Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Anjali - It's Your Responsibility

So we have a dilemma or a dramatic situation every other day. Friends, teachers...well too much to handle. Now there is a Diwali meal coming up. Only thing is Anjali's oldest pal and associate at school has been Mansi with whom she plans all her stuff and with whom she has been doing things forever. So Mansi and she have decided to put up a dance show this time and prepped for it. But then there is close pal Divya and another pal Brahmani, so how to accommodate them all.

'I don't think I want to dance,' said Anjali.
'But there are only three days left?' I said. 'What will you do? Will you do the bookstall like last time?'' (They had run a second-hand bookstore last year which was a huge hit)

'But if I say I won't do the dance Mansi will get upset?' she said, all hassled.
'If it matters to you that she may get upset then go ahead and do the dance,' I said.
'Then what about me?' she said. 'What about my like and my dislikes? I should take care of myself right?'
'Absolutely,' I said.
'Then you should tell me to do what I want to do,' she told me. 'It's your responsibility to tell me to take care of myself first.'

Oops. I get what she was saying. She cannot make up her mind and I was supposed to give her a little push across the line with what was right for her. Not a vague suggestion like I had given.

Point to remember. When someone who is in a moral dilemma seeks advise, consider the delicacy of their position and their uncertainty. Understand that even if they are offering to do something against their will, they are looking at you to tell them that it's ok to do what they want to do. Push them over the line because that is the right thing to do and that is what they want. Don't add further to their dilemma!

That is our responsibility.

Monday, October 29, 2018

India Cried That Night - Supratim Sarkar

Supratim Sarkar is an IPS Officer and ACP, Kolkata. A writer and a cricket enthusiast, he has published a novel too. This book, of lesser-known stories of young freedom heroes from the archives of Lalbazaar Kolkata, the HQ of the Police, is translated by Yagnasen Chakraborty. Lovely stories. Amazing men.

Sushil Sen - Kingsford Case
Magistrate D.H. Kingsford, Chief Presidency Magistrate, also known as Kasai Quazi, was a prime target for the revolutionaries in Bengal. Publications like 'Jugantar' and 'Bande Mataram' (published by Aurobindo Ghosh) were inspiring people to revolt against the British. When one such protest was being quelled by the British police, a young boy of 15, stands up and lands blows on the police. He is taken into custody and is sentenced to 15 canes publicly. With every stroke he shouts out loud 'Bande Mataram'. The crowd is outraged at the punishment for such a young boy and a plan is hatched to eliminate Kingsford.

An IED is prepared and kept in a book - as a book bomb. Barin Ghosh, the militant brother of Aurobindo Ghosh, picks Sushil Sen and Prafulla Chaki to follow Kingsford to Muzaffarpur to kill him. Sushil drops off because his father takes ill and his place is taken by Khudiram Bose who with Prafulla Chacki attacks a car with a bomb, but misses, as it is the wrong car. Sushil Sen continues his revolutionary activities and in 1915, while on a mission is shot in both legs. He prefers that his colleagues kill him rather than be captured. He in fact asks them to chop up his body so the British never find his body.

Satyen Basu - Kanailal Dutta - Kill Betrayer Naren Gowami and Save Leaders
In the Maniktala Bomb case or the Alipore Conspiracy Case, 40 revolutionaries including Aurobindo Ghosh, his brother Barin Ghosh and others are arrested, when police finds arms and incriminating material in Barin's villa. One of the revolutionaries, Narendranath Goswami, names everyone including Aurobindo and turns approver for the police. While the revolutionaries are uncertain about what to do, Satyen and Kanailal, who are already in jail decide to eliminate the traitor. They procure a revolver, send information to the well-protected Naren that they too would like to turn approvers, and in the meeting, shoot him point blank and kill him. They injure other officers in their escape attempt and are captured. Kanai does not seek any appeal (what appeal, he says) and goes to the gallows with a smile on his face Huge crowds gather after his hanging and at his funeral. Satyen is hanged 10 days later. By eliminating Naren, the case is shot because there is no evidence anymore. Aurobindo and Barin and several other leaders get a fresh lease of life.

Birendranath Duttagupta - Kills Police Officer Shansul Alam in Courthouse
The plot was to kill police officer Shansul Alam in 1910. The task is planned and given to Biren, who is following Bagha Jatin's orders. He takes the revolver, goes to the court house and shoots the tormentor of revolutionaries, Shansul Alam. Biren is captured as he is fleeing and just before he tried to commit suicide and is tortured endlessly. When his death sentence is pronounced he casually asks if he could eat a kachori, a singada and rasagolla. Biren consistently says he acted alone until he is tricked by a fake news item that his leader Jatin has betrayed them all. He confesses that he acted under Jatin's leadership. Before he is hanged he is told by a kind jail oficer that he had been tricked. The young man seeks forgiveness from Jatin and writes a letter before being hanged to death. Jatin however escapes conviction because Biren's date of hanging comes much before Jatin's case. Bagha Jatin gets a new lease of life, thanks to Biren who died early in a quirky twist of fate, and rights his error.

Habu Mitra - Successful Heist of 46000 rounds of Ammo for the Revolutionaries
The Atonmati Samiti led by Bipin Behari and Anukul are keen to continue the resistance. They need arms. That's when they are informed of an arms consignment reaching Calcutta to be warehoused in the company R.B. Rodda. It's employee Habu Mitra plans a heist. Out of 7 bullock carts carrying pistols and shells, Habu Mitra masterminds and diverts one cart away with about 46000 rounds.  The bullock cart is driven by their colleague Haridas and is covered by other revolutionaries. The loot is quickly distributed by Bepin Bihari and results in massive casualties - 27 deaths and 44 attacks on the British by the revolutionaries. Though the police recover about half the loot, they never capture Habu Mitra who just goes missing. He is never heard of again. Srish Pal directs the planning of the heist.  It was a big blow to the British police.

Radha Charan Pramanik - Robberies to Raise Funds, Hanged for Murder and Robbery 
With weapons, the revolutionaries also needed funds and they started looting funds of businesssmen who were sympathetic to the British. In the first robbery they make away with 18400 rupees and in the second which happens after ten days they loot Rs. 22000. Four revolutionaries are arrested - Hiralal Biswas, Niranjan Das, Patit Paban Ghosh and Radha Charan. Patit and Ram Charan are booked for Arms possession and both robberies. Ram Charan is asked to confess that he acted on his own in all cases thereby allowing Patit, an important member, to go free and continue his revolutionary activities. Ram Charan does as told, becomes the fall guy, and is sent to jail. In jail he contacts an eye infection for which the jail authorities refuse treatment. Radha Charan's condition worsens and he picks up a serious stomach ailment but he refuses treatment as a policy - saying he does not want charity. Radha Charan becomes takes the blame for a crime he did not commit and pretty much dies for the cause.

