Friday, November 29, 2019

The Learning Mindset - The 1-50 Game

This is a game that came to me on WhatsApp as a forward. There are 25 numbers on the screen randomly placed and you as you touch each number it disappears and new numbers appear after 25 until all 50 show up in that box of 5x5. The key is to do it as fast as you can of course and the game says if you do 50 in 70 seconds and over, you are old. 20-30 is a liar, 30-40 is an expert and 40 to 50 is average and so on. I tried it first some six months ago and found I was in the old category. Try as much as I did I could barely come under 50.

One day I asked 12 year old Anjali to do it and she quickly did it in 43 seconds. That blew my mind. With zero practice. Then I realised that age certainly had its effect on eyesight, coordination etc. I watched her doing it and found that the first thing she did differently was to hold the fingers away and punch the numbers with both thumbs - as all teenagers do when they text. I was using my index finger of my right hand only. So I changed that and tried. A slight improvement and I hit the low 60s. Still far to go.

Over the next six months, I experimented continuously on it whenever I had some free time to see if I could crack the code. I realised that there was a way I was holding the phone where some numbers got hidden which was dumb - I can't find things I cannot see. Then I realised that I was getting tense when I missed something and my brain would go into a freeze mode. I was missing numbers that were sitting right in front of me, right next to the number I punched.  Also when I went tense, I could sense my body getting warmer, my breathing stopping in concentration, and I used techniques to focus on breathing etc to be less tense. I realised there was a connection between the tension in my body and my ability to concentrate. Then I realised that the tension in my body also affected how my fingers moved - many times randomly without any clear direction - just hope.

With some practice, I lowered myself to the 50s.

But I knew there were times when I was in a good state of mind (the zone) when things happened without too much jumping around. There was a way I looked, the mind was 'set', that helped in getting better times. My times got into the 40s which was a huge achievement and as I practiced some more I realised that there were times when I hit the low 30s too which was incredible. Those were times when the mind and body seemed to be in sync.

That was the key.

I realised that the mind was going faster than the body and was sending confusing signals to the body, so my eyes would be searching all over and my hands would be twitching and however hard I punched the keys, the numbers would not go beyond the 40s. Then when I slowed my body down (basically stopped twitching and jumping around) to the pace of the mind - and then I seemed to have hit the golden spot. This is where I consistently hit the 30s. 36, 34 and my personal best of 32 even.

The big learning - to get faster results, I had to slow down and move my body deliberately, after it got the signal from the brain. The key was to slow down my hand movements. Secondly instead of punching the keys, to merely touch them gently. The third thing was to get an overall view of the screen and not jump all around with my eyes. This 'sight' is what I have not yet perfected but with practice I think I will get that.

Now I can hit the 30s once in 4-5 times, in a relaxed mode, which is way better than my earlier manner.

The other day I checked with Anjali and she was disappointed that I got a 30s score and she got a 40s. She practiced a few times and hit a 30s score. What took me six months, she could do it in a couple of tries. But then that's the power of youth for you. However, I did learn that we can teach an old dog some new tricks too if we keep at it!

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Of Closures and New Beginnings - Saniya

This is an English translation of the works of award-winning Marathi writer Saniya, translated by Keerti Ramachandra, one of the better-known translators today, especially from Marathi and Kannada to English.

The book contains five stories and a novella. In the first story, 'A Matter of Choice' a widow who chooses to live by herself finds an old college friend landing up at her house with his young daughter who is running a fever. She slowly realises that he is broke, has left his wife and home and is on his own. Gradually he reveals his state of affairs to an increasingly irritated widow and proposes to her - that he could pretty much manage the house if she let him be his caretaker wife.  A marriage of convenience and a complete role reversal.

In 'Bequest' a married woman meets an old college friend, an idealist perhaps who is foraying into politics. He comes to meet her and her husband and during the course of the day we realise that he deeply cares about her in the small things that he remembers or does for her. At the end it appears that they both realise the futility of what-could-have- been-but-is-not.

In 'Bhumika' we have another happily single woman who suddenly has to deal with pressure from her family to marry a recently widowed friend of hers and mother his child. She is clear that she does not want that role but they don't seem to understand.

In 'Love Gene' a daughter visits a father on his birthday. She grew up without any real attachment to her father who has always remained distant from her - only now that he has grown old he does not know how to deal with the vacuousness of his life, his daughter's affection, something he cannot reciprocate.

In 'The Invitation' a working woman visits her daughter and her estranged husband in the USA on her daughter's invitation and finds that perhaps the reasons for her estrangement are not her husband's fault as she always believed it to be. She understands her new role and her husband's positives and by the end has enough grace to invite him back.

In the novella 'Another Chance' the protagonist Suruchi is dealing with the sudden death of her live-in partner Shreerang when her parents and her younger sister come to visit her in India. Her younger sister Swaroop stays back and gets married while Suruchi remains single, content with her memories of Shreerang.

The themes evoke an urban setting, of old college friends who come back, of middle class people trying to challenge the traditional boundaries that middle class people bind themselves with. So a relationship, a choice to remain unmarried, an unconventional proposal, a choice to separate but still be ok with the idea of that relationship - everything adds up to a lot of tension and conflict. It might not seem like much, but these are the conflicts people face, and live and die by them. The stories offer interesting perspectives or what-ifs and one gets a look into the deeper desires and wants of women and how much pressure is exerted on them by society and by themselves. A unique bunch of stories. Somehow left me with a Basu Chatterjee- Hrikiskesh Mukherjee movie feel to the whole thing which is to say I might not forget the stories or more importantly the feel of the stories that seems to wrap itself around me. Credit to Saniya for creating that special space for the reader and Keerti Ramchandra for capturing and retaining it. .

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Frozen 2 - Movie

Went to Tivoli to watch a movie after a long long time. My everlasting memory of Tivoli was watching ABBA the movie in the late seventies or early eighties, early high school days - a movie that introduced me to the world of western music and changed my world. I will always remain grateful to Tivoli for that.

Now there are two Tivoli's - the theatre that was called Lamba has now become Tivoli Extreme. Since Lamba/Tivoli advertised Frozen 2 in a much bigger way I drove there only to be told that screen 1 was behind. So I went there with the two guests of honour - Anjali and Mansi.

The new thing was that they charged 30 bucks for hiring the glasses. I don't remember going to pay these 30 rupees at the counter - was it part of the ticket or was it not charged? Anyway, they gave me coupons for the 90 bucks and I handed them over to a Upper guy and not the Lower guy - Tivoli has an Upper and Lower class and if you aren't careful like the couple behind us, you could end up in the wrong class, with the same seat number.

