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The Fastest Foreigner In Chennai

For the last 12 months I’ve been beating up my body on a near daily basis at the local gym and the results have been nothing short of spectacular. I can now do 8 1/2 press ups without pausing for breath and given enough time to recover I can go on to do another 6. I’m really getting my money’s worth out of it.

Every month the gym does challenges; a few months back it was the grand bake off and unsurprisingly the only entrants were the female members. Last month it was an Iron Core challenge which tests you inner core strength by seeing how long you can hold a position for before your body gives up. Core strength isn’t my forte, I’m more of the explosive push ups guy as mentioned above, so didn’t even try entering this challenge which is a good job because the winner lasted for over 6 minutes and I last about 30 seconds on a good day (which is actually an improvement from when I started).

Anyway, this months challenge was the 1KM run and when the details went up on the notice board I knew I’d kill it. You see, while I’m rather mocked on in the body building area of the gym, I kick ass in the cardio section.

I know this because the machines have very big touchscreens which displays all the important info and I’ve noticed that most people who go to my gym think they can shed weight by setting the resistance to level 0 and spending 10 minutes free wheeling, burning approximately 5 calories in the process. Even on the treadmill, people see it as an opportunity to catch up with the gossip on their mobile phones than a chance to get your sweat on. I’m honestly not exaggerating when I say that a sizable minority of gym goers spend 20 minutes on the treadmill doing nothing quicker than a brisk walk while chatting on the phone.

Since this was my competition I knew that the 1KM run challenge would be mine to own. When I do a cardio workout I go for maximum sweat and take the view that if you have the breath to talk you aren’t working hard enough. Sounds pretty hardcore, right? No dilly dallying on the phone, tough resistance on the machines – I’m there to lose weight.

“So Pete, are you going to do the 1KM challenge today” the instructor asked, “You bet your ironic pot belly I am, Mr Instructor” I replied, brimming with confidence of a challenge I already knew was mine. “What speed are you going to go at then?” “I’m going to open up full tilt and set it to 12 km/s” I said, waiting to see their look of shock and awe. Except it didn’t quite have the same effect I was hoping, “Oh, only 12 km/s, Peter? I thought foreigners are supposed to be fast.” Huh?! “The fastest person so far has run at 15 km/s” the instructor continued, my self assured cockiness was proving to be rather misplaced, “Umm, well, maybe we’ll start on 12 and see if we can go faster.” I said.

Since I was going to be running like a bat out of hell the instructor had to be there for supervision and I even had to use the safety clip so that if I tripped and went shooting off the back of the treadmill at least it wouldn’t keep going with no one on it.

The challenge started. The belt began to roll and it climbed up to my target speed of 12 km/h which is actually the fastest I’ve ever had it. “Shall we try for 13?” the instructor asked after 30 seconds, I nodded my head, so far it wasn’t too bad. After 60 seconds the instructor asked if I wanted to go to 13.5, I nodded in agreement. Another 30 seconds and he asked if I wanted to go to 14. I hesitated. The instructor took this as a yes and increased the speed, I was now 2 minutes in to the challenge and beads of sweat started to form down the side of my head. According to the computer I’d done a little under 400m. I could feel my heart banging away inside me.

“I think you can go to 14.5” the instructor said, I glanced at the instructor and tried to communicate that I was more likely to juggle snowballs on a cold day in hell before I could get to 14.5, I think he is telepathic because he moved his finger away from the speed button.

3 minutes completed. By now the beads of sweat had become well established gushing rivers and my heart was pounding like crazy. I could feel my knees losing their strength and felt that they could buckle at any time. I checked the distance, 700m, still another 300m to go.

