Tuesday, November 30, 2010

An Interesting Photo

The Nizam College Cricket team 1981-82 (courtesy Deccan Chronicle)
Saw this interesting picture in the Deccan Chronicle last week. It is an old photograph of the victorious Nizam College cricket team (of the 1981-82 season), led by the current Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Kiran Kumar Reddy (sitting third from left). At that time none in that team had played first class cricket and Kiran Kumar himself was one of the forerunners for playing Ranji Trophy in that team. But within five years, five of the players from that team played Ranji Trophy and if he had not given up playing, Kiran Kumar would most certainly have been the sixth. Mohd. Azharuddin (sitting fourth from left) played first and made his famous Test debut by 1983 itself, followed by C. Sridhar (sitting first from right), Vivek Jaisimha (standing second from left), T. Pawan Kumar (sitting second from left) and Sunil Phillips (standing, first from right). Azhar went on to achieve much in the highest form of the game and is also a Congress MP now.

I had the good fortune of playing with Vivek who was my first captain in the Ranji side when Venkatapathy Raju and I made our debut (Vivek was also the captain of MCC, our club side), T. Pawan Kumar and Sunil Phillips who both played a season for MCC, when they made a determined bid to play Ranji Trophy by sheer dint of scoring runs, and Imtiaz (sitting second from right) a highly combative, quick thinking, live wire on the field who narrowly missed playing first class cricket despite scoring heavily.

Those were the days when I witnessed players such as these, and Nandan, Prakash Rathod and Jeshwanth from Karnataka, all making determined bids to oust established senior players from the Ranji side. In fact the Karnataka players were under a vow that they would not shave their beards until they played first class cricket. I think they all played. Prakash Rathod also went on to become a politician, now a well established Congress leader from Bijapur.

Vivek, Pawan, Sunil Phillips, Imtiaz (from this picture) combined with 16-17 year old talent such as Sanjay, Srinivas Chakravarthy, Venkatapathy Raju, Fazal Abbas and I, and Vijay Bhasker Reddy, the ageing wisdom of M.L.Jaisimha and Santosh Reddy (who fractured his hand in that fantastic 1982-83 season while taking a catch and never played again), Govind Raj and Aravind Rao and gave everyone a run for their money in that one season in 1983-84. Eight players from that team were in the Ranji Trophy probables that year. From this MCC team, apart from Vivek, Pawan and Sunil Phillips, Venkatapathy Raju, Srinivas Chakravarthy and I played first class cricket. Of course Venkatapathy played much higher grade as well and represented India in Tests and One Days. Which basically comes to prove that it was a good side - we beat Syndicate Bank, had SBI bowled out for 202 (Azhar and all) and got Andhra Bank down to 100 for 5 that season.

But the point I wanted to make is that such teams happen once in a while - the Nizam team where I began - for that matter. It was not just cricket that these players were known for, they had several other talents, which is evident now. A Chief Minister and an MP to start with. Imtiaz worked extremely hard at his corporate career and is now Vice President or higher in Reliance (last heard of) of some other equally good company and would soon be seen in business magazines and television, if not already. Pawan runs a very successful cloth business while Sunil Phillips is in New Zealand. C. Sridhar, unfortunately, passed away due to ill health at a young age, a few years ago.

I cannot identify the other four gentlemen in the picture but I will get some info on them soon. There was one medium pacer who later became a strategic analyst for Infosys if I remember right. But one thing I find intriguing, the getting together of so many multi faceted people at one place. Also goes to say, its not a bad thing to be playing cricket at all!

Top 20 romantic songs I have heard in English

Back to my lists. The top twenty romantic songs (as I remember them now) I have heard in English. And the memories attached to them.

1) Id' die without you: PM Dawn's soulful song from the movie Boomerang tops my list. Reminds me of Sunnie and Bangalore in 1992 because that was where I discovered that a music shop had this song. I can still feel that delicious anticipation of getting the cassette and wanting to go home and listen to this song. Later I got another cassette of the Boomerang soundtrack in Pune which I still have.

2) Everything I do, I'd do it for you: Bryan Adams scores with this song which incidentally was used in the Kevin Costner starrer Robinhood, the Prince of Thieves. Memories include the MTV visual of a dreamy collegian state we were in the early nineties, of a burning arrow released from Costner's bow and some romantic visuals that followed.

3) Strangers in the night: Frank Sinatra's wonderful rendition is a haunting all time melody. Memories of this song are primarily that of Ram singing this song aloud. This song was first discovered by Ram and Sinatra was his collection. But then he sang both Strangers in the night (still does) and Piano man exceptionally well.

4) Keep On Loving You: REO Speedwagon's old hit is an all time favourite. I got this tape in one of early jaunts as an Intermediate student. The day I discovered Sangeet Sagar in Basheerbagh, my entire focus was on collecting thirty rupees so I could buy a cassette. And once I got the money together, I got into a bus, normally on Saturday evenings and got off at Control Room. I loved to walk from there to Basheerbagh in the slanting rays of the evening sun, deliciously anticipating the new goodies. I spent hours staring at the music on display, picked what I wanted and came back home to explore that album or group for the next month, until I raised the money again. REO Speedwagon was entirely discovered there and this album had some great numbers including Keep on loving you and In your letter.

5) Words: The Beegees/ Boyzone song has an old association with me, from the days of the radio. From first hearing it on the radio in the late seventies to finally finding it in a Beegees collection at Madhav's house and then finding Boyzone's version, it was and still is beautiful. Perfect to introduce stillness in the mood.

6) Quit Playing Games with my heart: The Backstreet Boys number got me hooked since the time I heard it being played in a shack in Goa. That was a trip we made in 1998, an boy gang me, Koni, Ranjan and Vardha
in a trip that was as much coming of age as can be for thirty year olds. Vidyuth accompanied us one way, Vicky took us around Goa, and this was the song that a shack played in Baga beach while I mulled over the final changes on the first draft of 'The Misfit' Can still feel the place, the mood.

7) Annie's song: John Denver's soulful ballad is an all time favourite ever since I heard it sung on radio and by some others. They say John Denver wrote and sang this song for his wife. It sure is beautiful. One of the few songs in English that  I remember the lyrics of and can sing almost entirely.

8) Just the way you are: Billy Joel is a genius and his lyrics are poetry, this song is brilliant for all it says. Reminds me of the early nineties when I bought a double cassette of Billy Joel's greatest hits in Pune, soon after I made my life's biggest purchase - a Phillips deck for Rs. 10, 000/- Never have I spent money so happily and did it give me some pleasure! Hours and hours of music! Billy Joel played for hours too.

