Monday, April 27, 2015

Music - New Find "Khwahishen"

The Cricket Series - Sunday Cricket Lessons

While bowling yesterday I found that the batsmen found it more difficult to handle me when I was focusing on line and length and not merely pace.
Lesson: It's about being in control, within limitations to start with. You operate best there.

Another thing I learned was that the importance of finishing the action even at slower pace increases efficiency many times. The direction, movement, nip all come into play.
Lesson: Finish, finish, finish. Don't leave anything half-way. It's everything.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Article in Hans India - View from the Stands

This is an article I wrote that appeared in Hans India a couple of weeks ago. It's supposed to be funny.
The actual article.

"The game of cricket has changed its colours significantly over the past few decades. In the good old days cricketers were amateurs who played for the love of the game, organizers were amateurs who organized for the love of the game, commentators were amateurs who commentated for the love of the game and fans were amateurs who fanned (what else would they do) for the love of the game. It was an innocent love story between all these people.

And then, money entered like a greedy villain and changed the complexion of the game. Innocence went out, commerce came in. Everyone got rich - except for one party. Our case here is for that one party, as always the most deserving one, but which got the rawest of deals. Hopefully by the time I am done with this, I may have solved not just its problem but a social problem too, not to mention possibilities of solving philosophical, spiritual and economic issues as well.

Let’s begin at the beginning. Our story begins many years ago when cricket was a different ball game. The highest level of competition in those days were Test matches spread over five days with a rest day thrown in, after three days of mild exertions. Most Test matches ended in boring draws, and even then, crowds applauded. Cricketers played like gentlemen – gently and apologetically. Since there was no television, fans like us relied on amateur radio commentary to guide us (many times the commentators misguided us) and read the newspapers next day (and got further misguided). In spite of so much amateur bungling going on, fans went to the ground in droves with their home-cooked tiffins and watched their favorite cricketers perform feats which they remembered to their dying day. Life was not perfect, but it was beautiful.

Then, some business types noticed these die-hard fans. Fans bunking office, carrying transistors to listen to cricket commentary, throwing parties to celebrate, spending much of their earnings and energy on this game, with no apparent motivation. (These were the same people who would shun work, and cricket is a great way of shunning work, at the slightest of excuses.) The cricket fan exemplified brand loyalty of the highest order, for reasons no one could understand. Soon advertisers started to advertise profitably because you could not seem  to shake these leech-like fans off whatever you did to them.

The more the advertisers, the more the money for the BCCI, for players, for commentators, for support staff, for security guards, for film stars, for all people who got on the other side of the counter. A glance at the other side of this scenario will throw up the gross injustice that is being meted out to our aggrieved party. The entire system that is sustained by the fan who spends money, time and energy on cricket has taken him for granted.  What does he get? Entertainment? Give me a break (they would, so that they could push a couple of ads here too).

So here’s the big idea. Since everything about the game has become professional - players, officials, umpires, support staff, trainers, commentators - why should the fan be an amateur? The answer is simple. Professional fans! BCCI must now employ fans (only of Indian origin) as professionals. Fans who go to the ground, fans who watch on television, everyone now gets a portion of the pie as his or her rightful income.

The fans are already highly disciplined fellows so there is no need to train them. They brave sun and the rain, bad organization and high prices, bad behavior and bad everything, and are fiercely loyal. They go across continents, fight internet battles, spend a lot of their time and energy supporting, following, tweeting and blogging about the game all for nothing. At best they get a selfie, a prize given in an IPL game by a sour-faced captain, a shot in a camera panning the ground if they are sitting next to a pretty girl. They have already displayed their loyalty amply so nothing more is required to prove their credentials. Just as Pakistan, India and Sri Lanks have one symbolic fan – I forget their names – I see no reason why the rest of us should not get converted to being professional fans too. (Those guys can be senior in the hierarchy.)

One must also take into consideration how tough it is to be a fan these days. For one, it’s become a full time job. Many times it’s a day and night job too. It’s not like the old days when you could do a regular job and still be a fan. Now being a fan is a round-the-clock, round-the-year job. Clothes, travel, tickets, mobiles, flags, placards, colors, tattoos everything requires investment of time and energy. And the fans have paid faithfully all this time and been loyal. Now it’s payback time. It’s time to right the wrong.

The BCCI can hire fans in many categories. Just like it has player contracts, it can have fan contracts too. Fans from urban areas, ground-going fans, premium ticket fans, low priced ticket fans, fans outside the ground, fans who stand on road side and watch television, fans who stay at home and watch television –there are many categories of fans. As a professional fan we can come in uniforms given by the BCCI (like they do for the commentators), carry stuff they give us, speak what they tell us, behave as they tell us to do. We will ensure good attendance and continue to be loyal. In return pay and perks must be given as worthy of a rich institution like the BCCI. Similarly medical, leave and other benefits. Pension is a must. One can see the game turn full circle – from being fully amateur to being fully professional.

For every problem they say, there is a solution within it. In India we used to think of unemployment as a problem. There are too many people out there who don’t have jobs, or are doing jobs they don’t love. With this master stroke we would have eradicated unemployment in one go. And not just that, everyone gets to do a job they love. Almost everybody in India will be employed in one way or another by the BCCI which will then become the largest employer in the world. We can all bleed blue or whatever colour the BCCI wants us to bleed.

There could be only two possible problems arising out of this. One, that people who turn professional may lose their fervor for the game. As a fallout, in the long run fans may get disillusioned and turn away from the game (which may be good for the economy). The second problem is of more serious nature. If the fan base gets stronger, the government has a problem on its hands. The BCCI could well stage a coup at some stage with so many loyal employees in its ranks."

