Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Cycle - Movie

 2017. Marathi.

A cute movie set in Ratnagiri about a philanthropic astrologer nd his beloved cycle and how a couple of thieves steal it. Both the astrologer and the thieves grow in the process.


Thought for the Day - We Don't Own Anything, We're Only Temporary Keepers

The feeling that we own or must own things is a source of great discomfort. Owning is to take responsibility, to protect, to fight for. Many times we don't even know why we own, why we are protecting and why we are fighting. It diminishes the quality of our love towards that object or person. Ownership comes with the feeling of possession, of control. Of carelessness and neglect as well. I feel it is a slightly violent feeling.

I don't own this!

On the other hand, if we were to look at things, people, feelings even as stuff that we are only temporary keepers of, then it would b easy to handle them with love.

A lot of money comes to us and we get stressed wondering what to do with it, how to handle it. If on the other hand we look at it like something that is flowing through, and while flowing through comes to us, we can treat it with some amount of detachment, with compassion, with love even. A wonderful relationship comes your way and instead of getting stressed about forever ownership, a thought that we are but temporary keepers will help us deal with it with love. So with feelings, with material things. So with our body. There is a change in our energy towards things once we realise this.

We are only responsible for this moment. For the moment that comes and goes. Our job is to welcome the moment with full attention, pay it complete attention and to bid good bye as it goes with love and good wishes. No attachment, no ownership. Complete freedom.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

BlacKkKlansman - Movie

 2018. Spike Lee. John David Washington. Adam Driver.

Based on the autobiography of the same name by the real Ron Stallworth, it shows the events that follow the first black detective in Colorado Springs Police Force who infiltrates the KKK and exposes it. Can't beat real stories ever.

Wonderful movie.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Anjali - I Have Got Better At Taking Feedback Haven't I?

This one was huge. Anjali was taking some help from Shobha about a Hindi lesson. Shobha gave her some feedback in her normal straightforward fashion. Anjali handled it well and then said - 'I have become better at taking feedback haven't I?' she said. 'Not like earlier when I would get upset if someone corrected me.'

I do remember that phase when she would get upset when corrected. I react like that to feedback and I now know how important it is to keep ourselves aside and listen to feedback without taking it personally. I feel now that it is the single most important characteristic one has to develop for growth.

So I was thrilled to hear the progress Anjali made and butted in and told her that it was wonderful that she has learned to adapt, to take feedback without taking it personally. I have been noticing how she changed over the past year, laughing off anything that normally upsets her, but the fact that she worked on taking feedback consciously was very interesting.

I asked her. 'How did you learn? What made you change?'

Then she said something even more interesting.

'Nanamma,' she said. I was taken aback. My mother? She never met my mother who passed away in 2002. Anjali was born in 2007. 

'I saw her school leaving certificate,' said Anjali. 'It's written there that one of Nanamma's good traits was to take feedback well. I thought I could also do that.'

Wow. Thanks Mom. You're still influencing us even now. And well done Anjali. That's serious growth mindest for you. Fantastic trait to pick up. Good fro you. 

Anjali - A Wonderful Team Person to Have

 The other day I was doing a Zoom session with a company. I had some issues with video sharing and was not getting it right. When I ran out of ideas I had to resort to Anjali's expertise and she helped me out. Not once or twice but three of four times.

She'd come instantly and help me calmly despite my hassled state. And then she would tell me not to panic or worry. After one such small crisis, I realised she had not left the room and was watching me continue the class. She looked at me and gave me a thumbs up. After I got into the flow of the class she came and gave me a high five and whispered 'Good Nanna,' you're doing great.'

Even after I finished the program and was wondering if it went well, she came up and gave me another high five. 'Well done Nanna. Good job.'

You need people like that on your team. Those who support and encourage you wholeheartedly whatever happens. It makes the experience bearable, better. 

Thanks Anjali. Big help. 

Aani...Dr Kashinath Ghanekar - Movie

 2018. Subodh Bhave, Sonali Kulkarni.

The biopic of Marathi superstar theatre actor Dr. Kashinath Ghanekar and his rollercoaster life. Engrossing. Subodh Bhave and Sonali Kukarni stand out. As does the young actress Vaidehi and Nandita Dhuri. Watch.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Leadership in the Times of COVID 19 - Session with Construction Specialities

I conducted a 3-hour online session on "Leadership in the Times of COVID - 19" for Construction Specialities today. Ratna, Shanti, Prabhu, Dilip, Chandra, Harish, Durga, Subhash, Krishna, Praveen participated. The program structure was as follows.

Program Structure

• Leadership challenges in VUCA times

• Leadership basics

• Leadership in COVID 19 Times

1. Leadership Challenges

Leadership in VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) times like the pandemic we are experiencing now, is complex. Some of the behaviours that manifest at the workplace in these times are - Absenteeism, Engagement, Health issues - physical, emotional and mental, Multitasking between many personal and professional obligations, Life and death choices.
People's concerns are – Family, Health, Finances, Future, Career. There is a physical, mental and emotional upheaval. Our emotional states are Fear, Grief, Helplessness, Anger, Disgust, Trust issues, Stress 

Despite the fact that we are dealing with immense stress, a situation which could be as difficult as the World Wars, Famines. Depressions, we are going about as if everything is normal. When we ask others how they are feeling they say 'good'. One of the first things we need to do is to become more honest in these times of immense stress so we can gather around and support one another. It's the only way.

To do that we need to be honest. We need to know our emotional states. We need to share our vulnerability so everyone feels they can share their fears and vulnerabilities too. 

What are you feeling? We are taught not to feel or express our feelings. Most times our responses to the question are 'good' or 'bad'. But it has been proven that we need to feel our feelings to make better decisions and form deeper relationships. 

Since most of us cannot describe our feelings beyond good, bad, happy, sad, scared, anrgy, it helps o know that there are hundreds of feelings and it helps to name them. 

So we looked at the feeling wheel which gives some more feelings - and shared what we all really felt. We became human. 

We looked at the feeling wheel and identified honestly what we felt and shared it with others. Fear, Frustration, Anger, Insecurity were the guiding emotions. A moment of honesty works wonders for team bonding. Do it with your team. Find out what they are feeling. Share. Support.

Leader’s Responses
• Leader - As a leader, you're responsible to get work done and to support the team.

• Leadership is in focus in stressful times. As always when we are unsure of what to do it is time to stay with time-tested principles.

Fundamental Principle of Leadership  - Be secure.

Being secure is simply having an attitude that is transparent and honest enough to say “I don’t know” when we don't know what to do. Even leading in VUCA times could be something we don't know. We do not need to carry the burden of 'knowing' and instead put it out there and 'share' the burden. It does not make you any lesser to fear or not know. We don't know but we will find a way together is an attitude that will bind everyone together.

When we are transparent, we feel secure, because we are not hiding anything. Others come forward to help when we ask for help when we say we don't know. That way we can share the burden together.

Be transparent. Be secure. 

Exercise: Tell yourself 'I don't know how, but we will find a way out together.' Say it a few times. See how you are feeling. You should feel better and less burdened.

2.Leadership Basics

How does leadership matter?

- Does it make a significant difference? - Yes

- Can it be learned? -Yes. It is a skill. 

