Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Thought For the Day - An Essential Question for Human Resource Recruiters

This is my set of game changing questions for recruiters.

1) Candidates must be asked - have you ever fallen in love?

The purpose of this question is clear - does this person knows what it is to love anything. Does he or she know what it is to want anything, to take responsibility for that want and to accept it.

The ones who say Yes, will proceed to next round. The ones who say No will be asked to find something or someone to fall in love before applying again.

2) If you have fallen in love, what have you done about it?

The purpose of this question is pretty simple - to know what the candidate will do if he or she wants something.

Those who did something will proceed further irrespective of the fact that their proposals in love may have been rejected or accepted. Those who didn't do anything will be asked to go and do something about the loose end and come back. No point having people who want something and don't have the courage or conviction to do something about it.

3) If you got rejected, what did you do about it?

The purpose of this question is simple - will you handle rejection and work around it so you get what you want or will you give up, sulk and go home like a loser.

Those who do something about the rejection and persist will be selected - irrespective of the result. It's the attitude that matters. Those who have given up at the first sign of rejection, will be asked to rethink their strategies in life to counter obstacles. You see there will be many.

This question, if made mandatory, will make many people clear about what they want, what they love, and push them to do something about it. This will help not only in the birth of many love stories that never took off, happier people and couples and certainly a population that is clear about what it wants. After all its better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all as Alfred Lord Tennyson said.

P.S. One could use this set of questions on writers too because they face rejections as well - but they are a morose lot so perhaps you could skip them at the very beginnng itself.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Hullaballoo Over Georgie and Bonnie's Pictures - Movie Review

One of those films that was probably based on an inspiration that one gets from real life. An old palace is the centre of activity - there are some priceless miniature art works there and many who want to steal them.

The Maharaja (Victor Banerjee) himself could do with some money, so does his sister (Aparna Sen), so does the American collector and the British collector. But they find out its not easy.

As with all Ismail Merchant movies, India is shown beautifully. You could just watch scenes of the palace again and again.

Anjali - Let's Go Jogging

Yesterday evening I told Anjali I wanted to go to the park for a run. She could come along with me. Over the past two months I slowly increased my exercise routine from a walk plus 100 meters, 200 meters, 300 meters, to 500 meters to about 1 km now. I am enjoying it too.

Anjali appeared in a few minutes dressed in her sporty attire complete with sports shoes. I was surprised. I thought she would sit around and watch the birds and flowers.

'I want to run with you Nanna,' she said.

We walked to the park. I told her to run as much as she could and that I would run the great distance of 1 km at my own pace. She could break off whenever she wants.
'Ok,' she said amicably and ran alongside me.

She ran faster than I did, came back, caught up with me again, chatted me up.
'I won't talk much,' I told her. 'I need to save my breath.'

'Oh,' she said and ran off. She came running back again.
'You're not lifting your knees high enough,' she told me. 'Take bigger strides.'
I smiled. Grimaced rather.

If I could, I would have.
'Look at me,' she said, showing how easily she was doing it.
I smiled again.

After a while I told her. 'Ok, if you're tired, stop.'

'No, I will run,' she said. She tired a bit. She walked alongside me, ran and caught up with me, fell back when she tired again, but she kept coming.

After some more time I told her again to take it easy. This time she was not happy.
'Arre, I am running no. Let me run. Why do you want to stop me?'

I realised what I was doing. I was giving her the easy way out with my assumption that she could not handle it. But not only did she finish the entire distance - run and walk -she also found ways to tackle to the up and down slopes.
'Take it easy on the down slopes,' she said. 'They take more energy.'

Later, we both sat on the steps sweating it out.
'I am sweating like a pig,' she said smiling with that deep satisfaction one gets after achieving something. I love that feeling too when you have sweat pouring down after a run- a public validation of your effort. It's heavenly. And she almost did not experience it thanks to me.

How many times do we take that pleasure away from them I wonder.

I was surprised at her stubborn attitude to finishing the distance, despite her tired, stumbling manner in the end. There's so much they bring to the table - and we just keeping blocking them again and again. To be more aware now - of my own limitations in the mind.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

P.V.Sindhu - Amazing Grace

In the first game I saw of hers at Rio I was amazed at her fitness. Sindhu looked sharp as an arrow and had that spring, that coil in the step that separated her from almost everybody in the Olympic badminton court. After watching the first game I knew she was way more prepared than most physically, skill wise and mentally. As she won game after game, it was even more obvious that this was no fluke - this was deliberate and cold blooded planning and preparation that was paying off. She trained well beyond what the top players do in every way - including tactically and strategically.

Sindhu was just better prepared - a result of all the sacrifices she and her coach, her support staff and family put in over the years. And in that one week that mattered, when India was struggling to save face on the medals tally, she just expressed herself and gave us something to hope for. She completely surrendered to her coach, frequently looking for an idea, an inspiration. And without doubt she gave it her all. She checked every box she could and it required someone of Marin's expertise and experience to go past her - barely. Sindhu gave it her all and that was so obvious. Fantastic effort, approach and great mindset.

