Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Earth Wisdom - Glennie Kindred

 It's a lovely book that makes earth the centre of our lives and explores all things natural, the seasons, the cycles, the trees, the folklore, the history and culture and you wonder where you have been living as you read all that. this is the same earth we live in and treat so lightly, take it for granted. The way she describes the beauty of each tree, shrub, how the earth gives and cares, you want to go and work with the earth right then.

The author talks about how we are the change, the gifts of the earth, the spirit of the land and how we can begin this change. There are detailed insights into the earth's cycles. Then she delves deep into these cycles - Samhain, Winter Solstice, Imbolic, Spring Equinox, Beltain, Summer Solstice, Lammas, Autumn Equinox - some of which we haven't heard of before. Then she talks about trees - Silver Birch, Hazel, Holly, Apple. Then about water. She talks of meditations, about practices, about prayers. About making walking sticks!


The Copy Machine Study is Important Because...

A nice take on the copy machine study by James Clear

If Rahane Did It, What About Shastri?

 This was a question many posed after I wrote about Rahane's captaincy being a critical factor in the amazing turnaround. What about Shastri's contribution, his reading of the game, his positivity, what he did to the team in the past five years? We must give him due credit said some.  We cannot take that away of course but we must address certain things and explain why it's about Rahane and not Shastri. 

1) It's The Captain's Ship 

No team will be known as the Coach's team. It will always be the captain's team. So all credit and brickbats go to the captain. The coach is an advisor. When Alexander wins, its about him, not about Aristotle. When a government makes a mistake the PM is held responsible, not his advisors. How he takes his advise is the key.

2) The Coach Can Advise at Best, The Captain Has to Use his Discretion 

A captain's greatness is not just in leading from the front and making on-field decisions but most of it lies in taking words of wisdom and discarding what does not work for him with discretion. Shastri can bring all the wisdom and experience in the world but it is up to the captain to take it in the right spirit and use it. That's why its Rahane again.

3) Great Captains Allow Wisdom to Flow In

Once again, certain captains carry an energy where the Coach or any other person with an insight, feels comfortable enough to suggest. We all know that certain people are easier to approach and certain people are not. A non-judgmental person who is like water is easier to approach. He makes everyone feel welcome, feel like they should contribute, feel like they should help - and then processes it all and uses what works for him. There is no ego, no position, no hard stance - and that's what allows things to happen. That energy is also what brings out the best from the Coach and other wise men.

Shastri vision and wisdom, his spirit and aggression, can never be questioned. Nor can Kohli's commitment and intent, intensity and drive. Between them, they have set the work ethic and built a team that is committed to excellence, a team with a purpose. But sometimes, when we drive too hard and expect certain results, it is counter-productive. There is the pressure of performing, of the result, which results in a tightening of the energy. The 36 for 9 story is a result of that. But then all that training they brought in, all of Rahane's past training in handling life and allowing it to evolve, blended perfectly when Virat left. Suddenly a void appeared, a vulnerable captain who was willing to soak in stuff emerged and everyone felt they could express themselves from this position without any pressure. What can be worse than 36! 

And simply for holding the space, for allowing everyone to express themselves, for getting all hands on board, without seemingly doing anything, Rahane did it. Like my young architect friend, Malay Deshmukh said recently when quizzed on how he organises things so well - "As an architect, I am trained to bring all the elements together and let things evolve". All of life's wisdom in that one line if we know what it means.

It's a fragile, gentle space. A space of non-action, of love. Rahane knows it.  

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Enola Holmes - Movie

 Bring in the well-trained younger sister of Sherlock Holmes, an uptight older brother Mycroft, a mother who is unconventional and is fighting for women's suffrage and leaves her young daughter alone while she heads to her revolution, a mildly amused Sherlock, a young Vicount whom Enola saves and we have all the characters falling in to create a suspense, mystery film. Quite enjoyable.


Running in Kondhwa Early in the Morning

 I felt good enough for a run after the drive and took off in some general direction. Now Pune is full of undulating hills and Kondhwa seems to be on the edge of one so there were a lot of ups and downs. I took the road past NIBM and headed straight up.

