Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Nice Article in HBR - The Discomfort You Are Feeling is Grief

Life in Lockdown - Day 7 of 21, March 31, 2020

Day 7. One-third of the period done - for the present. It's not as bad for me to sit at home - I've been sitting at home ever since I turned into a writer. I wonder about kids, youngsters who have so much energy and want to go out and meet friends.

For the first time today, Anjali asked - when can I meet my friends? Hmm, not for some time looks like. Her online classes have begun and she is quite happy virtually being with her pals. I guess the odd call and video call with her friends, cousins help.

Make You-Know-Who Less Significant
Finally, wisdom dawned on me and I decided that the you-know-who was getting too much attention in my life. So decided to not mention YKW anymore and instead focus on the lockdown experience. So the title is Life in lockdown from today!

D. Suresh's Heartening Message - 60,000 Food Packets distributed to migrants
After my yesterday's worry about the people walking 800 km to their homes, came a nice message from an old cricketing pal, top batsman, and now award-winning IAS Officer of the Haryana cadre, now Commissioner, Rohtak. He shared pictures of how an NGO Sathi Bhai Sai Seva Dal distributed 17,000 cooked packets. In the last three days (as on yesterday) he said 60,000 food packets were distributed to migrant workers with the aid and help of NGO organisations. Suresh was always extremely focussed and called a spade a spade, very generous, helpful and forgiving, and as an officer, highly efficient. To see them at the frontline in all this uncertainty makes one feel quite small - here we are worrying that YKW will creep in under the door! Good show Suresh.

Suresh - in the red shirt
Stickler for rules - Social distancing 
Checking out the food preparation
Anjali on a Roll
Anjali is on a roll. She offered to make breakfast and unveiled it in grand fashion - super stuff - egg noodles. Alos made chai. Then volunteered to run the washing machine. Has taken over jhaadu - pocha. Wow.

I did a few calls this morning - Manik maushi, Jyo, Ashu,  Peddakka, Rambabu (birthday), AP, Sanjay - before heading out to do some weekly shopping. I realise that making calls can be quite tiring too.

Weekly Outing
The last time I went to the colony grocer there was a huge crowd and he did not have much stock of anything. Today he pretty much knocked off everything on the list. Bread, eggs, handwashes, Dettol, potatoes. Whoa. I was thrilled with the organised way they handled stuff.

And hey, I wore a mask for the first time today - a nice 3M one. It felt a bit odd initially but then I gradually forgot it was there. Let this be noted that March 31, 2020 was the day I wore a mask fro the first time. And it was a pretty nifty one too! I think I'll make that my do - hmm!

Then came some young fellows wearing masks. They all came as a crowd, had no concept of any distancing and pretty much shouldered their way in. Of course, everyone tried to tell them to step back etc but to no avail. Crazy.

The roads were slightly more relaxed - the medical shop was open, the chicken shop was open (funnily big crowd for mutton which is at 1200 bucks a kg). Ratnadeep had a queue of  some 15 people outside which meant waiting outside of at least 30-45 minutes or more. (Even there I could see from a distance everyone bunching up together.) But Ratnadeep sent a message saying they are well stocked which is good news after my last experience last week with stock-outs. Polimera at SR Nagar was shut at 11 am - maybe stocked out.

Meditation, Music and Washing
The four O clock meditation went on as usual. I am getting better at it. Now reading 'Being You' with that much more urgency - did some 40 pages today. Hopefully should be done with it tomorrow. Mohib called me from Kampala in the evening - was nice chatting with him.

After a lot of cleaning, washing dishes etc I settled down to some music in the evening. For an hour I played old hits - Mysterious Ways by U2, The Look by Roxette, Tarzan By by Baltimora, Lady by Kenny Rogers (need to do a full session dedicated to the Gambler soon), Run to You by Bryan Adams, Good Vibrations by Beach Boys, Zombie by Cranberries (heard that first in 1995), Imagine by John Lennon, Summer wine by Nancy Sinatra, If ever you're in my arms again by Peabo Bryson, Bachelor Boy by Cliff Richard, I'd die without you by PM Dawn - give or take a couple here and there. Was nice playing it loud on a quiet evening with no lights (the power had gone off). From 'Shee Ganesha' and 'Stotram' I seem to have moved a bit away from the fear.

Couple of calls in the evening and I am ready to watch a movie now. Today was Rambabu's birthday. Tomorrow is Dad's birth anniversary. I think I'll update my blog on him tomorrow.

A happy side effect of all this eating at home business - I seem to have lost a couple of kilos.

Anjali - Coping With Lockdown

From the 14th of March which is when the Telangana government closed down schools, Anjali has been home. Then the 21-day lockdown and she finally took her foot off the studies and allowed herself to watch some shows and stuff.

Yesterday her school began online classes and she was happy to be back in a virtual classroom with her pals. They are a serious lot, always asking academic questions even over phone. She rounds off her day with a book to read which is nice and has identified books to read. She finished the Diary of Anne Frank and another book called Home to Roost which I intend to read as well.
Egg Noodles!

Yesterday she decided that she would make breakfast. She did some research on YouTube, called her aunt. She loves the element of surprise and goes to great lengths to preserve the drama. This morning we were not allowed into the kitchen until the dish was presented - egg noodles - complete with a dash of sauce. And it was really nice, perfectly done, correct amount of salt etc. I'd have burned, bashed it up first time.

Then she has taken on her own chores from yesterday. Jhaadu-pocha on alternate days she said and took it on. Today she ran the washing machine.

When did she grow up so much? I need to get a quiet moment and do an interview with her one of these days.

Canteen Fundas - Focus on What You Can Control and Don't Stress

Control the Controllables, Don't Worry about the Uncontrollables!

Manthan - Movie

1976. Shyam Benegal's award-winning movie which was crowdfunded by 50,000 farmers who contributed Rs. 2 each is the story of India's and  Verghese Kurien's White Flood Revolution and the creation of AMUL. Vijay Tendulkar, Shyam Benegal and Kurien wrote the script and the film stars Girish Karnad, Naseeruddin Shah, Anant Nag, Smita Patil, Amrish Puri, Kulbushan Karbhanda, Mohan Agashe. I'm so glad I found it on YouTube. Now plan to watch 'Ankur' and 'Garam Hawa'.


