Friday, March 23, 2018

Anjali - I Love Those Last few Extra Minutes of Sleep

One of my favorite questions in the morning to people - I don't know why I ask this - is "Did you sleep well?' Mostly they say yes and that's done.

I asked this question to Anjali as usual and she was already up and about so she was chatty.
'Yes, I slept well Nanna. But you know what I like best? It's the few extra minutes that I sleep after you wake me up that is the best. I really enjoy those extra minutes.'

I smiled. Yes, those few extra stolen moments. Is that what all happiness about - those extra stolen moments where you feel you broke away on your own?

She had more to say.

'Because its a short time, I get dreams,' she said. (She has some theory of how you get dreams only when you are not in deep sleep - she told me this many years ago in some interview of hers).

'Today I got the best dream of all. We were playing kho kho at school and no one could catch me. There were 70 people and none could catch me. I was so happy. In reality I get out really early in our school games.'

She was pretty pleased with the dream.

Maze - Movie

IRA. Loyalists. A prison built like a maze. A point to prove. A true story of desperate men. Nice.

The Question Series - What Comes in the Way of Making Connections?

So what comes in the way of making honest connections at home, work or other places? Why are most teams - especially at work and home so fake, lifeless and shallow?

These were the questions that popped up while in a leadership coaching session. We were trying to go past the we-know-each-other and let's-be-civil-to-one-another and get-on-with -the-job attitude which is fine but not a great one for building trust and feeling fulfilled and connected at a deeper level with a team on whom we are letting our lives ride. We need to do something more and take a leadership stance here. All great leaders do make an effort to build those connections.
The light of honesty shines beautifully against the contrast of vulnerability
Simply put, can we just make this a more fulfilling journey with some trust, some honesty, some understanding, some compassion, some support and do some great work with people who I feel connected to?

In our leadership coaching session we tried to do some empathy exercises, some honesty, some vulnerability but we made no head way. We spoke in measured and guarded tones, in broad and noncommittal manners. There was zero spark in the air.

Seeing that it was going nowhere we decided to share some personal stuff  to questions as simple as - what's your favorite  movie, song, person, book, author, role model, your big dream, your biggest achievement, your big fears so on. Suddenly the room came alive, was charged with emotion. People seemed to wake up, some invisible energy filled the room and we all connected to every word that was being said.

Every word, said and unsaid, came from a deeply personal and honest space and we all felt like we know the other person better instantly. Time flew, people stopped checking watches even though it was way past time and lunch time at that. They were smiling, supporting one another and revealing themselves.

What got me wondering was this - just on the basis that we shared some basic personal stuff, we suddenly became alive. We became real people. Once we become real people, others start to acknowledge us. I wondered what would happen if we shared deeper stuff - our saddest moments, our one regret, our one weakness, our one failure, that one thing we could set right in our current life which we are avoiding. Maybe we could become even more real.
I think by opening ourselves up, we give enough space for the others to latch on to us. To help us. To connect to us. Otherwise we are like a stainless steel cylinder with no chinks, no openings, just a smooth, strong, impassive structure that people cannot do anything with, least of all help or approach for help.

If there is no opening, there can be no connection. If we open up, we others can connect.

Next session we decided to devote more time to this. Once we understand the importance of making connections, most things happen by themselves. The leader has less to do after that because the team feelS connected since they have opened themselves a bit.

What is critical however is to honour those vulnerabilites. If we listen to their dreams and fears, we are saying that we acknowledge, that we care. But if we use it to manipulate them and forget their dream and their fear and move on with our lives, we could leave them with hurt and distrust. It is important to genuinely be interested in them and their life and help them by listening, by asking questions and by offering emotional support. Most times that's all that is needed.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Anjali - A Poem on Poverty and Labour

There is some serious angst behind the condition of the poem but I liked the poem. It's a poem she wrote as part of the assignment at school on poverty and labour.

So here goes young poetess.

"I am a young child 
Who works at a tea stall
All dreams are vanquished
Like going to a mall

I don't want to do this
Oh no, no, no
We don't have food
We children cannot grow

To provide for the family
We all have jobs
We don't go to school
Along with the mob

If we were provided for
With money and education
My family wouldn't die
With starvation."
- Anjali Paruvu

Anjali - I Am Not Good At Good Luck Games!

