Note to readers: Morning Stars is a series of interviews with achievers across fields about their morning routine and how they get ready for the day ahead. Mornings bring optimism and a fresh start. And how we spend them sets the tone for the day.
As a student at the University of Mysore in Hassan, Manu Saale would have a cold water bath and then endure a shiver-inducing bicycle ride to the canteen to find something palatable. Today, as the CEO of Mercedes-Benz R&D India (MBRDI), his mornings are no longer some torturous form of the Winter Olympics. After waking up amidst greenery in his Bengaluru home, Saale gets ready for his day with a combination of Pranayam, fruit, music and lemon tea. And finding hot masala dosa, which he would crave for at University but never find in the canteen, is presumably not an issue anymore.
Excerpts from a chat with Saale on how he starts his day.
Are you a morning person? What do you like/ dislike about mornings?
I am both, a morning person and a night person. I am usually up at 5:30 AM; doesn’t matter what time I hit the sack. Living in South Bengaluru, I often wake up to breezy mornings and love the sight of greenery all around. A deep breath of fresh air at the window is so calming.
How many hours of sleep do you need?
I would say 24 hours, but I manage with five.
What would mornings be like during your University of Mysore days at Hassan? Can you share a funny anecdote?
My mornings during university days could be summarized as – rising early, taking a cold-water bath and a shivering ride on my bicycle to the hostel mess for the breakfast. Inevitably, the menu would have something I hated and then I’d ride all around looking for a masala dosa.
Do you reach for your phone for news/ messages right away or do you stay offline for a while?
I am very fidgety with my devices and I am literally online always, checking mails and messages. I try and reply as soon as possible, since that’s my definition of speed and agility.
What are the two or three things you do in the morning to start the day on the right note?
I use the long drive to work to go through my emails and get on top of the most important ones. I also listen to some peppy music just before I get off at work. It adds a spring to my step as I jump on the elevator.
What kind of exercises and/or meditation do you do in the morning?
After being recently introduced to pranayam and meditation, I make it a point to spend at least 20 minutes with guided breathing exercises. It helps me to start the day with a clear mind, ready to handle the daily challenges.
What is your regular news source in the morning? And what do you have while you consume news (coffee, tea or something else)?
I usually read a newspaper in the car on my way to office. These days, it’s a mix of print and digital mediums as they offer a quick and wide range of news and information. I also like the fact that, over time, the digital options feed me content based on my reading history. A good dose of warm lemon tea as soon as I arrive at work gets me going every day.
What's a must-have component/ nutrient in your breakfast?
Nothing specific, but my wife ensures I have my day’s supply of fresh fruits in my bag every day. This comes handy in between meetings and meals. It keeps me going through the day without having to snack on junk food.
You have had stints in diverse parts of the world. What was challenging or interesting about mornings in Brazil and Korea, to name two places where you have worked?
While I enjoyed my stints in these countries, breakfast was the biggest challenge in both the places. It is never easy for a vegetarian to have a lot of options to eat in these countries. I never got used to the local fare during my stints there.
How do you decide what to wear at work? Is there anything you are particular about with regards to your attire?
My calendar dictates what I wear to work. I check the next day’s plan and keep my clothes ready. Video shoots, interviews, townhalls, visits by dignitaries etc. are routine and that determine what I wear. My colour chart hangs straight inside my dresser to help pick and choose. Who says men can’t co-ordinate colours?
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