Sunday, July 5, 2020

How to Get Others to Change Their Mind - The Orphanage Chap

There was this loud announcement on a loudspeaker in the colony - longer than usual - so it caught my attention. Normally vegetable sellers or sofa repair guys go around the colony in a vehicle fitted with a loudspeaker and prerecorded messages (or even someone announcing their wares and services aloud live). They move from one apartment block to another, making quite a din when they are around. Normally it lasts some ten or fifteen minutes and then they move away.
Pic courtesy - Satish Nargundkar

But this was going on for longer. When I stepped out to see, I heard an announcement from a van that it was from some orphanage and they were collecting food, money, clothes etc. It did not sound very appealing so I went back in. In a while,, I heard someone shouting at the gate and went to see who it was. One long-haired chap was there asking for donations. 'Money, clothes, food,' he said. I shook my head and came back in. He left.

Shobha and Anjali asked who it was and I told them it was this orphanage collecting stuff. Anjali asked if they were taking clothes. I said they were. She said she had a pile of clothes to give and went in to get that. By the time I walked out, there was another man on the road near the van, with only a stump for his left hand. I nodded to him and asked if he would take clothes of 11-12-year-old children. He said their home was for 15 and above and mainly for the disabled. I told him I had clothes for younger children, girls especially. He looked unsure. I started to go back in.

'I'll take it sir,' he said. I knew he was still figuring it out as he was talking to me but he was planning to do something with them. 'Sure?' I asked.' 'Yessir,' he said. There are children also.

As I handed the clothes over he asked, 'Sir ca you donate some money too sir?' he asked. 'My immediate reaction to monetary donations is No. I was already calculating in my mind that I had already given him the clothes, why give him money too? I was already thinking of greed, usage, receipt etc etc. when he came with a creative line.

'Even one rupee is fine sir,' he said. 'We will take one rupee also sir. Just give us one rupee sir.'

That stopped me. One rupee I can easily give, in fact, I could give twenty. I knew that there was thirty rupees lying on my table and headed for that. But he had already unlocked that giving part in my head with that 'one rupee is fine sir'. Instead of giving that thirty rupees I opened my wallet, took out a hundred rupee note, and gave it to him.

Never have I seen anyone do this so beautifully, completely disarming me with his 'one rupee' entry barrier, He understood my uncertainty, insecurity, bought me to level ground with that offer, and then forced me make a rational call. He made me secure, got past my croc brain and hit the sweet spot. It's the smoothest sales job I have ever seen. Fantastic. Thanks my dear friend, it's great learning for me. Wishing you well in your collection drives and hope to see you again soon.




Saturday, July 4, 2020

Ayyappanum Koshiyum - Movie

2020. Director Sachy's last movie. Biju Menon and Prithviraj in lead roles as the adamant cop and the influential ex-soldier, who are out to get one another. It's long as it stretches beyond 2 and a half hours but the conflict is kept on the razor's edge. Lovely writing and dialogue and a wonderful piece of work by Sachy who passed away on June 18, 2020.

Ek Doctor Ki Maut - Movie

1990. Tapan Sinha's movie based loosely on the story of Dr. Subhash Mukhopadhya who pioneered the second in Vitro fertilisation int he world, just 67 days after an English physician did. Harrassed by the West Bengal government and the Indian government, he committed suicide in 1981. Dr Mukhopadhyay was the doctor who pioneered India's first test-tube baby in 1978, a recognition which was given to him when Dr. Anand Kumar who was credited with the achievement in 1997 discovered this fact and duly corrected the error.

Pankaj Kapoor plays Dr. Dipankar Roy who is conducting research on curing leprosy on his personal time at his personal expense and is making significant progress. He dedicates ten years of his life and when he makes a breakthrough, a well-intentioned journalist prints the story which catches the eyes of other jealous members of the fraternity to move to discourage and discredit him. But Roy has his band of loyal supporters too.

Pankaj Kapoor, Shabana Azmi, Irrfan Khan, Anil Chatterjee - it flows like a breeze. 

Punch Drunk Love - Movie

2002. Romantic comedy. Adam Sandler. It's a different level of neurotic.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Only When I Larf - Len Deighton

Three conmen - Silas, Bob and Liz - are brilliant at conning people. Silas is older, an ex-military man who worked under Liz's father's command in the war, Bob is a self-improvement, archaeology buff who loves books and is fully into himself and Liz is besotted with the suave Silas. Bob is besotted with Liz. The first caper is conning some medium-sized businessmen looking to earn 78% return on investment and then they head from America to London.

In London they narrowly escape with their lives in a caper involving some African country - the war minister they are dealing with is taken home in a box - while they're let off with a warning. By the time of the third caper, Bob wants control instead of being second in command, Liz is tiring of Silas, so they did it differently. Liz and Bob play main lead, Silas is the secretary, whom Bob taunts all the time, and they pull off their final caper. Everyone gets what they want in the end and the group pretty much splits up.

The story goes forward from the perspective of the three protagonists in every chapter which was an interesting device. The con jobs sound very credible. Deighton's dialogue brings the subtle nuances of each character out vividly. Thanks Vinod bhai.

Dev Bhoomi - Movie

2016. Victor Banerjee is Rahul Negi, returning to his home in Garhwal after many years of self-imposed exile in some foreign land. His return is not welcome as his brother tells him his father never forgave him, nor has he (the brother). Anyway. we can make out something is wrong with him as he gets bouts of unsteadiness. We figure out slowly that he fell in love with a low caste woman, couldn't get married because of society, attacks the village head and runs away. The village head survives, the girl loses it and nothing much happens. He finds a purpose in the end and donate shi earnings to the school which was burned down by some villainous types.


Thursday, July 2, 2020

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Book Review by Sridhar Neelam

Soon after I posted Sridhar's list of books to read along with his interview about books in my blog, I shared the link with our mates from the MBA class. Among the many encouraging words that we recieved from our friends, there was also a request from Bijju to Sridhar, asking him to review a book that he liked. The '7 Habits..' sits right at the top of Sridhar's list and it took him less than half an hour to review the classic, explaining lucidly the 7 habits, analysing them and making them relevant even to the layman. Clearly Sridhar has read the book many times and I remember him mentioning in the interview that he referred to it every once in a while to see if he is on course and how he compares. Here then is Sridhar's succint yet comprehensive review of Stephen R. Covey's 'The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.'

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Book Review - The 7 Habits of Highly Effective people
Sridhar Neelam

The 7 habits of highly effective people are the practical manifestation of universal principles like fairness, equity, honesty, integrity, quality, etc. The author believes that there are universal principles which govern the outcomes of every action. No matter what you believe, these principles determine the outcomes.

Another way of looking at these habits is to see them as a means to move a person from dependence to independence and on to interdependence. The author believes that interdependence is a far greater virtue and is the underlying principle that governs the functioning of the world. He illustrates that belief in independence as a human goal is like playing tennis with a golf club! An instrument not suited for the game!

The 7 habits are codified as:
1. Be proactive
2. Begin with the end in mind
3. First things First
4. Think win - win
5. Seek to understand then strive to be understood
6. Synergise
7. Sharpen the saw.

Be Proactive
These 7 habits have to be viewed sequentially with first habit leading the way.
Covey exhorts that proactivity is the primary habit which in turn engenders the formulation of the succeeding habits. Proactive behaviour presupposes that the response to any stimulus is not based on emotions but based on predetermined values to which one holds accountable to. He is thus “responsible “. A proactive person is one who holds himself accountable to a set of predetermined values.

Begin With the End in Mind
Begin with the end in mind is the next habit. Only a proactive individual will be able to develop the habit of this highly intuitive habit. Just as we have a destination and the route in our mind the author expects each of us to chart his own course to a well thought out goal. He illustrates this habit with an imagery in which one is invited to attend his own funeral and eavesdrop on the comments made by the mourners. Covey urges us to determine one’s long term goals based on what one expects to hear from the mourners- wife, children, colleagues, friends etc. and then embark on the journey to achieve these ends.

