Saturday, December 14, 2019

A New Experience - Life Without a Phone

The other day I was off for a three-day trip, planned rather suddenly. We were driving down to Nellore to meet some people. I was to take my car to Vau's house at five in the morning and leave it there so we could drive from thereon. In the darkness and while talking to each other I left my phone in my car and we headed off. At Malakpet I realised I had forgotten my phone and told Vasu that. He suggested we go back but then I figured it's ok - I could have lost my phone or damaged it. It would be a great way to detox. Anyone desperate enough to reach me would surely find a way, or wait.

It was a very freeing experience to not have the phone with me. I had no time, no alarm, no photos to shoot, n calls to make or receive, no messages to check or send - bliss. While all else were checking their phones I was blissfully on my own. Didn't miss it.

When I came back I was surprised to see one of my friends, someone I know very little of in reality but someone who sends me thoughtful forwards every day (the only one whose forwards i respond to because they are thoughtfully selected), was worried and had sent some messages and called. Otherwise the world did not miss me at all! Funnily, the ones who I thought might possibly get concerned, weren't.

Very freeing indeed. We do worry ourselves too much. We give ourselves too much importance. It just doesn't matter! So chill.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Sunday Cricket Lessons with Baig Sir

So I am experimenting with this new idea of syncing the mind and the body, especially in motor skills like games. The video game gave me some pointers and I felt I could try it on the cricket game as well. So I went in with the idea of slowing my mind down to the pace where i felt it was under control - i.e. where the body was in sync with the mind.

The way I did it was to mentally calibrate my mind as if I had a virtual speedometer - I pulled it down from 80 on a scale of 100 to about 20. It somehow allowed me this feeling of more control. And with that slowed down version, I ran in with a clear idea of what I wanted to execute. And it worked very well indeed. To the left-hander I decided a particular line just outside the off-stump moving in to hit the off-stump and after some ten deliveries, it happened exactly as I visualised it. And again and again. the feeling that you have that in control was almost there. I never felt like I could crack the zone, until now. After a long time I got everyone out and that too bowled.

There is something to this theory of slowing down the mind to sync with the body.

Back home when I met Pallavi who had dropped in, and was telling her of my theory, she gave me another insight. About the magic quarter second, the time between the mind deciding and the body acting. The time when you can change your mind they say. I am thinking of actually using it to sync my mind and body. More on that later but this could be one of the most significant findings for me ever.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/finding-true-refuge/201501/the-opportunity-the-magic-quarter-second

Baig sir - Swing Session
Baig sir had a wonderful session with the seamers and got them to swing the ball prodigiously. Later while chatting with the kids I told them a few things from my experience. What to keep in mind when using the new ball - keep it up and allow it to swing. don't hit it, give air, make the batsman play, don't make too much adjustment for the swing. Once the ball gets slightly older polish it with great care, one side, the ball swings to the rough side and not the shiny side (conventional swing) and when it swings to the shiny side (reverse swing).

I talked about the importance of shining the ball, of forming a relationship with their equipment, the ball, the bat, all else around in their environment. It was a nice session in the end.

Daddy's Boy - Shandana Minhas

I have no idea where this book came to me from but I finally decided to give it a read. There are a few books on my shelf that had been there for years, and once in a while, I zip through them. 'Daddy's Boy' was one of them.

It starts with a young man who comes from Lahore, a man with an unpronounceable name, to Karachi. He has a mother in Lahore and a fiancee called Lalrukh. In Karachi, he meets three friends of his father, a retired navy man who loved the sea. There are three friends of his father who speak a bit like the witches in Macbeth. They hustle the young lad through the last rites of his father, get him drunk, take him on a boat next day, tell him they actually want to bury his father at sea because he liked it so much (the other body was that of some homeless man), have him meet the beautiful Alina with whom he loses his virginity. Soon he finds that the three friends have conned him, the girl is a prostitute and goes to confront her. She has a young son who shoots at our hero and the girl comes in between and dies. The son goes with his father to Lahore.

That's the story. 

Friday, December 6, 2019

The Time Machine - HG Wells

I remember reading this book when I was in school - All Saints High School had a wonderful library thanks to Dhruvraj sir and a huge collection of illustrated short classics we could read during lunch hour - and picked it off Anjali's table. It's considered the first science fiction book, written in 1895. Wells launches directly into the story of a few nameless people who gather around a man, who tells them his theory of how one can travel through time - he explains how time as the fourth dimension is accessible. He even shows the others a model of his machine.

Soon after, he takes off in his machine and returns too, in startling circumstances, to the awe of his audience. He narrates the happenings after he heads off 800, 000 years into the future and finds that earth is still ruled by two classes, the upper and lower, the Eloi and the Morlocks, finds a young Morlock lady Weena who falls in love with him, loses his time machine, finds it finally, goes up and down in time and finally lands up back at London, safe and sound.  He narrates his fantastic story to a disbelieving audience. In the end, the Time Traveller takes off again, but this time he does not return.

Rupa Publishers did such a bad job of proofing this classic that its a shame. Enjoyed reading it again.

Dreams of my Father - Barack Obama

Barack Obama writes his memoir, his roots from his father, a black Muslim from Kenya who comes to Hawaii on scholarship to study and escape his poverty, and his mother, a white Christian from the USA, who is also studying in Hawaii. They seem to have divorced pretty early as Barack Obama senior went to Harvard and then to Kenya again where he already has a family and children. Obama's mother falls in love and marries an Indonesian man and after a few years there, they come back to Hawaii. When he is ten years old or so, Obama's father comes to visit and for the first time he meets him before his father returns to Kenya.

Barack is one of the two black boys on the island so he is not too happy with how he is treated. A bit of the history of the blacks, the discrimination he faces, hurt him. He studies well, goes to the mainland, to Los Angeles and then to Chicago to work for the blacks as an organiser. (Sometime in those years, he starts fasting on Sundays and brings a severe discipline into his life, towards the end he even gives up smoking.) The work is tiresome and he does a fair job of it too.  While there he meets many people of the Church of the Nation of Islam, and understands the difficulties and aspirations of the poorer sections of blacks. While here he meets his stepsister Auma who visits him from Germany and they plan to visit his father's family in Kenya.

Obama meets his father's sisters, wives, and his many cousins. He learns about the life of his grandfather, how they used to tend to farmlands or fish before the white men came. then his grandfather works for the white man as a cook, puts some money away, buys land, builds a house and educates his son Barack (Obama's father). Obama's father and his sister once run away from the house of the disciplinarian father who is a stickler for rules and cleanliness, then come back. Their mother cannot handle her father and she runs away too. Barack senior finds two American ladies who tell him how he can apply for scholarships and get out of the mess he has landed in - his father disowns him when he does not pay heed to his advice after school. Admission in Hawaii and the story ends.