9) Nothing's gonna change my love for you: Glenn Medeiros and so many others who sang this classic. I first heard this song way back in Engineering College and we were all shot down by the soulful singing, our hearts on our sleeve as it was then. It always makes any list and is one song one can listen to anytime, any number of times.

10) Faithfully: Journey's slow ballad is another one that gets one into a soft mood. A swap from Kumar of my cricketing days, in the late eighties, who is a complete philistine when it comes to western music. He got the tape on one of his foreign jaunts and I was only too happy to swap it for my old worn out helmet. But Journey proved a great investment and I still listen to that cassette - this song in particular. Heard it before my cricket matches as well. 

11) Careless Whispers:D. Suresh, one of the best batsmen of our time, and I went to a little shop in Guwahati on an evening stroll. We were in Guwahati to play the Under 22 all India tournament, representing South Zone. I remember picking a cassette and checking with Suresh if he knew the songs and he said he liked the collection, so I bought it. That tape with Careless Whispers in it soon became a rage after we returned in the Engineering College D Hostels and everyone was soulfully singing this song all over the place. Careless Whispers became an anthem those days. And, we won the All India tournament in Guwahati as well.

12) All out of love: The Air Supply must feature in any love songs collection and this is one of their best. The memories are strictly restricted to a garage party we gave in Madhav's garage for all our juniors at the end of our Engineering days. Oh, it was a fine party with everyone coming in, gatecrashing, dancing in the dark and having a ball. And then this song was played at all parties later where dancing was envisaged as part of the activity. A major hit with C. Sanjay who still slips into a reflective mood when he hears this song.

13) It Must Have Been Love: Roxette's ballad is a must - from the Pretty Woman soundtrack. Again the nineties period when we heard it first. This song came with Koni who came for a month long break from Australia, having transformed half into an Australian himself. He got several tapes for me, many original ones and several that he patiently taped from the radio. One of those discoveries was 'It must have been love'.

14) Alone: Heart's classic ballad. Discovered in the 1991 period, I took this song with me to Vizag during the Inter varsity tournament. The seniormost player in the side, my sixth year at the varsity level, I used to keep to myself with my walkman. Kartik Macheri, a young kid then, and I would walk to the beach from the University accommodation to catch the sunrise and listen to this song. Or I would play it when I went off on my walks during that long fifteen day tour in December 1991, when we won the tournament after ten years.

15) Addicted: Enrique Iglesias's soulful rendition draws me every time. Memories carry me back to the concert of Enrique that I attended in Mumbai, just after I quit jobs and decided to start writing. It was a feeling of freedom, a heavy freedom, loaded with responsibility. 2004 was it? Enrique was in his element in the concert and this song was sung more than once. I heard the album 'Seven' all along on the bus ride to Mumbai from Pune, on a lovely summer afternoon.

16) I Swear: Boyz to Men. Got this song and album in Pune after listening to it on MTV in the nineties. I used to sing this song to Jui and Saie when they were still happily swinging on my shoulders and asking me to sing some songs. For some reason they used to crack up when I sang this song but I can feel that air of Pune in those days, 1992-93, as clearly as yesterday.

17) I'm mad about you: Belinda Carlisle impressed me right away with her voice, distinct as ever and I tried to hear as much of her as I could. I really liked most of her songs 'Leave a light on for me' being one that Shobhs and I discovered and enjoyed. But 'Mad about you' was part of a collection I heard from Iftekhar, my old school cricket team mate, on a Inter varsity trip - to Bangalore if I am not mistaken. And after that I made many attempts to get the song and did finally get it. Loved this number.

18) Heaven: Bryan Adams was introduced to me by Naresh when we rediscovered each other in our Engineering days. He played the songs 'Run to you' and 'Heaven' and then showed me the videos which I remember very clearly. After that I think I have bought every single Bryan Adams album I could lay my hands on and even went to his concert in Bangalore with Shobha and Ajay. 2003 circa.

19) Hello: Lionel Richie's song that wound up as runner up to Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' lives on for the fantastic memories of the first ever Grammy I watched on television. It was probably the only one with that kind of competition - Jackson swept everything away but there was Lionel Richie gamely clapping on, Stevie Wonder, Sting, Billy Joel and so many more legends in that line up of nominations. 1984 if I remember right.

20) Glory of Love: Peter Cetera, Chicago's lead singer sang this song as one of his solo singles, and this was a big hit. Memories attached to this song are clearly with Naresh, sitting on some pavement o footpath after a night of revelry near Parade Grounds or Paradise, and singing it loudly, each of us helping the other along with the lyrics.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Article in the Indian Express - November 28, 2010

The following article appeared in my Sunday column 'Un Intended' in the New Indian Express.
Separate But Ideal States
Harimohan Paruvu

One glance at the news and you know that everyone in the country is miffed about something or the other. In their agitation, they demand whatever they want. Demands for food, water, clothing are common while some demand abstract things like clean governance. But these days one sees a new trend - the growing demand of unreasonable demands. Like wanting hundreds of crores of public money in their bank account just because they got elected, have a business or head a sports body. Or wanting to kill people because they don’t like them, or even, because they like them. Or wanting to burn public property. Or wanting to set up their own governments, countries, worlds. While most think that these demands appear a tad unreasonable, the ones demanding them feel that they are right. And this is where all problems begin – conflicting states of minds.

To make things worse, the government puts up stiff resistance against demands such as giving away public money and property to these individuals and groups. Unnecessarily. Because in time, these demands slowly but surely get fulfilled, and everyone is happy. And that, was when I realized, that it makes more sense to be on the demanding side rather than the other side, the silent side (which seems to be paying for the demands).

Here’s my first demand then. Since I have no problem with these demands or their fulfillment, provided they do not affect me, I demand that the government yield to these demands instantly (instead of waiting for many years) and give them what they want. Only, give them a separate place to practice whatever they want to! This way they do not get into the way of others and more importantly, others do not get in their way! Separate states for separate states of mind.

For example a separate state for all who want to practice corruption would make great sense. All the corrupt people can congregate there, develop their own complicated ways of corruption and corrupt themselves silly without affecting others. Or a separate state for criminals who wish to enter politics so such like-minded individuals can form their ideal society based on their noble ideals. I would be only too happy to cheer them from a safe distance. All terrorists, given a separate state, can terrorise one another to death freely. And all extremists can practice extreme forms of extremism on themselves in their own separate state. All separate state agitators can get into a separate state and separate themselves to bits, separately. Culture sensitive people can get into a sensitive state and become extremely sensitive, while people who want to gift away parts of the country can get into a large state and gift themselves away to their heart’s content. People who want spirituality can get into their own state, manufacture all the spirit they want and spirit away whomever they want, spiritedly. People who want sports bodies can get a state full of sports bodies that they can head to their heart’s content – god only knows why.