It was the small things that I guess I will remember her for. Her amazing grace as he handled the press, the pressure, the felicitations, the constant demands on her time. Her smile, her exuberance, her enthusiasm, her transparent clear being, her patience, her humility. And she is 21.

This grace I suppose comes out of being so clear and free of doubt, of resentment, of complaints, of all the negative things that we have heard from celebrities - crib, crib, crib etc. She enjoys herself. She celebrates the moment, life. Fantastic.

Sindhu will win and achieve what she deserves in the future but with such a lovely attitude to life and to her work, she is already a winner. It is also an attitude that so many of today's younger generation - the brat pack - can imbibe. Attitude is one thing, rudeness another. Sindhu's attitude always kept the game and the opponent above her. Even after that disappointing end to the final after giving it her all, she did not behave badly despite having every reason to. She walked up to Marin showing no ego at all, congratulated her and helped her to her feet, even took her racket out of the way while stepping off the court. She worked hard with a discipline that is unbelievable. Coach Gopichand said that never once in all these 12 or more years did she come late for a session - starting at 3 in the morning to get there by 4. More importantly, her complete surrender to the coach.

So many of the right things to imbibe, if one wants to. But for now amazing work Sindhu. And an amazing smile that says it all. 

Champion of Champions - Pullela Gopichand

It's been a while since Rio, but it's never too late to laud Pullela Gopichand and his magnificent efforts. He stands tall amongst all the star players and star coaches across all games in India for the simple reason that he not only played and performed at the highest level but actually gave back ten, twenty times more to the game after his playing days. Most star players sink back into comfortable jobs or take up temporary jobs as coaches or mentors. If they are cricketers they become administrators, owners of teams, businessmen. Or become politicians or TV/movie  personalities.

But only in Gopichand's case have we come across a player-coach who has used his knowledge of the craft to take the game that gave him so much, ten steps further. It's easy to give up and sink back into a life of a has-been. One will get some job or another as coach or something and things will keep going. One can easily blame the system and sit back and become pot bellied.

But that's not what Gopichand chose. His focus on setting up the academy. His vision. His demanding work ethic of which so much is spoken of now. His desire to produce champions who will win glory for India. All this is a single man's vision with little or no support from those who matter. He did not give up when there were obstacles. He dug deep and found the finances, set up the academy, brought it to reality and did not stop there. He followed through and actually produced not one but a line of champions who know what it takes to be a champion now. In Rio, it was pretty much Hyderabad versus the Rest of the World.

One little kid sees Sindhu or Kidambi at the academy, sees what they have achieved and the kid will do all that the two champions do. We need role models and badly. And Gopichand has shown the way. As have the other coaches. But there is a certain something about Gopi that sets him apart.

His humility and innate dignity certainly. His manner of letting his work speak for itself. He is very balanced, calm and centered. One heard of that story when he apparently refused  to endorse a soft drink company because it was not a good product for any child to drink. Who has this kind of conviction? These are the real heroes who show it by being who they are, by demonstrating through their acts repeatedly that heroism is not thumping your chests, its in showing what you are made of when the chips are against you, when it is easy to take a call no one would have minded.

To train as hard as his wards in the run up to the Olympics, to prepare with such intense focus, to deliver under such pressure, to keep his calm all through it, I do believe Gopichand deserves a special award - one that is given to player-coaches who have not produced one but a line of champions, who have taken what they got and increased it ten levels. But there is no hurry for it. He can wait for another decade by which time Gopichand would put India on the gold medal map across tournaments surely, many times over. I have no doubt about that. He will be undoubtedly the coach of coaches, the champion of champions.

For now, one can only salute such conviction and determination, such deep understanding of the craft and of the coaching skill. And mostly for being a real role model, a real hero in a world full of fake ones.

A Love Story Like No Other - Man Carries Wife's Body for 12 Kms

I read this gut wrenching story recently of a man who carried his wife's dead body for 12 kms after she died of tuberculosis in an Orissa hospital. He was not provided any transport to take the body home and had no money to take her otherwise. The hospital authorities told him to remove the body and he could think of nothing else to do. Dana Majhi's village was 60 kms away from Bhawanipatna town in Orissa.

It is irrelevant to discuss the technicalities about how he started his long trek with such a heavy to carry - because no one really seemed to have helped him until after 12 kms.


Whatever transpired - Dana Majhi decided that if he had to cremate his wife Amang Majhi with some modicum of dignity - he had better head back to his village - even if he had to carry her all the way for days. He had with him his weeping 12 year old daughter Chaula, who walked along with him.

I wondered what would make a man decided to carry his wife's body for 60 kms. It is quite evident that whether anyone helped or not, Dana, would have carried his wife's mortal remains to the village. How many would even think of doing anything like that? How many would carry a loved one for a few hundred metres? How many would leave the body at the hospital? How many would think of many ways to dispose of this burden and disappear? How many weird ideas would an urban mind think of in a situation like this?

Whether Dana loved Amang in our conventional filmy sense of love or not, the very act of carrying her back to their village against such physical odds, speaks of a love that has no name, that cannot be contained in words. It is also futile to ask of him as some reporters do - if he did it for love? It transcends questions, words. It's an act, for its sheer innocence, simple mindedness and incredible courage, that transcends what any man would do.