 NIBM has a large campus and I realised I was circling it. The straight road kept rising until a severe slope at the end after which it turned right. The seemed to be the highest point in that place. On my left, I could see a newly built Sainik Vihar, devoid of trees, lots of concrete, to the right a huge complex, very impressive.

Up ahead I could see outlines of the hills, Sahyadris perhaps, and lots of construction activity, and lot of open spaces too. This is where they are building a new town it looks like. To my left I saw a lovely eatery called Cafe Peter, in red and white, nice music playing early in the morning. Someday i plan to visit this place. Some other cute places, pubs, breweries, all small and cosy like the ones we see in Goa. I jogged down the road and found an Iani cafe as well. 

From there the run was down the road so I thought I'd experiment and try to circle the NIBM. I asked a couple of helpful souls and they said I could take a right and end up where I started. I passed some dog lovers who seemed to be having a meeting, passed some more interesting shops and malls, crossed over a kacha road and hit a plush section of that part of town. Another mall and then a Dorabjee mall and I could sense I was jogging down the hill, hurtling towards the NIBM main entrance. 

5 km or so, with ups and downs, quite enjoyable. Need to explore those eateries next time.

Another Drive to Pune - Carlos Pulls It Off Effortlessly

 Another trip to Pune and this time just me and Shobhs and we took off at a not so early 630. It was one f those days with very little traffic so the ride went through smoother than even the last time. The road now has eateries almost every 30 minutes, many toll points, good road conditions and overall an enjoyable ride. Shobhs and I chatted like good old times, ate snacks and listened to songs. Once in a while, she would read out some interesting stuff from the book she was reading on Constellations in organisations.

We saw some motorbike riders on some modified bikes transporting a bunch of toys to another town, sugarcane being transported. I remember once long back I saw a truck carrying plastic buckets and containers. Many towns had shops that seemed to have downed their shutters, several restaurants along the way were shut but most were open.

We stopped at Sai Prasad restaurant, one which we had found last trip, and especially liked the hot roti and egg bhurji and stopped there again. Turns out we were too early for lunch at 11 so we ate some not-so-great idli, some nice upma and decent poori. The chai was good as always. We marked it out for lunch on the way back.

Some lovely guavas at the Indapur crossroads and we picked them up. By 3 pm we were on the outskirts of Pune. this time we decided to stay in Kondhwa so we could discuss the plan of action with Anu, so we turned in and were home by 345.

Pooja ordered some chicken sandwiches and rose milk on my request from Marzorin and it was a fine way to unwind after a long drive. Well done Carlos. After the last puncture I changed two tyres so it added to the confidence some more. 

Jaoon Kaha Bata Ae Dil - Movie

 2019. Adesh Keluskar's movie runs along like the 'Before Sunrise' movies with the two protagonists wandering about Mumbai and talking about their lives and romance and lust and all that goes into relationships bound by thin threads. Intense and gets under the skin with its raw approach but hey, that's us. Khushboo Upadhyay and Rohit Kokat impress, as does director Aadish Keluskar.

Monday, January 25, 2021

e-Canteen Fundas - Get off the Hedonic Treadmill

 Hedonic Treadmill - back where you started chief! The new phone or new car won't give you pleasure for long!

E-Canteen Fundas: Quit short-term binges for long-term happiness

Rinku, said Rahul on their Zoom call. ‘Check out my brand new phone.’

‘Wow,’ said Rinku. ‘But your old phone was good too. Why this expensive one, dude?’

‘It makes me happy,’ smiled Rahul, taking a selfie.

‘What do you think would really make you happy?’ said Rakesh.

‘A world tour,’ said Rahul, ‘A Lamborghini, being super rich…’

‘A laptop,’ said Rinku, ‘Big house, fat bank balance...’

‘Nice,’ said Rakesh. ‘According to a concept called Hedonic Treadmill, we tend to return to our baseline state of happiness even after a major change in our life, that is, we get back to where we started. So getting a lot of money, buying a new gadget, getting a promotion and so on gives us only a short spike in happiness. What’s your experience with your new phone, Rahul?‘

‘True, bhaiyya,’ said Rahul. ‘After the initial excitement, I feel the same as I did with my old phone.’

‘Wow,’ said Rinku. ‘Is it true for negative changes also, bhaiyya?’

