Thursday, April 29, 2010

'YES' Factor - Great Net Session

It has been a long time since I found this kind of a rhythm in the nets. These days I struggle to reach the bowling crease - there are so many aches and pains and then I struggle to release the ball. The first few balls are still dodgy and I am sure I look like a complete beginner in those times, but then, I noticed, I have been getting better in the past few days. The pains and aches are lesser since the time I have been off medication, and I am taking less time to get warmed up.
And I was getting the one odd ball to beat the bat.

But today was a different ball game. After the first six deliveries which just about reached the bat, I found a nice rhythm that made the ball move both ways and hit the bat hard. I dismissed all the batsmen I bowled to, one way or another, two of them bowed for pace, another good solid batsman caught behind twice. I got the yorker going well, the slower ball, the outcutter and considerable movement off the wicket. When I logged off after half an hour, drenched in sweat, I was totally satisfied. Coach nodded in genuine appreciation, and I went 'YES'!

There's something about being in rhythm that makes you want to sing out loud. Makes me wonder, how does one get into that rhythm often? Can it happen by design or it it always that little space we cannot access consciously? I will find out more. It's too good a feeling to let go without exploring more.

Another YES factor
Ranjani called yesterday to say she was headed off to the US for a vacation with her daughter. And, she said, she was carrying a couple of copies of 'The Men Within' as a gift to two of her friends - an Australian and a Trinidadian. Now that certainly is a huge YES factor when someone, especially someone with Ranjani's sensibilities and exposure, thinks that your book is worth gifting. It is the biggest endorsement that a book can get.
I am quite curious now to hear the reactions of these two gentlemen as and when they read it!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Jimmy Cliff - I Can See Clearly Now

It has been at least eighteen years since I saw 'Cool Runnings' the movie. Sometime in 1991-92 I'd say when I was working in Pune! The Chandan video shop, Kothrud, Pune, (atta kaay, his tag line) had a big collection of old English movie videos and Shobhs and I watched several - none that was more unforgettable than this movie. It left a tremendous impact on me.

The story of four young Jamaican athletes, their dreams, their coach and their fantastic effort in the bob sled championship finals at the Winter Olympics in Calgary (a true story) finds place among the top ten sports movies of all time. (Not just in mine, even Ian Chappell's). In fact, so wonderful it was, the way they fight to the end, that when I wrote my first book 'The Men Within', a novel about an underdog cricketing side, I was tempted to make them lose. But then, after all that planning and effort I put the characters through it did not seem right, so I pushed my team over the line.

The quiet visual of the Jamaican team carrying their bob sled over their shoulders across the finish line to the applause of their severest critics and toughest competitors signifies what the spirit of sport is all about. It is about values, about dedication, about pride, about honest competition. And it is about finishing what you have started, about competing in your own space, in your own capabilities. Any number of times that I tried to describe this scene to anyone I wind up with a lump in my throat and I find it difficult to complete the description. I know Mohan Krishna Indraganti will give me similar moments in his adaptation of 'The men Within' into a movie.

Apart from so many moments and visuals and values that this wonderful movie gave me, there was also some great music. From the first time I saw the movie I have been stuck with the song that plays at the end when the titles roll. Something about 'sunshiney days..' and so on. I longed very much to possess this track. Never managed to find out who sang it and what the song's name was either.

And just like that when I was sitting on the computer in the middle of writing some boring stuff, I decided to reward myself with some good music. I googled 'cool runnings songs' and voila, there appeared a site that gave me the song lyrics for 'I Can See Clearly Now'. Yes, yes, that's it. I got the name of the song and now to find the song on some site. Sure enough revealed under the search for Jimmy Cliff this number. And what a song to listen to.
Use this link to go to the song and listen to it. Its sublime. A huge YES factor!

For lyrics do what I did - google 'Cool Runnings song lyrics'.

And if you haven't watched this movie do it soon as you can.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Getting Bored? Be The Medium

Often times it seems difficult to give our all to certain things. You postpone them, you find ways of not doing it, you even want to quit that sometimes since it's such a drag. It does not interest you anymore. It seems like a huge burden to even think about it.

It happened with me last evening when I was to sit down and write some articles I had promised. It hung on my thoughts like a big weight. I could not even get started.

I thought about it. One reason why I had not even started was this big drag on my mind - that I had to get my body and mind to move and do this whole lot of work and give it my 100% and push my limits and all that. It was too tiring to even think of it that way. No wonder I never got started.

Do Champions Get Bored?
Then I thought about it and wondered how champions would handle this block. Would Sachin get bored of batting, Federer of tennis, Bolt of running, Isinbayeva of pole vault? After all, they had achieved what they wanted to. Then what is it that motivates them to keep coming back harder and push that limit again. Do they sit in their bed every morning and wonder, why am I doing this when I have everything?