I have read, seen and heard some stories of great love, but this one, rises above all. Amang's soul, would be a happy one, to see what her husband was doing for her. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Thought for the Day - The Connection Between Knowing What You Want And Love

The question - do you know what you want - is a rather difficult question for many. Just as - do you love what you are doing is too.

When we operate from a space of love there is decisive action, there is a clear 'I want that', and all action comes from that space. When we operate from the opposite of love, i.e. fear, we do not know what we want. We only know what we don't want. There is no decisive action. There is subsequent misery too, be it a job, a relationship, work etc.

The test then is to see where one is operating from - love or fear.

The person who operates from love is clear about what he or she wants and is willing to go to any length for it. The person who operates out of fear is unclear about what he or she wants, and is only trying to find excuses for every half-act or non-act.

The choice is always between love and fear. Love enhances. Fear diminishes.

Anjali - I Know How to Make You Laugh

We were at the dining table.
Anjali said 'Nanna, I know how to make you laugh.'

I rose to the challenge.
'Try,' I said. 'I won't laugh.'

She tickled me. I did not laugh.
She made funny faces and behaved like a monkey. I did not laugh.

'Please laugh no Nanna,' she said in all seriousness as a last resort.
I couldn't stop myself from laughing out loud  at her earnest request.

'See, I made you laugh,' she said.

So she did.

Fine Words - The 10 Second Miracle

Words of infinite wisdom.

"For relationships to work, we need to feel equal. We all need to speak to each other as equals and act like we're equal in every possible way. Become equals and you become free to create miracles. Unequal arrangements - master/slave, persecutor/victim, controller/pawn - cause everyrbody to stay miserable for life."

- Gay Hendricks, in his book 'The 10 Second Miracle'

Monday, August 22, 2016

Nice Link - On Handling Your Mind

4 Kinds of Attitudes to have

1) Be friendly with happy people (else you will get jealous)
2) If you're friendly with unhappy people you will become unhappy (And if you become unhappy, you will never be able to help them. Be compassionate, don't pity)
3) Whenever someone does a good job share their happiness with them
4) Be indifferent to the horrid things around you mentally (else you will lose your energy to act on it)


Sunday, August 21, 2016

Thought for the Day - It's the Coach Stupid

If the Olympics has shown us one thing, it's the importance of a good coach in guiding the players to outperform. Whether it is Gopichand with P.V. Sindhu and S. Kidambi, Bishweshwar Nandi with Dipa Karmakar, Ishwar Dahiya and Shyam Budaki with Sakshi Mandal, the role of a coach in these success stories is too huge to be ignored.

So how exactly does coach help?

First let's look at the common perception that if the ward is talented, he or she will somehow make it irrespective of the coach. Though that may happen in extraordinary circumstances, it certainly requires far greater effort. Arjuna benefited from the coaching of Drona, Alexander from the coaching of Aristotle, Chandragupta from Chanakya - world beaters had world class gurus to guide them.

In today's world, it makes most sense to go and get a good coach at whatever you do. A good, dedicated coach who is keen to see his ward attain great heights is a huge element if you want to attain your potential and turn in better performances.

The Progression

Initially the coach evaluates you, your skill and your current level of expertise. Accordingly he gives you the required inputs. At beginner level a coach will focus heavily on skill, drills and correct practices in the basics. If one is attentive here, and has a good coach teaching correctly, much of the skill and craft can be learned. The smart learner will take the subject, practice it right, implement it and results show in performances. He or she will ask the right questions, take the basics to the next level and the coach soon knows that this ward is ready for the next level. The wards who fail at this level do not have the desire, the heart and the commitment to go further and they fall off.

At the second level, the ward has learned enough to perform at a higher level. Here the ward needs to know how to perform at an elite level. Though he may have the skill with him, his ability may not be sufficient to outperform many others who are also equally talented, hard working and better prepared. Here again a good coach can fine tune techniques, work on strengths and cut out weaknesses, organise the person's approach and effort, and mentally strengthen the ward to outperform at the second level. The training is more specific, goal oriented and need based. Once the ward understands how he can outperform his class, he can work on the areas and turn in superior performances. But to get ahead of this class he needs the coach to keep his errors at a minimum and his strengths at maximum. It's precise training to go past the 90% into the top 10%.

Fine Tuning
At the third level the ward is at the highest level and is constantly throwing in world class performances.There is little about the game and about the correction mechanism that he may not know. Here it is about the slightest of errors that could creep in, the smallest modifications that can help turn sluggish form into a world class performance. The coach only gives you the cue here, something you missed, and by just that much, you roar back in form. Like the story about the mechanic who taps the nut while repairing a car - here the good coach knows enough to tap at the right place and that's worth a career.

The cost of not having a good coach at all levels is clearly evident. In the first stage you miss out on good basics which makes your performance inefficient, at the second level it shows you a way out of going past your limitations and your peer group and in the third stage you learn how to bounce back from small errors faster with minor inputs. The time spent in coaching at the first level is the highest and at the third level the lowest and the value is inversely proportional.

