Monday, April 30, 2012

Super Stuff Cameron White - Good show Deccan Chargers

I simply loved the way the Deccan Chargers defended their paltry total of 100 yesterday against Mumbai Indians. This was an intense game and nothing stood out more in it than Cameron White's aggressive captaincy. The way he handled Steyn was exceptional. A short leg and a slip - now that's what the premier fast bowler in the tournament needs  - and not being saved up for the 20th over as Sanga did. Dinesh Karthik went just because of that short leg. And if Amit Mishra had held on to that catch and bowled a decent over at the end - DC could have toppled a tense looking Mumbai. Time Mishra got his aggression to show at the right moments.

Super stuff Cameron White. It was one of the most intense games I watched this IPL. And where was this kid Ashish Reddy being hidden all this while? He was fantastic and so was that other fast bowler Veer Pratap. After a long time I am looking forward to a DC match again. They are finally showing some appetite for a fight. And high time too. Whatever happens don't change the captain again.

Funnily DC always gets its captains wrong. Like making VVS the captain in the first year which was quickly rectified when they got Gilly, but by then the damage was done. Its not the reputations fellows - skippers are a different breed - and you can spot a good one a mile away.

The Hyderabad Diaries - Petrol Thieves Ahoy!

There was a big buzz in the colony last week. All the night watchmen of the colony were summoned. These were not the night watchmen appointed by the colony committee - they were watchmen appointed by individual house and apartment owners. But for some reason the colony committee decided to pull them up. The reason? Petrol thieves are on the prowl. They have cut the fuel pipes and made off with petrol in many vehicles in the colony in the past week. Be alert you fellows. The watchmen - an assorted and apathetic lot of all sizes and shapes, all ages and attitudes - nodded and went off. Nodded off so to speak.

The petrol thieves responded with a vengeance cutting off more fuel pipes the next day. Six cars in one apartment block, two cars in individual houses - and were in the process of cutting off one more when the concerned watchman awoke. Leaving an empty 10 litre can behind the nifty thieves fled. They probably had a lot more of the canned petrol to take care of. The time was 230 a.m.

Next day I found that my fuel gauge was showing a rather dismal visual when I was in the middle of peak traffic. I quickly realised that the petrol thieves had cut the fuel pipe. I headed to a petrol station in a frenzy to check and the worst came true - fuel flowed out on to the floor. A call to the friendly Hyundai chaps and they descended with a breakdown car of their own and a bill of Rs. 3500 - the Maruti's apparently costs Rs. 300 - and took my car away with promises of returning it that evening. In the Srinagar Colony, Madhura Nagar colony area (the area where our Home Minister resides) these petrol thieves are notorious they said. Today, three cars have arrived with the same problem, they said. The Santro is easier to cut the fuel pipe off they said. I listened carefully.

When I returned home a whole bunch of characters surrounded me. Is it true they cut yours off too the asked. I nodded - the fuel pipe - I clarified. And then the stories flew fast and furious. The cars, the apartments, times, how the watchmen are involved, how colony has no security, how Maruti is cheaper, how Mr. Rao's daughter's car stalled in traffic and she had a lot of problem, how police were informed and they came but nothing happened. Why don't I give out a police compliant too? I nodded. Looked like a good idea.

At the cop house the policeman announced that they had caught the thieves. As confirmation he asked the guy next to him - remember we caught the boy with a bottle of petrol last week? The other guy nodded vaguely. I congratulated him on the quick job. In fact they had caught the robbers even before they committed the crime I said. They had caught them last week when the crime was committed last night. Wah, wah! And also these guys were the petrol can variety and not the bottles type. No sir, we will look into the matter sir. Not enough force sir etc etc. I returned from the cop house highly assured that they would catch the concerned party.

While filling petrol into my brand new fuel pipe, I told the fuel station attendant the problem. He was vociferous in his denouncement. Put a gun under their backsides and blow them off he said. He obviously liked his petrol. Anyway after I left the station I noticed that the fuel gauge was not rising appropriately - it normally rises higher for Rs. 500. Maybe the gauge in the petrol bunk was not right or perhaps he kept me busy and knocked off a couple of hundred.

Why would anyone risk getting their limbs broken for a mere Rs. 500 worth of petrol? Fuel prices being what they are, expectations and aspirations being what they are, one can only hope that youngsters don't get carried away and believe that all is well because their dil is maanging more. Meanwhile I am wondering how to guard that fuel pipe. Secret cameras, clamps, super glue, dogs, alarms...they all flashed through my mind. Will let you all know once I figure it out.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Paradoxes of Life - Power and Vulnerability

I read this somewhere in the past couple of days but I fail to remember the source. It said something I believe in strongly. That true power comes from being vulnerable.

Power is not about rippling muscles and the forts and the guns and swords. It is about what conquers all these - innocence and love. The most powerful man in the world is helpless before a child. The storm rages on unable to uproot the humble sapling. Water gently erodes all that is in its way.

Nothing in the world can affect you it appears, if you accept yourself and your vulnerability. That is true power.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Thought for the Day - What are you proving and to who?

Much of our valuable time and energy could be going into a big black hole called 'proving  things' to others. This aspect of our lives gets pretty serious if we do not watch out for it. In our bid to prove we are right, we go to great lengths. I know, because I do this many times.
Pic courtesy - Prarthana

Sometimes this 'proving' business is used to move forward to achieve something. We want to show those who pulled us  down and told us in our face that we were no good. This 'showing' family, friends, strangers, bosses, selectors, rivals serves as a constant reminder to get 'there'. When we finally do we  turn back and say - 'See, where I am'. At least it pushed you to push yourself forward. Hopefully it was worth it.

On the other hand this desire to 'prove ourselves right' could be used regressively. Instead of moving forward we could choose to move backward to 'show' them. We could inflict great pain on ourselves, create illnesses, give up on careers, relationships, joy, happiness and things we like and love - all to 'prove' this point. 'See because of what you did I had to give up all this and this is where I have landed. Don't you understand even now?' It seems more important to sit triumphantly in the sick bed and say - 'See, I told you so'. Ironical, but that is the extent we could go. Mostly, the other person, instead of 'understanding' would probably think that it completely endorses their opinion that you were a complete loser to begin with!

'Proving things' to others takes a lot of creative energy and time out of our lives. For one thing we are devoting all our time to 'prove' which means we never set out to doing things with choice and with freedom - with our own premise to create what we want. It will always be more about how to get more than the other person, how to show him or her wrong. It will be their yardstick - never ours. The houses, the cars, the gadgets are all meant to flash at someone, not because we want it!

We are constantly trying to prove something or the other to someone else. In my opinion, this proving business is rather tiresome and pointless. The first kind of a proving, though positive in some senses, is still not out of choice. And it is mostly driven by negative emotions of revenge, resentment, vanity and pride. The second kind of a 'proving' can really kill us as it pushes us on a downward spiral where all creative life are sacrificed for the sake of 'proving'.

There is really nothing to prove to anyone - except perhaps to ourselves. If we can live our life out of choice, it does make for an easier, uncomplicated life. It would be interesting to see how much stress we can give up if we look at the areas in our life that are about proving things to others. From salaries to making babies, from houses to cars, from positions to gadgets, from holidays to clothes, from addresses to careers - we could be aware of how much we crave for an approval that is really not required. Or even given. Much time and energy could be saved if we gain our own approvalas well!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Cars, Buses and Trains - The Bangalore Diaries

Cars first.
Was in Bangalore last week for a short trip. Decided to drive down and started off early. We were at Shamshabad airport by 545 a.m. and 7 hours later passed the Devanahalli airport outside Bangalore. I never do over 100 kmph on my Santro, so I think it's pretty good time. The road was in top condition and we paid some 480 bucks on toll but its well worth it. As for decent stops where one can stop with the family, the one that comes to mind is the Bharat Petroleum dhaba someplace near Penugonda. There is one Bharat Petroleum dhaba someplace after Kurnool or just before it on the way back from Bangalore. These two places ensure that considerable distance has been put in on the road before the stop.

The road being so good I had a tough time staying awake on the return journey. Never had this problem before even on long 12 hour drives. You need something to keep you alert, someone talking and keeping things going beside you, else you could doze off out of sheer boredom. Or use that thing that sets off the alarm behind your head!

Buses next
The 335E saves the day again. From Vandana's house to the bus stop at the Old airport road - and then within five minutes you get the swanky 335E at the bus stop. A mere thirty bucks and half an hour later in air conditioned comfort I am getting off at Richmond Circle and walking off to Keerti's house. Same on the way back. I love this bus. Why can't they have 335 E everywhere in India? In the world? Why doesn't someone make a movie on 335E?

Trains - Bangalore Metro
Vandana, indefatigable as ever, suggested we ride the new Metro from Bayappanahalli to MG Road, sip a cup of coffee and head back. It is an imposing station, this B'halli, not just because of the name. We parked the car and got searched for dangerous stuff on us by some security types, got the handbags scanned as in airports and took the escalator up, up and up. Bought tickets (no return tickets please and everyone who is under three feet height is exempt) so we bought tickets which turned out to be round plastic tokens. At the turnstile we passed the token over a scanner which let us pass. (Keep the token with you till you get off else that turnstile won't let you go and you will be shuttling between B'halli and MG Road for the rest of your life!)

Anyway the metro arrived, small and compact. The engineers carefully left out a gap between the platform and the train in the most dangerous fashion where you have no chance of saving your leg if it gets into that gap. Of course they are all the time telling you over the PA system to take care not to put your leg there. Why could they not think of doing something better so people don't put legs in that gap in the first place is what I don't understand. You got to see it to believe it - its just enough to go and get stuck. Anyway once past that dangerous hurdle we got into the train and it was nice and swanky and it advertised that we were now on the Metro and what the next station was and which side it would come up and please watch out for the GAP between the platform and the train!

