Monday, July 30, 2018

Thought for the Day - The Still Mind Sees More

In the hustle and bustle of our life where we are so focused on the past and the future, it is the person with a still mind who can see reality, who can act with a clear mind.

In the midst of the madness, stay still.

Sunday Cricket Lessons - Do Something Different

Over the years and months of the Sunday nets, I focus on one aspect that's troubling me and it works, but it does not work all the time. Perhaps the ball, the state of mind, the physical condition, but there are times when I am absolutely toothless as a bowler. Hampered by a sore hamstring which appeared close to snapping last week, I slowed down considerably (from an already very slowed down version) and kept it on the spot. Just barely keeping it honest with no pretence of trying to force an issue with the batsman.

But yesterday, sore hamstring and all, I was hoping to finish bowling for the mandatory hour or so, when I remembered a slinging action of Imran Khan in some recent video. The bowling hand came down in a slinging motion, beginning the bowling action in a vigorous manner than merely setting it up, and thereby improving the loading position, the release and the follow through. A couple of deliveries and I knew this would work well for today and after a long, long time I could make an old ball talk - move in and move out, cut off the wicket, at will and troubled all the batsmen. Edges, LBW, bowled, all off a short, careful run up so as not to upset the sensitive hamstring.

I am glad I tried the different approach on a whim and that it worked so well.  Now to test it out again next week. But the principle - to try something different (to trust your gut) when nothing else works. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Tumhari Sulu - Movie

Sulochana is a feisty housewife who is constantly trying to keep up with her 'successful' sisters and is consequently thinking up schemes to make money. Quite by chance, she lands a job as an RJ, a late night show 'Tumhari Sulu' where she doles out relationship advice. Sulu's sultry 'Hello..' becomes a rage with her listeners just as her pragmatic and common sense advice does and the show becomes a hit. Sulu starts making money and earning fame. But will the family accept this version of Sulu?
Nicely done. Vidya Balan is perfect as Sulu. Very watchable.

Mahanati - Movie

A movie based on famous superstar Savithri's life. Keerthy Suresh did a fabulous job as Savithri and Dulquer Salman was equally good as Gemini Ganesan. The movie had its moments and we get a peek into her life, but it left me feeling rather depressed which is not what I want to feel after watching a movie about such a person. The truth may have been told but my take on biopics is that they should be guided by the overall image of the person that is left after a lifetime of living - not just the juicy and dramatic parts. Samantha with her stammer was quite difficult to handle.

Hotel Transylvania 2 - Movie

In part 2, Mavis (Count Dracula's 118-year-old daughter) gets married to a human Jonathan (who looks and behaves like a school kid which is how humans behave anyway) and they also have a small Jonathan-like kid named Dennis. Drac is unhappy that Dennis is showing no signs of being a monster and sends the parents away to somehow coax the monster out. Dracula's father (Mel Brooks) arrives - a human hater and completely old school. Is Dennis a human? Or a monster? Or both?

Drac and his monster friends find out.

Hotel Transylvania - Movie

In the runup to see Hotel Transylvania 3, I watched 1 and 2. Hotel T is owned by Count Dracula for his monster friends like Frankenstein, Mummy, Invisible Man and some others in a human-free environment. His daughter Mavis has turned 118 and there is a party. However Jonathan, a human traveller, lands up and threatens to steal Mavi's heart.

I liked it and gave Anjali a thumbs up.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

My Musical Notes (Disco 80) - Part 4

The four pillars on which my musical journey began were Man Machine, Chilly, two tapes that I lost, ABBA and Best of Disco 80. The last mentioned cassette had an iconic cover, the back of a bald man's head with stereo phones on. 

The biggest hits were Stay the Night by Billy Ocean, Funky Town by Lipps Inc and Mandolay by LA Flavour. 'You're ok' by Ottawan, 'Tom Cat' by Gilla, 'Body to Body' by Gepy and Gepy, 'You know me, I know you' by Dan Perlman were the others.
Hours were spent listening to this cassette, especially Funky Town and much later I realised the kind of a monotonous beat and unimaginative lyrics which consisted of 'Won't you take me to Funky Town' repeated all over again wasn't the best. But it was huge then and we cannot forget the many hours of pleasure it gave us.

The sheer unimaginativeness of the names of the songs is crazy. But that's how life was in 1982. 

And how Disco slowly came into our life. It was pure rhythm, no attempt at sophistication and all about the feeling. Youngsters loved it.

Friday, July 27, 2018

My Musical Notes (The Magic of ABBA) - Part 3

It is incredible that after all these years I still have the original cover and the tape and when I peep into the inside of the cover find that I actually wrote my name, date and place of purchase. Even I am shocked that its 36 years gone and I still have a well-preserved piece of history with me. In fact two.