Get it? Everyone gets together with similar thinking people from all over and practice what they truly believe in without being bothered by a bunch of self-righteous chaps. Demand, get yourself into a state and start a happy community. I now demand a Ministry for Unreasonable Demands instantly. Any unreasonable demand, the Ministry will entertain, classify and create a new state for it if it is already not there. 

But first and foremost, I demand a state for those who have no demands. A separate state called peace of mind. Far away from the others preferably!

Shiv K. Kumar - A Chance Meeting With a Tall Literary Figure

Met Padma Bhushan Awardee and Fellow of Royal Society of London, one of the s tallest living names in Indian Writing in English, ninety year old poet and novelist, Shiv K. Kumar during my visit to Bangalore recently. A doctorate in English from Cambridge, visiting Professor at various British and American Universities, he is also a Fellow of the prestigious Royal Society of Literature, London, He has authored several popular books of poetry (Articulate Silences, 1970, Cobwebs in the Sun, 1974, Subterfuges, 1976, Woodpeckers, 1976, Trapfalls in the Sky, 1986, Woolgathering, 1998 and Thus Spake the Buddha, 2002, won the Sahitya Akademy Award winner in 1987 for ‘The Trapfalls in the sky’), 6 novels and several collections of short stories (A River with Three Banks, Nude Before God, To Nun with Love, Two Mirrors at the Ashram, The Bone’s Prayer and Infatuation-The Crescent and the Vermilion, a play (The Last Wedding Anniversary,1975), and translations from Urdu to English of Faiz's works, so far. A veteran who suffered the pain of the partition (he is from Lahore), witnessed the Freedom struggle and several ups and downs in his life, he is as busy as ever with his writing, as passionate as ever about life and sharp as ever with his words and observations. His memory astounds me.
Prof. Shiv K. Kumar and I, Bangalore, November 19, 2010

I met him while visiting his daughter Vandana and her husband Ramesh (and son Shehan who was kind enough to allow me in his room), my hosts during my two day trip to Bangalore last weekend. I had the first morning off since I was to meet Keerti, my editor only later in the afternoon so I was delighted at the prospect of finding out some answers from someone who has seen it all. Undoubtedly he is the biggest literary figure that I have had the luxury of meting so far so I was pretty keen to ask a few questions.

Prof. Shiv K. Kumar was reading his morning newspapers when I made my rather early entry into their home at Adarsh Vista. I had met him at least ten years ago, rather briefly, when I went to show him my first manuscript at his Hyderabad home. He placed me instantly the moment I was introduced to him. Funny! I was in Bangalore to show the same manuscript to my editor today!

‘I remember you of course Hari,’ he said in that polished accent, speaking perfect English, the way it should be, the kind of English that makes you want to get it somehow. ‘I remember reading a few chapters from your book which I thought was well written. The only thing was that you wanted to make a career out of writing which I thought was not possible.’

I asked him if he would have the time to answer a few questions that I always wanted to ask him. He laughed and said, ‘An interview? Very well. Let us do it at 1 p.m.’ But as we sat and chatted for a while longer over tea and breakfast, I kept asking him my questions to which he gave me long and detailed answers, never digressing off the main point as most people do, quoting so many authors and poets that I do not even recall their names, much less what he quoted.

At ninety, Prof. Shiv Kumar writes six hours a day – 3 in the morning and 3 at night, goes for a walk, gets a massage and travels. ‘I am happy when my flights get delayed,’ he says with a twinkle in his eye. ‘I take off my shoes and put up my feet and start writing. People ask me if I am a writer.  I tell them that I am a Chartered Accountant. I do not want to be disturbed you see,’ he chuckles.

But how do you sustain this energy to write at this age I ask him.
‘Writing is about imagination, visuals, fragrance – it energises me. I love that process. Writing poetry, stories, translating beautiful works – it really energises me. There is so much to write, to write about.’

What are the qualities that a write should cultivate?
‘Concentration’. Pat came the answer. I did not understand. He continued. ‘It is the biggest thing.’ He told me that in his book ‘The river with three banks’ the writer protagonist ask a deadly cobra to give him just a fraction of the concentration it has. ‘Concentration is really the most important thing.’

And then he explained. ‘When you write,’ he said quoting another famous writer (was it John Gardner?), ‘it must make the reader ‘feel’. More importantly it must make him ‘hear’. And most importantly the reader must ‘see’ what you wrote. Aha, I got it now. To make the reader feel, hear and see is no easy job if you are not absorbing details from the environment. Fantastic advise.

Does writing have to be done with a message, I asked.
‘No!’ says he. emphatically. ‘Write honestly about what you feel and when you do that, it does convey in its core the message you want to convey. Normally it is a responsible message. So there is no responsibility in writing except writing honestly.’ 

‘When you write a poem it make no sense. It is more about the pattern, about using the metaphor and creating something beautiful. There is no message and no sense almost!’

I asked him what he learnt from life and what he wants to share with us, a generation apart.
He thought for a while and said – ‘Life is a constant state of flux. Every moment is so different. We are different people each moment. We must accept that life is changing. It is like a river always different and we must make peace with it by accepting change which is its very nature. So you take the good with the bad – a book gets published and another gets rejected. Take both in your stride.’

I asked him if he exorcises all that he had experienced through his writing.
‘Yes’, he said. ‘Writing does that. I wrote a novel about my experiences with the partition’.

Is all writing through experience I asked.
‘Some through personal experience and some vicarious. But yes, I’d say most of my writing has been based on experience’, he said.

And how have his views changed over the years – towards love and other such emotions?
‘Love has lost its quality of leisure, of caring. It is a self obsessive love now. The concept of the trinity of love – of one woman, of one love and one commitment is gone. I do not see that kind of love anymore with all the hurrying around, calling, computers, Viagra and what not. But love to me is that trinity.’

There was much more that he said, in quotes and excerpts, too much for me to handle without a pen or paper so what I got down above was only the gist of our discussion. Prof. Shiv K. Kumar has just completed writing his version of the Mahabharatha, which is being published by Harper Collins India in January 2011. ‘It is 430 pages.’ he says. ‘I have romanticized it without departing from the main story’. He explained a scene here, a scene there for me. ‘And then there is a translation of Faiz’s works which should be out by August next year, published by penguin. And I have started writing the ‘Life of Buddha’ for which I am negotiating with US based publishers. And then there is Penguin which has commissioned him for translating 100 popular ghazals in English’.