Anjali was talking about some game they played at school today.
Crayon art by PHM
We played the Magic Carpet,' she said. Seeing my expression she explained.'We pull all the tables together and make a big table and stand around and when the teacher rings the bell, whoever is not on the carpet is out (or something like that)"

I nodded.
'Suvan won,' she said. 'Though its not fair. He joined half way.'
There was a moment's pause and then she laughed.
'I was out very early,' she said. 'I always get out very early in these luck games.'

'What luck games?' I asked.
'You know where the bell goes off, like Musical Chairs.'

Hmm. Interesting. I used to believe that about myself too.

'I think there are three ways we can approach these games,' I said. 'One is to win at any cost which means pushing people and rushing and falling over etc. Another is to resign ourselves to lose thinking we are not lucky anyway and looking ahead to lose and putting in only a little effort. But I think there is a third way which I found recently.'

She listened intently.
'The third way is to play without getting attached to winning or losing. It is about playing and being open to all possibilities, whatever possibility happens is fine. So you enjoy the game, give your best and be open to whatever happens. There is a good chance you may win more like this and whatever happens you will enjoy the game.'

She nodded. Being open to all possibilities. Not being attached to one. Letting go. Enjoying the moment. Giving your best with no gaining idea.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Lady Bird - Movie

Super stuff. Go Ladybird. More power to the likes of you.

Friday, March 16, 2018

A Feast of Vultures - Josy Joseph

Josy Joseph is an award winning investigative journalist and the National Security Editor of The Hindu. Some of his stories are on the Adarsh Apartment scam, The Naval War Room Leak, Commonwealth Games scam, 2G Spectrum allocation scandal etc. The book's blurb quotes him - about how he was offered a bribe by a company that was facing criminal investigation to be silent because an article he had written had dented the chances of the company's raising a 3000 crore FDI - '..boss wanted me to tell you he can take care of whatever your needs are - car, house, whatever...' says the company representative Such is the power the media wields, such is the money that is involved. All it needs is a curtain of integrity to separate the right and the wrong, legal and illegal, ethical and unethical - and just do what you are supposed to be doing. But then, everything has a price, there is no pride of respect left once you have taken a rupee as a bribe. And if any information that is backed by evidence has not been reported because of fear or because of greed, that is the day one should resign and join the enemy.

Josy Joseph starts tentatively (and with good reason) with a prologue about a small village called Hridaychak in Bihar that suffers for lack of roads, access, etc. One person from the village, Anwer, who works in Delhi, through his persistence gets some work done for the village. It is a story that most Indians are familiar with - endless applications, visits, betrayals, bribes, red tapism, blatant corruption - until finally the job is done. In most cases the job is already done on paper, as in the movie 'Well Done Abba', and we need to get it really done now - only now there are no funds for it because the paper shows the village already has a road. Does not matter  if it is clearly shown that there is no road. The paper is stronger.

From that sedate start Josy takes us into the world of middle men who can organise and fix anything in the capital for a fee. They know everyone and can get anything done - clearly they form the layer of communication between the system which does not have the time for the people and the people who somehow need their work done by the system. The middlemen will listen, will open doors, will get work done - all for a fee. Goes without saying that a part of the fee will go to the babu who will finally sign the papers - for which he is already getting a good salary and benefits from the tax payers money already. We get an insight into the rise of R.K. Dhawan, Indira Gandhi's typist and confidant, who rose from nothing to being one of the most powerful men in India. Where the typist amassed his fortune is for anyone to guess. Interestingly Dhawan was present with Indira Gandhi when she was gunned down by three bullets from her bodyguard Beant Singh who was guarding her for ten years and thirty rounds from Satwant Singh - Dhawan was hardly two feet away - and not a bullet grazed him. Then comes a chapter on the corruption in the procurement of arms where the decisions involved are taken by the Chiefs - certainly they are not innocent in the manipulations of tests and results. From Bofors guns to purchase of helicopters, one can see the system has been manipulated and in may times, compromised, to line many pockets. The case of Admiral Nanda's son (his grandson Sanjeev was the famous BMW case where he ran over people sleeping on the roadside after a late night party and killed seven of them) and his involvement in some deals comes through. Anyone who believes that the army is fighting with the best they are supposed to get from the money the tax payer is paying needs to think twice - our patriotic politicians and some top level brass are not letting those chances go. There is talk of Quatrocchi and how he fled the country hours before he was to be arrested, of Ranjan Bhattacharya, Vajpayee's son in law, of Robert Vadra.

