Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Arts Management at the Department of Dance 2019

Another year of teaching Arts Management at the Department of Dance, University of Hyderabad. It was the biggest batch I have seen - 16 of them. The department offers a course - Masters in Performing Arts - and caters to two dance forms - Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi. The faculty is accomplished - Pasumarthy Ramalinga Sastry, Anuradha Jonnalagadda, Sivaraju and Aruna Bhikshu.
Standing - Aashlee, Aiswarya, Sreeshma, Sindhu, Me, Amalendu, Datta, Radhe, Tejeswini, Usha
Kneeling - Sravya, Jui, Roshni, Amrutha

Every year students come from Kerala's Kalamandalam, Kalakshetra, Potti Sriramulu University, Bengal and other places in India. This year also we had similar representation.

The course is rather simple - it's about managing your career in arts. So we first look at our approach to learning itself (Mindset by Dr. Carol Dweck), learning methods such as 'How to become an expert' (HBR, 10000 hours theory) and Josh Kaufman's 'How to learn anything in 20 hours'. We look at why it's important to know our purpose 'Start with why' by Simon Sinek.

We set goals - short, medium and long term. This being a field of art we look at the rest of their life as learning so long term is typically 20 years. One of the ideas we get across is that it takes time and practice and that seems to reassure the students to know they can get from A to B by doing X and Y. Deconstruction of their art form importance of feedback in their growth, using OKRs to execute their plans, planning stage shows, improving their network are all dealt with.

On the management side we use the 4Ps to market themselves and their institutions, personal management, financial management and event management. We delve into preparation - skill, physical and mental. We briefly discuss beliefs.

I start with the objective that I would like them to take 100% responsibility for their careers, be fully secure (as in knowing what they know and also knowing what they do not) and knowing the way to move forward.

As always, the most satisfying part of the year.

Age is Just a Number - Ajji Get her Passport Renewed at 88!

Anjali's grandmother in Pune, Dr. Nalini Nargundkar is 88. When we went to visit her recently she showed no signs of wear and tear. She was up to receive us at 3 in the morning, offered to make chai, made a thousand plans for breakfast, lunch and dinner, pulled out snacks and sweets and fruits and generally tired us all out with her activity.
Card games! 
Her routine is still the same. Gets up early, does her yoga and pranayama, has her coffee, walks into her garden and picks up those beautiful white flowers, watches news on DD, does not miss the daily horoscope on some Marathi channel and so on. When the bell rings she is first off the blocks to get it, wants to do everything herself. She lives alone so she probably got used to it.

Twice or thrice a week a gang of four members comes home and they all play bridge. I have seen many of her partners over the years and they have a jolly good time. She yells at her partner after every game. She loves doing puzzles, does not give up on those ever. She reads Mills and Boons and Agatha Christies. She wants to learn every new therapy she undergoes. She teaches stuff to Anjali - cards, Marathi etc.

There are her favorite Marathi serials that she watches, and she is very interested in the IPL games. A few years ago she told me her philosophy about the house - The house if there for me, I am not there for the house. So she keeps it the ways she wants it.

The other day she was telling Shobha that she needed to go to get her passport renewed. The rest of us were amused and Anu asked her where she was planning to go. 'If I feel like it, I need to have the passport no?' she said. She got the passport today.

If there is one thing I would like god to give me a bit of, it would be this spirit of hers. way to go Ajji!

Saturday, April 27, 2019

The Scarlet Pimpernel - Baroness Orczy

It's a tale of historical fiction published in 1905, set in the times of the French Revolution. Several French nobles were facing the guillotine and their only hope is one unknown Englishman, who with daring and ingenuity, is spiriting away some of them. He only leaves a symbol - a flower - a scarlet pimpernel.

The French want their hands on him. They search for him in England. They even blackmail Lady Marguerite Blakeney, a Frenchwoman, married to an English lord. Marguerite is considered the cleverest woman in Europe while her husband is seen as a dull man who is rich and nothing else. Things begin to happen when Lady Marguerite's brother leaves behind incriminating evidence and she is called on to help the French in finding the elusive hero, the scarlet pimpernel.

Good fun story. At least now I know what this term means.

Voting Season

So we are back to the voting season which means we get to see pictures of people's fingers. This is exactly the syndrome we are seeing now - go to vote, put photo, go to work, put photo etc. The voting storieI heard or saw are interesting.

For Ramu, our istriwala, it was a party. Fellow must be some 70 but he got nicely drunk on all the parties that were thrown in his village prior to voting. Don't know what he did but he seemed quite happy about the partying. His wife was not.