And the river flows on, purposefully, focused on its course. His memory is razor sharp as he reels off dates, names  and quotes without a moment of hesitation. His life is brimming with ideas, with things to do, with new stories to write, with felicitations to receive. So much to do and so much to achieve. It amazed me, energized me when I met him, for their clarity about what they want to do, for their passion to do it well, for their passion to their work, for their passion to life and for their ability to laugh so easily. I now propose to have that clarity of purpose, that same unconditional dedication to my work and retain that kind of passion to life. That I think is how one could go about doing the things one loves best, how one could give back, be grateful for and appreciate life for what it is. 
That is the least I can do for myself.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

End of workshop at COD

The workshop at COD concluded today. The participants were quite happy, there was good feedback, so we, the facilitators were happy. We all promised to be in touch and do some work as follow up. Some of them got some clear takeaways and the others will realise certain things later - but as I keep saying, nothing has gone in waste. All's well and that ends well.

One doubt that came up was that maybe this workshop - with its focus on strengths, dreams, endless possibilities - was all too happy and dreamy and not real. What about the times when one has to compromise in life? How does the champion deal with those? The thought is a logical one - that maybe we are treating it too simplistically, that life is more difficult than this. (Naturally we would think so, being addicted to drama for so many years.) Of course there will be pressures. Hardships, obstacles. The workshop will enable you to take ownership - 100% ownership of what you do. So even if there are differences, you will voice your opinion and act according to what your opinion is. It is tough work but your conscience is clear and you are championing the cause you believe in. And you will come back the next day to fight on for your belief or your cause.

There was another doubt whether self-worth is linked to honesty or dishonesty. Of course self-worth does not distinguish between honesty and dishonesty, merely a person's own definition of his worth. If you are the sort who feels money is the root cause of every problem, your worth of your self may be rather low because money does not mean much to you. However if you believe that money is fine and can be enjoyed and want lots of it and are eager to grab it, you will be able to handle and hold large sums because you somehow feel that you are worth it. The route you take to attract or repel money (honesty or dishonesty) does not mean much to it.

The concept of self-worth as we look to increase it through the workshop, is to add value to one self, through scientific preparation, through knowing the design or the process, by action and belief, so at some point you know exactly what you are doing and then when the preparation is enough to close the gap in the mind - feel that you deserve the price you want. Knowing that you are the expert, that you have added value to yourself, that you recognise your own worth as higher, will attract towards you bigger things be it fame, money or material wealth. You can then even demand it comfortably. Because, you know, that you are worth it!

After the Quake - Haruki Murakami

I just finished reading Haruki Murakami's 'After the Quake' and you wonder how this guy writes stuff like this. He writes in a manner that is entirely his own and they go and occupy a distinctly separate place in your mind, a very exclusive place. For example, this book is a slim  132 page collection of six different stories that are set around an earthquake that happens in Kobe.
Murakami's 'After the Quake'

'UFO in Kushiro' is about Komura a middle aged electronic salesman whose wife leaves him and who goes and meets two girls to deliver a box for his friend in Hokkaido and what transpires between them. 'Landscape with Flatiron' is about a young couple and an older guy, a loner, who meet on the beach where the older guy makes great bon fires with a rare skill. 'All God's Children Can Dance' is about a young man Yoshiya who finds out his father, a doctor who had a relationship with his mother many years ago, and also realises that his mother, now completely religious, believes that he is God's gift to her and from no one else. 'Thailand' is about Satsuki who goes to Thailand in her menopause, on a conference, and enjoys a week all by herself, pampered by the wise chaffeur who also gets a local future teller to tell her of how to get on with her life. In 'Super Frog Tokyo', a huge frog teams up with Mr. Katagiri a loan recovery agent to save Tokyo from the worm who is planning to cause an earthquake. In 'Honey Pie' is about three friends from college, two girls and a girl, and how their relationships change over the years. All with the quake somewhere in the background.

Some of Murakami's tales leave me wondering what they were about. And yet, they seem to hold a lot of meaning, which will make sense sometime, at some other plane. He leaves one strong visual, one motif for you to grasp that story - like the doctor's clipped ear by which Yoshiya recognises him and for the rest of your life, a clipped ear will always take you to Murakmi's space. He gets into your mind, installs his own software, leaves those characters and their motives and lives there and goes away. They will remain there, living their lives in  your mind, meaningfully or meaninglessly. No one else can go to the place they stay. This software, you cannot uninstall. It may live longer than you do!

Friday, November 26, 2010

2 Day Workshop at COD

Began a 2 day workshop on 'The Champion's Mindset' at COD, Madhapur. There is participation from Singareni Collieries, Fieldturf, Soraka Computers and COD. The first day went off well, though it's been a bit tiring as always. More tomorrow.

The participants range from Prem Chand the Managing  Director of a company, to Pavan, a marketing and branding professional who is also hoping to be a movie director, to working professionals in the Singareni Collieries. Rather tentative first day I felt (especially since I was tentative too, owing to a slightly sore throat). 

Big learning of the day? That however old, however big you grow, some things are the same. We are all rather withdrawn, rather apologetic about ourselves, we are caught unawares when reviewing our achievements, our positives, our dreams and we tie our dreams down with logic.

A Cricketer Chief Minister - Kiran Kumar Reddy

Andhra Pradesh gets a new Chief Minister and he is a cricketer, one of the few greats who never played for Hyderabad. Kiran Kumar Reddy would have easily played higher grade cricket in the 1982-83 season itself had it not been for being vocal and upright about his stand. He was one of those few people who would not be cowed down by the system and the powers that be, though he was still a collegian then. The Hyderabad Cricket Association, guilty as it is of having strangled many a talented youngters' careers, is the one to blame for the early demise of Kiran Kumar Reddy's highly promising career.

I do not know the details of the spat because we were too young, only fifteen or sixteen, at that time. But we heard of the mighty row that happened between the HCA officials and two young cricketers on the verge of making their Ranji Trophy debut - Kiran Kumar Reddy and T. Pawan Kumar - both Nizam Collegians and highly prolific batsmen. I do not even remember the exact nature of the spat, except that the Secretary then was Man Singh, but there was some talk of disciplinary action against the two youngsters. Shortly afterwards. Kiran Kumar Reddy hung up his boots once and for all - decisive as ever. I was fortunate enough to have played with Pawan though, who played alongside us in a historic season for MCC when we beat many top sides, scored prolifically again and forced his way into the Ranji side before quitting the game and joining his family business.