For those who think that Modi's campaign against black money is on track - here is a nice story. Modi constituted a Special Investigation team to probe black money.  The biggest black money case (until the time the book was published) ironically discovered by the SIT was Gautam Adani's Adani group which is involved in a Rs. 5000 crore plus siphoning off of money to tax havens. According to senior ED officials it is a water tight case with a trail of documents showing how the group diverted Rs. 5468 crores to Mauritius via Dubai. With penalties the group will have to pay Rs. 15000 crore to the government "if the case reaches its logical conclusion". The ED registered a preliminary case in Ahmadabad. But since the Modi government came into power, the officer heading the Ahmedabad branch of the directorate was raided by the CBI on charges of possessing disproportionate assets which it failed to prove. Two senior officers who oversaw investigations were forced out of the agency. The tenure of the person heading the directorate was cut short abruptly. Now to put it in context - Modi's hectic campaign for the 2014 elections was made possible thanks to Adani's chartered aircraft. Also, Adani is the first big black money case that the SIT has found and the government has done nothing to take it forward. In fact despite all the talk of corruption and black money all these names we hear about are still free and continuing with their lives while the common man is fighting a hard life with no cash.

The rise of East West Airlines and its promoter Thakiyuddin Wahid who made it big in the airline industry and his murder by the underworld in 1995 comes up. I was under the misperception that he was connected with the Dawood Ibrahim gang as most media led us to believe then and even the investigative agencies said that he was killed by Chota Rajan's gang to retaliate against him being Dawood's man. But it emerges and with substantial proof that there was more to it than meets the eye. The family claims that they had no connections to Ibrahim and that the false news item published by Times of India that Tiger Memon left India on tickets purchased from East West (it was a different company and not this entity but the damage to its brand and credibility was huge - I wonder of ToI even issued a correction!). Turns out that a business rival and from the book it appears that Naresh Goyal of Jet Airways seems to be closer to Dawood and perhaps knows more about this sordid story than most. There seems to be evidence linking him to the underworld. Naresh Goyal, now in London, and a dollar billionaire, seems to have enough reason to live there. His life is constructed in the chapter 'Fly By Might Operator'.

In the last section titled the big league we deal with Vijay Mallya and his 9000 crore bank default and how as an MP he was on the parliamentary committee for civil aviation. Whoa! Here is an owner of a private airline sitting on the parliamentary committee for civil aviation! Josy cites several such cases where there is a clear conflict of interest but where such people have been on such committees. The story of Anil Agarwal of Vedanta and his visit to his school - he gives them away 1300 bags and watches with the Vedanta insignia on it and a promise to build a new building - not honoured yet. Parimal Nathwani a group President of Reliance won elections from Jharkhand and sits in the Parliament. The case of the Jindals and the exploitation of coal mines in Orissa and Chattisgarh. The coal mine scams and the beneficiaries all seem to be well.

And finally the building of Mukesh Ambani, Antilia, and some more stories of the growing Reliance empire. Mukesh Ambani, Josy says is estimated to be worth about Rs. 150000 crore so for him to build a Rs. 10, 000 crore, 4,00,000 sqare foot, 170 metre tall, home where about 500 employees work, seems a small thing. But the issue I think is that this house stands out in sharp contrast to the poverty around it. The stories of how the small eyesore shops of 100 sft near the house were offered or bought out for Rs. 3 crore are interesting. But what's more interesting is how the land came up to be bought - 4532 square metres of land on the prime Altamount Road.  An older member of that neighbourhood says that a Muslim orphanage stood on that land (and before the orphanage there was a graveyard) - there was some confusion on the fact that it was Wakf land - which cannot be sold. Antilia Commercial Private Ltd apparently bought the land for Rs. 21 crore from the trust where the price of the land at that time would have been twenty five times more (500 crore). Later an amount of Rs. 16 crore was paid by the Ambani company to the Wakf Board.