By the end of the book I felt that however much he achieved, Barack Obama will always carry that sense of not belonging. (It's not a nice feeling - I hope it's not true.) And like Barack Obama himself said, the book was written when he was younger and would have been 50 pages shorter if he had written it when he was older. There are many times when he goes inward, and the pace and action slows down, while he pretty much repeats himself. However, it does offer a fine perspective into the life of a mulatto - the son of a black and a white - with roots in Africa. I enjoyed reading the Kenyan adventure the best, especially that of his grandfather and his life. Thanks Abhinay for a lovely birthday gift.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Nagarjuna Sagar - A Trip Down Memory Lane

So the rebellious Aruna Manyam studied in Nagarjuna Sagar from her 5th class to her 12th class. When she came from the US recently with her son Varun and husband Sunnie, she wanted to visit her alma mater. I was not doing much that day so I joined them. Aruna was my junior at Engineering college and Sunnie was my classmate at the Management college and there's some reason to suspect that they might have met thanks to me and Shobha (whom I met at the management college and married!) According to hazy recollections, it was when Shobha and I visited Sunnie at Bangalore post our honeymoon, that Aruna had come to visit us and they kind of hit it off. The rest, as they say, is history.
Pic by professional photographer hanging around the bridge - Krishna river downstream
Anyway fast forward 25 years and here they are from Atlanta where she is a senior IT officer at Delta Airlines and Varun is a 6 foot 3 inch sixteen year old who is coping with his juvenile diabetes wonderfully well supported by Sunnie who has devoted his life to that. So off we went in an Innova to Nagarjuna Sagar where I had been a few years ago. Never saw the gates open though.
Aruna with Sister Prabhavati, Principal
I know Aruna from 1985. She is one year junior to me and was in the famous Electrical Engineering batch which had som 20 girls or so. Now Engineering colleges those days had four of five girls here and there at best and we were not used to seeing so many girls. It was a spirited lot and many of them did very well after their studies. Aruna was part of a troika with Shobha Meera and Aparna being the other two, all hostellers, and they were quite popular. I did not know them personally till my final year by which time Shobha Meera was seeing another friend and junior Aqueel, and Aparna was seeing the inimitable Prasanna. Aruna was not seeing anyone, being the rebel she always was. However we all had some good times those days - the juniors treated us seniors to some Chinese food and we treated them to some home parties. They'd come to watch cricket matches, maybe we saw the odd movie. Then we graduated and moved on. However Aruna somehow stayed in touch through all these years, became good friends with my wife Shobha Nargundkar, married our good friend Sunnie and now some 30 odd years later, is still in touch. Always the rebel, straight-talking, good-natured, good for a laugh, good sport, adventure-loving, something going on deep inside her that only she seems to know, some dilemmas that only she wants to handle herself, Aruna remains a loveable enigma. Varun's juvenile diabetes took a toll on her as she coped with her job and her only son's condition. Yoga, hapkido, Jaggi Vasudev, she seems to have found her peace now. But you can count on her. She will gamely wade into a noisy rock music party because we are all having a good time though she may not like rock music, take on any argument however strong the opposition and definitely takes the trouble to stay in touch. Once Sanjay wrote a letter completely in chaste Telugu when she had gone home for holidays. A week later he received a reply from her - in chaste Telugu! She is one of those few with whom you feel you share a lot, without anything being said.
At her Junior College, huge campus, run down
Sunnie was the baby of the class when we joined the MBA course. Shobha was in the A section while Sunnie and I were in the B section. The three of us put together a sort of an editorial board and got a newsletter and a book about the batch called 'Memories' with brief sketches of everyone in class. Sunnie played cricket with me for the college team, the three of us played table tennis, watched movies. When Sunnie moved to Bangalore and set up a successful advertising agency called Spur we visited him and the three of us went on a long trip to the Karwar coast in a hired car - just took off with no agenda. It remains my best trip so far - none of us were married then. We did another couple of trips - Goa, Salem. Sunnie visited us in Pune later that year.

Then Shobha and I got married and then Sunnie and Aruna got married and ever since they have been in the USA. Sunnie taught at the Georgia State Univ, taught hapkido, wrote. He is always one to share a laugh with, have an intelligent conversation, one of the few people you can trust with your life. Once Sunnie and I did a biryani evaluation trip and tasted all the popular biryanis in Hyderabad - we voted Mohini as the best then. Varun's juvenile diabetes has kept Sunnie on a parallel life - he does voluntary work for the JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Reseach Foundation) and raises funds through grueling 100 km cycling fundraisers every year. Some info about JDRF for those who wish to contribute. https://www.jdrf.org/
The house where she lived perhaps
While we sped down to Nagarjuna Sagar in the Innova, I realised how careful they need to be with Varu's blood sugar levels even though he is hooked up with some monitor in his arm that sends signals about his levels, another contraption that releases insulin when required. All three get updates on their mobiles and there is continuous monitoring of what to eat and how much. Varun puts up nonchalantly with all this - a few years ago he had to prick himself every now and then to check blood sugar levels which he would do stoically, but now he does not need to. As a thirteen-year-old he came for cricket coaching with me, and learned all he could gamely. Now he has shot up and is taller than I am, an inch easily, jokes with his father and mother in a semi-adult manner. He is smart, has a great sense of humour and is a transparent, good kid. Someone you can talk to.

We visited Aruna's school first, St. Joseph's High School which is on the Telangana side. It was well maintained, they welcomed us warmly. We walked around, met the Principal Prabhavati who was remarkably patient and loving with all the children, and some other teachers. The school was maintained very well and they were looking for funds to do some more work. One of the teachers somehow got us permission to go over the dam which is otherwise not permitted so that was a plus. Across the dam in Andhra Pradesh we grabbed some lunch at the  AP Tourism hotel, checked out her old house and then her junior college, crumbling down.  The town seems frozen in time, almost as it was then I guess.

We saw the theatre where they would watch movies the headed out. We stopped on the bridge where an enterprising photographer coaxed us to pose for a picture with the river in the background. Then we headed back chatting away about this and that. Glad I made the trip.



Wednesday, December 4, 2019

George Reddy - Movie

When we studied at Osmania University Engineering College during the 1984-88 period, the dominant student political party was the Progressive Students Democratic Union (PDSU). The party was leftist in leaning, pro-poor and pro-backward, with progressive ideas. Its ideological opponent was the right-wing RSS affiliated Akhil Bharathiya Vidyarthi Parishath (ABVP) which spoke of nationalism, bharitayata, culture etc, mainly upper caste, the rich and the landed. The Radical Students Union was then banned - they were extreme left and considered naxalite sympathisers. George Reddy is considered to be the founder of the PDSU - it came into existence after his death. Called the Che Guevara of Osmania University, he has been an enigmatic figure, the rebel with a cause. There have been movies based on him - Alajadi in Telugu by Tammareddy Bharadwaja who was apparently his contemporary and knew him well, and the role played by Ajay Devgan/ Suriya in Yuva.

PDSU was dominant in the campus those days. They had two factions within PDSU by 1984 - I remember my classmate Aveena (now a full fledged capitalist with a degree from Columbia University) being in one and Balaswamy (now a senior engineer in the APSEB) in the other. We'd frequently see the name George Reddy written on the walls alongwith the symbol of the clenched fist and the words 'amar hai' and 'jeena hai to marna seeko, kadam kadam par ladna seekho'. PDSU was anti-ragging I remember and very active those days with lots of support from the hostel boys. We Again the distinction was clear - hostellers who'd come mainly from up country locations and day scholars. We heard some stories about George Reddy, a young student killed on campus. Until I saw the movie I thought he was an engineering student - but then I found out that he was studying science and was a gold medallist. The connection to the engineering college - he was brutally murdered in the Engineering College Hostel I by a mob in 1972.

