Monday, January 29, 2018

Wonder - R.J. Palacio

What a lovely book! A young boy with a scarred face braves the cruel world of school. Life at its best and worst.


The Sunday Cricket Lesssons - Sasi does 20% More

Sasi is a quiet, self effacing boy. He is gentle and perhaps carries his gentleness into a part of the game that needs one to be not-so-gentle - medium pace bowling. He puts in effort, is willing to learn, and simply loves the game.

So when I saw him bowling and feeling helpless at the batsman's domination over his gentle bowling, I called him over. 'Are you giving it your best?'I asked. He smiled and shook his head.
'How much?' I asked.
'60%,' he confessed.
'Can you, for the rest of the session, put in 20% more effort?' I asked.
He smiled.
'Yes,' he said.

Sasi was a different bowler after that. Beating the batsmen, getting edges, running deep into his follow through.

Somehow I felt he enjoyed this slightly more than giving the batsmen the edge with his gentleness.

The Hyderabad Literary Festival - Moderating Rajdeep Sardesai's Session on Democracy's XI

It's been a while since the HLF came into being. From the first edition at Hotel Green Park where Prof Shiv K. Kumar was the Chief Guest the festival moved to Taramati Baradari where I met Krishna Sastri Devulapally and Chitra. Krishna and I were part of a panel of Hyderabadi writing with Vamsee Juluri. Then it had an edition at the Maulana Azad Urdu University where I moderated a session for Anita Nair. And one at a place in Banjara Hills near Saptaparini where I moderated a session on Indian cinema for Vamsee Juluri. Then it moved to the Hyderabad Public School where I moderated a session with Ramnarayan and Vijay Mohan Raj on cricket writing and did one workshop for school kids on cricket and lessons from it. And now, this year Vijay Kumar asked me if I could moderate a session with Rajdeep Sardesai on his new book 'Democracy's XI'.

What I found interesting is that we (moderators) are expected to buy our own copy of the book and moderate the session. I asked Vijay if he had a copy and he said no. Which probably means buy your copy or come without reading the book. Maybe the publishers should think about this and lend us a copy. Thankfully Vinod saved me once again and got me a copy which I read, but seriously. I was all set to walk in minus reading the book if Vinod did not have the copy. Rajdeep was capable enough to handle the show himself.

On the D day I went in at 1230 to catch up with Rajdeep and share my line of thought. I spotted Rajdeep heading to lunch and walked up to him. He was not unduly worried about my line of thought and said we could catch up in the author's lounge before the 2 pm session of ours. In the lunch area I met one of the officials who invited me to have lunch and generously gave me a couple of coupons which I was eligible for as a delegate anyway. But since I had eaten a bit of lunch and also did not want to eat right then I said I already ate. 'You ate lunch already,' he said and grabbed the coupons out of my hand. I just could not get it. I don't think there was any food shortage. I don't see what two coupons that may go unused for lunch would do. Maybe there was something I missed!

While waiting in the author's lounge I met two young romantic novel writers - Ravinder Singh and Sudeep Nagarkar, who were having a session at 2 just like we were. Sudeep was quiet and modest. Ravinder was the star. Rajdeep came in some ten minutes before and we spoke a bit before we headed out to the venue. The young lady who led us to the venue recognised me and said she saw me at VNR VJIET when I had gone to give a TEDx talk. She asked me if I would come this time again. I said I would if they invited me.

I thought  too many people may not know Rajdeep's connection with the game I made sure the audience knew where he came from - his father Dilip Sardesai was a famous Test cricketer and a member of the 1971 West Indies and England tours that India won overseas for the first time, Rajdeep himself played first class cricket for Oxford and Combined Universities and as a writer he had already written a book. Of course every knew him well as an award winning TV personality. Again, i am not sure if too many people are aware that he is married to another famous TV personality, Sagarika Ghose.

That said, I asked him to set the context of Indian cricket's history and India as a country by leading us through the period of cricket right up to 1971. So he spoke about the Pentangulars when the teams were drawn on communal lines (Parsi, Hindu, Muslim etc), about the royal influence on selection, about untouchable players etc. Then I asked him to lead us through the first of the four periods he mentions in his book - the 1971 tour and how it affected India, the World Cup win in 1983, the liberalisation and then the IPL. Rajdeep spoke with increasing passion and the crowd simply loved it. He spoke well of Jaisimha and of Azharuddin.

There were many questions and answers. Lots of energy. Session well done. Rajdeep was warm in his thanks. I was glad it went well. Shobha bought a copy of the book and Rajdeep signed it for us. I gave him copies of 50 Not out and TWIED. That ended HLF 2018 for me. But I suddenly realised that I am moderating more sessions than being a panelist on. Especially at the HLF!   

