Wednesday, April 5, 2017

This is how you plan smashing birthday party for your wife

It's 15th of March,  morning 9:30. i just finished my  P90X3-challenge routine. My iPhone  starts singing "Tera Dhyaan kidhar hain, Tera Hero idhar hain" [Yep,  that's my ringtone, I love Bollywood. Tackier the better. ]

It is Anisha on the line. 

Anisha is Ammu's best friend, they have lived in adjacent buildings, they went to study in London together, they have broken beds as roomies, their friendship is truly international spanning India, London, Malaysia and U.S. and also Ani is queen of planning great parties.

Chapter 1. The Idea

Ani : Dhaval ammu's birthday is coming. kuch dhasu karte hain. what say ?

Me : Is It ?  Already ? lemme check ...... Oh God we are late ... We should plan something.

My guilty husband conscience kicked in. Ammu's birthday was in 15 days and i had not started planning. In some cultures they shave your head and people throw poop-stones at your face for this mistake.

Ani : Last year we did zip-lining, dinner with friends and we had a great relaxing sleep at movie batman vs superman. This year we have to outdo ourselves.

Me : Of Course !!! I have got a perfect plan. We wake her up in morning, We do horse-riding by the sea, we see sun-rise, sun-set, eat at indo-chinese restaurant and in the evening we go camping.

Ani : DHAVAL (capital and bold because ani yelled at me. )

A : Ammu is not made for morning darling and on her birthday if you want to wake her up, you better get ready for the Apocalypse.

B : Ammu cant tolerate campground washroom. She will go in to wash her face, look in the mirror, her OCD will kick in,  next thing she will start cleaning the washroom. Do you want your wife to clean toilets on her birthday ?

and lastly  C :  she does not like physical contact with any animal.

Me : I slightly whisper in my MIND ...  But Maple....

Ani : DHAVAL Maple is an exception, she is cute, looks like chocolate fudge brownie cake  and she never jumps on Ammu.

Here is Maple for you guys and i agree with Ani, Maple Rocks !!!

Me : Plan Ani... (Bringing conversation back to birthday.)

Ani : Now, Listen to my Idea. We will do a Mela(Carnival) themed birthday party. We will recreate all the things you get in a Mela. Balloon shooting, Ring throwing, Breaking  Pyramid of cans, some astrology should be there, Do you think we can do Ferris wheel ? I think we should do it.

Me : Wow ani you are a genius, ferris wheel is an over-stretch but i love the idea.

Ani : Achha what gift are u giving her ?

Me : Mela theme birthday party

Ani : No idiot!! party is something different, Gift is something that is mandatory, and third year ka gift should be mind blowing. 

Me : Hmmm .... 

New thing i got to know about myself. Normally i hate maths but when such ideas hit my brain, it starts doing floating point calculations. Human brain is a beautiful mystery.

Chapter 2.  The Gift

Let me take you guys one year back.

Me :  Ammu you should buy Apple watch yaar. you are working out, it would be great for counting calories. psychological motivation milega.

Ammu : Nice, I was thinking the same thing, Dhaval, Apple Watch is $299. Where are you going to buy it from ?

Me : Simple Ammu, You walk in the Apple Store, look at all expensive macs, play for sometime on new apple tv and buy the watch and come out with smile on face and dent in bank account.

Ammu looks at the ceiling, thinks about something and then starts fiercely typing on her macbook pro. I suddenly get what she is doing.

Me :  Ammu please don't go to "Bhikari ka katora" [ Craigslist.]

Ammu : Dhaval, Augustino is giving me watch for $110 

Me :  NO!!!

Ammu : Alfredo is selling with original packaging  $120

Me :  NO!!!

Ammu :  Dhaval it is just a watch !!!

Me :  Just a watch ?  it's an Apple watch and you should have a complete watch buying experience from Apple Store and respect Jony Ive.

Ammu :  Who is Jony Ive ?

Do you remember in old Hindi movies where when someone dies old women are banging their chests?  I did the same thing but with more drama.