The metro sailed over the buildings and the kids Anjali and Seshu had a good time, as did the rest of us and in no time we were at M.G.Road. On the way out we were asked to put the tokens in a slot at the turnstile and were let out. We walked out on to the MG Road and I found that the Metro station was really unwieldy and ugly looking on the once handsome MG Road. Anyway that's the price of progress. We walked to a nearby coffee shop and ate large club sandwiches and drank juice and stuff and headed back the same way. Nice.
But just watch out for the gap between the platform and the train!     

Paan Singh Tomar - Movie Review

Movies are now slotted into three types for me. The ones that are hyped so much that you are an absolute idiot if you have not yet seen it. The ones that you hear bad stuff about but it stays in the theatres for long and becomes a hit with some 100 crores raked in the first week. And the ones that you hear good stuff about and want to watch it but it stays for only a week or two. I have a weakness for the underdog, the one who makes what he belies in, and try to spend money on tickets in the theatre for the third kind as my form of support.

'Paan Singh Tomar' was one of those movies that went off the theatres before I could gather myself and rush to watch it. I had heard good reviews of 'Paan Singh Tomar' and was just about getting ready when it went away from the theatres and was relegated to the video and television circuit. Thankfully Raja bought the video along and we watched it at home. I remember hearing this name, but who was he? The movie is a biopic on a real life national athlete of a legendary status who turned into a dacoit after being failed by the system.

The movie was surprisingly easy on the eye and the mind. The village bumpkin from Morena with a voracious appetite who joins the army and asks to be selected in 'sports' because sportsmen have no rationed food and he can eat as much as he likes, impresses one and all with his running skills. Irrfan Khan impressed me with his running skills no end - from his posture to his stride - he was perfect. Originally under training for long-distance running he is switched over to the 'stipplechase' (steeplechase) and becomes national champion for seven years in a row and the national record holder that stood for 10 years. Winner of many awards, once taking off his new spikes mid run in Japan, Paan Singh Tomar has built an idyllic life around him with his family. One regret is that he is not allowed to fight in the war because sportsmen are not allowed to as a rule. To make up, the angry Paan Singh, takes the gold at an advanced age in the World Defence Meet in steeplechase. He is a champion no doubt and a legend already.

Post retirement Paan Singh is offered a coaching post in the army. But he goes home to his village in Madhya Pradesh and gets into a land feud with his family. With no support from the police and the local administration, Paan Singh turns outlaw (baaghi) and becomes a dreaded dacoit in the Chambal valley. Going by his army title 'Subedar Paan Sing Tomar' he trains an army of his family members and is on the run giving police in the three states of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan the slip, often dressed as policemen themselves. His family is hiding faraway from his hometown of Morena, his son in the army thanks to his old boss, Paan Singh finally falls to a police encounter in 1981, betrayed by some village elders.

Irrfan Khan as Paan Singh Tomar is brilliant. From his running the steeplechase races to his restraint at the feud, to his full blown anger when pushed beyond his limit and his stubbornness to surrender, Irrfan Khan never steps out of Paan Singh's shoes. When he warns his cousin that he will come back to kill, bellowing like an enraged bull, Irrfan Khan looks so different from any other actor who would have portrayed that scene. He is fantastic that way, Irrfan Khan, always making the character so believable that you cannot but visualise anyone else playing that role. So convincing is he as the proud Subedar. The story is told well, starting with the newspaper interview which they say led to Paan Singh's hunt and eventual death.

It was a wonderful ode to a legendary sportsman of India whose story no one knew fully, who was a victim of injustice, and who was hunted down like a common criminal. The director's tribute to the sportsmen who died penniless, gold medal winners for India, is also an ode to many more sportsmen in India, many cricketers even, who are in financial doldrums. For a nation that does not hesitate to take all the credit and high for its sportsmen's victories, it is amazing how they are dumped the day after they retire. I can imagine how many people would rush in an airport to meet a G.R. Vishwanath, or even a Javagal Srinath as opposed to an upstart from the IPL. But its not so much about what the country did for you as against what you did for the country. These men and women have braved all odds to achieve what they did and they did it because they felt they had to. They ran because they had to, not because the country would give them something. But when someone like Tigmanshu Dhulia decides to make a movie like this you know that certain things have not gone in vain. That you will remain through your deeds forever. For those who have not seen this, highly recommended. And Ronnie Screwwala, take a bow, for producing movies like this.

It's an Ad, Mad World - Sexing up the soft drinks

Saw two hot ads for two soft drinks with two sexy sirens sexing it all up. Kareena going 'pyaas badhao' with all the wrong intonations and intentions and Katrina making out with a Slice bottle in the fields. What's with this? I cannot imagine anyone drinking both soft drinks normally after seeing those two ads. It definitely adds a lot more than just a soft drink angle. Gives one much to think about. Also am waiting to see more soft drink ads.

For example the suicidal Mahesh Babu and his gang that jumps off planes and buildings in their quest to do something toofani - and drink some Thums Up. I'd think one would be better off off running in the fields or motivating young cricketers like the two hot women mentioned above. And then we have the young lad who skateboards (or whatever that board is called) down the face of a dam with water flowing right behind him in the Mountain Dew ad. Now where is this soft drink in the market? I see the ad but not the soft drink. I am sure a small nice market exists of people who drink that soft drink though. Not for me lads. Too much effort to drink a soft drink and too much danger.

What are the ads doing the rounds for Pepsi, Coca Cola? Ahh the Ranbir Kapoor and cricket and football one is one (which one is it - Coke or Pepsi? See there is a problem of too much advertising - we forget who is doing what to what.) I always get confused with these two because they are doing too much advertising ... hey wait, that cute little ad of a boy and a girl sharing a Coca Cola...hmmm I got that right (I hope).

I need to keep my eyes peeled for more. But for sure Kareena and Katrina got me going. One thing in their favour. You can't ignore those ads. Nor the brands. It's another thing if you don't feel like using that product.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Anatomy of an Illness - Norman Cousins

Vinod gave me the 'Anatomy of an Illness - as Perceived by the Patient' by Norman Cousins to read, a couple of weeks ago, and I found very inspiring - a patient's guide to handle illnesses almost. The book which was on the New York Times bestseller list for over 40 weeks begins with the blurb on the front cover that goes 'How one man proved your mind can cure your body'.

A well known journalist, author, world peace activist and professor, Cousins worked with the  New York Evening Post and Current History among other publications. Cousins was diagnosed with a disease of connecting tissue - a collagen illness from which he was given little chance of recovery to normal life. Cousins was put off by the impersonal way the hospitals treated patients and decided to take control of his healing. The book begins with the premise that everyone must accept responsibility for his or her own healing. Cousins lived for 26 years after the doomsday prediction and died at an age of 85.

Cousins quickly realised that his conditions needed to get his adrenal system activated. He remembered from a book he rad by by Hans Slyes - 'The Stress of Life' - that negative emotions could affect the body negatively. He decided to reverse that situation by using positive emotions like laughter to cure himself. He also did considerable research, took his doctor into confidence and administered himself large doses of vitamin C which he believed would help. The Marx Brothers movies, Candid Camera series helped. Cousins took himself off aspirin which was given to him for pain relief (and which he realised later was detrimental to his condition thankfully) and instead laughed himself out of pain and into sleep. Cousins figured that all he needed was loud, belly shaking laughter and a strong will to live (and some vitamin C).

Cousins talks of the wonderful effects of placebos and how for most part, patients get cured upon receiving the prescription form the doctor. I can identify with this because I have gone to many a doctor with some pain, ache and minor issue and soon after getting the prescription and the medicine, and being a few hundred rupees lighter, I felt completely well (leaving the medicine untouched). Cousins says that all drugs have side effects and it is not good to rush to pop pills at every instance, including pain. Most of our diseases are stress related. The placebo he says is the doctor that resides within. In fact Dr. Schweitzer tells him when they visit an African witch doctor that "Each patient carries his own doctor inside him. They come to us not knowing the truth. We are at our best when we give the doctor who resides within each patient a chance to go to work.' Such wonderful words and true for almost every one - teachers, coaches, facilitators, leaders.

While talking of creativity and longevity Cousins talks of Pablo Casals and Dr. Albert Schweitzer who lived till late years actively. Schweitzer actually said the best medicine for illness is 'having a job to do and a good sense of humour'. Pain, says Cousins, is not the ultimate enemy, as many from the pain relief industry would like you to believe. He asks the patient to be grateful for the pain for showing him where the problem is. Unlike lepers who have no pain and lose their limbs and digits in accidents.

Not surprisingly Cousins talks of the need to look at healing in a holistic manner. He says medicine must 'always allow for the fact the certain individuals may have all the signs and symptoms of a particular disease and yet may be atypical and even completely free from the disease.' He says that patients can choose and use many alternate healing practices that range acupuncture to yoga, to naturopathy to homeopathy, to faith healing to graphology. Each to his own and each must find the peace. But what ever happens he says compassion and warmth in treatment goes a long way in helping the patient recover.

Cousins talks of the 3000 doctors who wrote to him and their open attitude to his findings. Most agree that a strong will to live, a good dose of laughter go a long way in supporting a patient's recovery. Cousins also mentions that it is tough as patients feel helpless, have a fear of never being normal, of being a burden, of being lonely, of losing self esteem and feeling inadequate. Mostly he despairs the lack of human touch in modern medicine.