My breathing was now short and heavy. A sickly feeling was growing in my stomach. My chest started to have a prickly pain. I felt sure my knees would buckle under me at any moment. 100 metres to go. I was gasping for breath. My ankle faltered and I nearly tripped. And then…

The instructor hit the stop button, I had done my 1 KM run. I thought I would kill it, but it ended up nearly killing me. I fought for some breath and looked at the time, 4 minutes 26 seconds. Not flipping bad I thought, or probably thought because mostly I was thinking about the sick feeling in my stomach and the weakness in my knees.

“Well done, Pete!” The instructor said, “Great job, give me five!”, I didn’t have the energy to raise my hand, “Am I the fastest so far?” I asked between shallow, rasping breaths. “No, Pete, the fastest so far is 3 minutes 50 seconds.” My face must have looked crestfallen so he added “But don’t worry we’ll add a new section to the competition and you can be the fastest foreigner”.

Flash Mob Comes To Mumbai

For those of you who are stuck in the 1970’s and your idea of a mob is a gang of youths rampaging around causing untold damage and intimidation then you might not get the video below. A flash mob is just a group of people who randomly decide to congregate in a certain area and do something totally unique that takes members of the public by surprise. One funny flash mob that happened in America a few years back was when about 80 people turned up to a Best Buy store dressed in khaki pants and blue t-shirts like the staff members wore.

Anyway, despite the word ‘flash’ being in there, it usually takes some planning and the dance sequence in the video below took the lady 4 weeks of planning and had to get security clearance from the railway station authorities (obviously!). The video has become a massive hit all over India and in just four short minutes a sense of united togetherness was formed as people from all backgrounds, classes, ages and religions took part. As one Indian commenter said…

After watching I had some sense of belongingness. In the video we can see old ladies happy in the station. Some children felt ecstatic. Some people just stood and watched clapping with dancers. They felt united. Even if this dance can unite us only for 4 mins, i urge to orgasnise more of this kind. At least we can sense the Humanity and feel the united India.

The 7p Meal and Other Cheap Dinner Options

How bad do things have to get in a country when the media starts talking semi-seriously about 7p meals dating back to the Victorian times? Are we, as a country, now in such a bad way that the last hundred years have been undone because of the credit crunch and banks? Come on guys, I don’t believe that it is now so bad that people are actually considering a slice of toast tucked between two pieces of buttered bread as a legitimate meal.

To add (cheap) salt in to the financial wounds a journalist has now decided that what the nation really needs is advice on cooking meals for less than 50p. Huh! The only good side about these meals are that they are all so processed and full of fats and salts that if you did live off this kind of food you’ll probably be dead before you run out of money anyway.

Five meals for less than 50p - Yahoo! UK & Ireland Finance

Five meals for less than 50p – Yahoo! UK & Ireland Financehttp://uk.finance.yahoo.com/news/Five-meals-50p-yahoofinanceuk-2171115876.htmlBelieve it or not, this actually tasted pretty good (If you don’t believe me, go and try it — it will cost you less than 10p, after all). But man cannot live on bread alone — and…

Cow Theory

I was forwarded this wonderful (stereotyped!) analogy of the world’s cultures yesterday so thought I’d share it here for everyone. Yes, it’s stereotyped but I think it hits the nail on the head in most cases!

SOCIALISM
You have 2 cows.
You give one to your neighbour.

COMMUNISM
You have 2 cows.
The State takes both and gives you some milk.

FASCISM
You have 2 cows.
The State takes both and sells you some milk.

NAZISM
You have 2 cows.
The State takes both and shoots you.

BUREAUCRATISM
You have 2 cows.
The State takes both, shoots one, milks the other, and then throws the milk away…

TRADITIONAL CAPITALISM
You have two cows.
You sell one and buy a bull.
Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows.
You sell them and retire on the income.

SURREALISM
You have two giraffes.
The government requires you to take harmonica lessons

AN AMERICAN CORPORATION
You have two cows.
You sell one, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows.
Later, you hire a consultant to analyze why the cow has dropped dead.