Kabir went for a day from Mumbai to Baroda to vote which was nice. I read in the newspapers that a Goan boy comes all the way from New York to Goa to vote. Our voting at Hyderabad was pretty simple and organised. However this time the parties or the candidates did not seem to care too much for us - no one asked me for my vote. Not a single guy. They seem to have it covered without it.

My friend Chandrahas came to Hyderabad to do a piece on the voting season. God knows what happened to his piece.

The story of my 89 year old mother in law is interesting. She is enthusiastic about everything so I asked her if she had voted in Pune. I was surprised to hear that she had not. I asked her why she had not. 'The voting centre is a bit far. But that's not the problem. We have to wait for half an hour and I don't have the strength to do that. What is most difficult is that the centre is on the second floor. I cannot climb. So I did not go.' Her younger sister Shashi maushi who lives next door and Baburao, Shashi maushi's husband who are also around that age also did not go to vote.


Second floor? No lift? Half hour waits for eighty plus year olds? And no one is bothered about it?

I am getting this feeling that just like mine, even their votes are covered. I do not subscribe to the fact that they should ask for help etc etc. I think that the state should provide them the facilities, if there is some way, communicate with them. Instead of telling us how valuable our vote is and asking us to vote, reach out to people like them and tell them how they can vote. How come the state can reach out to them for taxes but cannot reach out to them to communicate about their vote?

Anyway, another election done.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Andaz Apna Apna - Movie

Rajkumar Santoshi's 1994 classic ranks in the top three funny films I have seen in Hindi - 'Jaane bhi do yaaron', 'Chupke chupke' are the other two with 'Angoor' following close behind. So when we planned to watch a funny film last evening we voted for this and laughed our guts out.
Was amazed to hear two things ...one that it was a commercial flop and two that it was made from a Telugu film called 'Allullu Vasthunnaru'. Brilliant - if you like slapstick comedy.

Monday, April 22, 2019

The Sunday HANS - Colony President Forever!

How Subbu plans to be Colony President forever!


The Spirit of Lagaan - Satyajit Bhatkal

This book was lying with me for a long time and I finally picked it up to read. It made me feel all that the movie did, and more. The real story of the making is far more interesting - like Sholay's was.

Starts with Ashutosh Gowariker, two flops old, pitching the idea to Aamir Khan at 3 am in the parking lot of Aamir's house. Aaamir trashes the idea, tells Ashutosh not to waste his time and work on something else. Ashu is devastated but sticks to his vision. He works on the idea and develops the script with a couple of collaborators. Back to pitching the idea and Aamir asks him if he can find a producer for the film without a star. Ashu cannot. Finally Aamir listens to a full narration and decides to produce it himself.

They decide on a single schedule and to do it professionally. Ashu is given freedom and money and he chooses the location in Bhuj. Other department heads are finalised - Anil Mehta is DoP, AR Rahman is music, Javed Akthar is lyrics, Bhanu Athaiya is costume design. Srinivas Rao is the ED. They bring in Apurva Lakhia as AD. Sets are built - cricket pavilion, ground prepared, a village is built, ten thousand extras organised, elephants, horses. British crew of forty. A place is hired in Bhuj - an apartment block which is modified to their comfort. The film is ready to be shot.

Weather, many other variables, combine to make the shooting difficult. It goes beyond schedule. What was originally four months is now six months. But it is done with great difficulty, physically and emotionally and the film is edited. Comes to five hours and then three hours. That's where it stops. Ashu cannot cut any more without compromising his vision.

When it is released, Lagaan becomes a classic.

I remember the feelings I went through when I watched Lagaan in Vimal theatre in Hyderabad with Shobha and my nephew Avinash and it was like nothing else I had experienced till then. Reading the book made me feel all that. In fact ever since I put the book aside I have been humming 'Chale Chalo'. It's very well written by Satyajit Bhatkal who was on the set all through. Now to watch the movie again.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Anjali - Don't Think So Much

We were to make one minute videos wishing our friend Rajesh Janwadkar on his birthday. Shobha and I made very self conscious videos - shot by Anjali. Her video, she shot it quietly by herself in her room. Anjali made a simple one where she spoke honestly, clearly and mostly without being conscious.

'How did you do it so well?' I asked.

'You must not think so much Nanna,' she told me. 'I did not make any points and just said what came to my mind. Of course you must think sometimes but for these things you must not.

Hmmm. Be spontaneous. When will I ever learn to be?

Anjali - Back, The Ego is Back

I was telling Anjali how I gave her letter to the Park Hyatt people so they could in turn give it to David Warner. 'I never asked anyone for an autograph but for you I put my ego aside and gave your letter,' I said. She had written a letter to her favorite Sunrisers cricketer Warner and instead of posting it, I decided to drop it at the hotel reception since I went that way.

