Sunday, 30 August 2009

Time is on my side, yes it is

I started working at Spot On Public Relations in January 2003. I was only 21 then. It's been such a wonderful, roller coaster ride with never a dull moment, great friendships and most certainly, a hell of a learning experience. So yes, I will still continue in a communications career. But right now, this very minute, it's time to press the pause button and sit back, relax and explore life a little bit.

There comes a time when you want to do something unpredictable, off the conventional path, and against all reason. When you need to take a risk. And very rarely does the opportunity of a very well calculated risk present itself. It has. I took it.

"That's very risky, you know. The job market is slow, you won't find anything now"
"Ha ha ha, it's a great idea on paper, but...good luck."
"But what are you going to do?"
"Why? What's wrong?"
"What about your CV? Is it just going to have a blank period in it?"
"You'll be bored in a month".

Just a few of the very encouraging comments I've had. Of course, there have been some lovely supporting ones too.

I've been thinking about this for over a year, and although I didn't plan for it, I know that now's the time. Panic struck when the moment grew closer, and when my last week started. Thoughts like "what have I done" and "is this idea going to be a complete failure" creeped into my head. But you know what? They're fading. I thought about this, made the decision and I'm going to see what happens.

There are way too many occasions on which I've said "I can't, I have work". So, no more excuses :)

Too many people now are asking "so what are you going to do". I really don't know, is the answer. Baby steps. One day at a time.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Not suitable for upgrade

Look alright, it’s not that I have a “problem with authority” or even an “uncooperative attitude”, I just hate being shepherded around having orders barked at me by people who think their uniforms give them the right to get all hopped up on some false notion of power.

“Wait here!”

“Take off your shoes!”

“Show me your seatbelt because I don’t believe you’ve really fastened it.”

"I don’t care if your MP3 player is off, the mere fact that it is resting on your lap during take-off presents a perilous threat to the safety of your fellow passengers.”

I find the traveling process tedious at the best of times.

Remember the days when you could rock up to the airport 45 minutes before your flight, sail through customs and make it to the plane in time to have a leisurely cigarette before take off?

Ah yes… the good times.

I’m not knocking airport security – I just resent being treated like a total incompetent or unruly child in the name of having a safe and pleasant journey.

I mean really, who is this odd man waving his hands at me and causing a scene simply because I questioned the reason as to why standing ON the yellow line instead of BEHIND the yellow line constitutes threatening behavior?

Also, while we’re on the subject, the last time I checked “why?” is not verbal abuse. “BECAUSE-I-SAID-SO-GO-STAND-OVER-THERE-UNTIL-I-HAVE-TIME-TO-DEAL-WITH-YOU” on the other hand is probably a fair bit closer.

Someone at an airport management company recently told me that passenger communications involved mostly the spouting of platitudes as opposed to customer complaints and feedback directing real operational change.

It seems like that’s all customers are these days, irksome unpredictable elements that need to be “managed” so they don’t get in the way of process and profit.


Monday, 17 August 2009

The greatest workout for the athletically disinclined

I was never athletic, sporty or in any way a healthy lifestyle type of person. Growing up, I was bordering on obese until the age of 13. My parents tried - swimming classes, squash classes, baskteball in school - but this blob just wasn't moving. I started smoking at 16, and it was downhill from there.

In the past couple of years, as one nears the age of 30, one starts to think about one's health, especially when the smoking has really gotten to your lungs now. So there have been a few quitting attempts, gym memberships and aerobics classes along the way. I also took up salsa dancing thanks to Sarsour, which is incredible fun and also a good form of exercise. But I still felt like my body needed more.

And I found it! About a month ago I discovered Bikram yoga at Club Stretch in Dubai. They tell you it's the hardest form of yoga, which, although I've never done any other, I believe. For 90 minutes, you work on 26 different postures in a heated room (42 degrees Celcius / 105 F and about 40% humidity). Sounds painful? Well, it is. But don't judge too quickly.

In my first class, after about 20 minutes, I felt faint, dizzy, breathless and wanted to give up. I discretely rolled up my mat and tried to quietly leave the room. But you can't just disappear in a Bikram yoga class. It's so disciplined and almost synchronised, that the instructor will undoubtedly notice 'off-beat' movements. So he literally pushed me back into the room and said "I'm not letting you go. You've come this far." And in my head I'm thinking "This far"? I've done like 20 mins of torture, probably got everything completely wrong, and most definitely never coming back. But I stayed in the studio, taking breaks when I needed them. The next day I dragged myself back. And the next day, and the day after that, and every day since.

And here is why I will keep going back, and I strongly recommend this to anyone who feels the same way about exercising:

1. It's the greatest motivation I've ever had to quit smoking.
The mere thought of a cigarette, followed by the thought of class, gives me palpitations. For 90 minutes, the intensity of the workout is so strong, that it's impossible to get through without calm, controlled breathing. So smoking is out of the question, and has been for me since I started.

2. You reap the benefits immediately.
I have no patience for long-term exercise plans. Within the first few classes of Bikram yoga, you will feel a difference in your breathing, flexibility, energy level and focus. Eventually your body feels stronger and you actually feel healthier. You can learn more about the details physiological benefits here.

3. The ultimate mental training.
For 90 minutes, you have no choice but to concentrate on your body and trying to get the postures right. Stretching, balancing - very intense focus. Although Bikrma yoga doesn't include any meditative actions, it's almost impossible for your mind to get distracted or stray elsewhere. You forget everything.

Unfortunately, as Ramadan is coming up, I will have to take a break. Because of the heat, you cannot do Bikram yoga if you haven't had double the standard recommended water intake throughout the day! So while fasting, forget it. I'll probably look for some other, less intense, form of yoga to maintain what I've accomplished so far, if for no other reason than to stay OFF the nicotine.

If you want to see what it looks like, I found this and there's a few other videos on YouTube.