Democracy's XI - Rajdeep Sardesai

Rajdeep Sardesai is the son of former Test cricketer Dilip Sardesai, one of the men who starred in India's first overseas wins in West Indies and England circa 1971. He is also a first class cricketer who played for Oxford and Combined Universities. He has also written a book 'The Election that Changed India'. Rajdeep is known more famously as an award winning TV personality.

Rajdeep's approach the the book is unique. He tries to map India's growth as a democracy through cricket, through eleven players who he feels somehow represent the spirit that India's democracy stood for. The players are - Dilip Sardesai (1960s), Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, Bishan Singh Bedi, Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Azharuddin, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Saurav Ganguly, M.S. Dhoni and Virat Kohli. He picked four landmark eras that coincided and defined the way the country's consciousness grew and the way cricket grew too, represented by these men. The four eras are - the 1971 tour when India beat the West Indies for the first time in an overseas tour (and later England), winning the 1983 World Cup, liberalisation in 1991 and the IPL in 2008. It is through these times and through the life and times of these men that we follow the course of the game and the country.

The one about his father was by far the best profile, followed by the ones about Pataudi, Gavaskar and Azharuddin (the most controversial choice as he says). There are several interesting nuggets in the profiles of each of these players who have been written about  so much and Rajdeep met all of them while writing the book. But to me the book was mostly about what was not said - the father - son relationship between Dilip and Rajdeep Sardesai.

Dilip Sardesai is the only Goan Test cricketer to date. He grew up in Goa with no coaching but caught the eye of those who played against him. When his family moved to Bombay Dilip Sardesai quickly converted his passion and played for India as a 22 year old against the fearsome West Indies in 1962 (the series when Nari Contractor almost died). Known as a great motivator and one who understood the game well, Dilip Sardesai's 'popatwadi' remark is folklore. Apparently he saw the West Indies bowling in 1971 and realised that he had to get his team mates get over the fear of foreign oppositions and play them on merit and told his partner Solkar who came in to bat that this was 'popatwadi' bowling and should be played as such. They merrily stitched together a partnership and India won the series in which Gavaskar scored some 700 odd runs in his debut series but more importantly, Dilip Sradesai, the Renaissance man, scored, 680 odd runs. In acts like these behind the scenes, Dilip Sardesai helped his team gain an upper hand and scored a double hundred and a 150.

Now the same friendly motivator and coach however was pretty brusque in his handling of young Rajdeep who he told bluntly that he was not meant for the game and would not play higher cricket at a time when he had played Under 22 cricket for Bombay (no mean task - an Under 22 Bombay player can play for most other Ranji teams in India especially those days). He gave a lot of attention to Rajdeep's contemporary Sanjay Manjrekar though and one can only feel what Rajdeep might have felt with no support coming from perhaps his biggest idol. I would have done what he did - give up the game at the earliest opportunity. Like all children it is also natural to want to do one's parents proud and many times it is the burden of the successful fathers that hangs like a noose on young players. It hangs heavy.

When we see theories on expertise and the mindset these days we realise that talent and intelligence  is not the end all - deliberate effort, focused learning, good coaches and mentors and a supportive family - have changed the fortunes of those who were not seen as talented earlier. But one did not have the benefit of such studies then nor was sport so democratised and perhaps Dilip Sardesai in his wisdom prodded Rajdeep in a direction in which he did so well finally. But then, all success aside, and the pride of doing one's parents proud in their area is another, and that I felt was the unsaid part of the book. Frankly I would have been quite glad to read a story about Dilip and Rajdeep and understood India from their own stories. I did not need the others really. If I was the editor I would have pursued that angle.

He is a gentle, polite and self effacing man, Rajdeep as I realised when I met him briefly to moderate his session on the book at the Hyderabad Literary Festival. He spoke passionately, convincingly and won the crowd over with his points. I felt he had withdrawn a bit, lost in the madness that journalism has dipped into these days. The book was too nice, too neat and too good - Indian cricket is not like that unless we choose to look at it that way and the players he speaks about are heroes in the game but are as human as anyone of us otherwise. So I wondered for a moment if it was a safe book to write. But all said and done, it captures Indian cricket and its journey well, it is an interesting connection to make and sometime when I read his memoir, I will get to read about the part I suspect - a son's longing to gain his father's approval, acceptance, agreement and encouragement. Rajdeep writes well and the book never loses energy. 

  

Opening Night - Movie Review

Unbelievably good. An insight into the mind of a true artist.
What a performance Gena Rowlands!


Faces - Movie Review

Delightful movie making. Lovely. Recommended.

The Sunday HANS January 7, 2018 - The Great Indian Badminton Story

Anjali - The Americans Market It Better

Some conversation about marketing etc. Anjali saw some store and pondered.
'I think the Amercians know how to market things better,' she said.
I asked why.

