Parents! Are YOU shrinking your Kids?

Hey Parents, The year is coming to an end! And we will now get into reflecting what ‘got-done’ and what ‘did-not-get-done’ in the year. If i tell you that, we are inadverten…

Source: Parents! Are YOU shrinking your Kids?

Parents! Are YOU shrinking your Kids?

Hey Parents,

The year is coming to an end! And we will now get into reflecting what ‘got-done’ and what ‘did-not-get-done’ in the year. If i tell you that, we are inadvertently  shrinking our kids – how would you react?

This blog is about the physical (and Mental) handicap our children are facing due to lifestyle changes of our society.  We are increasingly getting less physical and more sedentary – that is not good.

I wonder if you have seen this 1989 live-action comedy film – Honey, I Shrunk the Kids ! The plot goes like this – an inventor Prof. Szalinski experiments with an electromagnetic human shrinking machine. He leaves the device unattended; shortly afterwards, it is accidentally activated. Alas, the demon machine is aimed at his children. The kids, shrunk to 1/4-inch height, are tossed into the trash. For the rest of the film, our tiny protagonists attempt to gain their parents’ attention – to survive the wilds of the backyard, that threaten their well-being. Remember this as you read on …


In real life the subject is a lot more serious – right in front of our eyes – something like the film is happening to our kids. Inadvertently our generation of parents is poised to shrink (metaphorically :)) our kids and may be send them up a path of Counter Evolution**.

I am sure everyone remembers Mr Darwin and his theory ‘Survival of the Fittest’. Our physical human body got evolved as a great combination of intelligence, adaptability and strength – we are the nature’s best creation – we evolved in body as hunters and farmers. And so our physical constitution, complimented this strength to hunt for our food or grow crops. Both of these required physical labour – none of that hunting or farming we need to do today!

So what do you think is happening to our Body and its Capabilities? See the picture below, does it ring a bell?

Children addiction to screen
Children addiction to screen is almost an epidemic …

Its only in last 2 decades we ushered in this big Shrinking Machine – the automation, technology and IT – making us lazy and glued to devices – resulting in massive reduction in physical activity. So most of us don’t farm, don’t hunt and don’t do any physicals. Mr Nature is pretty confused – this wonderful human physique  was never designed to : Sit on chairs or bed …or Work on computers  … or Look at some or the other screen ‘All Day’.

Lifestyle changes of the day is a large threat to the physical well-being of our societies than we could possibly think. And the worst hit segment of this change in society are “OUR KIDS”.

Now that is what I am calling – the body’s **Counter Evolution.

Modern kids are glued to screens of various kinds – I pads, Smart phones, LED TVs, Laptops, PSPs, X-Box, video games etc. The modern parents – both go to work – kids have lesser parent time – and they do what is easy and gratifying – Nothing. Thats the Catch.

Experts on Whats Happening to our Kids!

  • Children are Getting Weaker!   This is interesting – a study published in the child health journal Acta Paediatrica compared children 10 years of age, 10 years apart (Year 1998- 315 children and Year 2008 – 309 children). Compared to 1998 group, 2008 children could do lesser sit ups ( -27%), had lesser arm strength (-26%), lesser number of them could not pull up their own weight (-50%) and, even more alarming is that kids of 2008 batch carried much more fat than muscle.

    Average child of today is weaker than your Generation

To summarize the study –
“Children are becoming sedentary, weaker, less muscular, heavier, unable to do physical tasks that previous generations found simple.”

  • Well to do Children at more Risk!    As per paediatricians – Dr Nidhish Nanavaty, prevalence of obesity is estimated to be 10% in children below 14 years of age while it shoots up to 50% in children of high-income families. Its the excessive nutrition to blame – too much is being given to children to eat. Children of wealthy parents are thus at a greater risk.

    Well to do kids are more at Risk?

Problem we are not Solving?
This problem at hand – is a typical Covey’s 2nd Quadrant item -‘important but not urgent’. So we all understand that it is a major problem but since it is not immediate, and not too urgent to solve, hence the ‘Action to Solve’ gets postponed. The devil is in Habits – of junk food, of addiction to modern gadgets, of sedentary lifestyle. What is the solution?