George was born to a Telugu father, Raghunatha Reddy and a Malayali mother, Leela Verghese. He grew up in Palakkad, did most of his schooling from St Gabriel's High School, Kazipet (my alma mater again) and then joined the Osmania University. Influenced by Bhagat Singh, Che Guevara and opposed social discrimination, inequality, injustice, Marxist ideology, Naxal movement, Black Panthers movement in the US he had a burning passion to fight and change things. He was a boxer, learned kalaripayattu (as per the movie) and was handy with his fists. That he was a brilliant student is well established.

I went with Ramaraju, who also studied on the campus at the same time as I did, and we both enjoyed the movie and related to the campus shots, the hostels, Arts College, engineering college, canteens, messes. Sandeep Madhav essays the role of George Reddy convincingly, understated, and fully looks the part. It was nice to see Mahathi Bhikshu, actor and performer, daughter of Prof Aruna Bhikshu of the University of Hyderabad (who plays a cameo herself as the older version of Mahathi) in the role of Sreedevi, the second female lead. Also, Sanjay Reddy as a student-friendly Professor. 

On the negatives, there were too many opposing groups so I lost count of them - enough to say that there was one right-wing outfit and one Dhoolpet gang. I would have liked it if the opposition were just these two parties - Kaushik and Satyadev didn't make any sense nor could I get the context. The wigs could have been taken care of a bit. The fights were nicely done, a couple of songs avoidable, but on the whole I loved it. Good job by Jeevan Reddy and tam.

It may not be out of context to mention the name of Vijay Kumar, who was our classmate in Engineering, wiry, shirt unbuttoned till his third button, with a deep baritone, terrific English speaking skills, unbridled passion for the cause. He was a great orator they say though I never heard him, was very well-read, knew his philosophies well and extremely intelligent, just as George Reddy was. Vijay was also a student leader and followed the RSU philosophy if I remember right, discontinued in the second year and went underground. He resurfaced after a few years, in a high profile surrender with NTR, the then Chief Minister and was shot dead in an encounter sometime after.

Monday, December 2, 2019

My Musical Notes - Status Quo (1986)

In 1985, at the end of our second year at engineering, in our summer vacation, Subba Rao got this idea to go to Pune to visit his friends. They were kind enough to extend an invitation not just to him but his pals so he invited us over. Since I had never been to Pune ever in my life then, I decided to hop on, and off we went in the train, Subbu, me and two unlikely companions, Deepak Wasnik and Prasanna. Or was it Choudary?



Now the friends put us up in a hotel in Deccan Gymkhana. I really loved going out to Deccan and walking by - enjoying the shopping, the shops, looking at pretty girls (one young lass in a pretty red top stole my heart - but something with journeys, I always lost my heart to someone). We were taken one day to the college (Symbiosis) and on another day to Camp.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U13-XNtWxw4 (Ain't Complaining)

Camp was where all the action was and we were amazed at the shops, the girls and spent long hours that evening. I remember them treating us to chicken sandwiches and rose milk even then (1986) and I am still not over Marzorin. This May I went there with Anjali and we ate some chicken sandwiches and drank some rose milk. While walking down Camp I, as always found a music shop and was thrilled to see they had more variety than I could ask for. Since my money situation was rather limited, I picked one. A wonderful choice.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c2_P12UGWvs (Who gets the love?)

That was the first time I met Status Quo, with their super hit single 'In the army now'. I picked up some assorted cassette with that song and many other wonderful songs (lost it) but became a die hard Status Quo fan for life.

Years later when I saw Status Quo's 'Ain't Complaining', a stellar album with numbers like 'Ain't complaining', 'Who gets the love', 'Burning Bridges', 'I know you're leaving' and 'One for the money' I just picked it up without a second thought. In fact, the entire album did not have a single song you wanted to fast forward. Everyone back home loved it - friends especially and it played many times in the background of our discussions etc. I lost the original tape (or more likely someone borrowed it) but I liked it so much that I bought another one much later which I now have.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUV4c4bt2Fk (I know you're leaving)

'Who gets the love' deserves a special mention. During a famous breakup, I heard this song being sung by the breakee demanding to know 'who gets his love' after the breakup. I can imagine the guy saying at that stage, feeling a bit like Rhett Butler I'd suspect, 'Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn.'

Anyway, thanks Status Quo for endless hours of pleasure. Will dedicate it to Subbu because we would not have gone to Pune without him.

Canteen Fundas - How to be an Expert!

10000 hours, 10 years, deliberate practice!

http://epaper.newindianexpress.com/c/46429202


Sunday, December 1, 2019

Thought for the Day - Count your Blessings!

I kept hearing this phrase 'count your blessings' until I actually started to count the other day. I wondered how many people in this world actually bless me on a daily basis. The thought was triggered by this old Muslim lady at Greenlands traffic signal one afternoon. She knocked on the car window. I didn't have my usual bag of chocolates to offer her so I just fished around and found some change. I felt bad about offering her so little and even asked her if it was okay. She smiled, accepted those few coins and gave me a million-dollar smile followed by a wholehearted blessing. Then as the signal turned green I caught her eye again - she had moved ahead - and once again that brilliant smile and that blessing.
Kurumgad Island, Karwar

That got me thinking.

How many people bless me? I realised not many might because I am not doing anything really to help anybody's condition. My life is self-absorbed with only space for me. The people who get blessings from so many others, the gurus, the leaders, the employers, the good samaritans, are at least thinking about others, doing something for them, talking to them, giving them jobs, helping those in need, whatever.

I decided to change things a bit. On one hand, I decided to do small acts that will attract blessings (not to attract blessings but to do an act that deserves a blessing!). Clothes, food, books, a kind word, a smile, anything. I ask myself at the end of the day if I have achieved anything like that. I find that I am not able to do that on a daily basis, so I decided to at least pray and send good energy for all those I know who are in some distress - ill health, worries, financial troubles etc etc. I decided to give blessings, if I can call them that, through these thoughts every day, if nothing else.

All thanks to that lovely lady at Greenlands traffic signal who taught me a wonderful lesson. She gave me so much more than I could ever give her - that smile and that blessing. Thank you thank you thank you.

The Sunday HANS - Racism in Cricket

Pink, white, red balls! Why not black, brown and yellow?
https://epaper.thehansindia.com/c/46373835


Friday, November 29, 2019

The Learning Mindset - The 1-50 Game

This is a game that came to me on WhatsApp as a forward. There are 25 numbers on the screen randomly placed and you as you touch each number it disappears and new numbers appear after 25 until all 50 show up in that box of 5x5. The key is to do it as fast as you can of course and the game says if you do 50 in 70 seconds and over, you are old. 20-30 is a liar, 30-40 is an expert and 40 to 50 is average and so on. I tried it first some six months ago and found I was in the old category. Try as much as I did I could barely come under 50.

http://zzzscore.com/1to50/en/?ts=1575006787154

One day I asked 12 year old Anjali to do it and she quickly did it in 43 seconds. That blew my mind. With zero practice. Then I realised that age certainly had its effect on eyesight, coordination etc. I watched her doing it and found that the first thing she did differently was to hold the fingers away and punch the numbers with both thumbs - as all teenagers do when they text. I was using my index finger of my right hand only. So I changed that and tried. A slight improvement and I hit the low 60s. Still far to go.