The Magic of ABBA, which I bought with no hesitation at all first with songs like Dancing Queen, Take a Chance On Me, Waterloo, Ring Ring, SoS, Fernando, Mamma Mia, Voulez Vous, Chiquitita and we knew the lyrics of every single song. My favorite among the lot is 'Waterloo' closely followed by 'Ring Ring' which I distinctly remember Asha playing when as a medico she did a guest stint at Yuvavani.

A favorite memory was playing ABBA over and again on a New Years Eve. We were still in school and wanted to celebrate - did not know how - and possibly bought some potato chips (the ultimate symbol of rebellion) and orange juice, played ABBA and slept at 11.  And an ABBA night at Parth's place a few years ago in Pune.  I rediscovered 'Tiger' which made a big impact in "ABBA the movie".

My all-time favorite was 'Eagle' a song with a dreamy sound and many hours have I spent in All Saints looking at the eagles and kites flying high above and imagining ABBA's song and a flight to freedom. However 'Eagle' took some time in coming into my possession. For now these wonderful songs!

At around the time of this cassette I had just cleared my tenth exams, attended a one-month long cricket coaching camp conducted by the BCCI for the South Zone Under 19 players by Mr. Rehmath Baig, (who is still my coach). I remember it being a tough camp but I was totally changed physically and  skill wise. I became a good outswing bowler from a predominantly inswing bowler and became fit enough for my sister Mythily to exclaim - 'Wow, you look so fit!' 

College as in Intermediate which was seen as a breeze by the backbenchers awaited me. Freedom, cricket, ABBA, growing up years and all seemed well with the world. Life never looked as easy and as high as then.

Talk On Motivation and Team Building at MCRHRD

Dr. Madhavi from MCRHRD, Jubilee Hills, a training institute of the Telangana Government, invited me to conduct a session on 'Motivation and Team Building' to a batch of Urdu Officers who joined the Telangana government a fortnight ago. It is a fine initiative by the government to provide access to 44 lakh Urdu speakers in the state, to communicate and reach out to the government in their language. The role of the officers would be to translate, interpret Urdu applications between the public and the government. I believe it is a wonderful initiative and a very sensitive one at that since Telangana is the second largest in terms of Urdu speaking population after Bihar (85 lakh) according to Prof. Nabi who briefed me about the participants in a clear and concise manner. There were about 60 participants, two-thirds being women which was also so heartening to see. But what was most heartening was their desire to bring Urdu back to its former glory and make it accessible and equal to the other languages and also present themselves as an efficient and integral part of a governance far removed from the old inefficient ways.

Dr. Suresh introduced me to the participants in a spacious hall with all the facilities one could ask for. Considering that the session covered two topics I split it and we covered 'Motivation' in the first and 'Team Building' in the second. A brief outline of what we covered.

I started by telling them that I stopped calling myself a motivational speaker because 1) I find it difficult to motivate myself many times and 2) to motivate someone is commonly misunderstood as to make them do something 'better' than what they are doing. This insinuation that they are not doing a good job in itself is demotivating. No wonder people say that motivational speakers actually end up demotivating their audience. So I said I would limit myself to share my insights into motivation - something I need to do as a writer which is a lonely job that requires lots of motivation. 

I assured them that they were all doing a great job, with the best of intent and desire, and whatever we discuss will be to add a perspective to organize their effort.

Can we all be motivated?
Could we all be "motivated"? Motivated people were high energy, optimistic people and not all were made like that. We wondered if we all had the same energy that these motivated people had. The participants were not sure. 

We did an exercise. I asked all of them to get up and meet as many people as they could with low energy as if they were not interested in meeting them at all. They all playacted - low energy, no eye contact, limp handshake, low voice, dull demeanor etc. Then I asked them to meet as many people as they could as if they were meeting an old friend after twenty years. There was high energy, loud exclamations, big smiles and hugs all around.
The takeaway: It's the same energy and the same people. What changed was the context I had set. Which means that they could set a context for themselves every moment and carry that high energy that motivated people do.
To do: Set your context to be high energy, to double your enthusiasm before any work.

Why are we not highly motivated?
We examined this aspect. We are all doing the best we can. We want to do well, we want to win praise and awards. We come with full access to the same energy as highly motivated people have. But we put a filter of fear - that we are not good enough perhaps. Or a filter of doubt. And these two filters of fear and doubt compromise our effort considerably. In fact, we put a lot of energy to suppress the motivated energy we already have simply because of our fears and doubts and end up being dull and lifeless.

     But have we all been motivated before?  
     I asked the participants to share their success stories when they went past their own fears and doubts. They shared stories of how they cracked exams, left jobs and made a living, studied through great obstacles and succeeded. Stories of human endurance and will. 