Gulbarga - Day Trip

Gulbarga is now Kalaburagi. But its been on my agenda for a long time. So when Koni asked me if I was game for a day trip I quickly put other stuff aside and drove off with him.
Khaja Bande Nawaz Darga

We started early - 530 am - and drove in what promised to be a rainy day. We passed Chevella (turn left), go to Manneguda (turn left again), Parigi, Sedam (right) and somewhere on the Bijapur road where there is no sign but a petrol bunk you turn left, to Kalaburagi.
An old structure within the darga complex

The imposing building that looks like it has been crafted in the heavens is the new ESI Hosipital. A magnificent structure. We passed the Buddha Vihara and I made a note to stop by on the way back. Once inside the quaint old town, I quickly made my way to the famous Darga of Khaja Bande Nawaz.
Two more domed structures

Its a famous Darga and one could see vehicles coming to it from far and wide. There are several gumbaz like structures, huge domes, in the town. The Darga is one such and stands among many. Its a hot day and they have laid some cloth wetted with water to keep it cool.
This is the outside of a complex of seven domes - didn't go in

People cook all kinds of stuff outside the Darga complex. Its a busy complex. We left our footwear at a flower seller who sold me some roses for offering. We made our way inside (no entry fee here save a steep parking fee of Rs. 50). We headed straight to the main Dargah. Women are not allowed inside so they had to be content with touching the steps outside.
Imposing masjid - inside Gulbarga fort

The inside of the Darga is magnificent with inlaid mirror work covering the ceiling. The tomb and its environs are well maintained and it exudes a rare peace. I offered the flowers, stood in prayer for a while, and then came out. It was a spiritual experience.
Houses inside the fort

Out of the main Darga we walked into a smaller one. After we finished here, we were leaving, when two young priests who were inside the tomb manning it, decided to make me contribute some more. One young lad beckoned to me and asked me to sit in front of the tomb. I sat faithfully. What is it with people in positions of authority who can make me do anything? He waved something, gave me some sweet, touched my head with a peacock feather fan and asked me to lay some money out. I gently asked if I should use the money box for that. 'No' he insisted 'here under the cloth so we priests can get it.' I did. He was a man of god too.
Fort - Curious structure

Then another one came to me. He took me to some oil lamps and said I could make a wish. Then he asked me to think of how many kilos of oil I wanted to donate. Each kg is 80 bucks so please give me the required amount. Thank you.
Fort with the masjid in the background

But its a wonderful place with so many believers. Many come with strong faith from far across. I walked along the complex and came out. From the Darga we went to the fort.
To give a scale

Its a small one but has walls, a moat. A masjid inside the mosque is beautifully built. The actual fort inside is a curious structure, very high and with no windows or openings. Its like one solid block.
Information about the fort

We took some pictures and headed back. On the way back we stopped at a roadside house that serves food. Nice stuff with papad like jawar roti.
Entrance and exit to the fort

The hostess settled our argument whether jonna roti and jawar rot were the same. Of course, she said and swayed away. The mutton curry was spicy hot, all other stuff above average. It cost us 170 bucks.
Moat - all's well and that ends well

As we got closer to Hyderabad we ventured out to see some farm houses of poeple Koni knew. Fabulous stuff. Tiring, its about 200 kms each way.

Friday, April 24, 2015

A Much Cherished Review of 50 Not Out! - V. Ramnarayan On His Blog

V. Ramnarayan is described by many of his peers as a 'magical' off spinner. He was not just about craft but about combativeness and match winning ability. And the more I see of Ram and read about him I know he must have been quite an interesting character - a rebel of sorts. Ram played first class cricket with the glamorous, star studded Hyderabad side in the 70s that was led by M.L. Jaisimha and had in its ranks the likes of Pataudi, Abbas Ali Baig, Abid Ali, Krishnamurthi, Govind Raj, Jayantilal etc. Ram held his own, won many games for his side, and went as far as being part of the Indian team's probables.

But that is not why I consider this a cherished review. The reason is this. When I write about cricket my main apprehension is this - not many who review the book understand both aspects. Rarely does one find someone who has played cricket and who has also written professionally. The closest one comes to are sports journalists who have played cricket.

But when one plays cricket at a level higher than club cricket we know that his understanding is of a slightly higher level thanks to the exposure. The finer aspects of the game are better understood and appreciated by such and my fond hope always has been that they would somehow sympathise with my efforts some more and perhaps nod in agreement at some of my observations. Naturally when someone of Ram's caliber as a writer and a cricketer, and more importantly, as a student of life, okays my effort, it does become special. I was thrilled when Rajan Bala gave me a stunning review for 'The Men Within' - he knew his cricket and his writing and Ram's review gives me the same pleasure.

Thanks Ram.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Thought for the Day - The Connection Between Responsibility and Success

In most cases we come to a stage when we either take responsibility or begin the blame game. The beginning of the blame game is when we cease work. Now it is not our problem anymore - it is caused by someone else. So we can focus on the easier job of blaming someone instead of actually finding ways to get the work done.

On the other hand when we take responsibility, there is no one to blame. There is only work. We need to figure out the way to make things work and we put all our energies into that. Work will get done.

Not rocket science.

When work is not getting done, find out what those guys are saying. If they are blaming someone, they are working at blaming and not at finding solutions. If they are looking for some solutions and actually giving some plan or indication of what they are doing, they will find a solution because they are working on it and finding a way.

Thought for the Day - The Connection Between Fun and Success

A key element to be successful is to have fun doing what ever we are doing. Many people have a problem with that idea. How can we have fun they say, doing things we don't want to do. The thing is that fun is not given to you by someone else - you need to find it yourself. You can find it with an uncompromising attitude in anything and that will change the direction of many things.

For example - start looking for ways to have fun and do only those.

Fun is about freedom. Its about feeling that things are in your control. This is a feeling and nothing else. Unless you are locked up in chains you have all the freedom you need. You only need to exercise it. It means you stop looking for permissions to do things and start doing stuff on your own. Your time. Your pace. Your space.

When you are having fun you find it easier to make and accept mistakes. This is a huge part of the growth process. It allows you to laugh at yourself, to be mischievous, to push boundaries and explore new things. It certainly makes the journey more interesting and more bearable. Find ways to have fun.

Someone To Watch Over Me - Movie Review

There are somethings you are destined to do. Why I picked this movie to watch over three lazy, bored sessions I don't know but I did. Perhaps some karmic debt to the 1987 days.

The first scene of the dance party at the cops house is a dead giveaway of how things were in the 80s - or rather how parties were. Its at a cops house, along with other cops and their wives and girlfriends. Then comes a murder at a posh party which is witnessed by pretty socialite, single and rich. New cop is assigned bodyguard duties which he takes literally and brings in some tension at home. Meanwhile the killer is killing everyone else but the girl including - you guessed it - the cop's best pal. A final shootout where cop's wife turns out to be a better shot than most and alls well and that ends well.

Cop goes back home. Socialite goes to Europe. Why such a big fuss is made about it all is something I don't know. Watch it if you have nothing else to do. On second thoughts, don't. Instead listen to this song. I discovered that the music was composed by Michael Kamen who for a few years I thought also composed a song 'Into the Night' which I thoroughly liked.  Listen to it.

(My pal Naresh of course later told me that the song was composed by Benny Mardones so you could search for him and not Micheal Kamen. Naresh was the king of  soul, high priest of romance, the host of many dance parties as the one shown in the movie with such songs being played - so no arguments.)

