Sunday, November 30, 2014

Interesting Link - Why Germans Work Fewer Hours But Produce More

How many hours do we actually work? How can we sustain the intensity and focus on work? Is it the large number of hours stretched thinly over unfinished and badly done work or the few no-nonsense, business like approach to work that works?

The Germans are pretty clear. No private stuff - work means work. No beating round the bush, The process and the outcome are paramount.

The fun part is missing which is a bit of a negative because what you produce somehow loses some of its soul but well, jobs get done.

Check this out.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Queen at Live Aid Wembley - Greatest Live Performances

I was searching for the greatest live performances and it was such a joy to find Queen's performance at Wembley for the Live Aid show. I remember seeing that performance on television and even over the TV it was powerful beyond words.

Queen's performance tops the list of great live performances in many lists. Freddie Mercury has the crowd eating out of his hands, singing with him, clapping along. What a performer!

Sheer joy.

Phil Hughes - An End So Unexpected

There is a picture of Phil Hughes that flashes across my mind. He is looking up at the camera, a big smile on his face. Anyone who can smile like that is certainly someone who knows how to live. How to squeeze life out of every moment.

He was an unconventional batsman. The newspapers called him a maverick. It must have summed up his attitude to life. The smile certainly did. Phil Hughes it appeared, lived life on his own terms.

The first reports I heard of the injury sickened me to the stomach. I did not watch the pictures, the video. Something about the reports felt wrong. This is not how it should be. I kept hoping desperately that Phil would find a way back. All cricketers must have visualised and undergone what Phil must have gone through - that moment of misjudgment when you know its the wrong call - and then the crash of the ball into your body. Happens all the time. We get up and play on.

It's a game of cricket after all. What can happen? Yes, you do get hurt once in a while but nothing like this ever happens. Not to someone who is in the prime of his life, who is looking forward to playing the Test series, to fight his way back into the Aussie side, to Christmas, to a life with a loved one, fame, glory. As I read the flood of messages, gestures of cricketers current and former in the newspaper, my eyes brimmed over. Why? Why like this?

Life is cruel. Sport is cruel. Cricket is cruel.

But that is life. What we begin, must end sometime. We cannot stop living because we fear that life is cruel. We have to face it and deal with it. We have to look hard at it and learn any lessons it wants to teach us, sometimes as harshly as a sudden end to a bright spark.

The feeling that occupied me slowly when I heard the news that Phil bowed out, brought back memories of another incident early in my life. Back in 1988, when I was about 21, I lost a dear friend of mine. Krishna was my senior, a wise man, intelligent, full of life, energy and zest. He was among the toppers in Electrical Engineering. He was kind, considerate and compassionate. For someone who was two years my senior he did not need to show the kind of empathy he did. And yes, he loved his cricket and so, cricketers. Krishna was a fearsome fast bowler who could generate a lot of pace. Tall, ruddy, smiling, quick. He genuinely loved the game. He loved life.

I have many memories of Krishna. Of him beaming as he showed me a picture of mine in the Sportstar when I got four wickets in a Ranji game. Of him coming home and taking a pair of my shoes because he needed them. Of his expertise in palmistry and looking in amazement at the crisscrossed lines on my palm. Of him bowling Zakir Hussain, one of the best batsmen Nizam College had, neck and crop with a pacy incutter that sent the middle stump cartwheeling. Of his trademark follow through where he removed himself gently out of the pitch as if he did not want to intrude in the process. Almost apologetically.

And then of him standing in the well of a new lift he was installing for a lift company he had joined as a Trainee Engineer. I remember the building in Ranigunj, Krishna standing precariously in the well but still smiling. This was his first job. We had tea and promised to meet again. I was in my final year of college.

Then a month later I heard Krishna had died. He died on the field playing a Sunday league cricket match. He had bowled well and got four wickets. While returning to the pavilion the gentle giant complained of uneasiness. He asked for a smoke, then more uneasiness, then he asked for water and then collapsed. That was it. All on the same parade grounds in Secunderabad we pass by everyday. His terrified team mates rushed him to the hospital. But by then Krishna was dead. Massive stroke. Instant death. At the funeral our ruddy pink Krishna had gone so blue with the massive hemorrhaging that I could not recognise him.

I went numb for a few days. I had experienced death before, having lost my father when I was seventeen. But nothing prepared me in life for this. I searched for possible reasons why anyone who goes to play a cricket match, who has never had a health problem, who looks the picture of health, who bowled so well in that game, could just end it all. Could life give up on us one moment and go away without warning? Is it so fragile, this thread that keeps us hanging, that all our plans seem so meaningless? All our promise and potential and hopes count to nothing? Krishna's death impacted me far more in terms of dealing with life than any other incident in my life till then. It marked permanently the impermanence of life. It can just pack up and go. You are alive or you are not. The moment is all you have.

The only lesson I could take from Krishna's death was that there was no point stowing life away so we could enjoy it later. No point in anything but living our life when we have it. We don't know when the divine umpire might raise his finger in the most unexpected times, in the most unfair of decisions, and we might have to suddenly trudge back in the most unexpected circumstances to the pavilion. We cannot contest him, argue with him.

We can only be grateful that he allowed us the life we had.

As I think of it from the perspective of the divine umpire I can only think this. Why would he raise the finger so cruelly and dash the hopes of this young man in an instant? And then it struck me. If we have to return at an appointed time we have to return, but he could choose to let his favorite people exit in a special manner. He certainly did not let them exit in an unknown arena, in a place that gave them no joy. He granted them, Phil and Krishna, people who really really packed their lives with life and love, the pleasure of bowing out while doing what they loved the most, boots on. One cannot ask for more love, more compassion from the umpire.

 One can only accept the decision and return.

RIP Phil. RIP Krishna. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thought for the Day - Our Guiding Principle

What is our guiding principle then that sorts most other issues in life?

Plant enjoying itself

This one's rather simple - "To enjoy the moment."

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thought for the Day - Joy Kills Fear

Fear, says AP, is the biggest obstacle to our growth. So it seems, when we look at the words of the masters.

This much seems quite clear. We cannot do away with fear. It will be there every time we go out and try and do something worthwhile.
There's joy here. I see no fear.
So what do we do the next time we are doing something and fear comes up? Do we pray? Do we stress ourselves out?

I suggest we do the next best thing. Which is to go after an emotion that totally overcomes fear. An emotion that envelops, overwhelms, pooh poohs all that fear brings up.

To work, bring an element of joy. Well...but how?

Find a way to laugh. Find the funnest route to be around that job. Be the fool. Make a joke. Sing. Clown around. Do anything but be serious. The more serious you are the more the fear wins. The less serious you are, the more you win.

Being less serious is only about the outcome. The process is done with utmost dedication. When we smile and laugh we add a great creative energy to the work. We add a touch of divine to it really. Fear has no place where there is laughter.

Bash on regardless. Be fun. Make work fun. You can see how the energy envelops your work. How it envelops all around you. I forget where I read this but you must be like the music that makes everyone dance.

Its not difficult. Tell yourself you will have fun. And have fun. Despite all else.
Then figure if you did well this way or that. Joy vs Fear. Process vs Outcome. Serious vs Fun.

A Matter of Perspective

Light on leaf - one perspective
There is one time of the day in the morning that the sunlight lights up a small branch that hangs low.
Every time there is the sun behind it, nature seems to take on a different life. A different beauty to it.
I wonder how many things we let go without observing them from another angle.
Light on same leaf - another perspective

Anjali - The Posters On the Gate

We have many altruistic businesses near my house. They scour the countryside for empty gates and stick up flexboards that say 'No Parking'. Below that warning is written their business and contact numbers. Our gates serve as ready made hoarding boards for them.
There was a time when I'd pull those boards away savagely. How dare they?

Today we noticed two boards had attached themselves to our gate.
Anjali was very happy.
'Wow, someone put a No Parking sign for us,' she said.

I smiled. This was certainly a new way to look at these boards.
Like I said earlier, I normally preferred getting mad at them for doing stuff like this to my gate.

Then came the question.
'Why do they put these boards on our gate nanna?'
Aha! Good question. I will tell you why little one. These nefarious chaps have a secret agenda.

'They are advertising their business,' I pointed out. 'See they have their name and number.'

See. Now do you get it?

She was thrilled.
'Ha, but they don't know that we are very happy to have such boards on our gate. They are doing us a favor really without knowing no nanna? Because of these boards people won't park in front of our gate.'

Yes Anjali.
If only my life was so simple and everything that everyone did was not some personal attack or a conspiracy to undermine me. Then life would seem like they are all helping me out.