ENRON VENTURE CAPITALISM
You have two cows.
You sell three of them to your publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with an associated general offer so that you get all four cows back, with a tax exemption for five cows.
The milk rights of the six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a Cayman Island Company secretly owned by the majority shareholder who sells the rights to all seven cows back to your listed company.
The annual report says the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more.
You sell one cow to buy a new president of the United States, leaving you with nine cows.
No balance sheet provided with the release.
The public then buys your bull.

A FRENCH CORPORATION
You have two cows.
You go on strike, organize a riot, and block the roads, because you want three cows.

A JAPANESE CORPORATION
You have two cows.
You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk.
You then create a clever cow cartoon image called ‘Cowkimon’ and market it worldwide.

A GERMAN CORPORATION
You have two cows.
You re-engineer them so they live for 100 years, eat once a month, and milk themselves.

AN ITALIAN CORPORATION
You have two cows, but you don’t know where they are.
You decide to have lunch.

A RUSSIAN CORPORATION
You have two cows.
You count them and learn you have five cows.
You count them again and learn you have 42 cows.
You count them again and learn you have 2 cows.
You stop counting cows and open another bottle of vodka.

A SWISS CORPORATION
You have 5000 cows. None of them belong to you.
You charge the owners for storing them.

A CHINESE CORPORATION
You have two cows.
You have 300 people milking them.
You claim that you have full employment, and high bovine productivity.
You arrest the newsman who reported the real situation.

AN INDIAN CORPORATION
You have two cows.
You worship them.

A BRITISH CORPORATION
You have two cows.
Both are mad.

AN IRAQI CORPORATION
Everyone thinks you have lots of cows.
You tell them that you have none.
No-one believes you, so they bomb you and invade your country.
You still have no cows, but at least now you are part of Democracy….

AN AUSTRALIAN CORPORATION
You have two cows.
Business seems pretty good.
You close the office and go to the pub for a few beers to celebrate.

A NEW ZEALAND CORPORATION
You have two cows.
The one on the left looks very attractive.

A GREEK CORPORATION
You have two cows.
You borrow against the cows from the Germans
You kill the cows and make souvlaki
You can’t pay the interest so the Germans lend you more money
You can’t pay the interest so the Germans lend you more money
You can’t pay the interest so the Germans lend you more money
You can’t pay the interest so the Germans lend you more money…

It’s Kinetic Typography

In the last few weeks I’ve found myself getting increasingly addicted to Fiverr.com which is having a negative impact on my social life, bank balance and relationships. If I don’t get my daily Fiverr fix then I turn in to a grumpy old man and start writing blog rants about the state of the world and how we’re all doomed (so smile and get on with it). OK, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, I was a grumpy old man well before Fiverr came along, but anyway it does mean I’ve been introduced to loads of incredible concepts like this one I’ve just found.

It’s called kinetic typography which is basically a fancy way to say the text moves…yeah, it must be an Americanism. The video below is the best example ever of kinetic typography and the song is very nearly as awesome as the video itself. Give your eyes and ears a three and half minute treat, check this out…

(awesomeness, eh?!)

Obligatory Cute Kitten Video

I read somewhere by someone very important that no personal blog is complete without at least several cute kitten videos. Aghast, I checked my own blog and realized there was not one single cute kitten video, so in order to fully round out my personal blog and ensure that it’s not mocked ever again, I present to you what could possibly be the cutest kitten in the world. All together now, “cootchi cootchi coo!”

(I’m only posting this because it’s an unwritten rule that personal blogs should have at least one cute kitten video, ok?!)

What are you going to do with £98

According to a survey by myvouchercodes.co.uk, the average Brit now has just £98 left over at the end of the month to save. I’m a bit skeptical about this because it just seems like such a low figure and also is the type of person who goes to a voucher website representative of the whole nation? When comparing people here in India to those in England, I can’t help but think that Britain has a sense of entitlement attitude and the instant gratification that spending on credit gives helps fuel the notion that there is no money left to save.