The Medium
Then it struck me that the only way for them to get back each day is to be so devoted to the process. They just allow that talent to express itself through them. Now, that makes the process seem so much easier does it not. Just be the medium and allow what has to happen naturally without putting your thoughts in the middle.

I tried that approach. I figured that my body is just the medium. What I choose to express through it, is what is important. What I allow it to express. Whether to write, or play cricket, talk, ideate, sleep or watch television, I allow my body to express that. The only thing I can do is to let the body express itself freely and not put any burdensome, heavy thoughts in its way that will stop it from expressing itself or the idea or the talent fully.

Now when I looked at my work that way, it was a whole new perspective. When I sat down to write (which I did), I did not feel the gun at my head. Instead I looked at it as something I was expressing to the best of my ability at that moment. I started off and did half the job and decided to take a break and take it later - when the medium is ready to express itself. Until then, let the medium express itself the way it wants to.
Felt no burden.

Felt Free
The medium, my body, is transparent in my visualisation. Negative thoughts, doubts, fears and other such negative emotions only block the flow of my expression - which is very subtle. The clearer the path is, the better the delivery and the more the impact. In fact what starts as a simple idea, betters itself and becomes a more refined thought as the medium is clearer.
I think I will use this visualization for all that I do - of the medium and the free flow of energy through it to sustain my state.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Meeting Old Friends - Mohan and Sreenu

Quite by chance I met a couple of my childhood friends last evening. I had just returned home at 930 pm when I got a call from Mohan, my friend for over 30 years (and one of my first after we moved to Hyderabad), if he could drop in to meet. I have not seen much of Mohan these days, especially since he moved to Delhi and Bhopal as Associate Professor in the prestigious NIFT and I was quite happy to invite him over. He walked in ten minutes later, his salt and pepper hair drawn into a thick pony tail, a scraggy salt and pepper beard, black t shirt and his trademark jeans. Mohan has always been unconventional, the rebel.

After some conversation he picked up two copies of 'If You Love Someone...' and wanted more; unfortunately I did not have any more. He wanted to gift them to some friends and relatives. We walked out and he whipped out a beedi - 'Tiger brand,' he said, 'from Jabalpur.' Asked if I minded and I did not, so he carried on lighting a few beedis in the next hour we spent together.

I remember meeting Mohan when we were both thirteen years or so. He lived in Model Colony and I was a new entrant in Sundar Nagar. My sister Nalini's friend Usha Bala was his cousin and that was how we met - introduced so we could become friends. We started out harmlessly - playing cricket, exchanging books, going for long walks, watching or discussing movies and implementing our crazy schemes. Mine was to form a proper cricket team while Mohan had his own stream of themes. He had a fancy to be the wicket keeper and was pretty ok at the job, though I think he fancied himself to be Kirmani. Initially we had matches between Sundar Nagar and Model Colony and then we all combined and formed a stronger team which we used to play against ESI, SR Nagar and Vengal Rao Nagar teams in bet matches. It was another matter that ESI and our team merged and we played with teams from Sanatnagar, Kukatpally and so on.
Mohan kept wickets, complaining endlessly about bad throws, bad bowling, bad attitude etc. But thankfully for me he never retired from the game despite his obvious limitations and a not so good track record. The eternal optimist!

One of his schemes was to start a library and we did that, a loss making proposition. We also had several wonderful moments with his dog Jackie a friendly, enthusiastic little fellow. We went on long walks with Jackie in summer vacations. Mohan tied a message to Jackie's neck one day and sent it off as a messenger dog and when Jackie landed up at my house, message and all, was he elated. We built little tents over my terrace and stocked it with soft drinks and comics and felt very adventurous. We became members of a local library and read many books. We saw movies - 'Gold finger' I remember - because we went to Lakdi ka pul to Amaravati, found out we did not have enough money, went to Liberty where his cousin Usha Bala was, borrowed money and came back and saw the movie. We hired cycles and went on long, crazy bike rides. We payed matches and lost many and won a few. We conspired and plotted against the politics in the team.

He banged into bavagaru who was carrying little Ajay in his arms while they were at the busstop - speeding down the incline on his bicycle. He got hit more times than he hit people but he never backed off from provoking needless fights. He got drunk at the drop of a hat - once going off to a bar with another maverick, Sanjay and creating the biggest ruckus one could see. He got into buses with no tickets and would say pass. Mohan lived life on the edge, ready for a fight, ready for some excitement.

And as we grew older, Mohan found his passion - not in girls or cricket as I did, but in 'gangs'. He suddenly started smoking and associating with our local gangs. I remember him inhabiting the cafes and strolling around with all the notorious, unsavoury members in the vicinity. When we met he was as he was always, up to some new plan, some new excitement in his life. For long, even I would sit with his 'gang' as they smoked and drank their evenings away - while we watched. Just when it seemed that Mohan would go off track completely, he somehow found his bearings and joined the Fine Arts course. I joined Civil Engineering at Osmania University. From JNTU to Baroda, Jackie to Caesar and Sultana (all his dogs), Mohan progressed, and we met often enough know what was happening in our lives.

