Sunday, November 17, 2019

Handpan Music

My office is a noisy place. We have open sitting, with everyone constantly talking to each other or on the phone almost all the time. This creates a very difficult environment for me to concentrate and do my work (when I myself am not talking or presenting). I tried experimenting with various kind of background music over the years to cut off the noise without causing more distraction. (Like I discovered you can't listen to songs with words in it and work - you end up listening to the words!).

A few months ago while we were in Tokyo, we heard this guy - Takao Minemoto busking at the train station in Shibuya. We were instantly mesmerized and fell in love with the instrument (and purchased his album then and there! (something I rarely have done with buskers). Since then, I have been exploring the wonder world of Handpan music on YouTube.

My current understanding of Handpan (mostly derived from Wikipedia) is - it is a derivative of an instrument called Hang made by a German company. Its sound is a mixture of sounds that some of the following instruments produce -  Trinidadian steelpan, Indian ghatam, Thai gong and Indonesian Gamelan.

Anyway for the musical bumpkin that I am handpan music is extremely soothing and something that I can listen to anytime to calm my nerves and focus on whatever task I am doing then. If you have never experienced, I would highly recommend you to go listen to it on YouTube now.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Mind over matter

Had the chance to volunteer for "Let's take a walk Singapore" yesterday. It's a long distance walking race with participants choosing to walk 20 KM, 50 KM, 100 KM or a grueling 150 KM. I had the privilege of checking in the 100 KM walkers at approximately their 64 KM mark and the 150 KM walkers at their 110 KM+ mark.

This race is not big, and it is a charity event. So neither does it have much media coverage nor does it have a huge prize money. What this means is that most participants are ordinary people (not athletes). The competitors are like you and me, with a day job, participating for fun and testing their endurance.

Most ultra long distance endurance athletes that I have spoken to tell me this - the muscle groups in the leg that we use for walking are slightly different than running. And long distance walking is way more difficult than long distance running because of the added element of time involved.

Being at a checkpoint where most participants had walked for more than 24 hours before reaching there was a surreal experience for me. These were ordinary human beings with extraordinary will-power. Imagine this. They all had walked a full-day or more under the grueling Singapore Sun. Most were walking alone with no company and only their sheer determination pushing them along. Almost every walker had few blisters on their feet and had blood stained socks. While we as volunteers tried our best to cheer them up and provide whatever basic first aid we had, the people pushed on with their own self-determination.

This event will go down my memory lane as an unforgettable evidence of how ordinary people like you and me can achieve extraordinary things in life.