Monday, March 30, 2020

Life in the Days of Coronavirus - Day 6 of 21, March 30, 2020

Day 6 began bright and shiny. Ashok still delivers the paper but I decided to give it up because its too confusing with all these precautions - how much is good enough. Anyway, Shobha seems least bothered by all this and ventures out to buy vegetables form a vegetable vendor - I am all ears to check for signs of cough etc. Once she buys them I thoroughly sanitise the vegetables until they are the most sanitised veggies in town. Shobhs is amused and irritated at me - but I am all for abundant precaution.
Peace - Courtesy Satish N

Once the vendor business passed I got down to my calls - couple only this morning - Choudary, Pooja. Then I found my article in New Indian Express and spent some time sharing it and replying to comments. Luckily my interaction with the idiot WhatsApp forwards has reduced a lot so there was no further cause of stress.


But what did bother me was a real news - the one where thousands of migrant workers are walking distances of up to 700 ks without food or money, with young children.  That look of determination on their faces, resignation, knowing that there is no one who will help them should make the government hang its head in shame. Why is it that governments cannot feel their pain, their resignation? Is the country not for them too? Why can't they at least be given food, water, shelter as they walk if not transport?

Anjali's online class went off well. She sat like in class, all prim and proper, full of concentration. Good for her. I could finally get a glimpse of how she behaves in class. Full on.

Most of the day went into writing the column. Sreeshma messaged me out of nowhere to ask for some help. But the column took most of the day. Chatted with Vasu who is recovering from his symptoms, Choudary who has enforced his own lockdown, Ram, Babu, Aai. Sreeshma called from Thrissur where she is locked down for a month now. One thing common is that everyone's voice is perking up when they get a call - only my mother-in-law was very vocal about it and said she was glad to hear from me.

Last night I watched 'Jawaani Jaaneman' with Saif and Tabu and Alaia F. Quite watchable. No headway on the book. Shobhs conducted her meditation which was nice..I am getting better at staying present. Also her introduction to the class which was interesting.

Cleaning, washing etc and there's precious little time for music. Last two days went without. Today went without a movie too so far. Can't believe it. Some people said our CM has promised that the state will be virus free by the 7th which is rather too optimistic. Conspiracy theories are flying about on how China conned the world. Nw people are also getting into the mode of saying how their god as punished those people for their crimes etc. Amazing. This species will never fail to amaze me.

So far, so good. There's a slight increase in movement outside I feel. People slacking a bit?

In an extraordinary act of kindness, my friend Dr Satyanath, who was out walking his dog with his mask stopped to chat with me. I told him there were no masks in the market and guess what - in these times where masks are off the shelves - he gave me three masks and sanitiser too. One of the bravest, kindest acts of friendship anyone will ever see. Thanks Mani!

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Life in the Days of Coronavirus - Day 5 of 21, March 29, 2020

Day 5. My strategy worked and I had a good night's sleep last night. I watched 'Okja' by Bong Joon Hoo, the director of 'Parasite' and found it to be as thrilling and as fantastic a tale as any which was told brilliantly.
Nature is beautiful  - Satish N

The newspaper wall dropped it off today after a few days. Apparently they have been having problems with distribution and though they are passing it off as safe, fact remains it is still a surface. So, necessary care needs to be taken like washing hands before and after reading and not touching your face while reading, which is all too much of a hassle for me. One suggestion was bizarre - spray Dettol - all seriousness. How do I read it after? So I guess I'll have to ask Ashok Reddy to chill off for a few days.

The slight fever and headache feeling that I had gradually wore off while I engaged in activities such as cleaning, washing dishes, fixing a pelmet, doing my gratitude journal and yes, completing my gratitude chart (one side at least). It was a proud moment for me and I know there are several names I have not mentioned yet in the chart - 500 plus so far. I have the back of the chart still so I will get down to it.
Gratitude Chart - That's about 500+ names surrounding me, prodding me, pushing me, pulling me
Chatted with Pooja, Prarthana, Raja, Vardha, Mani (who kindly gave me a couple of masks and a sanitiser), Satish, Joel, and got down to checking movies to watch. Was thrilled to find Shyam Benegal's 'Manthan' on Youtube and watched it. Also ticked off  'Ankur' to watch during this period. Shared my HANS column with those who might appreciate it and found some interesting responses.

Meditation at 4 as usual followed by some sharing by Shobhs about a course she had done - Access Consciousness. So we got to spend time together for more than an hour and I am thrilled about it. Unfortunately the evening music slot went for a toss and I ended up doing the dishes etc.

I am doing brilliantly after cutting down on news from WhatsApp groups. New stuff that I noticed around apart from the newspaper making its comeback was a vegetable vendor who ventured in with his cart, and my neighbouring apartment also now closing down its gates for the virus. I also noticed that the online kids are delivering stuff as are the Swiggy boys. Hmm. wondering why no girls have entered the Swiggy and other delivery service bastion?

Overall, the little news I saw seemed to be favouring a positive outcome leading to an invisible let off in the panic grip - or so I felt.  However, I saw an image of people wanting to go home to Uttar Pradesh from Noida and its the craziest image I saw. The numbers are mindboggling. Somewhere in the afternoon PM Modi came on his Mann ki Baat and apologised to the poor. I guess some action would help - they are not able to maintain distances anyway in those crowded thousands - as well give them transport to go back.

Didn't make much progress on the book 'Being You', but all in good time I guess. I am in no hurry, happy to have worked off the fever, which I am sure is a result of my confusion and perhaps fear and anger at this state of helplessness, and somewhere I have found my peace again.