But he was there when I needed him. When my father died in 1984, it was Mohan and I who were together, returning from a first show to find a policeman informing us of the accident at my gate. It was us who downplayed the news at home, took an auto and went to Gandhi Hospital, not knowing what to expect and acting too big for our boots. It was us who found an unconscious father of mine, with severe head injuries, being shaved upon on the floor of a dirty corridor in Gandhi, being prepared for surgery as if he was some ordinary stray body. And it was he by my side when my father passed away the next morning, much to my surprise, crying for me in the dark portals of Gandhi hospital, because I was too dazed to find my tears. It was he who set off with whatever money we had in our pockets to Warangal to get the youngest of my elder sisters, Chanti back - and he did without a question to get the morning train.
We grew up together.

When I released my first book in 2007, he was there despite the many years of not meeting each other. I had a strange sense of satisfaction (still have) when I see that picture of him, in the crowd, standing alone, looking on intently. He wanted to come to Delhi for the launch of the second book but he could not and it was now that I met him after all that.

'I have come to work on my PhD,' he declared yesterday. We walked around the colony just as we used to thirty years ago, aimlessly, talking of things we did then, of people, laughing loudly and making heads turn. Mohan's love for dogs, penchant for trouble, his constant state of unsettledness and movement and the sheer unpredictability of his nature makes him what he is. To me he is Ukridge of Wodehouse in one facet and so many other nice things in others. Ukridge is my favorite character in all fiction.

At the end of our second round of walking we found a car honking at us. Sreenu, (or menti as we christened him for his mad ways), also landed up. From someone who was constantly making up stories but yet being there as a thirteen year old, Sreenu grew up to be a successful businessman himself. He was our leg spinner, the fall guy we all used to target in maram peeti, the chap we'd con most often. But he also was the chap who'd still support all our ventures wholeheartedly. He was there for the Hyd launch of 'If You Love Someone...' (bought five books, he said proudly).

We three went on a long walk to Erragadda, drank Irani chai at 11 pm and returned, sharing stories and memories, older, out of shape, but then the thirteen year old peeping out every now and then. I took a picture of them in my mobile phone and shall upload that sometime. We strolled back, chatted outside my gate till 12, just as we would in the good old days and then split promising to catch up again.

It was deeply satisfying.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Music - A New Energy

I was looking up some of the new music today and realized that I had not heard any of the new numbers. Iyaz, Cheryl Cole (for all the wrong reasons), Dave Guetta, Gorillaz, Gypsy etc. I have not heard of most of the singers and groups. I made an effort and heard a couple and then went back to listen to some of my old favourites that I have not heard for a long time. Listening to 'I will survive', 'Love is a battlefield', 'Heart of Glass' and some Beatles numbers like 'I saw her standing there' transported me straight back to the eighties.

Each song has a special memory attached to it. A person, a smell and most importantly a feeling. 'I saw her standing there' makes me move much like all Beatles songs do. Reminds me of the times in the Osmania University Engineering College when I was just discovering the full range of music. I would experiment it on my pals Choudary, Subbu, Sanjay and Ali who listened to the songs faithfully and sang out their versions on dark nights. I remember buying a Beatles tape and singing out all those songs aloud to my pals. The special visual was of all of us walking across the Nagarjuna Sagar dam in a straight line one after another in the setting sun, at the end of an excursion, the Beatles tape playing in Subbu's small tape player. One of those moments when no one said anything and we just walked along, listening to Lennon and McCartney. Magic!

Love is a battlefield
'Love is a battlefield' by Pat Benatar reminds me of the cassette I bought in Chennai, an assorted one called Music Hits 1982 or something like that (I have it somewhere). One of those many cassettes I'd buy during our cricketing trips. I'd save up all the money I could during the trip and buy cassettes on the last day, mostly accompanied by Vidyuth who'd guide me on the songs. It was the last song on side B I remember and boy, was she a discovery. I played it loud and sang along with Pat Benatar - agreeing wholeheartedly with her opinion on love. Remember sharing this song with Naresh and of our long telephone conversations that revolved around music.

'Heart of Glass' by Blondie has a special memory. It happened completely by accident because I heard it on somebody else's cassette player. It was one of Kamalakar's collection at Warangal I think. 1982! Boy, did I love that song. And I played it again and again and again and again until I was told by a worried owner that it might spoil the tape and the player. Unfortunately despite my valiant efforts to lay my hands on Blondie tapes I could not get this one. Not in Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad. I got one though - it had 'Call me' - another song I loved. 'Heart of Glass' is a very private memory because I never ran into anyone who loved Blondie specially. I was in love with that voice - I mean, really in love.