Gopi Mohan Saha - Attempt to Kill Polce Chief Tegart, Hanged
The tyrannical police commissioner Charles Tegart is the target. A plan is hatched to kill him on his morning walk. Four revolutionaries are in the plan. Gopi to approach and shoot first. If he fails Khokha, and if he fails Julu da and the Anantalal. Before they could set the plan going, Khokha's crude bomb equipment goes awry and causes a fire. The plan is aborted. On January 12, 1924 Gopi Mohan, acts on his own to kill Tegart. He shoots and kills - the wrong person. A civilian named Ernest Day. Gopi is captured and expresses his remorse at the death of an innocent. He is hanged. However, Gopi's sacrifice finds mention in the Congress resolution proposed by Chittaranjan Das. Gandhi who opposes the move as Gopi's act was violent, is outvoted.

Benoy - Badal - Dinesh - Battle of the Corridors - Kill IG Prisons Norman Simpson
Benoy Krishna Basu, a medico, gives up his studies and joins the Bengal Volunteers in the strugle. He launches a daring attack and kills IG Lowman and SP Hodson in the Dhaka Medical College and makes good his escape to Calcutta. There he teams up with Sudhir Badal Gupta and Dinesh Chandra Gupta, an ardent lover of literature and poetry, and plans to kill IG, Prisons, Norman Simpson who is seen as a sadistic cop. The daring idea is to kill him in Writer's Building, the heart of British administration. Armed with revolvers and cyanide, the three youngsters Benoy (22), Sudhir (18) and Dinesh (19), walk into Writer's Building, force their way into Simpson's office and kill him. Then they attempt to escape shouting 'Bande Mataram' in the corridors until they are challenged and hide in the passport office. When overpowered they attempt to kill themselves. Badal consumes cyanide and dies immediately. Benoy and Dinesh, shoot themselves. Benoy survives for a few days and succumbs. Dinesh recovers but is sentenced to death and hanged - shouting out Bande Mataram as the noose is tightened. The papers headlines -'Dauntless Dinesh dies at Dawn'. Known as the 'Battle of Corridors', the three young men daringly took upon the British Administraion in its heart - a symbolic victory for the revolutionaries who struck in the heart of the enemy.

Kanailal Bhattacharya - Kills Tribunal President Garlick and then Kills Himself
Young rookie 19 year old revolutionary Kanailal is recruited by Sunil Chatterjee to take revenge for the judge who sentences Dinesh Gupta to death - Ralph Reynold Garlick. Kanailal has no known history and is trained with use of firearms. He is enthusiastic, knowing full well that he may not be able to escape. On July 31, he walks into the court with a letter in his pocket identifying him as Bimal Gupta who is avenging Dinesh Gupta's hanging - a ploy to throw the police of Bimal's trail. He has cyanide and a revolver. Kanailal executes the plan perfectly and kills Garlick in the courtroom, shooting him at point blank range. When shot at by the plainclothes men, he consumes the cyanide and dies. For 1 year and 3 months Kanailal is unidentified until someone sees a picture of his body in the paper and identifies him. By then Kanailal had done his part and has paid the highest price.

Bina Das - Solo Attempt to Kill Governor Stanley Jackson
The second daughter of Beni MadhavDas, who taught at the Cuttack Ravenshaw College, and inspired Subhash Chandra Bose, is enthusiastic to do her bit as a college student to help India's cause. With help from Kamala Dasgupta, a revolutionary, she gets training and a revolver. Her plan, a solo mission to kill the Governor of Bengal, Stanley Jackson (an ex-England Test cricketer) at the Calcutta University Convocation. As Jackson comes to speak on the stage, Bina rushes forward and shoots. He ducks. She is captured. She is sentenced to nine years. Kamala Dasgupta is sentenced to six years. Bina Das joins the Congress after her release and joins the Quit India Movement and goes to jail once again. She spent her last years in Rishikesh

There is another story - a case of a thief who stole Rabindranath Tagore's favorite pen. Upon recovery the police send summons to the Nobel laureate to come and identify his property. Luckily better sense prevails and he is saved the trouble of going to the court house.

The stories are a grim reminder of the passion and the selflessness of the youth of those days, who were enthusiastic at laying down their lives to protest the British Raj. Their ages - from fiffteen onwards and generally around 18-19 years - in hopeless, suicidal attacks. And another feature was that none of them bowed down to the sadistic torture and told on their leaders and colleagues. All went to the gallows with a smile on their lips and the cry of Bande Mataram. So committed and fearless were they that the Police Chief Tegart is known to have said he wished he had men like Bagha Jatin and others on his side. Fabulous reading. Thank you Supratim Sarkar. Thank you Sagar.

Friday, October 26, 2018

The Dark Room - R. K. Narayan

A short, quick read of 162 pages. We are transported back to the familiar landscape of Malgudi to meet Ramani, secretary of an insurance company and his family comprising of wife Savitri, children Babu (cricket loving older son), Sumati and Kamala. They are well off, with cooks and servants and are comfortable.

Ramani is a complete tyrant and ill-treats his wife and children. But that must have been how things were those days. Savitri hides in a dark room when he upsets her a little more than she can handle. The entry of a new woman trainee, the progressive Shanta bai, derails Ramani off the straight track and he starts spending time with her. One day Savitri confronts him and in a fit of anger walks off and jumps into the river. She is saved by a passing locksmith/handyman who takes her home. A few days of life on her own and she returns. One day she sees the handyman selling his services on the road and wonders if she should call him. But she doesn't.

A nice little twist in the end. Also, it serves as a reminder to how families were then - with fathers behaving like complete tyrants and treating women like dirt. But it's rather incomplete. Shanta bai gets dumped in the middle of the story. Savitri's midnight departure does not seem to bother anyone. Malgudi only appears in its name and otherwise fades. The characters are always at one another's throats, which seemed like an obvious way to create conflict. It never drew me into the story nor into the lives of the characters and once again seemed like the great RKN was extending the Malgudi brand. His heart was not in the story. Avoidable. 

Anjali - Who Should I be Kind to?

An agitated Anjali stormed into my room soon after she came back from school.