What is Leadership?
  • Influencing others, by the way we lead our lives (how many people are you influencing positively?)
  • Having a greater vision and guiding the team to achieve it (do you have a vision for yourself, your family, your team?)
  • An attitude, not a position - anyone can lead (where are you leading and effecting change right now and how?)
  • Is about result-oriented action, not mere words (is your leadership achieving results you want? if not, work on your leadership style, on yourself.)
  • Responsibility (are you taking responsibility for your team's growth, results, well being?)
  • Holding group energies (does your team feel safe and secure? What your team reflects what you are feeling inside?)

Leading is Taking Responsibility 

Leadership - The Process

• Vision 
A common purpose that holds the team together. A purpose that challenges and grows everyone. It is the leader's job to have that vision. Do you have one?

• Team 
Pick and deploy your players. Put square pegs in square holes. Pick smart people even if you don't have a role for them. Get the right people in, wrong people off. Invest time and know each resource, find out what values drive them and their behaviour. Some like challenges, some like support.

• Goals 
Set SMART goals - Set Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Reasonable and Time-bound goals on Long, Medium, Short and Immediate time frames.  By having goals spread over 6 months, 2 years, 5 years, 10 years and 20 years, you can see the way things pan out and can plan accordingly.

• Roles 
Roles are about clear expectations from the teammates about what they need to deliver and how work will be evaluated. Everyone has to be clear and it has to be in writing.

• Empower/guide 
Know the limitations of your people and empower, train, guide them to do their best work. It is the leader's job to see that the teammates succeed, not the other way around. Their failure is your failure.

• Monitor 
Monitor your team from a distance without getting into their space. Allow them to make mistakes, try hard and learn and grow. Step in only when you must.

  Monitoring and growing - Tough love

  • Correct / Grow
Learn how to give feedback. It is the most important tool in people management. Use the ABC technique - Activator, Behaviour and Consequence technique. You need to know how and when to give feedback - both good and bad. It can easily be learned with some practice but start today. 

The key things to keep in mind about giving feedback - 
1. it should make the person feel like doing better work than before after the feedback
2. It is about the action and not the person
3. It works best when it is immediate
4. Speak about the action, speak about how you felt about it, speak about its impact, then tell them youe positive expectations from their work
5. Allow time for it to sink in and for them to reflect

• Achieve - Achieve results

• Celebrate - Jack Welch says, look for reasons to celebrate. Keep morale high.

• Communication - It's 2 way. Listen first. Listen deeply. Ask questions. Understand. Speak clearly. Ask if they have understood. Check every now and then if they have understood.  

3 Levels of Leadership - Evolution of Leaders
There are three levels of leadership. We all begin by being insecure about our ability to lead because it is something we are not trained for. We follow our instincts. Since we are unsure, and we have authority, sometimes we may use it in an insecure manner which results in poor behaviour and poor results.

Level 1 - Insecure leadership – Traits

• Takes no responsibility
• Unclear
• Unsupportive
• Self-centred
• Fearful of others growth
• Wants others to fail
• Criticises, blames, discourages,
• Snubs new ideas, does not encourage feedback
• Fears change
• Cannot delegate, give up control,
• Acts as if he knows everything, does not accept mistakes

  Effects of Incivility - Insecure People

Level 2- Personal leadership – Traits

• Takes full responsibility for own role
• Expands role
• Role-centered, takes pride in role,
• Open to new ideas and feedback to improve role,
• Self-motivated and contributes to team,
• Wants to change the status quo,
• Learner, giver

Level 3 Secure leadership – Traits 
• Takes responsibility to achieve task and to grow everyone in the process
• Actively supports and encourages others
• Gives helpful, growth and result-oriented feedback
• Comfortable giving up control
• Allows others to take responsibility, to make mistakes 
• Grows entire team

In fact, the Secure leader fits in a lot with a Level 5 leader that Jim Collins, author of 'Good to Great' talks about. Some of the characteristics of a Level 5 leader are.
1) A combination of personal humility and professional will. As people, they are very humble, but as professionals, they are driven to make their team succeed. 
2) Highly passionate about making their company great. It was all about the company and not about hem.
3) They set the company up for future generations
4) Humble, self-effacing, mild-mannered. growth-mindset
5) Window and Mirror approach - when the team has done something good all credit goes out of the window to the team and when something goes bad, the leader takes the blame

The Window and Mirror Approach . Take the Blame, Give Away Credit

The Leadership Black Box
Since leadership is not always easy to understand, let's make it simple. It's a black box with four boxes. Why, How, What and Whom. If we know these four boxes and use these tools, we are fairly equipped to lead well.

• Why

• How

• What

• Whom

Why - Why are we doing what we are doing?

• Purpose, Vision, the common purpose

The common purpose ties the team together. Otherwise, we work at cross purposes. It is a powerful motivator for behaviour.
Why You Should Start with Why - The Golden Cicle

How - How can we do what we do most efficiently?

• Values – The cultural pillars on ‘how’ we work. Our values define us, guide us.

An example of what happens when values are practiced

• Processes – Execution tools, OKRs

What - What are we achieving, the milestones?

• SMART Goals

• Specific

• Measurable

• Achievable

• Realistic

• Timebound

• Set 10 year, 5 year, 2 year, 1 year, 6 month goals to get a path ahead

Whom - Who are we dealing with, impacting?

People are what we interact with and collaborate with to achieve our goals. It is imperative that as a leader we know how to deal with people so we get the best out of them. May times they don't know how good they are and the leader must take up the job of showing them how to do their best work. It is the leader who must facilitate the best work.

• Energy management 
People are energy.  We are connected energetically. Once we understand this, we realise we can all affect one another with our energies. Which means we can align our energies in a manner that we work towards results and not get in each other's way. As a leader, you must manage people's energy. It is what motivates, reduces stress and conflict and keeps them focussed.

• Phook theory 
The story of how a leader considered his people as the wheels that drive his vehicle. all wheels must be equal in tyre pressure else the ride will be bumpy. So tyres with less pressure must be motivated and tyres with more pressure must be deflated a bit so maximum efficiency is achieved.

• Feedback management 
Feedback is the breakfast of champions. Learn how to give positive and negative feedback.


• The Cricketing Way

• Creating Psychological Safety

• Emotional intelligence

• Resilience

The Cricketing Way

In cricket, when faced with a tough opponent who has set a huge target, we have two options. We either give up, or we decide to fight. These are some of the things we follow in cricket when facing a tough challenge.

• Commit – however long and hard, fight till the end

• Separate the Controllables vs Uncontrollables. (Focus on the controllable sonly) 

• Break it down into smaller goals

• Share the burden together

• Take it session by session, ball by ball

• Always keep your eyes on the ball

• The match is not over till the last ball is bowled

• Stay alert, stay positive


• Create Psychological Safety – Build Trust

• Be emotionally intelligent – Empathize, Empower

• Show Resilience

Project Aristotle – Google's Study on Successful Teams
Google conducted a study on why some teams are more successful. They found the following traits as most important for successful teams.

• 1. Psychological safety – being able to take a risk without feeling insecure, ability to speak up, trust

• 2. Dependable – Can others deliver, can we depend on them

• 3. Structure and Clarity – Goals, roles, execution plan

• 4. Meaning – Do we find the work personally meaningful

• 5. Impact – What impact is my work doing

Creating Psychologically Safe Places

Practising Psychological Safety 
• It is not about who, but how we interact that brings results 
• All talk equally
Ostentatious listening

Amy Edmondson is an expert at Creating Psychologically Safe Places.