'If you won't do it for me who will you do it for?' she asked. I agreed with her and proceeded to tell her that I would not do this even for myself blah blah.

'Back,' she said and chuckled.

'What?' I asked.

'Nothing,' she said.

I continued on how I never asked anyone any favour.

'Back,' she said again and chuckled.

'What's this back, back?' I asked.

'Your ego is back,' she laughed.

So it is.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Early Indians - Tony Joseph

It is a well-researched and well-written book on who the early Indians were and where they came from. The earliest homo sapiens have come from Africa. Then there are migrations from Iran. Then there is the Harappan civilisation. Tony Joseph also tries to answer questions about who the Harappans were, who the Aryans were and when did the caste system begin.

In the simplest form he compares it to a pizza - the foundation was laid 65000 years ago when Out of Africa migrants reached India. Then came the sauce when Zagrosian herders from Iran reached Balochistan after 7000 BCE, mixed with the first Indians and together built the Harappan civilisation. When the civilisation fell apart pieces of it fell all over the subcontinent. The Aryans came after 2000 BCE. All that came later have little effect on the pizza.

Joseph says genetically there is little or no difference between the castes and they belong to the same gene pool. He has several interesting arguments.

Interesting read. Got me interested to visit Bimbetka, Dholavira. Thanks Krishna Prasad garu. 

Free Solo - Movie

Brilliant. National Geographic's documentary on free soloist Alex Honnold's quest to climb El Capitan. Free solo is a form of mountain climbing with no aid, equipment, harness at all. A mistake and you die. Honnold says he likes the perfection of the situation - anything less than perfection and it's the highest penalty. The picture in the poster is real - Honnold climbing with bare hands.
Thanks Shrinjay.

KGF - Chapter 1 - Movie

Well it's not the greatest. But it's not really boring. However I will skip the next chapters. Tired of superheroes.

Friday, April 12, 2019

John Wooden's 12 Lessons in Leadership

12 Lessons in Leadership

Here are John Wooden’s 12 lessons in leadership:
  • Lesson #1: Good Values Attract Good People
  • Lesson #2: Love Is The Most Powerful Four-Letter Word
  • Lesson #3: Call Yourself A Teacher
  • Lesson #4: Emotion Is Your Enemy
  • Lesson #5: It Takes 10 Hands To Make A Basket
  • Lesson #6: Little Things Make Big Things Happen
  • Lesson #7: Make Each Day Your Masterpiece
  • Lesson #8: The Carrot Is Mightier Than A Stick
  • Lesson #9: Make Greatness Attainable By All
  • Lesson #10: Seek Significant Change
  • Lesson #11: Don’t Look At The Scoreboard
  • Lesson #12: Adversity Is Your Asset
Source: http://sourcesofinsight.com/lessons-learned-from-john-wooden/

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Maanagaram - Movie

Tamil movie. Such a well-woven plot that keeps you going from one moment to another. Watch it.

Captain Marvel - Movie

Nice as in any superhero movie is nice. Thanks Shrinjay.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Book Chor - A Book Outing

So Shobhs saw this article somewhere about the Book Chor event near Lakdi ka Pul. It's an interesting concept. There are a whole bunch of books on display - not first hand but did not look used either - probably remainder copies. only condition, the box must close so it can be taped. The venue was Vasavi function hall opposite Sensation theatre (Meera for my vintage people!) at Lakdi ka pul.
You buy boxes for 999, 1499 or 2599 and then you fill them up as much as you can, provided the box closes. Take away any title, as many as the box can carry -

The crowd amazed me. Families, kids, youngsters, old people all sprawled all over the place, carting away loads of books. The focus, the need to get the best books was written on every face. Some just sat down on the floor with their books all around them. Lovely to see.

We split up. The collection was really good, can easily fill up boxes. I got a few Bill Bryson's, a Ben Elton which I later shelved, an autobiography of Sir Alec Ferguson, some funny books, Sophie's World, Shobhs picked up some and Anjali picked up a Pooh, Kipling's short stories, a thesaurus and stuff. Box filled we went and got it taped and off we were.

Nice experience. I am sure we would have got the books for a better price in the second hand market at Abids but this was an experience - it was charged unlike the lazy saunter at Abids where the more seasoned campaigners like Vinod go. They know they will get that title next week if not this week, unlike here.

The title is apt. We got away satisfied with our loot!