'Tell me Nanna,' she demanded. 'Who should I be kind to first? Myself or others? All the time they say be kind to others, give to others? What about me?'

I let her cool off a bit and then said.
'I think one should always be kind to themselves first and only then be kind to others. For the simple reason that we cannot give what we do not have ourselves. So if I want to help people, I should first be in a position to help myself, to have money, knowledge or whatever. Only then can I give to the needy, or to others.'

'Then when should I be kind to others?' she asked. 'If I am always being kind to myself?'
'Kindness cannot be forced. Don't force yourself. When you are kind to yourself, you are automatically kind to the world. But if you are forcing yourself, it means you need to first be kind to yourself. Remember the popular airline warning - first wear your safety device before you help others.'

'For example if I want to help the world, I will be better off building a profitable business which makes lots of money (and make me rich), because I can provide employment to so many people. On the other hand, if I do not do enough for myself and instead try to help people, both me and the people I try to help will struggle.'

She nodded.

Hope it made some sense.

These days I can see a change in the equation a bit. These days there are more dilemmas, more questions, moralistic, ethical. So Anjali asks me these questions, poses moral and ethical issues.

And I find myself trying to explain it as best as I can.

Anjali - Sometimes People Cry to Get Attention

Something about people and feelings and hurt and how we get upset and Anjali suddenly said,
'I think sometimes people get upset just to get attention.'

I said nothing of course. Absolutely true. Wonder why we do that? I also wondered how one should differentiate this 'fake hurt' from expressing 'genuine feelings of hurt'. I tried to explain. .

'Maybe we get upset in the beginning because we really are upset. Then we like the attention we get. Once we realise that it is a good way to get attention easily, we act like we are upset even though we really aren't. But that's a lazy and dishonest way of getting attention.'

'And also, the bigger danger is, we could get addicted to this pity and constantly seek the company of pity-givers, get into a victim mindset and mess up our worldview.'

Sympathy is lousy and makes the receiver weak. Empathy makes sense. Don't pity. Understand. And if you love them, make them strong.

TED Talks, The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking - Chris Anderson

Chris Anderson is Head of TED. He shares his experiences on how to give a good TED talk. Most times, it also helps with other talks. I really liked the examples he gave, which meant there are so many talks to watch again.

Chris says your number one mission as a speaker is "to take something that matters deeply to you and rebuild it inside the minds of your listeners." This is the idea. Give them a mental construct that they can hold on to, walk away with, value and be changed by.

Start With the Idea
Start with an idea. Allow language to build your idea inside the audiences. Communicate motion. The talk is a journey the speaker and the audience take together. You, the speaker are the tour guide. Avoid making talks that are - sales pitches for yourself, rambling, about your organisation and how great it is, inspiration performances which is trying to imitate someone hard.

Chirs suggest that we get our throughline clearly. What's your point? Say something meaningful. The Throughline is a connecting theme that ties each narrative element. It's the central idea that traces the path that the journey takes.

Ideally present just one idea. An idea bigger than you.
"Overstuffed equals underexplained.'

2 Points to Make the Talk Interesting
To make things interesting check for these two points - 1) show why your idea matters and 2) flesh out each point with real examples, stories and facts. Unpack your talk and your point meaningfully.

Ken Robinson, a superstar TED speaker says his talks have this structure 1) introduce the topic, what will be covered 2) context, why it matters 3) cover main concepts 4) practical implications 5) conclusion.

Ideas vs Issues
Chris gives a great pointer to differentiate between issues and ideas (we are sharing ideas here, not issues). He says an issue based talk leads with morality. An idea based talk leads with curiosity. An issue exposes a problem. An idea proposes a solution.

5 tools speakers use
Connection - Make eye contact (find 2-3 friendly faces), walk in confidently, smile (warmly, not fake), show vulnerability, humor if natural and possible), tell a story. Building connection with the audience is very important.

Narration - Base it on a character that audiences can empathise with, build tension in your narrative, offer the right amount of detail - not too much, not too little, end with a satisfying resolution. The goal is to give.

Explanation - Start with where we were, hint at where we are headed, light a fire called curiosity, bring in concepts one by one, use metaphors, use examples. Build one idea upon another logically.

Persuasion - Prime the audience, make the audience detectives. Persuasion is the art of replacing someone's world-view with something better, Use the power of reason to create long-term impact. Use reason accompanied by intuition pumps, detective stories, visuals.

Revelation - Show, don't tell. You could show a series of images, give a demo of the product, describe your vision, take them on a wonder walk

4 Key Elements to Consider Before the Talk

  • Whether or not to include visuals, if so what
  • Whether to script and memorise or plan to speak in the moment
  • How to practice for both types of talks
  • How to open and close for maximum impact

If you are using visuals - use them to enhance revelation, for explanatory power and for aesthetic appeal. In slides, no bullets, no dashes, no underlining and italics. Videos are helpful. Never read from the visual.

Scripted talks
If you are scripting the talk, script, time and rehearse till it is second nature. Chris talks of the 'uncanny valley', a space where you feel you know enough but are not sure if you will remember. He cites examples of speakers who have rehearsed their fully written and timed scripts until it became second nature and gave their talks flawlessly. Aim to complete your talk in 15 minutes so you have some slack.

If you have a full script that you memorised, you could carry some bullet points, or even the entire speech in your pocket. The idea is to refer in case you forget. But whatever happens, never read your speech.

Unscripted talks
For unscripted talks - have a clear structure, anecdotes and examples - well thought out. Again the flow should be clear in your mind and should be second nature. The problem with unprepared unscripted talks is that words could fail you and leave you searching for the right words, you could leave out something important, you could overrun your timeslot.

Whether scripted or unscripted, rehearse multiple times, time the talk and keep at it until the talk becomes second nature. One particular speaker says she practiced the talk while doing another task what required some measure of engagement to get it fully right.

Open and Close
The opening and closing of your talk are the most important, so practice these well.
Opening - be dramatic, ignite curiosity, show a completely slick video, tease, but don't give it away
Ending - give a call to action, camera pull back to pan over the field covered, give a personal commitment, share values and vision, satisfying encapsulation

Once the talk is ready get your clothes etc in order. Nothing too formal like ties and suits. Originally TED insisted on no ties (the previous head actually walked on stage and snipped off a tie when one speaker wore one despite warning). Wear anything you are comfortable wearing.

Get your stage set. Slides (run through once before, have back up plan), whether you wish to use a lectern, note cards, or (gulp) nothing.