Family Outdoors Activities are great things to do …

Questions and Suggestions
If this lifestyle is not good for future of our kids … then what do we need to change?

  1. Are kids screen addicted?   This one is a killer of good habits. Being stuck to a screen is an addiction – kids leave one screen to go to the other. This is slowly affecting their social behaviour and health. It would pay if we do not provide the modern gadgets to the kids too early in age. Parents will have to fix the screen time for the children.
  2. Are they doing enough Outdoors?   One of the important healthy habit to nurture in children is to have a decent volume of physical activity everyday. They have tremendous energies and those need to be positively find expression. Sports and outdoors fill that gap very well.

Healthy Mind in Healthy Body – So how do we get this Outdoors and Physical activity into daily routines of our kids. Traditionally– this physical outdoor activity habit is inculcated in 3 forms –

  1. Children should endeavour to play at least one field or team game – such as hockey, football, basket ball etc; Team games are known to develop body, character and team spirit.
  2. Pick up one individual game – Individual games such as athletics, swimming, tennis, squash, badminton, taekwondo or golf – are known to develop physical fitness, skills, personal excellence and competitive spirit.
  3. Its good to nurture one or two hobbies in outdoors space – trekking, wall climbing, biking, mountaineering, skiing, hiking, kayaking or canoeing etc.

    Physical Outdoor Activities are an absolute MUST!

Family Adventure Activities is Best Answer 🙂
The good Schools of the yore, normally would take care of above three things. Expecting to find these solutions in city schools is a long shot, but, taking your child out for an adventurous activity is in your hands for sure. In addition to many things that you would plan for year coming up – taking your children on outdoors adventure activity, should be high on your list. Not only does this increase family bonding, you would also give to your children, the most precious habit for life – the love of outdoors and open skies.

Go outdoors with your kids …

Parents seem to be overlooking the Shrinking Machine that is stunting  their kids’ growth. May be its time for Parents to make a resolution for New Year –  Break the sedentary lifestyle and …

Your Resolution could sound like – have an Outdoors Focus – Get them into some sports and take them out for a family adventure outing … You would do long term good to them … and launch them well in life!

“Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself ….
….. You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.”         Khalil Gibran

Go spend some time outdoors with your kids

I would be so keen to know what you think of it and how do we get out of this real life problem of our generation? Please leave a comment or suggestion.

Mike’s Notes : 12 Dos in Bhutan

Hi Friends, Welcome back to my Blog .. this time its Bhutan on the platter … If you are a ‘nature lover’, and looking for an off-beat break from your mundane, hum bugging life, we…

Source: Mike’s Notes : 12 Dos in Bhutan

#Himalayan : Day 1 of Test Ride & Reviews

Hey guys,

I am back here with some pretty exciting news – its motorcycling.

This time its about the HIMALAYAN – a new Adventure focused Motorbike from the stable of iconic Royal Enfield. I represent The Outdoor Journal and have the opportunity to ride the bike for a couple of days with 40+ riders from various media houses and review the performance of the bike.

Himalayan Front
One of the Royal Enfield trial pictures

I landed in Chandigarh and were then brought up to Timber Trail for a quick bite and then a usual winding road up to Simla, the erstwhile British Summer Capital – twists and turns, traffic blues and some drizzle .. usual Simla highway stuff.


By evening we were at our hotel in Simla – the ‘Wildflower Hall’, arguably the most unique of the Oberoi’s properties. I did have a quick round of the hotel, which was built 15 years back in colonial style – with library and card rooms, et al.  It definitely takes you back a hundred year – and here its just you, peace, quiet, nature and the understated luxury of hotel.

I found this one parked just outside the hotel … pretty lean it is ..

Evening was filled with a detailed briefing on the HIMALAYAN – Siddhartha Lal, MD & CEO, Eicher Motors Ltd, Mr Rudratej (Rudy) Singh, President Royal Enfield and Sachin Chavan, Rides and Community – spoke about the bike – philosophy & concept and the routes we would take over next 2 days.

Rudy’s brief
Sachin Chavan – the 4 routes …

On the route we would expect a happy mix of metalled roads, broken roads, un-metalled roads and some off-roading. I chose to be on Route 4 for Day One of the test-ride.