The DoT auction for 4G spectrum.for Internet broadband services is a a classic story. One company called Infotel Broadband Services with an annual turnover of Rs. 18 lakh and only one subscriber, bid aggressively across India for licenses  (despite its promoter defaulting on such earlier bids to the GoI) - he finally bid a staggering Rs. 12, 848 crore for a national license - 71000 times the company's annual turnover. No one questioned where he would raise the money from. He got the bid and within hours of the close of bidding, Infotel was taken over by Mukesh Ambani's RIL. A Central audit found several anomalies in the tender process including a possible forgery of bank guarantee. Add to it the famous unreported story of the KG Basin business and we have a fair idea of how the enforcers are not doing their job - I will not blame the Ambani's or any of the defaulters - it's the enforcers who are at fault. Each time something like this happens we must focus on the enforcers - who let them get away, who are benefiting. And the media cannot escape its complicity in this - I remember seeing a front page article on the KG Basin in The Hindu a few years ago and after that the story just died.

Other interesting snippets - how GMR was appointed to develop the 5106 acre Indira Gandhi International Airport (despite accusations by CAG of blatant favoritism) where clauses were made easier to extend the lease for sixty years and not just thirty, how the operator has been allowed to lease land for commercial exploitation at a rate lower than even the amount the government agencies were paying - Rs. 100 as annual rental and a one time payment of R.s 6.19 crore - to use land with earning potential of 1, 63, 557 crore over a concession period of 58 years (and GMR still charges a user fee for each passenger flying out of Delhi which was not part of the contact provisions). Also interesting to note that Ravi Shankar Prasad was a lawyer on the payroll of Reliance for several years (he was handling portfolios of Law and Telecom in which Reliance has a big stake) and now his son is a consultant with Reliance.

Josy ends with an optimistic note - otherwise we would all die. It is a book that certainly adds several new angles to our popular perception and Josy does it fearlessly. Obviously he knows far more than he has revealed but this is as far as he could put out. By the end of the book you feel disturbed and I am still shaking my head after a day. It is wonderful to see that this book did finally come out when it is far easier for such books never to hit the stands. If P. Sainath's Everyone Loves a Drought gives an appalling view of India's rural legacy, Josy gives a glimpse of the corruption and manipulation that goes on in the name of governance, justice and business. There are two laws that operate here - one for the common man and one for the others.

This is a time when there is a huge silence from the media in anything that can rake up the peace. But this is a book that had to be written, because it also shows that India is bigger than all this and there are a lot of good men and women maintaining the balance in every area. One must, like the note on which Josy ends, keep the faith. Because what we give out, comes back to us. Certainly recommended. Great job Josy. Hope to catch up with you sometime.

Thanks Abhinay for lending it to me. I gifted a good friend a copy today!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Thought For the Day - Four Money Consciousness Stories

These are real stories. Try and make the connections about money and abundance or lack.

Story 1 - If You Cannot Hold Money In Your Pocket, It Will Go
So this person just executed the biggest order he had ever and received a payment of Rs. 50000. He decided to go on a holiday with his wife. His money consciousness as reflected in real life was this - he is always spending more money than he has and is normally making enough to pay off the existing bills. He also believes that he definitely has none to spare or save.

He and his wife spent Rs. 25000 on the vacation and were returning home by car. On the highway a truck is parked in the middle of the road. They stop behind it. The truck stars backing up. He honks. People shout. The truck keeps coming until it hits the car. Luckily it stops after hitting the car and does not drive over them. The bonnet is twisted out of shape.

The bill for repairs comes to Rs. 25000.

Story 2 - If You Will Not Use It, Someone Else Will
The family gets a nice advance after a long time. There is talk on buying a fridge since their fridge is really old. After much discussion they decide on a fridge worth Rs. 12000. After some more weighing of pros and cons they decide not to buy the fridge.

Two days later the person loses her credit card. Before she can complain to the bank someone has swiped the card.

The person had bought a new fridge for Rs. 12000.

Story 3 - When You Act Creatively and Trust, It Will Come
This person returns to India after a long stay abroad. He is a bit tight on money since he is setting up house. To cut costs he borrows his father's old Maruti 800. After a while he decides to break this lack consciousness and decides to buy a new car. He puts down a down payment and buys a new car for Rs. 7 lakh which is a big stretch then.

After a couple of weeks he visits the US. His old company reaches out to him and asks him if he had been paid for a certain period. He does not remember. They check and confirm that they have to pay some amount.