First Things First
The third habit comes into play once we have the long term goals in place. Structured short term planning template is discussed in this chapter. Covey postulates that we all have multiple roles to play on a daily basis. For example a woman may see being a mother, wife, doctor, daughter, sister etc as some of the roles she plays. Each of these roles can be visualised and compatible goals can be set for each  role. Thus when a man conducts himself in the short term he will have to prioritise his activities based on the inter-se primacy of the goals.

Taken together these three habits constitute “private victory”- a victory over moods and emotions in subordination to predetermined values or goals.

The next three habits tell us how to achieve “public victory “- a victory in interpersonal interactions with others.

Think Win-Win
Habit 4 is that of “Think win-win” which is a prescriptive paradigm to view interpersonal conflict where both the contestants are vying to get the better of the spoils. Win- lose and lose-win are seen as adjustments which are inferior goals while lose-lose is not at all an option. Win-win process starts with both parties agreeing to explore options which are more beneficial to both than what each of them would have got by thinking win- lose. The mindset that underlies win - win thinking is termed as “ abundance mentality” - there’s enough for everyone- as compared to “scarcity mentality” which  presupposes that there is only a limited amount out there and the winner takes all leaving nothing to the loser.

Seek to Understand, Then Strive To Be Understood
Seek to understand, then to be understood priorities listening to others over talking. The author states that the listener should carefully understand the emotions and the logic of the person to whom he is listening. Only when we know both will we be able to respond effectively to the other person. After listening with an intent to understand, the individual must seek to be understood with equal effort. Preparing an effective presentation must have three components- ethos, pathos and logos. Ethos is the essence of the reasoning which includes the credibility of the presenter. The next part of the presentation must bring out the emotional aspects of the argument. Logos is the final part of the argument.This part of the presentation focuses on the logical arguments in favour of the proposal. Covey stresses the need to follow this sequence of argumentation while making a presentation.

Synergy
The sixth habit is that of “Synergy”. Covey states that all the earlier habits serve in cultivating this all important habit. Synergy is a situation when one plus one can become three, or eleven or zero. This is dependent on the quality of the relationship between the two entities or individuals. If the understanding between the two individuals is excellent, then together their output is manifold to that of what they would have produced individually. The essential concept Covey propounds is the need to “Value our differences “. He urges us to respect this dictum and encourage another viewpoint before taking a final view. He postulates that difference in viewpoints after seeing the same data is not logical but psychological. Each one views things not as they are but as he is i.e as per his own upbringing.

Sharpen the Saw
The seventh and the final habit “Sharpen the saw” enjoins us to improve ourselves on all 4 dimensions. Physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual aspects. Proper diet and exercise for physical renewal; reading classics for the intellect; the emotional dimension is renewed when we practice Habits 4,5&6 in  interpersonal behaviour and meditation and prayer help us renew the spiritual dimension on a daily basis.

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Thanks Sridhar for sharing your review. It may be a good idea for you to give a talk based on the book, with your own experiences and examples, since you have imbibed its principles so deeply. It could benefit many and change their lives.

As for the book, I believe this book must be owned by everyone and the 7 habits practiced. Definitely a book one must read. Also an apt gift for those you love. So, to practice the first principle, proactively go and get a copy, for yourself or for someone else you love.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Aparajito - Movie

1956. Bengali. The second of the famous Apu trilogy by Satyajit Ray and considered one of his finest. The story picks up where Pather Panchali ends, with the family moving to Varanasi, where it is dogged by misfortune, returns to the village minus the father who has died. Apu grows into a young man, studies and goes to college in Calcutta, distancing himself from his lonely and rustic mother as he sees more of the world. It ends with her dying and Apu deciding to shift to Calcutta and complete his studies.

I loved it. Completed the trilogy this lockdown.


Knives Out - Movie

2019. American mystery film. YouTube rented it for 150 bucks and it was well worth it. Daniel Craig is the detective who's been hired to find the murderer of a rich writer-publisher whose family is expecting to gain from his will. But he leaves it all to the nurse. Is it a suicide or murder?
Absolutely watchable.





Tuesday, June 30, 2020

A Conversation About Books - Sridhar Neelam's Book Shelf

It began with Sridhar, my scholarly friend from the Osmania University College of Engineering and then the Osmania MBA (where we shared a common passion for cricket), sharing a list of books he had suggested to someone else. Sridhar has always been a reader and has given me great book suggestions - 'The Inner Game of Tennis' was the first and it had a huge impact on me, 'Decisive' was another, 'Still Power' another, and so many more.

When I launched my first book 'The Men Within', in 2007, Sridhar, who had joined the Indian Revenue Service by then, came to the launch along with all our other friends and was very supportive of my literary endeavour. Later on, Anjan, our Literary Secretary from our Engineering College days and by then an IPS officer,  read the book and invited me and Sridhar for lunch at his office and we all discussed books and my career as a writer.
Vijay and Sridhar at the launch of 'The Men Within'.
(Vivek Jaisimha and my brother Ram in the background)
(Pic courtesy - Sunnie)
Ever since Sridhar and I discuss books every time we meet and he gives me great book suggestions. I detect in him the same urge that I have, to improve myself as a person, to hold on to every thought and strand that makes sense. We read non-fiction, mostly around peak performance states, happiness and the zone, and so on. It helps that we played cricket together for our college team, so we use a bit of cricketing metaphor to understand things. Currently, Sridhar is Commissioner GST, Medchal

When I saw Sridhar's list (I read 13 of the 25) I got an idea to interview him regarding books and his reading habits. I might start a series - maybe interviews of people and their book-reading habits, books that changed their lives etc.

Sridhar's Top 25 Books
Here's Sridhar's list first - in order of books that impacted him. The interview follows.

"Books that changed me

1) The Seven habits of highly effective people by Stephen R Covey
2) The power of full engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz
3) Man’s search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
4) The autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
5) Mindset by Carol S. Dweck
6) 7 kinds of smart by Thomas Armstrong
7) Getting to yes by Roger Fisher, William Uruguay and Bruce Patton
8) The power of your subconscious mind by Joseph Murphy
9) The inner game of tennis by Tim Galloway
10) Born to Win by Muriel James and Dorothy Jongeward
11) How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie
12) Your erroneous zones by Wayne W Dyer
13) Self-fulfilling Prophecy by Robert T Tauber
14) Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
15) The Prince by Machiavelli
16) The Road less travelled by Scott M Peck
17) Candide by Voltaire
18) The Golden Gate by Vikram Seth
19) Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam by Edward Fitzgerald
20) Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman
21) Flow by Mihaly Czikhsentmihaly
22) Good to Great by Jim Collins
23) A telltale brain by V S Ramachandran
24) Peak by Eric Ericsson
25) Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel T Gilbert.

My Interview with Sridhar

H. So, how did you pick up the reading habit?

S. I used to stay in Hyderguda where our ancestral house was and studied at St. Paul's High School which was close to my house. Though the school has a library, I would frequent 'Moghul's Library' which was on the Himayath Nagar main road, along with my friend Satish. People at home say I picked up letters and alphabets early on in life, so I guess I carried it to books on my own because there weren't many books at home nor readers.

Satish and I would borrow books at 10 paise per book, read them quickly, and exchange them by noon so we could read the other book. That way, we actually read two books for 10 paise. Our reading was mostly confined to Famous Fives, Secret Seven, Alistair Maclean, Tintin comics. I used to read whatever I could lay my hands on then. In fact, I would help the library uncle so he would give me new books as and when they arrived.
Sridhar and his bookshelf

H. So you developed the habit on your own?
S. Yes, because my father was not much of a reader. He hardly had time to read the newspaper because during his early days at the RBI, he was actively involved in Union work. He used to move around with people and that left him hardly any time to read. By the time he became an officer, I think it was perhaps too late to start the habit.