Anjali - I Don't Care If He Is Black or White

Yesterday I was watching the video of 'Thriller' by Michael Jackson in a sudden rush of retro love. Anjali joined me at the computer and watched Michael Jackson in his pre-white skin days.

'Oh, he looks different,' she said. 'I saw him in another video and he looked different there.'

I jumped in, quick to educate her with my knowledge. 'We used to watch this video so many times. This was one of MJs greatest albums and he really changed our lives. He was black then.'

She was intensely watching his moves. I felt the need to add more.

'Then he changed his color and became white,' I said. 'I preferred him when he was black. Nothing wrong with him as he is right?'

Pat came the answer.

'I don't care if he is black or white. All I am concerned with is how well he dances and sings.'

She practiced the moon walk and backed out of the room.

That ended that particular conversation.

48 Laws of Power - Robert Greene

Suresh has recommended and gifted me a couple of books that changed a lot of my thinking. So when he suggested that I read '48 Laws of Power' I was intrigued by what the book had to say. It is in the lines of Niccolo Machiavelli's Prince.

A caution; at first read it may challenge our self-righteous selves, but it soon becomes apparent that we all do this kind of stuff some time or another in good measure. This is the art of manipulation, of being seen and trusted as what one might not fully be, of moving ahead through manipulation, of creating the right symbols and noises. Some make absolute sense while some may make us feel that we cannot be like that. Whatever it is, this behavior does give away to me those who are seeking and courting power. And if you are vying for it, it might help to know.

Looked at it in a practical day-to-day manner, this can be applied to the power struggle within relationships - all relationships. It suddenly makes a lot of sense when looked at from that perspective. Personal relationships, seller to buyer, its all the same.

The 48 laws then - with a couple of lines from the text that I liked.

1) Never outshine the master
Everyone has insecurities. Make your masters appear more brilliant than they are and you will attain the heights of power.

2) Never put too much trust in friends, learn how to use enemies
Be wary of friends - they will betray you more quickly for they are easily roused to envy. You have more to fear from friends than enemies. If you have no enemies, find a way to make them.

3) Conceal your intentions
Honesty is more likely to offend people. Its better to tailor your words. Conceal your intentions.

4) Always say less than necessary
The more you say the more likely you are to say something foolish. When you say less you appear greater and more powerful than you are.

5) So much depends on reputation, guard it with your life
Make your reputation unassailable, A solid reputation increases your presence and exaggerates your strengths without having to spend much energy.

6) Court attention at all costs
Stand out. Be conspicuous. Make yourself a magnet of attention by appearing larger, more colorful, more mysterious. Attach your name  and reputation to a quality that sets you apart from other people.
If you are lowly, attack the most visible to court attention. Then renew your limelight by varying your method to court attention.

7) Get others to do the work for you, but always take the credit
Never do yourself what others can do for you. Use the wisdom, knowledge and legwork of other people to further your own cause.

8) Make other people come to you - use bait if necessary
When you force the other person to act, you are the one in control. Make your opponent to come to you. Lure with gains and then attack.

9) Win through your actions, never through argument
It is much more powerful to get others to agree with you through your actions, without saying a word. Demonstrate, do not explicate. "Never argue. In society, nothing must be discussed. Give only results." - Benjamin Disraeli

10) Infection : Avoid the unhappy and the unlucky
You can die from someone else's misery - emotional states are as infectious as diseases.
Associate with the happy and the fortunate.The unhappy draw misfortune of themselves; they will also draw it on you.

11) Learn to keep people dependent on you
To maintain your independence you must always be needed and wanted. The more you are relied upon the more freedom you have. Never teach them enough so that they can do without you. The ultimate power is to get people to do as you wish.

12) Use selective honesty and generosity to disarm your victim
One sincere and honest move will cover over dozens of dishonest ones. Once your selective honesty opens a hole in their armor, you can deceive and manipulate them at will. The essence of deception is distraction. An act of kindness turns people into children.

13) When asking for help appeal to people's self-interest, never to their mercy or gratitude
If you need help, uncover something in your request, that will benefit him and emphasize it all out of proportion. He will respond enthusiastically when he sees something to be gained for himself. Do not bother to remind him of your past assistance and good deeds. There is an art to asking for help. Remember your needs do not matter to others - only their needs matter to them. Self interest is the lever that moves people. The shortest and best way to make a fortune is to let other people see clearly that it is in their interests to promote yours.

14) Pose as a friend, work as a spy
To spy use other people. Ask indirect questions. Pay attention in social gatherings. Practice this tactic with caution and care.

15) Crush your enemy totally
A feared enemy must be crushed completely. More is lost through stopping halfway than through total annihilation. The enemy will recover and will seek revenge. Crush him nt only in body but in spirit.

16) Use absence to increase respect and honor
Learn when to leave. Create value through scarcity. Everything in the world depends on absence and presence.

17) Keep others in suspense, cultivate an air of unpredictability
Nothing is more terrifying than the sudden and unpredictable. Be deliberately unpredictable. Your predictability gives others a sense of control. 

18) Do not build fortresses to protect yourself - isolation is dangerous
The world is dangerous. Enemies are everywhere. Isolation exposes you. Its better to circulate among people, find allies. You are shielded from your enemies by the crowd.

19) Know who you are dealing with; do not offend the wrong person
Choose your victims and opponents carefully. Never offend or deceive the wrong person. The five most dangerous and difficult types are - the arrogant and proud man, the hopelessly insecure man, the suspicious man, the serpent with the long memory and the plain, unassuming and often unintelligent man. Wrongs are forgiven, contempt never is. The wrong people will spend the rest of their lives seeking revenge.

20) Do not commit to anyone
Do not commit to any side but yourself. By maintaining your independence you become the master of others - playing people against one another, making them pursue you.

21) Play a sucker to catch a sucker - seem dumber than your mark
No one likes feeling stupid. Make your victims feel smart - not just smart, but smarter than you are. Once convinced of this, they will never suspect that you may have ulterior motives. The feeling that someone else has more knowledge is almost intolerable. Know how to make use of stupidity.

22) Use the surrender tactic, transform weakness into power
When you are weak surrender. Surrender gives you time to recover. Time for your conqueror's power to wane. Do not give him he satisfaction of fighting and defeating you - surrender first. Make surrender a tool of power.

23) Concentrate your forces
Conserve your forces and energies by keeping them concentrated at their strongest point. When looking for sources of power, find the one key patron, the fat cow who will give you milk for a long time. Prize intensity more than extensity.