Kiran Kumar Reddy never played again. Not even league cricket. Many a time, as youngsters practicing at Ameerpet Cricket ground, we'd watch his lonely figure step out of his house and watch us. Just across the nala, the 16th Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh's house, was the place where the mat and kit was kept. We knew he had been captain of the Nizam College team, a team with as much talent as you can get (like Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy sides, Nizan College was in the Osmania side - many times better than the entire Osmania side - and Kiran's team was one such), and as much politics as you can get in the Andhra politics.  But Kiran Kumar Reddy led it successfully, with a smiling face and also made a formidable reputation for himself as a decisive and effective leader, as one who spoke his mind for a cause and more importantly as a braveheart cricketer and a captain. I remember watching him play against our team MCC when they made short work of us and also taking in the names of all other formidable names that occupied the Nizam College dressing room then - the shy and reticent Congress MP, Mohammed Azharuddin being one of them.

But what remains mostly imprinted in my mind is a match that Kiran Kumar Reddy played for the Hyderabad Under 25 side against the Tamil Nadu Under 25 side. He was the captain of the Hyderabad side. I remember the match was being played at the lovely cricket ground at the back of HPS, Begumpet. I took the bus from my home and landed at the venue after a long walk to the ground, all of sixteen, to watch the big boys play. When I took my place at a corner of the ground, Hyderabad was already in a bad shape having lost four or five wickets against Tamil Nadu for 50 or 60 runs. A Tamil Nadu medium pacer, tall and well built, was breathing fire and he peppered the Hyderabad side with some fearsome bouncers and short pitched bowling, his name was Rajamnnar if I remember right, and as a youngster my eyes just opened wide at this deadly spectacle I was watching. How can anyone play this kind of a bowling I thought. But at the wicket was Kiran Kumar Reddy and I remember the way my heart lifted when, after several overs of watching our batsmen run and duck for cover, he stood upright and pulled fiercely the next bouncer that Rajamannar bowled, the bat making the sound of war, as the ball disappeared like a shot into the mid wicket region. That one shot brought parity to the game in one moment, as Captain Courageous then went about rebuilding the innings in the company of the tail. I remember that moment as clearly as any, and it stands tall in the many moments that cricket teaches you of character, of standing up when all else are running for cover and counter attacking. One of my very first lessons. Much of what I saw is testimony to his character, to his leadership capabilities which were well developed even then.

I have never known Kiran personally save from watching him with the admiration that a teenager has for his college heroes. If there had to be an equivalent character in the Mahabharatha he was Karna to us, denied his right to glory on the cricket field. But what I saw of him from the distance is enough for me to know that he is a tough, clear headed and decisive person. He stands for justice, speaks his mind, and has all the qualities that a  leader should have. I can only congratulate him on his new post and this time round, pray that he is allowed to play a long and uninterrupted innings for Andhra Pradesh, which would surely set it back on its road to prosperity and abundance.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Anjali and another way of playing a game

Anjali called me to play a new game that Amar mama had gifted to her (actually Aditi did). It was a square composed of letters on one side and numbers on the other. One goes about picking the scrabble like tablets with numbers and alphabets on them until the words or numbers on the board is done and then the game is over. Being adult like I instantly started taking all the alphabets that came my way and started to build my words and numbers, keeping a wary eye of Anjali’s progress. She seemed to be doing better than me.

She also seemed to be paying the game differently. Firstly she did not have a concept of waitng for her turn. She happily went about flipping all the tablets to find what she needed. ‘I need an A nanna!’ she announced and started looking for it. And then she found that I had an A which I could not use. ‘Nanna, I need that A!’she exclaimed as if I was hoarding all the As in the world. I let her have it. And then she noticed something she had that I needed and she passed it on to me. ‘Nanna, here is a P’ and so on. The game was moving rapidly with these new rules and I noticed that she was almost done. She saw me looking for my alphabets and numbers and decided to postpone her game altogether and help me out. So came the alphabets I wanted. ‘Here is an A, a U…hey even I need a U..’ and so on. And while she did mine first, she finished her words as well. And it was time for high fives!

I could not help noticing how focused I was on finishing my words to the extent of ignoring hers. But she was open, doing her thing and also noticing that nanna also needed some. And when I had something I needed, which she also needed, I realized that it was only in the third game that I gave it to her first, something that she had been happily doing all along. If she needed a letter (and I needed it as well) she would give it to me first. And she gave, again and again, until I got over my fear of losing, my fear of lack, in other words, and started reciprocating. And she was as happy at my finishing as she was with hers.

I learnt that we can all win. Not necessarily only one. Or the other. And I also realized one thing. That when I consciously helped her find the N that she so badly needed, I found an N that I needed instantly as well.
Competing hard is one thing. And competing to win by pulling the other down is another. Anjali's was a completely different strategy. You compete hard, you also help the other because you think he is not able to figure it out. Something up there, then opens doors to you too, and well, we can all live happily ever after. We can compete hard with ourselves, to better ourselves. We can make this a better world for ourselves. So we can celebrate together. We can compete with one another, within our own team. 

We can compete to help each other out as well. Which is what we ended  up doing. And feeling good about it all.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Workshop at School of Management Studies, University of Hyderabad

Conducted a 2 day workshop at the School of Management Studies, University of Hyderabad. It was the annual growth laboratory that the college organises for first year students of SMS, UoH to orient them towards their work and life in general. It is one of the assignments that I love doing because it gives me an opportunity to speak to 50 students at the same time, from all over India, and share some thoughts and experiences. Most students show a keen desire to learn, to ask and to better their understanding of their world through our experiences. For the others, I am sure that at least one idea gets through that may help later.

As always I enjoyed my interaction with the students. There were about 45 of them to start with (the numbers kept changing session to session). It was a different kind of a class, rather quiet, unlike some of the rowdy classes I have met, but very keen to do the work and to come back and learn more. Unfortunately the workshop had to be reduced to two days from the originally planned three days, owing to some issues. Of course we decided to complete the workshop sometime in January 2011 when the vacation was over.

For students who may have attended the two days and who may be wondering if they have missed out anything, I must add that it is a modular workshop and you can do well by practicing anything that you have learnt already. Working on a short term goal, doing a thing out of your comfort zone, fine tuning your plans, getting comfortable with yourselves, adding to your self worth, adding more YES factors to your life,,,,well there are enough things to do for you already. It will enable you to share your experiences with me when we conclude the workshop. Unfortunately I never had time to get the student intros which is a very interesting part of the workshop and which I normally do on the last day. So until then.