H. Who were the major influences for you to develop the reading habit?
S. My friends Venugopal and Satish were the main ones. Venu used to be ahead of us - he would be reading Desmond Bagley, Maclean etc when we were still reading in Famous Fives etc. So he kind of paved the way for us. After school, while studying in the Intermediate I didn't read much.

When I was around 16-17 years of age I began going to the Ramakrishna Mission where Swami Ranganathananda would give his Sunday lectures between 6 and 7 pm. His talks would connect physics with religion and spirituality and I was drawn into reading books like the Tao of Physics and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance in that period.

When I joined Engineering college in 1984, Anjan was a huge source of information about authors and books. He would have so much trivia about all things literary, and when he mentioned some book or author, I'd get that book. Also my younger brother's friend, Arvind Desai had a big collection of books at his house. I'd borrow from him.

Once,  on my birthday, Anjan and a few friends of mine from the Engineering College gifted me a copy of Vikram Seth's 'Golden Gate' I began writing poems after that, expressing my feeling in verse and continue to do that even now. Whenever i am moved by anything, I write poetry.

After those college years, my reading habit waned a bit when I joined service. But it got a big boost after I returned to Hyderabad and became a member of the Secunderabad club which has a wonderful library.

H. How many books do you read in a year?
S. These days I average two books a week. I can safely say I average between 70-80 books a year. I mainly read non-fiction. I stopped reading fiction for a while now, I read magazines like Esquire, Economist, Time, New Yorker, Frontline - their well-researched articles.

H. What themes interest you these days?
S. I enjoy reading books that deal with the mind and how it works, our perception, and how it guides our behaviour. I try to find parallels in religion and at work. Books like VS Ramachandran's 'Telltale Brain', Gilbert's 'Stumbling on Happiness', Gallwey's 'Inner Game of Tennis are the kind of books I enjoy reading. There's a book called 'Incognito' by David Eagleman which deals with neuroscience that interests me.

I formed my own ideas after reading these books. It appears that humans are the only beings that think of tomorrow. The cerebral cortex which deals with reasoning is constantly worried about tomorrow. This is what causes anxiety in humans.

H. How have books changed you?
S. I feel we all start with the idea of wanting to be like someone. I think non-fiction books gave me a template towards achieving my potential, which I did not have. The '7 habits of highly successful people', is my bible.

At work, I audit myself and my behaviour with others. I check whether I am conforming to the behaviours I hold myself to. I feel I have changed, I feel I used to be arrogant earlier, but now I am aware and feel I am more grounded. I have also been able to reduce the communication barrier considerably and am more approachable. I am quite pleased to hear my old mates from Engineering College say that I have changed considerably. Ii is thanks to these books and their evolved ideas, that I have evolved as well.

H. If you have to pick important behaviors/facets to work on, what would they be?
S. I picked three things to work on based on my reading - Communication, Motivation and Perception. I try to model these behaviours at work. My guiding principle is that if I take care of my people, they will take care of their work. So I try to facilitate an atmosphere where it is easy and comfortable to work. I have an immediate testing ground for my theories and behaviours at my work place where my colleagues provide instant feedback.

H. If you had to pick books that changed you considerably, what would that be?
S. The best book I ever read is the '7 Habits of Highly Effective People which I use as my bible. I keep checking myself on that scale. It is one book that I'd love my children to read, imbibe and practice. 'The Power of Full Engagement' is another book that impacted me deeply. The idea that the Greeks believed in dovetailing virtues was fascinating. For example, honesty without compassion would lead to cruelty. Virtue in its purest form will not work. This one point gave me a lot of comfort in my work. Other books like 'Self Fulfilling Prophecy', 'Nudge' have all impacted me.

H. How big is your collection of books?
S. Not a very big collection actually. Maybe 70-80 books, mostly non-fiction. I don't read books for the sake of reading. I try to implement the core ideas in my life. Apart from reading books, I watch lot of movies - 2-3 movies a week.


H. What are you reading now?
S. I am re-reading the 'Inner game of tennis' and 'Stubmbling on happiness'. I also read the Hindu and do the Crosword diligently.

H. What's next on the list?
S. People versus Democracy by Yascha Mounk .
...


On that note, we ended the interview. Thanks Sridhar for your time and a wonderful interview. I have a lot of books to catch up on from your list. Until the next book discussion then.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Sleeping Streets - Praise Osawaru

Chitra shared this. Worth reading. It does something. So it must be good.
Thanks Chitra.

perhappened.com/sleepingstreetspraiseosawaru.html

"Saying the word ‘carnival’ stamps my tongue
with a breed of thrill & it finds its way into my body.
I’ve never been to a carnival, only seen it on TV,
but I know it exists in different strains.
People can be carnivals, too.
They come into your life & husk the silence off your spirit
& teach you to water the seed in your heart.
They burn the vacuum in you & the fire
lights up streets you never knew existed inside you.
You see, your body is a city, too,
& unfamiliar people wander in, like birds
& make nests in your tongue.
They’ll take you on merry-go-rounds,
you’ll sing songs your mouth never memorized the words of.
& when they’re gone, which happens eventually,
you’ll learn lanes also exist in cities,
you’ll learn that your body is a home & not a bar
strangers walk in for a drink.
You’ll understand why people find love in cigarettes--
they're trying to light up sleeping streets in themselves.?

Patadik - Movie

1973. Mrinal Sen. The third in his Calcutta anthology. A rebel escapes the police van and hides in a luxury apartment owned by Simi Garewal.



Katha Sangama - Movie

2019. Seven short films made by seven different directors as an ode to Puttana Kanagal who made a movie of the same name. I, unfortunately, could not find a version on YouTube with subtitles so I decided to view this one.

The first story is rather simple - a father promises his daughter that he will take her to rainbow land. How they end up there despite some twists is the story. Nice and cute. There's one dialogue-less story where a lady gets stuck on a deserted road and encounters a villainous-looking vagrant - and survives. There's one where a lady from a village goes to Bangalore for the first time, steps out to buy sweets for her son for his birthday and loses her way. Very nice. One where a guy keeps revisiting the same day - Groundhog Day. There's one where a man who has listened to others all his life, decides to take control on the last day before retirement. In one story set in British times, a barber makes a judgment call on murdering a police officer, and it saves him.

Stuff like that. Nice. All of them very different from one another and well made. Now to search for the original with subtitles somewhere. 

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Diamond Dust - Anita Desai

It's probably the first time I have read Anita Desai's work. A collection of short stories. Royalty is about a guest, an old friend, who is rather insensitive to the needs of his old friends. Winerscape is ab unusual story of an Indian settled in Canada and who invites his two mothers to visit him when his Canadian wife has a child.

Diamond Dust is about the love of a senior government official for his dog - Diamond. The Man who Saw Himself Drown is about a man who finds that he has been mistaken for dead but does not know what to do with this new found freedom. The Artist's Life is the story of a reclusive woman - an artist. Five Hour to Simla is about a car journey to Simla which takes longer than they expect. The Rooftop Dwellers is about a young working woman and her new home in Delhi - a barsati, and her struggles to get by.

Nice stories. She is considered one of the finest English novelists of modern times.

Amour - Movie

2012. French. The story of two elderly music teachers who have spent a lifetime together and how their life changes after she suffers a paralytic stroke that paralysed one side of her body. She tells her husband neve to hospitalize her again and he takes care of her by himself watching her steadily go down until he cannot bear to see her pain any longer.


Friday, June 26, 2020

Anjali - Yasvantt's Meeting

Anjali's class has these debates going on. For the first debate, Anjali was the facilitator. I could see her contacting her teammates and organising their effort before school started. Their team was the underdog but they did a good job of it and held their own. They now have another debate and this time Yasvantt has been made the facilitator. I was doing my work in my room when Anjali came into the room with her laptop. Their group met on Zoom to discuss the strategy for the next debate which is in a few days and could not help overhearing the goings-on.