Thought for the Day - Step Back, They Don't Need Your Help

The next time you are getting into something 'for someone else', stop. Ask yourself - do they need it? Are they better off without it? Have they asked you explicitly for your help?

Or more relevantly, why do you need this?
Big tree helping (itself!) to small tree's space and restricting it
I feel that most times, we add purpose to our lives by making someone else's lives our purpose. Its a good way to distract ourselves, to feel that we have contributed, without taking any responsibility for the consequence. Mnay times children become great objects of such advice and help. They become great projects. 

If it fails you can say - I did so much but he or she would not listen. If only they had taken my advice etc etc.

Most times the people we are helping don't need our help. They are fine. Unless people explicitly ask for our help, they don't need it. In fact by interfering with our help we may not be allowing them to grow as they should.

I suspect we do this because we are too scared to do anything for ourselves. Now if you helped yourself do this same great project that you are advising someone else on, you have to take responsibility for the consequences, or outcomes. What if it does not come off  the way it should? What if it shows you up for who you really are?

So its easier to be the consultant. Give advice. Be busy. Be fully drawn into the drama of the situation. Blame the other person (poor chap, he never even wanted your advice and help in the first place) for not doing what you told him.

Ok. Here's my advice (I am part of the group you see, fellow advisors.) 
Save your energy. If you want to help someone, help yourself. Does not matter if you fail. At least you have tried something. 

If not, stay still. Enjoy the nature, the quiet, the peace. It's ok to be irrelevant.
It's ok to wait for your time. To let the world do its own without our help. It's ok to accept that the world can go on without us striving hard to hold it up. It was doing a good job by itself anyway.

Most times when we help nature, we are interfering with the process. (I am inspired to come up with a quotable quote here - "Those with a helping nature are really not helping nature. They are merely interfering with the process." 

Zero Dark Thirty - Movie Review

Directed by Katherine Bigelow, ZDT is about the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and the hunt for Osama bin Laden until he is traced and killed. The US Intelligence, with great difficulty locates Osama (UBL) to Pakistan and with even greater difficulty, manages to capture him. In the process they kill him and some members of his family in a midnight operation in May, 2011.

The movie starts slowly. The ten years between 2001 , when the attacks on the US took place, and 2011, when Osama bin Laden was killed, lead to precious little. Mostly shown through the eyes of Maya, a female CIA operative based in Pakistan who has been tracking Osama ever since she joined the agency since high school, it shows the agency's struggles to find credible sources to find a lead to Osama. Maya makes some distant connections, but without enough proof, her efforts are not followed up. The death of her colleagues in a suicide bombing, attacks on her, the slow nature of response to their work, only steel her and she finally finds a good enough lead to Osama's whereabouts in Abbotabad, Pakistan. Once that is done its a matter of putting a probability based on the intelligence they can gather, and carrying out the midnight strike. There is almost no resistance save for a few gunshots fired in the beginning. Much of the credit for the intelligence behind this goes to Maya - all others seem to be quite happy to not do too much about it.

The film begins slowly and picks up momentum as the end approaches. Gripping stuff by the end - despite knowing what happened. Unusual way of showing the strike, in darkness, as it must have been, to heighten the experience. Apparently the Pakistan parts were shot in Chandigarh which is a pleasant surprise.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thought for the Day - Simon Sinek, The Importance of Purpose and Creating Great Value (Businesses)

This is a thought that comes out of a discussion with Suresh, Simon Sinek's video, and a few more random strings of thought that I am trying to piece together.

First one must watch this video by Simon Sinek. Its a TED talk about 'Let's start with why'.

Why one must start with why?
Because why gives us purpose. When we have a purpose, we have the force, the momentum. We are driven. It gives us a mission. It gives meaning to our lives.

"He who has a why to live can bear any how." - Friedrich Nietzsche

So let me look at it from the aspect of marketing, of business.

What we do?
Most businesses that start with 'what' are in trouble. That's because we are starting with 'us'. I can do this. So buy it.

If its absolutely necessary, the customer may buy. It's commodity selling. Pretty basic. There is no connect emotionally.

How we do it?
When businesses want to differentiate and look at giving the customer more value, they start looking at the 'how'. There is deeper thought, research, attention to detail, to customer satisfaction.

It's still about the seller, the service provider. 'We' do this like this. Can you see it? Can you appreciate it?
Great, says the customer. But there is still no connection. It's all rational stuff going on.

I am not terribly enthusiastic about it yet as a customer. There is no magic yet.

Why we do it?
This is clarity of purpose. This is honesty. This is courage. This is love. This is putting it out there.
We do this because it satisfies an intrinsic need in us. We deliver value to you, in the form we are best capable of. Come hell or highwater, we will do it. Because this gives us meaning.

Your appreciation of our service gives our lives meaning. We will go that extra mile to earn that appreciation.

Simon Sinek connects it to the three parts of the brain. The two outer parts are the rational parts, they process information. But its the inner part that is involved in decision making. This is where all rational thought goes out of the window.
This is where the 'connect' happens. This is where it all gets sold. This is why certain things sell despite being bad products and why certain things don't sell despite being great products.

The connect happens at the mindset
The connect happens at the mindset level, at the emotional level. You identify with that product, that communication, that thing the product represents in your mind. Can't explain why but it happens.

How does this translate to us as marketers or businessmen?
Firs let us look at the what and the how we do anything. Let's say we have a good product or service. Great. But customers are not buying into it.

Why are they not seeing what a great product we have?

This is why.
They will not see it as a great product until your 'why' (your purpose) does not resonate with the need in their mindset. Until they believe you, your effort, your pitch.

To do that you must first believe in it yourself.

I am here to satisfy that part of you that thinks and believes you resonate with this product and service we offer.

Going in reverse
Now let us look at it from the Needs of customer perspective
Assuming that customers (in this aspect, are coming from a mindset and are over physiological needs) we shall look at the 10 essential emotional needs of humans. They are according to the link :

1) Security - safe territory and an environment which helps us to develop fully
2) Attention - (to give and receive) as a form of nutrition
3) Sense of autonomy and control - having volition to make responsible choices
4) Being emotionally connected to others
5) Feeling part of a wider community
6) Friendship, intimacy - knowing that at least one other person accepts us as we are
7) Privacy - opportunity to reflect and consolidate experience
8) Sense of status - Within social groupings
9) Sense of competence and achievement
10) Having meaning and purpose - comes from being stretched in what we do and think

Our why needs to resonate with their emotional need. Why we do what we do must make sense to that need more so as far as our intent and communication goes.

So if we are an internet company we would be looking at taking the power of the internet and giving the customers a great life that they never imagined otherwise. You must believe in your promise, you must believe in the potential, in the dream. You must believe you will deliver and all your actions must be focused towards earning the customer's appreciation for keeping your promise.

When you believe, they buy in. It meets one of their needs (to be part of a big dream is one such dream). They want to be with you.

So what do you satisfy? Apple caters to Status. FB caters to Being emotionally connected to others and Attention. (Some of them threaten your Privacy.)

Some powerful ones in the list are - Sense of autonomy and control (knocks out privacy issues), Friendship and intimacy, Sense of competence and achievement and Having a meaning and purpose.

If we know the why, its great. If we don't, we can go at it the other way. What does the customer see in us? What need are we really satisfying? How is he really benefiting from this exchange? Do some careful research. Call the ad guys, the product guys, the customers. Sit down and ask questions.

Once we find a why, and we believe in it, we have the force (or the power) to attract others to desire it. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thought for the Day - You are Your Best Part

I remember writing a post called 'you are not your worst part' some time ago.

Then the other day, while listening to someone talk, it struck me that we could choose to look at ourselves as the sum of the best parts of ourselves. (That was the general idea of a workshop that I did, and still do).
The dark or the light?
Typically we tend to downplay our positives and good moments. We highlight our weaknesses and faults. Most times we are obsessed with our weaknesses and faults. Our life is seen as perfect only when there are no troubles at all. The slightest trouble is seen as a huge betrayal of the promise. All the good is thrown out along with this.

One reason why we downplay our big highs and overplay our negatives is that when things work, we don't accept responsibility for that. (But when it does not, we take full blame for that.) When things go well, it is because of god, karma etc. When things go wrong, it is because of us, our bad luck.

Try this.

Think of ten of your biggest achievements, greatest highs, wonderful moments. Write them down. It takes time. Its difficult to get our minds to look in that direction. Normally we miss some of these. I always found it difficult to think of the nice things and missed a few important ones. (Its almost like I want to forget them or hide them away lest they get exposed and spoil the illusion.)