‘Yes,’ said Rakesh. ‘Even after negative changes like losing money, getting a bad deal, having a health issue or losing people and so on, we return to our original state of happiness faster than we think. In effect, becoming the richest man or losing your prized possessions may not impact you as much as you think.’

‘Then what should we do?’ asked Rahul. ‘Not buy new stuff?’

‘Not at all,’ said Rakesh. ‘There’s nothing wrong in buying a new phone, car, house, travel and so on. Just make better and more aware choices for yourself. Knowing about the Hedonic Treadmill helps you choose in favour of what gives you long-term happiness. You can choose, instead of reacting.’

‘Any pointers on how we should choose, bhaiyya?’ asked Rinku.

‘Choosing what you do with your time and energy contributes significantly to your long-lasting happiness,’ said Rakesh. ‘Doing things you’re passionate about, investing in friendships, etc. Also, choosing ‘not to do’ things that bother you helps big time.’

‘So, I can do what makes ‘me’ happy instead of copying others,’ said Rinku. ‘You know, I love teaching so I will choose to teach even at a lesser pay instead of running after a high paying job.’

‘And instead of buying new fancy phones because others are, I could invest in things that give me long-term comfort,’ said Rahul, ‘Like a mattress or comfortable shoes. No need to invest in things that get me back to where I started. Thanks, bhaiyya.’

Pro Tip: The effects of positive and negative changes in your life are relatively short term. You’re better off choosing in favour of things that make you happy in the long term.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Rahane Does It - 11 Reasons Why Rahane's Leadership Was the Key

I was always a huge fan of Ajinkya Rahane's approach to the game - be it batting or leadership. He has a monk-like quality, a student's learning approach to cricket and life. I felt he was given a raw deal by the Indian team management in the past, dropping him when he was vice-captain, but he bore it all silently and prepared himself. And when the moment came, he was ready. I did not expect India to bounce back in the second test after the demoralising loss in the first, but when they did, I knew the reason - the leader. Here are 11 reasons why I think he is an exceptional leader, on par with the great MS Dhoni even.

1) When Fringe Players Perform Beyond Expectations, Look at the Captain

Everyone put up their hand, the most unlikely ones - Siraj, Sundar, Shardul, Vihari, Pant - the list goes on and on and includes everyone. When the fringe players play out of their skins, it is because they feel they have the space and the trust of their captain, and they go out and find their true selves. This has a lot to do with how the captain holds his space in the team. For being mature enough to allow that space, for creating that psychological safety to his team members, including the youngest and rawest, Jinks automatically becomes a great leader.

2) Actions Speak more than Words

Jinks is about action - not words. MSD was one such. Leaders lead with their actions, not with talk.

3) Transfers Ownership

A variant of the first but the great leader makes everyone feel like they own the cause - they do not feel like they are doing it for the captain - they feel they are doing it for themselves. Again, needs a mind space few have.

4) Is Not Afraid to Lose

Rahane is a great captain who will win more than he will lose simply because he is not afraid to lose. That does not mean that he will be complacent and lose or will look at the next match. He will gamble, he will push, and he will take every opportunity. He will not keep raiding the opponent den needlessly; he will do it with stealth and cunning and take away the cup.

5) He is Aggressive

Everything about Rahane's captaincy is about aggression - field placements, bowling changes, defensive strategies, offensive strategies. Not for a moment will he let the opponent breathe easy with his intuitive field placements, his bowling changes. His planning has been immaculate, his execution flawless.

6) He Creates Leaders

Jinks has already created many leaders in the team (Just as MSD had) by making them experience what it takes to be part of a winning outfit. Every member of this team now looks good enough to lead - such is the maturity they are displaying.

7) Everyone Performs - it's about the Team, not the Stars

Suddenly the team is in focus, everyone performs, not just one or two, and everyone takes the load. This is what makes world-beating teams, what makes teams that script historic wins. The team is suddenly not dependent on the stars and their star turns, everyone pitches their mite and together they bring down the opponents. Like they say, when a spider web unites, they can tie up a lion (or something like that).

8)  The Team Just Won't Go Down

To bring in a psyche where one after another, everyone puts up their hand requires the presence of a master. The leader does not need to do anything, he just has to be. No need for motivational speeches, emotional outbursts, he just is - and things happen. Another quality of a great leader

9) He Leads from the Front

When the chips are down, he leads from the front. He absorbs the pressure and lets the others perform the role. When the team knows their skipper will lead from the front, they will be willing to die for him.