Yasvantt, always polite, earnest and fair, clear-headed and aware, spoke first. It went something like this - ok we have four days to prepare. These are the things we need to do - Power Point presentation, video, points to debate on. Who wants to volunteer to do the Power Point? Someone said yes. So who will do the video then, asked Yasvantt. There was some silence and no one volunteered. Anjali, you do the video, he said and assigned her the job. Ok, said Anjali. The rest of us have to make points of which we will debate. Sure, said everyone. He was obviously well prepared.

Ok, then you can leave, said Yasvantt. The whole thing took about four minutes, precise, clear, goal driven meeting. And very direct.

Are we meeting again tomorrow asked Anjali. Oh yes, said Yasvantt. We are meeting tomorrow. it will be longer than today because we will all come with our points and discuss them. You can leave now.

The meeting ended. Five minutes.

Haven't seen such a well-organized meeting with such clarity and no unnecessary frills. After seeing hundreds of rambling, pointless and inefficient meetings conducted in the corporate sector, I am thoroughly impressed by how well Yasvantt conducted this. Total economy of words, energy and effort. Brilliant leadership by Yasvantt and great teamwork by the others who stuck to the agenda without distracting themselves. Superb stuff.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Another Hero - Kathy Buckley

Sohala - Movie

2019. Marathi. An estranged couple gets to spend a day together when they go to sign some property documents. The movie reveals bits of why they drifted away and why their lives changed so much. A tad too melodramatic for my liking though the plot was interesting.


The Secret in Their Eyes - Movie

2009. Spanish- Argentine movie. A judiciary employee (Esposito) and his boss (Irene), investigate a rape and murder while dealing with their own romance. The investigation by the police is superficial and they convict some migrant workers. The judiciary employee finds a photograph among the family archives in which he finds a man looking at the victim in a particular way. He believes there is a passion in his eyes and investigates. He finds that person missing and follows him with no results. In the meantime, his assistant gets shot and everyone moves on. The story picks up 25 years later when Esposito meets Irene with a draft of his novel, about the incident, and he finally finds closure, in the crime and his life.

Tad long but engaging crime thriller.


Amazing Post - On Rilke and Rodin

This link was shared by Pallavi and I was amazed at the creative process adopted by both Rodin and Rilke. The observations that 'the words formed him' as opposed to him forming the words, that he 'received instead of creating the words' and how he cannot work when he connects money to work.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/articles/90278/from-you-must-change-your-life-the-story-of-rainer-maria-rilke-and-auguste-rodin

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teenagers - Sean Covey

Sean Covey is the son of Stephen Covey who wrote the bestselling book 'The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People' which is a gem. Sean brings the same 7 principles to teens with an easily engaging language, relatable examples and humorous illustrations.

The 7 habits are divided into 1) The Private Victory (personal habits) 2) The Public Victory (inter-personal habits) and 3) Renewal

The Private Victory
1) Be Proactive 
This essentially means that we must take responsibility for what happens to us instead of waiting for things to happen. If we let things happen to us, we must take what's given to us. But if we choose to be proactive and make things happen, a lot of things are set in motion and we lead a more empowered life instead of leading a helpless existence.
The key is action.

2) Begin with the end in mind 
When we begin with a clear end, we find ways to get there which may not show up if we start from where we are. For example if we start making a plan to travel with how much money we have in our pockets, we may not go far. However, if we begin with the end, let's say we want to travel to the Himalayas, we will find a way to get there. 
The key is to not let your current resources limit your vision and instead start with the grandest vision you want to achieve.

3) First things first 
An incredible habit that will ramp up the amount of work we do 10x times. Covey helps us to differentiate between important and urgent work and then, to do the important work as seriously as we do urgent work. It is the important work that takes us forward and it is that which we normally postpone because we cannot see much progress there on a daily basis. Check out Stevphen Covey's matric on this.
The key is to do the first things first, or the most important things first instead of filling your life with unimportant stuff.

The Public Victory 
4) Think Win-Win
This is a gamechanger where we don't look to profit at the cost of another and instead look to find win-win solutions where everyone benefits. Its a big shift from the lack-thinking where one looked to benefit at another's cost.
The key is to be secure, arrive at a win-win solution mutually, and build strong bonds of trust.

5) Seek first to understand, then to be understood
This is the first rule of communication. Instead of rushing in with insecurity and trying to push our agenda forward without even understanding what the others are trying to say, the idea is to first listen to the others' viewpoint and understand what they are trying to say. This will enable others to feel heard and feel secure. Then you can put your point across until the other person understands you. This habit will ensure good communication and makes things very efficient.
The key is to build a secure space for communication for everyone. You can take the leadership position and listen first.

6) Synergise
In the most simple terms it means that 2+2 +5. A fine example that Sean gives is the way the Chinese or the Taoists choosing the middle path - which is not aa compromise, but the peak that can be achieved between two viewpoints as in the third angle of a triangle. I found that illustration brilliant.
The key is to seek solutions that maximise the benefits accruing out of any interaction.

Renewal 
7) Sharpen the Saw 
The idea is to continuously sharpen the saw so it does not get blunt, and your efficiency increases. reading books, developing habits, making mew empowering relationships are all part of the sharpening process.
The key is to continuously improve.

The 7 habits are brilliant and if one were to take a questionnaire based on these habits, we would know where we are slipping. Fine book for teens to read and discuss and practice.



Anjali - Gadget Free Hour

It's a common sight to see all of us stuck in some gadget or another at home. We use gadgets for work and then, we sue gadgets for relaxation. Anjali asked if we could try an hour of gadget-free relaxation. 'Let's just gather somewhere and stay gadget-free. No rules.'
Gadget-free life!
It started with an hour after she finished school. We switched off our gadgets and gathered around. We spoke randomly, hummed, sang, shared experiences, joked about. The hour went by quite easily though I was guilty of watching the clock a couple of times.

The next time we did half an hour and it flew. And another, and now I cannot wait for these sessions to get started. Whether its the freedom from gadgets or just plain being with people and having a conversation without gadgets intruding I don't know, but it does feel very good to just be there without any agenda.

I am wondering why I never thought of doing something like this before. I do switch off my phone when I start any serious writing work but that's it. I never thought I'd use it when I was with people. From now on, gadget-free conversations as much as I can hen I meet others too.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Albert Pinto Ko Gussa kyon Aata Hain - Movie

1980. Saeed Mirza. The story of about a car mechanic Albert who believes he can get rich by working hard and being in the company of his rich clientele who he thinks indulge him because he is different from other workers who are slackers. His father is a mill worker who after years of unfair treatment by the mill owners rises up in revolt and gets involved in a strike. Albert who favored the mill owners initially, realises that the workers have their side of the story, and perhaps the rich exploited them. Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi, Smita Patil (her one line 'tu gadha ka gadha hi rahega) to Naseer sums it up.

Nice and layered with an interesting bunch of characters.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Neel Akasher Neeche - Movie

1958. Mrinal Sen movie. Based on short story 'Chini Feriwala' by Mahadevi Verma. An unusual plot set in the 1930s. A Chinese immigrant in Calcutta who makes his living Chinese silk, makes friends with a rich progressive, politically active lady. When she calls him her brother he reciprocates her affection, having lost his younger sister in China. The story shows their platonic love, how society misunderstands them, how they treat it with maturity. Interesting characters.

Canteen Fundas - Don't Believe a Prediction that Doesn't Empower You

Discussing Sean Stephenson's powerful line in the Canteen - "Don't believe a prediction that doesn't empower you".

https://www.edexlive.com/opinion/2020/jun/20/canteen-fundas-shun-what-doesnt-energise-your-soul-12753.html

Canteen Fundas: Shun What Doesn’t Energise Your Soul and Choose What Empowers You

'Hello,’ said Rakesh. ‘How’re you two doing today?’