• Treat work problems as learning problems and not execution problems
• Acknowledge your own fallibility
• Model curiosity – ask questions

Amy Edmondson - Psychologically Safe Places

Emotional Intelligence
To manage people in times of stress the leader needs to be emotionally intelligent. We must understand that people's behaviours are driven by their emotions and if we understand how to manage our emotions and their emotions we can handle them better. In fact, emotionally intelligent people are considered to make better leaders.

Emotional Intelligence is about Personal Competence (self-awareness, self-control, motivation) and Social Competence (empathy, social skills).

Some important characteristics of  emotional intelligence are:

• Understand, Identify and Feel Emotions and Feelings

• Balance Self-care and Other Care

• If you can’t deal with people and emotions, you can’t get any work done

• Stop Light method (Red- stop, Yellow-verbalise and think options, Green – act on best option)

• Result - Ensures smoother interaction and better use of energy
Daniel Goleman - EI Under Pressure

Empathise (With Your Team)

• Put yourself in their shoes and feel their pain
• Understand their concerns and talk to them
• Deep listening, 3 levels - Listen to the words, the feelings and thoughts
• Listen first, Seek first to understand and then to be understood and try to understand
• Lead with questions, encourage feedback, expression of ideas
• Result - Makes them feel understood. Makes the process bearable.

Brene Brown - Empathy

Build Trust

• Transparency

• Authenticity

• Care as a human would
How Leaders Make Others Feel Safe


• The Stockdale Paradox

"You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end — which you can never afford to lose — with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.“

- James Stockdale

For those who are sceptical whether building trust and being empathetic works, here's a fine example.
Simon Sinek - On the connection between Trust and Performance 

Power of Full Engagement

To survive these times practice the power of full engagement rules - improve your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual quotient and encourage your team to do the same.

• Physical – Food, Exercise, Hydration, Rest

• Emotional – Self-confidence, Self-control, Social skills, empathy, trust, openness

• Mental – Mental preparation, visualisation, self-talk, time management and creativity

• Spiritual – Values, character, passion, honesty, integrity, resolve

We Can’t Do It Alone

• We cannot achieve great things alone
• The same people show different sides if treated right 
• Work like a team, form strong bonds within team

Support one another. 

Summing Up
The key concepts to understand and practice are:

• Creating Psychologically safe environments – look at things as learning problems and not execution problems, acknowledge fallibility, model curiosity, practice talking equal amounts of time, empathetic listening, think win-win, be supportive

• Being civil – Thank, share credit, listen attentively, humbly ask questions, acknowledge others, smiling,

• Emotional Intelligence - Acknowledge feelings, identify, name, share experiences, feelings honestly

• Practicing Self-care – Physical, Emotional, Mental, Spiritual

• Being Agile and Resilient

• Together is better

Q and A session

We had a very engaging Q and A session with some very pertinent, relevant and deep questions. 

Shanti asked - whether we can practice values in our team when the organisation culture is different from ours? 

Answer - The organisation values may not be different from ours because normally values are always good. However, organisation culture is what reflects our understanding and practice of our values. So, let's consider an organisation culture that is not encouraging a psychologically safe place or empathy for example. Since these values are good to have as a principle, you can practice them and model them in your team. You can practice the same as a role model, get better at using them, and also become a model for others who are observing your behaviours. Many times the organisational culture can also change starting with your island of excellence. Do practice your set of values with your team and learn the practice of these principles. 

Prabhu asked -  whether honesty and transparency will work in the longer run? He had an experience where he owned up to a mistake and lost his job and wondered if he had made a mistake by owning up.

Answer -  What you have done is a great quality, owning up your mistake. It shows great character. However, do not confuse the punishment of losing the job with a comment on your character. You have lost the job for making that mistake. However, the same people will look at your character and may recruit you for another job because character is a rare commodity. Don't miss out on a great value you have and dilute it. An example is that of Robin Uthappa who once felt he was sacrificing his place for the team by going for a win but he was getting dropped. What he must understand is that he has great capability of getting runs but he is not able to utilise it well. He is dropped because of that inability to get those quick runs under pressure. He needs to work on shot selection, not drop his great value of going for his team.

Dilip asked - whether the team may misunderstand our empathy when they may be looking for strength?

Answer - It is the leader's job to understand the situation and behave accordingly, giving his team what they need best. Sometimes they need to see vulnerability so they can share and feel equal and feel useful. sometimes they look at you for strength so they feel secure. It is here we must be emotionally intelligent. Treat people as you would handle children - understand that deep inside we all have the same fears and apprehensions. Do what is best for them, help them express, help them deal with what's bothering them and they will perform. As a leader, you must remove the interference from their potential.

Chandra asked - What about people who have got fired? How do we deal with the insecurity it has created in the team?

Answer - Some things are beyond our control like company policy. However being empathetic to our colleagues is in our control. Make them understand that it is the situation and not a comment on them. Guide them on how to handle the loss of a job and how to prepare for the next, to see the hidden opportunity in the situation. Counsel them and make it bearable. It can happen to anyone and if as a team we can support them, in a manner that makes them stronger, not weaker, it's great. As for the ones in the team who are worried about their job, we must set the rules clearly. What is expected, where they are, what can be done to help their case. All focus should be on the controllables.

While doing all this, the leader must keep in mind two things. It must be appropriate - not too much, not too less. Make them feel strong, yet supported. You don't need to get fully into their story, guidance and offer of support is good enough. Itis very important to take self-care and keep perspective.

Chandra shared the concept of gratitude which we had worked on during our coaching and how it helped him in all areas of life. Ratna spoke about empathy and how in situations when people get fired we must take care of both those who got fired and the survivors as well.

I enjoyed the session thoroughly and though I could not play or share all this information in the session for lack of time and also some tech glitches I ran into with video sharing, I am sure we did cover a lot. The way forward is the human way, the feeling way, the emotional intelligence way, the honest and connection way. Go CS and rock the world!

Monday, September 21, 2020

Dolly Kitty aur Woh Chamakte Sitare - Movie

 2020. Alankrita Shrivastava. Konkona Sen. Bhumi Pednekar.

Two cousins from Darbangha, Bihar land up in the Shanghai of India, Greater Noida and fall prey to the demands of the rapidly moving world around them. Money, bigger houses, jobs with salaries, perks, gadgets, need for relationships, need to be with the in-crowd, need to try everything out. 

Canteen Fundas - Handling Difficult Relationships with Energy Management

 Difficult relationships? Change your energy, change the relationship.


Canteen Fundas: There's a reason they say #GoodVibesOnly, here's what we found

'Bhaiyya, we attended a webinar today,’ said Rinku. ‘Relationship expert Neelima Krishna spoke about managing difficult relationships.’

‘She said we’re all energetically connected,’ said Rahul. ‘Which means we can change the quality of our relationships by changing the quality of our energy. It’s like tuning into different radio channels and getting different music.’

‘Really?’ asked Rakesh. ‘How?’

‘She gave an example of a young cricketer who had a difficult relationship with his coach,’ said Rinku. ‘Despite his best efforts, he’d find fault with him. The boy wanted to give up.’

‘We all have difficult relationships like that with bosses and friends,’ said Rakesh. ‘Hopeless case. Best to change the coach.’

‘Ma’am said that if we change our coach but not our energy, we’ll have the same problems with the new coach,’ said Rahul. ‘It’s like changing the radio but tuning into the same channel.’