I read a user comment on one financial that said he’s lived his life by the wisdom that “if you can’t afford to go out tomorrow and buy what you’ve bought today then don’t buy it”. It seems like a pretty fair and reasonable mantra to live by if you ask me.

Average Brit only has £98 to spare at end of the month

Average Brit only has £98 to spare at end of the monthhttp://www.lovemoney.com/blogs/family-finance/budgeting/12633/average-brit-only-has-98-to-spare-at-end-of-the-monthAccording to myvouchercodes.co.uk, your average Brit has £98 to spare at the end of the month once all spending on bills, food, shopping and the like has left his/her account. The equivalent figure a year ago was £186

More Doom and Gloom For Poor Old Britain

I’m not sure if it’s just that the news corporations in England love to push the “we’re all doomed” angle but if you read through the financial or business news it’s very difficult to find anything positive that’s going on. Carphone Warehouse are shutting down all their Best Buy stores putting 1,100 jobs on the line, retail spending is shrinking as people keep their purses shut and now we even have articles on how to plan a family Christmas for just £200.

To cap it all off, LoveMoney has written an article telling all you Britains (I’m in a different country so don’t count) that things are the worst they’ve been for nearly 20 years. High inflation, high unemployment; and there’s not a damn thing the Government can do about it until it sorts its own finances out and hopes against all hope that the Greeks and Italians can do something about their past prolific spending.

British misery index hits 19-year high!

British misery index hits 19-year high!http://www.lovemoney.com/news/the-economy-politics-and-your-job/the-economy/13268/british-misery-index-hits-19year-highThen again, if you really want to feel down in the dumps, then check the UK’s Misery Index. This is calculated by adding together our unemployment rate with the prevailing rate…

Social Media Summit 2011

Today was the Social Media Summit in Chennai and you would be quite surprised by how many young male students suddenly became super interested in social media when it’s held at an all girls college. Kudos to the organizers for thinking of that unique selling point to bring the punters through the doors!

I had to get up at the ungodly hour of 7am this morning; 7am’s don’t normally exist in my life unless there is a real good reason like having a plane to catch or the party from the night before was so good it’s still going on (although sadly nowadays it’s more of the plane catching and less of the parties). Infact, people back in England seem rather envious that I start my day about 12 noon, I protest of course and say “we’re a company working with UK and US clients, so I need to be closer to their timings“, which is a incredibly useful excuse and I don’t know if they’ve cottoned on yet to the fact that I’m in marketing and don’t speak to the clients.

So got up, got dressed, had extra-super-strong coffee which brought enough neurons to life to be able to go and find an auto driver who could rip me off only a little bit. It’s monsoon season now so the autos can add “standing water, boss” to the never ending list of reasons why they have to charge me 150% more than a local.

The conference was fantastically good, a big shout out to Sorav and his Echovme staff for putting on an excellent seminar. The speakers came from all different backgrounds, young and old wise and they really knew their stuff. I felt like I was back in Uni again as I furiously scribbled notes, although at least this time I was actually enjoying the lectures and can see the value in it rather than calculating yet another partial differential equation.

I think I’ve just realized how long I have been in India now because while this blog post is supposed to be about the social media seminar, I’ve found myself writing a sentence about the food that was served. That’s one thing you’ll find about India, whenever you meet someone in the south, they’ll ask you “sabdi-aah?“, which is Tamil and it translates to “Had your food?” (people in North India will ask you “khana khaya?“). Food is never off the menu of conversation topics in India, it’s so deeply ingrained in to the culture. So yes, the food. It was a very good buffet above and beyond what I was expecting. Desi Pete!

I’ve been to a couple of social media seminars in the past few months and the way this one differed was that the people giving the speeches were really able to give real life, concrete examples from big business that would prove useful to B2C and B2B marketers and delved in to the specifics. If social media is an area you are interested in I strongly recommend that you go to a paid seminar because you’ll easily get several years worth of knowledge in just a couple of days.