On the other hand thinking of ten worst things that happened to us is easy. Our mind is generally in that space so it instantly identifies these.

We almost revel in our misfortunes. We are apologetic about our good fortune.

As the sum total of what we are, our thoughts and achievements, we generally present an apologetic us. With many downsides. The negatives weigh heavily and trample the few positives. Its difficult to move this person. He seems stuck.

Obviously that is not the truth.

Take the best parts only Make a list of all the good things that happened to you, that you were part of, that you achieved, that you experienced, that you created, the compliments of friends and family, the moments of joy and exhilaration. Let's say you are now as big as these - that you can create more such whenever you please and more. Your limits are now stretched this far and you can go further. All this is you. All beyond is you.

There is a creative energy building up now.

Can we throw off the shackles of those negatives? We can. What good are they? Some bad experiences, some memories, some failures of the past? Okay, let them go.

Spread your wings. And fly.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Anjali - I am so glad we are born now

The talk came to type writers. (Started with QWERTY but that's another story.)
'What are they nanna?' Anjali asked all innocence. She never saw one you see.

I tried to explain.
'They are these machines, like boxes, with keys arranged this way as in a computer keyboard and rods that connected to the actual letters that typed on the paper. We put the paper in and typed it out and that was it.'
She contemplated the situation.

'You know what it means right?' I asked. 'You cannot make a mistake else you have to type it all again. Not like you kids who have computers and you can make as many mistakes and then correct them. We had to really think before doing. No mistakes.'

She contemplated on what I said for a moment. Then she smiled, terribly pleased with this situation she was in.
'I am so glad we are born now nanna,' she said in apparent joy at the conveniences she was enjoying. 'I can press delete and undo and write it over again. It's so easy for us.'

I was not sure this was where I wanted this to go. But then there was more.
'I wonder what all things will come when I grow older nanna,' she said in genuine wonder and anticipation.

She was looking forward.

I was looking backward.

I can't imagine what will happen to me when that world she is seeing comes into existence. But with her wonder and joy, Anjali will surely have a good time it looks like.

Dersu Uzala - Movie Review

Dersu Uzala is a remarkable man. Not many hunters who live in the wild become the subject of a book and then, two movies. One directed by Akira Kurosawa. The book was written in 1923. The first movie was made in 1961. And Kurosawa's was made in 1975.

Dersu Uzala is a hunter who lives in the wild. He meets the narrator and writer of the original travelogue Vladimir Arsenyev, when he is surveying the Russian Far Eastern parts along with a team. The hunter who appears to be wild and eccentric soon displays his great compassion for life, his wisdom, his courage and love. In many incidents that follow, Dersu shows how we must respect nature, all forms of life, how he puts his own life in danger while saving the author and his team members. The way he repairs a travelers hut and leaves supplies in case they need it, the way he talks to nature, animals, the way he is so at peace with his surroundings in the forest mark him as a man who is very different. His friendship with the author and with all life, including the Sun and the Moon, reflects the great love he has.

The movie has all the ingredients I look for in great movies. I put it on sometime after 11 pm and was drawn by the first scene when the narrator is seen looking for the grave of an old friend. But the grave is now gone because a new settlement has come up. I promised myself 10 minutes, 15 at the most. And I saw the entire movie, almost two hours, most without subtitles too. That's great story telling for me. Can't forget the characters, story moves organically and its all so authentic.

Thought for the Day - What Do We Take Responsibility For (or How to be Happy When the World is Falling Down)

The issues at hand are humongous. They appear too big to handle. The end is out of sight. They need focus, energy and momentum.

Can I handle it?

This is the point when we start doubting ourselves. Are we doing enough? Is there something I am missing?

Doubts bring up our worst fears. Our weaknesses and foibles come up for scrutiny.  

Debts. Business plans. Careers. Relationships. Life.

Am I capable of handling this responsibility? Am I doing it well enough? 

Am I the right person?

To address the stress that builds up in such situations, get the right perspective. What are the boundaries? What am I responsible for? How will I know when I have done enough?

What are we responsible for really?

We are responsible only for 
1) The  present moment - how we respond to this moment is all that matters.
2) For Our actions - what we do this moment that creates and facilitates the most of the moment matters. 
3) For our thoughts and feelings - the quality of our thoughts that induces feelings of joy and well being in the moment. Follow the happy path while being at the job that means so much to you (don't laze off saying it will give you joy!)

These are things under our control right now.

What are we not responsible for really? 
These are things that are not under our control. They are incidentally also the things that are adding to the stress. They are: 
1) All that is not the present moment - i.e. the past and the future (throws out half the stress). 
2) Our choice of actions - are we taking shortcuts because we are now acting out of fear. 
3) Other people's thoughts and feelings - we are not responsible for what others are feeling, let them deal with it.
5) The outcome - give it the best shot and see how it pans out.

The parts that are uncontrollable are the ones that add to the stress and put doubt in our minds. They can mess with the result too.

To get the best outcome focus on the controllables. Focus on the route that makes the moment happy (while at the job).

So what do we do with the stuff that we cannot control? We cannot throw out the fact that the results are not looking good, that people are unhappy, that external factors appear unfavorable. The world is loaded against me!

One way that most people suggest to handle such stuff is to leave it to the higher power to handle. I can do this much, you do your part. These are things for me to do. These larger stuff are for god or the universe to do. Trust the higher intelligence  to take care of it well. Trust yourself to take care of your part well.

That is all that there is to it.

Even when it appears that it is all going wrong. 

But remember, nothing comes to us that we cannot handle. Nothing. We always get only that which we can handle. Which is preparing us for the greater design. 

Like I read somewhere we are only seeing the back of the embroidery which is a mess while the beautiful design is being created on the other side. You will see the design too, of what you created, if you are patient, if you let the great knitter do his or her job and not give up.
Play your part.

All will be well. Let go. Just be. You are already doing all you can. 

When you just play your part and be an enthusiastic participant, you can even have fun while you are at it.

In all this mess, there is perfection being played out. Just yield to it.

Nice Link to 25 incredible destinations

They all look good (but then don't they all). Been to Chakrata only. Need to correct that a bit.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

All About Bacteria - Ravi Mantha

90% cells of our body are bacterial. (So if we go on a bacteria killing expedition, you know what you are killing - yourself!). Many of these bacteria that live inside us are capable of causing severe illnesses like meningitis, stomach infections, pneumonia etc - but in most cases they do not. Anyway they are already there and there's nothing we can do about it. Except perhaps to keep them happy and content.

The line 'Harness your inner bacteria' is perfect. Keep your inner bacteria happy and there's a good chance you will be happy too. (Or is it the other way around - be happy and that keeps the bacteria happy. Are we the bacteria or is the bacteria us? Discuss later - let's move on.)

Most of Ravi Mantha's interesting book is about how we in many ways interfere with a wonderfully efficient and intelligent system that nature has already put in place, and by doing so imbalance this ecosystem within the body and without. He mulls over how in China doctors would be paid for preventive medicine - pay when you are kept healthy and do not pay when you fall ill. (The doctor's job was to keep you healthy and not sick!)

In a 100 trillion cells that we have in our body, 90% are of some form of bacteria or other. Considering that we are also 65% water, Ravi presents this visual that we are all a kind of a bacterial soup. He calls this ecosystem the human symbiote.

The fight to save the world is then between evil pathogens which attack our body and good probiotic bacteria which builds and maintains our ecosystem. We can choose to take the boring route of being long term and build a strong foundation so we are healthier, or we could choose the more dramatic route of fighting the evil pathogens with heavy duty artillery that can also kill some of the good people too. Since most of the money in our human world is spent on making war and not love anyway, we are happier producing heavy duty antibiotics to fight these evil monsters. Everyone is happy and there is more excitement.

Not necessarily health, as Ravi argues.

In most cases he says that all we need to get better is to seek a friendly doctor, one who listens to you, one who charges you, one who can give you some placebo and if it continues refers you to a specialist. In all likelihood you feel better in step 1 or 2 itself.

Without going too deep into types of bacteria etc, let me, for the sake of the good cause, list out some of the stuff that Ravi recommends for good health. These are simple things that can be followed (and if you care to seek more information, you can read the book).