‘Then?’ asked Rakesh.

‘In fact, she said we cannot change anyone,’ said Rahul. ‘The only person we can change is ourselves. We vibrate on energy frequencies ranging from shame and guilt right up to peace, love and joy. So, instead of blaming others, we need to first look at the thoughts we’re entertaining and transmitting to others.’

‘In this case I’d feel victimised, angry and frustrated with the coach,’ said Rakesh. ‘And at some point, give up.’

‘Absolutely, bhaiyya,’ said Rahul. ‘By staying with low vibration thoughts, we stay stuck. For example, if our thoughts are tuned into a frequency that says ‘I don’t trust these people’, they’ll receive it at the same energy frequency and they’ll repeat the same behavioural pattern. And we think, ‘See, I can’t trust them’. The relationship gets stuck and deteriorates. We only hurt ourselves.’

‘Oh,’ said Rakesh. ‘How then?’

‘Change the channel, bhaiyya,’ laughed Rinku. ‘To change our energy, we need to tune into thoughts with higher vibration such as love, gratitude and forgiveness. The simplest way is to focus on whatever’s good in the relationship, however small, and be grateful for whatever the coach has taught you. When we do that, our energy changes from being angry to being grateful. We transmit a higher vibe energy and break the pattern.’

‘Wow!’ said Rakesh. ‘So, we tune out of bad frequencies and tune into better frequencies. And, the best part is, we’re doing it for our good. Not for anyone else.’

‘Yes, bhaiyya,’ said Rinku. ‘In this case, ma’am said that the coach’s behaviour may change or the boy may find a better coach. Either way, his experience changes for the better.’

‘Thanks, dudes,’ said Rakesh. ‘I feel a strong vibe for coffee now.’

Pro Tip: To change the energy in a relationship, change your energy first. Gratitude, love and forgiveness are powerful tools that can change your relationships and your experiences.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Bhai - Vyakti ki Valli - Uttarardh - Movie

 2nd part of the story.

Fine watch again. Though I'm not sure if they could capture the essence of his wit and humour. The actors did a fine job though.

Bhai - Vyakti ki Valli - Movie

 2019. Mahesh Manjrekar on Pu La Deshpande's life. Part 1

Nice watch. Didn't realise that Pu La, Bhimsen Joshi and other creative geniuses were together. There's something about these associations.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Thought for the Day - How Many People are You Comfortable Asking?

 It's interesting to check yourself on this one. How many people are you comfortable asking for anything? The comfort you had in asking your mother or the special friend or sibling for anything that you wanted. Many times, the fact that you can ask someone and they will indulge you is itself is a huge validation a feeling as good as actually getting it.

Ask and the world gives - Pic Satish Nargundkar

I found that I have great difficulty in asking people for anything. I wasn't always like this - I think I was pretty good at it when I was young but then slowly lost it. I love the way some of my friends, siblings ask for anything. Buy me that gift, said my brother last year and we all pooled in and bought him a nice gift he wanted. Take us out to buy sarees say my sisters and I take them out. I'm coming over so keep yourself free say my friends and I keep myself free. But I find that I have little want for anything and there are times when I ask - maybe a book, some clothes, a trip, a coffee even - or something that I have been wanting to do and I find it difficult to ask. Sometimes I ask and then cancel it myself.

Like the coconut water example. This was in Goa, in 2012. Vidyuth and I were driving every day from Panaji to Margoa to watch some matches. Every day on the way back I would see these coconut sellers and think 'I'd like to drink coconut water' and then I'd cancel my order and the moment was gone. On the fourth day I told Vidyuth as we passed that spot - Viddu, you know every day I have been thinking of drinking coconut water but cancel it in my head. Vidyuth was shocked and turned the car around and stopped at the coconut vendor and we had coconut water. That's how lousy I am at taking care of myself, at asking for what I want. It goes for small things like that - tea, coffee, biscuits, samosas, stuff to order in restaurants, clothes to pick, always second-guessing, always settling. 

If I can't indulge myself, how can I ask anyone else?

But it's an important quality I feel, this ability to ask unhesitatingly. At best we may get a No, but that need not deter us from asking. It's also a way of saying I trust you enough to take your No. But we don't have enough of such people we can ask and I feel that is something one needs to improve on. 

I need to improve on. Something I am learning.  

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Anil Mittal - The Gentle Fast Bowler

 I met Anil Mittal, or Annie as I used to call him, when I first was selected to play for the state Junior state team in 1984. It was my second-year Intermediate and I was least expecting to play Under 25 because I had only played Under 15 for the state and South zone two years ago. After a year of faring normally in the A division for MCC, I had a great season in 1984 getting wickets against all bank teams. I knew of Anil as the fast bowler who played for SBI and who had once been a junior India fast bowler and was regarded highly by his peers. Anil was next in line to make his Ranji debut, having ticked all the boxes.

But something happened and I suspect it was an injury and Anie lost much of his pace. In the Under 25 nets I found him welcoming as he smiled and made me comfortable. he bowled off his run up and focussed more on swing than pace. I thought that was how one must bowl in Under 25 level and I bowled gently too. Our skipper Manohar watched me for a few balls and asked me why I was bowling slow. I said Anil was pitching up and making the ball swing and perhaps I should do that. Manu told me to bowl normally and let Anil do his thing. Annie and I laughed about it later.

But that was how highly I looked up to him. Ever since that game he was always Annie to me and I was always Harry to him. He would always meet me with a warm smile and a thing or two to say and I could always expect a straight and gentle answer from him. Annie lost out on the Ranji spot perhaps due to that back injury or whatever injury bothered him and he never played. I played a few games and I am sure if Annie had been fully fit I would have had to wait my turn. We played against one another in league matches and had a good time.

My best memory of Annie however was in a match organised by All Saints High School where All Saints played against Rest of Hyderabad, with Azhar, Narasimha Rao, Shivlal, Arshad, Venkatapathi and others We played on opposing sides -- Annie for Rest and me for All Saints. The match came down to the wire. 18 were needed in the last two overs and we had only two wickets in hand. I walked in with little hope because Annie had the ball in his hand and had just got a wicket. I missed a couple ten threw my bat at a ball that was in reach. It connected and flew over mid on for four. Annie came up and bowled another and I flung my bat again and it connected and I got another four. Suddenly we were back in the game. And then, having despatched two good balls to the fence I fell to one outside my off stump and ended up being caught behind. Annie had got his revenge.

The next over, Vidyuth faced his brother Vivek and scored nine runs including an exquisite cover drive to seal the game and we won. I feel I made a significant contribution that day. Of course I'll always be thankful for Annie not to have bounced at me after the first four.

Many lovely memories of the gentle fast bowler and I knew he was coaching. I would see his loving posts on Facebook about his trips, his family, and he was such a devoted family man. Even about his wards. There aren't many like him around. When Noel put up a message last week that he was no more I was shocked. I called him and Noel said he wasn't well for a while. Abhiram messaged me from Bangalore asking me what happened and he recalled him fondly. 

Wherever he has gone, Annie will surely make is a warm and affectionate place. Was brilliant knowing you Annie. Rest in peace old friend. You will always be missed.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Kaalidas - Movie

 2019. Kaalidas. Sri Senthil. Bharath. Ann Sheetal.

Nice murder mystery. No way we'll ever guess the murderer. Worth watching.

