Posted by: Basu Ghosh in health on
Jan 15, 2009
The year 2008 is a year that many of us would like to forget – especially when it comes to financial well being. Especially people in my age group where people are either retired or about to retire. Or someone like me who is in a permanent state of retired life without actually retiring. No matter what state people in my demographics are, most of us have lost a lot of our net worth. I am no exception. By all account 2008 should have been a very painful year for many of us. Since we just started a new year, it is quite common to be asked how was 2008 for you. Until I was asked I did not actually think about or giving 2008 label of any sort – good or bad. But having been asked the question a few times, made me look back and take stock of 2008. For me 2008 was one of my best years in spite of the significant loss of net worth. There were many positive as well some negative things that happened in 2008, I suppose like any year, but what stood out in my mind as the most significant memory of 2008 is (knock on wood) the remarkably good health I was in. So when I am asked how was 2008? My answer is it was a great year. And the source of my answer is my health. I cannot remember ever in my life being in better health. I turned 61 last December.
In the past three and a half years I had two knee replacement surgeries; the left knee in 2005 and the right knee in 2007. After 2005 surgery I hired a personal trainer (Jon Ham) to help me with my rehab. My idea was to retain Jon for a few months until I could get back to doing all the physical activities I so enjoy – mostly golf and walking up the hills of Calabasas every morning. Ever since I moved to Calabasas I have walked every morning (just about) for about an hour sometimes up to four hours. I enjoy the experience of walking. I don’t have to psyche myself up to walk up the mountain of Calabasas, to the water tower. It is effortless for me. However, strength training is a separate matter altogether. I have tried joining a gym a number of times, and after a few weeks of going to the gym a few days a week, I have inevitably stopped. I just don’t enjoy the experience. After I started to workout with Jon, I did not discontinue after three months of rehab as I had planned. As of now, my son Robin and I have been working out with Jon for the past 3 years continuously. I have never ever done that in my life. Even after my second knee surgery in November of 2007, the full benefit of strength training for three years continuously became apparent in summer of 2008. By this time I could (to lose weight) walk up the hills up to four hours. I could play golf 27 holes routinely, without having the need to take a nap when I came home. And sometime I did both – walk the hills and play 27 holes of golf. One day last October I played 27 holes of golf from 8 am till 3:00 PM. Came home, rested for a couple of hours, went for a walk up the hill that lasted two hours. And it was not even a big effort. I never ever in my life had the stamina do something like that with so little effort. Not when I was 25. And now I am 61 and I can do it. How cool is that? When I told about it to some of my friends, they asked Why? I felt like Sir Edmund Hillary – “Because I could”.
In 2006 Jon introduced me to book titled “Younger next Year”. The book is written jointly by a doctor (Henry Lodge), and one of his patients (Chris Crowley). At the time of writing the book the patient - Chris Crowley is in his early seventies. Between the two of them they make a powerful and inspiring case that past the age of 50 or 60 we don’t necessarily have to lay down and accept the inevitable march of age, bad health and diminished physical capacity. The central point of the book is we can live healthy and vigorous life well into our eighties and even nineties. One particular section of the book I found most inspiring when I read it two years back. Chris Crowley described one beautiful day skiing in Aspen. He described that the night before had snowed and had perfect powder skiing condition. He joined a group of 20 something powder hounds and he skied with them continuously from 8:00 AM in the morning till 3:00 PM in the afternoon. He said he could not do that when he was 45 years of age, and he was able to do it at the age of 70 something. What’s the trick? There is no trick; you have to devote a considerable amount of time about a couple of hours a day at least six days a week doing a combination of cardio and strength training. There is no easy way of doing it. If you are in your sixties, and you want to have a physically vigorous life into your eighties and beyond, this is the price you have to pay.
Ever since I read Tipping Point and Blink, especially Blink, I have been a Malcolm Gladwell fan. In any of my discussion in recent years about memorable books I have read recently, the name Blink comes up inevitably. This book has had a huge impact on how I process information, make critical decisions. Without doubt I have internalized a lot of the lessons learnt in Blink in my day to day living. If you have not read Blink my suggestion would be run, and don't walk, to your nearest Barnes and Noble and buy the book and read it as soon as possible. After reading the book if you can't figure out what's the big fuss about, call me.