So, then a journey that began when 'he decided that some experts don't really know enough to make a pronouncement of doom on a human being' became a bestselling book that gave hope to millions, empowered many who were faced with daunting illnesses, made doctors rethink their methods and made patients more participative. Published first in 1979, it holds good even today. Louise Hay would completely agree with Cousins (she in fact recommends his book to read) that the mind can heal the body.

I totally subscribe to his views and believe that illnesses are a particular mental pattern showing up in our physical body. I also believe that modern medicine has all technology and no soul - it needs to get the soul back to heal fully an not merely mask symptoms. Now the medical industry seems happier to keep patients on life long drugs instead of forcing a healthy lifestyle change. The cost of drugs, tests, doctors, surgeries, visits has gone up manifold and most of it - save the absolute emergencies - is almost pointless. It is time we all looked at ourselves and trusted the doctor within.

I did realise myself after some hurried visits to the doctors that perhaps I am not trusting my body to heal and am sending it the wrong signals. These days I stay with the first pains an aches and more often than not they go away. It is always better to find support mentally - books like Louise Hay's are highly empowering. Holistic healing methods, meditations, laughter, good positive people and environment, music and movies, books, can alleviate the mind and the body and keep a positive mental space. Support the healing given by the doctors with all these supportive methods and try to figure out your mental patterns that could have led to the disease, else it might relapse. If you can find them, you can work on them and hopefully get rid of them. It is true  the doctor resides within and we must trust him a bit more. We must look at out bodies as more than mere physical bodies - they are not. We could certainly help our cause immensely by supporting ourselves with a good mental space. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Sangakarra's Captaincy Flaw

One of the reasons why I think the Deccan Chargers is failing so far in this edition of IPL is this fatal flaw I see in their captain. Sangakarra is a wonderful batsman and a fine cricketer, but as a captain he leaves much to desired. One particular flaw which cost them at least two games is his reluctance to attack aggressively and seize the initiative. He does not capitalize even on the early initiatives provided by his bowlers and settles back to play a waiting game. letting all the initial advantage go. This penchant to sit back cost him not just his World Cup campaign but the last few games for the Chargers as well.

In the World Cup there was a moment when India was on the back foot. Sachin was out. Morally we were all down - the crowd, the team. It was a huge moral high for the Lankans as was evident in their celebration. But that was it. Sangakarra did not attack enough to get another wicket. He let things drift and hoped things would happen and the doughty pair of Gambhir and Kohli took India to safety before he attacked - too late. Lanka never got a whiff after that.

This waiting and hoping is the killer. When you have the advantage you have to finish the opponent off. You must attack and go inside their fort to conquer them. You must not let the opponents get a breath back once you score a hit. Once they breathe, the think, and then they get hope, and then its over. You must be vicious. You must batter and kill them off. You must use your heaviest clubs for this purpose. You must use your greatest strength when it has the greatest potential to inflict damage.

One is talking of Dale Steyn who is bowling like a man possessed. Some of his spells have been astounding. Against the Royals with 200 runs on the board Sanga let Rahul and Rahane get in - what could be a greater folly than to let two batsmen who are known for their temperament get their eye in - and gifted the game away. Why did he not attack them early on with his strongest bowler who would be deadliest with the new ball, break the partnership and make inroads into the lower order? The first six overs are crucial in terms of wickets and you have the deadliest weapon in all IPL with you. But for some reason Sanga is thinking of the last overs. With 200 on the board if you think of the last overs, you have lost the game mentally. In the overs after the 15th over, even Steyn will be taken to the cleaners as everyone is flinging their bats about. Sanga did the same thing in another match - against the Daredevils I think - and let them off the hook.

The T20 is a slugfest. The one who stands last is the one who goes swinging early and hard. You don't have time to recover in this format. If you have the firepower use it early and push the opponent back against the ropes. Don't think of the last overs and of saving the game - anyone will go for runs.

Sanga, go for the jugular early. Hit them with all you have. Don't save up. There is just no time in this format. Use your strengths ruthlessly.

Also, invest more faith in your other players. You must rely on your entire team and not just one or two players. You must truly believe in that and empower the juniors to perform freely for the team. They must enjoy your confidence and must want to perform to please you. That they will, only if they know you trust their capabilities implicitly.

Thought for the Day - What is failure anyway?

When we take the label of failure off it - it makes everything easier. Okay we did not perform as well as we could have - but we did something didn't we? We showed up. We learned something. That is not a failure.

If you are the type who wants to measure it, it is a lesser amount of success. It is your chosen amount of learning for that day. (Everyone need not eat tonnes and tonnes right, we can choose to eat how much we want!)

Suddenly, when the label is taken off, everything seems okay. We are in a safe space. There is no danger of slipping a bit and getting hanged by the label. Sometimes for life. The fear of failing is gone. Choose your own route to success.

Similarly taking the label off 'success' helps a lot. It gives you a lot of freedom to enjoy 'success' the way you want to.

Get the labels off fellows. It takes a huge pressure off you.

The Paradoxes of Life - We want success, by thinking of failure

We want  success by thinking excessively of failure.

Our successes - big and small - are ignored. Our failures - big and small - are magnified. What do we want? Success or failure?

It is perhaps better to actively seek failure. Maybe then we can learn actively from our mistakes. We have the liberty to make mistakes. Maybe then, our thoughts and subsequent results, may go the other side.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Nampally Road - Meena Alexander

This book authored by Meena Alexander is of special importance to me. Meena is a poet and a literary figure, based in New York, and it was a pleasure meeting her when she came to the Hyderabad Literary Festival 2012. I had not read many novels set in Hyderabad before and it was only at the HILF that I knew of 'Nampally Road' written by her (and later came across 'The Eighteenth Parallel' by Asokamitran thanks to Vinod). Meena set her story in a Hyderabad of the late seventies when she was teaching at the Golden Threshold on Nampally Road. Forming the backdrop is one dark page in Hyderabad's history, the gang rape of a young woman Rameeza Bee by policemen in the Nallakunta police station and the murder of her husband in 1976 which brought three quarters of the city under curfew.

The story starts with young Mira, studying in England, getting a job to teach at the Golden Threshold in Hyderabad. She decides to take up the job and meets her friend Siddharth who is in England to study as well, has an English girlfriend and appears to be studying her more than his course. Siddharth directs Mira to his home near Abids where his mother Dr. Gokhale, a Maharashtrian gynaecologist who lives alone in an old house close to the Golden Threshold with her help. Mira is invited to stay with her and she accepts, meets and falls in love with a Marxist colleague, Ramu. (This relationship is a bit vague even with all the lovemaking scenes as I found no connect between the two characters.) The situation in the state is rather delicate with an authoritarian Chief Minister Limca Gowda and his band of musclemen who are named Eveready men. The government imposes all kinds of taxes and the common man is suffering. The law of the land is oppressive. Mira meanwhile is making love to her Marxist friend Ramu, wondering poetically about the doctor, her woman servant, her neighbour, her students at college - when somewhere in the background the gang rape by the policemen happens. The people are concerned, the police station attacked, the woman rescued and visited by the rather foggy headed Mira. At the same time the Chief Minister's birthday celebrations are on and in the end something happens to them in the end - a fire of sorts and Rameeza is avenged.

It is a poet's view of the story. It is her own indulgence with her feelings, her wants and needs and you never know when she is dreaming and fantasising, and when it is real. Though the story appears to be dealing with something real and outrageous, Mira appears concerned with how to write poetically the blood on the victim's hair. One feels nothing for the victim and perhaps we are not meant to. It is after all Mira's story - her interest in other people reflecting her own attempts at grappling with making some sense of it. The story comes packaged in a cloud, and passes on like that. I could not get the references to Limca Gowda, to the Eveready men though Rameeza is mentioned. (Why is the doctor called Little Mother I failed to fathom and not what one would call her normally.) What was interesting to me was the reference to almost all the landmarks I knew in the late seventies and early eighties (the same time the novel is set - obviously Meena was teaching then at the Golden Threshold). I studied at All Saints High School at the same time and walked all the way to the Exhibition grounds with my brother, window shopping. Husains bookstore, the sports stores near Taj Mahal Hotel, the theatres, the little toy store Wonderland on Nampally Road, the Asiad Sports Store  on Nampally Road where I bought many table tennis balls, the CLS bookstore, Annapurna Hotel, the Supermarket, the impressive Golden Threshold and so on. Meena brings that area to life again - Sagar Talkies, CLS bookstore, Mohan's Bar, the GPO and it was so much fun to read of a Hyderabad I knew. The story by itself was not much to my liking but it is obviously for the more poetic at heart. Meena's language however is impeccable and lovely to read. It certainly serves a notice on me to incorporate more of that Hyderabad in my Hyderabad based novel 'The Misfit'.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Thought for the Day - Spontaneity in Action Comes from Feeling One's Emotion

How does one be spontaneous in one's acts? How does one practice that?

To me the connection seems to come from being true to one's emotions. To feel them as they come without suppressing them. Just as children do. Feel the emotion and react to it. The moment is gone, the emotion is gone, and its all over. Spontaneity has its benefits of living the moment and the emotion, and getting it over and done with.

For example, a momentary flash of anger at someone who carelessly dropped something on you could be expressed right then and got over with. Even if you speak to the person and express your displeasure to him or her, it is done. But on the other hand if you ignore that incident at that moment (not feeling your emotions right then) and keep it in your mind, criticising that person in your mind, criticising that person to others, it will remain for a much longer time in your mind and eat away at your mind.

By not being true to one's emotions and suppressing them, one loses far more than mere spontaneity. One can get lost in the thought and the label that one gives to these thoughts. Suppressed emotions could fester and show up later in weird

Thought for the Day - Act First, Think Later

Act first. Think later.