I am pretty excited to see how the following claims made by the leadership turns out –

Himalayan is the culmination of Royal Enfield’s 60 years of enduring history in its spiritual home—the Himalayas   …  Large adventure tourers that currently define this category, do not fare well in the Himalayas as they are very heavy, extremely complicated, intimidating and not really designed for this environment. … the Himalayan is a simple and capable go-anywhere motorcycle that will redefine adventure touring in India.” Siddhartha Lal, MD & CEO, Eicher Motors Ltd

Mr Rudratej (Rudy) Singh, President Royal Enfield said,
What excites me about our new motorcycle, is …. It allows both seasoned riders as well as enthusiasts to do more with just one motorcycle. The Himalayan … at the same time opens the roads (pun not intended) to many more people who will get the confidence that they can ride on and off the road less travelled, going beyond their day-to-day commuting needs.”

Taking the ‘FEEL’ – its nice …

Keep reading for more. I am now off to the ride of day 1.

Cheers and have a good weekend.

Mike Keshwar

Mae Hongson Loop 1864 Hairpin Bends – A Superbiker’s Must Do!

Mae Hongson Loop 1864 Hairpin Bends – A Superbiker’s Must Do!

For a Motorcycle Adventure Rider, 1864 Hairpin bends of Mae Hongson Loop is a challenge and a MUST DO …

Mike's Good Life Project

Hey Friends / Riders,
I just got back to blogging and one thing that keeps coming back to me as a long distance rider is the North Thailand. Here is how we discovered this one, and how one could plan to do it.
in this blog – I wish to share my experiences on one of the most outstanding Superbiking destinations in Asia – the Mae Hongson Loop in North West Thailand ( MHS for short).
I took my first trip of MHS way back in 2012. This was part of a series of recces that i took up, before setting up my International Motorcycle Expeditions Company, the Viktorianz. I desperately wanted to explore a unique riding destination – which is great in ride quality, has a unique feel and does not burn a hole in the pocket. The 1864 Mae Hongson Loop comes pretty close to what we…

View original post 2,780 more words

Travelogue : 4 Nation ASEAN Road Trip

Hey Friends,

Road trips with friends or family is always a great fun – and these are the tours you never ever forget. Remember this one and the lesson it gave us –

#YOLO : You only live once!


For me road trips are the most fascinating part of my life – i live them and i love them. In fact i am quite convinced that there is no better way to see this beautiful planet, than motorcycle or a car road trip. You have steering in your hands and you control where to stop, breathe fresh, look at the nature, eat local and spend the time the way you want. You observe things upclose basically soaking and living every inch of road you traverse. When you are in CONTROL – now, thats a big deal.

Viktorianz has been around for about 3 years. We have been writing the ‘Motorcycle Diaries’ ever since – starting with North Thailand we now offer a riding menu in 6 countries. But often there is a suggestion to conduct family road trips covering the same routes that we ride – on SUVs or cars; self driven or chauffeured.

Guys n gals, here is the happy news – this year onwards – Viktorianz would have road trips for motorcycle enthusiasts and car trips for families – in all the unique off-beat geographies we offer. The road trips to Ladakh, Bhutan, North Thailand and Scotland are already on. And here comes another very interesting one.

Family road trip

One new geography that we are opening up and I am currently on a recce is the ASEAN Nations – they have opened borders recently. Thanks to an invitation from Tourism Authority of Thailand to join the ASEAN Friendship Caravan – basically a 3000+ kms of road trip covering Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia.

Plan for next 10 Days
06 Jan : Fly in to Bangkok and preparations
07 Jan : BANGKOK – BURIRAM (388 KMS) | Thailand
08 Jan : BURIRAM – KHONGCHIAM UBON Ratchathani (377 KMS) | Thailand
09 Jan : CHONGMEK – PAKSE (380 KMS) | Thailand – Laos
10 Jan : PAKSE – ATTAPEU – GIA LAI (460 KMS) | Laos – Vietnam
11 Jan : GIA LAI – DALAT (380 KMS) | Vietnam
12 Jan : DALAT – MUI NE (180 KMS) | Vietnam
13 Jan : MUI NE – HO CHI MINH (220 KMS) | Vietnam
14 Jan : HO CHI MINH – PHNOM PENH (240 KMS) | Vietnam – Cambodia
15 Jan : PHNOM PENH – SIEAMREAP (314 KMS) | Cambodia
16 Jan : SIEAMREAP – POIPET – BANGKOK (453 KMS) | Cambodia – Thailand
17 Jan :  Fly back to India

If you want to follow my travel, keep following this blog. I would try and write a post every day. Here is the map :

ASEAN Road Trip

I landed today in Bangkok and have checked into my hotel. It sure is warmer than Delhi. Tomorrow the drive starts early from Bangkok, to be flagged off by Director of Toyota. We have to be up at 4 am.