We discussed how when we have a cause big enough, when we are tired of status quo, we go past our doubt and fear. It's a decision and we could decide again and again. I told them all to hold on to that one story when they overcame fear and doubt and run it through their head. All success stories have the same formula. 

What are the stories we are running through our head mostly?
We listed 5 Positive and 5 Negative messages we heard from others in our lives. Bad cook, imperfect, proud, irresponsible, angry, impetuous ...On the positive side there were responsible, honest, good cook, achiever etc. 
We wondered how one bad comment seems to affect us more than any number of positive messages. Our stories are typically built around the negative messages. However, we must remember they are stories and not a fact. It was an interpretation of an incident. They would be better served if they built stories around their positive messages and started believing in them

We looked at the story we tell ourselves about ourself based on these fictions we heard? But we could rewrite our story, our context. We could work without interference.

Performance = Potential - Interference (fear+doubt+stories told by us and others) 

Short-Term Energy vs Long-Term Commitment
     To motivate means to find a 'motive' strong enough to move us. I impressed on them that my job was to help them find a deeper motive that will stay with them for life. A long-term, lifelong purpose that adds meaning to their lives. Not something that will fade away in a day or two. 

     We watched the TED talk - 'Start with why' by Simon Sinek to understand the importance of first knowing your why. His golden circle of 'Why, How and What and the many examples he shared were discussed.

I narrated the Cathedral story - of how three different people, working on the same project, have different levels of involvement simply because their purpose is different. For one its just work, for another its fun but for the third its the greatest work.

We tried to find their individual purpose, something long term, something they envision as having achieved at their retirement, the impact they would have made to people through the job, through their life work. They wrote their individual purposes - to completely fulfill their role and expectations, to be generous and kind government officers, to make Urdu equal in status to the other languages and bring it back to its past glory, to make it an accessible language for people and for the government, to help those who need and not suffer like they did, to reach out to as many as they could to help using their new authority and position etc.

The idea was to look at a 20-30 year perspective and make this job their life work. If the purpose is clear in their mind, they will go through a lot of doubt and fear because the end is clear. It may not always be easy but they will have a guiding light with a clear purpose. 

I shared the Selco story to underline how impact is seen many years later.

We ended the session on motivation by reminding us of three key takeaways and practices 
1) Always be clear, aware and be guided by your WHY or your bigger purpose
2) Be aware of the stories and the context you set for yourself every day and rewrite them to keep your energy and motivation high

3) Make your purpose the most important thing in your life and work at it ceaselessly every day, first thing in the morning 

         We all want to be bigger than we are. But to achieve great things we cannot do things all by ourselves. We need teams. We need good people.
     When the team wins – we win, we grow. With good teams we grow bigger than what we can grow by ourselves.  Bigger the vision and the goal, bigger the preparation and our growth, bigger the impact. 
    We watched a short video of Arnold Schwarzenegger endorsing the same idea.

One thing I observed that affects the making of teams is our reluctance to meet people. As leaders or team players, they need to practice three behaviors or the 3 As  
1) Acknowledge people  
2) Appreciate 
3) Ask for help 

Practicing these three behaviors would help them grow quickly as man managers, leaders and as professionals. 
·        Acknowledge everyone. As Dale Carnegie says, the most important person in the room is the one who is introducing himself to everybody. I asked them all to meet those people in the room whom they have not met and introduce themselves. 
·        Appreciate other people generously - as a practice find something good in people to appreciate so that your focus shifts from what is not there to what is there. Also to appreciate and praise is a key aspect of a good leader.
·        When you ask for help you are putting your ego aside, you are being vulnerable, you are allowing the other person to feel useful and you are building connections.

Characteristics of Great Teams
1) Common purpose
We discussed the importance of a common purpose and how teams are bound tightly by their purpose. Since they all had already worked on their individual purposes we tried to arrive at a consensus on the team's common purpose. 

It came out something like "To improve the accessibility and use of Urdu between government offices and the public from the existing 1-2% to about 10% by the end of the year." The quality and reach of the service, the specifics of making it happen in their office were to be penciled in by each one but it was a good start with some metrics. 

We tried to imagine how a team with no common purpose looks like. Participants pointed in different directions depending on their cross purposes. This exercise just drove home the point of how disorganized the effort could be if the common purpose was not made clear and with their consent and participation.

2) Culture 
Since the purpose or the WHY was done, we looked at the HOW. How we do things as a team? We briefly discussed values – the things our team values. The team values are its boundaries. When practiced they become behaviors and represent that culture. Culture is a set of consistently practiced behaviors. A good culture forms a strong team that can resist and withstand pressure and performs consistently.