It is better to trust your instinct (and develop your instinct) so you act spontaneously. All the training you've had, your beliefs, your values will guide you to rightful acts only (for the concerned moral brigade) - so you need not worry about the act. If anything, the spontaneous act will make your act a pure one.

Practice acting on your thought. Right on cue. You can think about it later. Buy the flowers, Stop the car. Go for a walk. Dive into the pool. Sleep under the tree. Buy that thing that catches your eye. Say what you wanted to say. Do what you wanted to do. Take off. Spend time with your family. Give a compliment.

Do not think first - and use that thought to postpone the act. The act gets corrupted and all the fun goes out of it. Most times the act does not happen at all as the thought stops it - by getting in the way.

All success comes out of action. The moment the mind is tuned to act, as opposed to postponing the act, you are in a good space.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Hyderabad Diaries April 2012

Kancha Ilaiah wrote about something that has been on my mind in the Deccan Chronicle on April 11, 2012. The suicides that now number over 750 in support of a separate Telangana state, most of them from the lower strata, and of the first educated in the family, are the point of discussion here. He says that it is unparalleled and unnatural that nationalism or regionalism is the cause of so many deaths. He says that it cannot be, and that these suicides should be investigated and the cause found out as to why this is happening. Which ghost is driving these innocent youth to suicide. Clearly the ones who are dying are the ones who are from the lower strata- there is no one from the political class or from among the leaders. (Their attempts were well known farces.) Ilaiah says that 'in this unnatural movement the leaders at the helm are making huge amounts of money and the youth at the other end are dying'. These deaths are being used to gain political leverage. It is unfortunate to say the least.

Another unnatural event that is going on in Andhra is the series of 'Odarpu yatras' by Y.S. Jagan. Once again there are many who have died, most apparently in shock at the untimely death of the late YSR, and these deaths, never ending in number are the cause of this yatra. Its been more than two years since the death. It seems unnatural once again that so many have died and are dying - once again from the lower strata - a class that is used to roll with the vagaries of life. None from the middle or upper classes. No leadrs died, no beneficiaries died. These deaths are also not spoken about much, nor the 'consoling' visits by the young scion who is already embattled in CBI cases and is facing corruption charges. In fact the news reports that the yatras are used to counter any moves by the CBI to arrest him. On one hand we have charges of a serious nature, running into hundreds of crores of public money, the same money that we all pay as taxes and duties and tolls, against Jagan and his father, and on the other hand we hear of the enormous support he has from the people. To quote Ilaiah in the first article 'reason, it is accepted has taken flight from the nation.'

More importantly the crux in both cases (or in any case involving suicides and deaths of large numbers) belong to the people from the lower strata. It does not need much intelligence to see what is happening out there. It is a wonder that it is being allowed so brazenly.

The recent communal riots in the old city is another clear case of mischief. For a while now both communities have indulged in shows of strength. Someone is planning it well and funding it well. Hundreds of two wheelers, flags, banners, bandannas, posters, flyers - sometimes in green and sometimes in saffron - are displayed as rallies go by shouting and making enough noise to bring the house down. New festivals are being celebrated so these shows can go on. Who is funding these rallies? Why are they doing it? Who is provoking the few elements who are doing what Om Puri did in Tamas - throw meat and desecrate places of worship so a riot can ensue. Innocents are stabbed, killed. Once again the lowest strata gets affected. Political equations are made and built based on these activities. But it bothers one to see the eyes of the young men, burning with religious fervour, feeling righteous and wronged, out to prove a point. History has not taught any lessons. Sometimes you wonder how many of them know of their history. Or even simpler - of their religions.

And if we did not have enough on our hands there is a move to have a 'beef' festival in Osmania University where the messes are being urged to serve beef because this is the staple diet of the backward communities. Like someone said, one can eat their staple foods in their homes and leave public places out. Nothing against beef - eat it by all means. I just don't see too many people eating beef any where though.

More from Hyderabad later, hopefully news that is lighter. Like my recent visit to Barbecue Nation with my nephew Shrinjay, Shobha, Anjali and Amar. In ANR Centre on Road No 1, I am surprised why I never went there. Lovely food and ambience. Great service and a lovely time. Thanks Barbecue Nation. Even a vegetarian like me had a wonderful time! But apparently you need to book your places early - with good reason of course. 

The Paradoxes of Life - What we want is what we don't want

What we think we 'want' is exactly what we don't want. Or at least what we think we don't deserve anyway.

If we badly needed it we would have got it already. But by keeping those things in the 'want' list we keep looking at them, doing everything we can to not get them. All our actions, all our thoughts are against getting it. They will perpetually be in the 'want' list.

It is better to let this 'want' list go and save some energy for yourself. You could divert it into things you need. The shorter and more focussed the list, the better the chances of getting those.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

You Can Heal Your Life - Louise L. Hay

I read this book many years ago and reread it again two days ago. It reads like a breeze. And if there is one book I'd advise every one to keep at home, it's this. (I like the first line of the Foreword written by Dave Braun who says that - 'if I were cast away on a desert island and could have only one book with me there, I  might well choose Louise L. Hay's You Can Heal Your Life'). A cancer survivor, a rape victim and a survivor of an abused childhood, divorced parents, Louise Hay makes immense sense as she writes candidly and clearly about how one can heal their life and its many parts through her personal experience. It's wonderful how simply and easily she manages to convey so much in so few words. I know many who read this book like a bible, referring to it, reading it for new insights every now and then (and I do think its a good idea too, now that I have read it again and found it vastly more empowering than the first time). It is one of the major bestsellers in the self-help space with millions of copies sold, and is a small precursor to her workshops that help empower millions. Louise Hay cites from personal experience, from her work with thousands of people and puts across strong arguments on how to live our life in an empowered state and not as a helpless victim.

Louise talks of how everything that happens in our life is an outpicturing of our thoughts. If we want good experiences we sow good thoughts or rather positive and empowering thoughts. If we keep sowing scary, sad, depressing, resentful, guilty thoughts - we reap similar life experiences. She explains how our beliefs are formed early in our life from what we see and hear and how these childhood beliefs shape our thoughts and how these thought patterns guide what happens in all areas of our life - health, relationships, work, prosperity - everything.

But she does not leave you there. She tells you how its only a thought and how a thought can be changed and how by constantly replacing your negative thoughts with positive ones (positive affirmations is one tool she gives among many others) you can create or recreate your life in an empowered manner. From reconstructing health (she survived cancer), wealth, relationships to all things in life she has all the answers. Its a fantastic book that is absolutely brilliant in its simplicity, its wisdom and in its empowerment to everyone.

The book opens with some points of her philosophy, which in itself are good enough to give a fair idea of how to get by in life smoothly.
1) We are each responsible for all of our experiences (the good, the bad, the accidents everything!)
2) Every thought we think is creating our future (awareness can help catch the thoughts early, watch those thoughts)
3) The point of power is always in the present (the past has no power nor the future, let them go)
4) Everyone suffers from self-hated and guilt (reassuring?)
5) The bottom line for everyone is 'I am not good enough' (need to work on approving ourselves, supporting our lows)
6) It's only a thought, and a thought can be changed (hugely empowering)
7) We create every so-called illness in our body
8) Resentment, criticism and guilt are the most damaging patterns (to let them go would create loads of space for good stuff to come in)
9) Releasing resentment will dissolve even cancer (she should know)
10) We must release the past and forgive everyone
11) We must be willing to begin to learn to love ourselves (this is the toughest part)
12) Self-approval and self-acceptance in the now are the keys to positive changes
13) When we really love ourselves, everything in our life works (that's it)

Louise says that the whole world suffers from the 'I am not good enough' syndrome. And to correct this she says we need to constantly remind ourselves that we 'approve of ourselves'. In fact she says if we go around telling ourselves that we approve of ourselves despite everything, we could just about start seeing the shifts in our life. She talks of the dangers of criticizing, of how we must be our own biggest supporter, how we should shun resentment, guilt and criticism and all things negative for our own good. There are wonderful short chapters on relationships, work, success, prosperity and the body.

But where the book can really help the ill is in the section with the body. She has an exhaustive list of mental patterns which can lead to dis-eases in certain organs (and one can see the connection). And she provides alternate thought patterns to replace the old pattern that could have caused the dis-ease, to fight the dis-ease mentally (while the body fights it physically with other medical aids). Her argument is that even if we cure the dis-ease through medicine, but fail to change the mental pattern, we could as well get the dis-ease again.

Louise Hay's book is hugely empowering. It's something that could be taught in schools, at homes, everywhere, to get people to get a proper perspective to life.I have attended her workshops many years ago and it is a hugely liberating and empowering two days (and very intense as well). Easily one of the books that changed my life. Get the book and keep it. Your own copy. And if you can - do the workshop.

Song of the day - Pyaar mein kabhi kabhi

God knows which movie this song is from and who the actors are but its incredibly peppy and uplifting. I heard it before but I never knew where and who it was shot on. But I love the way it goes and the way the two actors go about their song and dance routine and saying 'ha ha, na na'. The white sari clad, sad looking Simi does not stop the two from their unadulterated pleasure. Lovely. Check it out and get your moods up right away.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Thought for the Day - The Frame We View Life Through

The Act is done and gone.

But we frame it with our judgment, belief, opinion - and stick it on the wall prominently. It will sit there and remind you of your judgment, belief and opinion. It will blame you and make you feel small. It will keep on accusing you and blackmailing you long after the world has moved on.

The act is gone. Its truth long corrupted. All that remains is your useless judgment, belief and opinion that will serve no good to anyone. Least of all you. It will only help to keep you chained to that thought.