Here are 10 reasons why anyone should get a coach and a mentor
A good coach
1) Can see your potential and lead you to greater possibilities
2) Can help strengthen your strengths and work on weak areas
3) Can build your confidence and belief that you have what it takes in you
4) Can show the way forward clearly and support you along the lonely path
5) Can spot things about you that you cannot see and make you aware of your unconscious habits and patterns
6) Can increase your awareness of the good and bad and help you prepare for all contingencies
7) Can spot minor errors in performance and help correct the same quicker before they affect your performance
8) Can discuss skill, theory, philosophy an hand it in bite sized morsels
9) Can hold your belief and faith in tough times, be your cornerstone in your quest for excellence
11) Can clarify the wrong connections you can make between the principle and process and set you on track again
12) Can make you a better person and help you achieve the potential you represent

In many ways a good coach is your friend, philosopher and guide. He will be able to help you become a better person. He will be able to help you win in life. So whatever you do, find that coach you can trust, that coach who knows and has your best interests in mind. A small 15 minute chat with him or her is worth its weight in gold.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Thought for the Day - The Connection Between Ego and Responsibility

Sometimes, being 'responsible' can be a debilitating label. That's because we take up responsibility and add a healthy dose of the ego. 'I' am responsible and hence I will or I must do this. Identifying with such responsibility can make you do things to win people's approval because you are doing it for that very reason. To reinforce their thought that you are 'responsible'.

What this can do is that it makes you highly irresponsible and dangerous. You become fully identified with the label of 'responsibility' and in the effort to gain approval, forget your real responsibility - which is to yourself, your growth and the achievement of your full potential. In pleasing others you put yourself aside. And by doing so fail in your primary responsibility.

To understand this clearly, let us look at responsibility without the ego. When there is no ego, all responsibility is towards you and your actions. It is oriented towards your progress and growth. Whatever other responsibilities you take up, do not hamper your growth.

Whereas, when we take up responsibilities that hinder our growth, we are defnitely acting under the influence of ego. That we are responsible - and hence can help. And that others need our help. That's fine, but you need your help more than what others need.

Responsibility is a wonderful word. But mix it with ego and it can set you down the wrong track. In my opinion, all our decisions that take us on a downward spiral are made because of these wrong connections. Responsibility without ego, to yourself and your full growth, creates wonderful possibilities. It helps not only you, but so many others around you. And that is true responsibility - when we are at our best and fullest potential, flowing and giving by 'being'.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Thought for the Day - The Connection Between Saying No and Self-Respect

Not being able to sayNO is not about being nice to someone else. Saying NO is actually about being nice to ourself most times.

When we say NO to things we do not want to do, things against our wishes, we are actually saying that we love and respect ourselves, our decision over someone else's decision on what we must do.

I love myself. I respect myself. I will not do anything that goes against that. Because only when I love myself, can I truly love others.

Don't feel guilty when you say NO. Don't feel guilty when you stand up for yourself.

Because most times when you say NO to others, its actually a YES to yourself. 

Nice Article by TS Sudhir on P. Gopichand and P.V. Sindhu

Rio Olympics - Indian Girls Shine Bright, Win Hearts and Show The Way

It was fantastic to watch the expression of disbelief on Sakshi Malik's face and then the huge smile on her face as she pulled off one of the most unexpected wins coming from behind from a  0-5 deficit in her wrestling match. And as she laughed, hid her face in the Indian flag, one felt the one thing that connects us all - that flag, that sense of something of 'ours' excelling, that involuntary tug at the heart. We felt it when India won the World up, when Azhar scored his first century, when Prakash Padukone won the All England and so on and on. A bronze, but its a hard earned medal. To get it from a girl from Haryana, is even more heartening.

Then the way Sindhu played from her first game onwards and continues to play - all focus on the process, terrific precision in her play, superb athleticism and preparation - she is clearly there because she prepared better and she knows it. She looks fitter, easily better prepared mentally, physically and skill wise. Such intense play, such fierce concentration and such domination is tough to beat and she looks good for a gold. What's even more wonderful to watch apart from her desire to win every point is the hearty, smiling interviews she gives patiently after the games with no airs, no frills, no sense of look-at-me-I-am-the-star and I-made-it-despite-all-you-guys. She is simple and down to earth, enjoying the game and the moment. She is the only one I have seen who is not strapped with some bandage, who has had no injury issues and is striding around as if the court belongs to her. It does. I can't wait to see her get the gold medal tomorrow.

Sindhu has a huge fan at home now. Anjali has made all kinds of placards, hangs around with her racket while her game is on and copies every move of hers which is pretty tiring and then cheers her after the point with the placard.

And then I watched Dipa Karmakar's wonderful performances and was amazed at her courage, skill, competence as well as her composure at missing out on a medal despite a good solid performance under pressure. She laughed in that brilliant way she does and left the Rio Olympics with her head held high. Just as Srikanth Kidambi did after a lion hearted effort. I was fortunate to watch Lalita Babar lead the 3000 m women's steeplechase pack, and hold on despite some really tough competition to make the finals. Then I see Aditi Ashok in golf and so many names I am so proud to see in their respective line ups. These athletes have made it despite poor infrastructure, little support from family and from sports bodies, have little to look forward to once Rio is over except their own made desire to make something out of their skill, their hard work. No one goes to lose, everyone works for the big stage. There is no questioning the heart. It boils down to processes. If we can just get the sports bodies cleaned up just like the Lodha Committee is promising to do in cricket, sportspersons can go and express themselves. And also take some selfies if they like. They earned it.