I will survive
And that brings me to 'I will survive', a song I heard many times and never possessed. I loved the song (every time I heard it), but never got to know who sang it or what the name of the song was - a most frustrating state to be in. Only recently when I saw 'Rock On' and saw Purab Kohli sway away to a full throated rendition of this song did I make an effort to find out who sang this song and what it was called.

And there must be some 2-3 thousand songs like that with a special memory attached to them. I will write them down as my tribute to all those who shared my music with me.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Hindu New Arrivals

Always a pleasure to be seen on the pages in 'The Hindu'. Even a mention in its book review section on Tuesdays is a major YES factor for me. Today's edition of 'The Hindu' mentioned 'If You Love Someone...' in its new arrivals section.

Now, to look around for some book reviews on 'If You Love Someone...'

Quantification of Effort

I was given an offer for something I would have done anyway. It is also something I like doing. But the moment the offer was placed before me I noticed a thought. Would my delivery suffer because of this offer? Am I better placed to deliver as an outsider with no obligation? It was then that it struck me that quantification of effort in terms of money would always cause problems until the mind is trained to think like a champion.

Delink Money and Effort
My mantra to all people aspiring to achieve 'excellence' or 'the champion's mindset' is to delink money from the effort you put in. Give your best shot at whatever you are doing. Make your plan, be the expert, push all limits. Linking effort to the monetary package will limit your performance. Comparing with the next guy will limit your performance. Whether you're an executive, a writer, a cricketer, a coach, an actor or whoever, this mantra would work because it enables you to focus on giving your best. And THAT will open up new limits, new boundaries. Suddenly your efforts are being recognized and valued. At that point, you do realize that the floodgates are opening as well.
Ideally, you'd still keep your focus on doing a good job.

Self- worth is linked to Earning Capacity
Our earning capacity is linked to our self-worth. If I believe my services are worth 'x' amount, I will get offers for 'x' only - though there may be far more mediocre services getting paid several times 'x'. Self-worth is not linked to the talent or skill or qualification or sensibility we have - it is directly linked to our concept of ourselves. Low self-worth brings low returns.

Problem of Quantification

The problem of quantification of effort is that if you think you are worth more and getting paid less, your delivery suffers due to jealousy and resentment and feelings of unfairness. On the other hand if you think you are getting paid for more than your worth, you will try to exert yourself and that affects delivery, which is not the way to bring out the best result.

Increase Self-Worth
So to increase our self-worth, and thus increase our capacity to earn more, it is best to push our limits first. That way we understand that we 'enjoy' reaching those limits. More importantly, these limits open up to further limits an,d into a new zone!

New Vistas, New Opportunities
New limits always lead to opportunities you may have never expected. As a person you tend to grow. To acquire a depth and a quiet wisdom of the way things are done. You see patterns where you earlier only found a maze, you have clarity and the knowledge that it will always work out.
So then, focus on growth. On giving your best at all times. On self-worth. On the new experience.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Super Review - The Men Within

Here's a link to a recent review of 'The Men Within' by someone who just does not like cricket. I loved it.

Thanks Ranjani. You fall into the one reader category that was the biggest challenge when I wrote the novel and I thought - "if someone who is well-read and does not like cricket picks up the book, it should sustain reader interest to the end".
Your review gives me a lot of satisfaction.

Ownership Stories - A Review of The Champion's Mindset

We had a small get together yesterday where we reviewed the progress we made since the 'Champion's Mindset' workshop. Everyone had made some progress towards their goals which was to be expected anyway. We shared some Yes Factors, some Out of Comfort Zone stories and then got down to doing some work.

All Ownership Stories - 100% Success Stories
We made a list of all stories in our life when we had taken complete ownership. Moments when we had decided that 'I will do this come what may'. When the list was made, we figured that we normally got all kinds of things done, which normally seem insurmountable. Some space seemed to have been created, some thought that said 'I' will do it. And it was done. Career changes, life changes, big academic achievements, sporting achievements, business decisions etc.

Magic Moment
Normally that moment comes when something snaps in us. We have had enough. Pride comes up. We want to prove something. We realize we can do it and cannot wait for someone else to do it. It is in these moments that heroes are born.

Complete Responsibility
But what really happens is that in that moment we assume complete responsibility and that takes everything to a different zone. Our stories reflected the same. We decided to make longer and bigger lists of ownership stories. Our hero stories.

The Flip Side - List of Things That are Not Working in Your Life
To make things clearer, we listed out all the things that were not working out in our life. In other words, these are the things for which we were not taking complete ownership. The test is simple - if you are blaming anyone or anything for something, you are not taking ownership.

One Step
We wrote down one single step we were going to take, to assume more ownership of that aspect. For example is health was an issue where I felt rather helpless, I decided that I would eat healthier, exercise for half an hour at least and pitch in 15 minutes of meditation as well. In the area of publishing where I felt helpless again, I decided to seize control by talking to my publisher about ways to make things work better. And in the area of happiness, I decided that maybe I will give myself the liberty to go and watch a movie by myself one of these days. The thought itself, was quite liberating.
Try this, it really frees you from areas that you feel are bogged down. Just one step is all it takes to set you free.