'See if there is a posh store with a name like Macdonalds or something we all feel like going in because they make it sound good and look good. But the same thing if we go to Mahavir Burgers or something they will make it full of clutter and bad posters and stuff and no one wants to go there.'

There was some talk abut research in design, name, colors etc and stuff but she got that right. They do market it better. They do care for the customer. 

The Unknown Girl - Movie Review

French noir. Passable.

Sara - Movie Review

A wonderful ending! Must watch. Irani movie.

The Magic of Thinking Big - David Schwarpf

Some thoughts and tips
1) Believe - Make it true in your mind, it triggers the power to do it confidently (disbelief is negative power). You are a thought factory with 60 k thoughts a day - are they leading you to triumph or defeat? You are better than what you think. Believe big. Plan for growth continuously.

2) Excuses / blame
Health (don't talk of health, don't worry, be grateful and use health)
Intelligence (do not underestimate your intelligence, stickability is the key to learning, knowledge is power so use it)
Age (too old, too young)
No luck (prepare, plan, invest in success thinking, don't imply wish, build mental muscle)

3) Build confidence
Fear is psychological. Action cures fear. Don't hesitate.
In your mental bank - Deposit positive thoughts. Withdraw negative thoughts.

To improve confidence
Be a front seater
Maintain eye contact
Walk 25% faster
Speak up
Smile big

Practice conscience driven action

4) How to think big
Think in images and pictures. Paint pictures with words.
Use words/phrases that produce big, positive mental images (big positive cheerful words, positive language to encourage)
See what you can be? How much are you worth? In 10 years?
Add value to things, people

To make a good speech, have something to say and feel a burning desire for others to hear about it

Quarrels - is it important, what is the big picture, are you in the triviality trap

Always stretch your vision / don't sell yourself short / You're bigger than you think, Your vocabulary speaks

5) How to think and dream creatively
Believe it can be done (your mind will find ways to do it)
Be receptive to ideas
Accept opportunities to do more
Listen - encourage others to talk. As questions. Concentrate. Write your ideas down.

6) You are what you think you are
We get what we think we deserve
Look important - You owe it to yourself. Your work is important
Pep talk with yourself

7) Manage your environment
Be with the flock that thinks right, psychological sunshine
Circulate in new groups, select friends with different views
Don't let small people hold you back

8) Make your attitudes your allies
Double your enthusiasm (dig deeper, find it)
Live it up (handshake, smile, voice, be alive)
Broadcast good news
Practice appreciation
Call people by names

When you help others feel important you feel important too

To make money - deliver quality service first
Give people more than they expect

9. Think right towards people
Success depends on the support of other people
Successful people follow a plan for liking people
Being likeable makes you easier to like
 Take the initiative in making friends - leaders do. The most important person present is the one person most active in introducing himself. Introduce yourself to others at every opportunity

Conversation generosity - Don't hog it all.
How you think when you lose determines how long it will be until you win. Don't waste time getting discouraged.

10. Get the action habit
Idea + Action = Reality
Decide - Act - Expect obstacles and handle them

Start mechanically - pick the one thing you like doing the least and do it
Do it now because conditions will never be perfect

11. How to turn defeat into victory
Face your faults. Study your setbacks.
Experiment. Adapt.
Find a way. Believe there is a way.

12. Use goals to help
Look at not where you are but where you want to get
Build image - 10 years from now - work, home, social

Success suicide
Self deprecation, Security-itis, Competition, Parental dictats, Family responsibility

30 day improvement guide
Break (putting off things, negative language, gossip, TV)
Acquire (appearance, plan each day the night before, compliment people)
Increase value (develop team, learn about job, help others become more effective, at home)
Sharpen value (2 hours daily, self help)
One step at a time, daily routines build muscle

13. How to think like a leader
Trade minds
Be human - What is the human way to handle this
Think and believe in progress
Take time out, confer with yourself, tap into your superior thinking power

The Lyndon Johnson way of dealing with people

  • Remember names
  • Be a comfortable person
  • Be relaxed, easy going, things do not ruffle you
  • Drop ego
  • Be interesting
  • Drop scratchy elements
  • Heal all misunderstandings
  • Like people generously
  • Congratulate / sympathise
  • Give spiritual strength

The Autobiography of an Unknown Indian - Nirad C Chaudhuri

Disappointing in so many ways. A very limited upper crust view of the world which somehow did not change even at the time of writing the book in his later years. Beautifully written and very evocative mind you - I cannot forget the pictures he paints - but the shallowness in thought and superciliousness in attitude is something I cannot ignore. He loves his essay that he wrote in college so much that he published it in its entirety.