Now that the girls have put to rests all doubt about who is wearing the pants in India, with its increasingly male chauvinistic attitudes, by winning medals where it counts, all those who think they are the ones wearing the pants can now take a good look at themselves. Courage, bravery, patriotism can be shown by performing, by sacrificing and not by putting up facebook posts, beating up innocents, harassing the weak. Brilliant job girls.

A unforgettable sight for me is the way P Gopichand handles his wards. Calm, composed, all prepared, no stone unturned, always supportive, he has done what all other sports bodies, sports greats, ministries have not been able to do. On his own, he is the only champion player to have produced so many more champions and it is incredible to even conceive what he has done. The players from Hyderabad completely dominate the shuttle badminton scene - Saina, Sindhu, Srikanth, Kashyap, Reddy, Ashwini, Jwala and I am missing more names - and he certainly had something to do with them at one time or another. What Gopichand seems to have done is to find the process, the method of preparation, the building of infrastructure, the availability of good quality coaches and he is churning out the champions like a production line. It's as good as Hyderabad versus the Rest of the World and for that this man deserves all credit. Bigger bodies, ministries are not able to produce champions despite having more resources at their disposal. He is also the one champion sportsperson to have produced so many champions as a coach. All other sportspersons have disappeared or taken up lucrative positions behind the mike or in sports bodies. For just that Gopichand is a true leader. He deserves a unique award for producing so many champions. Reserved, calm, clear and restrained, Gopichand ought to write a book on how he coaches and churns out champions. That book can be followed by all organisations - sports and non-sports blindly.

As the Olympics come to the last days, we cannot ignore the reality. On such a big stage only truly champion like preparation will hold. Gopichand, Nandy, Malik, the Belarusian coach who coached Lalita Babar have put Tripura, Hyderabad, Haryana and other places on the map - the wards have performed thanks to their dedicated coaches. 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Thought for the Day - When We Say We'll Die for It, We Are Killing Our Ego

I remember writing about the same topic - that when we say "we will die to achieve something, we are killing our excuses".

I also believe now that "when we say we will die to achieve something, we are primarily killing our ego" too. We are putting it all out there and saying, whatever happens, I have given my best effort and I cannot do more than that. I have no ego to defend if I lose. I have no excuse to fall back on if I lose. I have no more gas left in the tank.

Ego is also about it's little children, excuses, it appears. Both must be dealt with firmly in our quest to find ourselves. It's not a bad idea for the ego to die everyday.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

A Conundrum of Olympian Standards

I could never understand this. How do Venus and Serena Williams and many champions of their status lose to people they would normally beat, at the Olympics? What happens to the champs? Are they not motivated enough? Or are the opponents more motivated than them?

The Olympics is about pride - little else. Tennis players have little to prove at the Olympics unlike someone like Usain Bolt for whom this is a grand stage to once again stamp his authority or Michael Phelps or others like that. Venus and Serena have conquered bigger stages and continute to do so against stronger oppositions. What happens at the Olympics warrants a study.

One remembers the passion that Leander Paes would play with when it came to playing for India, be it in the Davis Cup or at the Olympics. Does the same passion bite lesser known tennis players like the ones who have eliminated Venus and Serena (I am sure more big names have been elimiated but I can only remember these two). How come the number 1s are not picking up the golds here? Or even silvers or bronzes?

The easy answer would be to say that this is something they are too keen on. But champions like Venus and Serena do not hand over easy victories to anyone, anywhere. So is the other player playing better? Is there something in the preparation that does not suit the champs?

I'd love to see a study of amateur and professional players and how they performed at the Olympics. Remember that its not too long ago that pros were not allowed to participate in the Olympics. But they are pros and they should breeze through, which is not happening all the time.

An Olympian sized conundrum for me. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Shobha De, Gau Rakshaks and the Sportspersons at the Olympics

I know Shobha De writes her name differently, but long as everyone knows who she is, it's ok if I miss an extra a - so all those who are focussing excitedly at the spelling can take it easy and refrain from pointing it out. This is not about her. Not about Gau Rakshaks either. It's about all of 'us' (and that, I spelt right).

Q. What's common between SD and the GRs?

To me one big issue is how so few of us mind our own business. Of course many of us make it a profitable business to poke our nose into other people's business but we also know it's a lazy way of making a living. So a cine tabloid poking its nose into the lives, real and imaginary, of stars would fall into this lazy category. Mostly lies and blatant lies, or pure conjecture, and armchair stuff. But enough to have everyone lapping it up. An honest way of making a living would be someone who would do a good job of journalism - film, sports or whatever.

But what's amazing is how there is so much interest in what someone says about someone else - and it is this quality, this reaction, that makes people lazy. All I have to do is poke my nose into some unrelated issue, say something and I become instantly famous. This is a well planned strategy of course, a bit like Trump's strategy of 'innocently saying what everyone feels' and making a calculated mess of an honest effort to live together peacefully. The mess will automatically keep you at the top of all thats trending because there are enough people who will let the fear rule and these types prey on them.