Negative Space - Ranjani Rao

This book (Kindle version) is a collection of four short stories, all with women protagonists (all in the US) and the choices they make. On one hand, the choices appear pretty negative but by the end of the story, you realise it's not bad at all. Actually, by the end of the book, you realise life is not so bad after all, whatever you choose to do with your life.

In the first story 'Negative Space', a mother working in the US deals with her first born being taken to India to live with the grandparents when he is only six months old. The child stays on for two years or more and she starts wondering if he will recognise her at all. The guilt of staying away from her child, comes with the burden of having another. What if it turns out to be the same story? But she appears to understand that she can choose now how she wants to live - by the end of the story.

In 'Uncoupling' we meet a young woman who is now heading home to India to see her dying aunt, someone with whom she did not always have a great relationship. She realises how she may have misjudged her aunt from her old perspective and that her aunt actually deserved a lot better.

In 'Lotus' the wife has a story that makes us realise that it is ok to be true to oneself - not always do what society wants - as long as both people in the relationship are happy with it. Your choices are your own. Your happiness is your own.

In 'Rhythms that Linger' we meet a grandmother who finds her long lost passion and rediscovers herself. Life is not over until it is over.

Nice uplifting themes. Nothing negative. Ranjani has this empathy for her characters and brings out their innermost dilemmas and desires with great sensitivity. She writes well, in a way that makes the reader relate to almost everything in the story, and that's one her greatest strengths. The stories are real and stick to you which is the hallmark of a good story to me. Well done Ranjani. Keep writing.

Available on Kindle.

Monday, April 8, 2019

No More NRI - Ranjani Rao

Slim book at 50 pages. It begins with Ranjani making a call to return to India after 14 years in the USA. Then the post-decision issues with people giving advice and then the pangs of actually leaving America. I really liked the chapter on the last bag of rice - the part when they are buying groceries so they just about last till they leave and it captures the feeling so well. The book is full of such insights.

Then life begins in India. Now jobs, family, traffic, IST all of it seems to need adjustment. Then they slowly settle down - the family of three into their new life in their old home. Lots of small details captured and written very well. It's a delightful read. Available on Kindle..

Ranjani writes well. Glad she has taken the plunge and published two books and also started her publishing venture. More on that later.

Manikarnika - Movie

It's terrible. Looks amateurish. The impression you have of Jhansi ki Laxmi and what we see have no resemblance. Avoid.

Lifetime Achievement Award for Baig Sir

On April 2, 2019, Srujana Cultural & Literary Organisation honored former NIS and BCCI Coach Mirza Rahmatullah Baig with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Potti Sreeramulu Telugu University as part of its annual Sports Excellence awards. The award was presented by Hon Justice of High Court of Telangana T. Amarnath Goud, Dronacharya awardee Shri S.M. Arif and Dr. Avula Manjulatha, former
Baig sir being felicitated - his old friend S.M. Arif putting the pagdi on
Vice-Chancellor, P.S. Telugu University. Srujana Organisation Chairperson Smt. Anjana Chowdary welcomed the gathering and General Secretary Ramya Teja gave the vote of thanks. I went to watch his felicitation with Ramaraju. Ehtesham and Baliguddin joined us as well.
Wonderful to see