Malcolm Gladwell has a unique ability to assimilate many many isolated pieces of facts and information and make some sense out of them into a comprehensible picture. He paints a picture that not only makes sense but has practical application in our lives. In Blink he shows us how we can summon our collective life experience into specific situation in life where we may not have all the facts gathered and analyzed but even with relatively small amount of facts and data gathered we can make remarkably accurate assessment of situations or circumstances.
In Outliers Malcolm Gladwell examines what are the factors that go into making of a successful individual. How much of the success is the unique and innate talent of the individual and how much is other factors that the individual had no control over. He dissects the lives of the usual suspects, Tiger Woods, The Beatles, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Bill Joy. He also examines lives of less stellar abut successful people such as a 12 year old girl, Maria, daughter of a single mother attending KIP Academy in Bronx.
Posted by: Basu Ghosh in travel, telecom, internet on
Jan 13, 2009
While I was traveling in India during November and December in 2008 I brought my iPhone along. Before I left for the trip I called AT&T to get my International roaming activated and also bought the $200 data package, that would allow me to transfer a total of 200MB of data, both upload and download. Not having used the iPhone outside of the country before, I was very skeptical that my iPhone would work at all and I will be able to receive my e-mails without being on the phone with iPhone tech support for an ungodly number of hours. As it turns out my fear was mostly unfounded. When I turned on the iPhone in Singapore it did not work before I realized I had not turned on the Data Roam option on the iPhone. Once that was done the iPhone worked flawlessly just about everywhere I went - Singapore, Kolkata (previously known as Calcutta), and Midnapore (a technologically backward town 100 miles from Kolkata). It even switched carrier automatically from Airtel to Vodaphone in the middle the train ride from Kolkata to Midnapore. The fact the iPhone worked through the train ride just amazed me. Think about it, right in the heart of this 1 million habitat San Fernando Valley, California, how many cell service holes do we find ourselves in the middle of? How often do we get dropped in the middle of conversation while driving on 101 or 405? I felt through out my trip like I was in Calabasas, connected to everyone 24/7. The world got so much smaller, thanks to the cell networks and the iPhone.
The connectivity was great, but a couple of incidents really brought home the power and value of this 24/7 connection:
Incident 1: I was about 7 days into my trip. I am still in Midnapore visiting my sisters. I am still suffering from jetlag and not sleeping that well. Since I am about 12 hours apart from PST, I would get e-mails and text messages all through day and night. So I kept my iPhone right by my bed, and check e-mail as I they arrive all though the night since I was not able to sleep that well as yet. So here I was half asleep, inside a mosquito net, in Midnapore at about 3:40 AM in the morning I get this text message from a friend that said: " ". I had no idea what she was talking about. I watched on TV until about 10:30 PM, saw India beat England and crawled inside the mosquito net trying to go to sleep. The world was perfectly normal and tranquil then. There was no news of anything out of the ordinary. Remember, 24 hour news has arrived in India with a vengeance and there is no shortage of news channels on the cable dial. So I respond to the text message that essentially says: " ". Within minutes I receive two similar e-mails, first one from my personal trainer Jon, that said "Are you ok?", and a second e-mail from Robin Borough that said "I just saw an article in the NYT about attacks in Mumbai... is everything ok where you are?". Then I realized what my friend was asking on the text message. So hurriedly I went on the NY Times site to read about the attack and find out what had started. The fact that I could read NY Times at 3:40 AM in the morning in Midnapore inside a mosquito net and find out what had been happening in Mumbai, when most of India was still sleeping and unaware of the terrorist attack in Mumbai was amazing. Ironically and sadly the early edition of the Cacutta Telepgraph, the edition that gets delivered to Midnapore in the morning missed the incident completely and had no mention of the incident when I read it the following morning. Thank God for the iPhone.
Posted by: Basu Ghosh in travel on
Jan 8, 2009