The only ones who are doing their job and not taking advantage of the situation at hand are the sports people at the Olumpics who are actually doing their job really. So SD can sit and take potshots at them, a bunch of armchair patriots can get up in anger at her and call her names, but nothing will affect what the sportspersons have done or will do. But SD will go laughing back home because everyone fell for her trick and she got what she wanted (to get back into the headlines of course - it's important to stay relevant), just as another upstart leader may want to get his fame and name and money by beating up people in the name of saving cows (and perhaps collecting money for not beating up some).

The answer to the question is this - while some people are doing their work honestly SD and GRs are not. That's what is common between them. Why abbreviations? Because they don't deserve more. 

Pelli Choopulu - Movie Review

Watched the flavour of the season and much acclaimed movie by debutant director Tharun Bhascker at PVR. The 8 pm show was pretty full which speaks volumes for the movies popularity. It's very watchable, funny and carries no baggage. Surprisingly light and relatable Pelli Choopulu, scores well on all departments - which bodes well for preparation and craftsmanship I guess.

The hero Prashanth (a name I'd have forgotten had it not been for the father of the girl calling him Pradeep all the time) has little ambition in life - except for marrying a rich girl and making a Fixed Deposit of his dowry of one crore. He has two friends, who appear to be hoping that the dowry will also save them from their financial mess - at least to the extent of paying their drinking bills. One is a budding photographer and the other loves his drink. A father who isn't too happy with Prashanth's stage in life, a mother who's okay with his way of doing things, a rum and coke loving grandmother, a cheating girlfriend shore up the boy' side. The boy himself is someone who has no specific likes and dislikes, is easily bullied or coaxed into doing things for others and consequently is looking for permission from all and sundry before he acts on his own. Boy and family go on a 'Pelli Choopulu' mission for the boy and meet the girl Chitra. They two meet, discuss their pasts (everyone has one these days), their presents (everyone has one) and futures (again ditto) and before we realise it we are at intermission time with a twist. Post interval more twists, more jokes that make you laugh out loud, a pleasant experience over all and we're done.

Undoubtedly a good effort by a debutant. It's fresh and has that quality which works for it. The lead pair Vijay Deverakonda and Ritu Varma are good, the character artistes and their predicaments are easily relatable. Music is a plus. All in all nice. Uday Bhascker would have been proud of what his son achieved and I can well imagine a witty wisecrack from him at his son's success. Well done Tharun and may you make many more wonderfully entertaining movies.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Anjali - Interview of a 5 and a Half Year Old

I missed this interview in all my papers and found it today. I am assuming it's when Anjali was five and a half then (going by the movies and the books).

Q. What do you like the most?
A. Chicken Little. Days we spent with no Momma. Doing my skit. Dancing. Trying to go to school first.

Q. Who do you love the most?
A. My parents. My friends. All my classmates.

Q. Why classmates?
A. Because they are my friends.

Q. What do you and your friends do?
A. We play at the sandpit. All the time. One time you should come late to pick me up.

Q. What food do you like?
A. Chicken biryani. Fried rice at school. Crispy fried chicken. Noodles. Liver.

Q. What don't you like?
A. Vegetables. Don't like taste. Only carrot and kakdi I like. I don't like using so much energy on my  skit. I don't like that. Skating. SO much time I have to skate I'll be sweating.

Q. What are the movies you like?
A. Alvin and the Chipmunk, Barbie and the Nutcracker. Dora. Winnie the Pooh. Doraemon. Chota Bheem. But it was scary.

Q. What makes you happy?
A. Getting birthday toys. Getting toys from Santa. Playing with my friends. Helping Mamma.

Q. How can we be happy?
A. Anyway. We just have to enjoy. We have to find out a way to enjoy. Just as... if you are getting bored of skating. Think of it as if you are playing a race. That makes it exciting.

Q. What do you think of life?
A. Meaning? I don't know. It's happy. It's sad. It's whatever we think. When we are very happy we are laughing. That's all about life.

Q. What do you think of your school?
A. School is fun. Playing in the sandpit. All the bestest. We love school.

Q. What are the things you'd like Santa to get for you?
A. I'd like if he got me another wonderful gift. Soft toys. Nice little. I don't know. Bubbles. Jigsaw puzzles.

Q. What are the things that scare you?
A. Someone dressed as a skeleton scares me. Scary dreams scare me. I get a dream. I am going on a platform which ends suddenly. I jump from the end to the road. It's very high.

Q. Then what happens?
A, I get up in bed.

(I laughed. She was not happy with that.)

A. Not funny. Very scary. (I stopped laughing.)

Q. What do you do when you're scared?
A. Nothing. I just feel scared. I feel scared to do skipping. I'll fall or what. I'm very scared.