  • Drink red wine when you eat red meat - reduces impact because 
  • Add rosemary to meat before grilling to reduce harmful impact 
  • Sweating is good for your symbiote - so please sweat and allow it
  • Soap and water is the best disinfectant to wash and bathe
  • Cow dung fights off pathogens - used heavily in rural areas to plaster walls and floor
  • Warm clothes in cold weather keep out common cold etc - keeps symbiotic bacteria alive (viruses thrive in cold, by the way viruses are bad guys)
  • Stress is natural - manage it, don't pop pills
  • Limit antibiotic misuse - excess use of antibiotics weakens bacterial symbiote temporarily
  • Breastfeeding helps children - breast milk is probiotic
  • Important to keep the bacterial system in the gut stable (its the line of control between the symbiote and the immune system) - much is to do with what you eat and how much (nice quote - there are no poisons, only poisonous doses), wash hands well after going to the loo
  • To reduce high Blood Pressure eat green leafy stuff, drink beetroot juice, practice meditation (drinking beetroot juice before going on high altitude expeditions helps lower risk of DVT)
  • To counter excess iron donate blood once in 6 months (or do bloodletting of some other sorts like say leech therapy), to counter low iron eat tomatoes cooked in an iron skillet
  • Clean teeth, tongue, floss to prevent plaque and thereby heart disease, go to dentist
  • Stay away from hospitals unless absolutely necessary (good idea, but I don't subscribe too much to it)
  • Interesting theory on fecal enemas to change gut microbes that can revolutionise many treatments like say weight loss
  • Buy meat at organic butcher and avoid supermarket meat which is processed meat brought out of highly efficient systems with antibiotic use and what not
  • Do not use disinfectant at home - kills good stuff alongwith bad stuff and lets bad stuff in
  • Get a dog (its wonderful bacterial system boosts ours)
  • Give up milk - no use really, majority humans can't even digest milk so lactose intolerance is normal
  • Look at Resting Heart Rate (beats per minute) as a predictor of mortality - <60 is good, 60 to 80 is ok, >80 is trouble and needs steps to reverse
  • 90% cells in our body get replaced in about a year - so many illnesses can be reversed by changing lifestyle
  • Cardio exercises, 30 minute walks
  • For flat feet, walk barefoot, use flat soled shoes
  • Egg yolk is perfectly fine - no link to cholestrol
  • Hypnotherapy and cognitive therapy are good to treat many psychosomatic stuff
  • If in depression, walk barefoot on earth (most astronauts, submariners and Antarctica visitors suffer from depression due to lack of contact with the earth)
  • French kiss all those who are willing to kiss you, to exchange symbiotic bacteria - it is healthy, strengthens your symbiote (just make sure that what you do is with consent and is legal)
  • Use hypnotherapy which has great success for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Use anti-bacterial ointment to get rid of Body Odour

Ravi advises us also to try not to touch elevator buttons and door knobs in winter with our hands. I wonder how we can get anywhere unless we wait for someone to do it for us, or wear gloves. But that is okay. He also suggests a look at a TED video at

Ravi Mantha is a health writer and activist (who appears to have made boatloads of money as an investment banker) and has spent many  years researching health and the human body. He blogs at Interesting read.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Love and Death - Movie Review

I don't know how I missed this 1975 Woody Allen classic (must have been misled by the title I think). The 70s Woody was so fresh, irreverent and crazy and you can feel his creative energy coming through in every frame. Completely crazy.

Woody is Boris Gruschenko who is a lot like the Woody we know - he likes to talk philosophy and not participate in stuff like war. He also loves his cousin (Diane Keaton) who talks philosophical nonsense with him but does not love him. She marries a fishmonger instead. Woody is asked to go to war when Napoleon invades Russia along with his two brothers. He is very reluctant but is somehow carted to the battlefront where he becomes a war hero quite by mistake. From there to meeting his old love again and marrying her quite by chance again (she thinks he will be killed in a duel the next day but he survives) Woody's life looks set. But there is war again and Woody's wife is not happy. She plans to assassinate Napoleon so they can start a family together. Doesn't quite work out that way. Last scene has Woody dancing away with Death (can see that in the poster above).

It's funny as in the Bananas, Small Time Crooks, Sleeper kinds. Totally in his element, as he pokes fun at Russian literature, at pseudo-philosophical discussions, at war, at marriage, at death and at love. Diane Keaton is brilliant. Superb chemistry between the two. Enjoyed it thoroughly. 

Nice link - Delhi in 3 Days

I have been meaning to do this (visit and explore Delhi) for a long time. Need to. Soon.
Until then, look at this stuff.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thought for the Day - Why Saying 'No' Can Restrict Creative Inputs

No. No. No.
I have been trying to get rid of this habit of mine where I begin a sentence with No. Most times it happens when someone says something I don't agree with.

Sometimes I just say No because I got used to saying No. That sort of ends it. Or restricts it.

'It' being the conversation or interaction.

My biggest teacher here is a friend of mine who says No to me equally well or even better than I can. A typical conversation between us goes like this.
'Maybe...'I say.
'No', he says.
'But ...', I persist.
'No', he says.
'Umm', I start.
'No', he says.

That ends it. We move on to other things. The times when I agree with him, we talk. Else he says No until it dies.

Only one thought must live. All others must die.

Imagine what happens to any thought when it is killed even before it comes out of your mouth. It happens all the time. In conversations with friends, with family, with children, with students, with young colleagues. The moment they open their minds (and then their mouths) we say No.

Every time a thought is finding a way to express itself, to live, to thrive, to explore, we snip it off with our razor sharp No. A thought is like a flower or a small child in that sense. It needs time, it needs encouragement, it needs patience.
'So what do you think...'
'I think ...'
'Is it possible ...'
'It's a wild idea but...'
'Really.. tell me...'
'I don't know but maybe..'
'Go on...'
'You see...' (and this is where the energy kicks in)
'Cool...looks interesting..'

Ah. Freedom. The thought gets space. Its not rejected even before it showed its face to the sun. Its given a chance. Now it can grow. Yeaaah.

Every time we say No, we restrict and throttle creative inputs. I know that my friend misses out on many creative inputs from me (and I have many I tell you) because we know what's coming. A big No.

In fact everyone in his office knows that. So, they stopped saying anything. They play within his rules and don't stretch themselves. Why? Because he is not allowing them to stretch themselves.

Know what his biggest complaint about his employees is?
'They don't stretch themselves,' he says. 'I don't know how I can make them stretch themselves.'
Such is life.

Say Yes. Be open. Let them try. Let them fail.

Let them learn that failing is not bad. That not trying is bad.

Then when you still support them, they will find a way.
They will stretch themselves. They will exceed their limitations. And yours.
Say Yes.
Yes. Yes. Yes.

The Sales Perspective - Features vs Benefits

Three nice links. I like the example of the ipod in the first one.

Knowing features thoroughly is one thing. Knowing how these features translate into benefits is another thing. Needs a bit of thought, some preparation.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Link Between Sales, Relationships and the Art of Communicating Well

They are not all that different. They are all about relationships.

In sales we talk a lot of how one must sell the 'benefits' of the product and not its 'features'.

Features are about 'us'. Benefits are about 'them'. When we talk about 'us' chances are that they are not really interested. Because they want to hear about 'them' and how we can be useful to 'them'.

Much of sales is about grabbing their attention. Be it movies, stories, ads, speeches, sales pitches, presentations  - nothing works if you cannot grab their attention. If you cannot get them to think - hey he is talking to me, about me.

The best way is to pitch what you are selling in a way that benefits the other person. Not about you.

Talk about them. Get them involved in the story. Tell them how it benefits them. They are hooked.

Get yourself out of the way.

Talk to the other person from their perspective. Watch how sales are closed. When sales are closed, relationships are built.

It is the art of communicating at it best. Of listening. Of communicating.

Let me remind you again. This was not about sales.

It was about relationships.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Nice Link - 5 Incredible Lessons You Can Learn From Sports

The Many Levels of Engagement With the World

So we have to remain relevant to this world. Our main fear is that we may be forgotten, that no one remembers us. If no one remembers us, certainly no one loves us.

It's frightening.

So we do all that we can do to make ourselves (and the world) remember this fact - that we exist. Don't forget me.


We do things to be noticed. Our acts, our behavior, our clothes, our way of life, our tastes define us. We shout, we cry, we yell, we scream to draw attention to ourselves. (Now shouting can also happen by going silent - when everyone is shouting its best to draw attention by going silent.)

It consumes a lot of energy.

We have to go out to the mall, make a phone call, get on the mail, go to facebook, give an opinion, go to work, deal with people who may show some sign of noticing you.

Unfortunately most people are not noticing you still. You are just another wannabe. Superficial. Irrelevant.

