Inspiration from one of Pakistan’s top cyclists: Ali Laghari

I have been lucky to get to know a few running and cycling groups in Karachi, since I started Coffee Wagera. It’s always inspiring to meet these people, because I know how much passion, commitment and discipline it takes to come out for a run or ride before sunrise.

Ali Laghari is part of “Cycologists“, one of the most active cycling groups in Karachi. And I met him during World Heart Day on 29th September. That’s when I found out about his record 4900km of cycling in one month, and asked him a few questions… his responses were very inspiring indeed, as you can see from the video above. The highlights were:

  • He wasn’t competing with anyone else – just himself!
  • Cycling and healthy living is a way of life for him, which he is trying to promote.
  • He cycled all the way to Mubarak Village and back – 100km in a day!
  • He started small. Just one ride, on a rental bicycle. Then another…

Bonus: Commentary at by Zeeshan Khalid, another Cycologist, at the end of the video.

 

What is Happiness to You?

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Sorry, no video today! I decided not to spend the last Sunday in Karachi recording, editing and uploading another video. But here’s one of my popular posts from a year ago.

‘Hector and his Search for Happiness’ was a movie about a psychiatrist who feels guilty of dispensing recommendations to his patients that never change their conditions or make them any happier. So he sets out on a journey to find out what makes people happy. During his interesting and inspiring trip, he makes the following 22 observations:

  1. Making comparisons can spoil your happiness.*
  2. Happiness often comes when least expected.
  3. Many people only see happiness in their future.
  4. Many people think happiness comes from having more power or more money.
  5. Sometimes happiness is not knowing the whole story.
  6. Happiness is a long walk in beautiful, unfamiliar mountains.*
  7. It’s a mistake to think that happiness is the goal.*
  8. Happiness is being with the people you love; unhappiness is being separated from the people you love.
  9. Happiness is knowing that your family lacks for nothing.
  10. Happiness is doing a job you love.*
  11. Happiness is having a home and a garden of your own.
  12. It’s harder to be happy in a country run by bad people.
  13. Happiness is feeling useful to others.*
  14. Happiness is to be loved for exactly who you are.
  15. Happiness comes when you feel truly alive.*
  16. Happiness is knowing how to celebrate.*
  17. Happiness is caring about the happiness of those you love.*
  18. Happiness is not attaching too much importance to what other people think.
  19. The sun and the sea make everybody happy.*
  20. Happiness is a certain way of seeing things.
  21. Rivalry poisons happiness.
  22. Women care more than men about making others happy.
  23. Happiness means making sure that those around you are happy.

* These are my favourites. Which one is yours?

Technology + Human Touch = Wow Customer Experience!

Everyone knows the value of good customer service, yet such a few companies get it right. And that presents a great opportunity for the few to stand out from the crowd. Two recent experiences reminded me how technology, combined with the right human touch, can help improve customer experiences…

During a recent trip, I used Uber app in Dubai. Soon after reaching my destination, the pop-up asked me to rate my experience. I gave it a 3 out of 5. Usually, that would be the end of it, but not on Uber app. Another pop-up asked me ‘What went wrong?’ providing a box to write comments. I briefly wrote the two issues that were less than satisfactory: The taxi was waiting at the wrong address, until I called. The driver didn’t know the shorter route, so the 10-minute trip took about 20 minutes. Within a few minutes of pressing ‘send’ on the app, I got the following email:

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 12.10.49 AM

What was most impressive was the promptness of the reply, the personal attention and something in return to quickly turn a less-than-satisfied customer into a raving fan!

The other experience was at an optician in Hong Kong. Most clinics in HK give you a form to fill out on your first visit – often a badly printed or copied sheet on an old clipboard with a cheap pen, and with English or punctuation errors on the form. Not at iSight. I was given an iPad to fill out a neatly designed, short and sweet form. The clinic had a comfortable waiting area with a coffee machine! The experience with the doctor was also perfect, so I thought ‘They are about to charge me more than twice the normal price’. To my surprise it was exactly the same price as that of an average clinic. And I got a reminder for my follow-up appointment on Whatsapp! How difficult can it be to use electronic forms and Whatsapp?