Ammu :  Stop doing Natak and i read on the blog series 2 is coming out in october, i will buy the new version.

Me looking confused ...

Ammu : I do read Dhaval. Specially when news come on my facebook feed.

and everything is right in the world...

So in short, Apple watch new version comes out, Ammu does not buy it. So we have the same conversation one year later.

Me :   Ammu you have to buy apple watch, series 2 has come out.

Ammu : I was checking Dhaval,  Series 2 does not have a much difference than Series 1, they have only added water proofing and GPS.

Me :  Meri maa please kuch lele ...

Ammu looks at me sheepishly.

Me : Please don't buy from "Bhikari ka katora" [ Craigslist.]

Ammu buys a Apple watch series 2. She also buys 7 different bands for her watch, Her logic, "it should go with the mood i am feeling in the morning. "

She gets her gift a week before her birthday,  I come home from office in the evening and she has been alone with Apple watch for 5 hours.

Ammu : 
dhaval kapde fold kiye 9 calories
dhaval phone pe baat kiya 30 calories
dhaval workout karne ka socha 6 calories
dhaval 24 dekha 80 calories
I am burning more calories watching Jack Bower, than he is burning fighting that terrorist.

Me :  I am the best husband ever. 

Ammu :  No !!! Ameya bought iPhone 7 for Anisha this year.

Me : Well that's life Ammu. Aise toh Anil Ambani ne apne biwi ko 3 floor ka ship gift kiya.   Don't you love the watch  ?

Ammu :  Yes. I loves it. It is mines and i the keeps it.

Chapter 3. The Party 

Anisha's idea was amazing but we needed an army to execute the plan.

We started discussions on call, then moved to iMessage, then moved to whatsapp and then finally to a google sheet because there were too many things to co-ordinate. Here is the sheet for you guys to look at Ammu's Party Plan

Me, Ankita [Ani's little sister]  and Apeksha [Our close friend] bought all the decoration stuff from Costco, Dollar Store, Party City and setup the entire decor.

Ball Ball Bach Gaye : 

Ring Master Gogo :

Pyramid Tod :

Yep, One of our crazy friends actually drank that many cans of beer in 3 weeks. Thank you Buddy.

Ice Hockey :

Instant Bhavishya :

We had 125 different combination of fortunes for people, i put my ideas on the sheet and Ankita actually wrote them on paper.

The fortune that Ammu got was "Your greatest danger will be your stupidity"

The birthday celebration could not be confined only to U.S. People from India also wanted to participate.

Her Best Friend from India Meera and her husband Chirag came up with a lovely fortune prediction for Ammu. I am telling you guys, Chirag is a man of many hidden talents.

Reema, The birdie who visits us every single year had a quite fun prediction for Ammu too.

Dear Amu, 
This year is going to be fabulous. There will be adventures, snow, balmy days of sunshine too. There will be love, and lipcolours, stories and adrenaline rushes, treasures fit for a princess, because really, that's who you are. May no grease stain your ski jacket, may nobody spill things on your carpets and may there finally be affordable technology to fold freshly laundered clothes. 
Love, Reema

Kids had a blast they converted the carnival theme to Harry Potter theme. 

Below is some of our crazy group who celebrated Ammu's Birthday in U.S.

Our India Friends were no less. They celebrated Ammu's Birthday by calling her and waking her up. We missed you guys.

Party was fun wishes were pouring down in form of phone-calls, whatsapp messages, facebook messages, group messages, personal messages. Ammu was overwhelmed, happy and i think a little impressed.  Thanks to each and everyone of you who participated and enjoyed this madness. But it was not all over, Just as she thought the fun times are over ...

Chapter 4. One Last Thing

 There was a one week skiing holiday in Denver lined up for Ammu, Me and Amit. We spent 2 days skiing vail. It was one of the surreal experiences of my life. The views, mountains and resort is amazing.

There is one thing that Ammu always tells me.

Ammu : "I really feel happy doing things for others. The greatest joy is giving."

I guess she is right. I had more fun planning with her friends, building up the surprise and executing it to best of my ability to listen to three golden words from her.