Blame indicates lack of ownership
It is clear. Wherever you are blaming someone, something else, you are not taking ownership. It is an area that you are happy the way it is. If you want to change it, take a step towards complete ownership.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Fun Afternoon at Deloitte

Yesterday afternoon I went to a 'Meet the Author' session at Deloitte, Madhapur, as part of their reading month. I was invited to this event by Maliny Raju, (friend of Ram's and Sheila's and now mine as well), and I was to spend an hour at Deloitte, reading from the two novels and interacting with the audience from 3 pm to 4 pm. It was a new experience, or at least, a different one because I never did a book reading in a corporate setting as part of a Meet the Author session.

As in all IT offices, the security was very strict, grim faced and military like. They checked the underside of the car, waved me inside, asked me to reveal all metallic items on my body, scanned me, took my photograph and gave me an id card that was valid for an hour and a half. Maliny was there at the reception and soon after they let me in, we walked into what seemed like a gigantic food court with large screens flashing news on NDTV. Why anyone wants to watch news while eating is what I don;t understand. And then you complain of stress!

Anyway, this was a nice cozy place where the reading was to be, and we settled down while the event was organised. I met Vidisha who came down to say hello and we chatted until the program got started. We started about 15 minutes beyond time and then after a brief intro by Maliny, I was handed the mike and asked to take over.

I introduced myself again, something which I think sets the framework for my talk better, spoke about how I got started on writing, how I wrote my first published work 'The Men Within' and then 'If You Love Someone...'. And then I read a piece from TMW and asked the audience to read out a part as well, since it was their reading month. Shalini volunteered first and did a fine job, followed by Smriti and Ayana and one other young lady, a writer herself - thank you all for sharing my burden with me and reading so well.

A small Q & A session followed, during which many probing questions were asked about writing, getting published and so on. I liked the quality of questions, they were very focused. We had a small book signing session after that during which I met some more people form the audience, Aditya, the poet lyricist, Sourabh, Krishnan, Debranjan, Lavanya, Anu (there were two Anu's), Shailendra Gupta (I signed for his son Anshuman who is a cricket buff, and Arushi his daughter and his other son whose name also begins with A..I forget) and some more names I cannot recall right away.
I, however, forgot to sign Maliny's copy which I intend to, at the next opportunity.

Thanks Maliny and the team that put this show together, Naren specially, and all those who came down. I had fun and I hope you enjoyed yourself too!

Friday, April 16, 2010


Ownership to me is the key to excellence and all things good in life. But its an oft used word that carries no meaning almost. Ownership in its true sense brings with it two other words - responsibility and risk. These two words could be stopping you from reaching out to excellence, to the best things in life.
When you own something, you automatically take responsibility for it. Most times I think this responsibility, or what we think is the burden of responsibility, stops us from taking ownership. But responsibility is something that's more mental than any physical work. Once you are mentally geared to take up the responsibility, you are on the path to achieving what you want - simply because you are giving it your best shot.
Risk is another thing that comes in with ownership. You risk losing what you own so when you assume ownership you risk losing money, reputation, fame, status etc. Now that is another thing that stops us. But if you raise the bar and say, alright let's risk this loss of reputation, money, job or whatever and go for what I think is right (what I own), the return could be much higher. Higher the risk, higher the return.
Responsibility and risk, two words one needs to get comfortable with before we talk of ownership.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Children's Stories - Publishers Ahoy

I have written this bunch of 24 stories for children and have titled the compilation 'The Gulmohur Gang Adventures'. These stories have been written as early as in 2000 and ever since I have been scouting around for publishers for them. The idea behind these stories was to create believable everyday kids who live next door and have them look at issues like honesty, taking action, standing up against injustice, sharing, being polite, being kind etc in a fun and empowering way. The stories are not as bad as some of the stuff I read, and on the other hand, they are definitely not in the Harry Potter class either.

'Lack of children's writing in India'
I figured that with all the talk of a 'lack of writing in the children's books area', there would be some interest in the Gulmohur gang in our publishing industry. But then, the inscrutable publishing industry has stumped me yet again and I have received rejections from most children's book publishers. Especially the known ones. Every once in a while I take the manuscript out of the shelf, dust it, revise it and send it off to another bunch of publishers. Ten years have gone by!

Dusting the manuscripts
The other day I was reminded of these stories when I made a list of things to do. I approached Unisun Publications in Bengaluru and Tulika Books in Chennai with my proposal and they are currently considering it.

Beginner's luck
But there is an interesting beginning to this story. The Gulmohur Gang was actually the first work of fiction of mine that was accepted by a publisher. We even signed a contract. The publisher was Dahlia Publishers in Puthusherry, Kerala headed by Senu George, a methodical, highly likeable and organized man who had just started this publishing venture. I had just quit my bank job with nothing in hand, except for a manuscript that had been rejected by everyone in the world (The Misfit) and this collection of short stories. I quit my job in March 2004 and in April 2004 I get a letter from Senu that he would like to publish the stories. I was naturally over the moon. Beginners luck!