A small investment in technology, combined with the right human touch, can significantly improve the user experiences and help to delight and surprise your customers!

50 Life Lessons by Mush Panjwani

Mush PanjwaniI’ll be 50 in a few hours! And as a gift to my children, family and friends, I started writing my life lessons a couple of weeks ago. It started looking like another book, so I cut them all down into one-liners and still ended up with about 65. Thanks to Sara who helped keep the best 50. I hope these inspire you to change your thoughts and take some action towards making your life more dinchack

  1. Life is fair even when it doesn’t seem to be.
  1. You are not supposed to be like everyone else.
  1. When in doubt, listen to your heart, and take a small step.
  1. Change your actions, reactions and the way you put yourself out there, and you will change the way the world responds to you.
  1. Three things change your life: love, suffering and dreams.
  1. Focusing on all you have rather than what you don’t have is far better use of our brainpower. Gratitude is the first step to positivity and happiness.
  1. Holding a grudge is like holding burning coals in your own hands.
  1. Life isn’t perfect, but it has perfect moments.
  1. Nobody has extra time. You just have to make room for what’s important.
  1. Dreams are important, but only when we follow them with goals, plans and actions.
  1. The less stuff you have, the freer you are.
  1. You don’t have to win every argument.
  1. Accept and expect that failure is part of the experience. Learn from it and move on.
  1. Don’t let your past mess with your present.
  1. Don’t compare your life to others’. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
  1. Success with people comes not from being interesting but being interested.
  1. Make exercise a daily priority. It makes you physically, mentally and emotionally stronger. It improves your health and your outlook.
  1. It’s hard to live a high performance life in a low performance body.
  1. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.
  1. Friendships need time and attention. Nurture them.
  1. Anything can change in the blink of an eye.
  1. Change is good; don’t resist it. Embrace it and consider it an adventure.
  1. Life is too short for pity parties. Get busy living, or get busy dying.
  1. Angry outbursts result in regret, stress and unhappiness.
  1. The only way to overcome a fear is to jump right in.
  1. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.
  1. If you haven’t found your passion, make it a mission to find it. The joy it brings reflects in every aspect of your life.
  1. Don’t wait for special occasion to do or say something special. Today is special.
  1. Plan well but be prepared to go with the flow.
  1. Follow-up and follow-through are critical, though few people practice either.
  1. Work harder and smarter – not one or the other.
  1. Travel enlightens you, expands you, and makes you more interesting, insightful and accepting. Spending on travel is an investment in yourself.
  1. Learning is our most powerful leverage in life.
  1. Thoughts become things. Whether positive or negative, limiting or liberating, our thoughts can become our reality.
  1. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: “In five years, will this matter?”
  1. Forgive everyone everything.
  1. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
  1. Your job won’t take care of you when you are old and sick. Your family and friends will. Stay in touch.
  1. Believe in miracles.
  1. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.
  1. Your children get only one childhood. Make it memorable.
  1. You can teach them, love them and support them, but you can’t change them. They are unique individuals who must live their own lives. Let them.
  1. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
  1. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.
  1. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
  1. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
  1. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
  1. Everything you want is out there and everything you need to achieve it is inside you.
  1. Age is a number. Don’t allow a number to hold you back from being the person you are inside.
  1. The best is yet to come.
  1. Have faith. (Sara suggested to add this to the list)

Please let me know through comments which one did you find most useful/inspiring, and also feel free to share your own life lessons. Thanks!