When Vandana said  ‘I started a preschool,’ and added in the same breath, ‘you’ll love it’ I knew I would. Vandana was always one with great taste and I knew she would surely have put together a preschool that even adults would want to go. So when I visited the elegant and superbly designed Dunmore House building in the Siddapura area, I completely fell in love with the place. Located off the main road from the Siddapura bus stop (the lane after the Shell gas station in Siddhapura, just off the Whitefield Main Road if you are coming from Marathahalli, you can even catch a small sign of The Dumore House on the left) in a serene area, the first thing that strikes you about The Dunmore House is the amount of space, sky and greenery around it. Set in a spacious 18,000 sq. ft. plot, the building is quaint with the exterior reminding you of the best of Indian and western architecture. The wizard of Dunmore greets you with a broad smile as you enter the huge gates with ‘Dunmore House’ inscribed in them. Beside him is a lotus pond with a tranquil stone Buddha meditating. A well-maintained flower garden with some exotic plants on the left of the paved path, all plants labeled and named, and then you turn right into the Dunmore House’s large door, its board hanging on top.
The Dunmore House

By now you are already smiling, looking around in delight at this house and its environs - obviously built with lots of love and care. Inside the house you enter a spacious reception area with high ceilings, lots of light flooding the room and passages scurrying off into rooms on either side. A play area on the left already filled with all kinds of toys and activities, a kitchen and dining room, a large play area that leads out into a sand pit, two rooms on the other side, one for napping and another the library. The house opens up into a lawn in the center courtyard inside. The airy, well-lit building has a lot of space, creating the perfect environment to play and learn, a lovely playground to play, and a vegetable garden where the children can grow their own vegetables!
Shehan in the play area, the vegetable garden behind it

Shehan, Vandana’s little son wanders off to play in the large play area which houses slides and monkey gym kind of a thing that appears very interesting. As we look up the place Vandana tells me that she and her partner Shahista formally opened Dunmore House on  October 17, 2010.  ‘We cater to age groups between the ages of 1.8 years to 5+ years,’ she said. ‘And extended day care for children, twelve and under until 6pm from Monday through Friday.  Staff is in place, really committed people who are very good with their job and more importantly, with children.’ If you know Vandana, you know they would be just right.

Now, how did Vandana Kumar, an MBA from San Diego, get involved with a preschool. ‘Early childhood education really became a passion for me after Shehan came into our life,’ says Vandana. ‘ He showed me the fascinating world of children’s minds and when I took time off from work in the US to spend time with him, I realized how much I enjoyed being with him, with other children.’ Oh yes, I saw her with Anjali, and there is a way in which Vandana seems to understand their needs and goes that extra mile to see that all they want (the best possible stuff) is there for them. (The way her eyes light up when she says ‘Let’s go shopping for Anjali’ is another giveaway at how much children mean to her.)
Vandana in the Activity Room

Vandana, since her days as a Finance professional, seems to have learnt all about childrens early education and waxes eloquent about everything – from Montessori to Circle Time and Playway and what not. She seems to have figured out the company that sells all the right kind of toys, the activities that aid their holistic growth, the methods in which they can go about quietly helping the child learn two or more things through one well-designed activity and so much more information that you know she has been really working on this project passionately.
Open Courtyard

Her partner Shahista Ismail, has a diploma in Montessori education from the UK (and also has two other preschools in Bangalore).  She has several years of experience in the field of early childhood education both in India and abroad as well and without doubt, they make a great team. 
Activity room overlooking the courtyard

The Dining Area

‘I think children are like sponges for learning at that age,’ says Vandana animatedly, as we chat over a morning cup of tea. ‘We should never underestimate the child’s capacity to learn. You can teach anything to them. But the point is to not focus only on teaching them in a routine way. If we give them activities that are fun and well thought out, we can form the backbone of their future learning.’
Some Play Stuff

‘What makes us different from other preschools is our philosophy I guess,’ says Vandana. ‘A child need not be forced into hardcore academics to succeed in life. Fun is the keyword. Our focus is not on mere academic development but rather on the emotional side – security, confidence and self-esteem. Children at Dunmore House have the freedom of choice and they will be guided by a professional in every activity they do, supported as they figure out the world themselves. They get a lot of free time in an unstructured way.’

‘We were clear of course that they need individual attention,’ she says. ‘Our teachers are all qualified. But more importantly they are creative in their ability to deal with children - and perceptive enough to know the individual needs of the each child. This way they can use the best methods to engage the child for maximum benefit in a fun way. We all understand one thing – that love and affection is the key and our focus is on that. Since they are qualified professionals, they also know the science behind early education. But they also are interested in getting the kids do the best they can by giving them the space. I truly believe that the child is never wrong. If anyone is at fault, it is the environment.’
Shehan at the proposed sandpit

 ‘There is no doubt that Montessori has the best equipment and has influenced all types of education,’ says Vandana. ‘It is very well researched system. We are primarily Montessori but we have incorporated other methods such as Circle Time and Playway as well to get the maximum stimulation per child.’

‘Soon as they come in in the morning they all get 30 minutes of physical activity,’ she points out. ‘We have a state-of-the-art playground that is imported with a monkey base and 3 kinds of slides, a trampoline and other stuff. This gets them all energized and they go in for a snack and then they are ready for other activities.’
First floor activity room

‘All equipment, toys and activities have been carefully chosen and picked by us,’ she adds. ‘They are specially designed to give the best mental, physical and emotional stimulation – for holistic growth. You know if our children have a better understanding of the world and get back home feeling secure and confident about themselves, we cannot ask for more. And, gently does it.’

The tranquil surroundings, with nothing but farmland and plantations around, sets one's heart free. And if the Dunmore House is built so beautifully by its owners, Vandana and her team have turned it into a delightful space for little children with their thought and care. The first thought that came to my mind when I saw it was, Ah, how Anjali (my three year old) would have loved being here! The kind of a place where you know it will be difficult to get the child off from. And it’s so enchanting that you really want to share it with everyone.

The Dunmore House seems headed for greater things without doubt. The place, the ambience, the setting itself is a huge plus. The activities, facilities, equipment and support staff adds that much more to it but to me it’s the passion on which this entire idea is built that takes the cake. You cannot keep that energy down from the moment you enter the preschool. Any child that goes to Dunmore, I am convinced will surely leave it with a happy, contented and full heart. And a lot of learning that happens by the side. Congratulations Vandana and Shahista, you are on to a great idea, have made a great beginning and you will surely succeed in making a difference to the world of early education. I would wager that Dunmore House has all the makings of becoming a big brand but I know that you are more interested in keeping each child happy and secure in the knowledge that the world is a great fun place. Wishing you well in your new endeavour! And I can’t wait to get Anjali out there next time.

For more information please call Vandana at +91 9901555669 or Shahista +91-9901555667. 
Address: The Dunmore House, House # 119/78/1, Siddhapura, Whitefield. The Dunmore House can be found on google maps as well.

An Evening Out With The Hyderabad U-22 Team

When my good friend Vidyuth Jaisimha called me and invited me to a dinner with the Hyderabad Under 22 team that he had coached so effectively, the other evening, I was only too happy to go. Vidyuth always makes it a point to invite me for a chat with whichever team that he is coaching and I am only too glad to go and chat up the boys and get them to focus on the game. And so he did with the Under 22 team this year, led by the young and academic looking Parth Jhala which almost made it to the All India semi-finals had it not been for the one bad match they had against Jharkhand. Now they have one match left, against Delhi, and if they win this game, they will qualify for the Elite group where they belong.