Okja - Movie

A corporation growing genetically mutated super pigs passes them off as miracle pigs and sends 26 samples across the world to pig farmers to rear them for 10 years after which they enter the super pig competition. Okja is reared by Mija, a young girl in her teens up in the mountains in South Korea, and they share a lovely bond. But the time comes for Okja to go and Mija doe snot know that and she does not want to let go and with the help of the Association for Freedom of Animals tries to free Okja and take her pig back home. Will I see a movie like this again? Never. It will always be the Super Pig movie for me.

The Sunday HANS - Please Don't Come Home

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Life in the Days of Coronavirus - Day 4 of 21, March 28, 2020

The night was terrible. A result of watching too many videos which predict doom and movies like '93 Days' which give out superb visuals of how these epidemics can pan out. So I had a restless night bordering on panic - visuals flashing in my mind, wondering what's the right thing to do, how much care to take etc and an increasing headache - until I slept off at 5 am after a fully terrorised night.
Nature - there's a beautiful world out there - Pic Satish Nargundkar
Decided few things immediately - cut out these scary movies which are no help, pay less focus on the virus and more on the good parts of life, do more good energy stuff like listening to movies, watching feel-good movies, having conversations with those who make me laugh, unlike a couple that I had the other day where they painted doom again and mostly, avoid the WhatsApp forwards of my sadistic school friends who only seem to pick up and share the worst, fake news. Once the plan was made I felt much better and shut off phone. Decided to check it only once or twice during the day.

Made a few calls again - Milind, Pooja, Vasu. And I sat and wrote a gratitude chart - a simple idea. Take a normal sized chart and write the names of all the people who played some part in your life, people who in one way or another helped you become who you are. The last time I did this I found 300 people on my list and today I filled in half the chart (didn't count - tomorrow I'll complete it and share). But I suspect it has some 200 plus names already - a long exercise that took about an hour and a half. Made me feel tired and happy to know how many people helped me become the person I am, still hold me up with their thoughts and love.

Dozed off into a deep afternoon sleep - caught up on the balance sleep from last night. Woke up, did the day's meditation with Shobha and Anjali, a short one of just 6 minutes. Played music again, read a bit of Being You' by Dane Heer which is turning out to be a very interesting read.

A thought goes out to all the people who are suffering symptoms and are awaiting tests, all those who tested positive and are in quarantine, all those who are just under quarantine and self-isolation, all those on the frontline like doctors, ambulance drivers, nurses, technicians, paramedics, policemen, grocery shop owners, their staff, all those older people, single moms, students, young professionals, construction workers. My heart goes out to those who have begun walking back to their hometowns due to lack of any transport and support, with little money, food and perhaps will die of reasons other than the virus. And so many more who are out there providing services to keep the world going for the rest of us.

And then I see the panic in my colony where apartment blocks have locked their gates to keep the virus out, look at new people suspiciously, and wonder how they will treat any person who may test positive. I hope they will have some compassion.

On the positive side, there's music, there's sunshine, there's laughter, books, movies. There's time to spend and talk with family -- we have managed to increase actual talk time between us to about an hour I think. Otherwise its all about the phones, computers, or TV. Enjoying these conversations.

Got a few messages from concerned friends and replied to them. Mony, Mahender, Kavya, Rohini were some of the unexpected ones. Feels much better today minus the phone, the WhatsApp horror shows. However, I feel I could do better on a couple of fronts - up my physical exercise, spend more time in meditation, write my cricket stories and head to completion by the end of this period. Looking forward to some nice romedy to watch now. Keep your phones off, don't watch the news, don't talk to people whose job is to scare you. You are good where you are, in your house with all the comforts - not exposed like the frontline people, not on the roads like the workers who are walking 600 km and braving lathis from police while trying to shield their loved ones, not hungry like those who have no money to buy and feed their kids. You are safe and secure, so instead of panicking about what will happen to you (like I did last night), send out a prayer to those who need it.


Ala Vaikunthapuramlo - Movie

Allu Arjun carries the show. Two boys born at the same time, one to a rich man and another to a poor man who works with him, are switched by the poor man with the assistance of the nurse. How the rich boy goes back to his rich family is the rest of the story. It's entertaining in its own harebrained manner with no rhyme or logic for many things, no motives for actions. But overall it keeps the senses engaged. Arjun shines through brightly and cameos by almost all the known names in the industry who walk in like a parade keep it going.

93 Days - Movie

With reckless courage, I decided to watch the real-life movie on how Nigeria shut out Ebola virus from spreading thanks to direct action by the hospital staff at First Consultants in dealing with the index patient. The way they contain it from spreading keeps the rest of the world safe. First Consultants loses some of its key doctors and nurses in the process. Very well made.

But in these days, don't watch. It gets into your mind.

The Princess and the Frog - Movie

Anjali's choice and it was as good as any. The classic rich girl, poor girl, and the prince who turned into a frog tale with a contemporary twist. I simply love the way they made crocodiles, frogs and others tuff so adorable. Set in New Orleans it has a crocodile named Louis who wants to be a jazz player. V nice.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Life in the Days of Coronavirus - Day 3 of 21, March 27, 2020

Day 3 opened with the same amount of uncertainty, some slowed down rhythm. It was almost as if we finally accepted that this is the reality for the next three weeks. I began my day with a hot lemon ginger concoction that my mother-in-law taught me, followed it with some gratitude journal work (Shobhs), followed by reading 'Being You' and sitting outside making a few calls. Raja, Pooja, Peddakka, Ranjan, Don, Parth were some of them.

I decided to chill today and I did that. Didn't touch the computer till now, read a bit, cleared the kitchen (my favourite hobby is to clean and organise things), ate a bit of lunch and slept off reading the book. Woke up at 4 pm and Shobhs did a meditation for me and Anjali which was a nice piece of routine we intend to follow.
Eye - Acrylic on fabric by Anjali (yesterday's creative)

After the meditation, Anjali proposed that one of us do an activity and I suggested we could do an appreciation game - inspired by the gratitude journal - each of us give three things we appreciate in others. Anjali began we me - Eagerness, she said she liked the way I pick up something and go full on about it whether it is cleaning or some new concept I liked, Kind, she said I was generally kind and it showed every day, and A friend to all she said, I was everyone's friend. That had me smiling like the cat's whiskers or whatever. Shobhs said she liked the way I go bustling about the house and in the kitchen doing things which I don't know how to do, breaking, dropping stuff but doing it full on (I liked that), she said she liked the way I was being there for others by making calls etc and being supportive, and then she said she liked the way I go about my life through my own fears and apprehensions but plod on (when I asked for an example she said I did that when I had the kidney issue, or any health issue, or generally most times). I loved that. Thanks guys.