Over the next six months, I experimented continuously on it whenever I had some free time to see if I could crack the code. I realised that there was a way I was holding the phone where some numbers got hidden which was dumb - I can't find things I cannot see. Then I realised that I was getting tense when I missed something and my brain would go into a freeze mode. I was missing numbers that were sitting right in front of me, right next to the number I punched.  Also when I went tense, I could sense my body getting warmer, my breathing stopping in concentration, and I used techniques to focus on breathing etc to be less tense. I realised there was a connection between the tension in my body and my ability to concentrate. Then I realised that the tension in my body also affected how my fingers moved - many times randomly without any clear direction - just hope.

With some practice, I lowered myself to the 50s.

But I knew there were times when I was in a good state of mind (the zone) when things happened without too much jumping around. There was a way I looked, the mind was 'set', that helped in getting better times. My times got into the 40s which was a huge achievement and as I practiced some more I realised that there were times when I hit the low 30s too which was incredible. Those were times when the mind and body seemed to be in sync.

That was the key.

I realised that the mind was going faster than the body and was sending confusing signals to the body, so my eyes would be searching all over and my hands would be twitching and however hard I punched the keys, the numbers would not go beyond the 40s. Then when I slowed my body down (basically stopped twitching and jumping around) to the pace of the mind - and then I seemed to have hit the golden spot. This is where I consistently hit the 30s. 36, 34 and my personal best of 32 even.

The big learning - to get faster results, I had to slow down and move my body deliberately, after it got the signal from the brain. The key was to slow down my hand movements. Secondly instead of punching the keys, to merely touch them gently. The third thing was to get an overall view of the screen and not jump all around with my eyes. This 'sight' is what I have not yet perfected but with practice I think I will get that.

Now I can hit the 30s once in 4-5 times, in a relaxed mode, which is way better than my earlier manner.

The other day I checked with Anjali and she was disappointed that I got a 30s score and she got a 40s. She practiced a few times and hit a 30s score. What took me six months, she could do it in a couple of tries. But then that's the power of youth for you. However, I did learn that we can teach an old dog some new tricks too if we keep at it!


Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Of Closures and New Beginnings - Saniya

This is an English translation of the works of award-winning Marathi writer Saniya, translated by Keerti Ramachandra, one of the better-known translators today, especially from Marathi and Kannada to English.

The book contains five stories and a novella. In the first story, 'A Matter of Choice' a widow who chooses to live by herself finds an old college friend landing up at her house with his young daughter who is running a fever. She slowly realises that he is broke, has left his wife and home and is on his own. Gradually he reveals his state of affairs to an increasingly irritated widow and proposes to her - that he could pretty much manage the house if she let him be his caretaker wife.  A marriage of convenience and a complete role reversal.

In 'Bequest' a married woman meets an old college friend, an idealist perhaps who is foraying into politics. He comes to meet her and her husband and during the course of the day we realise that he deeply cares about her in the small things that he remembers or does for her. At the end it appears that they both realise the futility of what-could-have- been-but-is-not.

In 'Bhumika' we have another happily single woman who suddenly has to deal with pressure from her family to marry a recently widowed friend of hers and mother his child. She is clear that she does not want that role but they don't seem to understand.

In 'Love Gene' a daughter visits a father on his birthday. She grew up without any real attachment to her father who has always remained distant from her - only now that he has grown old he does not know how to deal with the vacuousness of his life, his daughter's affection, something he cannot reciprocate.

In 'The Invitation' a working woman visits her daughter and her estranged husband in the USA on her daughter's invitation and finds that perhaps the reasons for her estrangement are not her husband's fault as she always believed it to be. She understands her new role and her husband's positives and by the end has enough grace to invite him back.

In the novella 'Another Chance' the protagonist Suruchi is dealing with the sudden death of her live-in partner Shreerang when her parents and her younger sister come to visit her in India. Her younger sister Swaroop stays back and gets married while Suruchi remains single, content with her memories of Shreerang.

The themes evoke an urban setting, of old college friends who come back, of middle class people trying to challenge the traditional boundaries that middle class people bind themselves with. So a relationship, a choice to remain unmarried, an unconventional proposal, a choice to separate but still be ok with the idea of that relationship - everything adds up to a lot of tension and conflict. It might not seem like much, but these are the conflicts people face, and live and die by them. The stories offer interesting perspectives or what-ifs and one gets a look into the deeper desires and wants of women and how much pressure is exerted on them by society and by themselves. A unique bunch of stories. Somehow left me with a Basu Chatterjee- Hrikiskesh Mukherjee movie feel to the whole thing which is to say I might not forget the stories or more importantly the feel of the stories that seems to wrap itself around me. Credit to Saniya for creating that special space for the reader and Keerti Ramchandra for capturing and retaining it. .

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Frozen 2 - Movie

Went to Tivoli to watch a movie after a long long time. My everlasting memory of Tivoli was watching ABBA the movie in the late seventies or early eighties, early high school days - a movie that introduced me to the world of western music and changed my world. I will always remain grateful to Tivoli for that.

Now there are two Tivoli's - the theatre that was called Lamba has now become Tivoli Extreme. Since Lamba/Tivoli advertised Frozen 2 in a much bigger way I drove there only to be told that screen 1 was behind. So I went there with the two guests of honour - Anjali and Mansi.

The new thing was that they charged 30 bucks for hiring the glasses. I don't remember going to pay these 30 rupees at the counter - was it part of the ticket or was it not charged? Anyway, they gave me coupons for the 90 bucks and I handed them over to a Upper guy and not the Lower guy - Tivoli has an Upper and Lower class and if you aren't careful like the couple behind us, you could end up in the wrong class, with the same seat number.

Three other things caught my attention before the movie started. First up, there was an Indian News Review kind of documentary with similar sound and visual, about Sardar Patel and how because of his efforts, the country was united. Again, the documentary does not dwell on how many kingdoms there were (some 546 if I remember right) and how many did not accede easily. It dwells only on two Junagadh and Hyderabad. Following that was an advertisement for some initiative by the Telangana state government that takes care of children of parents who are in jail! The ad shows a couple fighting, the drunk husband beating his wife, the children crying, the wife killing her husband, going to jail, the judge assuring her that the children would be well taken care of. Overall an advertisement that says you can kill your spouse without worries and go to jail - the state will take good care of your kids. So anyone who is hesitating, please go ahead. After all this, they forgot to play the national anthem and we all sat down quietly and guiltily.

The movie was nice with music and stunning visuals. I noticed an Indian name Mohit Kalianpur in the credits - cinematography and lighting. Elsa and Anna and some back story of their parents that now challenges the existence of their kingdom Arendelle. Kristoff, Sven and Olaf the snowman are around and lots of superb visuals later we get to a happy ending. Alla's well and that ends well. 