Remove the frame. Let that act go. Free yourself.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Thought for the Day - The Uncontained Thought

The best way to deal with thoughts, (the hard, non-productive ones)  that scare us or put unnecessary doubt in our mind especially, are to leave them with no boundaries. unchain them, remove the hard boundaries they have in your head in the form of opinions, beliefs and judgments. Once you free the thought it ceases to have any charge, any power over you. No judgement, no opinion, just a stray thought flying about.

It makes it much easier on the mind than having thoughts with boundaries that could take up much space and cause friction. The boundaries, having been set by you, will require you to defend them. Else they are just stray stuff. Liberating.

Try this. In moments of stress (like bowling the last ball of the match and need to give only two runs or batting and need to get six runs or dealing with a stressful presentation and similar situations) leave the scary and non-productive thoughts out to dry with no boundaries. They are not yours, don't form an opinion, judgment or belief about them. Free and open, they flutter about and fly away or about. Life can get very peaceful once you give up responsibility on thoughts that don't matter, at that moment. And when the moment of reckoning comes, the lack of clutter will help in bringing that extra amount of awareness and clarity to execute the action well.

It leaves you flowing like water. Weightless thoughts, like cotton, with no boundaries. Thoughts that are hard (opinions, judgements, beliefs etc) are like rocks. When you flow like water, you find more opportunities, more joy and more peace.

Life does appear simple.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Email Generation Vs The Facebook Generation

There was a time when friendships and marriages broke up because someone read a letter meant for someone else. Many movies had plots where such letters land up in the wrong hands and much mischief or drama happens later. But those were the times when people communicated through letters (pieces of paper which we bought in a government office called Post Office and write on it complete with an address - to and from, which was hand delivered to the addressee). Those letters cost us money, sometimes even as high as 75 paise,  so we were all infinitely glad to know that someone called Sabeer Bhatia had invented a free mail service called hotmail.

Emails, and that too free emails, caught the fancy of all of us letter writers and we sent mails by the dozen, long and mushy to all and sundry, reveling in this free service. And then things started changing what with the advent of Skype and facebook and mobile phones and everyone was all the time connected to 500 people, all of whom who knew what was happening to all 500.

Anyway, recently I thought I'd communicate to a couple of friends and relatives by sending them some long, well meaning emails recently.. The response was cold. No reply. No answer. I shamelessly sent another mail asking them to reply. Again no response. No reply. It was as if they were ashamed of me and my backwardness. They did not even want to acknowledge my long well meaning mails. I thought that perhaps I could access them on facebook where they were showing up every day.

But it was meant to be a private message. I could send it through the facebook message service but even that is not much appreciated by my friends because few reply to those messages. The message to me (the perceived one) was that they chose deliberately not to respond to the email. It was almost as if they were saying - 'Hey you actually want me to respond to a private email? Where the hell are you from man? What about the people who would like to know what you said to me on facebook? No way am I getting into a private conversation with you - you weird creep.'

I am serious. There are at least five emails that are unanswered. It is as if I have committed a major goof up on this aspect of communicating. But whatever happens I not going to send that private message on facebook so many people will 'like' it. Maybe, you'd think, the need for nice, long communiques has gone now. Anyway I am going to try a few more mails before I give up on that.

Ides of March - Movie Review

George Clooney directed this political thriller in which he acted along with a powerhouse starcast - Ryan Gosling, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei and others. Mike Morris (Clooney) is the Governor of Pennsylvania and the Presidential candidate for the Democrats, competing against the Arkansas senator. The movie picks up in Ohio where the two sides are camping with their respective campaign teams. Mike's campaign manager is the loyal and long lasting veteran Paul Zara (Hoffman) who is assisted by one of the best media managers in the business, the young and debonair Stephen Myers (Gosling). Both sides are trying to enlist the support of the North Carolina Democratic Senator who controls 356 delegates making it no contest for the one whom he decides to support. The issue is that Franklyn is a hard bargainer and wants Secretary of State position in return.

The movie starts off innocuously enough. There is a bit of sexual tension in the air when the handsome Meyers flirts with an intern on the campaign, Molly, and dates her. There is also a hard nosed journalist Ida from the Times (Marisa Tomei) who is ferreting out all information about what is happening in the background. The movie lurches on to some action when the rival senator's campaign manager Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti) calls Meyers and asks for a meeting. Knowing that it would be suicidal to meet the rival campaign manager, Meyers chooses to go and meet him without informing his boss Paul (Hoffman). Duffy makes an offer to Meyers to join him. Meyers rejects it and forgets about it. Meanwhile while in bed with the intern he realises that the good Governor is calling her on her mobile at 230 in the morning. Upon questioning her, the jealous Meyers finds out that she had an affair with the Governor and needs money to abort the child from that one-off liason. Meyers gives her the money the next day, knowing that this info could end the Governor's campaign, drives her to the clinic and tells her to go home after that.

Things move fast after that. Meyers tells Paul that he met Duffy. Within no time Ida the news reporter calls him and tells him that she knows he met Duffy and she will print the news. Meyers suspects Duffy but Duffy says he is clean. Paul calls Meyers and tells him that he leaked the information because he wanted to sack Meyers for being disloyal. He also has the governor's approval. An enraged Meyers goes for the promised job with Duffy but Duffy rejects him. Meanwhile the intern comes back to the campaign hotel where she is told that Meyers has been sacked and that he has promised to take down everyone with him. Fearing that he'd reveal all, she kills herself. Meyers goes to meet her and finds her dead. He rethinks his options and gets around to work things his way using rather unethical means to do so and twisting the good Governor's hands a bit. All's well and that ends well for the two guys who had sex with the intern. Mr. Loyal is sacked and Ms. Intern is dead.

Moral of the story - In politics leave the interns alone. Also its better to have a lot of dumb asses than smart thinking and good looking assistants, men and women, who can cause more trouble than do good. I found the way the Governor capitulates to the blackmail rather too easy. Why he would set himself up for a lifetime of blackmail like that is anyone's guess. And as for the title - I failed to see the connection - someone please enlighten me there. Everyone seems happy and there's no big betrayal of Caesar. As a movie, its entertaining but when you think back on the plot, there seem too many holes which are not to my taste. I'd have liked some resolution in a better sense than to leave all the aggressors and the vile men winning in the end and all others losing out. What's the message George Clooney? But on the positive, Clooney does make movies that have political overtones and do make you think a bit. Even this does, though the sleazy underside is too real to enjoy. Would I save this movie and watch it again later? No. Would I recommend a one time watch? Yes.

Thought for the Day - Power comes from action. Helplessness from inaction

All feelings of genuine power comes from taking action, on our own thoughts. All feelings of helplessness come from taking action on someone else's thoughts. Or not taking action on your own thoughts.

To create and to sustain this power one needs to do two things. One is to start thinking for oneself, for good or bad, and the second is to start acting on it. Resist attempts to have someone else decide for you, resist not acting on what your mind feels like doing.

Think and do.

In time, it gives a power that is immensely liberating. You are creating your own life.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Thought for the Day - Responsibility for the Act, For the Consequences

Do we show more responsibility towards the act or for the consequence of the act? I'd like to believe that if we showed more responsibility to the act, the consequence would not matter so much.

Taking responsibility for the action indicates that one is clear why one is undertaking that action. There is no confusion on that aspect. Whatever it is, we have undertaken the act for some particular reason that we are convinced about. The consequences do not really matter after that. (It would normally also leave out factors such as guilt, disappointment and blame because one would also do one's best when one takes responsibility for the action thereby neutralising these effects.)

However if one is taking responsibility for the consequences of any act - especially in a manner that is causing immense pain and negative emotions such as guilt, resentment and such others, it would probably indicate that one has not been fully responsible for the act. Instead one is attached to the consequence, the drama of the consequence, than to the act of doing things responsibly.

By taking responsibility for the act, the act in itself gets done better, and one can take responsibility for the consequences in a positive manner. By taking responsibility for the consequences mainly, one could very well get attached to the drama and not perform the act well, and sink into a mire of blame, guilt and resentment.

The act then - not the consequence.

Empire of the Moghul Raiders From the North - Alex Rutherford

This book published by Headline Review and Hachette India (priced at Rs. 350, historical fiction), is the story of Babur (1484-1530), or Zahir-ud-din Muhammad Babur, the foremost of the Moghuls and the one who set up the formidable Moghul empire in India. Told in a story form with lots of dialogue and interesting descriptions and characters, Rutherford, takes us through the life of Babur from the time he becomes the King of a small province called Ferghana (in Uzbekistan) after the untimely death of his father at the tender age of twelve. Babur belongs to the lineage of Timur (a Timurid) from his father's side and Chengiz Khan the Mongol from his grandmother's side. He is always made aware of that by his grandmother Esan Dawlat, a women of great strength and inspiration to young Babur.

The novel starts dramatically with the accidental fall of Babur's father in a collapse of the dovecote in which he is standing, in his palace. The small kingdom is seized in intrigue as the vizier tries to usurp power in view of the fact that Babur is but a child. But he is negated by the King's faithful commander-in-chief Wazir Khan (fictitious) and Esan Dawlat. Babur is proclaimed the King of Ferghana in the mosque in a well orchestrated move. The vizier is outwitted but Babur's uncle who rules Samarkhand, Timur's capital, decides to take over the weakened Ferghana. More intrigue as the uncle is ambushed by the bloodthirsty Uzbek Shaibani Singh and killed even as he is on his way to Ferghana. The news is bought to Babur by Baisanghar, a warrior with Samarkhand (fictitious) who later becomes Baur's trusted aide. The danger is avoided for a while but now Babur wishes to take over Samarkand which he believes is rightfully his, as he is the rightful heir of Timur. Samarkand, meanwhile, is taken over by its vizier.