I proposed a few values that could help them grow their culture. 
·         Learning culture - Based on Dr. Carol Dweck's book 'Mindset' about Fixed and Learning mindsets
·         Interdependence and support - Acknowledging that we are part of the whole, to appreciate, praise, support
·       Asking for help, being vulnerable and making deep connections 

Highlights of the book ‘Mindset – The New Psychology of Success’ by Carol Dweck-          
Anything can be learned. Hard work and growth-oriented learning is likely to take you closer to full potential than simply relying on 'talent'
Intelligence is not fixed. One failure or success does not define you. The more you use your intelligence the better it gets. The person
Challenge and interest go hand in hand. The harder the challenge the harder you work.
Better to keep pushing limits each time, than giving up. Push limits a bit each time without lowering standards. Focus on preparation and effort.
High standards and a motivating atmosphere bring high results.
Growth mindset is about hard work, high standards and equipping oneself with the right tools to handle the process and guide them.
As teachers/ coaches, give process feedback and a growth framework. Know that everyone can learn, be tolerant of mistakes, do not judge, show the process, ask for commitment and full effort, give respect, coach and develop potential.
To change from Fixed Mindset to Growth Mindset – 1) Ask for help, 2) do small acts that change things, 3) work on beliefs and mindsets and 4) get process orientation. 5) Get over the-world-owes-me and denial (as in my-life-is-perfect syndrome).
Push gently to find something harder to do when something is easily achieved. Champs work the hardest. They constantly challenge themselves.
Learn and help learn.
High effort and high risk. Low effort has no chance.
Success is learning, not about proving that you are smart. It is about stretching, about self-esteem, learning, preparation and effort.
Fixed Mindset Characteristics
Growth Mindset Characteristics
Desire to look smart
Desire to learn
Avoid challenges
Embrace challenges
Give up easily
Persist in the face of setback
Get defensive
Seek help to find ways to improve
See effort as fruitless
See effort as the path to mastery
Ignore useful negative feedback
Learn from criticism
Feel threatened by others successes
Find lessons and inspiration from others success
Plateau early and achieve less than their full potential
Reach even higher levels of achievement as a result and get closer to potential

Interdependence and support 

Acknowledging that we are part of the whole, to appreciate, praise, support and grow the team members.

Asking for help, being vulnerable  
We discussed how a lot of our energy is expended in suppressing our 'shadow sides' or the parts of us we do not accept. We may believe it is something to hide. By doing so we are putting a lot of effort in hiding a part of us which compromises us. However, if we are vulnerable and ok with not knowing or not being perfect, we can easily ask for help, we can easily get help. As in the video above, when the young kid starts crying, he is being vulnerable and the whole crowd knows he wants help. It was not a bad thing to not know, to be insecure and vulnerable.

 Google Study on Perfect Teams and Psychological Safety 
Though we did not have time to discuss this I will share it. These are the highlights of a study that Google had done on perfect teams. Their findings in ascending order - 
  • They were clear about the Impact they would make
  • They wanted Meaning from their work,
  • There was a Structure, 
  • They knew they could depend on one other to do their job - Dependability 
  • and most importantly Psychological Safety - They could trust the team to open up, share their ideas and thoughts fearlessly. To aspire for a space of psychological safety one must build an atmosphere of trust. 

The World Needs More Secure Leaders
While at this point we spent some time on why I take time out to speak or write. I feel that the world has too many insecure behaviors which are compromising it. In my opinion, secure people are those who can accept themselves as they are with their imperfections, their failures, their lack of knowledge. Then they are ready to start. 

The moment you say 'I don't know' you are opening up to learning, to help. If you stay stuck and try to hide your lack of knowledge, you are postponing the inevitable. This trying to hide is what causes insecure behaviors. My fervent hope and expectation is that all 60 Urdu officers become role models and leaders who are secure in their space and influence thousands of people they will interact with their learning mindset, with their secure behavior. 
      Secure and Insecure Leaders – Some differences
For a secure leader the team comes first - (For an insecure leader personal glory comes ahead of team)
SL facilitates great work by trusting and growing others - (IL controls people, has favorites and manipulation)
SL knows what they know and what they don’t - (IL acts like they know and no meaningful growth or learning happens because of that)
SL Learns – asks  -  (IL not open to learning – My way or highway)
SL allows others to dissent (IL tries to control response or rejects dissent )
SL grows and coaches others - (IL grows only himself)

We also looked briefly at the other HOW - in increasing efficiency at work and connected that to their growth. 