If there is one thing that remains in my mind as something that struck me as interesting it was that the upper caste women in Calcutta, in their need to be pure, refrained from all sorts of impure stuff. One such impure item was stale food. So to avoid any contact with stale food, which includes the clothes they wore, they would cook in the nude. I have not heard of that before. The book gives a great insight into how upper class or rather brahmin families lived in rural Bengal, his move to Calcutta and the subsequent difficulty in adjusting, college days and so on. He is unduly harsh on one lecturer as well and one wonders that as one grows in life, one becomes more compassionate to others and their faults and weaknesses.

Nirad Chaudhuri's book was published by Jaico so that puts something in common between us. Perhaps I should read another book of his to form a better opinion of him, his work. No denying his mastery over writing though, but that's not everything.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Friday, January 5, 2018

Workshop - Time Management Techniques at Gap Miners

The team at Gap Miners is almost totally new. It's been a while since we have had a session there. So when Ram asked me to do a half day workshop for the team specifically on 'Time Management Techniques' I was glad. It got the year off to a good start. It's a new topic for a workshop for me.

The entire team was present - Venkat, Dayakar, Swapna, Arun, Harsha, Siva, Srikanth, Avinash, Ketan, Praveen, Akshara, Sucharita, Supraja, Monisha, Shivasanker, Pavan, Veena, Subbaraju.

We started off with a general question on time management and what they thought it was and how it will help. They said it would help them plan better and be more productive. That was a good starting point.

Time and Energy - Two Resources

We looked at time and energy as the two main resources we have. We discussed that time management would increase productivity and efficiency and thereby lead to personal growth. One will be able to achieve more with less. And lastly, that time management involves planning ahead for productivity

Why Do People Plan?
Here, we stopped to get a perspective on the entire idea itself. I asked the team how many of them save money. Only two hands went up surprisingly. I asked them what they were saving up for. They wanted to buy a bike they said. So the next question was - why were those two planning and saving every month?

All their planning (management) was because they had a goal. So goals, are important to plan. Plans are important to be of different time frames so we can drill down to daily tasks. And then, we can use the time management techniques on these tasks.

The connection Between Goals and Planning
So we quickly discussed the importance of goals to bring in planning. If there are no goals there is no need to plan. It was a very young team and I was glad we could do the exercise.

Personal goals
I guided them through the broad personal goals - Career, Financial, Relationships, Material, Health, Spiritual. All of them were asked to write one goal for each over three periods of time - 20 years, 5 years and 1 year.

An example - Financial Goals
The simplest to address were financial goals - Monisha said she would like Rs. 1 crore in her bank by the 20 year mark. So I told her that if she saved 100 bucks a day starting today and saved 3000 rupees every month, she would end up with Rs. 36000 in a year. In ten years without any interest it would be 3.6 lakh and in 20 it would be 7.2 lakh. Withe the most basic of financial investing, she could easily reach her goal. It looked so easy I wondered why I had never done that. Perhaps I could start now!

SMART Goals
I gave them the age old method of setting goals - SMART Goals - Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Reasonable and Time Bound - and explained what they meant.

We looked at how, once we have a goal, we can work backwards and plan. Like I said, please save 100 rupees a day, Rs. 3000 a month from this month on. You will be better off for this practice.

Goals at the Work Place
Then we set goals for work - what were the goals they wanted to achieve at work for 1 year, 3 months and 1 month. Then they drew broad plans to achieve the same. The plans were broken down into tasks on a daily level.

The To-Do List
We drew a list of 25 tasks to do at work. This became the To-Do List.
Once we had the To-Do List we looked at the tools for time management

We broke for tea and joined again to discuss the tools for time management and productivity

1) Steven Covey's Time Management Quadrants.
Analysing time spent in the four quadrants - Q1, Q2, Q3 and Q4.
Q1 Urgent/Important (Crises, some calls, problems, deadline driven projects etc)
Q2 Important, Not urgent - (prevention, Personal Capability activities, relationship building, new opportunities, planning, recreation)
Q3 Urgent, Not important (Interruptions, some calls, some reports, some meetings, popular activities)
Q4 Not important, not urgent. (trivia, busy work, some mails, some phone calls, time wasters, pleasant activities)

Analyse how you are spending time and how much in each quadrant. Reduce Q4. Even Q3. Try to convert Q1 by working on Q2. The key is to finally get into Q2. Most people spend very little time in Q2.

https://www2.usgs.gov/humancapital/documents/TimeManagementGrid.pdf


https://www.businessinsider.in/A-26-year-old-time-management-strategy-can-help-you-become-more-productive-and-less-stressed-at-work/articleshow/50385896.cms

2) The second tool we discussed was a productivity tool and also a time management tool
6 Important things to-do list
This includes making a list of the 6 most important things the next day and then doing them one by one. Only after the first one is competed should one go to the second one. It's a classic.
https://www.realsimple.com/home-organizing/organizing/organizing-tips-techniques/ivy-lee-method-to-do-list