10) He Has Great Love and Respect for his Mates

They say that to make your soldiers die for you, you must love them like your children. The barrage of bouncers, of injuries the Indians faced but still put themselves across the line, speaks highly of the leadership. This is what I am willing to do for my team, my leader.

11) He is Like Water

Rahane has this quality which I believe is a great one in leaders - he is like water. He melts into the background, has almost no presence you can hold on to, but he is everywhere. Its the presence that allows everyone to speak, to express, to feel free to be themselves. Only the most non-judgmental and people with zero ego, can hold that space. Like Lao Tzu said - A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.”

Ajinkya Rahane smiles shyly, is hardly seen in this team.. But he is the binding force the somehow brings them all together with his values and convictions, his presence and his wisdom. So much of MSD can be seen in him and surely MSD has influenced him. But so has Dravid and so has his wonderful learning mindset. I would love to see him in the leadership position more and more. It's rare to find such wonderful leadership qualities, such Level 5 leadership qualities. Well done Ajinkya Rahane. To me, you were the difference.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Firebrand - Movie

 2019. Marathi.

Directed by Aruna Raje, Firebrand is about a successful woman lawyer who takes up women's causes. She herself has been a victim of rape and abuse. The way Raje wove in a spiritual method into the story, several ideas and techniques that may be empowering to women like the 'so what' technique, or even the method her therapist teaches her about writing her story down in all detail and reading it out into the mirror so its effect wears off, or even treating love and lust separately, forgiveness - are delivered quite effectively and powerfully. Perhaps Aruna Raje, FTII gold medalist, came out of the twenty-year hiatus to make a difference to women who suffer abuse silently. Laudable effort.

Powerful performances by Usha Jadhav, Sachin Khedekar, Girish Kulkarni and Rajeshwari Sachdev. Worth a watch.


Lost in Time - Namita Gokhale

 So young Chintamani Gupta goes out on a class trip to someplace and dips in the Sat Tal lake and goes into another world - the world of Ghatotkacha and his mother Hidimbi. Chintu Pintu gets a close look at the gentle giant, the son of Bhima and the one who tipped the scales in favour of the Pandavas in the Mahabharata by making Karna use up his Shakti which he reserved for Arjuna. Chintu meets the Pandavas as a bonus, has a good time with his new friend Ghatotkacha, makes some connections between time and space and has a good time overall.

All good things have to end so he is returned to his home, where his father and mother who seemed to have some marital issues, are happy to see him. Then comes his cousin Karuna who is coming out of a bad experience where she lost her parents, is involved in an accident etc and recovers with Chintu for company. Ghatotkacha makes a brief appearance at the end.

Interesting how Namita Gokhale juxtaposes the two worlds of the Mahabharata and the present, explains maya, rakshashas, gives Ghatotkacha and his mother more prominence than they are given in the Mahabharata. She wrote a children's version of the Mahabharata as well so she knows the epic. Chintu Pintu is a fine character and the story is a thoroughly enjoyable one. And Namita is a fine writer and I enjoyed reading her book. I'd like to read 'Paro' next.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Canteen Fundas - Cognitive Dissonance and Other Ways of Fooling Ourselves

 How to fool ourselves - cognitive dissonance and sunk cost fallacy!


E-Canteen Fundas: When things go wrong, be truthful and realistic, don't fool yourselves

Rahul,’ said Rinku on Zoom. ‘Did you get that internship you applied for?’

‘No,’ said Rahul. ‘Arush got it. I wasn’t interested in it anyway. Went for the experience.’

‘But Rahul,’ said Rinku. ‘It was your dream company. You were really keen on it.’

‘Nah,’ said Rahul. ‘I realised that I don’t like that company. Too high profile. I’d like to work in a smaller company where I get seen. I’m glad I didn’t get it.’

Rakesh said, ‘You seem to be experiencing Cognitive Dissonance. We tend to reinterpret things that don’t go in our favour to justify ourselves. Remember the fox and the sour grapes?’

‘Bhaiyya, it’s not about sour grapes,’ said Rahul. ‘Any harm?’