On Stage
Before you go on stage, mentally settle down. Breathe, visualise the outcome of the talk - a standing applause, drink water, relax, smile, surrender and back your preparation. Be vulnerable, find friends in the audience or at least friendly faces, smile. Have a backup plan ready and know it cannot completely collapse. There will be nerves, but use your nerves to great effect.

Voice and Presence
Stand tall, comfortably, equal weight on both feet, legs few inches apart, use hands and arms to emhasise. Don't need to walk around, can turn at waist to turn towards the audience on sides. Don't keep hands in pocket (I did for a few moments and then pulled them out). Don't shift and shuffle nervously.

Turn information into inspiration. Speak with meaning.

It is a very helpful book and has several references to some of the great talks which I propose to watch. I will list the same below/ When I was asked to give one, I had problems deciding on the idea, was clear I wanted no visual aids, decided to script fully and memorise, prepared till the last minute, overcame nervousness of forgetting by breathing, visualising a standing applause, backing my preparation and delivered a decent talk. I even wrote a blog about how I survived it.

TED talks are of 18 minutes on stage to present an idea that matters to you. They are usually quite strict about the time and it makes sense to wind up by 15 minutes to account for any lag. There is no room for complacency so better take it seriously, script, prepare, rehearse and deliver a great performance. Thanks Raja.

Some of the great TED talks he recommended and wrote about in the book
Monica Lewinski - The price of shame
Sophie Scott - Why we laugh
Kelly McGonall - How to make stress your friend
Ken Robinson - Do schools kill creativity?
Dan Pink - The puzzle of motivation
Ernesto Siriolli - Shut up and listen
Andrew Solomon - How the worst moments in our lives makeus who we are
David Christian - The history of our word in 18 minutes
Bonnie Bassier - How bacteria talk
Elizabeth Gilbert - Your elusive creative genius
Barry Schwartz - The paradox of choice
David Gallo - Life in the deep oceans
Jamie Oliver - Teach every child about food
Zak Ebrahim - I am the son of a terrorist, here's how I chose peace
V.S. Ramachandran - 3 clues o understanding your brain
Amy Cuddy -Your body language shapes who you are
Dan Pallotta - The way we think of charity is dead wrong
Rita Pierson - Every kid is a champion
Amanda Palmer - the art of asking
Bryan Stevenson - We need to talk about injustice
Dan Dennett - Dangerous Memes
Esther Pavel - Rethinking infidelity

Monday, October 22, 2018

Indore Diaries, Day 4 - Mandu or Mandavgarh

I could have never guessed that Mandu is so beautiful if I had not visited the place. Mandu's greatest tale is the story of the romance between Baz Bahadur and Rani Roopmati which ends tragically with the death of Roopmati. Baz Bahadur fought long and hard for control over Mandu and finally joined Akbar.
Jurassic Park - Petrified trees, not so petrified Anjali
100 kms away from Indore, Mandu is dated to 555 BCE at which time it was already considered a flourishing centre. It was ruled by the Parmars in the 11th century. In 1305 Allauddin Khilji captured Malwa. Timur captured Delhi in 1401 and his governor of Malwa, Dilawar Khan (an Afghan, Ghuri dynasty) ruled the province. His son Hoshang Shah shifted the Malwa capital from Dhar to Mandu and built many of the magnificent structures. The Ghuri dynasty made way for the Khalji dynasty, whose scion, Ghiasuddin, built the famed Jahaz Mahal, to house his large harem consisting of thousands of women. From the Khaljis to the Mughals, when Humayun captured Mandu after defeating Bahadur Shah of Gujarat.
The kingdom slipped from the Mughals and finally came to Baz Bahadur in 1540s - he was most famous for his romantic liaison with Rani Roopmati. Sher Shah Suri's capture of Delhi shifted the power balance. After the second battle of Panipat, Akbar's armies defeated Baz Bahadur. It is believed that Akbar's governor Adham Khan fancied Rani Roopmati which is why he attacked Mandu. Baz Bahadur was defeated and fled. Hearing about the fall of  Mandu Rani Roopmati poisoned herself to death. Baz Bahadur would put together a confederacy of kingdoms and defeat the Mughals and regain Mandu for a short time until he was defeated again and after fleeing for a long time, joined Akbar's service. It is important to know this history because we find structures built by Baz Bahadur, named after Roopmati, a tomb of Hoshang Shah, Jahaz Mahal by Ghiasuddin and so on.
Dino - all alone in Mandu
As we approached Mandu, we first come across a dinosaur park where some petrified trees are preserved. Apparently dinosaur eggs, teeth etc have been found in the area. It overlooks a lovely valley and there is a small museum.
If you want to date a fossil this is how you do it - don't go to Tinder
The Afghan/Persian architecture comes into view as we drive into Mandu and we get a sense of what we have in store. A Jali Mahal shows up, beautifully constructed and well preserved, the fabulous Alamgir gate, more gates and then the steep slope up to the Delhi gate which must have been the main entrance to Mandu. Mandu is a bit like Hampi, but perhaps better preserved and less touristy. There is a lovely lake, and a small bridge leading to a park.
Alamgir gate - Entering Mandu, but there's a friendly guard in green
As we go into the fort we find more and more beautiful structures on either side.
Conversations under the banyan (or whatever) tree
We headed straight to the Roopmati pavilion which is the furthest point in Mandu and perhaps the highest point in Mandu.
Atop Roopmati pavilion
It overlooks the Narmada valley on one side and on the other side looks at the Baz Bahadur palace which is located below the Roopmati pavilion. We parked the car and walked up.
Inside the pavilion
It reminded me a lot of Golconda and its architecture, only better preserved and smaller. We skipped Baz Bahadur's palace owing to the heat and upon Raja's recommendation.
View of the pavilion
We then headed off to Jahaz Mahal, passing the beautiful Jami masjid and the Hoshang Shan tomb within it. Hoshang Shah's tomb was supposedly India's first marble structure and served as a template for the Taj Mahal. It's beautifully preserved.
Complete view of the pavilion
Jahaz Mahal was built by Ghiasuddin for his harem and the vision, scale and detail in execution enthrall you.
Jahaz Mahal - Ghiasuddin's marvellous harem
It's incredibly beautiful, with two artificial lakes on either side and the palace built as if it were a ship sailing those waters.
Atop Jahaz Mahal - lakes on either side
 Behind the Jahaz Mahal lies the Hindola Mahal, which inspired the IIM, Indore structure with its slanting facade. A solid structure that looks like it will last till the end of time.
Hindola mahal - with its slanting side
Out of Jahaz mahal we plonked ourselves in one of those hotels right outside and ate some delicious Malwa cuisine - daal baajle - which they made right in front of our eyes.
Inside the Hindola mahal
Bit like daal bhati churma of Rajasthan. Delicious.
A view of the Hoshang Shah tomb - bad pic, it's a marvellous structure
And then we drove back. An early start would always help if you are visiting Mandu since there is so much to see. It would be fantastic to stay overnight actually. MP Tourism has places to stay. Mandu an absolute delight for photographers many of whom were around. In fact inside the Roopmati pavilion, we found a couple, flanked by several photographers, who were posing lovey dovey pics, all dressed up, embracing one another. The spirits of Roopmati-Baz would be happy.