Three other things caught my attention before the movie started. First up, there was an Indian News Review kind of documentary with similar sound and visual, about Sardar Patel and how because of his efforts, the country was united. Again, the documentary does not dwell on how many kingdoms there were (some 546 if I remember right) and how many did not accede easily. It dwells only on two Junagadh and Hyderabad. Following that was an advertisement for some initiative by the Telangana state government that takes care of children of parents who are in jail! The ad shows a couple fighting, the drunk husband beating his wife, the children crying, the wife killing her husband, going to jail, the judge assuring her that the children would be well taken care of. Overall an advertisement that says you can kill your spouse without worries and go to jail - the state will take good care of your kids. So anyone who is hesitating, please go ahead. After all this, they forgot to play the national anthem and we all sat down quietly and guiltily.

The movie was nice with music and stunning visuals. I noticed an Indian name Mohit Kalianpur in the credits - cinematography and lighting. Elsa and Anna and some back story of their parents that now challenges the existence of their kingdom Arendelle. Kristoff, Sven and Olaf the snowman are around and lots of superb visuals later we get to a happy ending. Alla's well and that ends well. 

I asked Anjali how she liked it - in my cynical way I didn't much like it - but she rolled her eyes and said 'very good'. Mansi apparently felt this was better than Frozen. I immediately changed my mind and upgraded the movie to good. Better not be left behind.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Interesting - Leo Babauta

Check this out!
Zen habits and minimalism!

The unexpected rewards of uncertainty and discomfort!

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Chase your Dreams - Sachin Tendulkar

'Chase your Dreams' is the young reader's version of Sachin Tendulkar's bio 'Playing it my way'. Since I didn't read the original I thought I'd browse through this version that was lying in Anjali's pile of books.

The stories of young Tendulkar's growing up were nice - about how energetic and mischievous he was and how finally when he fell off a mango tree, his older brother Ajit (his eldest brother is Nitin and he has a sister) joins him in a cricket coaching camp. The coach Achrekar rejects him but Ajit pleads his case and asks him to take another look and Sachin makes it and there begins the most famous guru-shishya story we had in Indian cricket. I simply admire what people like Ajit do - putting themselves aside and pleading his brother's case - I feel I can never be as large-hearted as them or be as unselfish as them, and such acts and such people I fully admire.

Mush has been said about the brutal training program Sachin would go through playing throughout the day - practice, natch, practice until evening. With his talent and this kind of work he soon outshone all others and scored some crazy number of runs at school level - 200s and 300s. Most of his career is known to us after he made his debut but even then its fascinating to see how much capacity he had to receive so much love - it swells bigger and bigger and even reading it makes you feel that its too much for one person to handle. But he does and with aplomb.

His stats are incredible.No one would have played the game for so long with all those injuries especially after having achieved so much unless they love the game so much. Its a one of a kind love affair and there;'s no point trying to understand it. The odd discordant note comes in - when he talks of how he recommended certain players as captains (not really required) or when he says he was upset with Dravid for declaring when he was on 194 (he was the captain and he had his ideas, your job was to follow his instructions and not throw tantrums because you missed a double). But then, for all that he achieved, this much is allowed.

The mantra of work, work, work of getting better, of preparation, of being grounded and grateful to the game that gave him so much, to his family and all those who supported him, paid off well. But like all cricket bios - the stats get boring after a while. I realised that we'd like to read what happened behind the scenes, the stories, the evolution. Anyway, off the list.

Anjali - To do Lists and Post It Notes

I am suddenly seeing a bunch of to-do notes and post-its with a list of hard words around Anjali's desk. It's nice to see her trying to organise her effort, to hone her skills. It's always good practice to put in the effort, to have a plan because it becomes a habit and then things become a lot easier.

Some tough words
A to-do list

Harder words
Good going Anjali!

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

TED Talk - Perception is Everything

Change the frame of reference! Nice.

TED Tallk - The Power of Believing that You Can Improve

Dr. Carol Dweck - The power of believing that you can improve!

The power of 'not yet'.

Mindset - Dr Carol Dweck

This is an updated edition and the first thing I noticed is that Dr. Dweck decided to change the tag line to 'Changing the way you think to fulfill your potential'. The earlier one was more on the lines of success - something that her editor forced on her I think. The book is structured the same way - The two mindsets, ability and accomplishment, sports and the champion mindset, mindset in business - leadership, mindset in relationships - love etc, parents, teachers and coaches and how to change mindsets.

Fixed and growth mindsets
I've reviewed the earlier edition before and it did change my life in many ways. Essentially it is about the two mindsets that govern us and our behavior and how they can either lead us to fulfill our potential or not. The mindsets are fixed mindset and the growth (learning) mindset (and we have both - this book tries to differentiate between them so we consciously adopt the learning mindset). Fixed mindsets are always about proving themselves smart while growth mindset it only about growth and learning. The fundamental idea is that intelligence is not fixed and that with effort we get better. We are not whatever label was attached to us, we can improve and fulfill our potential. If we believe in talent and intelligence as fixed, we defend that idea and there is no growth. If we believe that we can work at things and learn and grow, there is growth.

Success and failure - different for both mindsets
The mindsets even change the meaning of success and failure for us. Fixed mindset believes that failure is not acceptable because it indicates that the person is not talented or intelligent. The fact that on that day, that preparation, perhaps the person was not at the level that the test demanded is not acceptable. So blame, excuse, judgment comes into the picture. Growth mindset, however, treats failure as a challenge and goes back to work harder, to learn more. In many ways, fixed mindset is an egoistic reaction aimed at the outside world (while suffering internally), while the learning mindset is aimed at challenging oneself  (and is quite satisfying).
"You don't fail until you start to blame" - John Wooden.

Effect of Labels
Why we get into these mindsets is because of the praise or positive labels we may have been exposed to which makes us perfect and we feel that anything less than perfection is not acceptable. We defend that idea and become fixed in our mindset. Even negative labels can harm of course, as much as positive labels. The key is to give feedback that is honest, appropriate and in a fashion that it provokes positive action from the student and does not drive them deeper into a sense of failure or inadequacy.

Can we change our mindset?
The good news is that we can change our mindset. We can grow our intelligence with effort. When we try new things our brain grows new connections. So it is better to not opt out or give up when things get harder  - struggle with it until you crack it. Your brain grows in that effort. Ask yourself if there's anything in your past that measured you - a failure, a nasty comment - understand that it doesn't define you or your personality.