See you here tomorrow for the road-stories ! Cheers!

06 Jan 2016, Bangkok

Day 1 – 07 Jan 16 | Bangkok – Buriram | 388 kms

This was first day of the trip – and it was really early morning. We were asked to report to the hotel lobby at 4:45 am and true to my army training i was there before time – dot at 4:30 am  in the lobby. I met Art, from TAT and his team. We were given a set of T Shirt, from Toyota to be worn for the Flag Off ceremony and the hotel was kind enough to give us packed breakfast.


We were then escorted to the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration Office, given some more items of use – and by about 7:30 am we were flagged off by the Toyota Director. In all there were 22 Toyota Hilux Revo pick up trucks carrying about 60+ participants. The group included people from Travel industry like me, magazine and journals, TV crew, organisers staff, people from Toyota, a large media team with cameras and drones galore and one talkative MC.

I was allotted a Pick Up truck No 2, and given an english speaking driver – Num. Num has worked 7 years in TATA Motors and knows most of the western music that i know of.  Thanks to TAT Delhi for an excellent preparations for us – everything was anticipated and catered. My  partners on the truck were smart and tall Himraj Soin of Outdoor Journal – man of many tastes and talents and young, energetic and handsome Art Rachata from TAT Bangkok.


The convoy was escorted by a Tourist Police car out of Bangkok. In about 4 hours of drive on beautiful wide roads, we stopped at a local restaurant for Thai lunch – a pre-set lunch was laid out on our tables as we arrived – saves a lot of time that way. We had a quick lunch and moved to our first place of interest – the Jim Thomson Farm.


Jim Thomson & the Farm
This one turned out to be more popular and touristy than one ever thought. We saw some 20+ tourist buses and 50+ cars parked as we entered the parking lot – and there were more pouring in.

Jim Thomson has been an interesting figure. He was an American, an ex-architect, a retired army officer, a one-time spy, a silk merchant and a renowned collector of antiques. He mysteriously disappeared from Cameron Highlands in March 1967. At the time of his disappearance he was one of the most famous Americans living in Asia. Time magazine claimed he “almost singlehandedly saved Thailand’s vital silk industry from extinction”. His disappearance  generated one of the largest land searches in Southeast Asian history, and till date remains the most famous mystery of its kind.


In 1988, to ensure a steady and reliable supply of raw materials for silk production, the ‘Thai Silk Company’ decided to invest in its own mulberry plantation and silkworm egg production center. This silk farming, or sericulture, which focuses primarily on the rearing of hybrid silkworms and the cultivation of top grade silkworm eggs to be sold to contract farmers, came to be known as the Jim Thompson Farm.

The farm was opened to public in 2001 and has since evolved into one of Isan’s most popular agrotourism and ecotourism attractions. It is open to visitors only once a year during the peak winter season.

Phanom Rung Historical Park 
Our next stop in late afternoon was Phanom Rung Hindu temple. I was amazed to see the Hindu influence such far and wide. Prasaat Phanom Rung is one of the most significant and most visited Khmer monuments in Thailand. Built in the 10th-13th century A.D. it was a Hindu Shaivite monastery. You can see the sculptures of Vishnu. Lintels, pediments depict Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva and scenes of the Ramayana. The most famous lintel depicts Vishnu reclining on the back of the Naga King. This lintel had disappeared to US for many years, but was recently returned back to its origin. We were greeted with some very interesting Thai dance sequences. For a few hours i felt transported the 8th century.


We then drove off to Buriram, had a quick dinner in a local restaurant – pre-set and pre-laid. This practice really made our dinners quick to finish. We then checked into a neat mid range hotel. I was too tired to do anything, and hit the bed.