It is a strong side. Four players are now in the ranji side - Parth Jhala, Basheer,Vihari and Sandeep. Sandeep has scored a hundred on debut in heroic fashion and the prolific and high scoring Vihari will get his chance soon. Benjamin Thomas who was in the Ranji probables is waiting in the wings. The side also feeds the Under 19 side with some key players going to play some games there. One look at the youngsters and you know that they are all confident young men with lots of talent. A little direction and guidance and they will do wonders for themselves.

The evening was pleasant. Hosted at Sailing Club, it was on the first floor overlooking the Husain Sagar lake. We caught up chatted and then Vidyuth spoke and so did I and Ganesh. We congratulated the team on doing so well, on Sandeep and Vihari performing well in the Ranji team and of the greater things they cold go on to achieve. Vidyuth asked them to go and win the Delhi match for him and thereby get into the Elite side next.

When I spoke I told them that this is a time for preparation and they must all prepare fully  for their eventual induction into the first class sides. And that they were fortunate to have a coach like Vidyuth who has both the patience and the integrity to earn their respect. Most of all it is Vidyuth's genuine good intentions, to see the boys play well and succeed, and play higher grades of cricket that stand out. And that I told them, was one reason why most of his players display that sign of growth, character. Be it Parth who scored three hundreds in a row, Vihari who scored in the U 16 side, Sandeep who did so well on first class debut, all the boys display character which they could really use to succeed in their lives.

Couple of things were interesting. Sandeep when asked if he had ever dreamt that he would make his debut and get a hundred smiled shyly and said 'Yes'. That is the power of dreams! And both Sandeep and Vihari gave the others tremendous confidence when they said '..it was easier than playing this level sir' and '...found no difference sir' respectively.

On the way home I was accompanied by the young Benjamin Thomas and we had a little chat on how he could plan on getting out of his lean patch. He appears to be a grounded young man, dealing with too much, the pressure of making his Ranji debut imminent, and that seems to be on his mind. I told him to stop worrying about that and play simply. He spoke earnestly, asked many questions and appeared relieved after the discussion. I hope he gets some runs this game against Delhi.

When we left Vidyuth was still around nursing a drink with Sai and Ganesh for company. There will soon be  a day when Vidyuth will be the coach for the Hyderabad Ranji team and then, it will only be right that these young boys that he has coached, are around to help him bring back the Ranji Trophy to Hyderabad. I know in my gut that if anyone can do it, it will be Vidyuth and his team. Meanwhile, my young friends and my old freind, keep preparing for the big war that is still a few years away!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tarun Singh Chauhan – My Old Cricketing Buddy Turned Advertising Honcho

It's been more than twenty five years since I met Tarun last. I met him first at a HCA summer camp when they invited a promising lot of cricketers – maybe about 50 or so. We must have been about 18 or 19 years old then. It was a mixed camp with seniors and juniors all mixed up and I remember bumping into Tarun who appeared to know all the big cricketers. He was talking to all of them casually, was in good terms with most, and looked quite self assured. Among all those in that camp, I distinctly remember Tarun for some reason, and after the camp we wound up we went our own ways. 
Tarun Sngh Chauhan, Managing Partner, JWT and I

I bumped into him next when I was playing inter collegiate cricket for Osmania University Engineering College in our second year, 1985. We were playing against Arts and Science College of which Tarun was wicket keeper and opening batsman and one of their better known cricketers. Both sides were equally pitted in strength.

I remember that match well. We played at the Osmania University ‘A’ ground. It was one of the matches when I told myself I would set myself a target for bowling - get five wickets that day. Arts and Science was a good opponent and they batted first. I was bowling well that day and Tarun handled me quite well and better than most openers in that season. In the second over he moved into a ball that was slightly middle and leg and flicked it beautifully between fine leg and square leg. The ball sailed high and handsome and displayed all the signs of carrying well over the fence. My heart sank. A six in this early stage of the game would set my dream back. But luckily the ball fell a couple of feet inside the boundary line. Ah! I was relieved. I can never forget the despair I experienced when I saw the ball flying off the bat soundlessly.

Tarun played a few more strokes before I got him out leg before wicket for 25 or 30, and then after his departure, Arts and Science collapsed for about 142. I got five wickets and remember being happy with my performance. (I am surprised how we never learn these positive lessons though – of setting targets.) When we batted, I opened and got a quick 42. I again remember as if it was yesterday, some parts of the conversation we had on the ground. Once when I back cut their inswinging new ball bowler Tarun was all praise and once when I swept their spinner and sustained the follow through and Tarun was his usual self - ‘Ab bas, no one is taking your picture’.
The very next year we were both in the side for the Under 22 team under Venkatpathy Raju . I had already played and got dropped from the Ranji team by then and Lachi was still in the side and doing well. We lost the final, a match we could have won and it was an eventful trip for many reasons. There were many colourful characters in the side which included Affan, Rajesh, Chatterjee, Jaideep Dhar, Naresh Sharma, Tarun, and it was a great fun trip at the end of the day. Tarun did not play a game because Ehtesham was around but it was good to have him around with his wry humour and his manner of telling things point blank, as they were. Tarun always had a ready laugh and would invariably say something witty. Of course, we played together for MCC as well and had many a good time together before we slowly faded away into our own lives.

Sometime later I heard that Tarun had moved into advertising and was with Mudra at Ahmedabad. That was the last I heard of him for about twenty years until the day I met Venkatpathy on the flight to Mumbai in August 2007. I was going to launch ‘The Men Within’ there. As we were getting off the flight Venkatpathy told me that maybe I should call Tarun who was in Mumbai as well. I took Tarun’s number and called him and was genuinely touched at the warmth in his voice when he heard that I was there to launch my book. He was so happy that I got out of the rut and was doing something creative. Tarun, (I was delighted to know that he was Vice President at Lowe Lintas), came to meet me at Crossword that very day and despite his invitation to drop me at Bandra in his car I could not go as I had some other prior engagement. And on the day of the launch, when some of the people whom I really counted on to come backed out, Tarun it was who came all the way from Pune, driving through the traffic to Kemp’s corner (which is way past his house in Bandra) to show his solidarity to me. He just caught the tail end of the function but I was so happy to see him and Shanti, his wife, at the bookstore. He picked up three copies, got two signed for friends of his, said the other one was for him and he would never get it signed by me.I was really really happy to see him there and especially grateful for the effort that went into it all.