I asked Anjali how she liked it - in my cynical way I didn't much like it - but she rolled her eyes and said 'very good'. Mansi apparently felt this was better than Frozen. I immediately changed my mind and upgraded the movie to good. Better not be left behind.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Interesting - Leo Babauta

Check this out!
Zen habits and minimalism!
https://leobabauta.com/

The unexpected rewards of uncertainty and discomfort!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nNjhnAmiGEQ

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Chase your Dreams - Sachin Tendulkar

'Chase your Dreams' is the young reader's version of Sachin Tendulkar's bio 'Playing it my way'. Since I didn't read the original I thought I'd browse through this version that was lying in Anjali's pile of books.

The stories of young Tendulkar's growing up were nice - about how energetic and mischievous he was and how finally when he fell off a mango tree, his older brother Ajit (his eldest brother is Nitin and he has a sister) joins him in a cricket coaching camp. The coach Achrekar rejects him but Ajit pleads his case and asks him to take another look and Sachin makes it and there begins the most famous guru-shishya story we had in Indian cricket. I simply admire what people like Ajit do - putting themselves aside and pleading his brother's case - I feel I can never be as large-hearted as them or be as unselfish as them, and such acts and such people I fully admire.

Mush has been said about the brutal training program Sachin would go through playing throughout the day - practice, natch, practice until evening. With his talent and this kind of work he soon outshone all others and scored some crazy number of runs at school level - 200s and 300s. Most of his career is known to us after he made his debut but even then its fascinating to see how much capacity he had to receive so much love - it swells bigger and bigger and even reading it makes you feel that its too much for one person to handle. But he does and with aplomb.

His stats are incredible.No one would have played the game for so long with all those injuries especially after having achieved so much unless they love the game so much. Its a one of a kind love affair and there;'s no point trying to understand it. The odd discordant note comes in - when he talks of how he recommended certain players as captains (not really required) or when he says he was upset with Dravid for declaring when he was on 194 (he was the captain and he had his ideas, your job was to follow his instructions and not throw tantrums because you missed a double). But then, for all that he achieved, this much is allowed.

The mantra of work, work, work of getting better, of preparation, of being grounded and grateful to the game that gave him so much, to his family and all those who supported him, paid off well. But like all cricket bios - the stats get boring after a while. I realised that we'd like to read what happened behind the scenes, the stories, the evolution. Anyway, off the list.

Anjali - To do Lists and Post It Notes

I am suddenly seeing a bunch of to-do notes and post-its with a list of hard words around Anjali's desk. It's nice to see her trying to organise her effort, to hone her skills. It's always good practice to put in the effort, to have a plan because it becomes a habit and then things become a lot easier.

Some tough words
A to-do list


Harder words
Good going Anjali!

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

TED Talk - Perception is Everything

Change the frame of reference! Nice.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iueVZJVEmEs

TED Tallk - The Power of Believing that You Can Improve

Dr. Carol Dweck - The power of believing that you can improve!

The power of 'not yet'.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_X0mgOOSpLU

Mindset - Dr Carol Dweck

This is an updated edition and the first thing I noticed is that Dr. Dweck decided to change the tag line to 'Changing the way you think to fulfill your potential'. The earlier one was more on the lines of success - something that her editor forced on her I think. The book is structured the same way - The two mindsets, ability and accomplishment, sports and the champion mindset, mindset in business - leadership, mindset in relationships - love etc, parents, teachers and coaches and how to change mindsets.

Fixed and growth mindsets
I've reviewed the earlier edition before and it did change my life in many ways. Essentially it is about the two mindsets that govern us and our behavior and how they can either lead us to fulfill our potential or not. The mindsets are fixed mindset and the growth (learning) mindset (and we have both - this book tries to differentiate between them so we consciously adopt the learning mindset). Fixed mindsets are always about proving themselves smart while growth mindset it only about growth and learning. The fundamental idea is that intelligence is not fixed and that with effort we get better. We are not whatever label was attached to us, we can improve and fulfill our potential. If we believe in talent and intelligence as fixed, we defend that idea and there is no growth. If we believe that we can work at things and learn and grow, there is growth.

Success and failure - different for both mindsets
The mindsets even change the meaning of success and failure for us. Fixed mindset believes that failure is not acceptable because it indicates that the person is not talented or intelligent. The fact that on that day, that preparation, perhaps the person was not at the level that the test demanded is not acceptable. So blame, excuse, judgment comes into the picture. Growth mindset, however, treats failure as a challenge and goes back to work harder, to learn more. In many ways, fixed mindset is an egoistic reaction aimed at the outside world (while suffering internally), while the learning mindset is aimed at challenging oneself  (and is quite satisfying).
"You don't fail until you start to blame" - John Wooden.

Effect of Labels
Why we get into these mindsets is because of the praise or positive labels we may have been exposed to which makes us perfect and we feel that anything less than perfection is not acceptable. We defend that idea and become fixed in our mindset. Even negative labels can harm of course, as much as positive labels. The key is to give feedback that is honest, appropriate and in a fashion that it provokes positive action from the student and does not drive them deeper into a sense of failure or inadequacy.

Can we change our mindset?
The good news is that we can change our mindset. We can grow our intelligence with effort. When we try new things our brain grows new connections. So it is better to not opt out or give up when things get harder  - struggle with it until you crack it. Your brain grows in that effort. Ask yourself if there's anything in your past that measured you - a failure, a nasty comment - understand that it doesn't define you or your personality.

Sports and the champion mindset
In sports Dweck says that the idea of natural is a myth - Michael Jordan, Mohammed Ali, Babe Ruth and several others were not naturals - they became champions byt training harder than most. It is the people who understand that every sport is a team sport (support teams) who do well. These are those who had better strategies, taught themselves more, practiced harder and worked through obstacles. The growth mindset sports persons reacted to success (as ding their best, learning and improving) and failure (found setbacks motivating, new information about their limitations, wake up call) differently. Dweck dwells on the importance of character which is what it takes to be a champion - one who goes to the top and stays there. She discusses John Wooden and his coaching style (we may be outscored but we will never lose). He only looked at effort, at character.

Business leadership and mindset
In business Dweck deals with the two mindsets and leaders who adopted these mindsets - Iacocca was one and Welch another. How Iacocca built a great company and then it became all about him and less about others while Welch was all about growing others. Both companies have vastly different outcomes in the long run. The growth mindset leaders listened to others, grew others.

Parents, teachers and coaches
In the chapter on parents Dweck says how every word that the parents say sends a message to the child (judging). Instead of praising their intelligence or talent (which they think as fixed components) you are better off praising process such as effort (which is a variable component). Dweck urges parents to give constructive criticism. She warns against the 'we love you - but on our terms' syndrome and urges teachers and coaches to not lower standards - high standards and a nurturing environment is the key.
She also says that the greatest teachers were those who went to learn, not to teach!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_X0mgOOSpLU (Carol Dweck's TED talk)

Relationships
In relationships she suggests that people are better off airing their differences, listening carefully, discuss in a patient and caring manner. Not be blamers and judges. Dweck also clarifies that shyness is a fixed mindset trait - better improve social skills she says. Judgment is a fixed mindset trait. So is blame.

Dweck recommends Twyla Tharp's 'Creative Habit' which she says debunks the idea that art is a natural talent. And of course she cites Betty Edwards and her art classes and her book 'Drawing on the right side of the brain' where after a mere five days one sees a marked difference in sketches. Edwards teaches them that its not about drawing but about seeing - edges, spaces, light, shadows and relationships.