‘The harm is that we could make a habit of reinterpreting things to justify our failures or limitations and miss out on what’s good for us,’ said Rakesh. ‘In this case Rahul, if you hadn’t reinterpreted the story, you could have realised that Arush had a better set of skills than you, which you could work on. With Cognitive Dissonance, we continue fooling ourselves and lose out on sweet grapes.’

‘Wow,’ said Rinku. ‘To justify ourselves we make wrong connections and get stuck with them.’

‘I see that now,’ said Rahul. ‘But bhaiyya, when we make a bad decision, especially a major one, how can we recover from it? Or do we need to suffer the consequences forever?’

‘We needn’t suffer them forever, Rahul,’ said Rakesh. ‘We can always correct the situation by being truthful — with ourselves. Consider another common error. Let’s say you’re halfway through a book or a movie or a meal and it’s not good. What would you do?’

‘I’ll finish it, bhaiyya,’ said Rinku. ‘I’ve already invested in it.’

‘But you do realise that you could suffer more by trying to cover past losses, don’t you?’ laughed Rakesh. ‘It’s called sunk cost fallacy. Just because you invested time and energy, you need not suffer bad decisions, relationships and so on, forever. Especially when you know they are lost causes. The right thinking process here is to assess future costs and benefits.’

‘Thanks, bhaiyya,’ said Rahul. ‘That’s very helpful.’

‘And like anything else, decision making needs practice too,’ said Rinku. ‘Let’s start practising with our minor decisions and reduce the errors that influence our decision making.’

‘And that’s the correct decision,’ smiled Rakesh.

Pro Tip: Be aware of the way we fool ourselves with our defensive thinking patterns. When things go wrong, be truthful and realistic. It will help you recover quickly and decide better.

Pro Tip: Be aware of the way we fool ourselves with our defensive thinking patterns. When things go wrong, be truthful and realistic. It will help you recover quickly and decide better

The Goal II - It's Not Luck - Eliyahu M. Goldratt

 The follow up to 'The Goal' where the protagonist Alex Rogo turns things around using some common sense principles taught by his friend and mentor Jonah, Goal 2, takes it to the next level. Alex is senior manager and he and his divisions are facing threat of closure and they have to turn things around against all odds. No emotion, no motivation, just pure common sense and numbers.

As in the first book Alex's family is interwoven into the story so we see how these principles can also play out in domestic and normal circumstances. The concepts of drawing a cloud to cover all possibilities, of drawing a current reality tree and a future reality tree and then trimming the negative branches is all fine common sense and stuff that works. I only wish he had summed it up in a small how-to so we could have used it well. I'll research a bit to see how to use these concepts better.

Thanks Amar for lending me these two books. 

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Unpaused - Movie

 2020. Pandemic movie. Five short films compiled into an anthology - one about a futuristic scenario where the virus is still around and people are hypochondriacs or warriors, one about a couple stuck at their owner's flat and not able to go back home, one about a lonely lady who finds a friend and younger brother in a stranded auto wallah, one journalist who tries to kill herself because of her cheating husband but who is saved by an unknown neighbour and one about a tough landlady who finds companionship in a young tenant and how they change each other.

Watchable stuff.


Putham Pudhu Kaalai - Movie

 I like these anthologies. Five short films by five well-known directors -Sudha Kongara, Vasudev Menon, Rajeev Menon, Suhasini Maniratnam and Kartik Subbaraj. The stories - Ilamai Idho Idho is about two senior citizens who plan a getaway but end up getting locked in with some nice results, Aavarum Naanum by Vasudev Menon is about a granddaughter who visits her grandfather during the lockdown and how they repair their relationship, Coffee Anyone by Suhasini Maniratnam is about three daughters whose mother is comatose and their father, Reunion by Rajiv Menon is about two school friends who meet up in the lockdown and Miracle is about miracles happening to those who least expect them - with a nice twist in the end.

Highly watchable.


Saturday, January 16, 2021

The Art of Loving - The Story of Michalina Wislocka

 2017. True story of the most famous sexologist in Poland in the World War times and her book 'The Art of Loving' which became a bestseller and most importantly changed the sex lives of the Polish forever. Bold, unapologetic, experimental, she was different. 