Babur attacked and captured Samarkand and enjoyed the great city that lies on the Silk Route between China and the West. But soon he gets information that his half-brother, Jehangir, the son of a concubine of his father's, had usurped the throne of Ferghana in his absence. As Babur leaves for Ferghana fearing for the lives of his mother, sister and grandmother, his cousin Mahmud Khan, smitten by the Vizier's daughter takes over Samarkhand. Before long the Uzbeks led by Shaibani Khan  take over Samarkand from Mahmud (and Shaibani makes a drum of Mahmud's skin). Left with no land to rule Babur hides in the mountains with his men, taking over small tribes and increasing his force. Jehangir sends him his mother, grandmother and sister and an offer for peace. Smarting at his inadequacy Babur once again tries to take Samarkhand and succeeds as well, when Shaibani Khan's forces go North. But Shaibani Khan lays siege to the city and after three months allows Babur safe passage is he leaves the city, and his sister, for him. Left with no choice Babur leaves his sister whom he loves so dearly, Khanzada, to the barbaric Uzbec. In one of those battles with Shaibani, he loses his faithful Wazir Khan.

More years in exile, a marriage with a chieftains daughter, the finding of a friend his age, Baburi (fictitious) and Babur is growing older and a lot more wiser. He hears of tales of Timur's acquisition of Delhi from an old woman. He takes his eyes off Samarkand and acquires Kabul and Khandahar in Afghanistan. He travels as far as Just as he is planning to attack Shaibani Khan, the King of Persia sends him a cup made from Shaibani Khan's skull, and Babur's sister, Khanzada as a gift. The King of Persia also pledges his support to Babur in taking over Samarkand. Baburi leaves Babur, his close friend, as he thinks that his infatuation with Samarkand is making him lose sight that he would become a vassal to the King of Persia. Babur soon realises that the King of Persia, a Shia, wants to convert the people of Samarkand, Sunnis. The alliance breaks. Babur forgets Samarkand and expands his kingdom eastwards with his capital as Kabul. He begets four sons from different wives - Humayun, Kamran, Askari and Hindal. Just as he is wondering how to leave an empire to his sons comes Baburi with his new find - cannons and gunpowder and muskets. With these, Babur is now confident of launching an attack on Delhi which is ruled by Sultan Ibrahim Lodi.

Babur raises his armies and travels to Hindustan which they all know is famed for its wealth and different customs. Babur also believes that Hindustan and Delhi are rightfully his because Timur had conquered Delhi - and after having appointed a vassal in Punjab, left for Samarkand again. The vassal formed the Sayyid dynasty from whom Lodi, of Afghanistan, took over Delhi. Babur's armies, led by himself and Humayun, vastly outnumbered, brave the terrain, the fierce Hindustani warriors and finally vanquish Lodi's armies (which numbered at 1,00,000)  at Panipat, outside Delhi. However Baburi dies in that battle of Panipat leaving Babur distraught (fictitious part). They acquire the Kohinoor diamond of Golconda from the Lodi's vassal the King of Gwalior and set up base in Agra. Babur survives attempts n his life and vanquishes Rana Sanga, the Rajput warrior before dying of illness in 1530. Before dying he makes Humayun the heir to the vast Moghul kingdom (the dynasty named as Moghul by Babur, which is Persian for Mongol) that sprawled from Kabul to Delhi. Babur's was finally buried in Kabul where his tomb still remains.

It is an fascinating insight into the times of the Moghuls and how they came and acclimatised to strange people, strange ways and hostile weather. Babur lost so many kingdoms, battles and yet persisted which is a great tribute to his persistence, to his pride as a Timurid. The barbarism of the people, the warriors strikes you in the punishments meted out to traitors. Timur was not one who showed any mercy and Babur was also known to be merciless. People hacked limb to limb, thrown down headfirst on to rocks, intestines being pulled out, heads being hung on trees or poles, are common. In battles the Moghuls used a tactic to scare opposition - they would neatly pile up the severed heads of the warriors they had slain in battle in neat piles - to scare off any further attacks. Babur claimed to have built many such pillars in his lifetime. He is also supposedly an immensely strong man who would run up hills for exercise with two men on his shoulders. Babur is also known to have swum across every single major river he came across - including the Ganges. These details are missing in the book though. Understandably, Babur, who led a strife-ridden life, consumed opium and wine and enjoyed the same. He gave up drinking wine publicly before the war against Rana Sanga, exhorting his fellow Muslim soldiers to be a true Muslim and to wage jihad or the holy war against the infidel Rajput king. Babur apparently regretted this move to give up wine.

Another interesting feature was Babur's love to be the King of Samarkand which to him represented the seat of Timur.  But despite gaining Samarkand thrice, he lost it thrice. All his life he pined for Samarkand. It wa only much later, when like Steve Jobs said he 'connected the dots' and said that not getting Samarkand was the best thing that happened to him because he set his eyes on Delhi.

The more one reads of the world and how it progressed the more one is convinced that people by nature are violent. If one does not have he gumption to fight, one way or another, one is as good as dead.

I would have preferred the book to be slightly shorter than its 493 pages, maybe at 400 it would have been a tight read. Some parts appeared to drag to me and I wished they were tighter. Most accounts are historically accurate as claimed by the author himself. Babur himself wrote a detailed diary 'the Baburnama' which contained detailed facts, figures and descriptions. Rutherford also claims to have visited almost all places mentioned in the book. Thoroughly enjoyable stuff though. I am disappointed that Hachette though - pages 245-276 are missing in an otherwise well produced book.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Thought for the Day - Life WIthout an Audience

Imagine life without an audience. No one is looking at what you do. No one is clapping. No one is likely to even comment on your existence. No likes, no comments, no shares, no articles, no tweets, no emails, no messages. What would happen to our life if the audience was just not there? If no one even bothered about you and your existence at all? The whole world.

For one thing, there would be much finer awareness. There'd be far lesser inhibitions (no one's looking at you remember). We'd probably be far more in tune with our relation to the world around us in real terms. We'd find it easy to do things we like and discard things we don't like. We'd express ourselves only to the extent that we need to. All drama would go out of the picture - there are no reactions to be had from drama. No one would even look at you if you cried, or even died. We'd stop feeling sorry for ourselves and just move on with life, with what we can do and what we want to do. We'd just look for our own approval. We'd be much more calmer. We'd do things with a sense of purpose, a sense of love. We'd just enjoy the moment, enjoy the act. Life would be one meditation.

If we did not invest so much with our audience, we'd be far more at peace I'd think. You and your action, without the audience = peace. On the other hand there would be no facebook or twitter (what's the point in putting up stuff that no one is reacting to). Social media would die.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Success - Quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson


To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Hyderabad Diaries - The Breathing Tax (Inspired by Raja's comment)

I am inspired by Raja's comment on my previous post, to write a full fledged piece on the tax on breathing and other such related items. This could give some ideas to the government on how to increase revenue.

A friend of mine who works in the Income Tax department estimates roughly that of the 1.2 billion or 120 crores population in India (say 70 crores leaving out those who may not qualify) only about 1.5 crore pay Income Tax (or 3% as per some report I read as opposed to 45% in the USA). Now this identified segment is the flogging horse for the government - the one that cannot escape and therefore has to bear the brunt. (The net will not widen directly to the other segments - as it would be too obvious and votes will fall- so indirect taxes would be added deviously to other segments.)

One would like to think that the government is being rather uncreative about this whole thing. Raise taxes and sell assets seem to be the two main ways to raise money (for the government). (To raise money for the individual, both forms serve - one by harassing tax payers and the other by kickbacks on asset sale.)  The breathing tax idea opens a whole new aspect to taxes. Akin to the times of the jagirdars in the Nizam era who apparently levied almost 200 types of taxes including car tax (for the jagirdars car), horse tax (for the jagirdar's horse) etc, its time the government looked at new ways to tax.

Now what does the government increase its taxes on? Typically the respected ministry would identify the captured class of Income Tax payees and put its sleuths to see how they appear to be enjoying their money. Aha, they are buying clothes! Clothes tax. They are also dry cleaning the clothes! Dry cleaning tax. They have no money and are using loan money and credit cards to buy! Aha, tax on credit card usage and loans. They are eating out in restaurants m'lord. Tax the hotels and restaurants. They are buying houses. Property tax. They are buying goods and services. Value added tax and service tax. Any activity that the individual in the tax net does is taxed in one way or another - education, coaching classes, cinema, jewellery, transport, fuel, holidays, hotels. Any form of enjoyment is taxed in multiple ways. The government could look at other essential items that are currently freely available.