So we scale up our need to be recognised. We shout louder, we put more blog posts, more outrageous fb comments, wear different clothes, speak a different language that shocks, get more degrees, get that beautiful partner, get money. Are you noticing me? Are you? Are you? Why aren't you?

We stare at the mail, at the fb account, at the mobile, at people. Nothing. We resign ourselves to our fate. We accept the mediocrity, the shallowness in us. We settle and move away from the mainstream. We give up. Some times.

It is this need. To be recognised as the perfect, correct bunch of intentions. That we are trying too. That we are also great in our hopes and our thoughts and even our acts. But no one seems to see it. We love the greatness in those celebrities who reflect our innermost ideas of greatness. We detest the faults of those villains who exhibit  our deepest and hidden faults. We justify our existence just in case someone notices us - and says 'hey, you got it all wrong'. That our whole construct of life has been wrong. That we totally missed the bus.

Too mush is at stake. My whole life will have no meaning.

This construct has to be held on to. Beyond this we don't have anything to offer, to justify. We cannot handle that loss of illusion.

If you ask me, we are barking up the wrong tree.

I think it's a bit too much to invest in the outside world. To please others we are twisting and adjusting, making ourselves smaller, cutting ourselves up, mutilating ourselves. And still the world is not satisfied.

It never will be.

Because the world only reflects us. If we are not satisfied, how can the world be? It is we who must first look at ourselves and say - this - what I see here in the mirror is enough. Whatever this is - this is right. I have nothing more to offer. And more importantly - nothing less. I will be what I am.

The paradox. The moment you let go of the world, the world wants you. It loves you. It loves the fact that you let it go. That you walked away and had the guts to be what it is not being. When you don't need it anymore, it needs you. It clings on to you. How? How did you crack it? Tell us. Please. What is the secret.

Nothing really. I stopped looking at you to give. I realised that even I can give. I will give what I have. Like Sudama. It makes me feel better.

That is the secret. I see value in myself. I don't need you to see this value in me. To certify my existence. To be nice to me, so I can be nice to you. You see, I can be nice to myself.

Unfortunately, we as humans are mostly on this curve. Of wanting the world to approve. This presents the opportunity - the perfect business opportunity where we are all sellers and buyers - as long as this dissatisfaction exists.  

The lasting business fundamental then is to address this core need of humanity and its many manifestations. That we understand your need (dissatisfaction?) to grow. To be recognised. To improve. To show what you are truly made of. We will address that need to express, to be better, to promote yourself or better still, to feel secure about yourself. You can express yourself softly, loudly, through words, through colors, through opinions, through your creations. And we will facilitate it all. And each time we will say we recognise you and your grand effort. We are with you. We will live your life with you. In clothes, in perfumes, in food, in soft drinks, in televisions, in mobile phones.

Pick your level of engagement. Scale yourself up through this dissatisfaction with yourself. Explore it deeply until you make peace with this dissatisfaction. Every dissatisfaction offers a need, a product. Scope. Opportunities.

Again, this satisfaction, like love and happiness, cannot be found outside. It has to be found inside. (But to go inside we must first engage with the outside until we realise that it is not working with any lasting effect - the perfume wears off, the smiles fade, the clothes tear, the jokes stop, the food kills.)

And then it all drops off. And there is peace. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

I Have A Dream - Rashmi Bansal

The first thing thought  I think when I read this book is this. Why did I not read this before? I also thought of what would have happened if I'd read something like this when I was twenty. But at twenty I was so much more frazzled in the head (a little more than I am now) and it might not even have touched me. You know you have to be ready for a book, an idea.
Rashmi Bansal's book 'I have a dream' highlights some real heroes who make you seem small. Very small. It is extremely humbling to read about them, their work, their commitment, their courage, their vision, their resilience. It makes my life seem pretty empty.

To get down to the real business of the book - it contains stories of 20 social entrepreneurs in India who got down and addressed problems that bothered them.

Here is the roll call of the heroes.
Bindeshwar Pathak (born 1943) of Sulabh toilets.
Anita Ahuja (1960) of Conserve India - recycles plastic waste to create export-quality handbags, Vineet Rai (1971) of Aavishkar Social Venture Fund - set up micro-venture funds for rural entrepreneurs.
Sumita Ghose (1960) of Rangsutra - sources craft and textiles from villages and retails through FabIndia.
Saloni Malhotra (1981) of DesiCrew - India's first rural BPO.
Ishita Khanna (1977) of Spiti Ecosphere - promotes eco-tourism and berry processing and helps mountain people conserve their heritage.
Harish Hande (1967) of Selco - makes solar lighting suitable and affordable for villagers - has installed 120, 000 systems in Karnataka.
Santosh Parulekar (1969) of Pipal Tree - transforms rural youth into skilled construction workers. Dinabandhu Sahoo (1961) of Project Chilka - trains villagers to farm the sea weed or farm the ocean. Anand Kumar (1973) of Super 30 - making all 30 poor students for IIT JEE crack the exam.
Dhruv Lakra (1980) of Mirakle Couriers - a courier service that employs only the deaf.
Madhav Chavan (1954) of Pratham - the largest NGO in education in India.
Anshu Gupta (1970) of Goonj - systematic collection and delivery of urban waste to those who need it with dignity and care.
Shaheen Mistri (1971) - Akanksha - education and Teach for India.
Arvind Kejriwal (1968) of Parivartan - the IRS Officer who used RTI to empower citizens to govern themselves.
Bhushan Punani (1954) - Blind Person's Association - training and empowering the blind.
Madhu Pandit Dasa (1956) of Akshaya Patra - feeds hungry children.
Vinayak Lohani (1978) of Parivaar Ashram  - adopting and educating orphans, tribals and children of prostitutes.
Shreesh Jadhav (1968) of Belur Math - a monk who renounced everything.

Sulabh's numbers - 7500 Shauchalayas run on pay per use basis and earns a revenue of 120 crores - show only the tip of the iceberg. What Bindehswar Pathak did was to go into the hearts of scavengers and the society, to clean them up to follow his Gandhian ideal of cleanliness. To hear of him taking his workers to a five star hotel for a meal just to show that they were no different and blowing up Rs. 3 lakh shows what he (and such people) are made of. But the returns of such work shows up like this -  the parents of a Class X topper in Karnataka state exams called Harish Hande of Selco to tell him that she could achieve that because she could study - thanks to the solar lighting Selco had provided. Enough to make you feel that it was all worth it. Or when all 30 of the 30 poor students selected for the Super 30 crack the IIT JEE. Or educating girls from slums who went on to join the colleges that the teachers of Akanksha themselves went to. Or adopting children of prostitutes and growing them all together as one family. Or filing a PIL that makes politicians reveal their assets and their criminal record under tremendous duress. Or as Kejriwal did - use RTI to bring justice to the poorest of the poor - getting ration to Triveni - bring governance to the real people while taking on the mafia that runs these cartels. There are very powerful stories out there.

What strikes you is the high number of highly qualified people - they must be in an elite 1% in India in terms of their educational qualifications - and what they have chosen to give up to pursue their calling. A high number of IITs, IIMs, PhDs, Engineers, MBAs, investment bankers, media professionals and so on. People with comfortable lives who chose to walk the hard path to add real value, real meaning to their lives and those around them.

The content is highly inspiring, thought and action provoking and provides a path to all those youngsters who have the fire but no direction. Look around, and you will find a cause. Gt into it in a small way seems to be the message. So many youngsters can take inspiration from these role models and get started. The mantra our heroes give is also this - get into it in a small way of 1 hour a week or so and the cause will draw you in and take you to heights you could never have imagined. It gives you the strength to achieve what you would not have thought possible.

Though its written in a manner that I did not find the best, it can all be forgiven for the content, the intent, the energy and the focus Rashmi Bansal brings into her book. This book should be made compulsory reading in  all professional courses, the MBAs more so, to show the kind of work that is possible. Forget about placements, you can make a real difference here and be self reliant. This is the kind of work that you can say was worth your time, your life, at the end.

Thanks Rashmi Bansal. Now I'd like to read her two bestsellers 'Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish' and 'Connect the dots' and see if they connect some more dots for me.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Interstellar - Movie Review

I hold Christopher Nolan in high regard for the simple reasons that he seems to convince people to finance the most outlandish and difficult to grasp stories. I cannot conceive how anyone can try and make an entertaining film about the search for new planets to sustain human life - which is not as simple as that because you need to go to the black holes through worm holes and stuff like that. Which is all very good for Nolan and his team of physicists but the rest of us have to detach like parts of his spacecraft at various stages in the movie because it all gets too much to process or understand without the help of a full time robot dedicated to the cause of explaining it all. I detached at a late stage and stopped asking questions. (Why was the new planet folded?)