Evolution of leaders
To grow in the organization they had to be aware of how a leader evolves.
- Excels at role given
- After achieving efficiency and completing work, helps other team members by coaching and guiding
- When the opportunity to take greater responsibility comes even without the authority, puts up hand
- Leads effectively when given a leadership position
- Becomes a Level 5 leader who grows other leaders in the organization 

For those who are interested in a fine talk by Brene Brown and Anatomy of Trust (TED Talk)

The key takeaways of the day.
To stay motivated - know your why, be aware of the stories you tell yourself and make the purpose your most important thing every day.
To facilitate great team work - set a common purpose, work at setting a great culture and make deep connections to make the team bond closely.

I am certain the participants will do great work, make a huge difference and influence many lives along the way. 

Many thanks are owed to Vinod for introducing me to MCRHRD, Dr. Madhavi, Dr. Nabi, Dr. Suresh, Sandeep and the staff at MCRHRD. I enjoyed myself immensely.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

My Musical Notes - Chilly "Come to LA"

Some more details on the record player times will be added but we now have to move past the radio and the record player into the next big invention that got music into my life firmly. This was a cassette player that my father bought - a single cassette, single speaker box, made by who else, but Phillips. This was a big shift for Dad, who was the great experimeter at home anyway, and I suspect his decision had to do with his younger brother Dr. Ramaswamy, a huge music buff and a wonderful raconteur. Anyway, they came back from a visit and the box was home.

At this moment I can definitely recollect the one cassette that they bought along with the box. It was a collection of the most maudlin songs by Mukesh and am certain my uncle liked those songs. I did not like the sound of those songs because they were sad to say the least. There was great excitement at the homestead at this new toy but we had only one cassette to play. To rectify the situation, my sister Mythily got some money, pocket money or did my parents gift her I don't know, and told me to buy some good cassettes while coming back from school. I went to HMV near Annapurna Hotel on Nampally Road and bought 'Grease' for no reason but the fact that I recognised Olivia Newton John (our Yuva vani connection) and one of those songs from the radio (You're the one that I want!). I picked another cassette too but don't remember which. Many were the days that we spent listening to Grease and the other cassettes but we all knew that it was not the real thing. I realised right then that I never really did a good job of choosing for others - mainly because I cannot seem to think about them and only think of myself.

Sometime in between Abba the movie happened. And then came the trip to Bangalore with the Under 15 team which meant that there would be some money given to me to use as I pleased. I saved up my money ( a feature of all my cricket tours) and waited until we won the tournament and on the last day of the tour, dragged my partner in crime especially in areas of music, Vidyuth, to Brigade Road and spent all my money, minus auto fare on four cassettes. And gave me a high like none other. Four cassettes with about 48 songs to listen to.

I could not wait to get home. ABBA's Greatest, Chilly's - Come to LA, Kraftwerk's - Man Machine, and the Best of Disco with Funky Town by Lipps Inc. ABBA, I still have after all these years (that was in 1982 - 17th May so it must have been during our summer camp).

Chilly, I saved and saved, with its songs 'Come to LA' and some other wonderful numbers (Sunshine of your love, Sacrifice, Springtime - a lovely ballad). It was only five years ago when Sanjay, who came down from USA, saw the tape and borrowed it with promises to return and never did. I think I remember all those who borrowed music and never returned, books I forget but music, I don't. I wasn't too attached to Kraftwerk and questioned my sanity in buying that.

Best of Disco had some fabulous numbers. Funky Town was the most popular. Now to find the tapes from the box. 'Stay the Night' by Billy Ocean, 'Mandolay', 'You're ok' by Ottawan, 'Tom Cat' by Gilla, 'Body to Body' by Gepy and Gepy, 'You know me, I know you' by Dan Perlman. The sheer unimaginativeness of the names is crazy. But that's how life was in 1982. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

My Story, Part 2 - Dr. Nalini Nargundkar

Chapter 2 of the story.