One day in the Department to Raise New Taxes
Sleuths,' the honorable ministry would say. 'Find out what services the tax payer is enjoying so we can widen the net.'
Sleuths check the list.
'Water is already being taxed. Food is being taxed. Fire is being taxed. The one that is left out so far is air saar'.
'Eh, air?'
'Imagine saar,' the sleuth would say, 'these people are freely breathing air that the government is supplying. We must set up a department to investigate how much air there is and how much is being consumed by these tax paying categories so we can tax them.'
The respectable man form the ministry nodded.
'Let's set up the National Department for Consumption of Air with all sorts of sinecure postings to all sorts of criminal minded chaps. Let the air quality be divided into four main categories - 1) VIP air which would be free for all VIPs, their families, their security men, their cronies and such other stuff, 2) taxable air for the tax paying chaps who would have to get their unique breathing numbers so they can breathe, 3) industrial quality air for industries and 4) free air for the poor which can be of ordinary quality.'
'Yes saar. But how do we differentiate the air saar? In fact the tax paying chaps get the worst air saar - polluted and dangerous. Will they pay saar?'
'Who else will pay? We cannot charge them directly from the government so we will privatise the air manufacture and distribution companies. No one will question them. They can hire all kinds of goondas to recover their money. We cannot do that.'
'How to begin saar?'
'The first thing we must do is start selling out breathing air manufacture and distribution licenses to our close people without any auction. Once they have licenses they can set up air processing units all over the country. We can even set up SEZs for them. They can raise funds through the public route or loans at concessional rates. Our public can invest in the air plants also. These units will process air through several filters. Each unit will cost hundreds of thousands of crores.'
'Why will they make such an investment saar?'
'Because it is very lucrative to everyone concerned. No one knows how much these plants cost and what they will do finally. All specs are to be given by us so they actually do not need to invest anything. We can add all sorts of costs and make them totally unviable. Because they are setting it up for national interest we will give them a long tax holiday of thirty years or a return of 15 times their inflated investments - whichever comes first. A 10% commission on all future earnings to be earmarked for developmental expenses of course.'
'How will they recover the investment saar?'
'They can charge the public on the air they sell in whichever way they please. They can stipulate user charges, come up with new data for loss of revenue, loss of opportunity and raise the charges and worst case, we will make good their investment. After all its about the health of our country. The public won't mind.'
'Will the public pay saar?'
'The free public will only pay indirect taxes. The tax paying will have to pay user charges - just like toll on road. Everybody is happy. Later we can think of life tax for this kind of a thing as well.'
'Saar, this is good saar. I think people will tighten their belts, or rather, tighten the noose around the necks saar.'
'Good. Any other avenues like this that we can see the public enjoying without paying taxes?'
'Yes saar. There is one more area which can generate money saar. It is being allowed freely saar. Lots of energy being waster without being used saar'
'What is that?'
'Sex energy saar. There is no tax on sex saar. People are using this service freely which is resulting in our burgeoning population saar. We can tax people on sex saar.'
'Okay. Tax all the tax paying fellows on sex. Sell sex rights to some private company that will pay us money to ensure proper use of this sexual energy. Make three or four bands again on this. Free sex for the bottom class but. They can have as much sex as they want.'
'One problem saar'.
'The tax paying crowd is having little sex saar. All their time is going into paying taxes saar. We may not be able to tax them on having sex saar.'
'So what is the problem. Tax them for not having sex.'

The Hyderabad Diaries - The Invisible User charges

One thing we are fighting here in Hyderabad (perhaps across India) is this invisible enemy - user charges. No one knows when and where the enemy springs from, because it is not mentioned in the price as a separate item. Some times it comes innocuously at the end of a long number of charges added to the actual cost of whatever service we are paying for. (Something like those 'service charges' that hotels and restaurants casually add to the bill at the end of the rather long line of taxes and items that have to be checked an double checked with the patience of an accountant.) In fact it may not be a bad idea to take one's accountant along - it might be cheaper if he saves a few charges for you.

Its all too complex and I wonder what use is my education if I cannot make out all this. The other day I was in line to pay my electricity bill and the young lady at the e-seva centre (which is now shorn of all the air-conditioned glory it had earlier) told us that the department has added a Rs. 10 user charge for paying its bills. Pray, why this Rs. 10 user charge? I have no clue but what does one do - its just too dense and too complex to fight my way in to find the answer. I know I am a user, and I am already paying you the price for using your service (and a service tax to the government, and a value added tax to the government, and perhaps sales taxes and all sorts of cesses, duties, charges as well that are all hidden somewhere and repeated again and again) so why this special recognition of my 'user' status and that too at a price? The Hyderabad airport also I am told has a 'user charge' of some 600 rupees which does not show up. I am sure I am paying many more user charges without even knowing them.

Everywhere we go these invisible charges follow us. In buying fuel, in road tolls, in air fares, in rail fares, in taxes, in services availed, in food consumed, in entertainment, in every possible way the burden is being passed on to the tax paying user base quietly while the government goes about doing its job in what could at best described as an inefficient manner - doling out subsidies, not bringing in checks and measures to prevent misuse of power and resources, selling off precious national assets - hoping to stay in power through populistic measures.

So we pay steep current bills, and suffer the recent increase in the power tariff by the AP State Electricity Board, and suffer massive power cuts. We pay these charges and then - here comes the irony - everyone buys their inverters and generators (on which there are further taxes and stuff).

We pay hiked water bills to the water department and then - buy drinking water from the many companies offering potable water in plastic cans. We buy water in tankers because the water supply is not good enough and is trickling down.  

We buy cars and pay all sorts of tolls, parking charges, fuel charges and even luxury taxes sometimes. Not counting all the other unofficial charges one has to shell out for. We go to a movie and are taxed, we go to a restaurant and are taxed, we avail any service and we are taxed - there is just no respite for the common man.

In almost every single act of our day, (save a few) we are taxed over and over again that we have lost count of the taxes and how and where we are paying for them. The only way out is to pay them or like a harried friend of mine who recently wound up his flourishing business told me today, go under the tax bracket, where you are not troubled anymore. Once you stop working (like a humourous article in the Economic Times mentioned which he showed me) you are saved this incessant pressure of earning to pay taxes in every form. And then as an unemployed person, if you're reasonably smart - your power connections, water connections, your unemployment schemes, your windfalls as the voting public, free housing, free medical care - much awaits the other side.

One can fight the enemy if the enemy shows himself. But here, its invisible. Who are we fighting? What are we fighting? The charge merely appears quietly in the bill. Or it may emanate rather loudly from the auto rickshaw wallahs mouth or the fruit sellers mouth. All one can do is shut up and pay. And hope that one can pass on such user charges to someone else down the line. Only, it appears, that we are the last in this line.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Bheeshma on Leadership (Duties of a King)

At the end of the Kurukshetra war Yudhisthir goes to the great warrior prince Bheeshma, his grandfather, who is awaiting the hour to die on his bed of arrows, to learn about the duties of a king. Some of them are applicable to the leader as well. Obviously it is a tough call, and one has to learn the art of fine balance to stay ahead of others. To trust and not trust, to be righteous and unrighteous, to be compassionate and yet not be too forgiving, to gather information on his own trusted aides - its interesting.
Clearly the leader must be ahead of the game at all times, at all costs. And never forgetting that his core duty is to his subjects. (Let's see how our leaders compare these days.)

On duties and behavior of a King:
  • Be a man of action. Action is equally powerful as destiny. It is in fact more potent. (Low on action)
  • Be a man of truth. It inspires confidence in the minds of subjects. (Low on truth)
  • Behavior should be above reproach. Self-restraint, humility and righteousness should be practiced. Must keep your passions under control. (Low on all the above)
  • Justice should be your second nature. (Medium)
  • Should know how to conceal weakness (in the kingdom) and should find the weakness in the enemy kingdom. Should be secretive about your plans. (We're making all our plans public)
  • Should have straightforward conduct. (Low on this)
  • Should not be too mild - nor too fierce. Both send the wrong signals. (Neither, we don't even know if they exist)
  • Should know the art of choosing servants. Compassion should be the mental make up. Should guard against being too forgiving a nature. (Very forgiving, especially the death row prisoners)
  • Should be constantly alert. Should study his friends and foes incessantly. (High on this)
  • First duty is to his subjects and should guard them as a mother guards her child in her womb. Their welfare is the only concern. (High on vote bank subjects. Primary duty seems to be to stay in power at any cost)
  • Should not place implicit confidence in anyone. Innermost thoughts must be concealed. Should not tell anyone of his decisions. (Leak everything to the media)
  • Should be wise in making peace with a foe who is stronger, making war on an equal and invading one who is weaker.
  • Should seek protection in the fort when position is weak.
  • Should have clear clever spies to find the secrets of the enemy. Should bribe and cajole officers of the enemy to his side.
  • Should be pleasant in his speech. (Impassive and worried faces)
  • Should have about him men who are like him in nature - with noble qualities. (All kinds of bed fellows)
  • The best king is one whose subjects live in freedom and happiness as they do in their father's home. Peace and contentment will be theirs. (Discontent, suspicion and apprehension rules)
  • Should know how to choose honest men to hold important offices. Should have skill, should be clever and be truthful. (Truthful guys are instantly sent away to other postings)
  • Should remove old and fallen buildings. (Exist in old and fallen buildings)
  • Should know how to inflict corporal punishment on miscreants. (Low)
  • Treasury should always be full. (Low)
  • Supervision of the works of all his officers should be done by the king himself. (Low, as seen in the corruption cases)

On warfare
  • Should never trust the guardians of the city or fort implicitly. (Low)
  • Must produce disloyalty among people in a hostile country and must have friends and allies there. (God knows what they are doing)
  • He should amass troops in secret. 
  • He should be both candid and crooked.
  • Must employ crooked and wrong acts when he wants to subdue the enemy. These must be hidden behind a candid and open exterior.
  • Should first conquer his five senses which is his greatest victory. Only then is he capable of conquering the enemy.
  • Should have immense numbers of soldiers in his forts, cities, frontiers and important spots.
  • Thoughts, actions, decisions and spies should be kept secret from everyone.
  • Spies should look like imbeciles, blind and deaf, but should be capable and wise. They should be able to handle cold, heat and hunger.
  • King should set spies on his counsellors, friends and even his sons. Spies should be strangers to each other.
  • When foe is stronger he should make peace.
  • If he is stronger, he should wage war.
  • Should not hesitate to afflict the enemy with weapons, fire and poison.
  • Should take a 6th of the income of the subjects for the army.