4 fattening foods in Indo-Pak diets

ImageThis post was inspired by the Pakistan Club’s Annual Fair I attended last week. The purpose of the fair is to introduce Pakistani culture – food, handicrafts and other merchandise – to the local community and raise funds for the club. That it does very well! The food stalls selling the most popular Pakistani foods were a reminder of the four most common evils of the Indo-Pak diet, what I’m calling the four fattening “Chs”:

  1. Chawal (pronounced as Chaa-wul, meaning rice):  Most lunches and dinners are incomplete without rice, making it possibly the #1 cause of weight gain. What’s more, most of the rice consumed is white rice; mostly cooked in rice cookers thus leaving all the starch in. What’s worse is the biryani (fried rice) that is the preferred form of rice at all special occasions.
  2. Chapati (Che-paa-tee, meaning bread): Flat breads consumed over breakfast, lunch and dinner come in many forms. The only good one is the pan-baked bread made of brown wheat flour (roti). However, most of them are made of processed white flour (naan), and many are then pan-fried (paratha) or deep-fried (puri) making them even more fattening.
  3. Chicknai (chick-nai, meaning fat): Breakfast is fried eggs, with fried breads. Lunch and dinner are curries cooked in oil and often with fried rice. Plus the popular fried snacks in between – samosa, puri, fried rolls – making the diet extremely unhealthy and fattening.
  4. Chini (chee-nee, meaning sugar): Sugar is also a big part of the Indo-Pak diet. It’s common to take two teaspoons of sugar in tea and three in coffee, and have 2-4 cups a day. Carbonated drinks with lunch, dinner and snacks seem to have become more common, particularly with the younger generation. Then there’s the mithai (desserts) that’s often considered an essential part of any party. The popular deep fried jalebi and gulab jaman are probably the mothers of all evils that combine white carbs, sugar and oil.

Nobody needs scientific evidence that the above are unhealthy; we know that already. The question is how can we change something that’s such an integral part of our lifestyle? One possible answer is: one step at a time. Get rid of one Ch at a time. Think of making tiny, small, easy, simple changes, one at a time e.g.

  • Replace white rice/bread with brown rice/bread or boiled rice. Limit rice/bread to just one of the meals. Reduce the portion of rice/bread.
  • Use healthy oils like Olive or Canola if you must fry stuff. Avoid deep-fried stuff.
  • Try dried fruits, nuts and fruits as snacks.
  • Switch to brown sugar. Reduce sugar in your tea/coffee if you can’t completely remove it. Avoid carbonated drinks.
  • Add some fruits to breakfast, some soup and salad to lunch, some baked or grilled fish to dinner.

And what about all the temptations? Make Sunday your Sin-day, and eat whatever you like, as much as you like. Since you are going to cheat anyway, it’s better to have a cheat day that you look forward to. The idea of quitting something just for the next six days is also a lot easier than quitting something forever. Then it’s only five days, then four, three, two and one. Bingo, you did it!

Luckily, the fair was on a Sin-day. So I was able to enjoy some of the chs without feeling too guilty.

For those serious about weight loss, please also read the posts on ‘how to lose 3kg in 3 weeks‘ and ‘Paleo‘.

Gallery of Insight- Windows To The World

“Do just once what others say you can’t do, and you will never pay attention to their limitations again.”

-James Cook

Meet Wim Hof. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wim_Hof#Feats

Just your regular run-of-the-mill Dutchman, except for the fact that he held the world record for being immersed in an ice bath for the longest time, he climbed Everest and ran a marathon in the Arctic circle wearing only a pair of shorts, and ran a marathon in the Namib Desert without a drop of water. He also claimed that these feats “were easy”. How, you ask?

With intense concentration and meditation, Wim Hof has become able to exhibit a rarely-seen ability to control his own immune response and autonomic nervous system. An article I read (link below post) goes into detail about how he was the only test subject out of 240 other people who was able to suppress his immune response when administered an…

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My first book has just been published: Dhinchak Life!

ImageFinally, my first book has just been published! It’s called Dhinchak Life. 