A Landmark - 10 Years of Golconda High School

January 15, 2011, was the day Golconda High School released. It was a big part of my life and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole process of seeing 'The Men Within' taking shape as a movie. I completely forgot about it and was surprised to get a cal from Mohana Krishna Indraganti, the director of the film. Mohan was as enthusiastic as ever, congratulating me on the movie's tenth anniversary. He told me that Sumanth tweeted about it and I checked and saw this sweet tweet from Sumanth.

It was a lovely journey where I met so many interesting, creative people - Mohan, Senthil, Ravinder, Kalyani Malik, Sumanth, Swati, Srini, Sagar and a whole bunch of others. For now, I'll share a screenshot of Sumanth's tweet.


Friday, January 15, 2021

Thought for the Day - The 10x Marketing Solution Comes from the Unexplored Potential

 While talking about Google maps with Anjali the other day, this story came up. Apparently, the Google maps team in India saw it as a product that might not work because in India the common culture was to ask for directions and everyone got from A to B thanks to help being available everywhere, right or wrong. But they launched it and discovered that Google maps released this huge untapped potential of drivers who did not know routes by heart, women drivers who sometimes find it difficult to ask for directions or to remember routes. With Google maps on their phone, 50% of the population was released from the problem of not knowing or asking directions. This empowerment led to so many women drivers, so many first time drivers like the Uber drivers, to only learn how to drive, and not worry about directions.

 This also reminded me of the story from Philip Kotler's 'Marketing Management' where an American shoe manufacturer sends a representative to Africa to explore the market - story which I related to Anjali. He comes back and says there is no potential - no one wears shoes in Africa and everyone is comfortable walking around without shoes so we cannot sell stuff. The company management accepts his conclusion and after sometime sends another representative to check out the potential. He comes back full of excitement and says there's tremendous potential - no one is wearing shoes and we can sell shoes to all of them!

The lesson from these two stories is to realise that the 10x solution is not what you see or assume, but what is hidden or has never been part of your focus. The 10x comes from the part that has not been explored, has been dormant. 

Brings to mind another classic marketing story, probably from Kotler's book - when a soft drink was launched in India, its market was not considered to be merely people who consumed soft drinks. It was expanded to cover all those who drank stuff like chai, water etc.  When contextualised like that, the market potential looks huge, and our thinking changes. 10x suddenly appears possible.

It was a good conversation to have with Anjali.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Sir - Movie

 2018. Lots of French people on it. It has some other words on the title but this one about a maid and boss falling in love, is interesting, though it does not appear to me that they are hopelessly in love, but in some convenience type of a thing to fit their current issues in life, but its ok, because they seem to be decent people. An unlikely story but fairly well made.

Cook Up a Storm - Movie

 2017 Hong Kong Chinese movie about two chefs - one Michelin starred one and a traditional one competing to be the God of Cookery. Ful of Bollywood type twists it ends on a happy note. But its amazing how Bollywoodish it looks and feels.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

An Off Road Experience Near Bopdeo Ghat

 So Malay, award-winning architect, springer of surprises, one of the most thoughtful and compassionate people I ever met, invited me over last weekend to his place with the promise of an evening over drinks, dinner and an off-road drive in his new 4x4 acquisition the next morning. It sounded like a lot of fun, but knowing Malay, I knew it would be way more than we could ever expect from his two-line proposition. So an evening with Malay and Sarah, full of fun discussions bout his award-winning design and other stuff, and then an early morning wake up to the India-Australia match and we were all set for the trip. By now Lewis and Maxine were up and about and playing with Anjali.

By 830 or so we wound our way down to the Pajero which looks in superb condition, loaded it with some stuff Malay had already got and then loaded ourselves - Malay at the wheel, Sarah, Shobhs, Anjali, Lewis and young Maxine - and off we went - past Kondhwa and then into this ghat that heads Saswad-ward. It is so steep that buses and trucks are not allowed on it anymore but a whole bunch of picnickers infested the road, stopping at critical points to take selfies in rather suicidal poses. The Pajero climbed surely and easily and then we turned off near a temple, the Bopdeo temple with steep steps leading up to it, and found Kalpak waiting in his Duster, with Shraddha and Gauri, not to forget Milou (Snowy's original name in Herge's Tintin). 

And then began the off-road experience.