Breath of Gold, Hariprasad Chaurasia - Sathya Saran

Hariprasad Chaurasia's name is synonymous with the flute, a humble instrument some say (though I wonder how my instrument can be humble), that he almost single-handedly made popular in one lifespan. Sathya Saran's book brings out the young wrestler-to-be's great love for music, for the flute, his quest for learning, his devotion to his guru Annapurna Devi, his partnership with his friend Shiv Kumar Sharma, his compositions and his desire to nurture great musicians for the future. If the gods chose Hariprasad Chaurasia to elevate the standing of the flute. Hariprasad Chaurasia carried his purpose with single-minded focus, with aplomb, playing for audiences across the world, in royal palaces to the layman.

Hariprasad Chaurasia's journey begins in Allahabad, the second of three children of Chedi pehelwan, a renowned wrestler who ran an akhada, sandwiched between an older sister and a younger brother, Hariprasad was expected to train to be a pehelwan like his father and he trained hard at his father's akahara, waking up at 5 int he morning and going through great rigour, Chedi pehelwan never remarried after his wife's death, fearing mistreatment of his children, and lavished all his attention on them. Young Hariprasad discovered that he had an ear for music his singing in the temple earned him praise from the pandit. But it was the arrival of a music teacher, Rajaram and his wife, as neighbours that really gave his musical journey direction. Rajaram taught him the basics of classical music, evaluated Hariprasad's vocal range and suggested he choose an instrument to play if he wanted to pursue music. Hariprasad chose the flute, a cheap and easily available instrument, and off he was playing it by the riverside and in open fields for hours. Just as Rajaram and the temple priest did, all through his life Hariprasad would find guidance from people who helped him along and he gratefully received their help.

A big believer in learning through listening and imitating, Hariprasad's early gurus were musicians who played on the All India Radio. He listened to their performances intently and tried to imitate them until one day, he caught the name of the flautist on the radio, and made his way to Bholanath Prasanna, an artist at AIR Allahabad. Bholanath Prasanna took the keen student in and taught him the finer nuances of playing the flute at his house. He even secured a few performances on AIR for Hariprasad which earned him some money as well. All this was without the knowledge of his father of course and Hariprasad always explained that there was extra work at school.

Smitten by stardom, Hariprasad and his friend Jagannath, a singer, headed off ticketless to Bombay by train, mere schoolkids and returned after two days of troubles. As the saying goes, when the student is ready, the teacher appears, and one day when Hariprasad was playing with his friend near a hotel in Allahabad, the renowned classical musician Allauddin Khan of Maisar, stepped out and asked them to sing with him. Hariprasad said he could play the flute, and after listening to him, the great man offered to take him as a pupil. Hariprasad could not leave his house then as he was still ins school and demurred upon which Alauddin Khan, the father-in-law and guru of Pandit Ravi Shankar, told young Hariprasad to seek the services of his daughter Annapurna Devi, if he ever wants to learn classical music. Annapurna Devi was Pandit Ravi Shankar's first wife.

Chedi pehelwan was thrilled when 16-year-old Hari secured a job at the Allahabad Spinning Mills as an LDC, after school, where he was looked after well by a lover of music by the owner of the mill. A while later came a government job which to Chedi pehelwan was the highest calling in anyone seeking a career. Hariprasad continued his performances, meeting people who promoed his talent and even played as an accompanist at the Rashtrapathi Bhavan with the President Dr Rajendra Prasad in the audience. During this period, prodded by his guru Bholanath Prasanna, Hariprasad auditioned for AIR and was chosen as a B grade artiste at Rs. 180 rupees as salary. His posting, Cuttack.

It was only when the 18-year old was packing to go to Cuttack that Chedi Pehelwan saw the many flutes in his bag and realised that his son had been playing the flute and very well too. He was distraught that he was not able to help his son better. Hariprasad promised his father that he would try this stint out in a new place for a month and if things did not work out he would return.

In 1857, when Hariprasad joined the Cuttack AIR station, he never realised that he had set off on a journey that would take him across the world and bring him name, fame and wealth. Krishnamurthy, Director of AIR Cuttack, a musician himself, took the young flautist under his wing, granting him permission to stay on the office premises and letting him play or attend all classical concerts. The mentorship of Pandit Bhubandehwar Mishra at Cuttack took Hariprasad's career to the next level as he started playing for Mishra's compositions in Oriya plays and films. He also got an opportunity to play in Krishnamurthy's orchestra. Soon, Krishnamurthy asked him to audition as a composer for the AIR and young Hariprasad cracked that too. He became extremely busy playing for the association that formed between Krishnamurthy, Pandit Mishra and Odissi dance exponent Kelucharan Mahapatra who would use their compositions in the Odissi performances by his students. Much in demand by the Odissi artistes, Hariprasad Chaurasia, is smitten by a collegian, student of Ustad Firoz Khan, Angurbala aka Anuradha, and an Odissi dancer herself, and married her secretly, on August 15, 1958.

Hariprasad's rise and success did not go down well with many of his peers and colleagues after a few complaints to the new boss (his mentor Krishnamurthy had been transferred too), he was transferred to Bombay.  This upset his well-set life in Cuttack but faced with no option but to resign or take the transfer, Hariprasad left for Bombay, thinking that he would try it out for a month. He was unhappy at leaving his wife and the wonderful atmosphere at Cuttack amidst many great gurus. In 1962 he joined the AIR Bombay and initially stayed with his older sister Banno at Bhulabhai Road. His colleague at AIR Bombay, Ahmad, got him jobs to play at Gujarati plays apart from the music he had to play on AIR. Until one day he received a call from a film studio. Madan Mohan, the renowned composer wanted him to accompany for song to be sung by Talat Mahmood for the film Jahan Ara. The song was 'Phir Wohi Sham'. And so the journey continued into a new territory. Hariprasad played on and on, learning and practising, never refusing an opportunity, and gaining expertise with each performance. Apart from the number of hours he played, the quality of people he associated with also helped him hone his craft tremendously.

Soon Hariprasad was regularly playing for compositions by some of the best maestros in the business such as OP Nayyar, SD Burman, C Ramachandra, Kalyanji Anadji, Lakshmikant Pyarelal, Shanker Jaikishen and others and soon he composing music for films as well. His days would spill over into nights and there were times when he would carry his toothpaste with him so he could freshen up in the morning after the night's work. Since he was making enough money, he decided to shift Anuradha who had completed her exams, and they moved into Evergreen Hotel at Khar, a well-known pad for artistes. Hariprasad was busy performing and travelling across the country - Calcutta, Bombay, Madras. His work paid off and soon he and Anuradha moved into a home. He bought himself his first car, a Morris Eight which he Minister on driving himself. He brought his first wife Kamala, who was in Allahabad with her two sons to Bombay, bought a house for her where she stayed with the sons and his father. Both wives lived as sisters and Kamala helped in bringing up Rajeev, Anuradha's son.

Hariprasad's friendship with Shiv Kumar Sharma whom he met in a college festival in 1950, turned into a life long partnership. Shiv-Hari as they would be known as, teamed up together and began composing and playing for films. Milan, Geet were mong the first films they composed for while Hero by Subhash Ghai, with its trademark flute tune, gave them a bigger recognition. The duo also composed 'Call of the Valley' which was released by HMV and became a bestseller. It is till date the highest selling Indian classical composition. He was soon playing with Pandit Ravi Shankar along with George Harrison, which gave him further exposure to the greatest musical talent in the world at that time. By 1974, Hariprasad had toured many of the European countries as a performer and had performed at the Royal Albert Hall, London, to a packed house as well.