24) Play the perfect courtier
The perfect courtier flatter, yields to superiors, asserts power over others in the most oblique and graceful manner. If you apply the laws of courtiership there will be no limit to how far you can rise in the court. The laws of courtiership are - avoid ostentation, practice nonchalance, be frugal with flattery, arrange to be noticed, alter style and language in accordance with the person you are dealing with, never be the bearer of bad news, never affect friendliness and intimacy with your master, never criticize those above you directly, be frugal in asking those above you for favors, never joke about appearances or taste, do not be the court cynic, be self-observant, master your emotions, fit the spirit of the times, be a source of pleasure.

25) Re-create yourself
Do not accept the roles that society foists upon you. Recreate yourself by forging a new identity. One that commands attention and never bores the audience. Be the master of your own image.

26) Keep your hands clean
You must seem a paragon of efficiency and civility. Your hands are never soiled by mistakes and nasty deeds. Mistakes do not vanish with apologies - they deepen and fester. Folly consists not in committing folly but in being incapable of concealing it.

27) Play on people's need to believe to create a cult-like following
People have an overwhelming desire to believe in something. Become a focal point of such desire by offering them a cause, a new faith to follow. Keep your words vague but full of promise, emphasise enthusiasm over rational thinking and clear thinking. Give rituals and demand sacrifices. 5 easy steps to form a cult - keep it vague, simple 2) emphasize the visual and sensual over the intellectual 3) borrow other forms of organised religion to structure the group 4) disguise your source of income 5) set up and us versus them dynamic.

28) Enter action with boldness
If you are unsure of a course of action, do not attempt it. Timidity is dangerous, better to enter with boldness. Any mistakes you commit through audacity are easily corrected with more audacity. Everyone admires the bold; no one honors the timid.

29) Plan all the way to the end
The ending is everything. Plan all the way to it, taking into account all the possible consequences, obstacles and twists of fortune that might reverse your hard work. Gently guise fortune and help determine the future by thinking far ahead.

30) Make your accomplishments seem effortless
All the toil and practice that goes into your actions and all the clever tricks must be concealed. Avoid the temptation of revealing how hard you work. Teach no one your tricks or they will be used against you.

31) Control the options, get others to play with the cards you deal
The best deceptions are the ones that seem to give the other person a choice; your victims feel they are in control, but are actually your puppets. give them options that come out in your favor whichever one they choose. The ways to do that are - color the choices, force the resister, alter the playing field, offer the shrinking options, put the weak man on the precipice and play on their emotions, put them on the horns of a dilemma.

32) Play to people's fantasies
The truth is often avoided because it is ugly and unpleasant. Never appeal to truth and reality unless you are prepared for the anger and disenchantment. Be the one who can conjure up fantasies. There is great power in tapping into the fantasies of the masses.
A few examples.
Reality - Change is slow and gradual, requires hard work, self sacrifice and patience. Fantasy: Sudden transformation will bring a total change in fortunes, bypassing luck, self sacrifice and time.

33) Discover each man's thumbscrew
Everyone has a weakness, a gap in the castle wall. It is usually and insecurity, an uncontrollable emotion or need, a secret pleasure. How to find the thumbscrew- pay attention to gestures and unconscious signals 2) find the helpless child within 3) look for contrasts, what they appear is what they want to conceal  4) fill the voids of insecurity and unhappiness 5) feed on uncontrollable emotions
You can then bend their will easily.

34) Be royal in your fashion, act like one to be treated like one
Respect yourself and inspire the same sentiment in others. By acting regally and being confident in your powers, you appear destined to wear a crown. Be sublime in your deeds, lofty in your thoughtss and in all your doings show that you deserve to be the king.

35) Master the art of timing
Never seem to be in a hurry - hurrying always betrays a lack of control over yourself and over time. Always seem patient, as if you know that everything will come to you eventually. Know that time is an artificial concept that we have created to make the limitlessness of eternity and the universe more bearable and human.
Three kinds of time 1) Long time - success that is built slowly and surely is the only kind that lasts 2) Forcing time - to upset the timing of others, make them hurry, make them wait, make them abandon their pace 3) End time - know ho to finish. When the end comes, act quickly.

36) Disdain things you cannot have, Ignoring them is the best revenge
The more attention you pay the enemy, the stronger you make him. A small mistake is made worse and more visible when you try to fix it. Sometimes is is bets to leave things alone. If there is something you want but cannot have it, show contempt for it. Desire creates the most paradoxical effects - the more you want something, the more you chase after it and the more it eludes you. Contempt is a dish that is best served cold and without affectation.

37) Create compelling spectacles
Striking imagery and grand symbolic gestures create the aura of power. Dazzle by appearances - no one will notice what you are really doing. Words are risky business. Visuals short circuit the labyrinth of words and strike with an emotional power and immediacy. Like music it leaps right over rational and reasonable thoughts.

38) Think as you like but behave like others
It is safer to blend in ad nurture the common touch than in making a show of going against times. Show your originality only with tolerant friends and those who are sure to appreciate your uniqueness.

39) Stir up waters to catch fish
Anger and emotion are strategically counter-productive. Always stay calm and objective. But if you can make your enemies angry while staying calm yourself you gain a decided advantage.
Angry people end up looking ridiculous. They have taken things too seriously. Petulance is not power. It is helplessness.

If your opponent has a hot temper, irritate him. If he is arrogant, encourage his egotism.

40) Despise the free lunch
What is offered free is dangerous - usually involves a trick of a hidden obligation. What has worth is worth paying for. By paying your way you steer clear of gratitude, guilt and deceit. There is no cutting corners with excellence. Be lavish with your money and keep it circulating, for generosity is a sign and a magnet of power.

In the realm of power everything must be judged by its cost, and everything has a price.

For everyone able to use money, thousand more are locked in a self-destructive refusal to use money creatively and strategically. They are - 1) the greedy fish (pursue wealth without emotion)  2) the bargain demon (want for little less) 3) the sadist (use money to control, make you wait etc) 4) the indiscriminate giver

41) Avoid stepping into a great man's shoes
If you succeed a great man or a successful parent, you will have to accomplish double their achievements to outshine them. Slay the overbearing father, disparage his legacy and gain power by shining in your own way.

42) Strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter
Neutralize troublemakers by isolating them or banishing them. Strike at the source of the trouble and the sheep will scatter.

43) Work on the hearts and minds of others
Do not coerce. Seduce others into wanting to move in your direction. A person you have seduced will become your loyal pawn. Operate on individual psychologies and weaknesses to seduce. Work on their emotions, play on what they hold dear and what they fear.
Ignore the hearts and minds of others and they will hate you.
The key to persuasion is to soften people up and break them down gently.

44) Disarm and infuriate with the mirror effect
The mirror is the perfect tool for deception. Mirror your enemies, do exactly as they do and they cannot figure out your strategy. By holding up a mirror to them you seduce them with the illusion that you share their values. Few can resist the power of the mirror effect.