Anjali, I said, was organised and committed to whatever she does, thoughtful, kind, competitive, has a sense of humour, fights for her cause etc. Bit more than three. Shobhs said she liked the way Anjali tried to sort her issues out by herself despite being affected by them. Anjali told Shobhs that she liked the way she helps people see things in a new perspective, likes the way she teachers, parents and mostly she said she loves the way she lets her be - the right balance between authority and letting her have her space (Shobhs was thrilled with that. I told Shobhs that I appreciated her clarity of thought (several lessons she had taught me), her razor sharp  advice where she says things like they are in few, apt words that strike home, all that she learned and taught me in her journey, the way she is there for people unconditionally, punching over her weight. It was a nice half hour and quite uplifting.

Then we shifted out. Anjali and I played some catches with a tennis ball. Then we played some music - I found myself shifting towards the Hindi songs and then the mantras and chants which work wonders when I have a headache which I had a small one). So played these numbers.

And this one

And several more in that theme. I just concentrated on the rhythm and felt much better afterwards. I remember I cured myself of a bad headache by listening intently to mantras (my oldest sister's wedding) and once at Srisailam (where we kept chanting Om Namah Sivaiiah). Magical. Will share a few more songs after.

News of Boris Johnson the UK PM testing positive came out which must have suddenly made everyone feel very vulnerable. And then the videos of doctors in the US and elsewhere, telling people to pay heed because beyond a point it gets out of control. Now India moved quickly in lockdown and it was not a day soon as we have a fragile healthcare system and we cannot support it if it goes beyond control.

All day, there was an auto, playing out a message really loudly - from the GHMC Commissioner - telling us to stay home, practice social distancing, report to authorities if symptoms showed up (which authorities, which numbers dude). This went on loudly all day until evening and whatever peace we were hoping for was done in by this desperate and unnecessarily long and loud activity. One good thing was that GHMC personnel showed up early at home and sprayed the premises and walls (and even my car) and told me they wanted a picture with me while spraying. Anyway, that was nice.

Now there are no newspapers and almost all news is through WhatsApp which is not the best because of the amount of filtering one has to do. I wish the newspapers figure a way to disseminate important information through social media. Couple of nice links I found on WhatsApp. A Covid India counter.


As of now, India has 878 positive cases (+143), 785 active, 74 recovered and 19 deceased. Telangana is 59 (+14), 58 active and 1 recovered.

And a world meter

USA has the top spot now, ahead of China. 93, 151 cases and 1382 deaths.

Well, I guess, it makes sense to stay in the now, keep away from the news, and listen to soothing music and watch fun movies. Tomorrow then. Going to watch American Hustle.

Yes Man - Movie

Jim Carrey's life is messed up. He's just too negative and that ends his marriage, his friendships on the brink and his career is not going anywhere. His old friend takes him to a self-help program where he is taught that saying Yes to everything will change his life. And so it does!

Fun. Watchable if you have nothing else to do.

The Nigger of the Narcissus - Joseph Conrad

It's considered one of his better works and would have found more readership now than it has simply because of the unfortunate and inappropriate title. It's slim at 126 pages and that makes it very attractive. However, the content is heavy, in a style that's very different.

On board the ship Narcissus is a West Indian man Jim Wait who is unwell. The ship is heading from Bombay to London and counters some massive storms. The man confesses to his friend that he was not as sick as he made it out to be and merely did that to escape work. The others suspect the same. After surviving the storm, the ship lands in the doldrums, with no breeze to help it along. Some on the ship feel that their misfortune is because of the black man's presence. By now he really falls sick and dies. No sooner than he dies than a strong wind blows and the boat sets sail.

It's an interesting theme of the judgments the crew have about the black man, how some support him and some others do not, some going to the extent of blaming him for their misfortune. I am sure history will always find a scapegoat for its misfortunes and sometimes it seems that nature enjoys making the connections.

Life in the Days of Coronavirus - Day 2 of 21 Days of Lockdown, March 26

Day 2 started out with a sense of uncertainty. It hung in the air right from morning. I decided to get to work after doing my gratitude journal and making some calls that I planned to. These days I sit outside and enjoy the shy, trees and birds. I made calls to Abhinay, Vasu, Bro Joseph, Bhupinder, Pooja, Mythily, Bansi, Joel, Chitra Viraragavan, Tenzin, Vidyut, Chanti while Bhaskar and Ram reached out to me. Worked on the novella on our University exploits and interviewed Bansi regarding the same. It was an hour long call.
Locked down - Satish N
I could not do my gratitude chart as I meant to but I will complete that tomorrow. I started reading a book called 'Being You' by Dan Heer which is quite interesting. I was always interested in finding out what Being You means. Then I watched an animated movie 'Princess and the Frog' with Anjali and it was very nice indeed. Then in the evening, I watched '93 Days' a movie on how Nigeria contained a possible Ebola outbreak in 2014. It was pretty interesting as disaster movies go and one finds similar words, thoughts and fears echoed today in our present day circumstances. I think I'll stick with romances or comedies from now on.

My song was well appreciated by the people I shared it with yesterday. I am finding that my days are suddenly being too full instead of being lazed out and empty. I seem to be filling them with up with work again. Decided to work no more than an hour or two tomorrow and stay free of the phone all day save two windows - of an hour. The phone is a killer. In fact I am wondering if I should just go off the phone for a couple of days. That should give me time to spend with Anjali or do more leisurely things like simply sleeping.