Sports and the champion mindset
In sports Dweck says that the idea of natural is a myth - Michael Jordan, Mohammed Ali, Babe Ruth and several others were not naturals - they became champions byt training harder than most. It is the people who understand that every sport is a team sport (support teams) who do well. These are those who had better strategies, taught themselves more, practiced harder and worked through obstacles. The growth mindset sports persons reacted to success (as ding their best, learning and improving) and failure (found setbacks motivating, new information about their limitations, wake up call) differently. Dweck dwells on the importance of character which is what it takes to be a champion - one who goes to the top and stays there. She discusses John Wooden and his coaching style (we may be outscored but we will never lose). He only looked at effort, at character.

Business leadership and mindset
In business Dweck deals with the two mindsets and leaders who adopted these mindsets - Iacocca was one and Welch another. How Iacocca built a great company and then it became all about him and less about others while Welch was all about growing others. Both companies have vastly different outcomes in the long run. The growth mindset leaders listened to others, grew others.

Parents, teachers and coaches
In the chapter on parents Dweck says how every word that the parents say sends a message to the child (judging). Instead of praising their intelligence or talent (which they think as fixed components) you are better off praising process such as effort (which is a variable component). Dweck urges parents to give constructive criticism. She warns against the 'we love you - but on our terms' syndrome and urges teachers and coaches to not lower standards - high standards and a nurturing environment is the key.
She also says that the greatest teachers were those who went to learn, not to teach! (Carol Dweck's TED talk)

In relationships she suggests that people are better off airing their differences, listening carefully, discuss in a patient and caring manner. Not be blamers and judges. Dweck also clarifies that shyness is a fixed mindset trait - better improve social skills she says. Judgment is a fixed mindset trait. So is blame.

Dweck recommends Twyla Tharp's 'Creative Habit' which she says debunks the idea that art is a natural talent. And of course she cites Betty Edwards and her art classes and her book 'Drawing on the right side of the brain' where after a mere five days one sees a marked difference in sketches. Edwards teaches them that its not about drawing but about seeing - edges, spaces, light, shadows and relationships.

Give your Fixed Mindset a Name
One huge idea in this book is that Dweck urges us to recognise our fixed mindset and give this persona a name. Then its easier to talk about what this persona does without getting personal about it. I do like the idea - it can facilitate many open conversations about oneself.
Clearly she says that the Fixed Mindset persona interferes, sets limitations, is against effort, makes others into judges and not allies. You constantly feel judged.

Brainology workshops
Another new idea is the Brainology workshops that she has developed for youngsters and how they are helping to improve performance. Are the students sleeping enough, eating right, having better study strategies.

How to change from Fixed to Growth mindset
To change from fixed to Growth Mindset, here's how the journey will pan out
1) accept your fixed mindset, in fact, embrace it she says
2) recognise triggers for fixed mindset behavior (failure, criticism, deadlines, disagreement)
3) give your fixed mindset persona a name - analyse what does he make you feel, think, do and how he affects you
4) stay growth-minded, educate the fixed mindset persona
5) help others grow

Focus on growth every day
Dweck also says one must be constantly seeking opportunities to grow - ask yourself what are the opportunities for growth, what's my plan about when, where and how, acting on plan and maintaining and continuing on the plan.

Glad I read it again. Several ideas are now fusing into other great ideas learning ideas.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Thought for the Day - Start with Loving Yourself

Would a superstar love everyone in the world that he receives so much love from everyone? Most likely not - certainly not in the beginning when he or she is struggling to make it. Maybe later in their lives when they realise that they are being showered with love from all and sundry for just being themselves.

In the beginning, though, (I feel) the difference between them and others is that they love themselves immensely and forget about everything else. And when they do that, they find the space to make themselves better.

Others find it difficult to love themselves. They put up a facade of loving others etc but it's just an escape from the incapability to love yourself. Clearly, we cannot love others if we do not love ourselves.

The starting point then to receive love is to love yourself.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

An Interview with a Nonagenarian - Dr. Nalini Nargundkar

Dr. Nalini Nargundkar., my mother-in-law, was born on August 10, 1929. She remembers a time when there was no electricity, running water, gas, no public transport (tonga was an option) etc. I decided to ask her a few questions. She readily and happily obliged.

Q. What are the three most important things in life?
A. Family and friends, and the company you keep. Education. What you do for your livelihood, your aims and achievements

Q. What are your views about money?
A. Everyone requires a minimum amount of money for a comfortable life. I never wanted it so much that it lasts for seven generations etc.

Q. What is success?
A. Success is achieving what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a doctor in a time when there were not many lady doctors and when I did my MBBS I felt I achieved something. It's my biggest achievement.

Q. What do you think are the secrets to success?
A. Have an aim in life. Try hard to achieve it, and execute it successfully. But peacefully and to your heart's content. Mental peace is important.

Q. What are your views about family?
A. Children must be educated and you must bring them up in such a way that they will earn and live their life.

Q. What about relationships?
A. We had a good family. There were 8 siblings, 7 sisters and one brother. My mother used to welcome anybody and everybody so we learned to welcome people to our homes and be warm with them.

Q. What is your advice to those who are feeling low?
A. Don't lose heart. Keep working hard and you'll get it. Have an aim, work hard and you'll achieve it.

Q. Do you think honesty pays? Is there room for ethics these days?
A. There are no shortcuts in life. Honesty is the best policy. For one day you may feel you have cheated but it won't give peace of mind to you.

Q. What about happiness?
A. It is the most important thing. We have to be happy if we have to survive in this world. If you're pessimistic you will end up crying all your life. Decide to be happy and you'll remain happy. Since I survived, I'll make use of my life in whichever way I can.

Q. Your big regrets?
A. My mother committing suicide. We couldn't make her happy. She was very generous, sensitive.

Q. What is the one quality we must all develop?
A. Love and friendship. Understanding each other. You can be friends with people of any age. You can love anybody.

Thanks aunty.

Anjali - A Visit to the Abids Second Hand Book Market

Anjali got a bunch of Archie's comics from the second-hand market and was done. Now she wanted another bunch. We decided to join Vinod, the master of this market last Sunday. There were a bunch of books to give away and we gave them away to Vinod's second-hand book shop owner pal, Tajuddin.

Vinod overseeing the sacred activity!
We quickly got a bunch of comics. And then we browsed some more. She picked up an Agatha Christie and we were off.

We could make this our regular routine.

Anjali - Interview at 11 and a Half

We fell out of the practice of interviewing. When I am in the mood, she is not. But we did manage to do half an interview. Looking back, it was still nice. I think we should continue even if I have to pay her for it.

Me: How's life at 11?
Anjali: Good.