The story as I understood it. In some time not too far away, the world is about to come to an end. (When will we end these movies? Please!) There are no resources except lots of corn so people are eating large quantities of corn (and dust too because its pretty dusty all the time). Ex NASA pilots are now full fledged farmers because food is the biggest problem. Due to some gravitational disturbances in their house, NASA pilot turned farmer and his precocious daughter (who has now set a new cinematic landmark with her landmark words - Dad, you son of a bitch) discover the coordinates of a secret NASA team which has two plans. They are called Plan A and Plan B.

In Plan A the scientists will send the farmer (pilot) to space to get samples back to the earth so we can all move there (and eat what? At least we have corn here.) In Plan B, they stay there are grow colonies of humans (they are carrying many embryos with them) on three planets which have been discovered and already inhabited by some intrepid members of this secret mission. Okay, farmer, here's your chance to save your daughter's world. I mean save our world. (I hate this term. I hate these movies.)

Out in space there is fun and laughter. Soon we find that they are running out of fuel (why don't they carry some extra fuel?). They are also at a place where the theory of relativity comes into play - due to the high gravitational pull, one hour on that planet equals seven years of our lives. Anyway that planet is not good for anything except getting one crew member bumped off (why he is strolling about outside I could not understand).

Off we go back to station where we find another crew member sufficiently aged - they have returned after 23 years. (Sadly for him, these two look fresh as daisies.) Now comes the love angle. Prof, Brand (Anne Hathaway) has feelings for a man who is now the emperor of Planet Edmunds (his name is Edmunds and he is one of the few people who have been sent by the NASA for solitary punishment). So now they decide to go the other way (jealous guys). There they meet Dr. Mann, a person who is not of sane mind, and there is a great fight of two NASA chappies fighting on planet Mann. The moral of the story - nothing ever really changes pal. Put two humans together and there will be war.

Anyways to cut a long story short (ha, I can do it here), Mann is eliminated, the shuttle docked, Brand sent to Edmunds, farmer and robot sent into black hole to pick up data etc. You know, regular stuff you'd understand if you learned your physics well. Unfortunately most of us have not which is why we end up watching films like this. Somehow farmer lands up in his house in a five dimensional reality. I know I am being lazy here but I don't want to understand that bit really - its nice to look at etc and that is fine by me. After some time everyone figures out how to get everyone back into some kind of a reality. By this time I have detached my boat my friend and am happily paddling away in my own reality.

Our farmer Cooper finds he is pretty young compared to his daughter who has grown pretty old. He is sent off to find his love (she is not really his love) Prof. Brand who is sitting all by herself on Planet Edmunds. But that's another story.

(My question is this. If 'they' - the mysterious intelligence can help us humans by gravitational patterns, worm holes, likely habitats etc, its a good chance they'd see that we get there too somehow. Probably in a nice large and comfortable bus. So maybe we could have chilled a bit instead of dashing across the stars based on Plan A and B.)

I liked Gravity better. I am not going to jump up and watch Nolan's films like they are going out of fashion next time. Next time I will wait and watch carefully before I go. Really carefully. Very very. But don't let me stop you, watch it. Else you will be the only person on this world who has not seen Interstellar. So watch it. But if you want to understand it, prepare a bit. Prepare.

Crimes and Misdemeanors - Movie Review

Another Woody Allen flick. Starts gently enough with a successful ophthalmologist being felicitated by the community. The perfect life, the perfect family. Back at home he discovers a letter addressed to his wife. He realises it is from the one misdemeanour in his life, a young lover he picked up, an obsessive sorts who wants him to break their news to his wife and marry her. He is wracked by guilt, being of a religious bent of mind.

An alternate track is that of Woody Allen, an unsuccessful documentary maker who lives in his own world. He does not seem to like successful people (his own brother in law being one of them), is happy taking his niece to the movies (does nto appear to have fully grown up), and his marriage is on the rocks (no sex for a year). But his brother in law gives him a great chance thanks to a recommendation from his (Woody's) wife, to shoot a documentary on who else - the brother in law and his life. Woody meets a beautiful, single woman on the shoot and they hit it off. Both seem to hate the brother in law who they think is too pompous and full of hot air and no content.

Meanwhile ophthalmologist meets his bad brother who offers his advise - bump the other woman off quietly. After some thought and a bit of pushing from the obsessive woman who lands up near his house on his birthday, the eye doctor orders the hit. The woman is history. Eye doctor is now plagued with guilt and wants to confess. His brother tells him to hold his nerve. It will blow over.

Meanwhile Woody's marriage is over. His brother in law fires him for showing him in bad light. His girlfriend tells him she is off to Paris. At a party four months later, we find the ophthalmologist enjoying his life and telling Woody of this great story of the perfect murder, the girlfriend is now engaged to the brother in law, One wonders if there is any cinematic justice. But one has to live with guilt, with the knowledge of one's own flaws.

Woody's performance is brilliant. I loved the way he shows his resentment towards his brother in law and the way he laughs at him when he is showing his the documentary. He is really funny. The story reminded me a bit of Matchpoint where the killer goes away scot free. But life's like that - it gets back in various ways - not just jail.

Anjali - Interview with a 7 year old

I had been putting this interview off for a while. I normally think of it when I am driving the car to school and that's when I am confessing to Anjali that I have been  forgetting to do it. 'Every time we are in the car you think about it,' she pointed out.
Then yesterday evening she barged into my room and said. 'Interview.'
I said '2 minutes'.
And so it went on until I had to start.

Q. Now you're 7. How do you feel?
A. Haaappyyy!

Q. Why?
A. Because its your favorite number.

Q. So what have you done in your 7 years?
A. Gone to Goa, I am not scared of getting into the water now at the beach. Also for the first time I called more than 2 friends for my birthday.

Q. What do you like the most?
A. Tinkle Digest. Nanna and Amma.

Q. What's the happiest thing that happened last year?
A. Diwali mela at school. It was so much fun for me. Haunted House. So much food. Diyas and masks.

Q. What's your favorite food?
A. Liver. (After a lot of thought.) Maybe ice cream.

Q. What do you like to read?
A. Suppandi, Shikari Shambhu, Eena Meena, Myna, Moh, I have a dream, Ramu and Shamu, Other funny tales. Princess Adventure books. All adventure stories.

Q. You like adventure?
A. Yeah. All about bravery it is. And my favorite tale in that was Runaway Rajah.

Q. What does bravery mean to you?
A. Being bold. Not being scared. You can face anything. Lizards also.

Q. Do you think you are brave?
A. Maybe not. Sometimes I think I am. Sometimes I think I am not. When I see lizards I am all freaked out.

Q. When do you feel you are brave?
A. Once na, I made some ugly lizard with the clay. All of them was scared, Amma and all. I was just saying what is so scary in this.

Q. Is it ok to be scared?
A. Yup. There's nothing that says you cannot be scared.

Q. What makes you happy?
A. Being at school with all my friends. Going to birthday parties. Because you get so much cake to eat. I asked for 2 pieces of cake in Harsh's birthday party.

(We digressed a bit here.) I always wanted this, that ad, one whole box is there pencils, stencils, all the stationery. I want a box with all those.

Me: We'll get it.
A. I also wanted the world map so I can learn. And I can play Atlas with other kids.
Me: Ok.

Q. What makes you sad?
A. (Makes a sad face.) Mostly nothing except if someone shouts at me. Or like on my birthday Shiny broke my crayons. Or when my friends go out of town and don't come back for a long time.

Q. What is it that you don't like?
A. I don't like all girly stuff. Pink. Too girly. All those make up games. Too girly.

Q. What makes you laugh?
A. Jokes don't make me laugh out loud. Sometimes. But if someone tickles me I laugh. Under my armpits. On my tummy I don't laugh.

Q. How's life?
A. Great. Sometimes I am sad

Q. How do you like school?
A. I like it but sometimes I don't feel like going.
But when I go to school I don't feel like leaving. After you go to school I like it. We talk.

Q. Who are your best friends at school?
A. Mansi, Samaira, Saketh and Harsh.

Q. What do you like about them?
A. Sakesth is nice to talk to. But sometimes he says he is thinking. How to help scientists etc. He shakes his fist like this. He does not want to be disturbed.
Samaira is very talkative. Can't stop talking.
I like Harsh because he is sort of funny. Makes funny faces like this.
Mansi is is always talking. Like me. And is always playing games etc.