I see more and more types of birds these days (pics tomorrow). Some extremely small varieties which flit by in their delicate bodies. I always wonder how they live their lives so happily, busily. They do enough to take care of themselves, protect themselves from danger, no hospitals, but don't go into stuff like what-will-happen-to- the-world-if-I-die kind of thoughts. Anyway, they are having a ball which is nice.

I also love the way the young kid who comes to collect garbage in his van peps his job up. He has fitted his van with a music system and comes and plays loud, peppy music, giving a damn about the scared silence in the colony. I can see how people have gone down to whispers when they speak, as if scared to awaken a sleeping giant. I am thinking I'll follow the path of Shiva, the garbage collector and blast some music tomorrow morning just to shake things up a bit. No law against that.

But the fear is palpable across the phone and the messages which are getting more and more distressed. This is a critical period, be careful etc. I can see apartments have locked their doors in their bid to 'Go Corona'. At the same time I see hundreds of young executives trying to get themselves a pass to go home milling about near police stations, or even people not really practicing the distance advisory at stores. My hands have never been cleaner, probably slimmer what with so many cells being washed off. The medical shop nearby functions through the grill - he is practising social distancing.

In the evening at 4 pm Shobha conducted a small meditation for me and Anjali. We thought we'd fit in some routines to pass time. That proved that I had lost all touch with the meditative mind - mine wandered everywhere. I think I will do that for the rest of the 21 days. Also will fit in a walking routine at home. A walk to the medical shop was nice - empty roads. I saw many older people step out of their homes for a walk in the evening, some walked their dogs.

Amidst all this confusion, I see the administration merely using the police and law and order. There's not much information about health services, backups, commodities. I don't see as many advisories about what to do in case anyone shows symptoms, don't see nearby hospitals or helpline being advertised (not enough at least), I definitely don't see enough public representatives doing their bit (I did see one video by Vishveswar Reddy, former MP, where he and his team explained how to make a sanitiser at home. The rest - a huge silence. Which is probably better than talking nonsense like most of them did before the seriousness struck them. What the hell are they all doing? Normally they are so vocal on every stage and here they are with nothing to say.

Anyway, I hope to get more organised with my thoughts as my day's progress. Oh, the newspapers have stopped a couple of days ago after a genuine attempt to convince the public that newspapers are absolutely safe to use. Looks like they discovered otherwise! 

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Life in the Days of Coronavirus, Day 1 of 21 - Hyderabad, India, March 25, 2020

So, the lockdown is across  India and not just a few states which is good. What I gathered from the Telangana government directives about the lockdown was that everyone ought to stay at home which makes sense. But what about emergencies - you can go. Also any purchases to be made between 6 am and 7 pm. There will be a curfew from 7 pm to 6 am in the morning. We did hear that not too many people thought this was serious enough and started smiling about and soon videos started appearing of the police whacking a few errant people on the road.
Empty roads 
For someone like me who sits in my hometown and in my own home it's easy to sit at home but for someone who lives in another city as a paying guest or in a hostel and who suddenly finds that the paying guest and hostel owners have asked them to vacate and on top of it find that buses, trains etc are cancelled, its life on the roads. It's bloody tough. Or a migrant labourer from UP, Odisha wise site is just shut down and has no way to return home. Imagine how they must be exploited in this situation. I wonder if things could have been done differently.

Anyway, the time had come to get some essential commodities like rice and stuff so I set out. Anjali asked me to wear a mask but then they said only those who are sick need to wear a mask. She also gave me a sanitiser which was good. Off I went hoping to bump into some cops on the road. the roads were empty save some ambulances rushing past. Funnily, I never saw so many ambulances on the road as I did today. I don't think the density of ambulances has gone up, just that there's no other vehicle there.

At SR Nagar Police Station I could see some 200-300 strong crowd of youngsters. I wondered if some mishap had happened, some outbreak, or whatever. Why were there so many milling about on a 'Stay at home' day? Someone told me they were all these evicted students who needed a pass to go back home. Whoa! Someone should have thought of this - 300 kids milling around!
Empty shelves :)
Ratnadeep Super Market had a protocol which was good. The guard at the gate let in one person at a time - he had a sanitiser which he used to clean the door handle, gave it to us when we were to enter. However, once you were inside people started milling about again. I think they had ten people at a time. The first thing that I saw were empty shelves - no Kellogs, no rice, no veggies, no fruits - it was like some dystopian movie. I remembered pictures I saw from Italy, USA and said, man, you're here! I got one lemon and two pieces of ginger for my morning drink, some other stuff, including expensive basmati rice. At the counter, the girls wore masks and gloves and offered to handle the merchandise and load it into my bag. Hmm, rather depressing. The girls said they did not know when they would get fresh stocks. Out at the car, the kids were all over the car, spraying all sorts of viruses I am sure so I took out my sanitiser and moved on, a sad sigh escaping me.
Anjali's clay art today - Title - Quarantine Clay
On the way, I saw Polimeraa and stopped to check if they have any potatoes and onions, basic survival kit. Yoohoo, they seemed to be well-stocked. Again a queue, but again people bunching up. I told them to stay apart and they smiled embarrassedly and stood apart from me - they still stood in a bunch. What to do. Anyway, this chap was well stocked so I got what I wanted. only thing he says the card machine does not work. I hate these things - paid cash and got out. But glad that these guys are open from 6 am and they seem pretty well stocked with everything - veggies and fruits especially.

Back home I worried about where the virus might be lurking and did all kinds of things to sanitise myself and my merchandise - washing, cleaning, separating - until I could do no more. But still...! Anyway job done, I settled down to call my pals and they depressed me further with their depressing tales and I stopped calling.

The one creative thing for the day was singing a song that Pankaj requested - the be song I know fully to sing. I heard this on my father's old records and liked the sound of it, wrote down the lyrics and learned to sing. All before the time of YouTube and Google. So I recorded myself singing it and sent it to him and a few other friends who might appreciate it. Some did. Chatted with Vijay about our cricket story), Krishna (about life in Madras), Choudary (who was getting a dining table made), Vardha (who told me to use Dettol to disinfect), Sanjay (who told how his business is stressed in te US but we had a laugh about Love in the Times of Corona - more on that later), Nisha (about life in general), Peddakka (not to panic), Chitra (happy anniversary) and Sunil Jyoti (what's up in Jabalpur). Some called me, some I called.