Q. Do you feel any different?
Anjali: No. I mean you feel bigger. Elder. More different. A year older.
In a good way.

Your best experiences since 11?
Anjali: Kind of liked writing exams. All of them. Summer vacation in Pune. Satish mama's trip. He played with me a lot. And he is nice. Mummy's 50th birthday.

What did you like about it?
Anjali: Planning. And getting it all together.

What are the books you read this year? The books you liked?
Anjali: Harry Potter - read them all. Nancy Drew. Started 'Old man and the sea' Started a lot of books, didn't finish.

And movies that you liked?
Anjali: Alladin. Free Solo.

Anything new that you discovered this year?
Anjali: In class 6 friendship was not steady. This year its under control (we did the interview when she was half into 7th). Last year we lashed out at each other. This year we told each other - let's not fight again. I think I learned the importance of sharing how you feel with others.

Any big highlights of the year?
Anjali: Didn't like my birthday. Had more fun with my friends who came for the night out on October 1.

What are the things you learned to do?
Anjali: To be yourself. If you try to be someone else you keep pulling it. Lie. Lie. Lie.
Learned to iron clothes. Cook omelettes. Cook rice.
Importance of routine. I learned not to be lazy about homework. It's helping me - my homework. I'm happy with it.

What are the plans for next year?
Anjali: Don't know. Do what I want to do. Good to do. Make plans on the way.
Maybe I want to go to Bangalore. I want to make a cycling route. Eat healthy, more vegetables. Get more routines - yoga. Meet Pooja. Spend more time with my cousins. Now I fit in, I can talk to them.

Most enjoyable and fun moment?
Anjali: Yesterday all cousins (she, Vajra, Chimu and Shrinjay) were sitting at the table and spoke freely. We haven't done that.
I felt like I fit in. Felt younger earlier. Now I feel like I fit in more.

New music that you liked?
Anjali: Disney music. Kim Possible movies. Psych. Shout by Tears for Fears. It's so funny in the Psych episode.

What about Mom and Dad?
Anjali: They are very patient people. Because I'm very irritating sometimes.
They are kind. Everyone likes them.

Ok, give two pluses and 1 negative about them?
Anjali: Mamma cares about people a lot. Gives space. She knows when I want her to be with me.
The area to improve - Gets upset when I speak up sometimes.

Nanna listens to me, to my complaints. Very kind. Everyone really likes him. He doesn't know that.
Anjali: Area to improve - Not squash me when he hugs me.

What do you think of yourself?
Anjali: I think I am very nice. I haven't thought of that. Not taking things as lightly as before. Small things.
Mom tells me only two times, not 10 times.
Sleeping early, getting up early. Not making excuses anymore. I am more disciplined. I care for people.
On the areas to improve, I want to increase my height.
Last year I was moody. This year less of me, me. Not as much need for attention. Realised a few things like I am not talking etc.

Anjali decided to interview me
A. How do you feel at 52?
Me. I don't feel old. I look at life with wonder. Every day is different. I am going day by day.

A. Top 3 books?
Me. The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, Measure what matters, How to become a Buddha in 5 weeks.
(I was checking my blog for the books I read this year and she complains -Injustice, he looks at lists!)

A. Best moment this year?
Me. Mamma's birthday. The surprise, the execution, the people, the warmth. Best moment in a long long time.

A. Best moment with me?
Me. Us both going to WOFL to eat waffles and pancakes. Us both experimenting with cooking when Mamma is not there. Or watching movies or shows together.

A. Best moment in 52 years?
Me. When I first saw Anjali!

Monday, November 11, 2019

TED Talk - Inside the Mind of a Procrastinator

Funny and nice.

The monkey keeps you away from work, sheltered by the panic monster. The rational man has no control. But it works when there are deadlines...panic wakes up then and monkey quiets down.
Look at your big deadline - considering you will live till 90. What do you want to achieve?

Canteen Fundas - How to Convert Weaknesses into Strengths

How to make your weak points your strengths!

 3 steps of evolution - avoid them, acknowledge them, embrace them

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Mana Akkineni - Sanjay Kishore

Vasu's mother gave this book to me - a beautiful 335 page coffee table photobiography of Telugu superstar Akkineni Nageswara Rao popularly known as ANR. It's a work of love, with many beautiful pictures, analysis from several angles, all towards conveying the life's work of a great artiste. He mentions that Telugu cinema began in 1931 and ANR began his career in 1941 (as a child artiste) and continued acting almost till the end - his last movie 'Manam' was in 2014, the year when he passed away. He always said that he wanted to die acting! That's what Ikigai is I guess - having a reason to get up every day, do it well, and that gives you happiness and is your profession and pays you and is what the world needs.

Born into a lower-middle-class family in Venkata Raghavapuram in Gudivada district on September 20, 1924, to Akkineni Venkataratnam and Punnamma, ANR was the youngest of nine children, four of whom died in their childhood. His father passed away immediately upon his birth. He was given five acres as his share.

ANR showed his prowess as an actor early in school drams where he played Narada and Chandramati to accolades. His brother Ramabrahmam went out of his way to promote his younger brother and got his enrolled in a drama company called Kuduravalli Drama Company. It is fascinating to see how these drama companies flourished even then. ANR would play the role of 'Tara' a female character so well that many were shocked to know that it was a boy who was playing it. He was always diligent and worked 18 hour days - working at home, with the cattle, fetching water, going to school which was 3 kms away, doing housework, helping his mother and then going for rehearsals till late in the night. The 10000 hour theory will work well here.

Ramabrahmam tried his best to get his brother a break in films and finally got him a role in the movie 'Talli Prema'. Though ANR spent four months in Madras working on the film, his role was finally chopped off and he returned. As fate would have it he was spotted on the Gudivada Railway station with his drama company by a film producer Ghantasala Balamurali and he offered him a lead role in his upcoming film 'Seetarama jananam'. ANR was to play Lord Rama. The film didn't do very well but he got noticed and he was offered films like 'Mayalokam', 'Mugguru Marathilu', 'Ratnamala' and 'Balaraju' all of which did well. Balaraju was a big hit. ANR went on to do several hits in his 75 year long career including Devadasu, Premabhishekam, Gundamma Katha and others. He starred in 255 films in Telugu, Tamil and Hindi. He did TV serials, sang songs and turned producer too. He was a shrewd businessman who invested his money well and established flour mills, model farms, grape gardens and most famously the Annapurna Studios in Hyderabad. He started the ANR Foundation, contributed to charitable causes. He also authored five books, mostly autobiographical. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1968, Padma Bhushan in 1988 and Padma Vibhushan in 2011. He was awarded the Dadasaheb Phalke award in 1991. He was also awarded four doctorates by Andra University, Nagarjuna University, GITAM and Dakshina Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha.