Q. How did you like Goa?
A. Great. So many beaches.  I liked the resort, the sand and the greenery. I'd have like to stay in  cottage but our room was also nice.

Q. What makes you angry?
A. (Thinks for a long time.) I don't know if I ever get angry. Sometimes when Amma shouts.

Q. What do you think of money?
A. You always ask me this question. Money buys things. I saw this game called Talking Angela and she said don't worry too much about money because money can't buy you love. Its good to have. But its not everything. You should be happy with what you have.

Q. How much do you want?
A. I don't use any money from my account. So, as much as I can collect. (Pretty clear here.)

Q. How can we collect money?
A. I keep finding coins. People give me sometimes. I also have two dollars.

Q. How can adults make money?
A. By working.

Q. You have to work?
A. Yeah.
Even I have to work. If I don't look around I'll never find any money.

Q. What are the three things you'll ask god if he were to appear?
A. That I could fly high as a bird.
That I have lots of friends. Every day I have 100 new friends to play with. And more.
That I could do whatever I like to do.

Q. What 3 things would you like to do first in 'whatever you like to do'?
A. That I could go into the TV and meet all the characters like Mickey Mouse. I'll be friends with them. I can meet all of them.
That I can be an ant and go around the whole house, how its like to be an ant
That I had lots and lots of robots and they could do anything, even read me stories. They can do acrobatics. tell jokes.

Q. What dreams do you have?
A. In one dream I was doing something. Me, Donald and Goofy were walking in a clubhouse. It was round. We walked out of the clubhouse and I slipped and we slid fast in a cart. Very fast. Bzzzz. We fell into the cart.
I had many other dreams.
I had a scary dream once., I was in Mythily atta's house. Nobody was there at home. A witch came. she said I'll kill you. I said don't kill me, give me sometime. One week. She said she would give me a week and gave me some clay to play. After one week I was scared. But I had deep sleep that day so she didn't come because I didn't get any dreams. Only in light sleep you get dreams.

Q. Who told you that?
A. I read in children's encyclopedia..

Q. What do you think of people?
A. Nice. They are very nice. Some are not nice. One day I went to fetch my shuttle cock that fell next door and asked an uncle who was there. He made an angry face and said so angrily 'Ellipo. Ledu teesukolevu' (Go away. You cannot take it.).

Q. Did you get scared?
A. I was scared. I ran away. I didn't show him my face crying. I turned my face away. On the way I started crying and came home.

Q. Are you angry with him?
A, No. Not much.

Q. What people do you like most?
A. Friends. Everyone.

Q. What do you like doing alone?
A. Watching tv. Doing art and craft. cards. Writing letters. Origami.

Q. You write letters?
A. I wrote to Harsh. I wrote to Tinkle.

Q. When did you laugh the most recently?
A. Nothing. I laugh small. I know once I laughed loudly. It was an ad and the boy's father says pray to god, the mosquitoes will go away. Then the mother lights this fast card when he is praying. When the boy opens his eyes there are no mosquitoes. Then the father says Dekha! Macchar nahi kaatenge. And while he is saying that he leaves the balloon and it goes phusss.

Q. Who makes you laugh?
A. Sarvajit. You.

Q. What do you think of yourself?
A. I'm quite funny. and the way I am, I feel quite strange. Sometimes I feel like, who is this Anjali. How did the earth come. Why am I like this. Who made this. Does god really have powers, Is god really there. Is the devil there. Why do they pray. Why do they light diyas.

Q. Do you like nature?
A. Yes. if we didn't have plants, no oxygen.

Q. What do you think of adults?
A. Adults are quite strange. Their studies are over. But children have to study. So we have teachers at home and at school. Teachers everywhere. I like that adults have no one to tell them anything. Also they don't feel shy.

Q. What are the funny things that adults do?
A. They are different from us. They are very different from us.

Q. Do you feel shy?
A. Sometimes.

Q. Why?
A. Arre. I don't know.

Q. You know even adults feel shy don't you?
A. Yeah. But I never saw it.

Q. That's because they hide it well.
A. Ummm.

Q. What was your happiest moment?
A. Children's day every year. Every child will say that.

Q. How can we be happy?
A. By smiling.

Q. That's all?
A. Yes, when I feel happy I smile. When something sad happens I do my favorite things like skipping, watching TV, reading, anything you like. Do it for sometime. You start forgetting and enjoy yourself. You start getting happy.

Q. What do you do when people are mean?
A. I tell them they are being mean. Or I tell someone else. Or (laughs) I get angry and don't tell anyone.

Q. What do you think of me?
A. Funny. You tell me all stories. You do good things.. like being a father.

Q. What about mama?
A. Good. Though she shouts at me sometimes.

Q. What would do if you were the Prime Minister?
A. I would say don't cut trees otherwise that's it.

Q. Why don't you want trees to be cut?
A. Because if they cut trees they only won't be there no. So better not to cut.

Q. What will you do for children?
A. If I ever saw any child working, I will ask who is the owner and tell him don't make the child work. Say no to child labour.

Q. Why?
A. Because children must enjoy life and study.

Q. What is the meaning of life?
A. A place where you have feelings, where you have to do things, something like there's something to do everyday. Not just staying up in heaven.

Q. What do you want to be when you grow up?
A. I said an archaeologist.

Q. Why?
A. I want to dig and find bones, hidden palaces, new dinosaurs.

Q. What do you think about this world?
A, It's nice very. I do like it. I don't want people to pollute the world. All the people will suffer.

Q. How do you think adults should be with children?
A. They should be kind. Nice. Many are nice. But some of my friends at school say that their mother or father slapped them. That shouldn't happen. If they make a mistake they will try again so why to hit them for no reason. If they hit them nothing is happening. You are just making the child have pain for nothing. They may get good marks or bad marks, nothing will happen. All that will happen is it will hurt.
And adults never say sorry also.

Q. How do children feel when adults behave like this?
A. Of course they will feel bad.

Q. Anything else you want to say?
A. No.

Q. Do you like giving interviews?
A. A bit. Not so much.

So that ended the interview with the seven year old. Thanks Anjali for your time and for your patience. And for your honest answers. I agree with you on many things - that we must work and enjoy that process, that happiness is our responsibility, that people are by and large nice, that life brings something new everyday  and mostly that adults should  be a lot more kinder to their children and to themselves. I like the fact that you want to be an archaeologist though I wonder where you got this idea from.

Have a good time young lady and we'll catch up after a few months to know of some more discoveries you made. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Jobs - Movie Review

Jobs, a biopic on the life of Steve Jobs, cofounder of Apple Computers, does seem rather incomplete at first view, but still has enough content. Steve Jobs does not come across as a 'nice' guy, but he is pretty clear that his job is not to be nice.

Nothing much is shown about the hazy years of his childhood of being put up for adoption almost at birth and being adopted by the Jobs couple. Steve Jobs showed a propensity for education, went to college and dropped out because he had no money. He tried several things - spiritualism in India was one, LSD another, Zen Buddhism - until he landed a job at Atari. At one stage he considered being a monk.

Jobs life in the movie begins with the launch of the ipod. And then we see how his desultory life takes on a different route when he meets Wozniak, a computer whiz from the neighbourhood who designs the first Apple Computer (then called the Ice Cream Soda or something like that). Jobs shows great insight into what the market wants, good business skills, great marketing acumen and takes the Apple (a name they pick from one of Jobs' experiences at picking apples) to the market.

I found the problems that the startup faces very interesting. The way they go about with hope and a possibility, not give up and keep trying until it pays off is something that all startup owners can learn from. The way he calls his prospects in the face of complete rejection is a perfect lesson for salespeople. The way he shows his foresight, clarity and preparedness when his first investor shows interest in financing the idea is a lesson in how being prepared can make a 90000 investment a 300000 investment and some more. Similarly the way he goes about designing things for the customer by making things more intuitive, is something we can all learn from. If nothing else, it makes our lives better if we just think about it for a moment.

Jobs is obsessed with design,with economy and with thinking differently. His projects go way overboard in finance etc, some of his decisions go against him and he resigns from Apple (something he feels was one of the best things to have happened to him later). For all that, Jobs is not keen to be a nice person and is more concerned with the commerce and design, the customer and what the customer wants. After much struggle Jobs finds his place in history and one of the fathers of the digital world.