Finished reading Joseph Conrad's 'The Nigger of Narcissus' today. Edited 15 pages of my novella on our University team's exploits. Now all set to watch 'Yes Man' on Netflix. Anjali took time off studying for the first time in all these days. Shobhs was busy with her work nursing a sore throat. Funnily, the medical shops in SR Nagar were shut. Wonder why?

Not too bad for Day 1. Hope I don't have to go out again for a week. Looking forward to 'Yes Man'.

Life in the Days of Coronavirus - Day Zero, March 22

Let's put Day Zero as Sunday, when the Prime Minister announced a Janata Curfew and fervently appealed to the population to stay at home, wash hands frequently, gear up for a bit of hardship and most importantly, observe Janata Curfew on Sunday, March 22, 2020, from 6 am to 9 pm. And to clap and make some noise for 5 minutes at 5 pm for the doctors and medicos and all those on the frontline. Ok, it's some kind of an experiment for the future we thought and geared up for a day. Overall I thought he would say something like what the government foresees as the real problem, what steps it is taking to face it and clear instructions on what the citizens must do. I didn't get too much info on that.

Not a bird moved all of Sunday in our colony. Actually, the birds came out in all their glory. The people stayed home. Silently. We watched some movies as usual, read some and at 5 pm when people around us started clapping we clapped a bit too. Later on, I started receiving some weird forwards about how this clapping etc will send vibrations that will kill the virus or something and it was a brilliant ploy to do that. If that is what it takes, we ought to be clapping day and night since we are all doing nothing much at home anyway. Anyway I saw that the 5 pm clapping soon took on an energy of its own and people started clanging cymbals, one person blew a conch, some crackers went off and overall I realised people thought it was time to celebrate. Next day we saw several videos of people congregating and clapping, defeating the entire purpose and probably just making the jobs of the medicos that much more harder.

The best video I saw that day was shared by Prof Anuradha Jonnalagadda and I'll share it here so it stays with me for posterity. Thanks whoever took the video. Much obliged.
To me, that represented what we are as a nation, as a society. This person, marginalised, probably without any identity, papers, money, religion, caste, creed, clapping shyly, doing his bit for the cause. That to me represented everything, that we are all in it together, whether you are up on your posh bungalow and clapping for the media or whether you have the grandest intention and not really clapping it is not bigger or better than this sincere, shy clapping of one of our own. His contribution is no less than what any one of us are doing, he is existing, he is clapping too. He's one of us and we need to embrace him and make his life easier. I do hope it does become easier for him and millions like him. And even if it doesn't, we feel for you brothers. We feel for you.

This is what we are. Not a fractured society, seeking to show our upmanship based on religion, riches, caste or power. This one clap resounds as loudly as any. If you think you are any different from him, try telling that to the virus.

Thanks Anuradha ma'am for sharing this wonderful video.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Love Mocktail - Movie

This is a debut movie by actor-director Krishna and a lovely effort which breezes along with fun, insight and romance. A young man driving along a picturesque hillside finds a young lass looking for a ride, saves her from baddies and gives her a lift to a place four hours away. On the way he tells her his story - his romances actually - three. They are told beautifully. Krishna is the protagonist and does a fine job, as do the other artists. Lovely locales, nice clean fun.

No Spin - Shane Warne and Mark Nicholas

I picked up this book at the second-hand market in Abids. I loved the competitive spirit Shane Warne brought to the match, his leadership of Rajasthan Royals which was brilliant and his skill with the bat and ball. I remember watching his debut match where he got hit around by Ravi Shastri and a very young Tendulkar. One way or another, Warne is not someone who will fade out of public life. He's just not that kind.

The book covers a bit of his parents' and grandparents' history which was interesting because one gets a sense of the hard life, the character of his lineage. Then his growing up years in Melbourne with his brother Jason (for some reason the entire family - father. mother, and the two sons called each other Harry, which was interesting). The kids loved sports, played Australian League Football which was what interested Shane, more than cricket until he got a scholarship to an elite school to play cricket and the decision was made. Shane was good and made it to a cricket academy for new talent - got int trouble and was sent home on a long bus ride where he thought about what he wanted to be in life. The disappointment of not being good enough for the AFL which was his dream, made him more determined.

So he sought out TJ (Jenner) and tough coach and mentor who taught him a bad of tricks and Shane found his calling. he put his heart and soul, prepared and made his debut soon for Australia against India. The TJ coaching worked and he bowled well against Sri Lanka. He then found another great mentor Bob Simpson who taught them a tough work ethic. There is much talk about the Gatting ball, the ball of the century they say, which catapulted him to stardom. There is a bit about Salim Malik offering him money to throw a match, a good sum, but Shane refuses and still loses a game they should have won. There's the IPL, his new sponsorship deals, county cricket in England, drinking women, marriage.

There is a section about the art of leg-spin where he talks about the craft in some detail but without pictures, it made no sense, especially the technical parts. I did like the part where he spoke of the number of balls he would ball in practice with a purpose, land the ball on a handkerchief from one angle, then another, then another, until he perfected it. So he became an expert by deliberate practice is what is clear. Then the part where he describes how the revolutions on the ball is the key - "energy on the ball is a combination of everything working together through the combination of shoulder, arm, wrist and fingers and how quickly my body works into sync to drive the ball forward and especially my hips. It's not a fast arm ball, call it a snap like release.' Spinning the ball is number one he says, followed by patience, accuracy, perseverance and guts. He acknowledges how TJ never tried to change his action. The concept of 'Think High' where TJ got Shane to get his bowling arm up near the ear and 'Spin Up' to put revs on the ball.