Ammu : "Not Bad Dhaval"

Thursday, March 9, 2017

From broken hands to 101 pull-ups : Part 2

Thanks Guys for such an overwhelming response for the previous post. This is a continuation story, please read  Part 1  if you landed here directly.

So my mind is made up I land at SF airport. Ammu and Amit [My brother in law] come to pick me up. Before ammu hugs me. I tell her

Dhaval : I am joining crossfit gym from tommorow. We need to find one near our home.

Ammu : Is this like the time where you said, you wanna be a photographer, you were persistent, you emotionally blackmailed me and then i got you a DSLR for your birthday and we never used it after our honeymoon ?

Dhaval : No, yaar this is serious.

Ammu : SO WAS I, when i told you "Dhaval 500$ for a digicam which you will never use !!!!". How about the time we bought the cool  realistic looking airgun which is sitting next to the digi-cam because "Laad saheb ko Nishanchi  banneka hain." [Prince wants to practise shooting.]

Dhaval : Are that is a really cool looking airgun.Yaar understand me please, this time i am full-on ready, motivated, good to go. "Passion meri aankhon mein dekh. "
[See the passion in my eyes.]

Ammu : Muje sirf bank account se paise jaate hue dikh rahe hain, Aur Cross fit gym bhi dikh raha hain, Lekin tu andar jaata hua nahi dikh raha hain.

[All i can see is money going from our bank account, I can see a crossfit gym too, but i cannot see you going in.]

Amit :  Hold on guys!!! How about this ? Dhaval you start with a home -workout. See if you are doing it regularly. You do enough days you go the Gym ?

Ammu agreed to this, because it was lesser investment. Sometimes i contemplate Am i a gujrati who has married a tamilian ? or Am i a gujrati who has married a tamilian who has a soul of a marwadi ?

God too complicated, coming back to the topic.

I started my first workout in December 2015

21 Day Fix :

Link :

This was a workout routine which went for 21 days. Surprisingly, i finished the 21 day routine. I could lift light weights do 6 to 8 pushups used to do yoga poses etc. I stretched it to a month repeated 9 days of my favorite easy workouts.

Doing this workout i realised following things :

1. Although it was a easier workout compared to what i do today, it was an excellent workout regime to start because it got me hooked to the idea of working out as soon as waking up.

2. My hands were actually stronger than what i give them credit for.

3. I can prove Ammu wrong once. [Guilty pleasure :)  ]

I felt there was no weight loss, no muscle gain, but i started feeling healthy and happy. I was tired the first week but from second week i was into the workout.

After the first easy workout i was ready to take it up a notch. My next home-workout  would be Insanity.

Insanity :

Link :

I went confident and strong into insanity home-workout routine. I thought i will nail the workouts. 21 day fix had given a bit of false confidence.  The first workout of insanity crushed me. I was sweating from the places i didn't knew existed in my body. Insanity is complete body weight workout and does not require any equipment.

It was tough, it was insane when i think about it i really dont understand how i went through 3 months.  The difficulty level is still tough for me. It would take mental preparation before starting the workout. Sometimes the fear of failure is worse than failure itself. Something like that used to happen to me.

But post workout results would be great. I would be drenched in sweat and was really active during the day. Suddenly i had more energy than before.

Doing Insanity taught me following things :

1. I can do extremely difficult things if i motivate myself enough.

2. I can actually do a proper workout without a physical trainer or a GYM.

3. My hands are becoming stronger dude. 20 pushups is not a bad number at all.

During course of insanity i was maintaining a workout diary. everyday i used to write down the workout i did and my present weight.  This is where i first saw results.

I had reduced 10Kg in period of 3 months. Diet was loosely monitored mostly Ammu made at home and 5 days of workout with one day break. Insanity was tough, effective and really worked for me.

During the end-months of Insanity i started researching  for the next workout which i am going to do. I stumbled across P90X. Now P90X is a great workout but it needs some equipment.