One thing he says while walking around the office campus with his team in his second innings was interesting. He talks of a cause, that one must work towards righting what they think is wrong, and only then will they have the energy and passion to see their vision through. I liked that - righting a wrong. It has so many possibilities, so much we can stand up for.

If nothing, his final speech in the movie should inspire many to come into their own. A desire not to settle for 'fine', to think differently, to push all boundaries until it is achieved, to not be afraid and conservative, to go where no other competitor has gone before, to constantly keep innovating (not improving), these could well be the stuff that Jobs left to a world that is far too easily satisfied.

Thought for the Day - The 'Decision' is When it Changes

It sank into me once again. How important the decision is in your mind. The moment you 'decide' is when the universe acknowledges you and your desire.As long as we are hoping, it does not register it.
Decide - And the way opens

Take for example this issue that dogged me for almost a year. I was being billed for two connections when I only had one. Th effort to get the concerned department to acknowledge the problem, to address it took a long time. In the end, my main issues were sorted out but the paperwork, the details were still left out. Any closure could only happen once the paperwork was done. They were avoiding me, avoiding the paperwork which could pin responsibility on one of them.

But I needed it for my record. After a couple of weak, hopeful attempts I realised that there might be no interest from the department to give me any closure. It was in my own interest.

They pushed me to the key moment - the 'decision'

I decided this week that I would go every day to that office until I got my closure. One connection had to be disconnected.

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. They were refusing to meet me. Clerks would disappear. Officers would not meet me. But I would sit there.

Yesterday, it happened again. The looks on the clerks, the peons and then their resignation when they saw the look on my face. I am not going.

After an hour of furious activity, of totally ignoring me, one clerk came out and gave me the paper. Done. If Ihad not 'decided' it would have gone on forever.

Decide. If you wish to get the universe to work with you.

Thought for the Day - The Core Need Is to Be Acknowledged

The basic human need seems to just be acknowledged. First and foremost.
Self-help, spirituality, social media - all indicate a need to be acknowledged, to stay relevant.

(Then come other forms of how we want to be acknowledged.)
The tree - does it have a need to be acknowledged too?
Or in other words, that "we are enough" and "doing a good job of it". Life is blissful on days when we are acknowledged. Life is messy when we are not.

Let me approach this from two angles - the self and others.

From a self-help angle
If the goal is to feel good by ourselves (a good way to ensure happiness) it is important to take responsibility for it. Forget others,what they say, don't say. You must form this belief that you are most relevant to the existence of this world. That everyone in this world is actually out to help you live out your destiny. Don't be apologetic about it. (Will they really etc.) First, you buy into that belief. You acknowledge yourself. Your power. Your capability to seek your own happiness and not be dependent on someone else to provide that.

By acknowledging yourself, your power and your relevance in the world, by knowing that your every breath makes a difference already, you can choose every act, every reaction, every emotion, and orient that to your happiness.

You acknowledge yourself, the world acknowledges you. Simple. Go back to the drawing board.

From a social animal, businessman, leader and manager angle
If most people out there are dying inside because they are merely feeling neglected, feeling that the world is not acknowledging them, it provides a huge market that one can influence.
One level is to give them a platform as social media does to feel acknowledged and to feel relevant.
As a leader or a manager, acknowledging the good others do seems a great way to win undying loyalties - its not about money, its now about you.
As a marketer, a businessman, it is a core need that is required to be satisfied at all times in the human cycle. Is your product or service addressing that need?

Acknowledge your customer, colleague, employer - say what a good job they are doing (or better still show it) and then present your case. I read somewhere that waiters who touch their clients end up getting a significantly higher amount of tips. All they have done is to acknowledge that other person.

I am amazed how much we go about not acknowledging people as people. How many times do we look people in the eye, speak directly to them, acknowledge them and the good they have done - forget that last bit - how many times do we make them feel like they exist? If that is all it takes, why don't we? It does come back a bit to our not acknowledging ourselves of course. But we can sort this out this way or that.

Steps to acknowledge oneself or another self. Look into eyes directly. Use name as often as you can. Hold hand or touch or hug and make them (oneself, feel special). Say what good they have done. If its a business, see how you can use technology to'touch' people.
Looks like when we touch people, we seem to touch ourselves a bit.

I am already feeling better.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Anjali - On Money

This is actually an excerpt from an interview that's underway with Anjali. I could not resist pulling this bit out. As usual I asked her a question about money. This is how it went.

Q. What do you think of money?
A. You always ask me this question. Money buys things. I saw this game called Talking Angela and she said don't worry too much about money because money can't buy you love. Its good to have. But its not everything. You should be happy with what you have.

Q. How much do you want?
A. I don't use any money from my account. So, as much as I can collect. 

Q. How can we collect money?
A. I keep finding coins. People give me sometimes. I also have two dollars.

Q. How can adults make money?
A. By working.

Q. You have to work?
A. Yeah. Even I have to work. If I don't look around I'll never find any money.

I like the fact that the philosophy of Talking Angela is in its place and that her relationship with money (as much as I can collect) is in its place. More interesting is the fact that she is quite clear that despite the fact that she doesn't use any money from her account, she does not stop collecting.

But the killer was the final statement. Even I who merely collects money have to look for money. So stop asking questions like do you have to work etc. Thanks Anjali.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Angry, Victimised, Judgmental, Taking things Personal? Know About Suppression, Repression and Projection

Why do we suddenly flare up with some people? Why do we take certain things personally and lose our cool and perspective? Why do we get irritated by certain things, words, mannerisms, people? These triggers cause us distress, cloud our judgment and affect our peaceful lives (and heart rates). A nice perspective to this is given by Colin Tipping in his book 'Radical Forgiveness'. Much of this article is from that book. I think it may be of some benefit to understand certain behaviors and patterns of ours.

Tipping says that all of us carry the twin psychological mechanisms of repression and projection. They are what he calls the ego-defence mechanisms. Together these two - repression and projection - create and maintain the victim archetype in us. (The victim archetype has no power over events and is at someone else's mercy to be happy, to stand up for oneself, to do anything in his or her life. The victim is obviously angry and resentful at the world which has done all these things to him or her.)

Let's understand these terms - repression, suppression and projection.

Repression is when certain feelings (terror, guilt and rage for starters) are blocked out by the mind from conscious awareness totally. These emotions are so intense that they can mess up your mind (its best they are repressed and kept out. Full marks to the mind.)

Suppression is a less severe form of this hide-these-dangerous-emotions-mechanism. Here we consciously refuse to acknowledge our emotions. We know they are there somewhere and try to push them away because we don't want to deal with them.

It would appear that our triggers to feeling the emotions of anger, being judgmental etc come from repressed guilt and shame. (Guilt is universal. It is the feeling of having done wrong. Shame goes  a step further in that it is a feeling of actually being wrong. Shame blocks energy in the sense repressed shame creates an energy block. Its like sitting on a volcano says Colin Tipping.)

Projection is an outlet (and as such our clue to figure this thing out). When we attempt to rid ourselves of the pain of suppressing and repressing stuff, we take it out and transfer it on to someone else. It allows us to forget that we even possessed such feelings. We can accuse them of all the things we would be accused of ourselves. We make them somehow responsible for all the things that are wrong. (Who are you projecting on? Who are you judging, angry with?)

When we project, we manifest these behaviors - 1) anger 2) judging someone

When we are angry we are projecting our own guilt over the other person who has kindly touched a raw chord about something we do not want to accept in ourselves yet. Anger is a sure sign of projection. In fact what we attack and condemn in others, is really what we condemn in ourselves.

When we take things personally we feel that someone is attacking us, our core. That's not really true. If we knew our core, we would know that it is more about the other person than about yourself. (If someone calls you a purple pig would you get offended? Or would you think that the other chap is nuts? More likely the latter I'd guess.)  However if we take something they said or did as a personal attack, and get angry, they are touching a chord in us which we do not want to accept. If we accept that whatever they are showing is also within us, much of this emotional upheaval can end.

When we feel victimised we take no responsibility. They are doing it to us is the feeling. When we own up, we stop being victims. You are in charge of your emotions, so don't blame others.

What it means is that every person offers us an opportunity to project or to forgive, to unite or to separate. Your choice can determine your path, your energy.

In intimacy, we use this projection more violently because the possibilities of being discovered are greater. So we create disturbances to avoid being discovered.

To know what you dislike about yourself and have likely disowned, look at what annoys you about people who come into your life. They provide a mirror to your triggers. Accept whatever that they bring to you that is irritating you. That is the part you are not accepting as being a part of you. In fact the world is a hall of mirrors, each reflecting us back to ourselves.