He gets a cheque for USD 13000 (which was the same amount he needed to pay off the loan in full - Rs. 7 lakh). He pays off the balance amount and owns the car.

Story 4 - When You Decide, It Will Come
This person has to pay his CA for services rendered. The CA is a friend of his and does not hurry him for payment. A few payments come but the person somehow pays everyone else but the CA. One day he gets a call from the CAs office - can you make our payment?

He is aware that the payment has already been delayed and makes up his mind to pay the CA out of whatever payment comes next. There is no hesitation in his mind though at the moment he has less than Rs. 500 in his account and he has to pay Rs. 11000.

The next day he gets a mail from the Income Tax department. There is an old IT Return which has not been calculated correctly. If some information is updated he will get an additional refund.

In a week's time he receives a payment of Rs. 13500. The first cheque goes to the CA.

All stories are real. It's uncanny - the matching amounts, even the connections - fridge, IT department etc. My take - if you cling on to money out of fear it will go. If you decide to create and move confidently, it will come. It's an energy thing - do not operate from fear. (Do not be reckless either, but be clear and confident, and most importantly be creative with the money).

Or simply, keep the flow going.

Link - The Emotional Intelligence Quiz

Superb Link - 22 Best Motivational Speeches

This is a list of 22 of the best motivational speeches. Now to watch them!
For the lazy ones, here is the list. Am starting with Brene Brown.

  1. J.K. Rowling: “The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination” (2008)

  2. David Foster Wallace: "This Is Water" (2005)
  3. Writer. English teacher. 

  5. BrenĂ© Brown: "The Power of Vulnerability" (2013) - 
  7. "Connection is why we are here. Shame is the fear of disconnection - the fear that if people know something about me there may be a disconnection. Shame and fear - excruciating vulnerability. For connection to happen, we need to be seen.
  8. People who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they are worthy of love and belonging. They are wholehearted people.
  9. These folks had the courage to be imperfect. They were compassionate to themselves frist and then to others. They were willing to let go of who they thought they should be in order to be who they are. They fully embraced vulnerability."
  10. "

  11. Al Pacino: "Inch by Inch" (1999)
  13. "We can climb out of hell - one inch at a time. The inches we need are everywhere around us. And we fight for that inch. We claw with our fingernails for that inch. Because we know that when we add up all those inches that's gonna making the difference between winning and losing. Between living and dying. In any fight, its the guy who is willing to die who will get that inch."

  14. Steve Jobs: "How to Live Before You Die" (2005)
  15. Ellen DeGeneres: Tulane University Commencement Speech (2009)
  16. Will Smith: Speech from The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
  17. Sheryl Sandberg: Harvard Business School Class Day Speech (2012)
  18. Dan Pink: "The Puzzle of Motivation" (2009)
  19. Denzel Washington: "Fall Forward" (2011)
  20. Sylvester Stallone: Speech from Rocky Balboa (2006)
  21. Elizabeth Gilbert: "Your Elusive Creative Genius" (2009)
  22. Charlie Day: Merrimack College Commencement Speech (2014)
  23. Frank Oz/Yoda: Speech from The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
  24. William Wallace: Speech From the Battle of Stirling Bridge (1297)
  25. Orlando Scampington: "The Pillars of C.L.A.M." (2015)
  26. Kurt Russell: “This is Your Time” (2004)
  27. Jim Valvano: ESPY Speech (1993)
  28. Mel Gibson: “The Valley of the Shadow of Death” (2002)
  29. Kal Penn: DePauw University Commencement Speech (2014)
  30. Charles Dutton: Speech from Rudy (1993)
  31. Vera Jones: “But the Blind Can Lead the Blind…” (2016)

Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Magic Moonlight Flower and other Enchanting Stories - Satyajit Ray

Four in all. 'Sujan Harbola, the Boy Who Spoke to Birds' being the story of a boy who spoke to birds and how he finally marries a princess. 'Gangaram's Lucky Stone' is a stone that changes Gangaram's life and he becomes very lucky and in the end he marries a princess. 'The Ogre and the Princess' is a story where Ratan is cursed to become an ogre and he uses his strength to overcome a monster and well- marries a princess. 'The Magic Moonlight Flower' is a story where the hero Kanai is battling against time and odds to save his father and in the process discovers a bigger cause and ends up saving everyone including his father. All stories with nice twists and turns, of ordinary boys who make their fortune with courage and intelligence and a little help from the world.