Shane went through surgeries on his shoulder, made money, was part of World Cup winning teams, enjoyed captaincy at Hampshire. He feels they could have had a different result if Steve Waugh had not gone for a follow on at Kolkata which he felt he did because he was caught up with the 16 wins in a row business. He is thrilled at being named by Wisden among the five cricketers of the century  - Don Bradman, Jack Hobbs, Viv Richards, Gary Sobers and Warne. the drug charges before the World Cup in South Africa and the suspension, Ashes, his relationship with Elizabeth Hurley, the photograph with two women in a London flat in their undies (to his credit Warne says upfront that he likes sex). As for the IPL I liked his story about Kaif who walks in and keeps repeating 'I'm Kaif' meaning that he should be allotted a single, bigger room because he was senior. I also liked the story about him and Venkatapathi Raju my childhood buddy, and how they got him a bit drunk on some beer and how he smoked on the sly from Azhar.

Therapy, money, poker championships, end of marriage, commentating, celebrity friends (Chris Martin, Russel Crowe, Elton John), reality show 'I'm a Celebrity', a musical called Shane Warne the Musical, a Foundation which did some good work and then shut.

It's a bit long and for someone as interesting as Warne (or so I thought) this book didn't do justice. It seemed to have been hurriedly put together, a section devoted to parents, brother, etc like little paras and not like a story. In fact the last bit where his children Brooke, Jackson and Summer speak about him is just their quotes, one after another and one feels that the author was in a hurry to wind up. I didn't find any quote by his wife Simone nor of Elizabeth nor of any of his mates or TJ which would have added some dimensions. This is the fourth Aussie bio I am reading - Steve Waugh, Chappelli, Brett Lee and Warne. I sense a desperation to win, to defend themselves, to let themselves off lightly when they mess up and be hard on others and say it was a lark in all the books (save Chappelli). Overall I think I am done with Aussie cricketers and their bios for the moment. It's almost like they did it for the money than to tell a story. Not interesting enough in the end. Or as much as I thought it would be.

The Guard - Movie

Lovely Irish film. Characters galore. Debauched cops with soft hearts. Philosophical, existential and scared villains. Superb writing and acting. Innit!

Gleeson is amazingly good.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Canteen Fundas - Flex the Rule. But Don't Break It

Flex it, Don't Let it Break You


Murder Mystery - Movie

Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler are living drab lives in New York - she as a hair dresser and he as a police officer who cannot make it to detective grade as he flunks all his exams. They somehow go on a trip to Europe to celebrate their 15th anniversary and meet a very rich man who offers a cruise ride around Monaco to them on his billionaire uncle's yatch. Murders follow, several of them, and the broke couple are the prime suspects.

Funny, and watchable mainly because of Aniston and Sandler, who make their roles stand out. Quite watchable - murder, comedy, nice locales.

Get Out - Movie

Oh this one is intense in a different way. An outlandish plot which is too fantastic to even describe but it seems perfectly rational in the movie as a black man visits his fiance's white family and stumbles upon some secrets - and almost becomes part of those secrets. I never realised how quickly the movie got done. For sheer variety, this one is a must watch.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

COVID 19 - Resources for Information

Ever since Covid 19 (an abbreviation of Coronavirus Disease 2019) has been declared a pandemic. there are many questions - what are the preventive steps to take, what exactly happens if one is infected, at what stage should one get worried, what does one need to do if one shows signs, what does one do in self-isolation/ quarantine etc.

I typed COVID 19 into good pal Google and I got the Indian government site upfront


This site has exhaustive information about what to do, how, myths, symptoms, travel advisory etc

Then, the WHO site


Then, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)


On prevention

I found the CDC site very easy to read and navigate with clear and precise information on many aspects of prevention and care etc. I guess, these sites should give enough information one needs. 

Some Uses of WhatsApp - Some Pics of Hyderabad under Lockdown

On the day of the 24 hour shut down in Hyderabad, an improvement over the 14 hour shutdown in India, as a measure to counter the spread of Covid 19, everything came to a standstill. First up was the absence of sound which highlighted bird calls, absence of dust and pollution and a general slowdown overall. Not too many hours into the day, came the expected pictures on the most active WhatsApp group, my school group, of Hyderabad roads. Empty.

Now, these are pictures I must save for posterity. God knows when we will witness such stuff again. Courtesy whoever took them.


Near Charminar


Bus station

Why is the traffic light on?

Near Charminar

Well, the earth can breathe after this quiet. While we get our breath back.

Arts Management 2020 - Session 4

How to be an Expert
To look forward to a rewarding career, one needs to know concepts that will help in moving ahead. One needs to know how to sharpen skill, how experts work and train. To reach the top of the pyramid which is what everyone must aspire for, one must be exposed to the ideas about how experts are made.

Here I took inputs from a well-read article in the Harvard Business Review on 'The Making of an Expert' by K Anders Ericsson, Michael J Prietula and Edward T Cokely. Please read.


The main points made in the article are that superior performance does not come easy - it is the result of struggle, sacrifice and painful self-assessment. It requires a decade of deliberate practice, well-informed coaches and a scientific approach.

10,000 hours
The number of hours they pegged their research on of practice (deliberate practice) was 10000 hours.

Deliberate Practice
Deliberate practice is a specific form of practice where the practitioner does not just put in time, but the quality of effort. The practitioner picks up specific aspects of his skill and works on them deliberately. She creates scenarios in her mind and at simulating real-life situations and practices with intense concentration.

In deliberate practise there are two types of learning
- Improving skills one already has and is good at (working on making the strengths stronger)
- Extending the reach and range of skills (which means one must improve on what one does not know well, or what one does not know at all i.e. working on the weak areas).

Practising these two aspects requires a considerable amount of concentration. Now, the experts feel that one must decide how much practice one is good. For some two hours, for some four and for some even more. The key is to bring quality and awareness to every practice session so one improves one aspect, one becomes really good and one aspect.

The difference between a normal performer and a high-quality performer is deliberate practice.