We hit a trail that leads to Katraj ghat, no road, but a path that is used by a few bikes, perhaps carts. Not an easy one with ups and downs, rocks and slush, but it led us into farmland on one side and the ridge of a hill on the other, and very few trees. The experience was fun, a first and we all enjoyed the thrill of being off-road, out of comfort. I always felt our lives are dictated by roads, by civilisation, by order, and we should get off the roads a lot more to know ourselves better. (Finally, we did it.) Kalpak followed us in his Duster until we reached the destination - a solitary tree that offered some shade.

Malay had planned breakfast too and though my mind was not fully on it I was surprised to see (as always) what he pulled out - complete with a folding table, some superb food - croissants, quiche, cinnamon rolls, ham and cheese and juice, very colonial. The top of the hill was short walk and promised a view of the city so I could not resist lugging myself up and Milou decided to give me some company for reasons best known to her. Perhaps she thought I needed some assistance and she led me up the hill, panting away happily. At the highest point, it offered beautiful views of the landscape around, the city to one side, the farmlands to another. It was wonderful.

Kalpak, Anjali, Gauri and Lewis joined me up there. Lewis kept running off at supersonic speeds with total disregard to the heights and slopes (and to our fragile emotional condition), and we somehow managed to convince him to descend in a rather sedate fashion (which included holding on to my hand and taking off in a big leap using my hand like Tarzan uses the vines). We headed back to the food and plied ourselves with some of the delicious stuff that was laid out, before lying down on the brown grass that so clads the western ghats and looked at the blue sky and wondered at life. A chat with Malay and Kalpak about receiving, holding and flow, summed up the essence of abundance, and we rounded it off by heading homeward by noon.

For a moment it seemed rather surreal, this colonial setting, a picnic like in the sixties movies, which itself was a fast forward from the British times perhaps, and we were so glad we were part of this and to Malay for organising this experience. This spot in itself is brilliant and needs more exploration, apparently giving its best for walkers and trekkers in rainy seasons. Thanks Malay for a wonderful weekend and like always, you managed to surprise me way more than I expected, which is how I like my surprises. Looking forward to more meetings, surprises and chats about this and that. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Trek to Vetal Tekdi

So Parth, Maria and Neha offered to take us to a trek on Vetal Tekdi, the hill that goes on from Paud Road to Chaturshringi and one that we can see all the way along the Law College Road. Apparently its the highest point within the Pune city limits and so named because of the  Vetala temple up on the hills. It's a beautiful place to walk and I had been there once before a decade ago chatting with Prakash and this would be the second time. I was game. 

Misty morning at 7 am

Into the woods

Fresh from the Simhagad experience, Anjali was all keen too. The only villain seemed to be a spot of rain that began the day before and kept at it, but we decided to go anyway if it wasn't raining at the appointed time. So Saturday morning 7 am sharp, Anjali and I showed up at the appointed place near Vikhe Patil school near Patrakar Nagar, past Mai maushi's famous house, and the adventurous trio were waiting for us already.


Us four, Maria behind the lens

It was a lovely morning, foggy or misty, or whatever it was and we walked up the hill. It leads to a central part where people congregate for their many activities - gym, stretching, photography, dogs etc - around some structures built for those purposes, seating spaces and such kind. Parth led us away from that spot into a trail less travelled. 

A sip of water

Out of a Maniratnam movie

Get rid of the mud off the shoes

There were dogs running about wildly and we figured out later that they were with a young lady who seemed to be their friend. Up and down in every changing scenarios until we turned back and headed towards the quarry. On the way we saw an old building with a  high wall, clearly stuff that would interest the Famous Five. 


Tight-wall walk!
The quarry behind

Down the quarry

Heading back!

We came to the quarry which is quite a dramatic sight. We spotted a few birds, one Bharadwaj, which Maria later told me was a Crow Pheasant. There were young kids on bicycles, a young couple sitting dramatically close to the edge of the quarry like a Fear Factor challenge (there is also a path that goes right next to the quarry for the surefooted and stout hearted), all kinds of people young and old walking, jogging, cycling, etc. I saw a laughing club types which was chanting slokas loudly and so on.  

A selfie!

It took a good two hours but it was well worth it. Anjali and I celebrated with dosas at Pruthvi on the way back home.