Hopefully some other time again.

Indore Diaries, Day 3 - Ujjain

We decided to visit Ujjain which is 60 kms away from Indore. Raja had work to do, so we hired a taxi and headed off to Ujjain. We got off early, about 8 ish, and this being Vijayadasami time, found the roads rather empty. A quick breakfast of poha and aloo vada and we were soon on the outskirts of Ujjain. Now Ujjain is an ancient city on the banks of the river Shipra. It was a political centre in 600 BCE and the most prominent in the Malwa region until the British developed Indore as an alternative city. In the 4th century BCE Ujjain (then Avanti) was annexed by Chandragupta Maurya and was one of the four provinces that was ruled by his grandson Ashoka. In the 4th and 5th century, when Vikramaditya ruled Ujjain, poet Kalidasa wrote his famous poems Meghdhoot Ujjain, a religious centre for Shaivites, Vaishnavites and Shakta devotees has some 80 odd temples, each with as much history as the other. The main ones we planned to visit were the Mahakaleshwar temple, one of the 12 Jyotirlings, the Harsiddhi temple, the Ramghat and the Chintaman Ganesh temple.
18th century Jantar Mantar courtesy Raja Jai Singh
We started with the Chintaman Ganesh temple which is on the outskirts, and considered one of the oldest Ganesh temples in India. On the way back from the Chintaman temple we stopped at Jantar Mantar which was built by Raja Jai Singh in the early 18th century.
The guide cum priest cum manager of Jantar Mantar, Lokesh Sharma, was kind enough to explain the instruments and the astronomy.
Lokesh insisted on a family pic
He is a botany graduate, the priest of the small temple on the Jantar Mantar premises and a most affable and helpful young man.
Jantar Mantar - Stairway to the stars
Our driver cum guide Hemant, who is well-informed about everything from politics to sports, then led us directly to the Mahakaleshwar temple. Here one cannot carry mobiles and bags and stuff and you can only carry wallets, so we left all our material bonds with our mobiles and went ahead. It's a long queue that winds and snakes its way down - the Mahakaleshwar temple's main idol is below - the complex is a three storey structure. It took us about 45 minutes to get the darshan - which they say is a quick time. I enjoyed chanting 'Om Nama Shivaiah' all the while inside the complex as instructed. The same with Tirupati where they write all the names of Lord Balaji while walking up and down the steps. One interesting fact - pre-dawn bhasm rituals are considered auspicious. The bhasm is from fresh ashes.
Harsiddhi temple - 1011 lamps are lit everyday
Outside, we found Hemant and also found that it was a pretty hot day. Next on line was the Bada Ganesh temple, which has a massive Ganesh idol. Then we drove to the Harsiddhi temple.

The Harsiddhi temple has two huge pillars in the front courtyard which have 1011 lamps on them. I was wondering how they lit all those lamps on that slippery and tall pillar and thought they used some mechanical way. But then I realised, thank to another timely WhatsApp forward in our usually useless school group about the Harsiddhi temple which I will share here. Its fascinating how they light those lamps. The Harsiddhi temple is the temple of King Vikramaditya's favorite goddess Harsiddhi devi. It has idols of Annapoorna devi flanked by Mahalakshmi and Maha Saraswati and is considered a shakti peeth.
Ramghat across the Shipra
A few moments there and then we made a quick visit to the Ram ghat on the banks of the Shipra river. It was well maintained, clean and serene. It must look lovely early in the morning or in the twilight times.
Another view of Ramghat
The sun was well on our head and we gave up plans of visiting the Kaalbhairav mandir where devotees give offerings of liquor as prasad to the deity, the Sandeepani ashram where Lord Krishna and Sudama studied under Guru Sandeepani. Interestingly there is Rumi's tomb and Kalidas academy (he is from Ujjain too!).

We headed straight back to Indore and into the comfort of our faculty lounge which served some excellent meals as always.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Indore Diaries, Day 2 - Sarafa Bazaar

We managed to convince Raja to come along to Sarafa bazaar which he has somehow managed to avoid in his 5 years of stay. Incredible! I'd be there every second day. We skipped dinner and planned to check out the late night street food - though we did not go very late. We were there by 930 and the shops were being set up.
Sarafa bazaar - Just waking up at 930 pm
Sarafa bazaar is a narrow street that is a bustling jewelry market by the day. Once the shops close at 9, the street is lined on both sides with vendors selling all kinds of street food from dahi bada, bhutte ki kees, gharadu, coconut crush, nariyal pattice, paneer tikka, momos, jalebi, rabdi, paan, ice cream, falooda, gulab jamun, pav bhaji, and so much more. We drove to a lane not too far from it, parked on the road, and walked 10 minutes to Sarafa bazaar that was just opening up. We were helped by WhatsApp which mysteriously sent us a video about Sarafa bazaar and what to eat.
Inside the famous Joshi Dahi Bada House - the famous Joshi doing his famous flip of the dahi bada plate
Anyway, we started out with that sabudana vada, butte ki kees, garuda. Then we walked along until we found the famous Joshi of Joshi Dahi Bada and his inimitable style of throwing and catching the plate without spilling a drop of dahi (it's all over the internet). It's rather filling but absolutely lovely. Should have tried the nariyal pattice there but did not. Next stop at paneer tikka, and then we went down the street and tasted some rabdi, some paan. I managed to down a coconut crush too in the midst of all this.
Anjali and me waiting out for Guru's famous rabdi
Anjali found some chaps selling gift items and bought stuff for her friends. Shobhs picked up stuff from the namkeen chap. And the 10-minute walk was absolutely necessary as we felt quite fulfilled. It must have been a very filling two hours and we somehow missed a few items too! For a better idea, check out videos on the net.