It’s a compilation of the best posts from this blog, organized into seven sections: Happiness, Health & Fitness, Productivity & Achievements, Inspiring Lives, My Travelogue, Quotes that Inspire, and Recommended Reading. The ideas presented in this book can help you:

  • Become happier, regardless of who you are and what you have
  • Get healthier, fitter and have more energy to enjoy life fully
  • Increase your productivity so you always have time to do what really matters
  • Enhance your relationships with those you love, and even those you don’t
  • Motivate yourself to achieve your goals, no matter how small or big they are

Please read the Introduction of the book here. It includes the meaning of Dhinchak, and how to buy too.

Thanks to everyone who helped make this possible.

What does your profession demand?

I met a fat doctor. Though I don’t like to judge people by their appearances, I wouldn’t quite trust him with my own health and well-being. What will be your first impression when you see…

  • A dentist with bad teeth?
  • A tailor in shabby clothes?
  • A teacher who doesn’t like kids?
  • A beautician who is less than beautiful?
  • A manager who is not organized?
  • An educationist who doesn’t like to read?
  • A banker or financial expert with no money?
  • A motivational trainer who gets depressed easily?
  • A salesperson who doesn’t use her own products, or worse still, uses competitive products?

These are examples of people who are in the wrong jobs/business; who don’t believe in what they do; who don’t practice what they preach. Every profession comes with certain demands and responsibilities, fulfilling which results in success and happiness. And so does every relationship. As a spouse, we must find the time for our partner. As parents, we have to be the role models. As friends we have to be there. And what about our responsibilities towards the community, towards our fellow human beings and towards the world we live in?

“It’s easy to dodge our responsibilities, but we cannot dodge the consequences of dodging our responsibilities.”

Another Year of Blogging and Enhancing Life

When I decided to start writing a book in 2009, a good friend* advised me to start a blog instead. That way people can read as I write it. The plan was to put together the book as soon as I had 100 posts/articles. I almost forgot about the plan and lost count of the posts until I saw the year-end report from WordPress.

Allow me a little bit of bragging: Thanks to all of you, my readers and subscribers, the number of views reached 48,000 in 2011 – up from 23,000 in 2010 and 16,000 in 2009! The current number of followers is an encouraging 298. There are 244 posts on the blog, and the most popular have been:

  1. How I lost 3 kg in 3 weeks (8,463 views)
  2. 11 Health Benefits of Fasting (7,154 views)
  3. 10 Inspiring Birthday Quotes (5,639 views)
  4. Does Rice Make you Fat? (2,278 views)
  5. 45 Tips for a Happy Marriage (1,201 views)
  6. 37 Things we Take for Granted Everyday (1,025 views)
Thank you, also for the wonderful feedback, comments and emails that encourage me to keep writing. As for the book, it was one of the few things on my 2011 to-do list that I didn’t do. But it’s back on my 2012 to-do list. Happy Reading in 2012, and please keep the comments coming.
* Thank you, Altaf, for the idea, encouragement and technical help to get me started with blogging!
[Photo taken recently by Salma, while I was blogging during a weekend, in my usual corner of the dining table]

One of the most beautiful videos I’ve ever seen…

I can’t say what moved me more, the video or the story behind it – as narrated by the videographer, Terje Sorgjerd:

“This was filmed between 4th and 11th April 2011. I had the pleasure of visiting El Teide. Spain´s highest mountain @(3718m) is one of the best places in the world to photograph the stars and is also the location of Teide Observatories, considered to be one of the world´s best observatories.  Continue reading

5 Interesting Comments!

The number of comments are going up as the readership of this blog grows. I’d like to dedicate this post to thank all of you who take out the time not just to read my blog but also leave thoughtful comments. Even a simple ‘very nice!’ makes a difference. Here are few interesting comments from the last couple of weeks:

From Jamal (UAE) on Favorite Quotes on Dreams: Mush here are some of my favorites on dreams, though I don’t know from whom:
-Poor are the people who don’t have dreams.
-Be careful of the dreams you chose, for dreams come true.
-All men dream but not equally. Most of them dream in the rusty recess of the night and by morning it fades into vanity. The dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they might live their dreams.