It needs pullup-bar, pushup-assist, and a Bowflex SELECTTECH dumble and a proper gym glove which would support my wrist when i am doing pushups / pullups.

Bowflex SELECTTECH dumble : 
Link :

Now all the other things were pretty cheap i could order them directly. But Bowflex dumbbells were $599  at that time. Now it was again time for confrontation :

Dhaval :  Ammu i need to buy dumbbells.

Ammu : o.k. [ i think she was making paneer bhurji. ]

Dhaval : They are worth $599, if i order today we can get it shipped in 2 days.

Ammu :  Are you insane $99 ka dumbbells uthayega ? Kabhie grocery toh uthata nahi hain ? I saw in TJ Max 20$ 30$ you get some dumbbells woh le lenge.

Dhaval :  First of all last 2 weeks se maine grocery uthaya hain and secondly dumbbells $599 ka hain and you don't get it at T.J. Max and its not buying one dumbbell it's like buying a whole gym rack at your home.

Ammu : Are mere Arnold first you take this bhurji go to office i will think of something when you come back.

Dhaval : Pakka ?

Ammu :   Aur teri ankhon ka passion ? tera crossfit ka kya hua ?

Dhaval : Tu mazza lena bandh kar.

We are like that. We fight, pull each others legs but figure out a way. Now ammu was no way spending money on a new dumbbell that was a guarantee. But she also had to get me a new one before my current workout get's over, she had seen me workout 4 months consistently. She was in a big dilemma with a hard timeline. And seeing me she also started working out. Being the dancer she is she started doing "Hip Hop Abs".

I come home from office

Ammu :   Achha Dhaval i got the dumbbells for you. You have to pick them up from "Antonio", he lives in san fransisco.

Dhaval : Kaun Antonio ? yeah kaise logon se sath baat karta hain tu .
[Who Antonio ? and whom are you talking with these days ?]

Ammu :  This guy is from craigslist. Mexican hain, uske dad ne usko gift diya tha, yeah dumbbell uske garrage mein tha. he does not use it. He is giving us for $199.

[He is a mexican guy, i found him in craigslist, his dad gifted him these dumbbells, they are sitting in his garrage, he does not use it and he wants to sell them from $199 ]

Dhaval :  Tu kitna genius hain.

Ammu :   Woh toh main hu.

Dhaval :  Main kitna dabbuu hain

Ammu :   Hai re meri kismat !!!!

Having all my equipment in place i started my third home-workout routine.

P90X :-

Link :

Now this was a very different workout. it required me to push, pull my body weight. There were dumbbells involved. My previous two workouts were almost 80% cardio. Workout for me at this stage had become a habit,  it became as organic as taking a shower after waking up. P90X was easier workout than insanity but it involved a lot of  weight training.

From P90X i realized following things about myself :

1.  I can lift heavier weights now.
2.  I can do 30 pushups and 5 pullups in 30 minutes workout [The challenge.]
3.  I can fit into size Medium.

The workouts which i did after P90X were P90X + and  P90X3.

Last December 2016 i completed one full year of working out. It's been a wild and fun journey. I feel exercise has transformed not only the physical but also the mental aspect of my being.

All this months working out resulted in

  • Ammu  bought me a new watch which i can wear proudly and each time i look at the time it brings smile to my face.
  • I started with 5 pull-ups but now in 30 minutes "The Challenge" workout i can do 270 pushups and 100 pullups.
  • Exercise is a very great habit, once you get that you get into other habits like eating healthy sleeping 8 hours, etc...
  • I can do skiing, one more sport which i have learned and am proud of.  walk more miles without complaining and obviously dance more hours on my favorite bollywood number with Ammu.

I don't feel i have arrived there in terms of having to workout and build a good physique. I feel it is an important milestone in my journey. The next thing i am currently working on is  reading up on  a good diet, coming up with a vegetarian no-egg diet routine which is is healthy and which would compliment my workout. 