Most times they end up marrying princesses or in one story becoming a minister. Never stop dreaming.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Thought for the Day - Make The Music Connection!

This is one of the greatest insights I think I have had. A couple of decades ago (when I was considered a worse effect on impressionable minds than I am today) a friend of mine asked me to meet his 16 year old son who he thought was getting too rebellious for comfort. Now my friend was a conservative man and doted on his daughter who fell in line with his ideas. She dressed conservatively and did all things right as per his book. The boy was not.

Now I had no experience of doing anything with kids so I went with an open. I chatted with the boy and realised he was normal - I was like that when I was 15. He listened to rock music, did not want to spend time with his family, preferred being alone, did not like being questioned and certainly rebelled at any kind of control that was being forced on him. After a polite chat during which I made no connection I saw his music collection. I told him some of the music I liked and asked him to play his music. His eyes suddenly came alive. Not only did he play all his favorite music for the next half an hour, he even generously gave me his prized CDs which I know is a huge symbol of trust. I was surprised at the connection we made.

His younger sister saw what happened and as I stepped out of this boy's room she invited me to hers. She was in her 8th then perhaps. Her collection of music, which I thought would be mellow and soft, was harder than her brothers. If he was listening to Green Day she was listening to Iron Maiden. It was a repeat of what happened with the boy.

I thought about it and realised that words do not really convey as much about us and our feelings. More so when we are adolescents when hormones are raging and we are crossing over from being children to young adults. They do not know how to express themselves and they express themselves through their music. And if someone can actually even listen to their music without being judgmental, they feel understood. I have tried the same with all the young nephews and nieces of mine and they all relate to me best through the music we share.

But what was interesting was what happened recently. I visited Pune and met a ninety plus year old uncle. He was low on energy and actually talking about whether he would be alive the next visit etc. Since the air was heavy and morbid, I changed the topic and asked him what his number 1 song was. His eyes lit up and he said it was K.L. Saigal's song. His entire demeanour changed. I asked him if he wanted to listen to it. His eyes lit up again and he said yes. I played it on my mobile. He was so happy that he started to hum along. After a while I showed him how to play it on his mobile and left. As I reached home, I heard him call me. He had walked all the way because he had somehow lost the YouTube screen where the song was playing. It was incredible how the connection was built, how the energy changed.

Want to heal a relationship? Listen to that other person's music with him or her. That is their innermost feeling, their deepest truth. By sharing it, they are letting you in. Just listen. Be.

The Question Series - What Would You Be Without...?

The question is really this - what would be without all the things that you think make you what you are?

For example, all the wrong notions of what I am  that I have accumulated from birth - my family, my background, my community, my religion, my caste, my family's wealth, my looks, my country's status, my mental capacities, my emotional capacities, my education, my politics,....etc. Imagine if I were to remove the notions that came along with each of these frames that I added on to my life, frames that I judge my life experiences with.

I can see so much purity at the other end if I remove the frames, one by one. So much innocence and power. Can we remove the frames and see ourselves as we originally were?

Friday, March 9, 2018

The Fountainhead - Ayn Rand

Finally, an Ayn Rand. I was disappointed to say the least because it is exposition all the way. Extreme characters, illogical and inconsistent behaviors, too little action and too much talk. It's what an intelligent communicator (like a masala film maker or a clever politician) would do to shock and awe and get away. I am not impressed with one character in the book - Roark, Dominique, Wynand, Toohey, Mallory, Francon, Keating, Catherine...none. They are full of themselves and cannot see beyond their nose. Their motives are fact they do not seem to have any motive except to self destruct.

Keating was probably consistent till the end. But as architects they all appear shallow - Ayn Rand could not convince me that she knew her architecture well. All characters are one dimensional and remain like that.

My favorite memory of Ayn Rand from college was this though. I never read her books, and was frankly intimidated by the size of the book and perhaps her reputation as well. I sometimes wonder how I would have been if I read her books in college or if I'd got influenced by communist ideologies then. But for someone who knew nothing of Ayn Rand I remembering hazarding a guess at the favorite author of one rebellious junior who had just joined college, Sarita. My first guess was Ayn Rand and she was surprised that it was so obvious. But she was a good egg, Sarita, with her own mind, so I can give that to Ms. Rand.