Q. What makes you laugh the most?
A. Jokes. Yours.

Q. Who makes you laugh?
A. Choudary mama, Ranjan mama, Mamma, Mythily atta.

Q. What makes you cry?
A. Mamma shouting at me. Once I felt sad in school.

Q. What's your favorite story?
A. Three Billy Goats Gruff. Beauty and the Beast. Cinderella.

Q. You like music?
A. Yeah.

Q. Which one?
A. Que La. Diego (in Dora).

Q. If you want to ask god for one thing what would you ask?
A. I want a nice garden with flowers, butterflies. With nectar in them.

Q. What do you think of adults?
A. They take care of us. They help us. And they teach us.

Q. They're good people?
A. Yeah.

Q. And children?
A. Are naughty.

Q. Who do you like playing with?
A. Mansi.

Q. What do you play with her?
A. I don't want to tell.

Q. What books do you enjoy reading?
A. Clifford, Pepper, Bruno, Bubbles.

Q. Who are your favorite cartoon characters?

Q. Why?
A. They make me happy.

That ended the interview rather abruptly. I am not sure if it's the complete one but until I find the rest of it this should do. Thanks Anjali for your insights and honest sharing. Until the next one then!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Chain of Custody - Anita Nair

Anita Nair's second novel in the Inspector Borei Gowda series, 'Chain of Custody', is a worthy successor to the first 'Cut-Like Wound'. It's disturbing - and that's a word one wants to experience in a crime thriller that is centred around child trafficking in Bangalore. Disturbing is a good word, and I think we as a nation need it, to be shaken out of the stupor we seem to have landed ourselves in. Anita brings the reality out of the streets and into our homes and hearts, and I feel that all readers of this book will  be a bit more aware, a tad more sensitive and proactive after reading the novel, towards children and the fragile and vulnerable world they live in.
Inspector Borei Gowda is someone we empathise with a bit more this time. We live with him rather intimately - an intimacy that one feels with a live-in partner. One can sense him (half here, half there in his own private world), really know him and that's a huge achievement really, to get the reader to feel that level of intimacy. We aren't as judgmental as we had been last time about him and his unconventional ways, and we are fine with his blurred-at-the-edges, yet persistent ways. So Borei and his philandering and obtuse manner is less of a distraction this time - and we can focus on the story.

Into the not-so-quiet world of Gowda comes an inconvenience - his maid's school going daughter is missing - and the maid is distraught naturally. These are not good times so everyone fears the worst. There is another parallel string - of a man called Krishna who is ensnaring young runaway children into child trafficking. Children from Bombay, UP, Bangladesh, Odisha find their way into the ring of prositution and slave trade in Bangalore. There's a mysterious thekedar, a rich lawyer looking for a good time, a greedy boy friend, a girl friend who needs pocket money to shop, youngsters with drugs in their rucksacks, violence, greed, lust. All in the world we know well - malls, schools, colleges, hotels, railway stations, airports.

Borei Gowda has to solve a murder, find the missing girl and perhaps link the scattered leads. Will he be able to do so in time, against so many odds?

'Chain of Custody' keeps you on the edge - that is what it is supposed to do - and it does that job well. Beyond that it makes you feel the rage and disgust when it rips open the infected undersides of society we live in, a frequency, a question, an act, away from our own world. You smell, sense, hear and feel the people and places and live them as Anita guides you through the horror, switching on the light, when you don't want to see. There is much research she has done and one wonders at how she goes into these dark aspects that not many would venture into. It's not easy to read, for its brutal starkness and directness, so it must have been difficult to write. Visions will remain after the book is read and that is a good sign for any creative work.

Borei Gowda and his bunch seep through into our souls a bit more. We accept him now with all his flaws and his imperfect endings - there are no fully happy endings - until it all ends finally. (He is now ready to get on screen I feel.) Anita's rage is apparent and she uses it in a controlled manner and lets it simmer. That energy holds all through, keeps it taut. Once in, its a novel difficult to put down.

As a racy story 'Chain of Custody' does not let you down. It grips and entertains. But more than that it educates. I don't think I will be able to look away from young kids who are by themselves at bus stations, railway platforms, traffic signals - I would certainly wonder if they were a Jogun, Barun, Nandita, Moina, Tina or an Iqbal. I would look around to see if there is a Krishna or a thekedar around. That is the greater impact the novel has on the reader.

Well done Anita. The effort, research and intent shows. The skill, as always, shines through.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Thought for the Day - Creative Thought IS Action, Sustain It

To create is to act. 

Creative thought is energy in action - it creates out of the unknown, unseen and unfelt and gives it a shape, size, number, flavor, fragrance. To create it in the mind is tough - but to really bring a fledgling, transient idea to reality - that is really enjoying the fruits of the enterprsie. To see the thought come to reality requires a sustained effort of the same creative action - with increasing focus and momentum.

In my experience, this is where a dream, an idea, a goal could fail - by losing steam in the making-it-come-to-reality phase. We do all the hard work of actually seeing what we desire, what we want to create. And when the time comes to actually experience it in reality, our creative energy deserts us. We see the goal and then we start seeing all-that-will-stop-the-goal from taking shape. We actively negate the creation with our doubts and fears. 

As a result, the creative energy drops momentum rapidly and the dream goes back into being just a thought or at best a half-baked reality. That's not the outcome you envisioned. It's a sad end to it.