‘I’m tip-top,’ said Rinku. ‘But Rahul’s in the dumps.’
‘Why?’ asked Rakesh.
‘He made a short film,’ said Rinku. ‘And wants to enter it in a competition.’
‘Great,’ said Rakesh. ‘So?’
‘He showed it to his father,’ said Rinku. ‘His father told him that there’s no future in it and that Rahul should stop wasting time.’
‘Oh, okay,’ said Rakesh.
‘I felt like such a fool,’ said Rahul. ‘I was so excited to show it to my father. But all he did was give doomsday prophecies.’
‘Hmm,’ said Rakesh. ‘But you can enter the competition, right?’
‘No, bhaiyya,’ said Rahul. ‘I don’t feel like it anymore.’
‘Rahul,’ said Rakesh. ‘I know how you feel. We pour our heart and create something — a poem, story or film. Then we put ourselves out there, hoping that people we value will appreciate it. And all it takes is one sharp word to act like a pinprick on this beautiful, fragile balloon we’ve created. Poof!’
Rahul nodded.
‘But that’s your father’s opinion,’ said Rakesh gently. ‘Not necessarily the truth. What’s real is your creation. It deserves a chance irrespective of how good or bad it is. Enter the competition, dude.’
‘No, bhaiyya. Maybe my father is right,’ said Rahul.
‘But Rahul,’ said Rinku. ‘I’ve never seen you as excited and alive as you were during the making of your film. You should go for it.’
Rahul shook his head. ‘I want to,’ said Rahul. ‘But I’m confused.’
‘Here’s a pointer,’ said Rakesh. ‘I watched this TED Talk by therapist and author, Sean Stephenson. He says, ‘Never believe a prediction that does not empower you’. Watch his talk. It’s powerful.’
‘Wow,’ said Rinku. ‘You mean we only take what empowers us and drop all that that doesn’t. That’s cool.’
‘Can we do that? asked Rahul.
‘Of course,’ said Rakesh. ‘It’s a choice. What empowers you energises you, makes you come alive and do unique work. But only you know that, others don’t. They might mean well but they won’t understand what it means to you. So it’s up to you to choose well, keep your spirit alive and not let it die because of a few words.’
‘Thanks, bhaiyya,’ said Rahul. ‘That’s a powerful idea by Sean Stephenson. For starters, I’ll not let any predictions about my chai stop me from making it.’

Pro Tip: Always choose in favour of what empowers you. Drop all that that saps your spirit and that can help you achieve success, reach your goal

Anjali - A Lovely Father's Day Card!

Father's Day is always about lots of hugs, hand made cards, some surprise that Anjali plans and executes. So it started with a hug, and then there was this generous offer of cornflakes from her bowl(only because its Father's Day), a movie we all watched together (Jumanji), pizza for lunch and as always, a card appeared quietly on my desk by evening.

These are thoughts that I'd never want to lose, so I am keeping it here. Stuff I can check online anytime.

Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

Page 4

The less I say, the better, because I don't think I can capture what I feel when I read the card. But this much I must say, Anjali, thank you so much for such a precious, thoughtful card

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Do Bigha Zamin - Movie

1953. Bimal Roy's classic movie based on Tagore' poem. It's deservedly in the 100 all-time great Indian movies list. Inspired by 'Bicycle Thieves' it is the tale of a farmer who refuses to sell his two bighas of land to the local landlord who plans to build a factory there. The landlord seeks immediate repayment of his loan from the farmer who realises he has limited time to raise the money. He goes to the city, Calcutta, with his son to earn money and return to free his land. The hard life of the city, the simple ways of the farmer and his race to raise money put him and his family through a lot of hardship. Balraj Sahni, Nirupa Roy, young Jagdeep star. Another classic off the list.


Ganashatru - Movie

1990. Satyajit Ray. Adapted from Henrik Ibsen's play 'Enemy of the State'. Relevant even today. A man of science, a doctor, makes a creation between illnesses and deaths due to water contamination. He finds that the water in a densely populated area of the town is contaminated and it includes the temple which is visited by thousands every day. He wants to bring it to the public's notice to prevent further deaths by the two administration and the powerful temple trust which makes money off the upcoming festival insist that no illness befalls those who drink holy water. The doctor fights a losing battle and he is branded as an enemy of the people, asked to leave the house, loses his job, and wonders if he had done the right thing by trying to warn the people.

Sound familiar doesn't it?


Anjali - Online Classes

Come June 1, 2020, and something I have never imagined happened. All schools were shut thanks to the pandemic and so was Anjali's school, Daksha. The way forward (actually they had already conducted online classes during April 2020, but we all hoped it would fade off and things would be normal soon, then), was online classes. Instructions were given and the children got ready to go to school, online.
Pic Satish Nargundkar

Clearly, it had its challenges. You needed a laptop, a good internet connection, a place where you could sit comfortably for long periods without getting disturbed. And this was compounded for teachers I guess who needed to get used to this new normal, hook up their gadgets, learn new skills, manage home and work, and mostly make it interesting for the children.

Initially, classes began at 8 am and continued till 3. After a week or so they changed it to 830 am. Now it has more or less settled into a rhythm. 830 am to 945 am. Breakfast break of 45 minutes. Then 1030 am to 1145 am. Break of 15 minutes. Then 12 pm to 115 pm. Break for lunch.

45 minutes of lunch break. Then the last class from 2 pm to 315 pm.

Anjali found her space say from distraction in the far corner of the house. A chair was tried and then another before the original chair was restored. Sh will be in intense concentration. at times rushing to her room to get some book or accessory. At times when the posture gets strenuous, she changes her position.

There's enough homework too so I wondered if it was getting a bit hectic. Luckily the school also did a survey to collect feedback from the students and parents. I suggested a class where the students interacted - a virtual playground - and maybe another where they, under the teacher's guidance, discuss what's on their mind. It's been a tough three months for them too.

Anjali feels that her concentration levels are higher though she would have preferred going to school and meeting her friends. The only issue she had was not being able to see the teachers because just listening to their voice and seeing a screen with content is not interesting. But anyway, these are early days and they are all figuring out things. The survey was a great idea to course correct.

There are times when the power goes off or the internet connection s bad and  I feel bad for her and the other students. At times when these things happen at the teacher's end also there is some frustration at both ends but I found the teachers to be extremely patient. Not every student would have had a laptop dedicated to them or a phone, so someone surely is sacrificing a phone or a laptop and space. Luckily for Anjali, I got a laptop gifted by my friend Vasu (who has always been encouraging about my writing journey in his own quiet way) just before the lockdown and since I use the desktop when I am at home, she has her own laptop.

Today, being Father's day and Yoga day the senior students and the school got together and had a yoga session on Zoom and then a music quiz (also Music day) where students could participate with their fathers. I joined Anjali and helped her with two answers - 'Country Roads' by John Denver and 'Happy Together' by the Turtles. Kenyan, from 9th, did a good job of conducting the quiz on Zoom. Anita attended the session as well and actually won - she got the most answers right. Anjali was surprised at the range of her knowledge in music - Anita knew songs from 'Mera Jhoota gain Japani' to One Direction! I hope they have more such fun sessions because they need to interact even on fun, extra-curricular spaces.

I am wondering how it will be if online classes continue for another two months. Will the children get used to being at home, away from school? Will they prefer online more? Will there be a mix of the best of both worlds? I am waiting and watching.



Friday, June 19, 2020

The Best Years of Our Lives - Movie

1946. Winner of seven academy awards. The movie is about three US servicemen returning after the war to a life of uncertainty. One is a sailor who lost his hands, another a bomber who has performed heroically but knows no other skill but to bomb and the third is an ex-bank man who served in the Pacific. All three return after three years to their lives and find it difficult to adjust on various counts. I loved watching the movie - everything looked so believable - the characters their motives, their lives. And after a long time, some sharp dialogue and some fine acting.