A long wait
I signed up the agreement and went to work diligently on the stories. Senu had some fine suggestions to make and we proceeded towards publication. Revision after revision, final draft, pdf formats, title etc. Come, 2005 and nothing happened. Senu was still getting his stuff in place. Come 2006, and nothing happened again. I found an artist for Senu and we got some illustrations done. Meanwhile 'The Men Within' finally found a home and got published after its own ups and downs. Senu still kept on postponing the publication citing marketing problems, financial difficulties and I was slowly drawing to the edge of my patience. Every time we communicated Senu had no date.

Different views
I sent Senu a copy of 'The Men Within'. He read it and said that life is not like that - its not that we wish for something and it would happen. Its nice and inspirational, this story, but life is much too difficult he felt. I felt otherwise. I could not do business with someone who had such a pessimistic view of life. I told Senu to give me a final date and get going else we cancel the long-expired agreement. Senu still had no final date and I finally broke off our agreement sometime in 2008. Senu did contact me once and asked me to reconsider but then I genuinely felt that our views of the world were so different that it would always be difficult to work together even if we went ahead with the deal.

Still Persisting
Ever since, its been one rejection after another. The publishers are not yet ready for me. I am not ready for the publishers. I once contemplated changing the characters as well and infusing some magical creatures too, just to see if our publishers bite, but have not. Not yet. Still might do it. All the successes seem to be of virtual or magical characters who do not exist in this domain, so maybe that is what children want, I think.
Let us see what happens with the two publishers.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Good Words From Peers - The Best Music

I remember reading this many years ago and have also experienced this recently. Nothing uplifts the soul more than the good and honest words of peers. They mean more than the highest of praise from the best in the business. I experienced this feeling when my friends gave me a sincere 'well done' for 'The Men Within' and I remember that it tasted better than praise from the best known critics in the business.

Now, when Vinod Ekbote, the writer of some of the funniest stuff in the English language to me, a well known blogger, sensitive soul and an honest, conscientious Agriculture Officer with the AP government, picks my 'Developing the Champion's Mindset' workshop out of nowhere and writes good words about it on his blog, I am overwhelmed. Here's a link to his blog in question.

And what better way than this to celebrate my 100th blog. Well done Hari!
And thank you Vinod bhai. The next round of mirchi bajjis and coffee are on me!!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Cricket Practice

I was at the ML Jaisimha Cricket Academy this morning with the right idea of bowling a bit and getting my health and fitness regime off to a serious start. In my current shape I am only good for walking and I think it will take me a while before I can get down to any serious jogging. The inertia of the last year, the weight I put on due to the medication as well as the mysterious aches and pains that bothered me for the last 3 months are slowing wearing off and I can think I am good to get back into shape now. No better activity I can think off than bowling.
There were times when I could bowl for a length of an hour and more without a break. But today, I was apprehensive about doing anymore than just getting my body in some rhythm and bowl in the right places.
There were some of the regular suspects like Rahul, Rohan, Lalith and Sohail but they had just wound up their practice. We waited for the movie team to land up and they did punctually and were sent off to play a practice match by Mr. Baig. After the match they got down to practice and it was then that I got a chance to bowl.
I bowled for about twenty five minutes or so off a short run up and felt good. After the initial stiffness and pains and aches, I got a decent rhythm. However after a while, I felt that the gas had totally dried up and I just could not go on anymore. I stopped for the day. Not bad for the first day. But it does require a serious look at my fitness levels. I give myself 45 days to get into a good enough shape i.e. be able to bowl for an hour at the nets and jog for 25 minutes at a stretch.

The Zone
I always found that physical activity like jogging or bowling or walking gave me that much required space to come up with that one elusive idea I had been searching for. Anything - as long as it is not punctuated by conversations or unfocussed thought. If I let my mind just be it always came up with an answer. Sometimes long distance driving does that to me or even listening to music. Times when the mind goes into a meditative state, the zone.

Movie - Green Zone
Watched 'Green Zone' with Bhasker yesterday. Was wondering what they were trying to convey through the movie. Not a particularly bright idea, I felt, especially since its a dated subject and there was nothing new he was telling us anyway. One of those times when I felt like I'd wasted a few hours meaninglessly on this planet.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Things To Do - Postponing My Own Good

When I make a list of things to do, I realize that we tend to postpone the things that could do us the most good. So I looked hard at things I need to get done and the list ran a bit like this:

1) Contact publishers for the children's stories (something that I have been putting off for a very long time)

2) Get started on finding a publisher for 'The Misfit'

3) Do something about marketing of my books, even set up a marketing division if need be (plan in place needed)