Who is an Expert
n expert is defined as one who
- turns in consistently superior performances to peers (and in all conditions)
- produces concrete results
- whose expertise and skill can be replicated and measured in a laboratory (should know the science behind what she is doing)

To analyse practice sessions, deconstruct them into strong areas and weak areas, and pick specific areas to work on, in every single session. Also figure out how to bring higher awareness to each session to get insights into the science behind the performance.

Find Me guilty - Movie

What a lovely movie. A gregarious mobster Jackie DiNorscio is hauled into for 30 years for a drug deal. The deal is used to get him to testify against the Italian mafia but Jackie refuses to rat on his family because he loves them. When the state finds other witnesses and decides to prosecute some 20 members of the mafia at one go, the courtroom is a mess.

Added to that Jackie decides to fight his own case without any knowledge of the law. His cheeky, raw and amusing manner keeps everyone amused, irritates the judge and the other lawyers, throughout the 21 month long trial, the longest in history, after which they are all found not guilty. It's a true story and pretty much uses the same dialogues that DiNorscio used in the courtroom, full of wit and humour. He goes back to jail and is hailed as a hero by the jail inmates for not ratting on his 'family'.

Vin Diesel is a revelation.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

37.2 Trillion Cells Working for You

i watched a talk by Bruce Lipton the other day and he suddenly said some crazy number of cells that are within us. I googled the number and found it was 37.2 trillion cells.

I was blown away.
Pic Satish Nargundkar aka Boss (at these pics)

That was such an empowering thought. I never thought I owned anything with such numbers - 37.2 trillion. And even more crazy was that they were working for me, live and kicking. Of course, 50 to 70 billion of these calls were retiring every day and were being replaced by 50 to 70 billion cells every day. I was so overwhelmed at all this activity and I laughed out loud. Wow!

When I felt better I thought I should at least show my army of cells some love. Give some sweet talk. Some direction. So they are all aligned, healthy and happy.

When I went walking or at cricket I felt that it must be nice for most cells to go out, and play some games too. Every time I do some physical exercise probably the cells feel like they're having play hour. It makes me want to go out and play more.

Anyway, it's nice to know I have an army. Or, the army has me. Or even, the army is me. 

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Aar Paar - Movie

Guru Dutt. Jagdeep in a side role at a very young age. Kind of predictable though the protagonist is rather rebellious for those days. Fabulous songs that people sing till date - 'Babuji dhire chalna', 'Yeh lo main haari piya', 'Kabhi aar kabhi paar', 'Sun sun sun sun zaalima'.

Blinded by the Light - Movie

The real-life story of writer, journalist Sarfraz Mansoor, it tells the story of a young Pakistani immigrant to London who faces racism and finds comfort in the music of Bruce Springsteen which he feels talks directly to him. Javed is a writer, a poet but his father is not interested in such luxuries - he advises his son to follow any Jews in his class. Javed does well to actually meet the Boss and also manages to reconcile with his family. In real life, Sarfraz Mansoor, attended 150 concerts of Bruce Springsteen!

Filled with the 80s music - Pet Shop Boys, Aha and of course Bruce Springsteen - it was a good move to play the lyrics on the background so we could really appreciate the power of Springsteen's writing  - Born in the USA, Born to Run, The River, Thunder Road and of course Blinded by the Light. Loved watching. 

Art Management 2020 - Session 3

In the third session, we focused on the purpose, as part of the process of moving forward. So we watched as we always do, Simon Sinek's classic TED talk 'Start with why'.

Simon Sinek illustrates the simple idea of the golden circle -  three concentric circles of What (outermost), How (middle) and Why (innermost). He says that most of the world does mediocre work because we go outside in - from the 'what' to the 'why' (most don't even know the why). The what is what's visible and easy to see, while the why is fuzzy and needs some thought and conviction.

To do inspired work we must first start with Why.

The why is our purpose. Why are we doing this? What's the purpose of my art? My effort? All that I would like to achieve over a period of 20 years or even more. The idea is not to let the limitation of time lessen one's vision. Simon Sinek talks about belief - about what one believes as their cause. He cites examples of the Wright brothers, Martin Luther King and we can take any number of great people and their inspired work and one way or another, they all began with their why. Of creating something that makes a difference to the large section of society - solves of problem or provides joy.

Using the purpose, the student is asked to write down their purpose. It could be as simple as saying that 'I want my dance to give joy to the world'. (Then everything that one does aligns to that purpose.) Or one could aspire to create happiness in the world, or make it a more loving space, or heighten awareness of culture or politics through one's art.

The 'why' has to be something bigger than ourselves. When we aim for something bigger than ourselves, we become bigger people for it.

Q. What is your purpose? Your long term vision?

The 'How' is the process of achieving the Why. One must know the most efficient way to achieve one's goal. The How of it. Typically this involves two things - the culture or values that one brings to the work. Honesty, discipline, a learning mindset, pursuit of excellence, respect, love, innovation, devotion - any of these values when practised as a group or an institution, to increase efficiency, becomes one's culture. It is the 'way' we do things.

Q. What are the values you would like to adopt to achieve your why? Your way?

Another How, is knowing productivity techniques to improve one's efficiency in the pursuit of getting better at the craft. This involves techniques and concepts that help the student gain expertise in a more efficient manner. It includes an understanding of how to become an expert, learning theories, deconstructing skill, understanding feedback and monitoring mechanisms, time management and so on.

Q. What is the process to adopt to gain expertise in the art?

The What is the most easily visible thing - the product. Not the aspiration, not the grand dream. Just the bare product. It's basic physical work. What do you want to achieve? Or, what are your goals? We run through the process of goal setting, set short, medium and long term goals.

Q. What are your immediate goals? or, What is the work you need to do to achieve your goals?

Simon Sinek's talk is layered and involves about leadership, inspired work and personal excellence. If our Why is clear, it will guide us through times when we doubt ourselves. Since the purpose is something bigger than ourselves, and one must not hesitate to dream as big as one can and hold the vision.

Write out one's vision or purpose in as clear a statement as one can. It should inspire, guide, be the reason to get up every day and work towards it.

While at it, one can also attempt the How and the What.