awesome!!!

The Last Ticket and other stories - Book Review

This is a compilation of short stories of authors from Asia, published by the National Book Trust, India. It has 10 stories. But out of them, I liked few stories for different reasons. 

One was by Satyajit Ray, The hungry septopus. This is the story of a flesh eater plant. This particular captivated me because of the story telling, the imagination and intrigue factor. The way the characters are introduced, the way the plot unfolds and the way the suspense is sustained, I think this is a classic text book form of writing.

The next one I liked was by a Iranian author, Minoo Karimzadeh, The last ticket. The story is about a poor young boy who works in a factory. One fine morning he just has a single ticket. He boards the bus and decides to travel without ticket and save the ticket for his return journey as he would be dead tired in the night. But he faces a moral dilemma and gets off the bus. In the night, while waiting to catch the return bus, another poor boy asks him for a ticket. He gives the last ticket to him and walks home on his tired legs.

Then there is a story, A Kite in the sky, by Syed Fateh Ali, a Pakistani writer. The plot is very simple. I liked it for the imagination and vivid description. It is the story of a boy who loves to fly Kite. One day, he wants to fly and the Kite flies him.

Simple stories from Asia to make the heart warm.

Book Review - Training Camp - Jon Gordon

Training Camp - This is the third book from Jon Gordon, that I read this year. The book is again a management and motivational book written in the form of a story. The plot is very simple. A budding football player joins a training camp. He is bothered with self doubts, personal problems and an injury as well.

In the training camp, he meets a coach and several other folks, who take care of him well. The coach starts giving him lessons, day by day, while he recuperates from his injury and practices for his big game for selection.

He learns the following lessons:
  1.        The best know what they want
  2.        The best want it more
  3.        The best are always striving to get better
  4.        The best do ordinary things better than everyone else
  5.        The best zoom focus
  6.        The best are mentally stronger
  7.        The best overcome their fear
  8.        The best seize the moment
  9.        The best tap into a greater power than themselves
  10.        The best leave a legacy
  11.        The best make everyone around them better

While the story progresses, Martin, learns each of the lessons and keeps introspecting and improving himself. Finally, he gets selected in the last game and is able to raise money to treat his ailing mother. Later, he take up the cause to spread the above lessons among school children.

Like other Jon Gordon books, this a very light read. You can easily finish it off in a day and feel good about the message. There is nothing new in the lessons. But the presentation is good and it gives you dose of positivity. My verdict – Readable, give it a try. You will not regret!

Be a club officer, run a company!

Is the time for Toastmaster club elections, members would be selecting the best possible candidate to lead our club. These selected individuals would form the executive committee and would lead the club for the next term.

A club is a microcosm of an organization or a company. Being a club officer is like running a company. As there are different function heads in a company with their own teams, in the club, we have the different officers with the various committees under each.
Just like in your organization, you have a CEO, the club is led by the President. He has the supreme authority and power. He sets the vision of the club and shows the direction where the club has to go.

The vice president education is like the chief people officer or HR head. He is responsible for overall people development. He overseas all the operations of the club, schedules who will do what and when and certifies when the members have reached their goals.

The vice president membership is akin to the sales head of your company. He is responsible to convert visitors to the club to members of a club. This is just like the sales head of a company getting a new customer.

The vice president public relations is like the advertisement and marketing head of a company. He is responsible to get the word out to the public and increase the footfall in the club.

The treasurer is the finance head of the club. He handles all receipts and payments for the club. He also prepares the budget and maintains the accounts of the club.

The Secretary is like the administration head of the company. He maintains all records and presents them as needed.

Finally the Sergeant at Arms is like the facility management head of your company. He arranges all logistics and set up for the club.

Thus, if you want to experience how to run a small organization, stand up, nominate yourself and be a club officer. As a club officer, with respect to all, integrity to your word, an attitude of service and striving for excellence, you will be a true leader. Today you learn how to run the club. Tomorrow, you will be confident to fly high and run your own company!!

p.s: This was an article that I wrote and it was published in the Toastmasters District 98 Newsletter for May 2016