Realising that his range needed to increase, Hariprasad with his trademark humility, sought out a guru to teach him. He sought Annapurna Devi, known to be a recluse, who taught only a few students. Since she separated from Pandit Ravi Shakar she lived alone in Bombay and Hariprasad went to meet her. She refused saying she played the surbahar and not the bansuri. For three years Hariprasad visited her, 3-4 times a month, greeting her and requesting her, until she finally took him on as a student. Hariprasad offered to give up films to learn from her, when she told him that he should never turn away goddess Lakshmi. her option, come for lessons after engagements at the studios, after 1 in the morning!

One of the first things Annapurna Devi does is to slow him down. She would repeat that there was no need for speed in music, it had to be like a prayer. When Hariprasad told her that audiences liked speed, the temperamental guru broke a tanpura on his head - 'do you play to learn music or for others!' Over time the guru and her shishya built a beautiful relationship, one of complete devotion and transfer of knowledge in its purest sense. For many years Hariprasad learned from his guru ma, who taught him dhrupad, dhamar, tappa, thumri, kajri. A lesson that he also learned from Annapurna Devi was that she taught music so that men could get joy and peace of mind.

Hariprasad joined Ravi Shankar's troupe of great musicians Alla Rakha on tabla, L Subramanyam on the violin, Shiv Kumar Sharma on santoor as they played at Harrison's castle in the United Kingdom. Soon after that, they embarked on a 45 city tour of USA and Canada promoting the 'Dark Horse Years'. Meanwhile, Shiv Hari kept composing for films - Silsila, Faasle, Vijay, Chandni, Lamhe, Darr. A program to play at Tirumala Tirupathi with Lata Mangeshkar was an opportunity to ger his flute blessed by Lord Balaji. Hariprasad now realised it was time to give back -he began his practice of playing the flute for 24 hours, from the midnight of Janmashtami, as a tribute to Lord Krishna the original flautist.

Hariprasad was toying with the idea of starting a gurukul. In 1988, while on a trip to Japan as part of the entourage with Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, he requested the prime Minister land for a gurukul. Rajiv Gandhi was as good as his word and an 800 square yard plot in Juhu was allotted to him. But he could not build his gurukul for lack of funding until he met Ratan Tata at the ceremony for Padma Vibhushan (where both were recipients) and the next thing he knew, the Tatas handed him the key to his gurukul. He named his gurukul 'Vrindaban Gurukul'. Hariprasad wanted to raise a generation of musicians like his guru ma had. He taught by throwing challenges to his students. he believed they should also learn by listening and practising. In 2010, he stared a second gurukul at Bhubaneshwar. More than music, his students feel, he teaches humility and devotion to art.

Sometime after that, Hariprasad took up a teaching job at the Rotterdam Conservatory where he teaches for four months a year. Hariprasad has played with the biggest names - Kishori Amonkar, Pandit Jasraj, Balamurali Krishna, TN Krishnan, John McLaughlin, Ian Anderson, Egberto Gismnti, Ian Garbareck, Jang Hyun Won to name a s few. He has played for Queen Beatrix, Queen of Holland on her birthday. Not one to bother about crowd reactions - he would treat every performance as a chance to play - be it for 8 people in one church recital or in front of an unruly crowd at Chowmahalla Palace, Hyderabad. The advent of Parkinson's in 2009 has slowed him down just a bit.

'Breath of Gold' is a fascinating journey of a man who submitted to his destiny, who went about his work with utmost dedication and humility, who never lost track and always remained a student. it is a journey well captured and well told. Sathya Saran is a well-known journalist, editor of Femina for several years, author of books on Guru Dutt, SD Burman, Jagjit Singh, Hariprasad Chaurasia, a book on the making of Angoor, on ho toe a beauty queen and so on. Sathya is consulting editor with Penguin India, writes for several publications and also curates a festival called the Unfestival.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Naomi Osaka - Take a Bow

 If what Naomi Osaka did at the US Open represents the new generation, I am so happy for them. For her to wear headbands on seven different matches with the names of people who have been killed in racial violence, was a huge statement to make at this stage in her career. She did and carried it off with grace and elegance.

Well done Naomi, sometimes you need to show you are more than a sportsperson. You need to show you are human. After hearing the same cliches spouted by sportsmen over the years it was refreshing to see this.

In the course of an hour, I was converted from an apathetic watched to a huge fan. Go girl!

Canteen Fundas - Separate the Action from the Person

 Separate the action from the person!


Canteen Fundas: Here's why you shouldn't ditch the whole because of a part

Bhaiyya, a crisis is looming large,’ said Rinku. ‘Rahul’s on the verge of breaking up with Sohail.’

‘How come, Rahul?’ asked Rakesh. ‘I thought friends were for keeps.’

‘True, bhaiyya,’ said Rahul. ‘Sohail and I’ve been great friends for ages. But he has this bad habit of playing stupid pranks. I’ve told him repeatedly I don’t like his practical jokes. Yesterday was the limit. He sent some weird messages to my friends from my phone without my knowledge. I lost it. This time I’m done.’

‘Rahul,’ said Rinku. ‘Sohail can get irritating at times but he’s a genuinely nice person who is always the first one to help. He plays pranks but he doesn’t mean anything bad. That just makes him what he is.’

‘I can’t deal with him anymore, Rinku,’ said Rahul. ‘I’ve told him so many times to respect my space but he doesn’t get it. I can never forgive him for what he did yesterday.’

‘Sometimes by focusing on one act or one aspect we lose out our perspective on the whole,’ said Rakesh. ‘Remember, good friends are assets. Ending relationships should be your last option.’

‘He’s hopeless,’ dismissed Rahul. ‘But what options are you suggesting, bhaiyya?’

‘Firstly, separate the act from the person,’ said Rakesh. ‘Don’t take one action and paint the person as a whole with labels like ‘he’s hopeless’ or ‘he’ll never learn’ and condemn him forever. Separate the behaviour and the person.’

‘What then, bhaiyya?’ asked Rahul. ‘Suffer his stupid behaviour?’

‘Give him feedback — properly,’ said Rahul. ‘There’s a way to do it. Tell him specifically what the behaviour was that upset you, how it made you feel exactly and let it sink in. Then, tell him how much you value your friendship and that it’s about the act and not him. If you give feedback constructively, chances are high that he might change his behaviour. But instead, if you blame and make ‘him’ wrong, you’ll definitely lose him.’

‘What if he doesn’t change even after I make all that effort?’ asked Rahul.

‘We’re all imperfect, Rahul, and we all have our limitations,’ said Rakesh. ‘Understand that it’s a limitation of his. Leave that part and deal with the rest of him. If you don’t like the filling in a samosa, you don’t need to throw the entire samosa away, right? Throw away the filing and enjoy the rest. If you follow this principle, you can get along with everyone.’

‘Wow,’ said Rahul. ‘Thanks, I’ll talk to Sohail over samosas.’

Pro Tip: If you label a person as ‘bad’ based on one act, you’ll lose the relationship. Instead, give feedback in a manner that affects change. We all have limitations and by focusing on the good parts, you can get the best of your relationships.

Thought for the Day - Love is the Key to Trust

If trust is the key to flow, love is the key to trust. It may sound paradoxical that we should first love to trust but that's the truth. And when we cannot trust, we cannot love others, its time to point the finger back at ourselves and say - hey where do I not love myself.