ANR named all his enterprises after his wife Annapurna to whom he remained eternally grateful. His family continues his legacy. His children include Satyavati, Venkatnarayana, Nagasuseela, Naga Saroja and Nagarjuna. Wonderful coffee table book and a great effort by  Sanjay Kishore.

Anjali - Diwali Mela Stall

Daksha school has a lovely Diwali mela every year and we have all grown to love that experience. Every year the children set up stalls with games and quizzes and all parents and visitors are invited to join the fun. Scary house, puzzles, quizzes, cricket challenge, dance show (this year the second class kids had a fashion show!). There is lots of good food to eat and everyone has a great time. The school normally raises close to a lakh thoruhg this fun mela which is then donated to some good cause.

Anjali had stalls solo and with partners over the years - the most memorable being the used book stall she had a couple of years ago which raised a decent amount of money. This year she came up with an idea to have a guess-the-word-from-the visuals game. She drew two objects which would represent a word and by putting these two words together you have to come up with the original word.

So I was quite surprised to see a big chart full of drawing - a tee junction on one side and a shirt on the other, and such. Some 15 - 20 of them. It must have taken some effort. Of course I was asked to guess and did a fair job and was admonished for not guessing right on some of the others.

Later on she tried it on Shobha and decided that perhaps the visuals should be printed to avoid any confusion in the viewer's mind. And she did that.

But to me, the chart with her original pictures are the real deal. The thought, effort and execution. It's always easy to pick the pictures off the net. It's only by drawing those visuals do you understand the difficulty, think of the visual and its chief characteritstics and get involved in it. I was reading about Hayao Miyazaki, the great animation artist, and how he drew his animation film characters instead of using technology - deep involvement in his work.

I like that.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Beautiful Nature

Anjali and I walk to the park these days at 630 in the morning for a short 20 minute walk, jog. It's the same walk every day. Only today I saw this beautiful sight - of a carpet made of the finest and most fragrant flowers.

They must have been laid out softly through the night. What lovely work!

And the flowers themselves - got a few. Never ceases to amaze me.

Nice Link - Wabi Sabi

Beauty in imperfection!

Happy wabi-sabi! (Arielle Ford) (More Arielle Ford - shorter) 

A Simple Way to Break a Bad Habit - Judson Brewer

Nice talk!

Trigger - Behavior - Reward!

To change bad habits - don't force yourself. Just get curious. Get into it.

Talk to the brain that drives behavior.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Sunday Cricket Lessons - How the Mind Can be Used

There is much work for the mind in the game of cricket, in any high-performance area, in life itself. Here are a few thoughts mainly oriented to cricketers but surely to other areas too.

The Basic Unit of Mental Work is a Thought
The basic unit for the mind is thought. And the easiest (and hardest) to control. Check where your thoughts are - are they worrying too much about things or are they having an optimistic or creative bent of mind?

Every single negative thought drags you further away from your performance. It does not matter if you've worked hard, but if your mind has negative thoughts, forget it.

Negative thoughts can be about performance, about teammates, about whether you are good enough, about selection, unfairness, injustice etc etc. Just drop them and focus on keeping the first mind on the game.

If you cannot keep it positive, at least keep it neutral. Don't think anything, just stay blank and focus on the next job at the moment.

Create Nice Outcomes with Your Thoughts, Goals
The creative outcomes that you wish to achieve in your mind are what we call goals. Create pictures, videos in your mind of good outcomes, however big. They are thoughts after all, no taxes. Use your time before sleeping to create and live these goals.

Clarity is important, detail is important.

Use every single thought well. It is the seed that will spread all over the mind and shapes how your mind behaves and reacts.

Your mind can control you. But if you can control each thought, you can control the mind. Like they say, what you sow, you reap.

The Mind and Body are Two Different Things
The body and the mind are different. Most of us think of ourselves as one whole entity - mind, body etc - and that they are fully in congruence with one another. But we all also know that sometimes the mind says something and the body does something else. We know they are different.

In a perfect world, the mind and body are fully in sync. In fact, that is what our endeavour is finally I guess - to bring them into sync. But since they are not, let's see how to start the process.

The awareness that they are different is a good start. The next thing to do is that our mind is clear about what it wants the body to execute. This, it must visualise, mentally. The perfect feeling of ball on bat, the perfect drive, the perfect defence, the perfect delivery, the perfect catch. Visualise all this in the mind.

Once we have this visualisation we can turn it over to the body. Tell your body that this is what you wish to achieve. Let your mind give a clear picture of what it wants the body to do for it. When we give a clear direction, its almost as if all the cells in our body work towards making that happen.
On the other hand if we do not give a clear direction, the body acts on its own.

You can give instructions every ball, and on an overall basis. With practice you will find the balance where they act in sync. That to me, is where the zone lies.

There are two minds
As the body and mind are different, there are also two minds inside you. One is the mind that is executing (the good hardworking mind) and another the judgmental mind (the mischievous and bad mind). One wants to help you achieve your potential and the other does everything to stop you from performing well by scaring you, criticizing you. You must help your first mind and shut out the second mind whose unnecessary fears only sow doubt in your mind.

It needs discipline.

The basic philosophy to follow here is this - the mind can only entertain one thought at a time. So its either the bad thought or some other thought. What we realise is that when the bad mind gets into action, we go into a spiral, especially in a tense situation.

We must break this downward spiraling thought. . Many many athletes sing, or hum a tune, or use a word or phrase in the crucial moment so the second mind is distracted from these negative thoughts. Find that trigger and use it to break the chain of thoughts. Some people do something physical like touching something physical - Mohinder Amarnath had a lucky red hand kerchief, Steve Waugh also had it, Srikkanth had a routine of walking round the stumps etc etc. Some touch amulets etc. These routines break the spiral and keep the second mind busy while the first mind goes about executing its job without interference.

In physical space like playing a game of cricket, your muscles have what they call muscle memory. They act and react based on this muscle memory after some level of training. As athletes or cricketers your first mind has trained the muscle memory over years of practice and it knows what to do. Just keep the second mind out of the way with its interfering thoughts by giving it something to do - like counting, singing, breathing, something physical that keeps it busy.
The first mind will do its job beautifully.
Performance - Interference = Potential
(Most of these thoughts are taken from Timothy Galleway's 'Inner Game of Tennis')

Use Visualisation to Improve Performance
Try and visualise the scenario you may face and 'feel' that moment beforehand. Feel the atmosphere, the feel of your hand, the smell, sounds and sights. Do what you have to do with crystal clear clarity. Go through the uncertain part of the game in great detail and address it  -don't leave anything to chance.