Give your Fixed Mindset a Name
One huge idea in this book is that Dweck urges us to recognise our fixed mindset and give this persona a name. Then its easier to talk about what this persona does without getting personal about it. I do like the idea - it can facilitate many open conversations about oneself.
Clearly she says that the Fixed Mindset persona interferes, sets limitations, is against effort, makes others into judges and not allies. You constantly feel judged.

Brainology workshops
Another new idea is the Brainology workshops that she has developed for youngsters and how they are helping to improve performance. Are the students sleeping enough, eating right, having better study strategies.

How to change from Fixed to Growth mindset
To change from fixed to Growth Mindset, here's how the journey will pan out
1) accept your fixed mindset, in fact, embrace it she says
2) recognise triggers for fixed mindset behavior (failure, criticism, deadlines, disagreement)
3) give your fixed mindset persona a name - analyse what does he make you feel, think, do and how he affects you
4) stay growth-minded, educate the fixed mindset persona
5) help others grow

Focus on growth every day
Dweck also says one must be constantly seeking opportunities to grow - ask yourself what are the opportunities for growth, what's my plan about when, where and how, acting on plan and maintaining and continuing on the plan.

Glad I read it again. Several ideas are now fusing into other great ideas learning ideas.




Friday, November 15, 2019

Thought for the Day - Start with Loving Yourself

Would a superstar love everyone in the world that he receives so much love from everyone? Most likely not - certainly not in the beginning when he or she is struggling to make it. Maybe later in their lives when they realise that they are being showered with love from all and sundry for just being themselves.

In the beginning, though, (I feel) the difference between them and others is that they love themselves immensely and forget about everything else. And when they do that, they find the space to make themselves better.

Others find it difficult to love themselves. They put up a facade of loving others etc but it's just an escape from the incapability to love yourself. Clearly, we cannot love others if we do not love ourselves.

The starting point then to receive love is to love yourself.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

An Interview with a Nonagenarian - Dr. Nalini Nargundkar

Dr. Nalini Nargundkar., my mother-in-law, was born on August 10, 1929. She remembers a time when there was no electricity, running water, gas, no public transport (tonga was an option) etc. I decided to ask her a few questions. She readily and happily obliged.

Q. What are the three most important things in life?
A. Family and friends, and the company you keep. Education. What you do for your livelihood, your aims and achievements

Q. What are your views about money?
A. Everyone requires a minimum amount of money for a comfortable life. I never wanted it so much that it lasts for seven generations etc.

Q. What is success?
A. Success is achieving what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a doctor in a time when there were not many lady doctors and when I did my MBBS I felt I achieved something. It's my biggest achievement.

Q. What do you think are the secrets to success?
A. Have an aim in life. Try hard to achieve it, and execute it successfully. But peacefully and to your heart's content. Mental peace is important.

Q. What are your views about family?
A. Children must be educated and you must bring them up in such a way that they will earn and live their life.

Q. What about relationships?
A. We had a good family. There were 8 siblings, 7 sisters and one brother. My mother used to welcome anybody and everybody so we learned to welcome people to our homes and be warm with them.

Q. What is your advice to those who are feeling low?
A. Don't lose heart. Keep working hard and you'll get it. Have an aim, work hard and you'll achieve it.

Q. Do you think honesty pays? Is there room for ethics these days?
A. There are no shortcuts in life. Honesty is the best policy. For one day you may feel you have cheated but it won't give peace of mind to you.

Q. What about happiness?
A. It is the most important thing. We have to be happy if we have to survive in this world. If you're pessimistic you will end up crying all your life. Decide to be happy and you'll remain happy. Since I survived, I'll make use of my life in whichever way I can.

Q. Your big regrets?
A. My mother committing suicide. We couldn't make her happy. She was very generous, sensitive.

Q. What is the one quality we must all develop?
A. Love and friendship. Understanding each other. You can be friends with people of any age. You can love anybody.

Thanks aunty.

Anjali - A Visit to the Abids Second Hand Book Market

Anjali got a bunch of Archie's comics from the second-hand market and was done. Now she wanted another bunch. We decided to join Vinod, the master of this market last Sunday. There were a bunch of books to give away and we gave them away to Vinod's second-hand book shop owner pal, Tajuddin.

Vinod overseeing the sacred activity!
We quickly got a bunch of comics. And then we browsed some more. She picked up an Agatha Christie and we were off.

We could make this our regular routine.

Anjali - Interview at 11 and a Half

We fell out of the practice of interviewing. When I am in the mood, she is not. But we did manage to do half an interview. Looking back, it was still nice. I think we should continue even if I have to pay her for it.

Me: How's life at 11?
Anjali: Good.

Q. Do you feel any different?
Anjali: No. I mean you feel bigger. Elder. More different. A year older.
In a good way.

Your best experiences since 11?
Anjali: Kind of liked writing exams. All of them. Summer vacation in Pune. Satish mama's trip. He played with me a lot. And he is nice. Mummy's 50th birthday.

What did you like about it?
Anjali: Planning. And getting it all together.

What are the books you read this year? The books you liked?
Anjali: Harry Potter - read them all. Nancy Drew. Started 'Old man and the sea' Started a lot of books, didn't finish.

And movies that you liked?
Anjali: Alladin. Free Solo.

Anything new that you discovered this year?
Anjali: In class 6 friendship was not steady. This year its under control (we did the interview when she was half into 7th). Last year we lashed out at each other. This year we told each other - let's not fight again. I think I learned the importance of sharing how you feel with others.

Any big highlights of the year?
Anjali: Didn't like my birthday. Had more fun with my friends who came for the night out on October 1.

What are the things you learned to do?
Anjali: To be yourself. If you try to be someone else you keep pulling it. Lie. Lie. Lie.
Learned to iron clothes. Cook omelettes. Cook rice.
Importance of routine. I learned not to be lazy about homework. It's helping me - my homework. I'm happy with it.

What are the plans for next year?
Anjali: Don't know. Do what I want to do. Good to do. Make plans on the way.
Maybe I want to go to Bangalore. I want to make a cycling route. Eat healthy, more vegetables. Get more routines - yoga. Meet Pooja. Spend more time with my cousins. Now I fit in, I can talk to them.

Most enjoyable and fun moment?
Anjali: Yesterday all cousins (she, Vajra, Chimu and Shrinjay) were sitting at the table and spoke freely. We haven't done that.
I felt like I fit in. Felt younger earlier. Now I feel like I fit in more.

New music that you liked?
Anjali: Disney music. Kim Possible movies. Psych. Shout by Tears for Fears. It's so funny in the Psych episode.

What about Mom and Dad?
Anjali: They are very patient people. Because I'm very irritating sometimes.
They are kind. Everyone likes them.

Ok, give two pluses and 1 negative about them?
Anjali: Mamma cares about people a lot. Gives space. She knows when I want her to be with me.
The area to improve - Gets upset when I speak up sometimes.

Nanna listens to me, to my complaints. Very kind. Everyone really likes him. He doesn't know that.
Anjali: Area to improve - Not squash me when he hugs me.

