Friday, 12 April 2019

The Fitness Coach

For a long time, the word “fitness” only meant long walks and some stretching for me. But then came along Padmanabhan aka Paddu, a fitness trainer and coach who completely changed my meaning of fitness.

Thrice a week, Paddu in his inimitable style pushed me to exercise on our motta maadi, and slowly made it an integral part of my lifestyle. I felt more energetic, more relaxed; mind too seemed more fit! I actually started looking forward to the workouts and also his constant chatter about this and that! He was always updated about what was happening in the city, had a new trivia for the day, and there was nothing and no one he didn
’t know.

I was curious to know how he entered this profession and asked him one morning.

I was surprised to hear that his family
had no connection with sports whatsoever! As a young child, he excelled in athletics and won prizes during sports days. And as he grew up this became his only passion.

Prodded by friends, he started training and was soon winning medals at the district and state levels. And once he bagged the All India 2nd place, there was no looking back. Constantly updating his skills, he gradually turned to teaching fitness mantras to sportsmen, sports teams, musicians, doctors, politicians, actors and corporates! Today he is extremely popular and sought after.
Now,20 years later, he fondly remembers all his friends and the corporates who have supported him. He has a special word for his friend Saravanan and the Australian coach Errold D Hart.
“It was Errold who sent me $15 every month for my food supplements…quite a lot those days”, he emotionally recollects.

With a big smile, he recollects snippets of his interactions with Sachin Tendulkar, Saurav Ganguly, Salman Khan, Mahesh Babu, Vijay Sethupathy… the list is endless! H
e also adds that his doting wife and daughter love the special moments when they get to meet some of these special people.
Proudly sharing that he is the only Fitness trainer to bag the sponsorship contract from Adidas, he shows me some of his prized photographs with leading sport icons. The most recent one being with the Chennai Spartans who had just won the Pro Volleyball League.

And that
’s when I noticed that Paddu, the man with the infectious smile was getting ready to travel the world with yet another team.

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Short Golpo Tales

The Drummer Man

Dum-Dum-Dum, I can hear them loud and clear: the sound of drums!

As I enter the Jus Drums school, I can see about 15 children and a few drum kits in the room. Some of them are playing a beat over and over again, a couple of them discussing, a parent waiting for his turn to ask a question. I see an animated Murali “sir”, their teacher, asking the eldest student in the room why a doubt is being cleared just a day before a crucial exam.
“Here, let me play and explain” and Murali starts to play the drum kit.  Just like a swarm of bees attracted to light, all the children assemble around and watch him perform with total devotion!

An excited parent takes a video of the impromptu lesson and promises to share it with everyone. Murali then answers questions, one by one, which range from “when is the next class, sir?” to “sir, can you ask Trinity to postpone the exams? It’s clashing with my school exam!” much to my wonder.

In fact, one enthusiastic parent proudly shows him a video of his daughter playing the newly purchased drum kit at home and Murali smiles, watches the video and answers a barrage of questions that follow, patiently.

“Phew! Where do you get this stamina from” I ask Murali as he wraps up the class for this batch.
"Well, it’s the enthusiasm with which they come, wanting to learn, their passion and now, having dealt with them for so many years, it comes naturally to me! You need to go their way to get the best out of them", he says with a big smile.

“What was your inspiration to take up drumming?,” I ask.
"The Chenda drum which was played in the temple in Palakkad was my inspiration! I used to look forward to the trips to Palakkad. On one occasion, my father recorded it for me. I kept listening to it again and again, in total enthrallment. In school, I was fascinated by a senior of mine who could play any and every instrument and I visualized a day when I would do the same!"

Today Murali can play 20  instruments and more than 1000 children have learnt the art of drumming from his school.

As Murali makes me listen to the rhythm of the traffic noise, and the taka-taka-taka of the moving ceiling fan, an old lady enters, asking if she could join his classes. Murali smiles a big smile and welcomes her.

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Short Golpo Tales!

In this series I will be sharing articles from the column I write for the ispark magazine!

Gully Gully Mein Cricket!

It’s 4am and the alarm goes off in the Venkatraman household. Amma is the first to get up and vigorously wakes up Paddu. In half hour, they are ready to go to the ground, no, not for a walk but Cricket Coaching.

This is a familiar scene in many households in Chennai and I am always fascinated to see that boy riding pillion on the scooter holding on to his cricket kit bag tightly as the father concentrates on the road! Many of them dream to hold the MRF bat like Sachin and Virat or a Spartan bat of MS Dhoni.

The parents walk on the side of the ground as their children take strike or get ready to bowl. It’s their love for cricket and the enthusiasm of the kids that make them take that extra effort to be on the ground, at times sleep deprived, buy those expensive kits, engage a personal coach, act as cheerleaders, make sure breakfast is ready, lunch box is ready and also manage the all-pervasive Homework along with their own office work.

The young cricketers on the other hand,work hard, put in all efforts to fulfill their dreams of lifting that Cup and acknowledging the cheer of millions of fans! Cricket is a religion in our country and every time there is a match, T20, Test match or the IPL, we have the whole nation united.

And it all starts here, in the ground, in the nukkad (corner), in the small gullies (alleys), where a future MS Dhoni, Virat kohli, Sachin, Krish Srikanth, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble is waiting to be discovered, waiting to wear the blue jersey. So, the next time you see a white set of uniform along with pads and cap drying in the balcony, stop for a minute, and wish that child all the very best. Who knows he might be India’s next skipper J

For more info on ispark do visit thier site!