When the picture clicks and you feel ready, hold that space. Now you're ready.

As a bowler, it helps to have a clear visualisation of how you see the ball go off your hand, where and how it pitches, how it moves and takes off. Once you visualise clearly, it's as if the mind has given the body a plan and every cell of your body then moves towards making that come true. Without a plan, the body goes all over the place.

It happens with bowling (think up the ball before you deliver), batting (feel in control of yourself, the feel of the bat on the ball), fielding (anticipate moving, catching, fielding and throwing).

Visualisation, like anything, needs practice. Don't be lazy with your thoughts. This could be the most important thing you'd have done. The greatest athletes have all said this - they have visualised every bit of their performance over and over again much before they actually went down to perform. From Sachin Tendulkar to Usain Bolt - they have all done it.

Use your Thoughts to Create the Energy to Influence Things
Our energy operates at a frequency. If we "think" and "feel" that the selectors or coach or captain is biased against us, we are sending out signals that anyone can pick up. These signals are primarily our  energy, which is influenced by our thinking. Such thoughts can only lower our frequency which can be caught by others as 'feelings'. "Somehow I feel his or her attitude is not right" they may say, or they may say "Somehow I feel he or she is not ready yet". These "somehow I feel" statements are coming from the sense they have about you, which is primarily originating from your way of thinking.

Your thoughts become energy and your energy operates at a frequency. It will be picked up by those who are looking for that person with bad attitude, the one who they cannot get a grip on, that someone to drop because they don't understand that person's signals.

So, change your energy by changing your thoughts.

Again, since your thoughts can only hold one thought at a time, substitute your 'low frequency' thoughts with 'higher frequency' thoughts. For example, instead of cribbing about others, be grateful that you are in the team, to the captain, to the coach and the selectors. Consciously keep your mind in good space about them (especially be grateful to those with whom you're having the most problems). Think of 10 good things about them and write them down. If you cannot think of good things about them, at least don't think bad things about them. The signals will go accordingly.

What this does is that it changes your energy and your frequency. You will no longer send a 'man, I am the victim here' vibe. You are sending 'man, I am lucky to be here and am enjoying myself'.

Who will you select of the two?

Change your thoughts and change your energy and you will see a change in the results. If you have a hard luck story, please visit your thoughts and beliefs. And change them right now.

You are the one responsible. Your thoughts are the ones responsible. Change them now.

Change the Mental Story
The stories that you have built in your head get stronger and stronger the more you think and speak about them. Especially the negative stories - about selection, unfairness etc etc. You will do yourself a huge favour by shutting up about them. That is because it will deplete that story of strength and slowly it will die.

Otherwise, your story will come true. And guess who created it. You!

"You are not a failure until you blame" - John Wooden, Legendary UCLA basketball coach

Use your thoughts to achieve outcomes
Many players visualise themselves celebrating a hundred, a five-wicket haul, lifting the cup etc. Hold that visual and let your body intelligence take over. Miracles happen as you send signals all over, to your team, your colleagues and something magical happens.
It begins with one thought.

Good luck. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Anjali - Field Visit to the Art Gallery

Daksha School took the kids out to a field visit - this time to an Art Gallery. On display were artworks by Gurdeep Mandhwa. (Pics courtesy - Daksha School)

Apart from viewing the artworks, the children also got a chance to copy one such using charcoal.
Drawing their favorite work
 Anjali did one of Gandhiji (no surprises!) called Friend Request.
Working on her art

They took a picture of all the drawings together. Pretty picture.

Day well spent. Good work Daksha!

Anjali - Mock United Nations at Daksha

I remember writing some exams in school about the United Nations and getting a certificate. I didn't fare oo well in the test I remember. Then I saw younger children of friends being very excited about attending Mock United Nations. Now they did not just write tests but actually dressed up and represented various countries and conducted the whole thing quite formally. In fact a month or so ago I was invited to Srinidhi International School as the Chief Guest for their MUN. I got to plant a tree which was a first for me.

Back at Daksha Anjali was to represent China in her first MUN and she prepared with all the seriousness she normally brings. Lots of talk about trade, policy, imports and exports and I learned a bit about the US-China trade war. On D Day she dressed up in formal clothes and went off.

She seemed quite pleased with her performance at the MUN. They get a lot of exposure with the mike, at public speaking which we never did in our 40plus strong classes.

Listening seriously to another country. Good show Daksha!

Ikigai - Hector Garcia and Francese Miralles

Ikigai is the reason we get up in the morning, our raison d etre. In a wonderful visual by Mark Winn, Ikigai is shown as the point of intersection between what we love doing, what the world needs, what we get paid for and what we are good at. The point of intersection between what we love and what the world needs is our mission, the point where what the world needs and what we get paid for is our vocation, the point where what we get paid for and what we are good at is our profession and what we are good at and what we love is our passion. Ikigai falls in the sweet spot between all these!

When you find your Ikigai you don't retire - because you love life. The authors talk of the 5 Blue Zones - the places on earth where people live the longest - Okinawa in Japan, Sardinia in Italy, Loma Linda in California, Nicola Peninsula in Costa Rica and Ikaria in Greece. Some basic research tells us that these people follow certain practices - they eat until their stomach is 80% only, live in small connected groups with a strong sense of community, have active minds and youthful bodies, have little or no stress, are constantly moving and get good sleep.

Are you ready to throw yourself into your passion as if it were the most important thing in the world?

After wandering a bit about logotherapy, Morita therapy and flow, the authors come back to talk about the takumis, or traditional craftsmen in Japan. They give examples of Jiro dreams of sushi (a recommended viewing on YouTube), Shakunaga (the porcelain maker from whom Steve Jobs would buy teacups), Miyasaki (the animator who would draw everything by hand). Then there are those who microflow things in mundane tasks like Bill Gates who enjoys washing dishes and the elevator operator in someplace in Tokyo who has an elaborate ritual to her job.

Interviews of the supercentenarians (over 100 years) across the world reveal these answers - eat sparingly, sleep, relax, eat vegetables and fruits, have an optimistic attitude, keep mind and body busy, stay present. The authors mention examples of Christopher Plummer who is active at 87, Carmen Herrera who paints at 100  (sold her first painting at 89) and architect Frank Gehry as those who are actively working.

Then we go to Ogimi, the place in Japan where this community lives. They enjoy the communal life with games, karaoke, daily meetings, singing and dancing. People are happy and treat strangers like old friends, are non-judgmental and always smiling, having a good time. they seem to celebrate each day together.