1934 - Jaipur
We did not have electricity in Jaipur. I think we got electricity in 1934. Till then we were using kerosene lamps. We used to cook on coal chula or kerosene stove.
In 1934 Jaipur had its first cinema theater. I saw my first cinema in theater in Jaipur. I think it was Raja Harishchandra or Achhut kanya.
In 1934 on 14th December Shashi was born in that house. One day when Shashi was crawling she went to mother who was making tea on the stove, the boiled tea was kept on the floor where Shashi reached and before mother could pick her up, Shashi hit the tea-pot and spilled the hot tea all over her body and got badly scalded. It took quite some time for her to recover from that accident.
Another thing in Jaipur was all tongawallas at Jaipur station used to bring any Maharashtrian family getting down at railway station was asked if they want to go to Oak sab’s house and invariably they used to come to our house. That way we used to get plenty of visitors in Jaipur who used to come to see Jaipur. It had almost become a tourist guest house. Those days there were no servants in the house. Only one bhisti used to be there, who used to bring water from across road from a public tap. He used to bring water in a leather bag, called pakhal, tied to his back. We got taps in our house, for the first time after we went to big bungalow next to zoo.   
Pune Days
In 1936 we landed in Pune on the Tulashi-lagna day. We had rented a house opposite to my grandfather’s {my mother’s uncle, N. C. Kelkar’s house} in Sadashiv peth. I started going to Bhave School along with my cousin Leela. She was in 3rd class, I was in second class. That was my first experience of school. On our way to school, every day we had to face lot of cows and buffaloes. It was very frightening. But I managed it with the help of Leela.
In those days traffic was almost non-existent. So, one day we went to Laxmi road, bought one tricycle and Indu and I came home on Tilak road riding on the tricycle. Indu was very fond of wearing saari. That too, nine-yard saree. So, one day Akka took us to market and bought us one sari each. as soon as we came home, Indu wore that sari. Next day it was put in the water and all its colour gone. So Akka returned my sari. Anyway, I was not much interested in wearing sari.
In Pune there was electricity and there were number of cinema theaters. We saw quite a few Marathi pictures those days.
While we were in Pune, thread ceremony of my cousins Gajanan and Vinayak took place. It was the first time I saw such ceremony. A big pendal was erected. Lot of relatives and guests had come. we enjoyed it a lot. That was the first time I saw and met my grandparents and babumama. That was also the first time we enjoyed ice-cream.
Kelkars had a very big courtyard next to their house. We used to play cricket and vitidandu there.
In that summer we met Mai mavashi and her family in Pune. They normally stayed in Nagpur.  Brought out one As Nagpur is very hot in summer they used to come to Pune for the summer holidays.
 We had one atya in Pune those days. Her name was Varanatai. One day we went to see her. She was living in a small room. She entertained us very well. There was a small tin lying about. Shashi was playing with it. Shashi liked it very much. She asked Atya can I take this tin home? Atya asked her why do you want that tin? She said she wanted it to drink buttermilk. Atya got very emotional. She said your atya is not so poor. She opened one trunk and brought out one silver droni. e. a bowl shaped like a leaf bowl. Shashi brought it home happily and for a long time she used it for drinking buttermilk.
Our Pune stay was short, but very memorable. We met lot of our relatives in Pune whom we had never seen or met before. First time we came and stayed in Maharashtra where everybody was talking in Marathi. It was new to us. In Jaipur everybody outside our house was talking in Hindi. There were only a few Maharashtrian families where we could talk in Marathi.
Kolhapur days
Next year we shifted to Kolhapur where my aaji and bhaukaka were staying. First, we stayed in Shiralkar’s house for a few months and then shifted to Deo’s house on main road. Kolhapur jail was very near to our house. Laxmibai girl’s high school and Rajaram college were also very near to our house. When we left Jaipur, tai was left in Ahilyashram school in Indore. After we shifted to Kolhapur tai came to Kolhapur and joined high school there. Mai also joined the same school. My primary school was a bit far away. But I met a few friends staying nearby who could come with me to school. I did my third class there.
Kolhapur was not a very big town those days. The central jail was very near to our house. Mahalaxmi temple is famous in Kolhapur. There is a legend that it was erected overnight. It is a very big and beautiful.
There was a film studio near our house, just outside the big veshi i. e. a big stony gate of old town. We saw some pictures in tent as there was no cinema hall those days. Like that, we saw one picture in Panchgani in tent called Kunku. We had been to Panchgani to visit Dattukaka, Akka’s uncle. Panchgani is near Mahabaleshwar, a hill station.
While we were staying in Rahalkar’s house, one evening when Akka was cleaning kerosene lamps, to be lighted at night a big nagoba i. e. a big snake was sitting coiled in the corner of the place where we used to store all our lamps in day time. Akka got frightened and shouted for help. But before anybody could come the snake went away and we were saved from a big calamity.

When we shifted to the house on main road, that house belonged to a Deo family. Incidentally it happened to be Ramesh Deo’s family who became a famous film star later in life. Those days he was also a school going boy. There were three brothers and one eldest sister called Indu. She used to make big jowar roti i. e. bhakari on hand roast it on tawa and later in wood chula. As in Jaipur we never ate bhakari.It was a great fun to watch her make it on hand. Later on, Akka started making it on parat or polpat. 

My Story, Part 1 - Dr. Nalini Nargundkar

Dr. Nalini Nargundkar, 89 in a fortnight, has a clear memory of her journey from the town of Amalner in Maharashtra to Jaipur, Bihar, Vellore, Pune, Kothagudem and so on. This is the first chapter of her story, of her childhood.