45) Preach the need for change but never reform too much at once
People are creatures of habit. Too much innovation is traumatic and will lead to revolt. Make a show of respecting the old way of doing things, make change a gentle improvement of the past.

46) Never appear too perfect
Appearing better than others is always dangerous. Envy creates silent enemies. Display occasional defects. Admit to harmless vices.

47) Do not go past the mark you aimed for, in victory, learn when to stop
The moment of victory is often the moment of greatest peril. In the heat of victory, arrogance and overconfidence can push you past the goal you had aimed for. You can make more enemies than you defeat. Do not allow success to go to your head. set a goal and when you reach it, stop.

48) Assume formlessness
By taking a shape, by having a visible plan, you open yourself to attack. Keep yourself adaptable and on the move. Accept the fact that nothing is certain and no law is fixed. Be fluid as water; never bet on stability as a lasting order.

Its makes immense sense in many ways if you can see it differently and accept that this is how we react, how we truly are deep inside. Two ways it can help are - one, to understand how people really think and behave and, how gullible others can be if one can think ahead. There are those to whom power comes easy. But there are many to whom it does not. For these triers, the laws that are based in deception and subterfuge offer clear paths.

Among the eminently sensible ones is the one about despising the free lunch (brilliant principle on money consciousness), seeking help through the self-interest route and not through mercy and gratitude (diffident salespeople), entering action with boldness (I can learn from that), slay the father (I can do with that too), discover each man's thumbscrew etc. Read it. If you are self-righteous and cannot accept that such behaviors are part of us you will most likely get a headache. But if you can see them for what they are and marvel at what we are capable of then you can actually be amused and perhaps get smarter in the way you deal your cards. Thanks Suresh.

Monday, April 20, 2015

50 Not Out - Lovely Review in Free Press Journal

I happened across this fine review of '50 Not Out'. It's the kind of a review I like - full hearted. Not the careful should-I-commit-to-this-or-not kind of a review. Good for you Sumeet Naik.

‘50 Not Out’ is a road map to make ones’ life fruitful while celebrating the game of cricket.

"...many more such cricketing terms directly connected to explain the various nuances of our life makes ‘50 Not Out’ not just an interesting but also valuable read. The simplicity of the language used connects with reader faster and the examples given to put across a point are the ones even a layman can connect with.

At times we seem to find ourselves in a situation where we see no concrete answers to the questions we are confronted with. Or a day where nothing seems to be going the way we want it to go. During such occasions this book can surely come handy in showing you a path to some basic and simple solutions of life which our preoccupied mind had failed to see.

So to all who want to play a long and fruitful innings of life, ducking the nasty deliveries life bowls at times with confidence and calmness. Go out and grab a copy of ‘50 Not Out’ to play the best innings of your life!"


'50 Not Out' Meets 'Third Man' and Krishna Sastry Devulapalli - Chennai Book Event

Asvita Bistro is a cosy place in Alwarpet, not far from Park Sheraton. It has much to offer - a cute restaurant, an open space that seats about 40 that they let out for literary and other cultural events, a high fashion store - its really nice energy. As part of opening up the place for literary events Asvita Bistro offered the space to an evening conceived by Krupa Ge, writer, journalist and young friend - an interaction between the authors of two cricket books (Ram and I) facilitated by Krishna who would as always provide a welcome break from the tedious world of cricketing lessons and memories. The event was fixed for the 15th of April. Here's the invite designed by the multi-faceted Swaroop Mamidipudi - lawyer, illustrator, writer which I forgot to post on the blog before the event.
Invite to event - Designed by Swaroop M
Krishna, Chitra and I started early, picked up Bharath, and landed at Asvita. The Jaico team was there with many copies of 50 Not Out - Sivaraman and Koteeswaran. My local friends turned up  - Alagiri and Vasudha, Rags, Anil and Lalitha, Krish Srikanth, David Wesley and for good measure Prince Frederick who writes well for The Hindu. Ram came with Gowri who had just won an award for her contribution to theatre and soon we were all set to start. Krupa introduced us and Krishna took over with a disclaimer - his knowledge of the game and his musings over the abdomen guard. The audience relaxed a bit and so did we and we proceeded to talk about whatever we pleased.
Krupa introducing us
Ram spoke of his book. I read from mine - a piece on 'Patience' which was apt because Bharath brought it up while we were driving to the place and also because it contains one of my favorite stories - of Mr. Devidas and his 'Let's see' philosophy. His nephew Anil was in the audience so it was only fitting - though I did not expect Anil to say he had tears in his eyes when I read that part. But truth be told, even if the others didn't notice, there was a lump in my throat too as I read that and it surprised me as well.
All set to go

Ram spoke with his customary candor and clarity about the old days. Krishna kept it relevant and fun and asked us the right questions that the audience perhaps may have wanted to know. Why we wrote the books, how we all knew met one another, how the game has evolved etc.
Me reading from '50 Not Out'
Krishna was generous in his praise - and said that we were both very generous human beings. Ram also read out bits from my book which he said made sense. He also said, in reply to Krishna's question about my writing, that my honesty comes through clearly and that I was a good storyteller (referring to The Men Within). When my turn to comment on Ram's writing the attention got shifted a bit and I could not put in my two words but I can make amends here - his writing is of high quality and it comes across, his attention to detail and his gathering of old and forgotten facts is phenomenal and his love and passion for the game, writing and life in general comes across in his writing. Ram is a good writer, and one of the few great cricketing writers.
Ram reading from his book 'Third Man'
Krishna was his usual self and added much fun to everyone's life with his sharp wit and humour. He is one of those people you cannot get tired of seeing because he does have this capability to say something so funny and wicked that you cannot but laugh - Krishna cannot help himself - he is that way. I am glad we have the Krishna's in our world else we would take ourselves too seriously (I am so glad I have him on my list of friends and I intend to keep him). I think making people laugh is the biggest contribution anyone can make to this world - its right at the top - and people who do that should be honored with the biggest awards and recognitions. Krishna would definitely qualify with his novels, speeches, stand up acts, plays, talks, conversations, articles.
This is how it must have looked from behind
There was talk about how much money we made during our playing days and the comparison to what the IPL players make these days, whether we feel depressed (no way!), how Ram came out of his distress after giving up the game and so on. Ram reminisced several interesting anecdotes of his days with the Pataudis and Jaisimhas and their pranks. Overall it was a fun evening. I enjoyed it. I think all three of us on stage enjoyed it. The audience I interacted with said that they enjoyed it too so I guess it was all worth the trouble.
View from the audience
Thanks Asvita Bistro, thanks Krupa and Swaroop, thanks Krishna and Chitra for putting me up and for a wonderful couple of days, Ram for being there and all of you for coming.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Bright Idea for the Day

Since technology is so good these days one wonders why there is no technology that can shut up mobile phones at the beginning of a concert or a meeting. I see a clear need, and a gap.