Then the story unravels. It is not about them. You always had a shortfall of love. You didn't love yourself enough and you project it on to others and hate the. Actually, when you don't love them or hate them, you're only hating yourself.

So the moment, you find yourself lacking trust, lacking love for the others, look within and be loving to yourself. Fill yourself with love and all will be well outside again.

Wow! It took me twenty years to realise that. Thanks Shobhs. Thanks Colin Tipping.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Lucky Luke - Cowboy Adventures

 I loved the ucky Luke comics when I was young. I guess our Colony's Best Library was the one who got me hooked on to it. I distinctly remember my father being quite amused by the talking horse and he would read it with more interest than I would. So when I got my hands on a 4 in 1, I could not resist it and bought it.

Lucky Luke and his wisecracking steed Jolly go out into the wild west and perform heroic deeds with the elan of pros. Four delightful stories - The Alibi, The Bridge on the Mississippi, The Pony Express and Ghost Hunt.

Good fun. Took me back to those Colony's Best Library days.

Short Stories - Strategy vs Tactic - A Stanford Story

 I loved this. Timothy Paul, my old friend, sent this.

 Strategy vs Tactic.

Most Stanford students fail this challenge. Here's what we can learn from their mistakes.

You’re a student in a Stanford class on entrepreneurship.

Your professor walks into the room, breaks the class into different teams, and gives each team five dollars in funding. Your goal is to make as much money as possible within two hours and then give a three-minute presentation to the class about what you achieved.

If you’re a student in the class, what would you do?

Typical answers range from using the five dollars to buy start-up materials for a makeshift car wash or lemonade stand, to buying a lottery ticket or putting the five dollars on red at the roulette table.

But the teams that follow these typical paths tend to bring up the rear in the class.

The teams that make the most money don’t use the five dollars at all. They realize the five dollars is a distracting, and essentially worthless, resource.

So they ignore it. Instead, they go back to first principles and start from scratch. They reframe the problem more broadly as “What can we do to make money if we start with absolutely nothing?” One particularly successful team ended up making reservations at popular local restaurants and then selling the reservation times to those who wanted to skip the wait. These students generated an impressive few hundred dollars in just two hours.

But the team that made the most money approached the problem differently. They realized that both the $5 funding and the 2-hour period weren’t the most valuable assets at their disposal. Rather, the most valuable resource was the three-minute presentation time they had in front of a captivated Stanford class. They sold their three-minute slot to a company interested in recruiting Stanford students and walked away with $650.

The five-dollar challenge illustrates the difference between tactics and strategy. Although the terms are often used interchangeably, they refer to different concepts. A strategy is a plan for achieving an objective. Tactics, in contrast, are the actions you undertake to implement the strategy.

The Stanford students who bombed the $5 challenge fixated on a tactic—how to use the five dollars—and lost sight of the strategy. If we focus too closely on the tactic, we become dependent on it. “Tactics without strategy,” as Sun Tzu wrote in the Art of War, “are the noise before defeat.”

Just because a $5 bill is sitting in front of you doesn’t mean it’s the right tool for the job. Tools, as Neil Gaiman reminds us, “can be the subtlest of traps.” When we’re blinded by tools, we stop seeing other possibilities in the peripheries. It’s only when you zoom out and determine the broader strategy that you can walk away from a flawed tactic.

What is the $5 tactic in your own life? How can you ignore it and find the 2-hour window? Or even better, how do you find the most valuable three minutes in your arsenal?

Once you move from the “what” to the “why”—once you frame the problem broadly in terms of what you’re trying to do instead of your favored solution—you’ll discover other possibilities lurking in plain sight.


Sunday, September 13, 2020

Cargo - Movie

 Super cute. Human souls transitioning to a space station where they heal them and send them forward. I liked the fact that they attempted this idea, made it fun and laughed about death, loneliness, attachment etc.

Vikram Massey and Shwetha Tripathi are super cute.

Thought for the Day - Trust is the Key to Flow

 The key to flow is trust. We don't flow when we don't trust others, their reactions, the outcomes, ourselves basically.

But then trust is all about ourselves. True others can step up and make the place a trusting or mistrusting space, but in the end it's all about you and how much you trust yourself.

When you trust yourself, you will find it easier to trust others and when you find it easier to trust others you will find it easier to be in flow and when you are in flow, you find it easier to be happier and work better.

When you are struggling with flow, look at who you are not trusting. Then look at yourself and ask why you are not able to trust yourself? Why you are not capable of earning their trust? Then work on yourself - your trust with yourself. 

And return.

Short Stories - 7 Lies

These are not really stories but good stuff. I suspect these are his own thoughts. 

7 Lies.

7 lies that prevent you from succeeding in life There are some things that hold us back in our life. It can be our young age, our family or our friends. There are some times however, when even ourselves prevent us from succeeding in life. This happens because we keep believing negative things about ourselves, things that destroy our confidence. Here are 7 lies we keep telling to ourselves. This will help you find the truth! 

1) "People will criticize me for being who I am." The truth is that there will be always people who will jugde you for being who you are. Especially if who you are is a successful person, people are jealous of. But why paying so much attention to other people's opinion? They might be jealous of you, they might want to hurt you, they might want to make you vulnerable or they might not like you at all. But there's no problem with that since we cannot be loved by everybody. So just be yourself and there will be always someone who will adore you for that!

 2) "I can't trust anyone, because they might betray me" We all have known at least one person who betrayed us, but that doesn't mean that everyone isn't trustworthy. Try not to be suspicious with everyone. If you want to know what a person is really like, prejudging will only blur the picture for you. Of course you should be careful and try not to trust everyone you meet but that doesn’t mean that all these people aren’t trust-worthy. Moreover, how do you expect to form a meaningful relationship with anyone, if you are not open to the world? Trust freely but be smart enough to know how to handle the toxic people in your life. 

3) "I won't fall in love because I am afraid of getting my heart broken." Love and pain are two sides of the same coin, two very important lessons in life that both need to be taken. Through love, you'll also get pain. But there will be also happy moments as well. Without love, there are no happy moments. There is loneliness which is painful as well, and even more. So don't hesitate to fall in love. There are certain things you're going to lose, but in the end you are going to be a winner. 

4) "It's too late to follow my dreams." There are moments in life when you feel disappointed with the current situation you are in and it is likely that this can cause negative emotions like the feeling of being too old to try for something. But it's this belief that is limiting you, not your age. The sooner you understand that, the sooner you’ll recover from this emotional trap. The truth is, you have the power to do whatever you want with your life and if you don’t feel satisfied with your current situation, you can change it for the better. It is never too late to make your dreams come true, the important thing is to take action.

 5) "I will always be failing at achieving my goals." Failure isn't as bad as you think. What you need to realize is that failure is just a steppingstone to success. So if you stop being afraid of failure, then you'll grow stronger. The most important thing to do after each fall is to rise and try again. Each failure takes you one step closer to your goal. Through failure we have the opportunity to grow stronger and learn new life lessons.

 6) "I can't ask for what I want because I fear rejection" It's true that you can fail at what you want and it's also a fact that many times you'll get a "No" as an answer. But that does not mean that there are going to be only failures. Plus, if you never try, then you have already failed! Find the courage and ask for what you want from life. You might get it. 