Day 2 – 08 Jan 16 | Buriram –  Khongchiam Ubon Ratchathani | 377 kms
We again woke up early as the breakfast was scheduled at 6 am and march off at 7 am. It was not a good sleep –  once up i felt a need to have my usual morning tea or coffee to set things in motion.  Went down to the reception and found Himraj and David ( he runs a travel magazine out of Kuala Lumpur) already waiting in the lobby. So there were others too who did not sleep well. Anyways, i enquired of some tea or coffee, but made no headway. In sometime the breakfast opened – and we got our tea and the meal. Had a quick bite and went up for a wash and change and got into the car by 7 am. Our passports were deposited for Laos border formalities.


The convoy was on the road by 7:15 or so. Our team in truck no 2 was much better organised today. We found ways and means to get our music going. The unlimited internet on my AIS Tourist sim and the blue tooth pairing of Toyota Revo got some real good music going – I was the DJ and others kept requesting for their fav numbers – and i mostly obliged.

Buriram International Racing Circuit
The first stop was the Buriram International Racing Circuit.  It was a well laid out sports complex with a football stadium nearby. We did a round of the circuit while Toyota did a lot of filming for their marketing i guess. We had too many drones bumbling over us – taking video shoots. And there is this amazing and energetic MC – who get the energies into the video shoots. He speaks a lot of Thai that we don’t get and is often loud and chirpy on the mobile amplifier he carries around his neck.


Once done with Toyota-Do we moved on to another interesting destination – the unique Elephant Village in Surin.

Surin Elephant Village
You can see the elephants anywhere in Thailand – this one was unique. The locals at Ban Ta Klang Elephant Village are of the Suay ethnic minority – skilled in capturing, training and raising Asian elephants. Unlike in northern Thailand where elephants are kept for labor, locals here consider elephants their companions, and often share their homes with them. It is said that since ages the retired war elephants used to be sent to Surin and that is where the bonding with animal originated. Toyota did have a lot of photo shoots here too.


There was an interesting Elephant cemetery – something i have never seen anywhere else. The man- animal relationship here was rather unique  – and a way of life.


Pha Taem Pre Historic Paintings
We then drove off to another very interesting site by the Mekong. Up the river from Khong Jiam lies a natural formation of a long cliff overhang called Pha Taem. From the top you get a bird’s-eye view across the river into Laos and below a trail goes to prehistoric rock paintings dating 1000 BC. We walked down the path about a km to see the first set of mural paintings – a giant Mekong catfish, elephants, human hands, geometric designs, fish traps and some strange alien looking men. It is actually amazing how well these paintings have survived the elements of nature. Since it was getting dark we could not go to the other sites. But whatever i saw leaves me amazed.


Once done with the tour of the day, we drove off to a nicely located resort overlooking Mekong – Tohsang Khong Chiam Resort. We straight go into the usual pre-set, pre-laid dinner mode – and ate the dinner outdoors by the poolside. I wish we were here at the sunset – to see the beauty of this resort. Now waiting for the Sunrise moment tomorrow morning.

Signing off for the day!
Tomorrow we exit Thailand and enter Laos, see you all  here for more stories … until then, have a good night.

08 Jan 2016, Ubon Ratchathani


OROP Announcement – Putting Forces in Harm’s Way

OROP Announcement – Putting Forces in Harm’s Way

It is not difficult to see through the game politicians and bureaucrats have played with OROP announcements. It was declared in a hurry just before the Bihar elections to garner some brownie votes, and then they came back and announced it in a tearing hurry. What has come out from the Govt, is surely a shot in its foot, which they will have to limp for times to come. There are about 7 anomalies which are well known in the media and remain unresolved – Gen Satbir and his team is already at it. I want to touch just one of them which they have served half-baked – the non application of One Rank One Pension (OROP) to future Pre Mature Retirement (PMR) cases of officers and men.

OROP Protests Gen Satbir

Like all militaries in the World – the Indian Armed forces have a structured, steep pyramidal structure, and there are fixed vacancies in a particular rank – so structurally you need lots of soldiers in junior ranks and fewer as they go up the ladder. This is not how anyone wants it, but this is how the militaries of the world have functionally evolved and thats how they all are.