So looks like I know Ayn Rand more than I know myself and perhaps do identify a lot with her characters - so much that I do not like them. I liked Roark's way of doing things initially - it fits in with Simon Sinek's 'Start with Why'. There were parts where I felt like I knew Roark well. There were parts when I could understand Dominique's love for Roark. But overall I found them all boring beyond a point. I thought Toohey was overrated and Keating too obvious. She also forgot Catherine conveniently for most part. For a while I thought all three would live together - the way Wynand falls in love with Roark.

I did like the line - 'Love is all about exception-making' - Wynand. Also would like to read Roark's long speech in the end again that probably is what the book is all about. It's so long that one is sure that Ayn Rand must have been like that. In love with her own voice and her own thoughts.

Now to read Atlas Shrugged but after a while. Need a break from Ms. Rand.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Loveless - Movie

Lovely insight into the state of lovelessness and its tragedy. Disturbing. Engaging.

Thought for the Day - How to Be Happy and Optimistic Like I Was In College

For many years I was bothered by this question - how was I happier in college despite having far less than I have today? How did I feel I could change the world? How dd I feel that everything was possible?

And more importantly, as I grew older, why do I feel less and less like that? I loved that spirit. I struggled with this question for twenty five years.

It suddenly struck me the other day - a rather simplistic answer - that in college, the future is full of hope and possibilities. Whereas as we grow older, hope diminishes and possibilities decrease. We create our own logic of why things can happen or cannot and resign ourselves. Until there comes a time when we cannot do anything but sit in our chair.

Now, we may or may not be able to do anything with boundless hope and endless possibilities in our mind - in college or after - but for me that feeling was like a drug. So I decided to adopt that feeling again. I look at this margin of my life which was slowly getting smaller and darker and knocked it wide open.

The right margin is now like the big blue sky, open and endless. Full of hope. Ah, what a feeling! And with this feeling clutched deep in my heart and mind, I will live out the rest of my life.

Like a college kid with no limitations, no fears. Just wild hope. And all possibilities.

Thought for the Day - Flow!

I remember a friend of mine reminding me in a heated argument - 'So what do you know about flow?'
Fact is that I do not nor do I claim to know. It's something that seems so far away, a state that I might not even get a whiff of. But my friend had a problem with the fact that I could even think of these themes and act like I knew of them.

Until the other day when I was dealing with a question that bothered me. It bothered me enough to bring everything to a halt. That's when I realised that when I get bothered, flow seems to get affected. Or is it the other way around - when flow gets affected, I get bothered.

I thought about it. (These days I try to use symbols to retain the thought) Then I thought that if I could find a visual representation of flow, it could help regain my composure quicker. So I visualised energy flowing all around me in circle - vertical (better symbolism) and saw the flowing energy. It kind of seemed to unlock my stuck space in a way and I could move on easier.

Don;t know anything about flow still. Just that it seems to work for me, this idea. Of visualising flow. I think I made a dent.

E Books 'The Men Within' and 'If You love Someone' - On Amazon

Upon closer inspection of the cover of 'The Men Within' I realised that we had used this cover for the e book or Kindle version of 'The Men Within' and 'if You Love Someone...'. I have no recollection whether we had advertised the fact - Abhinay helped me do the e version completely and uploaded it and Sagar designed the cover.

Here are the links to the ebook links

The Men Within - Kindle Version

If You Love Someone...- Kindle Version

Happy reading!

Sunday, March 4, 2018

The First! - Lovely Cover, Thanks Sagar

Browsing through my old files I saw this - a lovely cover of 'The Men Within' designed by Sagar who has designed so much stuff for me that I can never pay him enough. It was such an uplifting moment to see the cover so I decided to launch it right here.

Sagar was part of the making of the movie 'Goldonda High School' which was based on 'The Men Within'. So it's all the more fitting that the cover looks like this - a scene from the movie.

Thanks Sagar. And thanks are due to all those who made 'The Men Within' and 'Golconda High School' possible. 

The Question Series - Do I Really Want What I Say I Want?