I met him and his family at his Bandra home the next morning where he looked really chilled out and at peace with himself. His daughters Akanksha and Apeksha were at home and listened as we chatted about many things. And then I left Mumbai. After he read the book, Tarun sent me a lovely sms about how much he liked the book – knowing Tarun he would not have hesitated to tell me if he thought it was utter nonsense. I really was happy at receiving this praise from him, especially since he reads a lot. Having reestablished our friendship we kept in touch. I sent him a copy of ‘If You Love Someone…’ when I knew I would not be doing an event in Mumbai. He told me he read three quarters of it. I know he will give me some honest feedback when he finishes reading it.

Miskil, my niece joined Lowe Lintas and spoke of how Tarun, Vice President of Lowe Lintas and his legendary status in the industry. She spoke about his fabulous farmhouse in Karjat and then I realized what he meant by going out the rut. So when he was in town yesterday, making time to give an interview I had requested, coming down to Hyderabad in yet another gracious gesture, we got together and chatted for long. I asked Tarun, now a Managing Partner of JWT in India, a coveted post by any ad man in the country, how he actually scaled these dizzying peaks of advertising in his career.

‘Soon after that Under 22 tour to Bangalore I decided to throw away my kit bag,’ said Tarun nonchalantly. ‘I had done MA in Economics from Arts and Science and I followed it up with an MBA. I was pretty keen to get into advertising and got a job in Maa Bozell in Hyderabad. Then I went to HTA in Bangalore, then Mudra in Ahmedabad, the came back to Hyderabad to Saatchi and Saatchi and finally moved on to Mumbai with HTA and then Lowe. After six years at Lowe, I quit when I was just made President and moved to JWT now – a move that shocked many.’

How did you have so much clarity about what you wanted to do, I asked.
‘I was always pretty clear about advertising,’ he said. ‘I was also aware that I needed to be better than the rest. So I put in lots of hard work. Nothing comes easy especially since I did not have fancy degrees. My one advice to anyone who wants to make it in advertising is this – if I can make it you can make it too. But you must carry the same philosophy that I did to work every day – I worked as if it was the last day at work for me. That desperation, that fire to achieve is very important.’ 

‘You have to act, take the initiative,’ he says. ‘You cannot sit back in a dream world and not have your feet on the ground. I remember having made some 40 ads in a portfolio before I approached the agencies for a job. In a place like Mumbai it is great to get learning in advertising from the bottom. But be aware that there are so many people who are talented and who have the fire. You have to be better than them to earn their respect. It is simple, there are many at the bottom and so few at the top. You need to have your stuff clear – and it only comes through experiencing, through working.’

‘You know Hari,’ he said solemnly. ‘90% of the problems are solved if we have the right neeyat or the right intention. I always believed that. I think that is what has made me successful apart from my hard work. My intentions are always right – to people, to my company. When you carry the right intention to your company, to your client, to your job, it always pays.’ I agree, I said.

And how do you get the best out of your people?
‘Izzat,’ he said simply. ‘Respect people and they respect you back. Whether it is the peon or the driver, respect them and they respect you. Of course you must be in a position to tell them that if they mistake your respect for weakness you can put them in your place too. Now that comes through experience and from dealing with people. But by and large, respect people and you get their best.’

‘I never ask anyone else to the things that I can do myself,’ he says. ‘And that is a principle. Getting a glass of water, a cup of coffee, opening the door, anything I can do, I always do. Also I never wait beyond 15 minutes for any appointment. It is again a question of respect. If they do not respect my time, I have no time to waste on them.’

‘I think people should explore all their dimensions. One reason why I moved from Lowe after being made President was because I was feeling too comfortable in my job at my previous job. It was not challenging enough. That is why I really like it when I hear that you did something different with your life.’

‘To escape my professional rut I go off to my farmhouse every Friday evening,’ he says, his eyes softening at what is obviously his great passion. ‘It is at Karjat – 100 kms from Mumbai. It is in a valley surrounded by a horseshoe mountain, a jungle beside it into which I go off. I work very hard on the farm and go off every weekend. There are three horses there which I ride into the jungle – Patch, Rusty and Pepper. Oh, it’s great fun. I work really hard there, cutting wood and working on the farm. Also I do my bit for the villages around. There are seven villages surrounding the farm. My farm is itself built in rural architecture – no air conditioned culture there.’

The same uncomplicated approach to his life. 'I always wear a blue shirt and a black pant. I have about 40 blue shirts and all I have to choose is which blue to wear,' he says smiling. 'I once had a meeting with the Chairman of one of India's leading corporate houses at their office in Mumbai. The receptionist was aghast. Aren't you wearing a tie? I told her that if they wanted  to meet my tie I would send my tie across, but if they wanted to meet me, this is how I come.' Come to think of it, I have no seen Tarun wear any of those stuffy looking jackets and ties that most advertising professionals wear. 

So what will you do after advertising?
‘Another five years maybe, then I will stop working. I plan to divide my time between Hyderabad and Mumbai then. I dabble a bit with politics and advise the Congress on some matters. I have no plans but let us see, there is much to do still,’ he smiles. The same wry smile.

We watched a few minutes of the Ranji game between Hyderabad and Tripura and bumped into several cricketers of our times – Lachi, Vicky, Azeem, Noel, MV Sridhar – and went to Nanking for lunch. A paan and a chai at his house in West Marredpally that his mother made for us, and I called it a day. Thanks Tarun for coming over and for being sweet enough to indulge me with my request for an interview. Much of what you spoke in the interview makes absolute sense – about cricket and all round growth and I am waiting to see it on tape. I know that there is so much more of what we chatted that I did not capture here but I am sure we will have many more such conversations.

I am thrilled and immensely proud to see Tarun's career graph, to see how wonderfully he has shaped his career and risen to the very top of an industry by sheer dint of hard work, focus and fighting spirit. I use his story as an example to tell so many youngsters these days that I meet in lectures or workshops of what one can make of his life if one is focused, grounded and works hard. It also gives me great kicks to see the jaws drop off some of the loud mouth cricketers I meet when I tell them what Tarun has done with his career while they sit here spitting gutkha. (I also hope that some youngster out there also gets inspiration from this article and goes about his carer with the same focus that Tarun did.) Tarun went about the whole thing without changing one bit  - to me meeting him was exactly as if I had met him 25 years ago - which is a huge thing. Success changes some people, but few have the 'groundedness' to retain their essence and grow into better persons because of success. Tarun is one of them and I do wish he gets greater success because he will only use it better for his growth as well as that of people around him.

It was great fun talking to you Tarun, and I would love to pick it up and get another long chat in with you sometime. Maybe while we do some work on your farm eh!