The first practice seems to be - Don't Worry! They have vegetable gardens which they tend to, say hello to everyone, smile and open their hearts to everyone. One says that if you keep your fingers busy you'll never get old. Another lifts his arms for exercise. Some walk, have routines while others follow rituals. Drinking tea with friends is a big pastime. Smiling, being grateful are all part of their life.

Cultivate Good Habits - Living an unhurried life, eating a wide variety especially vegetables and fruits and fish, and grains are part of their eating habits. They rarely ate sugar and ate less salt. Small portions and lots of green tea. Skip dessert.

For exercise they do moderate exercise and favour with gentler movements as in Radio Tasio, yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong and Shiastsu . Research shows that within 30 minutes of sitting your metabolism slows down 90% and in 5 minutes of getting up it gets working again. So don't sit for too long and keep moving, one way or another.

After meandering through concepts of resilience, anti-fragility (fall down 7 times, get up 8), Buddhism, Stoicism etc the authors talk of two interesting concepts. One is wabi-sabi, which looks at imperfection as beauty. There is nothing permanent in their philosophy. They celebrate imperfection. Another is Ichi-go Ichi-e which means that this moment exists only now and will never come again.

In the final analysis - the key to a happy and long life is - don't retire, slow down, eat only upto 80% of your stomach capacity, have a lot of good friends, get in shape, connect with nature, walk, live in the moment and follow your ikigai.

Have a happy and long life!

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Stories at Work - Indranil Chakraborty

North American Indian proverb - "Tell me a fact and I'll learn, Tell me a truth and I'll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever." That's what the book starts with. Indranil acknowledges the contribution of Shawn Callahan and Mark Schenk of 'Anecdote' an Aussie company engaging in business storytelling. Indranil runs a firm called 'Story Works' that helps organisations work better by using stories to get results.

"Story is a fact, wrap it up in context and deliver it with emotion," he says. To tell stories one needs practice and a bag of stories in stock. So gather stories from your experience, books, others experience and index them for future use. He suggests using apps like Evernote. How many stories do I have? Hmm.

Humans remember stories - they convert raw experience into a story. We know by now that we all have a data brain and a story brain. It is the story brain that makes decisions - so if you can package your data into a nice story and tell it in a way that it fits the audience's context and touches some emotion you're on your way to get the deal. (Abstractions, assertions etc are not story and turn off the story brain - so watch out.) Since people are not rational unlike what they claim to be - and are emotional - paint a picture of an alternate universe and invite them in.

Why stories? Because they 1) help explain critical and complex messages, 2) are credible 3)  induce lean-in behavior, 4) inspire action and 5) spread quickly.

The 5 Elements of Story
- It starts with a time marker or a place marker
- It's about something happening - a sequence of events, names, dialogues. Good stories help you seem great stories help you feel.
- Something unanticipated happens
- Can add a relevance statement if you want - why am I telling this story

Key point - Remember what you do in the situation is what interests people, not the situation itself.

The science of storytelling
- Build rapport
- Explain change
- Trying to change people's
- Sharing best practices, knowledge or success

Types of Stories
Connection Story
Stories from your life that resonate with their own values and beliefs. (To build connection stories think of 5 words that describe your character, values or beliefs. Think of incidents in your life, when you were successful/failure, proud, passionate. Narrate these stories to someone and ask what they understood from it. Tell to 2 more people, to yourself, record and tighten it.)

"You don't sell yourself, you sell them themselves." - my quote!

Influence stories 
Acknowledge the anti-stories - people already have negative stories about what you are trying to change. Acknowledge the anti-story and lower their defences. Then share the story of the opposite point of view, make your case and then make the point.

To make the message stick be aware of 1) abstract language 2) absence of context and 3) the curse of knowledge.

Clarity Stories 
Lay it out in this format
- In the past...
- Then something happened...
- So now...
- In the future...

Success stories
Weave elements of visualisation and emotion to your success stories so it helps them remember. Recast your case studies by incorporating the client, whose problem your product solved, into the heart of the story.

Story listening
This is a huge part of storytelling. To get people to talk about their stories - 1) tell a story 2) ask the right questions 3) use emotion

Using Storytelling to change culture
Seek stories from people concerned about values and how they lived them. To get them to talk, create a warm and friendly atmosphere, (some food). Start your stories with 'I remember...'
To embed values across the organisation
1) collect and select stories
2) broadcast the stories and recognise the heroes (oral storytelling is best)
3) create a sustainable cycle with a diktat form above to share stories on a weekly basis. Look for values lived and where they failed in their values.

All companies benefit from capturing stories.

Change management
Share success stories. Get leaders to share the stories through oral storytelling. Get everyone to share their stories.

3 Worst ways to start a speech 
-don't introduce yourself, don't clear your thought, don't thank
3 Best ways to start a speech
- Start with a fact or a statistic, start with 'Imagine...', tell a story
3 best ways to finish
- Call to action, a rhetorical question, a story

Popular story structure - Freytags' pyramid
- Background information, setting, character
- 1st conflict
- Events that add suspense, tension
- High point of suspense
- Unravel conflict
- Resolution
- Tying up loose ends

To tell stories with data, the data has to be significant and should uncover insights that translate into business results.

The Ethics of Storytelling
- Tell them as you believe they happened
- tell them when you've made up a story
- don't tell others stories as if they are yours
- protect confidentiality
- don't do anything you don't want others to do to you

Build a sustainable storytelling organisation says Indranil, because it can make an organisation vibrant.
  • Use stories to make a business point
  • Go top-down - focus on forming a storytelling habit
  • Create a story sharing process
  • Assign a dedicated resource to run the story process
I enjoyed reading the book. Some real stories that I enjoyed (not the ones where they drop names - these are genuine stories.) It gives some good pointers. I fully agree with capturing stories. Organisations should do that to spread the culture they have lived, to spread success stories. We need storytellers to tell and story listeners to capture the stories. Hmm. Interesting. To try it out.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Sunday Cricket Lessons with Baig sir - Visualise and then the Body Responds

The effect of visualisation
Shreyans and Saiketh were bowling the new ball. I told them not to bowl without a plan - visualise the ball, the entire flight, pitching and then going off the wicket - and then try to execute that delivery. I could see that they both started bowling much better.

Often bowlers bowl without a clear plan in their head. But when they visualise the delivery off their hand and into the pitch and off it before they bowl the ball, they get a better result. I have experienced it and so I shared it with them.