I am going back. Only to eat!

Indore Diaries, Day 1 - IIM, Indore

Purely personal. Raja has been in Indore for close to 5 years now (and has written a blog about it http://rnargundkar.blogspot.com/2018/10/nearing-5-years-at-indore.html) and this is our first visit. What have we been doing? For one, I remember booking tickets and then cancelling them a couple of years ago, planning many road trips but the distance was daunting, and finally, we succumbed to it now.
Golfing lessons
Indore is a quiet town and has among its main attractions two places known for food - Sarafa bazaar which is famous for its night bazaar (starts at 9 pm and is open till 2 am) offering street food (don't miss eating Joshi's Dahi Bada, Nariyal pattice, Makki ki tej, Gharadu, drink the coconut crush, eat jalebi, rabdi, the paneer tikka, the many varieties of paan) and the Chappan Dukaan area (head straight to Vijay Chaat and eat the Nariyal pattice), famous for more food. Other attractions are the Rajwada palace and a few more attractions but nobody is too enthused about them really. The food joints get top billing.
Eye on the ball, hand steady and swing
But then Indore is ideally located and is just 60 kms away from Ujjain and a 100 kms away from Omkareshwar, both Jyotirlings, and 100 kms away from the beautiful forts and structures of Mandu, so one could factor those in too if one is up to it.
Anyway IIM, Indore it was first where Raja is stationed. It's a beautiful and quiet campus, located on a hill which is the highest point in Indore.
Iconic place for pics on the IIM Campus
Actually, it is on the outskirts of Indore and a good 25kms from the airport, in a place called Rau (famous apparently for its large-sized aloos).
We settled in and pretty much ate all our meals at the faculty lounge which serves a decent meal and then explored the place. A large cricket ground where we practiced some golf swings, actually Anjali did. We checked out some nice eating spots in Rau - Celebrations one day and Papaya Tree on another. Not to forget the humongous and very sweet sitaphal that grew on trees in Raja's backyard.
The world is a stage, and we are all actors playing a role
Between all this, we managed to read books, listen to music, sing on his karaoke and get lots of shut eye. Perfect holiday. 

Anything to Look Hot - Jas Kohli

Jas Kohli is a plastic surgeon who loves astronomy and writing apart from the good things in life. He writes this book as a novel, very thinly disguised, because it appears to be pretty much his story with names changed. So we meet Dr. Dhruv who gets a PG seat in Plastic Surgery, meets a lovely intern and woos her, goes to Mumbai and sets up a brilliant plastic surgery practice, meets all sorts of people with all sorts of problems - journalists, actors, actresses, even a gangster who consult him for liposuction, aesthetics, enhancements, tightenings and what not. Quick read.

A quick look into the word of plastic surgeons, and their patients. Interesting. Impressed with Srishti Publishers as always.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Dave Barry is Not Taking This Sitting Down - Dave Barry

Hilarious. Makes you burst out laughing every now and then and so often that you don't know whether it is good for your health or bad. That's how much and how violently Dave Barry makes you laugh. The master. Loved it.

Probably the only writer I will take care to check out the time and the situation before I start reading because once we read there is no controlling the laughter. No jokes.

Thanks Vinod for introducing me to Dave Barry and thanks Raja for lending me the book to read. 

Sun Mere Bandhu Re - The Musical World of S D Burman - Sathya Saran

A prince who leaves his family home in Tripura and heads off to Calcutta to explore his passion for music. A push, a nudge and then a marriage by choice. Unhappy with the way the new bride is treated back home he vows never to go back and instead moves to Bombay to try his luck in the Hindi movie industry. And so begins a journey of a man devoted to his craft, who gave everything for his music. He composed for over 100 films, many of them superhits. Guide, Devdas, Pyaasa, Aradhana, Shamilee, Mili, Sujata, Aradhana, Tere Mere Sapne, Chupke Chupke and many more. Just reading his filmography makes one nostalgic.

For a prince, he was a careful man, could live austerely, and was very disciplined with his music. Even his music was done with only as much as was needed - any extra singers, musicians were paid and sent back. His partnerships with Guru Dutt, Dev Anand, Ashok Kumar, Kishore Kumar were legendary.

Sathya Saran writes the biography in a different manner. Very interesting. The person shines through very clearly, and his passion for his music. I was inspired to listen to all his big hits after reading the book. That's a good enough response I should think.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

MeToo - A Conversation and a Thought

Very clearly all men are uncomfortable with the #metoo outpourings. Most seem to feel that the women in question should not bring stuff from so long back out now. Some say, why didn't you take it up then. All sorts of stuff - but definitely got everyone thinking about sometime or the other when something inappropriate might have been done or said.

They Should Have Slapped Them Then
I had this conversation with my friend. He was clear that women keep cribbing about men but want equal rights etc. He feels they should shut up. They are doing it for publicity and perhaps some gain. They are shaming guys after all these years.
'So let them speak up,' I said. 'Listen to them. Why do you have a problem about them speaking?'
'Why should they?' he said. 'It's irritating.'
'If something happened to them and they want to talk about it let them,' I said. 'They are only sharing what they experienced. They are not asking for apologies or for action against these people. At least they have a right to express what they experienced.'
'No,' he said. 'They should shut up. If they wanted to do something about it, they should have done it then, not now.'
I asked him what his discomfort was. 'Why are you so uncomfortable in even listening to them. Let them feel better and get it off their chest.'
'They should have slapped them then,' he said.
'They wouldn't know what to do. Who to speak to. How to handle it until it was too late. It took them so long to pick up the courage to say it was wrong. Can you just listen at least now?'

The 70 Years Misrule, Men Are Under Threat Narrative, 
In the same breath, my friend is also a big supporter of how the Congress misruled us for 70 years and how they should be taught a lesson. Or even Trump's 'men are under threat from women who make allegations,' narrative. To me, in both cases, people in power are cribbing about being the victims which is not done.

Now how can the same men who feel so victimised by the past regimes of over 70 years vintage say the women should have slapped the perpetrators. In that case you should have protested then when the governments were misruling and not now. Now there is no ground for complaining about some misrule that happened then right? But you want to be the victim there and you want to be the victim here. On the whole this is a story of men trying to be the bigger victims. And trying to be macho about it.

I found it difficult to identify that thread earlier but now I got it. All macho men who crib, are actually cribbers and victims.