Will add some pictures as and when I find them.


My Story
 Dr. Nalini Nargundkar

I was born in 1929 at my grandmother’s place at Dhule.
I spent my childhood in Jaipur. We went to Devas in 1936 where Manik was born. There I went to a school for a few days. But, it was just a time pass. My kaku sent me and mai to school so we should not trouble her. But it was a fun for me, Mai did not like it.
My real schooling started after we left Jaipur and shifted to Pune in 1936 after Diwali. I joined second class in BHAVE school. Then we shifted to Kolhapur in the month of May 1937. There I did my third class. My father who had gone abroad after we left Jaipur had returned to India and taken a job in Amalner. So, we shifted to Amalner in 1938. I did my schooling and college upto inter-science in Amalner. After that I went to Pune for my medical college. I passed my M.B.B.S. from B.J. Medical college in 1953. After that I went to Vellore for my house-surgency. I stayed there for one and half year till the end of January 1955. After that I worked in Pulgaon maternity home for a few months. In October 1955, I joined Central Hospital Dhanbad in Bihar. I stayed in that area till November 1961.Then I shifted to Kothagudam in Singareni collieries Andhra Pradesh. I worked in different hospitals like Bellampalli, Ramgundam and retired as Additional Chief Medical Officer in 1989. Since then I am staying in
Jaipur Days
I remember quite a lot of things from Jaipur days. We used to live in the market place in a three-story building. Ground floor was shops of rangaries. They used to dye cloth or clothes. First floor was for Dada. He used to have his office and his bed room in one wing. On the other side of staircase, it was children’s wing, where we used to play, sleep, study etc. One day I was following tai to her study room, when I fell down in a staircase which was closed and not in use. It was full of junk. I got injured when a they had to take me to the hospital as I had become unconscious. It took quite some time for me to recover completely. Earlier to this time, when I was too small Tai carried me to the terrace of the house and put me on the parapet wall and I fell down from there two floors below on the first-floor chowk. That time also I had injured myself and had become unconscious. It took a long time for my complete recovery. In the same house Indu was born. I still remember Akka lying with a small baby, that was Indu.
Next year we shifted to another big house in Mishrajee’s galli. Three stories plus terrace. there were thirty-two rooms in the house. On the ground floor my father used to have his club. His friends used to come to play cards and carrom. Some of the other rooms were used by servants. We used to live on the first floor. Second floor was not in use. Once only a room there was used when my father had imported lots of oranges from Nagpur. We used to go to that room whenever we wanted and eat as many as we liked. It was a great fun.
While we were staying in the same house, one afternoon while we were having our afternoon tiffin, all of a sudden, the house started rocking, the utensils started falling. we did not know what was happening. we started crying, calling mother. She came and pacified us and told us not to worry. It was earth quake. That was my first experience of earthquake. Next time I experienced much later while we were in Kothagum in 1962 or 63. That we felt earthquake in the night while we were having our dinner. We ran out of the house with the children. We stayed out of the house the rest of the night. Soon the electricity also disappeared. We felt many more attacks of earthquake the same night and the next day too. But all of them were mild. So, no harm or any damage was done.
Next, we shifted to a big bungalow when my father became principal of the college. It was quite huge with very big garden and big compound. There were pink roses for the border. A basketful of rose flowers we used to collect every day. They were used for pooja on the first day. Next day we used to take out petals, crush them a bit, add crushed khadisakhar or plain sugar to it, put it in a glass jar, put it with a lid and put it in sun for a few days and we used to get gulkand. This way we used to get lot of homemade gulkand which we used to eat in summer. It used to be nice and cooling.
In our back yard we used to grow lots of vegetables. In winter we used to have lot of cauliflower and green peas. We used to have aloo, mutter gobi as vegetable quite often for our lunch or dinner.
While we were staying there, I used to get lot of boils all over my body in summer. Akka used to give me neem patta juice every morning to drink. It used to be very bitter. My mother put multani mati all over my body. When it dried up she used to bathe me by cold water of the well.
In winter it used to be very cold. We used to keep milk with sugar in an open vessel on the terrace at night. Early morning the next day, we used to churn it. A lot of thick foam would come on the top. Which we used to call amrut and eat it very cold. It was very tasty.
While we were there I got one big boil on my left arm. It burst open one day and formed a big ulcer. From that ulcer lot of pus used to come out. I was going daily to the local hospital for vaccination dressing. But it was not healing. Ultimately our driver took me to a zarra i. e. one hakeem. With his dressing and medicines. It healed completely in a few days. It left a big scar on my arm like a vaccination mark permanently.
There was a big zoo next to our house. There was one big well with mot for drawing water, separating our house from the zoo. First night after going to that house we were very much frightened when we heard the roaring sound of lions and tigers. Then slowly we got used to it.
There was a very big backyard. We used to grow lots of vegetables there. We had lots of big Neem trees under which we used to play in summer afternoons. We had plenty of Phalsa shrubs near the fence. We used to pluck and eat as many as we want.
In Rajastan, there used to be Ramleela around Ramnavami. One year we enacted Seeta haran in our garden. Tai, Mai and I had become Ram, Laxman and Seeta. One of our friend had become Ravana. He picked me up and carried me to Lanka I. e. behind a big tree. Then Ram and Laxman come to fight with Ravana and take away Seeta after killing Ravana. It was a great fun.
We used to have plenty of monkeys in that area. One day, the door of our storeroom was left open by oversight. So, lots of monkeys entered the storeroom and ate a bagful of groundnuts. Those days we had to shell out groundnut seeds at home. Whoever wanted sago khichadi had to shell out a cupful of groundnuts.