It is almost as if the body tunes into the mind's visual and every cell aligns to make that happen. I guess that's what vision boards and goals do. Align all the cells into that direction.

I mentioned that to Baig sir. 'Sir, when they have a visual in their mind, they are delivering better.'

Pat came the answer - 'Yes, their body responds to that.'


Using Technology
At the same time I broached the idea of showing the trainees videos of them batting or bowling so they can see their mistakes and correct them. This is a tried and tested method. I explained to him the theory of Timothy Galloway and his approach of coachees coaching themselves by looking in the mirror (especially after they have learned the basics) and Elizabeth Newton's experiment of 'the Curse of Knowledge' - using tappers and listeners. Many times the trainees think they are doing it right - until they see themselves in action. 

He listened intently and told me that we should also use technology.

 How adaptable is that. How student-oriented. Brilliant.

Sunday Cricket Lessons with Baig Sir - They Don't Need to Know Everything

While watching Baig sir in action yesterday I could see how intensely he was putting Kartik through the drills.  I could see a marked improvement in Kartik's bowling. However as always, I noticed Baig sir speaking a minimum and letting Kartik bowl. A few balls, couple of corrections that's all.

It has always been like that with him. He will identify the mistake, pull the lad aside and make them do the drill first, then he corrects them, then he makes them practice with the ball in an empty net before coming back to the nets and bowling or batting. There will be a marked change after that small intervention.

'Why don't you tell them the theory behind it sir?' I asked him.
'They don't need to know everything,' said Baig sir. 'They will get confused. It's better we show them and make them practice experientially. If they come with some doubts after that we can explain.'

A huge difference from junior coaches or inexperienced coaches who say too many things, more to show off their knowledge than to make a positive difference. While at that they mess up the player's mind with too many theories that even they have not practiced.

The best teachers, show and make them experience it on their own. They do not tell.

Canteen Fundas - Focus on Your Strengths

Stillness is the Key - Ryan Holiday

Ryan Holiday makes a case for stillness. He cites so many lovely stories and makes his point. It's a nice fast read with stories about Churchill, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods etc.

In a nutshell, these are the concepts (and stories) about the Mind, Spirit and the Body

The domain of the mind (Kennedy's story and how he accessed stillness before he came to a wise decision on the Bay of Pigs incident)
Become present (Marina Abramovic - 79 days of meeting people across the table, YouTube)
Limit your inputs (Napolean would delay all good news and inconsequential stuff, only bad news to be told immediately)
Empty the mind (Baseball player Shawn Green and the zen mantra of Chop wood, carry water, focus on nothing else but the moment, Sadaharu Oh)
Slow down, think deeply - Fred Rogers show, Mr. Roger's Nighbourhood)
Start journaling - Anne Frank
Cultivate silence - (John Cage's 4'33' minutes of uninterrupted silence)
Seek wisdom - (Socratic method of inquiry)
Find confidence, avoid ego - (David and Goliath)
Let go (Awa Kenzo, the archery master, first taught detachment. He said 'what stands in your way is that you have to much wilful will.' Loosen up to get to a place when there is nothing in the way. Draw back the string until it fell from you bow like a ripe fruit) 

The domain of the spirit starts with the story of Tiger Woods and how he was troubled spiritually despite the enormous success as a golfer.
Choose virtue
Heal the inner child - (Leonardo da Vinci, being the illegal son, was something he could never get over)
Beware desire - (Kennedy's uncontrollable dalliances, a legacy of his father)
Enough - (Kurt Vonnegut and Joseph Heller's conversation when Heller tells Vonnegut that he had enough. The richest man is the one who is content.)
Bathe in beauty - (Anne Frank who saw beauty outside her window, in the blue sky, nature and the chestnut tree)
Accept a higher power - (AA seeks to surrender, seeks help from a higher source, too much for us to handle by ourselves)
Enter relationships - (the emptiness Johnny Cash faced ina  lonely home and how he went to the airport and wanted a ticket to anywhere but home)
Conquer your anger - (Micheal Jordan's anger ridden speech at the height of his fame, at an award ceremony)
All is one - (Astronaut Edgar Mitchell looked at the earth and realised how we are all one)
What's essential is invisible to the eye he says.

The domain of the body tells us how Winston Churchill wrote 10 million words, 40 books, 500 painted paintings and gave 2300 speeches in a highly productive life. When asked the secret he said it was about conservation of energy.
Say No - (Fabius versus Hannibal when Fabius refused to do anything and let Hannibal tire himself out while he saved his own resources)
Take a walk (best ideas come when walking, Wordsworth thought while walking, memorised and then wrote it down, Kierkegaard walked a lot)
Build a routine - (Fred Rogers, Churchill)
Get rid of your stuff - (Diogenes lived in a barrel)
Seek solitude - (Bill Gates and his Think Week)
Be a human Being (not Doing)
Go to sleep (Zen master Hakuin who slept for weeks on end and then delivered the speech "The Records of Old Sotto", American Apparel owner Don Charney who was sleep-deprived and brought the billion-dollar company down)
Find a hobby - Brtish Prime Minister William Gladstone chopped down trees, Churchill enjoyed laying bricks)
Beware escapism (don't run away from your priorities, novel writer John Fank who was so scared of rejection after one failure, that he whiled his time away reading, golfing and drinking but never wrote)
Act bravely (when the time comes to act, act. Like the French philosopher Anne Dufourmantelle who died in 2017, rushing into water trying to save two boys from drowning)

Thanks Suresh. Nice read. But to me 'Stillness Speaks' by Eckhart Tolle is still the best because it actually induces a stillness in you as you read it. This book tells you.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

The 3 Circles

1) First, write down the names of all the people who you think really love you.

2) Then list down all the people who you think care for you - not at love level, but care enough.

3) Then list down all those who perhaps respect you.

It's an interesting exercise. I wonder what it shows about us.

The Stand Up Guys and the Satirists are Showing the Mirror

When the media has largely failed in its duty, it is the satirists and humorists and stand up comedians who are showing the mirror. Be it print media (Krishna Shastri Devulapalli in The Hindu, Appupen of Brainded) or the outrageous videos on YouTube these guys are doing what no other artist is daring to do - say it like it is. After seeing the Raju Hirani and his actor brigade video and reading about the tweets of the sportspeople, these guys deserve a standing applause.

Art if anything else, should be fearless. Today these are the only voices remaining.

Here are some..
Rajeev Nigam

Varun Grover

Kunal Kamra

Abhijit Ganguly

Zakir Khan (understandably not the kind of stuff the other guys can do and get away)

TED Talk - Art Made of Trust, Vulnerability and Connection by Marina Abromovic