What do you think of yourself?
Anjali: I think I am very nice. I haven't thought of that. Not taking things as lightly as before. Small things.
Mom tells me only two times, not 10 times.
Sleeping early, getting up early. Not making excuses anymore. I am more disciplined. I care for people.
On the areas to improve, I want to increase my height.
Last year I was moody. This year less of me, me. Not as much need for attention. Realised a few things like I am not talking etc.


Anjali decided to interview me
A. How do you feel at 52?
Me. I don't feel old. I look at life with wonder. Every day is different. I am going day by day.

A. Top 3 books?
Me. The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, Measure what matters, How to become a Buddha in 5 weeks.
(I was checking my blog for the books I read this year and she complains -Injustice, he looks at lists!)

A. Best moment this year?
Me. Mamma's birthday. The surprise, the execution, the people, the warmth. Best moment in a long long time.

A. Best moment with me?
Me. Us both going to WOFL to eat waffles and pancakes. Us both experimenting with cooking when Mamma is not there. Or watching movies or shows together.

A. Best moment in 52 years?
Me. When I first saw Anjali!

Monday, November 11, 2019

TED Talk - Inside the Mind of a Procrastinator

Funny and nice.

The monkey keeps you away from work, sheltered by the panic monster. The rational man has no control. But it works when there are deadlines...panic wakes up then and monkey quiets down.
Look at your big deadline - considering you will live till 90. What do you want to achieve?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=arj7oStGLkU

Canteen Fundas - How to Convert Weaknesses into Strengths

How to make your weak points your strengths!

 3 steps of evolution - avoid them, acknowledge them, embrace them

http://epaper.newindianexpress.com/c/45606879


Sunday, November 10, 2019

Mana Akkineni - Sanjay Kishore

Vasu's mother gave this book to me - a beautiful 335 page coffee table photobiography of Telugu superstar Akkineni Nageswara Rao popularly known as ANR. It's a work of love, with many beautiful pictures, analysis from several angles, all towards conveying the life's work of a great artiste. He mentions that Telugu cinema began in 1931 and ANR began his career in 1941 (as a child artiste) and continued acting almost till the end - his last movie 'Manam' was in 2014, the year when he passed away. He always said that he wanted to die acting! That's what Ikigai is I guess - having a reason to get up every day, do it well, and that gives you happiness and is your profession and pays you and is what the world needs.

Born into a lower-middle-class family in Venkata Raghavapuram in Gudivada district on September 20, 1924, to Akkineni Venkataratnam and Punnamma, ANR was the youngest of nine children, four of whom died in their childhood. His father passed away immediately upon his birth. He was given five acres as his share.

ANR showed his prowess as an actor early in school drams where he played Narada and Chandramati to accolades. His brother Ramabrahmam went out of his way to promote his younger brother and got his enrolled in a drama company called Kuduravalli Drama Company. It is fascinating to see how these drama companies flourished even then. ANR would play the role of 'Tara' a female character so well that many were shocked to know that it was a boy who was playing it. He was always diligent and worked 18 hour days - working at home, with the cattle, fetching water, going to school which was 3 kms away, doing housework, helping his mother and then going for rehearsals till late in the night. The 10000 hour theory will work well here.

Ramabrahmam tried his best to get his brother a break in films and finally got him a role in the movie 'Talli Prema'. Though ANR spent four months in Madras working on the film, his role was finally chopped off and he returned. As fate would have it he was spotted on the Gudivada Railway station with his drama company by a film producer Ghantasala Balamurali and he offered him a lead role in his upcoming film 'Seetarama jananam'. ANR was to play Lord Rama. The film didn't do very well but he got noticed and he was offered films like 'Mayalokam', 'Mugguru Marathilu', 'Ratnamala' and 'Balaraju' all of which did well. Balaraju was a big hit. ANR went on to do several hits in his 75 year long career including Devadasu, Premabhishekam, Gundamma Katha and others. He starred in 255 films in Telugu, Tamil and Hindi. He did TV serials, sang songs and turned producer too. He was a shrewd businessman who invested his money well and established flour mills, model farms, grape gardens and most famously the Annapurna Studios in Hyderabad. He started the ANR Foundation, contributed to charitable causes. He also authored five books, mostly autobiographical. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1968, Padma Bhushan in 1988 and Padma Vibhushan in 2011. He was awarded the Dadasaheb Phalke award in 1991. He was also awarded four doctorates by Andra University, Nagarjuna University, GITAM and Dakshina Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha.

ANR named all his enterprises after his wife Annapurna to whom he remained eternally grateful. His family continues his legacy. His children include Satyavati, Venkatnarayana, Nagasuseela, Naga Saroja and Nagarjuna. Wonderful coffee table book and a great effort by  Sanjay Kishore.

Anjali - Diwali Mela Stall

Daksha school has a lovely Diwali mela every year and we have all grown to love that experience. Every year the children set up stalls with games and quizzes and all parents and visitors are invited to join the fun. Scary house, puzzles, quizzes, cricket challenge, dance show (this year the second class kids had a fashion show!). There is lots of good food to eat and everyone has a great time. The school normally raises close to a lakh thoruhg this fun mela which is then donated to some good cause.

Anjali had stalls solo and with partners over the years - the most memorable being the used book stall she had a couple of years ago which raised a decent amount of money. This year she came up with an idea to have a guess-the-word-from-the visuals game. She drew two objects which would represent a word and by putting these two words together you have to come up with the original word.

So I was quite surprised to see a big chart full of drawing - a tee junction on one side and a shirt on the other, and such. Some 15 - 20 of them. It must have taken some effort. Of course I was asked to guess and did a fair job and was admonished for not guessing right on some of the others.

Later on she tried it on Shobha and decided that perhaps the visuals should be printed to avoid any confusion in the viewer's mind. And she did that.

But to me, the chart with her original pictures are the real deal. The thought, effort and execution. It's always easy to pick the pictures off the net. It's only by drawing those visuals do you understand the difficulty, think of the visual and its chief characteritstics and get involved in it. I was reading about Hayao Miyazaki, the great animation artist, and how he drew his animation film characters instead of using technology - deep involvement in his work.

I like that.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Beautiful Nature

Anjali and I walk to the park these days at 630 in the morning for a short 20 minute walk, jog. It's the same walk every day. Only today I saw this beautiful sight - of a carpet made of the finest and most fragrant flowers.


They must have been laid out softly through the night. What lovely work!


And the flowers themselves - got a few. Never ceases to amaze me.

Nice Link - Wabi Sabi

Beauty in imperfection!

Happy wabi-sabi!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jKmljuTiIBY (Arielle Ford)


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPyQ18eQIBE (More Arielle Ford - shorter) 

A Simple Way to Break a Bad Habit - Judson Brewer

Nice talk!

Trigger - Behavior - Reward!

To change bad habits - don't force yourself. Just get curious. Get into it.

Talk to the brain that drives behavior.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-moW9jvvMr4&t=3s

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Sunday Cricket Lessons - How the Mind Can be Used

There is much work for the mind in the game of cricket, in any high-performance area, in life itself. Here are a few thoughts mainly oriented to cricketers but surely to other areas too.

The Basic Unit of Mental Work is a Thought
The basic unit for the mind is thought. And the easiest (and hardest) to control. Check where your thoughts are - are they worrying too much about things or are they having an optimistic or creative bent of mind?