I feel to shy to share this, but kya kare, script ki demand hain :)

it's a work in progress ... but i feel i have come up a long way from not being able to wear a watch to doing 100 pullups.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

From broken hands to 101 pull-ups : Part 1

It's been almost 5 years since i have written something on my blog. May be i was not ready to share my life, May be facebook/twitter had replaced my need to blog. Or may be i was just plain lazy to write. Today i have a personal story to share.

Today I feel happy. Today I feel proud of myself, Today i can

"Wear a watch"

I know, i know what you are thinking why am i glorifying something a 5 year old can do. Let me give you a background.

Genius people learn from others mistakes.Normal People learn from their own one mistake , unfortunately i am the idiot who had to break both of his hands to learn that i need to be more careful on Mumbai roads.

Following is the timeline

Feb-2012 :  i broke my right Hand in a bike accident. 5 km/hr in front of my house.

March-2014 : I broke my left Hand in a bike accident. 40km/hr at western express highway saved by insurance, helmet and some good luck. Post this i sold my bike to my contractor who was redoing my house.

I had invasive surgeries on both of my hands just 2 years apart. I would say i was blessed to have good doctors to operate on my hands. 

I remember in 2012 i was in a hospital room with 2 beds and on the other bed was a muslim boy who had similar hand injury.  His Dad used to come to room to talk with us, He looked at both of us and told 

Patient's Dad : "Tum bachhon ko har cheez mazak lagti hain. hamesha kudna hain khelna hain, maa baap pe kya beetegi yeah kab samjoge ?"

[You kids feel everything is a joke, everytime you wanna play and jump around, you don't think what your parents have to go through.]

Me and Other patient pin-drop silence reminded me of days where i used to  get lectured by school principal.

Patient's Dad : "Beta tum batao ab kaise jeeoge aise tute hath se ?"

[Tell me son how will you live with a broken hand now ?]

Me : "Uncle itna tension na lo doctor bohot achha hain sab theek kar dega .."

[Don't worry uncle we have a good doctor he will fix everything. ]

Patient's Dad : "Beta alah tala ne jaisa banaya tha waisa toh kabhie nahi hoga."

[Nobody can mend it the way god had made your hand.]

Moments are like that: Some get imprinted in your brain like they happened yesterday, This is one of those for me. 

Fast forward to December 2014 I got married to Ammu. We both have nag for nautanki and theatrics. Naach gaana and bollywood is imbibed in us as a couple. We had a grand wedding, grander sangeet and a pretty amazing run as life-partners. 

Just a month before my wedding on November 6th, Ammu gifted me a watch. Now Ammu used to gift me things regularly. But this one was special. This was the first time when she said "I love you" to me. The watch was "That" memorabilia. I am not into watches or gold flashy rings as people sometime expect me to be as i am a GUJJU. But this watch is special. I wore it.  

Half way through the party, my head started spinning, I was going to fall on the floor but one of my friends caught me  and settled me down. I drank water, unbuttoned few shirt buttons, removed watch and kept on the table. After 5 mins i was normal and completely o.k.

That is when it dawned on me. My wrist is so weak, it cannot handle weight of the watch. 

The two operations had taken a toll on my body. Though i used to shake off the "accidents" by humor or ignore them with jokes, few times the pain returns reminding me that there are metal rods in both of my arms and 12 screws in my living walking human body.

I had accepted it. This is my life, i cannot pick up heavy objects, i cannot wear a watch and i definitely cannot go to the gym.

Almost a year passed since then, life went on as though nothing happened.

In November 2015 i came to India for short visit. I was doing rounds in my building, i love to walk at night with headphones on. "Me Time" although i always have Kishore sometimes Jagjit with me. I suddenly stopped at the same place where i had met with my first accident.  Memories were renewed. Something clicked. I had to take care of myself. I cannot accept my body the way it was. I had to workout.

"Crossfit" was the answer i zeroed down on. I have to go to Crossfit style gym do Mary Kom style tire flips, rope workouts. I had the answer ready when i boarded the plane to san fransisco. I am joining the crossfit Gym next day.

The journey gets really interesting in the second part. What happens once i land and what do i do to achieve my ultimate goal "Wear a watch" with pride i will say in the next part.