The idea is simple. When any program / concert / meeting is about to start the MC comes up and says something like 'All mobiles phones shall now be on silent' or 'Shut up' or something appropriate. These words will register with the smart phones and they will instantly go into shut up mode. The same technology can be used on flights to switch off phones.

This idea will reduce a lot of unnecessarily rising blood pressure. Why can't mobile phones guys think of something simple like this?

Being There - Movie Review

Peter Sellers plays Chance, a simple gardener who has lived all his life in the estate of a rich benefactor. So innocent that he has never stepped off the estate, has not had a drink, has not sat in a motor car, has not used a telephone, has not kissed a woman etc. The one thing he does know well is the television, which he likes 'to watch'. He makes no claim on the estate despite having lived there for over half a century perhaps or more and is quickly removed.

Chance walks off into the world and promptly bumps into the beautiful wife of a rich man - literally. Her car knocks into him accidentally and she takes him home. Chance's simplistic ways are seen as great pearls of wisdom and they somehow think his name is Chancey Gardiner. They believe there is a great mystery to this high-borne man who chooses to be simple. The rich and powerful man Rand, is also an advisor to the President so Chancey ends up giving good advise to the President too - using gardening as a metaphor - when spring comes all will be well. The advise works, Chancey becomes a celebrity. But Rand is dying and is provoking an affair between his wife and Chancey to no avail - Chancey only likes to watch (TV).

In the end Rand dies and Chancey walks off, and walks on water (really). There is a scene when he is propositioned by a gay man in  a party and in reply to his pointed - so what do you like - Chancey replies his standard - I like to watch. Sellers is brilliant in the role. Interesting concept. Slow. Shirley Maclaine is as usual superb.

Third Man - V. Ramnarayan

'Third Man' is written by a cricketer who many feel should have played for India - V. Ramnarayan. Ram of course feels that he was in the wrong profession at the wrong time, being the third off spinner behind E.A.S. Prasanna and S. Venkataraghavan during his time. Having Venkat ahead of him in the Tamil Nadu squad always blocked his way into the team as an off spinner, so Ram was fortuitous that his job as a young bank officer took him to Andhra Pradesh and then to Hyderabad where he first played for SBI and later on for Andhra Bank. More importantly he shook off some firmly entrenched off spinners - Noshir Mehta for one (who recently completed playing 50 years of league cricket - I envy him) who was very much a son of the soil. Ram forced his way into the star studded and highly glamourous Hyderabad side - M.L. Jaisimha, M.A.K. Pataudi, Abbas Ali Baig, Abid Ali, Jayantilal, Govind Raj, Krishnamurthi and young Narasimha Rao - all who played for India at about the same time by sheer weight of his performances. His obvious talent drew many die-hard supporters who predicted that he'd play for India even as he was still struggling to get a regular place in the bank side. What Ram did in those wonderful five years at Hyderabad after he made his Ranji debut at the age of 28, and was the highest wicket taker for all that time, was wonderful stuff.

Any cricketer worth his salt will know the import of the cover page - G.R. Vishwanath being caught and bowled by Ramnarayan - a mode of dismissal that only the greatest of greats in the off spinning craft can command through their control of the variations on the ball and the way they deceive batsmen in the air. Off spinners who take more caught and bowled wickets are considered to belong to the highest class and to take the wicket of one of the greatest batsmen India has ever produced in such fashion is ample proof of Ram's capabilities. That one picture puts all arguments to doubt. This man was a class act. 'He was magical,' say his team mates of those days with an admiration that they can hardly hide.

It's a tale of great talent, of opportunities lost and found and of life itself. Ram writes of his cricketing journey that began at his home, his many uncles and cousins and of course his father. I can only imagine how it must have been in his childhood with nuggets of cricketing wisdom floating about and much inspiration to be had from his cricketing family. Ram describes his early childhood and his days of playing with his cousins and brothers (his younger brother V. Sivaramakrishnan almost played for India too and was a good opening batsman who served Tamil Nadu and South Zone for a long long time) in the open grounds near his home. Its stuff that transports you to a Madras that you want to go back to. His school games and his college games, his associations with his co-spinner Dayakar, people who believed in him and those who did not, his budding competition with S. Venkataraghavan who played for Engineering College, his stint as a captain for his college, the many worthies who played alongside including N. Ram of The Hindu, the grounds, the lunch stops, the crowds (including the one who'd collect information of scores at other grounds), ah...lovely stuff. Characters like Don Rangan, umpire Murthy who refused to give batsmen out if he did not flight the ball and many others pop up in the book and  make you want to meet them, so interesting are they. Ram made it to the University side and performed well too.

But you see a rebellious side to Ram too developing on the side. In a time when administrators were perhaps not too open minded about players doing their own thing (as they do these days) Ram's free spirited nature caught the eye of a few people who did not appreciate this show of spirit. The tour to Bombay with the over aged Colts was one that could have gone in an entirely different direction but for the manager suspecting Ram's innocent indulgences to be bigger vices - 'he smokes, he drinks and he womanises' - was the verdict upon the teetotaller off-spinner (then).

The part in the book about his early days at Madras will remain one of the finest pieces of cricket writing in my mind - so good that I really wish I had a way of witnessing some of those moments myself. Thanks Ram for making it possible to glimpse them through the book.

The second part consists of more familiar turf and many known names. Ram moved to Hyderabad as an officer with SBI, and was posted to Anakapalle. Since SBI needed some players to bolster its side which lost many players to national duty, Ram was summoned to Hyderabad and he hit gold. Many in the Hyderabad bank circle, notably Krishnamurthi the India wicket keeper, took an instant liking for him and showed him off as a prodigious talent to all concerned. Ram's performances were almost always match winning. When I asked him what his strengths were he said - 'I had immense confidence in my abilities. I always backed myself to win games.' Not many can say that. But there were some detractors too and Ram being sensitive again shied away only to be 'kidnapped' by his team members, prodded  by Mr. Manohar Sharma. Another match winning performance and then the Ranji Trophy debut in the team many would have liked to be a part of. Jaisimha, Pataudi, Abbas Ali Baig, Abid Ali, Krishnamurthi, Govind Raj, Jayantilal, Narasimha Rao and other equally charismatic and talented cricketers were part of this team. Ram soon became the match winner for this team too, topping bowling in terms of wickets for Hyderabad for the next five seasons and going as far as the Indian probables. Hyderabad almost beat Bombay but lost a semi final which they should have won - they just lost the plot against Ashok Mankad's desperate team (it was a case of 'not wanting to lose' as against 'wanting to win'.). That heartbreak ended the aspirations of some seniors and the golden days of cricket in Hyderabad were over with Jaisimha and Pataudi retiring soon after. Ram got involved in some unwanted situations with the HCA thanks to some typically underhand and spineless work by some of the senior players that we also got used to in later years, and then he hung it all up. Ram's account of Hyderabad cricket is completely believable and it gave me a fair understanding of what must have gone on in those days from within the dressing room. It also threw up many names we knew and played with - Mumtaz Hussain. Abdul Jabbar, Chandran, Inder Raj, Wahab. Sainath, Jyothiprasad, Shivlal Yadav.