There were three categories of awards – Lifetime Achievement Award, Sports Excellence awards and Young Achievers. In Sports excellence Coaches such as P.G. Palguna (Football), V. Venkateshwara Rao (Rowing), K. Daniel (Cricket), Ramesh Goud (Karate), S. Swarnalatha (Gymnastics), B. Kameshwara Rao (Hockey), T. Jyotishwar (Kabaddi), Jitender Gupta (Roller Skating), Sandeep Kumar (Shooting) were honored. Shekhar Goud received a special award for adventure sports. Young achievers included Soumya (National Football Team captain), Nireekshan Reddy (kabaddi), Bhanu Prakash (shooting), Vishal Jadhav (gymnastics), T. Sunil (Rowing), Aryan Karra (Roller skating), T. Tarun Tej (Roller skating), Ameesha Mannut (Karate) and Preethi Gonda (Karate).
A picture with our Coach - Ahmed on the right!
Baig sir was born on January 21, 1940. He studied in Aliya High School and played cricket at a competitive level. He joined the Indian Navy and applied for a course from the National Institute of Sports, Patiala from where he graduated in 1963. Mr. Baig played Ranji Trophy for Services (1958-1968) and Hyderabad (1969-70), represented North Zone in the Duleep Trophy (1964-65). He served the Board of Cricket Control of India as South Zone Coach while on deputation from the Sports Authority of India during the period 1977-1983. He has been coaching for the last 50 years and still continues to actively coach to this day. He is a qualified curator and umpire as well.
Mr. Baig started coaching in 1963 when he was employed with the Indian Navy. Till date, he has coached over 35 internationals and 150 first-class cricketers. He was one of the coaches who were involved in training Team India players before the 1983 World Cup.
All awardees 
As the BCCI Coach Baig sir spoke about the time he assisted Col Hemu Adhikari to coach the Indian cricketers. A favorite story of his was about Kapil Dev whom he would ask to stress on batting much to Kapil's bemusement. In Hyderabad, he has coached Md. Azharuddin, Arshad Ayub, Venkatapathi Raju and a host of other first class cricketers. He was the Coach of the India Under 19 team which was led by Ravi Shastri and had names like Kirti Azad, Chandrakant Pandit, W.V. Raman, L. Sivaramakrishnan, Sadanand Vishwanath, B. Arun, Lalchand Rajput, Navjyot Singh Sidhu among others. Other internationals he had coached include Kiran More, M.S.K. Prasad, Ashish Kapoor, Sanjay Manjrekar, Raman Lamba, to name some. Cricketers such as VVS Laxman, Rahul  Dravid, Robin Uthappa have sought his advise and expertise in the recent past.
Baig sir with Azhar
He coached the following teams in Ranji, Under 16 and Under 19 teams. for 6 years (1977-83) under the BCCI scheme – Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra. He has been deputed to the republic of Maldives for cricket coaching under ITEC, from Ministry of External Affairs from 1987-91. In Hyderabad Mr. Baig has been a stellar figure, offering coaching at the Lal Bahadur Stadium for thousands of young cricketers for almost three decades. 
With Gary Sobers

It was wonderful to see Baig sir receive this award from a cultural and literary organisation who recognises sports. Unfortunately sports bodies do not seem to recognise sportspersons as much.
With L. Sivaramakrishnan
I first met Baig sir when I was a fourteen-year-old school boy studying in All Saints High School. He had been called to coach us for a week by Brother Joseph and I remember how he sorted out my follow through issues so well. He took me aside and made me do the drill until it was fully sorted out. I believe my performance that year was largely due to his inputs and I played South Zone Under 15. In the one month South Zone camp at Bangalore in 1982 he taught me the art of bowling a beautiful outswinger which came in good use for me for many years. 
With his students - new and old
Sasi, Saiket, Bhupinder, Prakash, Ahmad, Me, Abdulla and Anuj, Mary (kneeling)
Baig sir retains the same passion even today, 37 years later. His pasison for the game and for coaching has not waned a bit. It is nice to see that extra zip back in his stride last weekend. 

Goat Days - Benyamin

Originally written in Malayalam and translated into English by Joseph Koyipally, 'Goat Days' is a true account of a person Benyamin met. Benyamin worked in Bahrain for 24 years as an engineer and returned to Kerala to write. Goat Days is banned in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

It is the story of a young man Najeeb from Kerala who goes to Saudi Arabia in search of a job and hoping to secure a future for his young family. An unfortunate turn of events causes him and his co-traveller Hakeem to be taken by an Arab on a mistaken identity. Their hopes of working on a construction job turn sour as they realise they are taken into the desert to work as shepherds in the most hostile of conditions. How Najeeb escapes the desert and survives to tell his tale is what Goat Days is all about.

Once again proves that no drama matches real life. Nice read.

Eating Wasps - Anita Nair

A bunch of people land up in a resort called Near the Nila. All of them have stories as we would expect them to have. There is a remnant of a dead person with whom we start, in the resort and this dead person Sreelakshmi tells how she committed suicide back int he day when she was a lecturer and a well-known writer.

People who join up at the resort are a woman who is dealing with an abusive lover and is trying to escape from him, a badminton player who has left the court on the verge of winning her most important victory, a young girl who is an acid attack victim and is not ashamed of it, an abused child and a few other characters. Sreelakshmi, the writer has in her childhood eaten a wasp thinking it to be a bee (thinking bees carry honey) and comes with a formidable reputation.

They find some closure, some more than others.

Sunday column in the HANS - How to Get Full Value for My Vote

How to get value for your vote!


Friday, April 5, 2019

Anjali - I Love Myself

We were sitting in Waffles doing our father-daughter thing - she eating her classic waffle and me eating scrambled eggs. Anjali was happy with the world and suddenly said 'I love myself'. The she asked me if I love myself. I said sometimes.

Then she told me a couple of things. 'We all want to be understood right? Who gets us better than ourselves? So why look for anyone else to get us. We are always there with ourselves even if no one else is there so we better love ourselves right?'

Makes immense sense. Why was I not loving this person I am with all the time? I think i better start if I want to have a good time with myself.