Pyramidal Structure of Armed Forces

In our case everyone reaches to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel or a time scale Naik, but for the next rank – Colonel, about 60% will not be promoted by 16 years of service. As for personnel below officer ranks – this is even steeper – most of our men are superseded by the age of 36, and then they have either to keep serving in lower ranks with meagre pays, or move out and explore other options, back home. So by the 15 or 16 years of service, an officer or Junior officers or non commissioned officers  – knows if he has any future in the organisation – is he rising to next rank or not. The pensionable service for PBOR is thus fixed at 15 years and for officers at 20 years. This ensured one good thing – the older ones moved out and made way for the new recruitments to happen. It kept the water flowing and clean. It helped Forces in a mission critical attribute – keeping the profile of our forces Young. And its no brainer to understand why your armed forces should have young profile.

Young and Fit Armed Forces are a must
Young and Fit Armed Forces are a must

We are All Harmed

The recent Govt’s OROP Announcement is a work in a hurry and distinctly short sighted – and that will haunt Armed forces and Govts, for years to come. This announcement of not applying the OROP to future PMR officers or men, will have a few far reaching repercussions. Here is my view  –

Reduced Promotions – Since men who are overlooked for promotions cannot take PMR, they do not vacate the post for others. This will result in promotion avenues slowing down and drop drastically at every stage. Now where does this leave me and what am i thinking – ‘I cannot be promoted and if i opt out of the forces, I would not get OROP benefits. Best option for me is to stay on – for as long as possible and move out with best pension options’. So with all senior ranks packed with numbers – the promotion queue, will keep getting slower.

Increased Frustration – This non promotion to next rank applies in every rank – Naiks, Havaldars, Naib Suberdars or Colonels, Brigadiers, Major Generals and so on. Larger stagnations at the bottom of pyramid and proportionate stagnation in senior ranks. Stagnation anywhere is bad for the morale & efficiencies of individuals and organisation. So moving out of personnel on PMR after a pensionable service, has always been a good thing to happen for Military. It created vacancies for promotion and allowed soldiers to explore their potential outside of Armed Forces. And that is the reason that allowing them to move out on pension ( and OROP) was always a win-win situation. This stands skewed now and we are heading towards a potentially disgruntled armed forces.

It is a tough Job.
It is a tough Job.

Lower Intake – Govt has not been able to fill critical shortage of junior officers since over many decades. In this hyperconnected world, the youth is aware of everything happening – the state of armed forces, the service conditions, the de-incentivisation drives and the insensitivity of the politicians and bureaucrats. Armed forces is a tough job – physically, mentally and financially – there is a sacrifice, beyond comprehension. The youth of today is quite aware of these difficulties and he has softer options. With this de-incentivisation and the could’t-care-less perception created, the numbers is bound to drop further.

Who wants to join Armed Forces?
Who wants to join Armed Forces? ( Courtesy TOI)

Poorer Quality – The Gen-Next or Millenials as they are called – don’t like this ‘trapped-in-a-job’ feel – the smartest and best of the country’s talent is thus not looking this side anyways. The option now is to either run your military with lesser junior leaders or to go and fill the junior officer vacancies at any cost. Since smarter ones will look to greener pastures – the only way to make the numbers will be to scrape the bottom – that is, take just about anyone of any quality to come and lead the men into battles.

Leadership in Battle needs Courage and Character
Leadership in Battle needs Courage and Character

This would mean a sub standard leadership – forming a sub standard armed forces – delivering substandard National Security. I cannot even imagine what that augurs for a country that has no dearth of Internal and External threats to its national security.

Who in his sane mind does this to its Armed Forces? This is how an insensitive Govt advised by insecure bureaucrats kill a damn good Indian Armed Forces.

To summarise here is what you have got yourself  –
“A frustrated and stagnant organisation, which no one wants to join”.

With these announcements the Indian Armed Forces – present and future stay harmed.The bureaucracy, Govt of the day and those heading the Armed forces, have to shoulder this responsibility to right the impending harm that is coming.

I pray to God that i be proved wrong. My heart goes to the Armed Forces –

Salute to the Military Men
Salute to the Military Men

Col MK Keshwar (Retd)
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