'I could not bear to watch the game for many years after I quit,' he says. I can imagine. Just looking at the performances, his match winning capabilities, his passion for the game and his irrepressible spirit - you can feel him wanting to go out there and do something special in each page, makes you wonder how he took this roller coaster ride. But he did and well too. Ram moved back to Madras, quit the bank, worked at various things before settling down as the editor of India's leading performing arts magazine 'Sruthi'. Gowri, his wife, is a playwright, theatre personality, singer (she accompanied M.S. Subbulakshmi for 17 years on stage), noted writer, and they make a delightful pair. I invited them to speak to the students at the Department of Dance, University of Hyderabad when they were int own for the Hyderabad even and they spent two wonderful hours at the University.

Ram's description of his craft is worth a read for any off spinner. How to bring down the arm faster without pushing the ball - the arm speed is such that you whip the ball as if you were spinning a top and the arm comes down fats but the ball travels in a parabolic loop - taught by Rajamani, his senior at Presidency College. How a medium pacer knew so much about the art of off spin bowling is worth pondering but it shows how knowledgeable cricketers were in those days. The finish, the ram rod straight left leg, the right arm coming down the left of the leg and the pivoting action all add to make the bowler do things with the ball that make them formidable. Hanumant Singh's advise to him at the Fatehmaidan Club should have been recorded - whatever variation, whatever change in crease - the ball must land in the same place. Length is mandatory, line is optional is another gem from Prasanna. Ram himself tells me how he bowled for three hours everyday, a practice that he said every spinner must follow. In fact he scoffs at any off spinner who has not bled from his fingers - such was the stuff they were made of. 'Do any Tamil Nadu spinners seek your advise?' I ask. He shakes his head. No. 'But I believe Ashwin bowls for three hours every day,' he says.

'Third Man' is a must read for all cricket lovers because it gives you a whiff of cricket that was played in days when the game was still amateur. As with all things amateur there is an innocence one can feel throughout the book. Its a story of days that won't ever come back, a dream-like tale that will haunt the reader. Ram writes honestly, confidently and embellishes his tale with great detail - scores, people, situations, incidents - and it all adds up to making 'Third Man' a worthy read. Not many cricketers can write well and Ram is an exception to that rule. Not many cricketers do not get to express their sensitive side because they do not have the crafts of expression, so its refreshing to see someone who can both write extremely well and who understands the game at different layers and who has played at a very high level of competitive cricket reveal so much of himself and his understanding of the game.

I am glad Ram wrote this book. It will remain at the top of the few books on cricket written by Indian writers that I will wholeheartedly recommend. Well done Ram and well done KSDevulapalli, our common friend, for prodding Ram to take up this effort after a gap of thirty years and produce such vintage stuff.

Monday, April 6, 2015

A Concert by Ghulam Ali - Healing Experience

When Srini asked me if I wanted to go to the Ghulam Ali concert I said yes. I'd first heard Ghulam Ali in college thanks to Sanjay who would not only play the famous numbers like 'Awargi', 'Hungama hai kyon', 'Chupke chupke' etc but also explain their meanings and intricacies carefully. I bought many cassettes and listened to many hits over the years. So a chance to see the legend was not to be wasted.

I had this nagging headache through the afternoon and into the evening. I picked Sagar on the way and we tried to enter Shilpakalavedika, the venue, through its many well hidden entrances and exits and found that they were too busy saving space for VIPs! Firstly none of the gates are marked properly and unless you have previous experience or, are a high calibre sleuth, you will never realise where this Shilpakalavedika is and where its many entrances and exits are. And when we found one and tried to get in, we were told it was an exit and we should go to gate 1. At gate 1, there were two frantically waving gentlemen who kept saying 'there's no parking, park wherever you want to but please go'. We parked in the open grounds opposite Shilparamam and went back in - only to notice that there was space to accommodate a hundred odd cars. 'VIPs ke liye sir' said the man at the gate.

My headache grew worse at all this. To cap it all there were long queues and an inefficient system - two or three tables and that's it. I have seen the same 'Book My Show' concerts at Bangalore and they did a fantastic job. I could see some black marketing going on and some fake tickets were sold or duplicated, people evicted and so on. Anyway we managed to get in, grab some water and pizza and went right in. The seats in Shilpakalavedika are not comfortable. The curtain lifted and the show began at 730 or so.

I thought to myself - if the music can connect to me, this ache will heal. All through the first half Ghulam Ali sang ghazals unknown to me so I could not really connect to them. I was waiting for the big songs I knew. In the second half his son came on and sang a few songs with his father and a couple of his own compositions. One composition, the original of which he sang, was beautiful, but after that his voice just went flat, don't know if it was about the mike or something. Srini said Ghulam Ali's voice was also not as it had been (I could not make out any difference) and someone else said the sitar was bad (I could not make that out too). But when he sang 'Chupke chupke', 'Awargi' and 'Hungama' I completely got immersed in the music and wonder of wonders, by the time I got out of the trance, my ache was gone. Music heals my friend.

Another item ticked off. A Ghulam Ali concert attended Live. A new principle - that good music heals.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Third Man - Hyderabad Launch

Third Man, a delightful autobiographical account of the cricketing years of yesteryear's off spinning great V. Ramnarayan, was launched at Akshara Books, Hyderabad yesterday. The book store has this quint little space at the back where they host these book events and it was the perfect setting for Ram's book event.
V. Ramnarayan catching G.R. Vishwanath off his own bowling on the cover of Third Man

Ramnarayan played for Hyderabad in the 70s and was an integral member of the dashers from Hyderabad - a team led by M.L. Jaisimha and boasting of the likes of MAK Pataudi, Abbas Ali Baig, Jayantilal, P. Krishnamurthi, Govind Raj, Abid Ali, Mumtaz Hussain, Jyothi Prasad, Narasimha Rao etc. The team had seven or eight Test players and beat some wonderful teams but enigmatically never won the final for all its talent. Ramnarayan was its penetrative off spinner and wrecker in chief of the Bombay first innings when Hyderabad took a sizeable first innings lead and then collapsed and lost inexplicably in the semi final. He made his debut for Hyderabad at 28 and played about 5 years of competitive cricket during which time he was named in the Indian probables camp. However his tragedy was that he was the third man - always behind EAS Prasanna and S. Venkataraghavan and all that talent went waste.

