Tag Archives: Exercise

The Creative Engine


DOHA, QATAR — I quit my corporate job in June 2011 to devote more time to my writing.

In the eight months since, I’ve spent many Saturdays in the library (as well as other days, nights, and even more hours at the dining table which doubles as a desk) honing my craft, getting manuscripts ready for reader consumption. I made a publication schedule and have four e-books to show for sacrificing a full-time salary. Slowly but surely I’m figuring out the vendors I want to use – for an army of designers, editors, and marketing gurus underpin indie authors – and calibrating the Mohadoha process.

In the meantime, during the off-hours, I’m also exercising. Yes, you read that right. Amongst the competing demands of a toddler, husband, students from two universities, fiction, scholarship, and blogging, I’m making at least three hours a week to sweat, grunt, and generally tell the rest of it get lost for the span of 20 to 45 to 60 minutes.

Exercise doesn’t come naturally to me. After all, I’m Indian: think Gandhi as a kid with long hair, and blue, instead of wire-rimmed, glasses…and you have me most of my life. At least the part before I hit my late twenties and a job that had me over 80 sedentary hours at my desk a week. Five years and a baby later, the exercise started about twelve months ago as vanity, pure and simple. While the extremities (arms and legs) were still South Asian-skinny, the rest was not.

Now a little year past weekly workouts, my brain gets a fuzzy feeling on a week when I’ve done everything except let it take a break and give the muscles their turn. Almost like the feeling when I have gone more than one day without writing in my journal. While writing is good for my creative soul, exercise maintains the entire house that is me. I recognize this need for physicality a First World problem: if you’re walking five miles to get the water you need for the day, the likelihood of any spare pounds that need running off like a gerbil on a treadmill is very small.

Yet fitness goes beyond flashing abs no one wants to see on Facebook profile photos. More and more I’m learning about the need for physical as well as mental exertion.   A friend gave me Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. That’s right, he of the prolific, 800+page novels, runs every day. For at least ten miles. We don’t talk about this kind of discipline: the kind that means we look after ourselves as well as everyone else or even at the minimum our cars (which sooner or later get that oil change to keep running). As artists we compare ourselves to people like Hemingway (alcoholic) or Van Gogh (self mutilator) rather than marathon running Murakami.  Which legacy would you like to leave behind? Not just for your readers…but those who really knew you?

And that’s my giving a damn.


Dr. Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar is a well-traveled scholar of literature and a freelance writer based in Qatar. She is a co-founder of the Maktaba project, a Children’s Library concept starting up in Doha, along with being one of the most reliable people you’ll ever have the pleasure of knowing in your life. Follow her on Twitter @moha_doha.

More from Mohana:

»That’s “Dr. Miss” to You

»A Rising Comic’s Manifesto

»Seeing But Not Seen

»On-Stage But Off-Camera

Tomorrow is the final edition (for now) of The Daily Damn! See you there, and thank you for reading all of these months!!

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Failing To Heed Good Advice

Those in this society of ours who didn’t grow up around computers are built differently. They have the ability to focus more, and as a result, they don’t have the need to look down at their handheld digital device of choice, be it their cell phone, MP3 player, iPad, or whatever.

So technology is what it is. And one thing is true above all else, it’s straight-up motherfuckingly distracting. We’re raised in this life to watch our surroundings and to look around to see what’s coming to us from behind us, from all sides, and what is directly in front of us. Not everyone does this.

About two years ago, I was walking a few miles around my old neighborhood to burn off some steam and get some personal fitness time in. It had been a rather stressful workweek up to that point, so once the darkness came once the sun set, and I got my basketball shorts and walking shoes and set out on a familiar path.

Not more than 60 yards down the street from my front door, I’m walking at a steady clip on the sidewalk while staring down at my smartphone trying to text with one hand like a damn hipster. And then the curb ended.

Plotzing forward with all my girth, this dumb fuck ended up on the pavement awkwardly. My phone crashed to the earth in pieces, battery case coming loose too easily, battery ejected from the phone’s housing like it was an Allied Forces fighter pilot over Northern Europe in the early 1940’s. Knee all fucked up with parts of my left leg skinned to shit, the adrenaline that one gets when they’ve just done something really stupid while in front of people kicked right in. Quickly to my feet, I tried to shrug it off as nothing. I stared down at a few drops of blood recently contributed to the street, and began to collect my cell phone parts.

It was an embarrassing moment. The one saving grace for my own self-confidence was that absolutely no one was around at all. What are the odds of that?

I’m of the first generation that grew up immersed in computers and handheld gadgets and Nintendo and all this horseshit. I didn’t look down to see where I was going. Because I didn’t heed valuable advice.

Some of us are surrounded by conveniences and distractions so much to the point that we can just as easily end up on our asses.

And that’s my giving a damn.


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