3) The third tool was the Pareto's Principle 80:20
Or more specifically how 20% of things bring 80% results. To identify the 20% in the tasks that can get 80% results. The team worked on their to-do lists.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/davelavinsky/2014/01/20/pareto-principle-how-to-use-it-to-dramatically-grow-your-business/#735f670a3901

It was a good session. I am certain that they would have got some clarity on some basics like goal setting, planning and executing well. Mostly I hope they start saving. I liked the four hour structure with a specific topic. Thanks Ram and Venkat and Dayakar at the Gap team!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

After a Sunrise, A Full Moon

It has been in the pipeline for sometime - to watch the full moon on a wintry night from Koni's place at Shamshabad. One thing led to another and I found the perfect foil and also the perfect time to meet Koni and fulfill this wish. It was not very cold and the moon was beautiful - it rose shyly from the eastern horizon and looked full and ripe - even the color added to that. Some kind of a full orange moon that hung in the sky. So much so that a cry escaped our lips.
Me in silhouette
The moon rose slowly and gracefully, from the background till it occupied the foreground and the entire sky. And during this time we listened to several songs - My Way, She's Always a Woman, Holiday, Fix You and some more.

A perfect couple of hours. Everything was just right!

That's two things done. 2018 is off to a bustling start.

Weekend Cricket Lessons - The Indefatigable Baig Sir

This weekend was all about Baig sir. As he grows older I find that his energy is increasing, he spends more time at sessions. On Saturday, I reached the academy at 645 am, and it was pretty cold. Baig sir was already there at 625 apparently. He does not even travel by car - he rides his bike by himself. And then he took  the kids into a long drilling session where he showed them the drills of batting, bowling and fielding again and again. he has done this so many times and with such patience that I caught myself telling one of the parents that if I was in his place I would have done it twice and left it at that. I would have waited for the kids to show some progress. But Baig sir has this immense love for his wards that he teaches them the basics again and again, pointing out minor errors and asking them to repeat the drill. I left at 10 am because I was to meet my doctor and he was very much there - I sent some breakfast for him with Aditya and asked him to excuse me.
Pick up and throw!
On Sunday I was late again by his standards. I have given up all ideas of beating Baig saab to the academy. He was in rare form this day as well. Dealing with individuals and their batting, bowling and fielding, having a group session, chatting about their pluses and minuses. I spent time with my kids in the corner and we did some stuff about concentration which is something I am trying to teach them. Then he called everyone over and had a long long session. At 10 am I told Baig sir I will leave.
'No no,' he said. 'How can you leave? Why am I coming here? Wait.'
So I waited. Once again I asked at 1045 and once again got the same reply. It was only at 1130 when he was satisfied with the session did he wind up. The last 45 minutes he went over the basics again, standing in his usual style and not sitting on the chair provided for him. When I went he asked me to sit - I obviously did not. But watching him repeat the drills, the basics so late into the day, I was awestruck. Only if anyone truly loves what he is doing will have that amount of energy, patience.

I was glad I could watch him in action. Watch such rare passion in action. I left at 1130. I really don't know when he left. Indefatigable!

This Way is Easier Dad - Review on the Evening Hour Blog

A much cherished review from Priyanka, of 'Evening Hour'! Thanks Priyanka.

"The writing style was simple and interesting for my 9 year old son to read the book in just one sitting. My son liked that a four and half year old could be interviewed and particularly liked the answer to the question, "what is being happy?" - that which brings smile to a face."
http://blog.eveninghour.com/2018/01/book-review-this-way-is-easier-dad.html

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The Year In Thought - 2017

Some thoughts that stayed with me through a year which seems to have made a shift inside me. A lot of my old arrogance was beaten down by reality, by my lack of understanding of it, and my understanding finally that I do not understand it like it perhaps is. One cannot help understanding or not understanding but surely the moment when you know that what you thought you knew was not what is, there is nothing to feel arrogant or brash about. I went to the beginner's space, to uncertainty and to not knowing. I gradually saw that some effort was just not working and perhaps I was barking up the wrong tree, that maybe I am doing something I should not be doing, that I missed some key step somewhere. In the end, I am humbler, quieter and definitely more confused. The good thing is that I know that I am confused. Even better is that I am ok with being confused, forever. If I figure it out great, if not, so be it.

Into this beginner's space came some great thoughts, from books, from people. Thoughts that I hope to imbibe and practice.

Chief among them is this from Zen Mind,Beginner's Mind
"Mindfulness is to be fully aware, to completely burn oneself in the act so much so that there is no trace left. Be one with the act. Forget yourself. Such mindfulness is love. It is also what they say being fully in the now. In this state one experiences compassion. One is willing to receive. One is humble. Focus on your breathing.'
'Not to do anything with gainful ideas.