Mahapurush - Movie

1965. Satyajit Ray. Based on a short story by Birinchibaba. It's just about an hour long.
An advocate and his daughter meet a baba and his disciple on the train. The baba actually commands the sun to rise and then tells the advocate how he is timeless - he has been having chats with Plato, taught Einstein. knew Jesus and Gautam. He has an amazing knowledge of history, science, philosophy etc so he throws people off easily. But when the advocate's daughter threatens her boy friend that she will go away with the baba, its time for his uncle Nibaran to step in and help. It's funny and smart.



Thursday, June 18, 2020

My Cricketing Insights - KP Eashwar

K P Eashwar is a former Kerala University opening bat and off-spinner. During his active playing days in the eighties and nineties, Eashwar represented Trivandrum District's Under 19, 22, and 25 teams and the Kerala South Zone Under 22 team. He played First Division League for Chasers Cricket Club in Trivandrum for about 7 years and for Pelicans Cricket Club in Delhi for 3 years.

While in Kerala, he played for the Reserve Bank of India and Keltron as a professional and played several match-winning knocks. He represented his office team (TERI) for 18 years in Delhi and scored 14 centuries during that period. Eashwar also led the TERI team for about 4 years.

Clearly, Eashwar loves the game, and passionately, at that.

Apart from cricket, Eashwar was a national-level Cycle Polo player in the Sub-Junior category (Under 15); he represented Kerala and won a bronze medal for the state in the national tournament held at Jaipur Polo Grounds.
K P Eashwar - former Kerala University player 
2007 on, Eashwar is settled in Chennai. He is a publishing and development communications consultant. He has worked on several development projects of multilateral and bilateral agencies as well as government institutions and ministries. Apart from cricket, his interests lie in the fields of science and technology, energy, environment, and Ayurveda.

He keeps himself reasonably fit through yoga and middle-distance running. And he never misses an opportunity to watch and discuss cricket, be it at club level or an international game.

Here then, are Eashwar's insights on a game he so loves.
....

The Karate Kid and the Lessons It Offers - K P Eashwar
Have you watched the movie, The Karate Kid? If you haven’t done it already, I would highly recommend it to you. Please watch it.

Now, who’s this ‘you’ I am referring to here. Let me state it so as to avoid any confusion. The ‘you’ could be a budding cricketer, parent of a promising cricketer, or a cricket coach of an academy, school, college, or even a top-division club.
Two openers - Eashwar with Gordon Greenidge
(receiving the Man of the Match award in a tournament sponsored by Grants Whisky)
Coming back to the movie, I must have watched it at least 15 times in a span of about 2 years. Thanks to my son, who got me into it the first time. The last time I saw it was about 2 months ago at home when coronavirus was desperately looking for me outside of my Chennai home! This time also, the movie got my full attention! Only a classic long innings of Brian Lara or VVS Laxman that is peppered with ‘counter-attacking shots’here and there could have me glued to my seat like that.

For the benefit of the uninitiated, let me briefly sum up what the movie is all about. The Karate Kid is a 2010 martial arts drama film featuring Jackie Chan (Mr Han in the movie as Kung-fu master/Coach), Jaden Smith (Dre Parker as his student), Dre Parker’s mother, and a few young ‘villains’ and their Kung-fu Coach. The movie has a happy ending as Dre Parker succeeds in his fight against two demons at the same time: the first one being his inner fears and the second one his rivals, those little Kung-fu champs, in a fierce school-level competition.

For Coaches
For ‘you’ as coaches, it will be good to observe how the good coach (Jackie Chan) in the film helps his ward overcome his fears and raise his level of patience, focus, skill-sets, etc. with innovative drills and practice sessions. Teaching his ward about the history of the sport itself and what Kung-fu stands for in its entirety adds a further dimension to the role of this good coach. “Empty your mind,” the piece of advice to his ward that the good coach often repeats in the film, has stayed with me ever since I saw the film the first time.

On the other hand, ‘winning’ is all that matters for the ‘bad coach’, even if that comes through wrongful means.
With old friend from club and college cricket - KN Ananthapadmanabhan 
For Parents
For ‘you’ as parents of young cricketers, the role played by Dre’s mother offers something that is worthy of emulation. She doesn’t interfere with the coaching methodology and places full faith in the abilities of the coach to transform her son. To cap it, she fills her little son with ‘positivity’ and ‘love’ in the only way a parent can do. So, the next time you don’t see your son or daughter in the playing eleven of the school or the cricket academy team, don’t lose your sleep over it and get upset about it. You will never know what life-lesson the coach is teaching your ward! Therefore, isn’t it better to not tamper with the process adopted by the coach of your ward? Think about it.

For Cricketers
Now, for ‘you’ as a cricketer. Off-hand, you can take the advice “Empty your mind” verbatim the next time you go out to bat or bowl either in the nets or in a match. Because emptying your mind helps you focus on the ‘one thing’ that you want to do. Yes, it takes some amount of mental conditioning to get down to doing that actually. Nevertheless, it has its great benefits while batting or bowling or fielding in the narrow sense of the meaning of those words. The moment you start putting that advice into practice while playing, you will see the immense possibilities that you are presented with.

Second, practise the drills advised by your coach to the last dot. It doesn’t really matter how boring the drills are. Stick to those drills till they become a part and parcel of your muscle memory.

Third and final, ‘enjoy’ the process of learning without bothering much about the outcome.

Happy watching! Wish you all the very best!

....

Thanks so much, Eashwar. I watched the movie and enjoyed it. Might watch it again to carefully go over the points you made. All your observations are critical insights and will surely benefit the reader -  be it a coach, a parent, a cricketer or even a corporate executive.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Thought for the Day - We Get Only As Much As We Value Our Work

When we do any work, it is the value we assign to it that sets a lot of things in motion. We can approach the work purely for its sake, as something to add the greatest value you can add to. Once we are clear about the value we are bringing to the work, we can now approach it better, with a clear understanding.
Pic Satish Nargundkar
Since we know we have set out to create a work of value, we will hold nothing back. We will commit to the work with full intensity. And since we commit ourselves fully to our work, and we also know the value we have assigned to it, there is great clarity of the price, on its worth.

The problem with most cases where we find it difficult to quote a price is that we do not assign a clear value to our work in the very beginning. Once we are clear about the value of the work, the monetary value, our involvement, our self-esteem and pride all fall into place. There is no more doubt.

Chaalchitra - Movie

1981. Mrinal Sen. A young man meets the editor of a newspaper who asks him to write a piece set in his lower-class milieu. The young man cannot find anything interesting enough though he tries hard. The theme of smoke rising from coal-fired stoves in their kitchens pervades his existence and in the end, he can only dream of his class rising up in revolt against the upper classes. But when he wakes up, and gets the job, he finds that his ideas of revolt are compromised. He gets a gas connection for his mother.


Iruvar - Movie

1997. Mani Ratnam. Aishwarya Rai's debut film in the story based on the friendship and rivalry of Karunanidhi and MGR. Prakash Raj plays Karunanidhi and Mohanlal plays MGR. Its Mohanlal's show all the way and the interplay between the two friends turned rivals is riveting.


Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Change Anything - Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler

This is a pretty powerful book if one follows the process diligently. The authors - all five of them - have produced three NYT bestsellers 'Crucial Conversations;, 'Crucial Confrontations' and Influencer. They have a site called changeanything.com and offer training fro their organisation called Vital Smarts.

First up the authors say that we cannot change things not because we lack will power, but because we lack an understanding of the process. They deconstruct the whole process that influences change. There are 6 sources of influence and unless we know each one of them and change them we may not find much success in our effort to change. Another thing hey point out is that there is no one solution fits all stuff - we have to analyse our situation and come up with unique solutions that fit us. Third, they say we must be both the scientist and the subject, experimenting on ourselves until we find the right mix.