7) "I am not that strong to reach success" This is a very dangerous trap. By losing your confidence and not believing in yourself and your abilities, you actually risk of losing the chance to follow your dreams. On the contrary, if you tell yourself that it is your destiny to be succesful, you can make a begin. The things that separate successful and unsuccessful people are that successful people believe in themselves and they don’t fear failure. They know that it is all up to them to make things work for them which gives a big drive for success. So just believe it!

Short Stories - 6 Little Stories

 Another one from Pawan. I've seen these before, but they are good to capture in  this collection.



{ 1 }

ONCE, All villagers decided to pray for rain, on the day of prayer all the People gathered but only one boy came with an umbrella.





{ 2 }

WHEN You throw a baby in the air, she laughs because she knows you will catch her.





{ 3 }

EVERY Night we go to bed, without any assurance of being alive the next

Morning but still we set the alarms to wake up.





{ 4 }

WE Plan big things for tomorrow in spite of zero knowledge of the future.





{ 5 }

WE See the world suffering.

But still we get Married.






On an Old Man's shirt was written a cute sentence

'I Am Not 60 Years Old.. I Am Sweet 16 with 44 years Experience.'




Short Stories - Watch Your Thoughts

 Another One from Pawan's collection.

Watch Your Thoughts - Don't Get Into the Drama

"A man who has gone out of his town comes back and finds that his house is on fire.

It was one of the most beautiful houses in the town, and the man loved the house the most! Many were ready to give double price for the house, but he had never agreed for any price and now it is just burning before his eyes.

And thousands of people have gathered, but nothing can be done, the fire has spread so far that even if you try to put it out, nothing will be saved. So he becomes very sad.

His son comes running and whispers something in his ear:

"Don't be worried. I sold it yesterday and at a very good price ― three times.

The offer was so good I could not wait for you. Forgive me."

Father said, "thank God, it's not ours now!" Then the father is relaxed and became a silent watcher, just like 1000s of other watchers. Please think about it!

Just a moment before he was not a watcher, he was attached.

It is the same house....the same fire.... everything is the same...but now he is not concerned.

In fact started enjoying it just as everybody else in the crowd.

Then the second son comes running, and he says to the father, "What are you doing? You are smiling ― and the house is on fire?" The father said, "Don't you know, your brother has sold it."

He said, "We have taken only advance amount, not settled fully. I doubt now that the man is going to purchase it now."

Again, everything changes!!

Tears which had disappeared, have come back to the father's eyes, his smile is no more there, his heart is beating fast. The 'watcher' is gone. He is again attached.

And then the third son comes, and he says, "That man is a man of his word. I have just come from him. He said, 'It doesn't matter whether the house is burnt or not, it is mine. And I am going to pay the price that I have settled for. Neither you knew, nor I knew that the house would catch on fire.'"

Again the joy is back and family became 'watchers'! The attachment is no more there.

Actually nothing is changing!

Just the feeling that "I am the owner! I am not the owner of the house!" makes the whole difference.

The Moral :
This simple methodology of watching the mind, That you have nothing to do with it.
Everything starts with a Thought!
Most of the thoughts are not yours but from your parents, your teachers, your friends, the books, the movies, the television, the newspapers.

Just count how many thoughts are your own, and you will be surprised that not a single thought is your own. All are from other sources, all are borrowed ― either dumped by others on you, or foolishly dumped by yourself upon yourself, but nothing is yours.

Short Stories - Water Story

 Pawan forwarded me some wonderful stories, one of which seemed so appropriate that I want to use it in a story I am writing. It's titled 'Leap of Faith'.

Leap of Faith - Pic Satish Nargundkar

"A Leap of Faith" - Short Story

There was once a man who got lost in the desert. The water in his flask ran out two days ago, and he was on his last legs. He knew that if he didn't get some water soon, he would surely perish. The man saw a shack ahead of him. He thought it might be a mirage or hallucination, but having no other option, he moved toward it. As he got closer he realized it was quite real, so he dragged his weary body to the door with the last of his strength.

The shack was not occupied and seemed like it had been abandoned for quite some time. The man gained entrance, hoping against hope that he might find water inside.

His heart skipped a beat when he saw what was in the shack: a water pump..It had a pipe going down through the floor, perhaps tapping a source of water deep under-ground.

He began working the pump, but no water came out. He kept at it and still nothing happened. Finally he gave up from exhaustion and frustration. He threw up his hands in despair. It looked as if he was going to die after all.

Then the man noticed a bottle in one corner of the shack. It was filled with water and corked up to prevent evaporation.

He uncorked the bottle and was about to gulp down the sweet life-giving water when he noticed a piece of paper attached to it. Handwriting on the paper read: "Use this water to start the pump. Don't forget to fill the bottle when you're done."

He had a dilemma. He could follow the instruction and pour the water into the pump, or he could ignore it and just drink the water.

What to do? If he let the water go into the pump, what assurance did he have that it would work? What if the pump malfunctioned? What if the pipe had a leak? What if the underground reservoir had long dried up?

But then... maybe the instruction was correct. Should he risk it? If it turned out to be false, he would be throwing away the last water he would ever see.

Hands trembling, he poured the water into the pump. Then he closed his eyes, said a prayer, and started working the pump.

He heard a gurgling sound, and then water came gushing out, more than he could possibly use. He luxuriated in the cool and refreshing stream. He was going to live!

After drinking his fill and feeling much better, he looked around the shack. He found a pencil and a map of the region. The map showed that he was still far away from civilization, but at least now he knew where he was and which direction to go.

He filled his flask for the journey ahead. He also filled the bottle and put the cork back in. Before leaving the shack, he added his own writing below the instruction: "Believe me, it works!"

This story is all about life. It teaches us that we must give before we can receive abundantly. More importantly, it also teaches that faith plays an important role in giving. The man did not know if his action would be rewarded, but he proceeded regardless. Without knowing what to expect, he made a leap of faith.

Water in this story represents the good things in life. Something that brings a smile to your face. It can be intangible knowledge or it can represent money, love, family, friendship, happiness, respect, or any number of other things you value. Whatever it is that you would like to get out of life, that's water.

The water pump represents the workings of the karmic mechanism. Give it some water to work with, and it will return far more than you put in

Short Stories - Love Stories from Children

 I get these short forwards that are priceless. Today Sreenu sent me these small stories about what young children thought love was.

What does love means to 4-8 year old kids? A group of professional people posed this question to a group of 4 to 8 year-olds, 'What does love mean?  

'When my grandmother got arthritis , she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore.. So my grandfather does it for her all the time , even when his hands got arthritis too. That's love.' Rebecca- age 8

'When someone loves you , the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.' - Billy - age 4

'Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.' - Karl - age 5

'Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs.' Chrissy - age 6

'Love is what makes you smile when you're tired.' Terri - age 4

'Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him , to make sure the taste is OK.' Danny - age 8

'Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and just listen.' Bobby - age 7 (Wow!)

If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate.' Nikka - age 6
(we need a few million more Nikka's on this planet)

'Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday.' Noelle - age 7

'Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.' Tommy - age 6

'During my piano recital , I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn't scared anymore.' Cindy - age 8

'Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.' Elaine-age 5

'Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.' Mary Ann - age 4

'I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones.' Lauren - age 4

'You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.' Jessica - age 8

And the final one: The winner was a four year old child whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old 
gentleman's yard , climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his Mother asked what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, 'Nothing, I just helped him cry.'

Now, be a child again today!