Another thought from Tao Te Ching
'He who is content is rich.'

One from 'Dying to be Me' by Anita Moorjani
'I could have lived my life being fearless. I could have been what I really was - pure, unconditional love. It is when I stop expressing myself that my life turned inward and became the cancer. Live fearlessly. There is no judgment on your actions. Do not be afraid of your magnificence.'

One from Deepak Chopra's Sven Spiritual Laws of Success
Nonjudgment. Give gifts. receive gifts. Be aware. Defencelessness. Make a list, release it to nature. Detached involvement. How can I help.

From APJ Abdul Kalam's 'Wings of Fire'
'Prayer is nothing but connecting with the cosmos.'
'When we have an intention and leave it into the universe when we sleep, it will come true.'

Another one , anonymous, sent by Suresh
'Prayer is when we speak to the Universe. Meditation is when we are listening to it'

From the Autobiography of a Yogi
'We create our own reality through our thoughts and we can uncreate it as well'

From the Inner Game of Tennis
'The Self 2 knows what to do, trust it, ask it to execute it perfectly. Be nonjudgmental about the result. Self 2 is what taught you to walk, talk etc and it can surely do much better if we trust it and leave it alone. The language of Self 2 is visuals. Reduce the idle chatter in the mind by giving Self 1 something to be busy and let Self2 take over.'

Gratitude as a practice
Off Shobha's workshop - gratitude is slowly and surely sinking deeper into me. It is the fifth month that I am doing this practice and I can see how it has slowly crept into me. Not there fully yet but getting there. I sent 100 plus gratitude messages in the last couple of days and I am grateful I have so many people to thank.

Flexible and Open to all Possibilities - Abhinay's Hitchhiking
When I heard of how Abhinay hitchhiked - or even the way he reacted when he found his cousin missing from Bangalore where he was to meet him - I realised how wonderful it is to be so flexible, so adaptable. This is being present to reality, to adapt and flow with the new reality. Hitchhiking requires one to be open to all possibilities - people, cars, trucks, waiting, food, situations - anything could happen. I found that openness, that not being attached to one outcome or one way of doing, so freeing. I am so impressed with that mindset. Abhinay met many wonderful people in his journeys - surely he must have had some not nice experiences too - but overall it's the attitude that is worth imbibing.

Gathering them all together, I am more mindful, and compassionate. I have no gainful idea in my actions. I am content with what I have, this moment. I trust and listen to my Self2 and reduce the chatter of Self1 through mindfulness/meditation. I give easily and I receive.

I listen and I understand. I am nonjudgmental. I am grateful. I am not attached to one outcome. I am adaptable.

Welcome 2018 - Sunrise at Tankbund

Having slept at a decent hour and minus a drop of alcohol, I also decided to watch the sunrise at Tankbund. This involved getting up by 530 pm and it's pretty cold these days but I managed to do that and left. It seemed a bit hazy and it took me a while to find a place to park near the Eat Street, Necklace Road. From here we get a good view of the sun rising over the waters across the Hussain Sagar lake, from behind Tank Bund. I was needlessly worried about missing the sun because the sky was already coloring up a bit. I walked to find myself a suitable place to watch the sunrise.
The sweeper congregation!
Firstly I found that the Love Hyderabad sign was also here. Youngsters were clicking pictures on it - straight after a night of partying surely - going by their garish dresses. There were several such groups. I spotted one group of MCH sweepers in conference - probably gearing up for the hectic task of cleaning up the trash left by revellers of the night. It was an impressive congregation.
Placid
I walked past a bunch of youngsters playing a game - they had blindfolded one girl and she was trying to catch them. I ran away when I spotted her headed in my direction. I saw a couple of youngsters sitting casually on the stone seats and drinking their beer, engaged in some deep discussion. acche ghar ke hai, bungalow hain etc.
Peeking out - arrival!
Some office groups were there. Couple of young lovers were there, catching up on the 1st. I saw some broken beer bottles. All youngsters were playing and having fun. All oldies were seriously walking acting as if they do not care about all this unnecessary happiness. So what if its New Year? they seemed to say. One old man was actually fixing up a marriage proposal over the phone -
Some more clarity
I found a place and clicked some pics of the lake minus the sun. Then the sun appeared diffidently and only half. Then it rose and showed up in full. It rose until it started to make a path across the waters straight towards me and I waited until I felt the path reached me. For perhaps the first time, I felt where I was - on this earth, that had somehow revolved around the sun in its orbit, and there was the sun right there in front of me, and the hugeness of this whole affair hit me. I walked some more, clicked some more pics.
Reaching out - just as the Sun made a path
I the turned around and sat for a while. I could see young school kids playing football and they seemed the most in the moment of all. Full of fun and intense concentration - like the Zen book says - with no gainful idea except to fully play. The older youngsters were certainly on some gainful expedition - winning the attentions of the fairer sex was one surely. The older ones were completely lost in gainful ideas and were far away from fun.