The list of things I say I want - do I really want them? Are they for myself or am I wanting them to prove something to the world?

And most importantly, how much time and energy am I spending going after things I do not really want to prove a point to people who I do not really care about?

Anjali - But They Are Doing Good So let's Not Complain

Anjali hears most of my views on traffic since I drop her to school everyday and I am ashamed to say that my views are not yet close to being ideal. I complain, get into verbal fights, car chases (one that I can remember), bump into and get bumped into (and always insist that I am right etc). I can sense the times when her face says - "Let it go, don't get drawn into. It's ok to make a mistake."

But obviously to me it's not.

So the other day when we were driving home and a bus swerved right into our line and cut us off, she reacted like I normally would.
'Whoa, he just cut into our lane,' she observed correctly. 'And these buses are so big, they should be more careful.'
I listened, with some amount of approval. Then she thought and said.

'Actually that's not correct. I think we should be more careful. They are so big and they have to drive more carefully. It is we who must be more considerate and let them go first.'

Made me think.

'Yes,' I said. 'They do have a tough time. No comfort of air conditioning. Hot climate. Unruly traffic. And they still do a great job all the time. You are right.'

That's one thing settled.

The Shape of Water - Movie

A love story that borders on the melodramatic. Ethereal creatures, pure humans.

My Column in today's Sunday HANS - Faking Ownership!

Faking Ownership - My article in the Sunday HANS today!

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Thought for the Day - How To Make a Decision

When making a decision consider this - are you choosing in favour because you are afraid of losing something?

Then that's the wrong reason to choose that particular course of action. Choose not for fear of losing. It's what the best captains do.

Sun kissed

A story
This young cricketer approached me the other day. He called late at night.

'Sir I have exams for four days. My final exams. But my selection is almost through though the team has not been announced. If I do not go tomorrow they might drop me. The selectors have a bad impression of me already.'

I asked if he wanted to write the exams or play. He was very clear he wanted to write the exams.
'But if I tell them, they might drop me sir,' he said. 'What should I do?'

I told him to tell the selectors upfront that he has to write the exams, that he will be free after four days and that they should consider him for selections as this was his final exam. The worst was that they would drop him. But he would have done the right thing, what any responsible person would have done. Not the smart thing, by trying to manipulate them with some story.

The cricketer took my advise. A long shot perhaps. A couple of days later  he texted me.
'Sir, I got selected. Everything got sorted out. Thank you.'

That's a relief.

To decide in favour of the choice where there is no gain, where there is no fear of losing - friends, relations, money, jobs, possibilities - is the right decision.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Thought for the Day - What's Your Motive?

It's an interesting exercise to do. Look at people around and try to figure out their motive for whatever they are doing. Why are they out on the road at all? Most are out there for work, to earn a livelihood, primarily to live up to society's demands - left to themselves most would not be working at what they are working at.
Sun kissed

Why then are we doing what we are doing?

What is our motive? To do anything?

Is is possible to go past the current motive? To broaden our areas?

8 Signs of Fake Nice People

Fake nice people. Everything is right but something is off.

In fact the moment someone says you're nice - there is something wrong with you. But even within that, there are fakes. This helps differentiate. (saw it somewhere and copied it - not mine!)

Genuinely Nice / Fake Nice

1. Respect everyone / Respect people with power

2. Don't try to make people like them / Try hard to make people like them

3. Are not attention seekers / Desperate for attention

4. Do not brag / Show off all the time

5. Express their opinions openly / Gossip a lot

6. Try to live up to their promises / Make commitments easily but do not keep them

7. Admire and praise others / Criticise others to make themselves feel good

8. Nice and helpful most of the time / Nice when they have a hidden agenda 

Thought for the Day - What Are We Avoiding Doing Now?

It's a question that made me think about what I am putting off right now. Including standing up for my boundaries, work I need to do but keep skipping, and so much more. It went right to the space I am avoiding looking at.

It's a good question to keep asking myself.
What am I avoiding doing now? What have I avoided doing now?

Beats any checklist for me.

The Florida Project - Movie

Incredibly good. Go Moonee go.

The Post - Movie

Courage under fire. Superb!

Darkest Hour - Movie

Beautiful. As good an underdog story as there ever was.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri - Movie

Gripping edge of seat stuff. Unusual. Layered.