There’s more going on tomorrow, so I need to wake up again at o-silly hundred hours. I better get to bed now!

Oh yes, here’s a few snaps from the day, I know you were really keen to see them 😉

The Winner

Yesterday I won a competition for a free privileged entry to an international social media seminar that is taking place in Chennai this week with the lead speaker from the famous SEOmoz company (which I’m really excited about!). You know, a lot of people say they never win anything and I am certainly one of them. My girlfriend asked me what the last thing I won was, I racked my brains and the best I could come up with was winning the Most Polite award at the annual Cub Scout (Great Bowden Cub Pack) summer camp when I was 9 years old. Apparently I always remembered to say my “please and thank yous” to Akela and Brown Owl. But I hardly mention that any more and might even take it off my CV under “Achievements”.

2011 North East Monsoon Comes To Chennai

Monsoon season is upon us here in Chennai, it arrived last night with quite a bang. Thunder rolled (it rolled a 4), lightning flashed and I got grumpy because I couldn’t sleep. A quick school lesson for you here…the monsoon refers to a type of weather pattern, not the actual rain, the rain is a consequence of a weather pattern. There you go, something to impress your friends with.

The first day of the monsoon brought 12cm of rain in 24 hours and as usual turned the roads in to shallow water rivers. When I first arrived in India I wondered why all the pavement curbs were all 2 foot high, it’s so it can channel all the water. Or at least that’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.

When I woke up it was still raining so I knew that getting to work would be an issue. I toyed with the idea of working from home but the dedicated worker that lives within me told me to get to the office. The problem is the road outside my apartment had turned in to a river and just getting out the apartment complex would involve walking ankle deep through, well, water with suspicious things floating in it.

Of course, I used to be in the SAS[1]
so a little bit of murky water shouldn’t be an issue for me, I’ve roughed it like no one else has. Yeah, that was 10 years ago though, so I did the only sensible thing I could do: I called up the office manager and asked him to come round and pick me up on the back of his bike. Yeah, hardcore!

Not sure where the old boy who owned this rubbish cart went, but he obviously didn’t want to be out in the rain and left the cart standing there!


1Army Officers Training Corps: Saturday and Sunday crew

Humiliated By The City

Wow, where to start with this one. United have been looking shakey for the last few matches, first against Norwich and then against Liverpool, it couldn’t have been any more different to the first few games of the season where they were like a poor man’s Barcelona and looking awesome.

This 6-1 defeat is United’s biggest ever defeat in the Premier League and I guess Man City have made it quite clear that they intend to be a lot more than just the noisy neighbours – more like the new landlords of Manchester I would think.

First thing’s first. United were awful from the kick-off. There was no fluidity, none of the intricate passing we had seen in the earlier matches and Young and Nani could rarely beat Micah Richards and Gael Clichy on the wings. The defense was a mess, Johnny Evans had another calamitous match which culminated in a sending off at the start of the second half, Ferdinand couldn’t keep up with City’s pacey forwards and even the normally fleet footed Evra struggled to contain Milner.

By the time the game got to 80 minutes, United’s back line literally looked like it had given up or had no more energy left to run and City just went rampant, none of the defenders could keep up and De Gea was pretty much blameless for all the goals.

When Abramovich bought Chelsea the title by buying all the best players it was often said that you need to grow a team and not buy a team. Mancini has bought a team of individuals and somehow got them to play as a team. No doubt they’ll go through a slow patch like all teams go through during the season but on this performance I think City are the team to beat this year.

Oh, and of course, being more than a little bit bitter about the humiliating defeat, I can’t just say congratulations, so let’s not forget the amount of money being spent by Man City; any success they get is because they have taken shortcuts and bought it. The sooner the FIFA financial fair play rules come in the better, we can’t have foreign sugar daddies coming in and manipulating the game like this.