Crucial Moments and Vital Behaviours
So you first observe yourself (instead of trying out every suggestion given mindlessly). Find your crucial moments when you are vulnerable to pursue that behaviour - certain times, places, people, physical or emotional states. Observe your crucial moments. Once you know your crucial moments when you are susceptible to the behaviour we want to change, we must form a set of specific rules (not vague rules). If I get an urge to reach for oily food, I'll drink water. They give an example of how long time heroin addicts were a given specific task in the first 48 hours of withdrawal - they were told to write their resumes with specific guidelines on what to do when they get the urges. In the control group with no guidelines, none of them completed the task. But in the group with specific guidelines, an astoundign 80% completed the task

6 Sources of Influence
1) Love What You Hate - Personal Motivation
We repeat behaviours where we succumb to what we find pleasurable but want to change, and hate what is good for us but we don't like. We need to find ways to disarm our impulses and find ways to make our right choice pleasurable. So we need to find ways to stop ourselves from giving in to our impulses of say eating chocolate and also at the same time, make our exercise and healthy food routine more pleasurable.

Some tactics that are suggested are -  1) visualise the effects of your acts on your future 2) tell the whole story vividly 3) Use value words 4) Turn it into a game and 5) Create a personal motivation statement.

2) Do What You Can't - Personal Ability
Here the authors say that it's not about your will, your character, but in all likelihood its a skill issue. You probably don't know how to go about changing things. Your ignorance can be fixed. For example, I believed for a long time that I could just work off my excess weight until my friend pointed out that my idea was flawed - it was a simple maths of what I put in versus what I work out. So if I eat less, and eat smart, I was far more likely to lose weight than merely by exercising.

Most skills issues can be fixed by finding out from experts and engaging in deliberate practice. You will soon be able to do things you were not able to before. Breaking bad habits that ruin your career is easier than you thought if you looked at things like a skill issue, a learning problem. in fact, some say that all problems are learning issues.

3 and 4) Turn Accomplices Into Friends
I loved this. Bot good and bad habits are team sport they say. Social pressure is a huge thing in changing our habits, changing anything. So we have to identify our accomplices - the ones who are keeping us stuck in the loop, the reason why we smoke, drink or do anything that we want to change. Accomplices are complicit in out bad behaviour. By converting a few of them into your friends - those who support you in your new behaviour, you will have a far better result. For example, if you turn your spouse into from an accomplice who feeds you rich food into a friend who insists on healthy food, you will suddenly see change.

Eliminate a few accomplices and add just two new friends and you can see a 60% change.

5) Invert the Economy
The key behaviour here is that we value today's pleasure more than the punishment we have to face tomorrow. more often than not a drink, a drug, a cigarette today seems like a small thing when compared to the unseen punishment that is adding up in the future. So the authors say, invert the economics. Reverse the incentives by bribing yourself to change. Every time you indulge in bad behaviour, fine yourself. One way is to do something utterly undesirable - one paid money into a box, another paid a subscription to a political party he opposed. It must hurt that each time you do something pleasurable in the short time, you do something that is going to hurt.

Similarly, when you do something good, like indulging in good behaviour, reward yourself. Put up a medal, some symbol that measures your progress. Start a fund to buy yourself something nice.

6) Control Your Space
The authors point out that we do not take into account our space and its effect on us and our choices. For example, a design where all the objects of your distraction are easily available will keep you distracted. Moving away from distractions, changing the layout of the room, keeping certain things away and difficult to reach, help hugely in changing habits. A wonderful example is that of a football team that was invited to a meal of pasta - where everyone ate to their fill. However, the design of the plates - one group were given significantly bigger plates and the other smaller - caused the bigger plate group to eat 70% more! That's how much space can affect you.

The 6 sources of influence are a wonderful tool - to love what you hate, to know it's probably skill and not will you lack, turning accomplices into friends, inverting the economy to feel the pinch and lastly, to control the space. The book also gives case studies of how to use the process to get unstuck at work, to lose weight, to gain financial health, to lose additions and to better relationships.

In the end, the authors urge us not to get overwhelmed but to start small and to start now. They urge us to record our plan and our progress. And then we can change ourselves and by doing so, change the world.


Canteen Fundas - Hush the Critic Within To Perform Better

The Inner Game! - Based on the principles of the "Inner Game of Tennis" by Tim Gallwey!

https://www.edexlive.com/opinion/2020/jun/13/canteen-fundas-hush-the-critic-within-you-to-perform-better-12604.html

Bhaiyya,’ said Rahul. ‘I prepare well but I don’t perform as well as I think I can. Why?’

‘Yes, bhaiyya,’ said Rinku. ‘How do we perform up to our potential after preparing well?’
‘I read this book called The Inner Game of Tennis by Timothy Gallwey,’ said Rakesh. ‘It’s about performing up to your potential in any field.’
‘Wow,’ said Rahul. ‘How?”
‘First, be aware that there are two selves inside us — Self 1 and Self 2,’ said Rakesh. ‘Self 1 is the worrier and critic. It understands words and tends to intellectualise them. Self 2 is our executor, the one who’s doing the work. It understands images, feelings, and uses them to ‘do’ things. So, while our Self 2 is executing, Self 1 is continuously judging. Our Self 2 gets disturbed and performs below potential. Are you familiar with your Self 1 and Self 2?’
‘Yes, my Self 1 is highly judgmental, bhaiyya,’ said Rinku
‘And my Self 2 gets paralysed with fear,’ said Rahul.
‘That’s true for most,’ laughed Rakesh. ‘So, here’s the formula to improve performance. Performance = Potential – Interference. Reduce interference, improve performance.’
‘How can we reduce interference?’ asked Rinku.
‘By keeping Self 1 busy,’ smiled Rakesh. ‘Increasing body awareness is a known method. Focusing on your breath, singing or humming are commonly used techniques to quieten Self 1.’
‘But judging can’t be so bad, right?’ asked Rahul. ‘How can we improve if we don’t measure and judge ourselves, bhaiyya?’
‘Self 2 can do a great job by accessing its learning, if we allow it to. Measure your performance, but don’t judge it,’ said Rakesh.
‘Is there a process we can adopt for our next performance, bhaiyya?’ asked Rinku.
‘Gallwey suggests four steps,’ said Rakesh. ‘First, remain non-judgmental. Second, create an image where you feel the feeling of executing your task — so your Self 2 can ‘see’ what it needs to achieve. Third, quieten Self 1 and fourth, trust Self 2 to do its job.’
‘What if Self 2 fails after all this?’ asked Rahul.
‘Even if it fails, don’t judge,’ said Rakesh. ‘Judging and criticising only makes Self 1 feel important and Self 2 feel small. Sharpen your ‘feeling image’ and attempt again.’
‘Thanks, bhaiyya,’ said Rinku. ‘Now, without judging and criticising myself, I’ll make my chai.’

Pro Tip: You have two selves within you, the judge and the executor. Quieten the former for the latter to perform to its potential

Monday, June 15, 2020

Ranganayaki - Movie

1981. Kannada. Top 100 Indian films list. Puttana Kanagal. The movie is a complex one but told very well. A touring theatre and its ups and downs, the life of an artist and the pride they carry, patrons and their demands aside the movie focusses on the main female lead, called Rangu, short for Ranganayaki. Aarthi performs brilliantly as the heroine, fully devoted to her art, before a besotted patron marries her. He changes after their marriage and cannot stand any connection she has with the theatre group. The couple has differences and he takes their son and disappears. Rangu rejoins the group, gets a role in a film, and quickly climbs the rungs in the film world. In Bangalore, she meets a young man who she grows fond of, not romantically, though there are rumours. The boy, however, falls in love with her. And towards the end, we realise he is her son from her marriage. So many characters, twists, but each dealt with so authentically that I felt this was based on a real story. Fabulous.



Aawara - Movie

1951. Top 100. Raj Kapoor apparently produced and directed this when he was 26! The movie moves like a shot - not wasting a moment (except for some extra songs in the second half), exploring ideas of rich-poor, good-bad. Raj Kapoor and Nargis share a chemistry that is just fantastic to watch and the many plots and subplots that connect so well keep a movie that 2 hours 47 minutes long appear like its 2 hours. There are times when it feels like we are in some Hollywood film, like
'Westside Story'. He even pulls off a swimsuit shot with Nargis. It ties in perfectly. To do that at 26, wow.