4) Get my 1-day workshop organized in terms of structure

5) Complete writing the book on 'Developing a Champion's Mindset' (its 60% done)

6) Market my workshop to management schools and as an open workshop (at least 10 colleges to start with)

7) Do lectures in government schools

8) Get down to writing a screenplay which has been delayed by 3 months

9) Complete the marketing assignment with COD

10) Spend time on my health and fitness everyday, at least an hour

I think that this list is good enough for now. I am going to get most things done by the end of this week. Report progress next Monday.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

April In Hyderabad

It's getting hotter by the day in Hyderabad. After 12 noon, its wonderful to shut off all the windows and doors and chill inside with my feet up - a cool watermelon or a nice long, glass of iced lime juice for company or the occasional beer. And maybe watching an old classic or a Woody Allen movie. Post lunch there is very little chance of any sensible activity till about 5 in the evening so I shut down all systems and rest.
There are not too many mangoes in the market yet and someone painted a bleak picture of the mango crop this season. The fruit market across the road is full of colorful fruit though - the first mangoes have arrived, the sweet and brown tinged grapes are surely on their way out but are there by the cartloads, fat and green watermelons showing off their fresh, red insides, some sad looking santras that have shriveled in the heat, super shiny apples (from New Zealand or some far off place), the occasional guava cart with a mix of small and big guavas, healthy juicy pears in a cloth cases and of course the ubiquitous bananas in green and yellow bunches. Carts with coconuts are on the rise selling from 6 bucks to 13 bucks - I am yet to stop by for that sweet drink of coconut water. I have had a drink of pudina juice from a cart and it tastes like jaljeera, and the chap also sells some other similar juices made from familiar names. Ice cream vendors are all over the place, just as people selling dark glasses (imported surely, and original), umbrellas and caps.
It looks like this for the next two months for me - stay put at home most of the time, tend to the plants, do some writing, go for the occasional walk, watch the afternoon movies and chill.
There are times when I think that a getaway to a cooler place might be a good idea. Now to hunt for one!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Interview in Channel 6

Interview in Channel 6
I was looking into my letter box and was delighted to find that Channel 6, a magazine that covers events, people and places in Hyderabad had sent me two copies of their latest edition. What delighted me more was that this edition carried a nice three page interview of mine that Radhika Rajamani had taken a fortnight ago. It came out well and covered certain facts that normally get missed out in other interviews. Given below is the link to the interview.

Thanks Radhika. I do hope you get to read 'The Men Within' soon.

A Bowl In The Nets

After a long, long time I got the opportunity to bowl for about 20 minutes in the ML Jaisimha Academy nets. Glad to report that I did pretty well and there are no serious aches and pains. Plan to continue the same for a week or ten days and get myself into some shape - or at least start the process. This was my bit of commitment towards my health.

Other Issues
On fun, I watched a fine movie by Woody Allen, the name of which i know not because I watched it from half time but it made me laugh for long. But for clues, it has Helen Hunt as the female lead. Inspires me to write a story and a screenplay like that.
On, out of comfort zone, I went fruit shopping at the Erragadda ryhtu bazar, something I have been putting off for weeks and something that makes me uncomfortable.
On growth, I spent time with Choudary in the evening. I met Senthil, an accomplished cinematographer in the morning at the Academy.
On other issues, I got a bunch of letters and books and covers ready to shoot off on maintaining the marketing activity for 'If You Love Someone...'

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Lessons From The Rajasthan Royals Win

It was another amazing example of how a person's belief in himself, his abilities and his team can work miracles. Shane Warne is a true champion - a champion player, a champion competitor and a champion leader. I could hear Kasprowiz (I think) warning the other commentator in the box that as long as Warne is on the field, one could expect a twist. And what a twist there was to the IPL 3 match between the rag-tag bunch of Rajasthan Royals and the all-star Deccan Chargers last night.

Champions lead by example - Takes the toughest part
Firstly Warne comes back from what everyone considered a lean bowling patch to create an opening that was never there - bowling his 4 overs from the 12- 18th over and picking up 4 for 21 in a phase when the Chargers were fully in control of the game with only 3 wickets down. It was as if he was casting a spell, enacting a script that he had already written. Anirudh Singh, Dwayne Smith, Bilakhia and Ryan Harris got drawn into his web. Suddenly Deccan Chargers were 7 wickets down!

Never Lost Belief - In Himself and His Team
And as the match went up and down, with a seemingly good over from Watson being mauled by Rohit Sharma for 3 fours, and then another seemingly decent over form Morne Morkel going for thirteen - the equation came down to 6 runs in 6 balls with 3 wickets in hand and the rampaging Rohit Sharma on strike. Many skippers would have thrown their caps in disgust - come on guys, when will you learn why do I have to do everything myself etc etc but not Warne. Remember that super over that he made that rookie bowler Kamran bowl against Saurav in IPL 2 and he won the game for RR?