Anjali - How to Stay Focused

I was telling Anjali how despite the best intentions of losing weight I always go back to overeating or exercising irregularly. She heard me carefully and then told me gently how she prepared for her exams this time (with her OKRs).

'I stuck some nice messages for myself all over the place so I don't lose focus,' she said. 'In my books, on the wall, in my bag etc.'

'Wow,' I said. 'That's the way to do things if one is serious about it.'

'Yes,' she said warming up. ' And I told myself that I will not go and watch TV or play. It was so difficult but I held myself. Only after I finished my portion did I got to play. It's a great feeling then Nanna, because you feel like you have earned it and you play more happily than if you played without finishing your portion. You always feel happy if you can delay that happiness a little.'

Hmm. What was that study about delayed gratification and success? You got that right kiddo. And you have results to prove so I cannot argue with that. Now, where am I with my OKRs?

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying - Sogyal Rinpoche

Sogyal Rinpoche guides us through this book, to make us aware of, to prepare us to the reality of death which we so naively, complacently ignore. It is the Tibetan way so there are many Tibetan practices that h refers to. Several of my doubts have been cleared through the book, using my own cross-references to what I have learned, read or experienced. It took me more than a month to read.

Denying Death
When we deny death, he says, the effect goes beyond the individual. Since we believe that death is final, we do not have a long-term vision, engage in plunder, which we would not do if we knew we would have to come back and pay for. The concept of rebirth and life after death is fundamental to this book and he dwells a bit on both.

We can use our lives to prepare for death because death is the beginning of another chapter, the mirror through which the entire meaning of life is reflected. There are states we go through, after dying, called bardos which are changing realities, an intermediate stage between death and rebirth. We die, hover around our body without realising we are dead and stay in that confused state until we realise we are dead, which is when we get the dead consciousness, and then depending on our state of mind and to some extent our karma, attain rebirth, not necessarily in human form. Sometimes we just hover.

Using Life to Prepare for Death
Life can prepare us for death. Simplicity, discipline and meditation are likely to make us better prepared for death. We are all born to realise and to learn, to share more love and more loving. Our life purpose seems to be to learn to love other people and to acquire knowledge.

Practice Non-Grasping
The root of all problems is grasping. We must practice a non-grasping way of living. The only thing we can hold on to is impermanence. Letting go is the path to real freedom. The only thing we have is now.

Two things we must always ask ourselves - that every moment I am dying as everyone else is, and so I must treat all with compassion. Am I pursuing enlightenment because my understanding of death and impermanence have become keen.

We are all dying says one master. Diseases like cancer are warnings to remind us that we have been neglecting deep aspects of our spiritual needs. If we take this warning seriously and change fundamentals the direction of our lives, there is a very real hope of healing, not only our body but our whole being.

Nature of Mind
To prepare better for death and after death, we must understand the Nature of Mind, our true nature, through meditation. It is the gap when we are free of clinging - a gap we must try to prolong as long as we can. We have two minds - the ordinary mind of duality and the Nature of Mind, primordial, Rigpa. When one is enlightened the space inside merges with the space outside. There is no duality anymore.

To end distraction is to bring the mind home to its true nature. Meditation is bringing the mind home, to realise and to relax. Sogyal gives ways to meditate - the practice. Sit erect with back straight is most important Gaze into an ocean. Eyes open. Let is expand. You can use an object, a mantra, focus on breath. Do it without effort. You must experience an absence of thought. It can become a part of your daily life.

Karma is action. Whatever we do with our body, speech or mind will have corresponding reactions. The effect of your actions depends entirely upon the intention or motivation behind them. Wise selfish people think of others, help others and as a result they too benefit.

The Four Bardos
Bardos are transitions. There are four bardos - the natural bardo of life, the painful bardo of dying, the luminous bardo of the dharmata and the karmic bardo of becoming. At the moment the body is left, we are offered the greatest possible opportunity for liberation. If at this moment we can recognise the Ground Luminosity, we attain liberation. Normally we pass through without recognising, unless we are practitioners. The practice of Dzogchen, a state of total awakening, prepares people best to deal with these transitions when they arise. It involves two practices - Trechko (cutting through delusion with fierce, direct thoroughness) and Togal (quality of immediate realisation).

Helping the Dying
In death, people need practical, emotional and spiritual care because they are at the most vulnerable point of their lives and are about to lose everything, their body, their possessions. They are confused and clinging. This is the point when they need unconditional love, compassion, listening, so make them comfortable and peaceful. Make death a peaceful, transformative process he says.

When we are with people who are dying he suggests we establish an unafraid, heartfelt communication. A dying person is weak, feels insecure, is grasping. Be relaxed. Relax any tension naturally. Let them speak of things they want to. Encourage them. When they are communicating their most private feelings, do not interrupt, deny, diminish. They are most vulnerable. Listen, receive in silence.  Touch them. Look into their eyes. Hold.

A dying man once said 'I was looking for someone to look as if they are trying to understand me.'

Tell them not to worry about any unfinished business. Tell them that all will be taken care of after they are gone. they have one enough and can go peacefully. Give two explicit verbal assurances - give them permission to die and reassure the person that you will be alright after their death and there is no need for them to worry

After Death
After they are dead, leave the body undisturbed for as long as possible. Talk positively. Let them die in peace.

There is a practice of Toglen where we take on their suffering and give them our happiness. The most non-grasping of them all. And then there is the practice of Phowa to help the dying where one visualises the consciousness merging with the greater consciousness of the Buddha.

The practices, the meditations, all prepare us to deal with the states of life, death, after death. There is a way to sleep when dying, on the right side or in the sleeping lion posture. There are detailed descriptions of what one would encounter at each stage - the outer dissolution as the body slowly ceases to function and stops, the inner dissolution, the black experience, the Ground Luminosity, the bardo of becoming.

Pray Mindfully with Right Intent
The period after death - from seven days to 49 days are when we can help the person the most through our practices and prayers. The first three weeks even more so. Pray sincerely, compassionately and they will benefit whether they just died or whether they died a hundred years ago.

The book gives many ways to prepare oneself for death and in doing so also live better. Some questions like what happens to those who die due to an abortion (they travel once again through bardo states until rebirth, and they need the same purification practices, seeking of forgiveness if the parents feel guilty, helping others, sponsoring humanitarian and spiritual projects). Suicide attracts negative karma while organ donations is good karma. So go ahead and donate your organs - I am planning to.