I realised I needed to be less gainful. So I took off my shoes and socks and stepped on to the wet grass. It felt delicious. I walked around here and there, stretched a bit and felt very 'in the moment'. Satisfied with my spiritual practice which instantly made me superior to the rest of the world, I got my shoes back on and started the walk back.
Lovely
I saw the interesting way some of the buildings on the slum across the road were painted. Huge paintings - one whole building painted beautifully with the picture of a young man watching his mobile phone intently. They got that expression so right. And other houses too. Wow! Very creative idea and very well done too. Appreciate the painter.
The painted side - perfect!

I walked to the car and headed out. I had a breakfast meeting with Vasu so I drove to catch him at KBR and from there to Taj Mahal. I would have loved to go to the Taj at Abids, and realised that perhaps Vasu would have come to Tank Bund for his jog if I had asked him - a little later. Anyway, slowly does it. One thing at a time!
Another one
Welcome 2018 then. More mindfulness, more Self 2 and more decisions.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Wizard of Lies - Movie Review

The famous 64 bn ponzi scheme racket of Bernie Madoff is fresh in many people's minds. The 'Wizard of Lies' is all about Madoff's Ponzi scheme (names after one Mr. Ponzi who first ran this scheme). It starts with Madoff's children questioning him about some early payment of bonuses and Madoff finally, after several years of running the fraud, says he forged it all. There were no investments he says and as in a typical Ponzi scheme, older investors were paid very high returns through fresh investments and not through genuine operational profits. FBI steps in, there are arrests, media assaults and the family which has been kept in the dark suffers from the betrayal.

Madoff's beginnings are small.He borrows money from his father in law to set up a securities firm in the 1960s in his name. He hires his brother Peter and makes him Managing Director and his niece the compliance officer. His own children are given separate businesses to run. When the FBI comes in and the Madoff empire falls, Madoff accepts he is guilty of all charges. His older son Mark dies by hanging after two years. His younger son Andrew dies of Lymphoma in 2014. His brother Peter gets 10 years in jail. Madoff himself gets 150 years in prison. Somehow till the end, he seems to believe that he tried to help people and they were also guilty of being greedy. Robert De Niro is absolutely convincing as Madoff, he even looks a lot like him. Nice watch. I wondered why really - maybe we just love to watch misery.

The Year in Movies - 2017

100!

By far the most movies I ever watched in a year. Much thanks to Sagar. Apart from the old classics which I watched again (Mackenna's Gold, Good, Bad and Ugly etc) I enjoyed watching Hacksaw Ridge, Salesman, Fedora, Groundhog Days, Vikram Vedha, Coco, Premam, Kammatipaadam, Judgment in Nuremberg,  Patton, Ghazi Attack, Hidden Figures, Keeper of Lost Causes, A Conspiracy of Faith, Where is My Friend's Home, The Body, Knife in the Water.
Loved all the animation movies!

1. Moana
2. Chinatown
3. Bridge on the River Kwai
4. Divorce, Italian Style
5. Carnal Knowledge
6. Angst (Fear)
7. La la Land
8. Patton
9. Melbourne
10. The Odessa File
11. Au Hazard Balthazar
12. Rebel Without a Cause
13. Raees
14. No Highway in the Sky
15. Rustom
16. Jolly LLB 2
17. Ghazi Attack
18. Hacksaw Ridge
19. Moonlight
20. Salesman
21. La Dolce Vita
22. Sing
23. Silence
24. Hidden Figures
25. Lion
26. An American in Paris
27. The Godfather II
28. Lawrence of Arabia
29. The Ipcress Fie
30. Udta Punjab
31. School of Rock
32. Field of Dreams
33. Marley and Me
34. Disconnect
35. The Absent One
36. The Keeper of Lost Causes
37. A Conspiracy of Faith
38. Mackenna's Gold
39. Ben Hur
40. The Good, Bad and the Ugly
41. Badrinath ki Dulhaniya
42. Murder on Orient Express
43. Fedora
44. Aradhana
45. Bahubali 2
46. Birds
47. Irma La Douce
48. Groundhog Days
49. Chitty Chitty Bnag Bang
50. Day of the Jackal
51. The Fugitive
52. High Noon
53. Ae Dil Hai Mushkil
54. Dum Laga Ke Haisa
55. Last Holiday
56. Manchester by the Sea
57. Back to the Future
58. Back to the Future 3
59. The Shop Around the Corner
60. Dunkirk
61. The Emoji Movie
62. About Elly
63. Premam
64. Fidaa
65. Vikram Vedha
66. Gaslight
67. Arjun Reddy
68. Tell No One
69. Point Blank
70. Where is my friend's Home
71. Bareilly ki Barfi
72. Babumoshai Bandookbaaz
73. The Body
74. Wag the Dog
75. A Perfect World
76. Kammati paadam
77. Judgement at Nuremberg
78. Newton
79. Apocalypse Now
80. In the Mood for Love
81. Honey I Shrunk the Kids
82. I Heart Huckabees
83. Hindi Medium
84. Secret Superstar
85. Farewell My Lovely
86. The Parent Trap
87. The Invisible Guest
88. Into the Wild
89. Brute Force
90. Owl and Sparrow
91. Coco
92. Her
93. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
94. Dazed and Confused
95. Big Deal on Madonna Street
96. Ferdinand
97. Gett: The Trial of Vivian Amsalem
98. Fury of a Patient Man
99. Knife in the Water
100. The Wizard of Lies