On administration, economy, taxes
  • Honest men should be appointed to administer justice. The state has her strong foundations only on proper administration of justice. (Low)
  • King makes the age, not age making the king.(Need younger men at the top)
  • King has to be righteous and unrighteous according to circumstance.(Low)
  • No one should be trusted at all times.(Low)
  • Entire reliance on ministers is not wise.
  • A king should therefore trust and not trust.
  • A king should mistrust his kinsmen at heart but behave as if he trusts them completely.
  • Punishment should be given according to immensity of offence.
  • Taxes should not be so high as to hurt the subjects. Like a leech he should draw blood painlessly. (Low)

As an individual
  • Be righteous. A righteous king can conquer the world. Should bear no malice.
  • Worship of mother, father and preceptor most important.
  • When a man amasses wealth through dhrama, the 3 - dharma, artha, kama are together. All three have their root in will.
  • Virtue for purification of soul, wealth so it is spent without desire to fruit and pleasure for supporting the body and not gratifying it
  • Self restraint is the highest duty and leads one to glory. it has a number of good qualities borne of it - forgiveness, patience, impartiality, truth
  • Truth is the duty of every human.
  • Eternal duty is of 13 kinds - impartiality, self control, forgiveness, modesty, endurance, goodness,contemplation, dignity, fortitude, compassion and abstinence from injury.
  • A wise man retains his senses. rises above desires. treats pain and pleasure alike,
  • A man who is dear to all will be good and pious, his blood will never heated with pride. no discontent or wrath, his sense never lead him astray and he has peace of realisation of supreme truth
  • Desire makes man a sinner.

On friends and foes
  • Make friends with intelligent men who desire your welfare.
  • Friends should be examined fully
  • Foes should be studied, their strengths and weaknesses known.
  • Self interest is the most powerful factor in the world. everyone has a purpose he serves.
  • Should not show fear.
  • Should show trust - even though he feels otherwise. (Low)

On emancipation
  • A man fit for emancipation passes beyond the ken of world of senses, Hunger and thirst do not bother him. He is unaffected by wrath, cupidity and error.
  • Need not give up kingdom to attain emancipation.
  • The 1st part of one's life - wealth should be earned, righteousness next, pleasure come last
  • Man is born alone and dies alone.

 On Prosperity
  • The goddess of prosperity resides in an eloquent person, an active person, an attentive person. Free of wrath, his passions under control. should be high minded. a man of little energy is spurned by her.

Duties of subjects
  • To elect the king and coronate him
  • To give one fifth of their animals and precious metals, a tenth of their grains (Only a few give)
  • Should choose those proficient in the use of weapons and help maintain the army
  • A 4th of their merit and their evil goes to the king. (High)
  • Should be humble to the king because a king who is honoured by his subjects will be respected and feared b his foes.

Duties of legislators

  • Legislators should be modest, self restrained, truthful and sincere. Should have courage to speak what is proper. (Low on most counts)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Paradoxes of Life - Now is Forever

Forever is only this moment - not the next and the next and the next - and onwards.

This moment 'stretches' forever when engaged with fully, afresh. The moments 'shrinks' when engaged with partially, from the past. The moment ceases to exist on its own. It becomes a shadow of the past. Instead of 'stretching' it starts 'shrinking'.

You, your world, your present, they all shrink with the burden of forever.

To love forever is to love in the moment. That is all. There is no further happiness or responsibility for the next. Act in the moment. You have acted 'forever'.

Thought for the Day - 'Forever' is Only for the Moment

Much of what we carry or commit for, especially stuff that has a long term nature, sounds overbearingly heavy. Jobs, relationships, people, commitments, illnesses, fears, beliefs. It appears like a huge burden to carry the stake of being responsible - for things that we have done or things that we have not. The memories stay with us forever. The commitments stay with us forever. Naturally the burden and the guilt and resentment also stays forever. We bend under their weight until we can take them no more. We lose the smile on our face. We lose much more than that. The road ahead seems long. Forever.

But 'forever'?

To me it is only this moment. We can give that responsibility, that experience, that commitment, everything we have - only for this moment. We are responsible only for that moment. Once it is over we need to move on to the next moment and see how we deal with it. Situations change, people change, experiences change. Deal with the new moment fully when it comes.

Not from the old moment and its 'forever'.

What this can do is give each moment a 'forever' freshness. That one moment will feel like forever if we deal with it anew. The good is enjoyed and let go. You cannot sit there 'forever' thinking of how good those times were. The bad is felt and let go. You cannot kill yourself with all the bad things you did 'forever'. It was over and done with in a particular time, space. Good and bad again are your labels, stuff you carry 'forever'. If you only look at the act, it is just that. An act. Neither good nor bad.

If you do tend to stick to your memories and perpetuate your 'forever', you are stuck in time. In your past. You are not flowing. You are not being true to forever. Let go of those past memories, past moments and come alive to this moment. They are dead and gone. Create that forever this moment. See how the moment stretches when you live in it fully, when you engage with it fully. This is the real 'forever'.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Radical Manifestation Workshop - Interesting Findings After 5 Years

Colin Tipping is an Atlanta based author, workshop facilitator and the owner of the copyright on 'Radical Forgiveness' - a technology which, he believes, can lead one to a state of forgiveness quicker and easier. The idea behind it is that forgiveness being one of our biggest energy blocks to our own good, if dealt with properly, can bring in all we want. His technology is interesting and has many tangible benefits which I experienced as well (as long as I practiced those). Though Radical Forgiveness is his flagship program (of which Shobha is a qualified coach) he also has other interesting programs such as 'Radical Manifestation'.

I don't know who discovered Colin Tipping first but there was a phase when a group of us would do all kind of self-help workshops, especially in the 'energy' areas. The first program that we did was the 2 day workshop of 'Heal Your Life' by Louise Hay. Now this is a highly empowering workshop and has innumerable benefits for anyone and I am glad that I did it, thought belatedly (Me and help? Haha). Shobha had discovered Sailaja, who was a certified workshop facilitator of Hay's workshop, and a wonderful and patient teacher too. And it was Sailaja who attended the Tipping workshop in Atlanta and brought the 'Radical Manifestation' workshop to India. We all signed up for a rather expensive workshop and it had an interesting way to test it out. The first premise is to manifest the money for the workshop - based on our intent - and we did. One way or another. That seemed like a good omen.

Anyway, this workshop was done sometime in mid-2007, a period when much was happening (or not happening) in my life. I had written a book which had been signed for publication and shoved to the background for a year. There was an impending baby, rather late in our lives, and the worries that go with that. My big move to leave my job had nothing much to show for in two years except for some debt. Certainly no money. And at that point to invest something like 15K for a program was seemingly impossible - but then we did and attended a 3-day fun-filled, life-changing program at Taj Krishna.

A part of what the workshop taught us, among many other things, was to use the Radical Manifestation worksheet to manifest what one wants. One feels the emotions of lack, states what one wants to manifest, gives up attachment to it, wishing wholeheartedly that whatever is best will happen. It is a worksheet that we need to write in and we all filled in what we wanted - outlandish stuff sometimes, large amounts of money, travel, all sorts of stuff - hoped that it would all come true and after waiting for a day or two for the millions to pour in, forgot about them. It was all very exciting then to live in that state and to allow ourselves to ask for all sorts of stuff from the Universe. Anyway that's not the interesting part.

The other day I found the old file and ran through some of those old manifestation sheets that I had written in and was astounded at what I had asked for and what came true.

I asked for the following in those sheets - 1) sell film rights for my first novel, 2) that we have a healthy baby and many wonderful moments with her/him, 3) a new car, 4) a new laptop, 5) a nice office space, 6) a new couch for our home, 7) a cheque for 3 lakh, 8) a cheque for 5 lakh, 9) a cheque for 1 lakh (at different times, probably because of some need then), 10) a Sony Bravia television (I was so impressed with it), 11) an increase in my retainer to 30 K with a client, 12) several sheets on good health, 13) a direct marketing team to sell the novel, 14) selling rights for children's book, 15) contracts for 'The Misfit' and 16) 'The Tryst', 17) specific panels for book launches at Mumbai and 18) Chennai, 19) a perfect home, 20) a literary agent, 21) a large bank balance and so on. Some were asked in desperation, some were asked flippantly and some were asked as if to test if it works. Obviously the desperate ones worked best.

Of the above I was amazed to find that the ones that were specific somehow manifested - in their own time of course.  The film rights for the first book were sold, Anjali was born and its a wonderful life with her, a new car, a laptop, nice office space, at home, a new couch, cheques, a Sony Bravia came in, my retainer increased exactly to 30 K with that client, The Tryst got published as 'If You Love Someone...', the perfect panels for Mumbai (Sanjay Manjrekar and Ayaz Memon) and Chennai (K. Srikkanth, R. Mohan and V.B. Chandrashekhar, my good friend) happened. That makes it 14 out of 21 that I can see which is huge! The ones which were more specifically and clearly spelled out happened exactly as I wished for them - amounts, brands, names, people, things - and the vague ones were left out. They all happened in their own time too but what hit me was how they all did come true.

I know many who are sceptical and think its all mumbo jumbo. But I believe that not everything can be explained through science, not yet anyway, and do believe that there is an energy at play which we can access and use for our and greater good. But all said and done I think the above list presents a serious case for making lists, setting goals. There is an energy at play when one can visualise a clear thought and leave it in the Universe. The clearer one is, the better. We can certainly leave some good thoughts for ourselves (instead of scaring ourselves silly), for people around us, and hope they come true. No harm done.

And certainly a huge case for Colin Tipping and his Radical Manifestation technology which can be found on the net. Much thanks is owed to Sailaja for bringing it into our realm. And if there's is one thing I have learnt, it is to keep at something that's working. So onward for more intentions and manifestations.