An exam, a performance, a desired business goal, happiness even - requires us to sustain creative energy through that bring-it-to-reality phase. I must stay with the thought and with this one question - how can I make this happen? These are creative thoughts and they need to be fed with more momentum by just being there, staying in that space, doodling, reading, planning in that direction (keep away from all that drives you in the other direction or some other direction). Write about it, draw it, see it for most parts of the day and the idea will adapt, will find ways to become a reality.

Many times when we create, we may have to exclude others from the process - just because they mess with the creative energy - simply because they are not tuned into your thought. The creative force or the vision gets diluted. (Think back into your own expeirence and you will know that most such decisions you took required you to step back into your own creative space and create it.)

But once you create the vision you wanted to, you become that, and then it is an experience that others share easily. So I suppose all one has to do is to stay with the creative process, Think of how-can-I-do-this and focus 80 - 100% of your thoughts consciously towards creating that. It should typically happen with so much creative energy going into it. 

It's not as if it is all hunky dory. There will be issues. But you will find the energy and conviction to deal with it. You will also find the process energising. You will not lose sight of the outcome in your mind. Whenever challenged, the creative energy doubles up.

(If it does not, and drops off despite your best efforts, then maybe its not meant for you. You are unable to adapt to the final outcome. You have become larger than the goal. It's time to let go.)

Friday, August 5, 2016

Sunday Cricket Lessons - Surrender to the Guru

These days I love it when I see young kids like ten year old Kapish (and so many more) touch Mr. Baig's feet when they meet him at the beginning of the peactice session or when they take leave. It's such a lovely getsure and really warms my heart to see. It signifies total surrender to the coach. They do it even when no one else does it.

I'd see this gesture in kids from North India - cricketers - when we would play against North Zone as school boys. But South Indian kids were not much into it as I saw. Ego? Class? Education? God knows what but there was always something that held us back from fully acknowledging and surrendering to the guru. We'd all nod, or say Good Morning or whatever and get on with life. I do wish we'd have done this - its a great thing for the ego, for learning.

What's even better is how Kapish's father Mr. Rawat also touches and reveres Baig sir by touching his feet. A few more fathers do that too (mostly North Indian). Kapish plays wonderful cricket for his age (he's the young kid in the video showing the cricket shots) and his older brother is fast improving, but with the lessons they are learning on the cricket field, the effort will certainly not go in waste. They are already on the road to being successful human beings thanks to the lessons taught by their role model, their father, and the respect they have for Baig sir.

Mr. Baig has fifty years of coaching experience and he still shows up first at the ML Jaisimha Coaching Centre. I have not seen dedication and passion like his. This was shot a month ago - he is 80 plus.

His wards are as interesting as he is. Apart from the many now invisible Test cricketers who have passed through his nets, there are several others who still come by to meet him. Like young Aditya Jella, who shot this video and posted it on YouTube out of sheer respect for his coach. Aditya is a leg spinner and a trained cinematographer who learnt his craft at the New York School of Film Making, actor and singer and a wonderful young man to know. (You could check out some stunning videos he has made if you just google his name.)

But to go back to the original story, great to see this aspect of surrendering to the guru. More power to the learning mindset - to learning above everything else.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Thought for the Day - When We Say We'd Even Die But We'll Achieve, We're Killing Our Excuses

Most things we achieve in life - especially those tough ones - are preceded by one huge effort. 'Today I will die but I will achieve it,' is what we tell ourselves mentally.  That day there is a sense of I-will-not-go-back-without-this.

When we say, today I will die but I will take it home, we are putting out a clear intent on what we are prepared for. It's time for the excuses to go. It's time for let's-see-tomorrows to go.

It's time for things to change. It's time that I will make things happen. I will not come back until it is done.

In the face of such intent, its difficult not to achieve anything.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Emma - Jane Austen

Finally one Jane Austen read. This is an omnibus edition I'd picked up years ago with 'Pride and Prejudice', 'Sense and Sensibility' and 'Mansfield Park' accompanying Emma. I decided to read one and picked Emma. It was written in 1815.

Emma Woodhouse, rich, beautiful, intelligent and single (and a bit pig headed and meddlesome one may add) fancies herself as a matchmaker after she successfully fixes the match of her governess to one Mr. Weston. She decides that she will better others lives (a fatal folly I must say that most pig headed people suffer from - I know) and tries to fix up a young girl Harriet with one Mr. Elton. Now there's one dark and brooding Mr. Knightley in the background who directly opposes her every move including the above match. Anyway much matchmaking and failures later it turns out that Knightley had a better understanding of human nature than she. Push comes to shove when Harriet confesses that she actually loves Knightley and Emma realises that she wants Knightley for herself!

The life of Jane Austen (1775-1817) was short at 41 years. Her works  consisted of six major novels. Apparently she saw little fame as a published author during her days with only Pride and Prejudice going into a second edition. She died in 1817 - two books got published after her death. Her nephew wrote a book 'A Memoir of Jane Austen' 52 years after her death in 1869 and that's when she was introduced to a wider audience and found fame. I find the lives of writers far more interesting than their stories. Now why did I not read 'pride and Prejudice' first I wonder.