Now, that will be tough to beat!


2017 - The Year In Action

Not a bad year at all! A few records broken!

Books Read (80)
That's a new record!

Movies Watched (100)
Another new record!
Just hit 100 yesterday after watching 'The Wizard of Lies'!

People I met - books and otherwise
Y.B. Satyanarayana, Vyjayanthimala, Kapil Dev, Sonali Kulkarni, Sankalp Reddy, VVS Laxman, Purnima Nagaraj, Jayesh Ranjan, Gauri Dange, Baisali Chatterjee Dutt, Malavika Kapur, Amirullah Khan, Ankita Verma Dutta, Karan Anshuman, Ramseshan, Vasudev Murthy, Shatrujeetnath..

Interviews (7)
Anjali, Abhinay Renny, Srinivas Avasarala, Suman Mudoth, Reena Varghese, Jawwad patel, C.V. Anand

Talks (11)
Tirumala College of Engineering, IPE, Silver Oaks, TiE, Digital Nirvana, Pallavi Model School, Nephrologists Meet, Department of Dance, Gap Miners, Lycos, Techzeert

Workshops (10)
Weinerberger, Jasper, GSI, School of Management Studies, 24 Hour Mantra, Lycos, Techzert, Cricket and Life Skills at MLJaisimha Academy, Gap Miners 10x Performance, Session with VNR VJIET Students

Events Attended (8)
The Telangana Kite Festival, IPL 2017, Flamingoes Spotting at Sewri, Painting job at home - Anjali and me, The Free Book Stall at the Community Hall, TEDX VNR VJIET, Campus Concert Series at UoH, The Storyteller Initiative,

Publications
This Way Is Easier Dad (Book)
Article in Free Press Journal
Fortnightly Column in the HANS since July 2017 (10)
Blogs (460) - that is the second most number

Book launch events (5)
Hyderabad, Kolkata, Pune, Mumbai, Bangalore

Travel
Sri Lanka (Colombo, climbed Sigiriya, Negombo) - a first, Kolkata (Belur Mutt, Kali ghat,Victoria Memorial, Oxford Bookstore), Bangalore (Metro ride), Mumbai (Sewri Flamingoes, Kitab Khana),
Pune (Pagdandi, Taljai, PILF), Delhi

Panel Discussions
Pune Literary Festival

New things
Juicing for health (good stuff, thanks Sagar), Tibetan Medicine (thanks Ranjan), Listening to The Hitchhiking Experiences of Abhinay
Cricket Workshop - Cricket and Life Skills
Cricket coaching at MLJ Academy
Metro rides!
Free bookstall at VNR VJIET - where they put up books on suggestions given by a lot of people and any invitee could walk in and pick up one book free. I had to ask them twice - I can just take it right? Lovely lovely idea!

Game changers
Shifting from credit card to debit card on a good friend's advice, a complete change in mindset for me
The Gratitude Workshop by Shobha which I am doing for the past 4 months and feel it puts me in better mental space
Zen and the Beginner's Mind, book gifted by Suresh which puts me in a great space
Inner Game of Tennis - book which gives a completely new angle to peak performance states

Gifts I Got
Bookshelf (Mythily), Schaeffer pens (Nalini, Silver Oaks), Books, Trips (Delhi, Mumbai)
Books (Suresh, Sagar, Shobha, Vinod, Raja, Abhinay), Journals, Parker pens, Bookmarkers, Gift voucher ofr 5K (Vinod), Clothes - T shirts, shirts etc (Anu), Perfume (Satish), Track suits/ Tshirts (Sunnie)

Gifts I Gave
Books (needs some improvement)
Clothes
Anjali gave many of her books and toys to the orphanage

Music 
Loved Moh Moh ke Dhaage!
Otherwise, bleak!

Got to think some more..surely there are some more things!