Thought for the Day - When There's No Response From the Other Side, Step Back

It happens at times that we find no response from the other side - in a classroom, a lecture, a discussion, a meeting or even a conversation. It could be a friendly chat or a political discussion of massive ramifications. But if one side is not responding enough, responding freely and with energy, maybe its time we stepped back.
Pic Satish Nargundkar

Mostly our reaction at not receiving an adequate response is that we have been rejected. That the other person is not taking us seriously enough or not putting i enough effort etc. And when we judge like that and begin from that space, we become more insecure and aggressive. We push for responses from the class, from the students and get increasingly upset as they tend to withdraw further.

Most times, an inadequate response indicates that perhaps that person is wary of putting out his side of the story because he is not sure about the reaction from the other side. Which means that the person is weighing his words, responses to avoid painful reactions. In such cases, it is for the other person to create that space to let that person express. Be it a student, a friend, a colleague - they will speak once a vacuum is created. Once they know that they will not be pounced on, cut off, ridiculed, attacked for what they are saying.

So when there's not adequate response, it's time to step back. You're crowding the room. In an ideal situation, it has to be equal, fifty, fifty.

Is Raat Ki Subah Nahin - Movie

1996. Sudhir Mishra. I loved this phase in my life when everything seemed rosy and nice so I have fond memories of this film. Funnily I never saw it but I bought this tape and loved the songs. 'Chup tum raho' was one and 'Jeevan kya hain' another. I was still in Mumbai then or had just made the move to Hyderabad. Enjoyed watching it. Googled the film cast and was surprised to find that Nirmal Pandey had passed away in 2010. Used to love Tara Deshpande too.


Saturday, June 13, 2020

Manava Seva Samithi - 62 Days of Relentless Service During Lockdown

Whenever I would head out to buy groceries during the lockdown period, normally at noon, I would see long queues of people lined up for almost half a kilometre, hundreds of them. The beginning of the queue was at a booth at the entrance to Model Colony and the socially distanced, masked men and women queued up in a very disciplined manner, from an hour before the food distribution began. I was amazed at how organised the entire effort was - lines, masks, social distancing, timing, speed. Though the volunteers appeared familiar, I could not make out who they were thanks to the masks, until one day I saw one of my colony members, Maddipati Satyanarayana, a builder, among those serving the food. I meant to stop and ask but everyone seemed so busy that I didn't. I passed them many more times and the numbers seemed to increase. In the stressful times of the lockdown, it was such wonderful work to provide hot and nutritious food to so many. They did it with a lot of love, treated everyone equally and with respect and dignity. By a rough estimate, they served 40000 people in the two months period during the lockdown.

The booth for distribution
A few days ago I met M Satyanarayana in the colony, while chatting with my old friend Dr Satyanath aka Mani, and asked him how they went about it. He patiently told me about the activities of the Manava Seva Samithi and the members of the Trust that believes that serving people is serving god. He gave me the contact of Buchi Babu, a founder of the Trust, from whom I could get more information about the Trust.

Speedy distribution in the hot summer days - M Satyanarayana to the far right
Manava Seva Samithi was formed by a group of six like-minded people on 8th April, 2016, Ugadi day, with the aim of serving humanity irrespective of caste, creed, social status. D. Buchi Babu, K. Ravindra Babu, M Macharao, JST Sayi, Chava Srinivasa Rao and Shashikanth, from Model colony and Sundar Nagar colony (with the exception of C Srinivasa Rao who lives in Jubilee Hills), got together and began serving people. It was a motley group of two senior citizens, two entrepreneurs, a software employee and a Chartered Accountant.

For the poor and the migrant workers (though they served all)
They began by serving cool water to pedestrians and passersby from a Chalivendram (water distribution point) at the entrance of Model Colony. Noticing that the pedestrians also appeared hungry, they began distributing packets containing water, curd rice and a banana. About 250 people were served daily for the two hot and draining months of summer, and by the end of summer, about 15000 people had obtained some respite from the heat and struggle of daily life. Enthused and motivated by the wholesome response from those in need, the group expanded their activities beyond summer.

They began serving attendants of inpatients of the Government Hospital for Mental Health which is located right opposite our colony, about four or five times a month. They expanded further and served fruits and chikki to inpatients of hospitals, food to orphans in Anaadha Vidyarthi Gruha, school books, clothes and woollen blankets to poor students and the needy. 800 plates and glasses were distributed to the inpatients of the Government Hospital for Mental Health, eye camps conducted and spectacles provided free of cost. The more they served, the bigger they grew. Their donor list grew steadily to about a hundred plus - people who would donate to celebrate a birthday or an anniversary through a good cause. What started as a small, well-intentioned thought had grown to serve thousands.

The Tough Lockdown Days - 2020
This year, however, as the group was gearing up for their summer activities, the COVID pandemic struck, and the country was shut down. The strict lockdown and its attendant fears would have deterred most people but the Manava Seva Samithi members decided that this was an opportunity to serve even more number of people. People were out of jobs and were struggling to eat two square meals a day - migrant workers, bachelors, maids, petty service providers, auto/cab drivers, MCH workers, homeless - they were thrown to the winds. The Manava Seva Samithi expanded their scope and their hearts and started a drive to help those who were stuck in the lockdown without food and essentials. Not only was the scale of operation much larger than what the group had handled previously, but it also had the added risk of the highly infectious virus that was keeping everyone home. But once again, with a well-intentioned thought and a prayer on their lips, the members and their families, friends and volunteers, stood up for their cause.

Well demarcated social distancing 
For 62 days without a break, from April 6, 2020, to June 6, 2020, the Manava Seva Samithi's tireless volunteers, catered to an average of 500 people every day, an astounding 40000 meals. Food was prepared - hot and nutritious fried rice (400 gms), a banana, buttermilk, water packet - packed in aluminium foil and distributed from 12 pm. Separate lines for men and women, masks, social distancing were ensured and speedy distribution of the food packets done. A team of almost 15 volunteers stood there including children. Every day donors stepped in and provided financial support. Some days donors would pick up the entire bill of Rs. 12000 for a day. Miraculously funds showed up when they were running out and the work continued.

Endless queues
The food was so tasty and hot they say, that several people would come to them choosing their food over other more convenient sources. In addition to prepared food, the Samithi also collected and distributed essentials to the GHMC workers, the house help etc. The kit comprised of 15 kgs rice, 2 kgs dal, 1 kg oil, 1 kg sugar, 1 kg salt, chilly powder, 1 kg onions, totalling up to Rs. 1050 per kit. About 300 people received kits that would take care of their essential needs for a month.

Half a kilometre long

Youngsters stepping up beyond their years
It has been a wonderful job in times of extreme need by the members and volunteers of the Manava Seva Samithi who selflessly helped fellow humans at the cost of exposing themselves to the virus. Their work has been recognized by all those who passed by, people like me, people like high ranking government officials who stopped, complimented them, ate the hot food and promised and provided support. The press covered their service extensively.

For all those who helped and volunteered -  D. Buchi Babu, JST Sai, Nagamani, Maruthi Kishore, Shashikanth, Vijaya Kumar, Ravindra Babu, Phanindra, Sai Prashanth, Macharao, Srinivas and Maddipati Satyanarayana, the Patnaik family and others - a big round of applause. Here's wishing that your work grows and touches many more people and hoping that you inspire many more to serve fellow humans as you did.

The bank details of the Samithi are given below for those who wish to contribute. No amount is too less for them - even a hundred rupee donation is much appreciated.
The group - masked so can't make out - giving kits with essentials to the GHMC workers

Bank details
Manava Sevasamithi Charitable Trust
Bank of India, Sanjeeva Reddy Nagar (SR Nagar)
Account No 863710110009735
IFSC Code BKID0008637