Always Believe That Your Team Is Doing Its Best
Warne grimaced and gestured to himself that the ball from Morkel that went for a six should have actually been further up and in the blockhole and not drivable length - and then clapped his hands encouragingly at Morkel. The bowler, who was surely not too happy at conceding 13 runs in 6 balls at a crucial stage, found comfort and solace in knowing that his skipper knows. That he tried his best. That comforting space is what eggs him on to strive harder - and when RP Singh hit a skier that went behind Morkel, he took an amazing catch sprinting full tilt at a ball that was falling over his shoulder. Your belief that your team is giving its best, is what makes them strive harder to give their best.

Never Give Up Till The Last Ball
Siddharth Trivedi, the bowler who had the unenviable job of bowling the last over defending a paltry 6 runs, said later on television that Warne had told him that 'whatever you bowl, make sure its your best ball'. Clear instructions, setting targets to the bowler in his mind that he has to think of his best and that as far as Warne was concerned, the match was not over. Trivedi conceded 4 runs in the over which included a wide, and he bowled 3 of the 5 deliveries to Rohit Sharma!! 'I know he has faith in me,' he said simply and that's it. Faith in these young boys that turns them into ice cool supermen.

Your Belief Affects Not Just Your Team, It Also Affects The Opposition

Six runs in 6 balls and you hold your belief. You tell your bowler that he needs to bowl his best balls. Your fielder who just bowled a bad over brings off a stupendous catch. And then under tremendous pressure, your young player who is manning the cover boundary, brings off Rohit's steepling hit into a catch, as cool as a cucumber. If that's not self-belief, what is it?
On the other hand, the batsman on strike, Roht Sharma, is batting on 70 runs and he knows, as he sees this man marshal his quietly resilient troops, that the match is definitely not over. He is forced to take his focus off his batting and he starts feeling the pressure of somehow getting those 6 runs. He runs an uncharacteristic single on the first ball thus exposing RP Singh to the strike. Then when he gets a second opportunity at the batting crease when RP gets out on a skier, Rohit runs a single again, and then a non-existent second run that runs out the other batsman. And then, with another ball to spare, it just gets a bit too much for him as he throws his bat in a loss of concentration and loses his wicket. One run to tie, two to win and two balls to spare!

Belief, can work miracles. Hold your belief in yourself and your mates. That's stuff champions are made off. Not big names and reputations!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Movie on 'The Men Within' Gets Rolling

This morning, Art Beat Capital Pvt Ltd had a puja at its office this morning, setting the ball rolling for movie based on my first novel - 'The Men Within - A Cricketing Tale' at its office. Ram and Dinesh, the producers, Mohana Krishna Indraganti, the director, Sumanth, the male lead, Suresh Babu, Tammineni Bharadwaja, Senthil, Kalyani Moulik and several other television and movie heavyweights were present to attend the puja and bless the team. Suresh Babu did the honors with the clap after the puja and the movie was formally on its way.
The yet-to-be-titled movie is being made in both Telugu and English which makes it a very exciting project. Also present at the occassion were Sheila, Arjun, Sanjay Reddy, LV, Sudhanshu, GV, Geeta, Sagar and many other friends and family.
It has a wonderful vibe, this team, and I can sense the excitement in Mohan and the rest of the crew. The appears well prepared and I can sense them stretching every sinew, and am sure they will deliver a fine movie in every way - as they are expected to.
I will get a chance to see the team in a couple of days when they come out to practice cricket and that should be interesting as well!

Praise For The Champion's Mindset Workshop

The 2-day 'Developing the Champion's Mindset workshop' was conducted over the weekend at home. The idea was to do it for family and friends in a non-commercial setting. I made some changes to the normal 2-day 'Recognize Excellence Within' format and tinkered around with the flow a bit and it turned out okay I think.

One of the main reasons why I did this workshop, and someone that I must thank for driving me to do it as an open program, was Ranjani and I waited for a weekend or a couple of days when she could be free. Once she gave me the go-ahead I invited a few more - some who came and some who did not. But like I mentioned in this blog before, ever since I saw Roger Waters perform at Bengaluru a decade ago without holding back an inch (irrespective of the crowd, time, context and place), I decided to go all out whether there was one person or twenty.

I enjoyed the two days immensely and learnt much - from the structure of the program, to the participant profile, to the size of the group, to the actual delivery and length of the program. Also at the end of it I was sure that I could easily make a 1-day program as well.

Thanks Ranjani, Shiva, Rohit, Aditya and Shobha for coming to the workshop. It was a wonderful weekend for me and we shall certainly have that reunion we planned.

Praise for the workshop
Ranjani wrote about the workshop on her blog and I am very thankful for the kind words she had for the program.

Ranjani is a highly qualified academic with far greater expertise and experience at conducting workshops than I have. Words of praise and encouragement from such experts are to cherish (one of the ways to develop and sustain the Champion's Mindset is to be aware of the good things that experts say about you). Thanks Ranjani!