Every single negative thought drags you further away from your performance. It does not matter if you've worked hard, but if your mind has negative thoughts, forget it.

Negative thoughts can be about performance, about teammates, about whether you are good enough, about selection, unfairness, injustice etc etc. Just drop them and focus on keeping the first mind on the game.

If you cannot keep it positive, at least keep it neutral. Don't think anything, just stay blank and focus on the next job at the moment.

Create Nice Outcomes with Your Thoughts, Goals
The creative outcomes that you wish to achieve in your mind are what we call goals. Create pictures, videos in your mind of good outcomes, however big. They are thoughts after all, no taxes. Use your time before sleeping to create and live these goals.

Clarity is important, detail is important.

Use every single thought well. It is the seed that will spread all over the mind and shapes how your mind behaves and reacts.

Your mind can control you. But if you can control each thought, you can control the mind. Like they say, what you sow, you reap.

The Mind and Body are Two Different Things
The body and the mind are different. Most of us think of ourselves as one whole entity - mind, body etc - and that they are fully in congruence with one another. But we all also know that sometimes the mind says something and the body does something else. We know they are different.

In a perfect world, the mind and body are fully in sync. In fact, that is what our endeavour is finally I guess - to bring them into sync. But since they are not, let's see how to start the process.

The awareness that they are different is a good start. The next thing to do is that our mind is clear about what it wants the body to execute. This, it must visualise, mentally. The perfect feeling of ball on bat, the perfect drive, the perfect defence, the perfect delivery, the perfect catch. Visualise all this in the mind.

Once we have this visualisation we can turn it over to the body. Tell your body that this is what you wish to achieve. Let your mind give a clear picture of what it wants the body to do for it. When we give a clear direction, its almost as if all the cells in our body work towards making that happen.
On the other hand if we do not give a clear direction, the body acts on its own.

You can give instructions every ball, and on an overall basis. With practice you will find the balance where they act in sync. That to me, is where the zone lies.

There are two minds
As the body and mind are different, there are also two minds inside you. One is the mind that is executing (the good hardworking mind) and another the judgmental mind (the mischievous and bad mind). One wants to help you achieve your potential and the other does everything to stop you from performing well by scaring you, criticizing you. You must help your first mind and shut out the second mind whose unnecessary fears only sow doubt in your mind.

It needs discipline.

The basic philosophy to follow here is this - the mind can only entertain one thought at a time. So its either the bad thought or some other thought. What we realise is that when the bad mind gets into action, we go into a spiral, especially in a tense situation.

We must break this downward spiraling thought. . Many many athletes sing, or hum a tune, or use a word or phrase in the crucial moment so the second mind is distracted from these negative thoughts. Find that trigger and use it to break the chain of thoughts. Some people do something physical like touching something physical - Mohinder Amarnath had a lucky red hand kerchief, Steve Waugh also had it, Srikkanth had a routine of walking round the stumps etc etc. Some touch amulets etc. These routines break the spiral and keep the second mind busy while the first mind goes about executing its job without interference.

In physical space like playing a game of cricket, your muscles have what they call muscle memory. They act and react based on this muscle memory after some level of training. As athletes or cricketers your first mind has trained the muscle memory over years of practice and it knows what to do. Just keep the second mind out of the way with its interfering thoughts by giving it something to do - like counting, singing, breathing, something physical that keeps it busy.
The first mind will do its job beautifully.
Performance - Interference = Potential
(Most of these thoughts are taken from Timothy Galleway's 'Inner Game of Tennis')

Use Visualisation to Improve Performance
Try and visualise the scenario you may face and 'feel' that moment beforehand. Feel the atmosphere, the feel of your hand, the smell, sounds and sights. Do what you have to do with crystal clear clarity. Go through the uncertain part of the game in great detail and address it  -don't leave anything to chance.

When the picture clicks and you feel ready, hold that space. Now you're ready.

As a bowler, it helps to have a clear visualisation of how you see the ball go off your hand, where and how it pitches, how it moves and takes off. Once you visualise clearly, it's as if the mind has given the body a plan and every cell of your body then moves towards making that come true. Without a plan, the body goes all over the place.

It happens with bowling (think up the ball before you deliver), batting (feel in control of yourself, the feel of the bat on the ball), fielding (anticipate moving, catching, fielding and throwing).

Visualisation, like anything, needs practice. Don't be lazy with your thoughts. This could be the most important thing you'd have done. The greatest athletes have all said this - they have visualised every bit of their performance over and over again much before they actually went down to perform. From Sachin Tendulkar to Usain Bolt - they have all done it.

Use your Thoughts to Create the Energy to Influence Things
Our energy operates at a frequency. If we "think" and "feel" that the selectors or coach or captain is biased against us, we are sending out signals that anyone can pick up. These signals are primarily our  energy, which is influenced by our thinking. Such thoughts can only lower our frequency which can be caught by others as 'feelings'. "Somehow I feel his or her attitude is not right" they may say, or they may say "Somehow I feel he or she is not ready yet". These "somehow I feel" statements are coming from the sense they have about you, which is primarily originating from your way of thinking.

Your thoughts become energy and your energy operates at a frequency. It will be picked up by those who are looking for that person with bad attitude, the one who they cannot get a grip on, that someone to drop because they don't understand that person's signals.

So, change your energy by changing your thoughts.

Again, since your thoughts can only hold one thought at a time, substitute your 'low frequency' thoughts with 'higher frequency' thoughts. For example, instead of cribbing about others, be grateful that you are in the team, to the captain, to the coach and the selectors. Consciously keep your mind in good space about them (especially be grateful to those with whom you're having the most problems). Think of 10 good things about them and write them down. If you cannot think of good things about them, at least don't think bad things about them. The signals will go accordingly.

What this does is that it changes your energy and your frequency. You will no longer send a 'man, I am the victim here' vibe. You are sending 'man, I am lucky to be here and am enjoying myself'.

Who will you select of the two?

Change your thoughts and change your energy and you will see a change in the results. If you have a hard luck story, please visit your thoughts and beliefs. And change them right now.

You are the one responsible. Your thoughts are the ones responsible. Change them now.

Change the Mental Story
The stories that you have built in your head get stronger and stronger the more you think and speak about them. Especially the negative stories - about selection, unfairness etc etc. You will do yourself a huge favour by shutting up about them. That is because it will deplete that story of strength and slowly it will die.

Otherwise, your story will come true. And guess who created it. You!

"You are not a failure until you blame" - John Wooden, Legendary UCLA basketball coach

Use your thoughts to achieve outcomes
Many players visualise themselves celebrating a hundred, a five-wicket haul, lifting the cup etc. Hold that visual and let your body intelligence take over. Miracles happen as you send signals all over, to your team, your colleagues and something magical happens.
It begins with one thought.

Good luck. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Anjali - Field Visit to the Art Gallery

Daksha School took the kids out to a field visit - this time to an Art Gallery. On display were artworks by Gurdeep Mandhwa. (Pics courtesy - Daksha School)

Apart from viewing the artworks, the children also got a chance to copy one such using charcoal.
Drawing their favorite work
 Anjali did one of Gandhiji (no surprises!) called Friend Request.
Working on her art

They took a picture of all the drawings together. Pretty picture.

Day well spent. Good work Daksha!