Post cricketing career, something he got sick off so much that he hated all thoughts of it, Ram did several things but finally found his calling in the world of writing. He wrote books, and now edits India's leading magazine 'Sruthi' on performing arts, and now and then comes out with masterpieces like 'Third Man'. I will review the book separately.

Ram is very accessible. He is a fine human being, rooted to the ground and his principles. Let me relate an incident here. When I was in Chennai to promote 'The Men Within' in 2008, I knew that V. Ramnarayan, an ex-Hyderabad off spinner and writer, lived in the city. Somehow I wanted to contact him and invite him to the event and made all efforts to do that too. I asked many people but all enquiries led nowhere. So I finally gave up and went ahead with my program. At the end of the program a tall, slim gentleman walked up to me and introduced himself. 'Hello Hari, I am Ramnarayan. I read your book and thoroughly enjoyed it. Well done.' I was beside myself. I told him how I'd been trying to contact him to invite him to the event and how nice that he took time off to come and be part of the event just because he felt that it deserved some support. Such is the stuff that these people are made off and the more we think of them the more we aspire to be like them. We kept in touch since then and now we have a common friend - Krishna Sastry Devulapalli (who will be with us on a panel discussion on cricket writing in Chennai on April 15, 2015).

Ram is also the only one of his generation who seems young enough at heart for me to call him by his name. The rest of them are all saab to me. Yesterday there were many at the event - old friends who showed up despite advancing years and heavy traffic. Manohar Sharma ji who was chief guest, Murtuza Ali Baig, Noshir Mehta, Maheshwar Singh, Prahlad, B. Mohan who had all played with him and who had all been coaches or selectors when I was in school. Many who came but could not find the store. Junie Aunty (Mrs. Jaisimha) came all the way from Sainikpuri and Ram said later - 'I have never felt so good.' It was so nice to have him and Mrs. Gowri Ramnarayan, also come over to the University of Hyderabad as my guest speakers in the morning. Gowri was wonderful and gave so many practical insights to the students about how to go about with their shows and careers.

Among others who came were Shobha, my sister Mythily and brother in law Harsha, Vinod Pavurala and Aparna. There was reading by the Little Theatre - Mr. Shankar Melkote, Prakash and Vijay Marur did the honors with Ram joining in later. I was in conversation with Ram later for a while discussing the book and the cricketing days.

The evening was full of good vibes, joie de vivre and old stories. A couple of beers would have uncorked a whole lot more but these are the days of drunken driving etc so we all carefully retired. 'I am glad I did this,' said Ram. I am glad too. Just seeing all the people of his generation, listening to their stories, their laughter made me feel good too. That was a generation that had chutzpah and its still evident in the unique style each of them carries. Many copies of 'Third Man' were sold and signed. I gifted copies of 50 Not Out to Maheshwar Singh, B. Mohan and Prahlad who had at one point or other been selector or coach to me. An evening well spent. Thanks Ram. And Gowri. See you in Chennai soon.

Nice link - India Photos

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Fantastic Dance Recital at Shilparamam - Students of Department of Dance, University of Hyderabad

The students Masters of performing Arts of the Department of Dance, University of Hyderabad, took up, on short notice from the Director of Shilparamam, Mr. Kishen Rao, an offer to perform on the 1st of April at the Open Air Auditorium, Shilparamam. The students were naturally thrilled with the opportunity and put together a fine recital of Kuchipudi and Bharatnatyam. On stage yesterday were Suchismita, Niyanthri, Aiswarya, Ashwini, Janimiya (Bharatanatyam), Snehalatha and Rohini (Kuchipudi). Two other students Aparna and Sneha could not make it owing to the short time frame but I am sure they will soon perform on this stage that Mr. Kishen Rao, has so graciously offered.
The Open Air theatre at Shilparamam

I went to the venue early with Anjali, my sister Mythily and nephew Abhishek. Shilparamam is such a revelation. Right in the middle of the hustle and bustle of steel, glass and concrete of the Hitech City, lies this tree-laden paradise that has almost no concrete and everything there seems to take you miles and years away from the reality outside.
The shopping area 

Don't get intimidated by the crowds at the entrance - right next to the Shilparamam gate is the entrance to the Night Bazaar which has ample parking in the cellar. You park and walk back up the ramp to the entrance so if you are driving yourself, its best to off load your passengers at the gate so it saves them trouble of walking up and down.

The shops in Shilparamam sell all sorts of handicrafts - toys, wooden stuff, furniture, textiles, paintings, metal work, Pochampalli sarees and stuff from all over India. Little straw huts offer the perfect ambience.

A peaceful walk around all the shops could take up to two hours I'd think. There are small eateries, a lovely Open Air theatre where the dances were to be performed, a small water body, tress all around beautifully lit, a grassy lawn, nice walkways - you can completely forget life outside.
Early audience 

We went to the OAT and waited for the show to begin. It's in this little clearing in the middle with the stage at a lower height and steps coming down from the top which have chairs - some 500 or so.
The way it is designed

The performers came and posed for photographers and then by 7, the show was underway. It was beautiful. My knowledge of classical dance is limited but I was totally taken in by the beauty of it all. All of them performed so well, looked so good in their costumes and jewellery and the crowd that came completely enjoyed the show, clapping for a long time after the performance ended. There was a decent amount of press in attendance too.
The students performing - beautiful to watch

Snehalatha and Rohini started off with a Kuchipudi recital, then a Bharatanatyam recital by Niyanthri, Aiswarya, Ashwini, Janimiya and Suchismita, and then a solo by Snehalatha and Rohini and then a grand finale where all of them performed. According to the press today (whom I'd rather trust more than my own memory) the items performed were Jatiswaram, Bhamakalapam, Jaganmohana, Brindavana Nillaya, Tillana .
A far shot 
Anjali enjoyed her outing. She loved the dancing and tried to imitate some movements. Then she got her portrait made by an artist who was outside.  Nice. An evening well spent. I was so happy to be there. Well done all. Brilliant stuff.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015