In essence, this life of ours is valuable and precious and we must use it well. What we do in this life will determine what happens to us after. Life and death are all a creation of our own mind but our habits and patterns guide us. So discipline, meditation, can help us use the knowledge of the bardo states to seek liberation. It is a practical guide and makes immense sense in how one can help those dying, how one can help those dead through prayers and practices, how one can prepare for one's own death and mostly, how one can life better and thereby prepare better for death.

Practice non-grasping to start with.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Telangana Food Festival - Complete Scam

I saw this poster on a bus advertising the 'Telangana Food Festival' - 12-14th October. I was excited. I wanted to check out authentic Telangana Food. Anjali made me promise her that I would take her to that festival and on Saturday evening we began an arduous journey from Nizampet to People's Plaza in totally unforeseen traffic along with Harsha and Mythily. It took us an hour to get there.
Including price of bouncers of course!

The food festival was inside a huge tent-like structure which was a let down because we thought it might be an open-air affair overlooking the Husain Sagar lake. The entry tickets were priced at Rs. 50 which was rather steep and we were frisked by proper bouncers who are normally wearing black and seem about double the width of the average person. Why bouncers like it was a pub or something?
Telangana di ice cream - Feast!
As we entered we found an SBI stall. Serving authentic Telangana food perhaps. And then a series of authentic Telangana stalls - biryani, Ankapur chicken, Marathi Katta, a Telangana di Punjabi Rasoi, Patisseries, tandoori chai, Ahobilam sweets, millets, some water of a questionable brand being sold at 30 bucks a bottle. Where was the Telangana food dude? Or did I miss Telangana di KFC and Pride of Telangana McDonalds?
Buy some authentic food, buy a car and zoom off!
The middle portion of the tent was marked off for some second-hand cars. There were a few chairs to sit around which were in heavy demand. I drank some tandoori chai at Rs. 50, tried some vada pav (very spicy and tummy achy) and decided that enough was enough. Anjali ate some ice cream embellished with some stuff.

Very very disappointing and a huge let down for anyone who believed this was about authentic Telangana food. It was downright unethical to advertise it as Telangana Food Festival. I checked the Telanaga tickets and found that one Spartans media was in cahoots with the Telangana Tourism to promote this scam. Complete nonsense.
Better views, more air, more space, better food!
We stepped out and found much better stuff outside - ambiance, bhutta, chai. What a waste. Spartan and Telangana Tourism, please pull up your socks.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

A Lovely Review of This Way is Easier Dad by Komal

I really liked this review because Komal absolutely 'got it'. Got the intent even - that small voices matter and we must listen to them.

That's more than I could have ever wished for any reader with this book.

Thanks Komal.


Andhadhun - Movie

Sriram Raghavan is slick and brilliant. He is always ahead of the audience. Can never guess a twist or a turn. Quirky and well-rounded characters make it so much more interesting. Edge of seat stuff. I like the silence after the movie as you can hear everyone's mind whirring about putting all the pieces into place and seeing if they fit in. Hmmm. Loved his Johnny Gaddaar and now this. Tabu is sensational and Ayushman brilliant. Not to forget Radhika Apte who makes it all look so easy and good. Go watch.

Gumnaam - Movie

An old 1965 Manoj Kumar-Nanda classic. Murder mystery based on Agatha Christie's 'And then there were none'. Mehmood is brilliant and its the longest I saw Helen in a role. Good fun!

Column in the HANS - The Great Divide

Friday, October 12, 2018

Anjali - We Take Things for Granted

We were driving back home when this old lady came to ask for alms. She looked pretty haggard and old and worn out. I gave Anjali some money to give her because she was on that side of the car.

While we were pulling out Anjali said 'She smiled when I gave her the money.'

I nodded.

'Must have been hungry,' she said. 'She looked happy.'

I nodded again.

'I feel we take so many things for granted in our lives,' she said after that. 'Look at her life and her hardships. She has no home, no money, no food. Instead of being grateful for what we have we keep saying we want more, bigger house, bigger car.'

I nodded again. Bang on. Be grateful for what you have. Good place to start.

Batti Gul Meter Chalu - Movie

Lovely Uttarakhand dialect with every sentence ending with a 'bal'. Sharp, witty dialogue which is sometimes too sharp and too witty and almost makes the characters one-dimensional caricatures. Nice theme about an apathetic electricity service provider. Promised much but went the familiar route. Shahid is brilliant, Shraddha is good. Good view of Tehri!

My Musical Notes 8 - PinkFloyd "The Wall"

The first version I heard of this iconic album was from a cassette that my good friend Dr. Satyanath Patnaik (or to all of us, simply Mani) gave me. This was early 80s. I was amazed that people could make music like this - such different sound, so radical and clearly political. This music was not just about entertaining, it had something to say. They said then that it was banned in India, but after checking the net I find that South Africa had banned the album and the song 'Another Brick in the Wall'.

For a novice just starting out, Pink Floyd breaks all conventions. 'Another Brick in the Wall', 'Thin Ice', 'Hey You', 'Mother', 'Empty Spaces' grab you. But what you can listen to again and again year on year, decade on decade, is 'Comfortably Numb'.

After 'The Wall' I listened to several of Pink Floyd's albums. 'Division Bell', 'Dark Side of the Moon' were certainly those that caught my imagination. But more on them when I come upon hem later.

20 years after I first heard 'The Wall' I attended a Roger Waters show at Bangalore with Kiran (we drove down and drove back) and was amazed at the professionalism, the care and passion that goes into their craft. How could anyone sing what they wrote and sang twenty years ago, when they were youngsters, with the same emotion, passion? I decided then that is what I would like to be like. The lasting memory of that concert - it winding down with 'Comfortably Numb' in an ethereal setting under the Bangalore skies and the image of a fan lying down and soaking it in, eyes closed, behind the screen right in front of the stage. He didn't want to see them, he just wanted to hear the music.

'Comfortably Numb', 'Another Brick in the Wall' and 'Hey You' are my favs from this album. There have been many many evenings spent on 'Comfortably Numb' which is an anthem song for all those high spirited evenings with the boys and will probably remain till the end of days. Usual suspects that I enjoyed it with are Kiran (as recently as last week), the irrepressible Anil Menon and several other victims of mine when I was handed the keys to the music.

Thought I heard it first from Mani's tapes, my first possession of this cassette came when I picked it up from a music shop in the shopping arcade outside World Trade Center in Bombay in 1994-95. The shopping centre had a bookstore and a music shop and I would walk in every payday and buy one cassette and one classic book to read. This cassette was one of those golden collections.