Induction Ceremony at Aurora College

Dinesh Akki called me and asked if I could attend an orientation ceremony at Aurora college. Whenever it's a school or a college I agree without even thinking and said Yes. Then Dr. Kanthi called me and told me it was an induction program for the first years with a few other guests and some music and dance. New students and their parents would attend the function at RTC Kalyana mandapam. I was game. I was asked to prepare to speak for about 20 minutes. On the D day young Tarun, an upcoming Kabaddi player and a Science student, articulate, bright and full of ideas and plans came to pick me at home, dressed in a jacket and by himself and gave me a hint of things to come.
Dr. Jasveen Jairath, Prof. Venugopal and Me on the dais
But it was only when I went to the venue that the full impact of how well organised the event was, dawned upon me. The entry to the huge RTC Kalyana Mandapam at RTC X Roads was well decorated with flowers and looked no less than any top class ceremony. There were NCC cadets in uniform at the entry who escorted us like we were some state guests.

Dr. Kanthi, Dr. Ravi Nambiar and the Principal Vishwanatham Bulusu were there to receive me. I was escorted into the hall fully packed with about 2500 students, parents, alumni, faculty, media etc. Skits were already on to entertain the guests while the Chief Guest Prof. Venugopal from Osmania University and Distinguished Guest Dr. Jasveen Jairath, Founder of Save Our Urban Lakes movement, arrived. Dr. Ravi kept me delightful company as did the others, the captains plied me with snacks and drinks. Dr. Jasveen Jairath arrived and I told her how I had seen her on TV speaking fearlessly about the Asifa murder in that short byte on TV that went viral and how much I admired her guts. She spoke about her passion, Save Our Urban Lakes, how she, a BITS Pilani graduate and her husband, an IIT Kharagpur graduate, settled down in Hyderabad 30 years ago.

Dr. Venugopal arrived soon after and the program got underway. A traditional dance, seating the guests on the dais and lamp lighting and a few alumni spoke very confidently and in glowing terms about the college. After the Chief Guest spoke about what the college offered, what was in store for them, the rules and regulations that govern them, Ms. Jasveen Jairath spoke about how the students should be fearless, take up environmental causes and go beyond just academics into being leaders in society.

I spoke about how I was asked frequently about why I did not make it beyond Ranji Trophy into Test cricket and likened my first day in the Ranji Trophy dressing room to the freshers first day here. On that day we were all equal and had equal opportunity, just like everyone in the hall, the topper and the last man, had equal opportunity to do what they desired to succeed in these years at college. I told them that I faltered because I had no goal beyond the Ranji Trophy and that compromised my effort and preparation. So they could learn from my mistake and think of a goal for themselves - a big enough one - so they could prepare accordingly.

Then I spoke about what comes between our goals and us - our fears and doubts - and how we could somehow get over those fears and try to be the fullest people we are meant to be. I gave them the example of Dr. Jasveen Jairath and her fiery speech on TV and how we need more such people in our society. If they could get past their fear they could use their time and energy well and do something about what they wanted to become. In this journey, I said they were better off exploring what they did not know with the simple three-word mantra 'I don't know' which could open a lot of avenues of learning. I kept it short because we were already short of time. The secretary Dr. Ramesh spoke with great fluency in Telugu and spoke of a relevant part of the Ramayana, wishing the students the focus, strength and resilience of Lord Hanuman. A fine folk song by the youngsters, a vote of thanks and we ended with the national anthem.

I was very impressed with the college, the culture, the care and concern, the planning and the execution. All of us were. They are sticklers for discipline and insist on 75% attendance, give the students the freedom to express, provide avenues and facilities and have great faculty. Impressive work by the management and faculty of Aurora College and here's wishing them and the students all the best.