From Vijay (Australia) on 5 Benefits of Rising Early: I’m an early riser myself – would easily do three hours of work before 9am. However, I think people have different biorhythms. Some function best in the morning while others come alive later in the day. I’m sure even the late risers can claim their peace and quiet in the wee hours of the morning while we early risers are traipsing lala-land.

From Dr. Mona (India) on Price of Coffee Can Feed Many: Hi Mush, I’ve started thanking lord for how fortunate i m instead of cribbing about my adversaries.

From Andy (Singapore) on What Do You Expect? Wow!!! That’s powerful. I like the 4 magic words. Another 4 magic word Mush: Face it, Except it, Slove it and Leave it!

From Mashu (Hong Kong) on A Better Runner: AAAWWWWWW!!! I really should have got that earlier so i could do it in my sports day!

Twenty20 Cricket

Sometimes I wonder how life used to be without the internet and the cell phones. Weren’t we living and enjoying our lives then as much as we do today. But somehow its unimaginable to think of it without all these things. When we don’t know about something we never miss it. I feel the same is happening to cricket today.

I enjoyed watching cricket ever since I was small. It used to be 3-4 month long tours with test matches consuming 6 days to often give a drawn result. But I loved it. Then came the limited over cricket, which in a way transformed test cricket and I loved watching those action packed games that ensured results. The batsmen would respect good bowlers and wait for the weak ones to hit. The game would still start with specialist fast bowlers who would bowl outswingers often left away by watchful batsmen. Slips were in position. The flavor of cricket was still alive. The essence survived. The basics remained the same. Then came the Twenty20 format.

Watching IPL twice and a 2020 world Cup in about 20 months  Continue reading

Bahrain World Trade Center generates 675kW of wind energy!

0904-bahrain-wtcI had a beautiful panoramic view from my room in Ramada Hotel Bahrain – sunset over the city, a busy soccer ground and the Twin Towers that I had never heard about! I was intrigued by the three turbines mounted over the bridges connecting the two towers. So I Googled and found the story:

Each of the three turbines hold a capacity of 225kW, totalling to 675kW of wind energy production. These turbines, each measuring 29 m (32 yd) in diameter, face north, which is the direction from which air from the Persian Gulf blows in. The sail-shaped buildings on either side are designed to funnel wind through the gap to provide the maximum amount of wind passing through the turbines. This was confirmed by wind tunnel tests, which showed that the buildings create an ‘S’-shaped flow, ensuring that any wind coming within a 45° angle to either side of the central axis will create a wind stream that remains perpendicular to the turbines. This significantly increases their potential to generate electricity. The wind turbines are expected to provide 11% to 15% of the towers’ total power consumption. This is equivalent to providing the lighting for about 300 homes annually. The three turbines were turned on for the first time on 8 April 2008! The building has won many awards for sustainability.

Luk Keng Village near Sunny Bay in Hong Kong

luk-keng-villageA hidden heaven in Hong Kong: Beautiful hike, clean and green beach and a nice barbecue area. Check it out on your own or with your family. Here’s how to get there:

Take Tung Chung MTR line to Sunny Bay station. Go straight from Exit A and turn left on the promenade that goes parallel to the railway tracks. After about 15 minutes, you’ll see a sign ‘To Luk Keng Village’ on the right. Follow this beautiful path until you see a small fishing village. Just before the village, there’s an almost hidden path going towards left. The sign ‘Barbecue Site’ faces the other side so you won’t see it. Take the path and within minutes you’ll find yourself facing a beautiful beach with trees and a barbecue area! Total walking time: 30-40 minutes. Calories burnt: perhaps 300. Check out the photos here.