Wednesday, March 31, 2021

ML Jaisimha Sports Foundation - Inaugural ML Jaisimha Memorial Lecture by Sunil Gavaskar

March 29, 2021.

The ML Jaisimha Sports Foundation, a Sports Trust formed by the family and friends of ML Jaisimha, kickstarted its agenda by way of the Inaugural ML Jaisimha Memorial Lecture by Sunil Gavaskar, avowedly Jaisimha's greatest fan. 

Vivek Jaisimha, Keerti, Sunil Gavaskar, Jayanthi Jaisimha and Vidyuth Jaisimha

A key initiative of the ML Jaisimha Foundation is to provide free coaching to 30 deserving young underprivileged cricketers, 15 boys and 15 girls in the 15 to 19 age group. This was ML Jaisimha’s dream. The cricketers will initially be from the State of Telangana and training will commence once permission is granted by the government during this pandemic.

Me speaking about the Foundation - Jayesh Ranjan, SMG, Junie aunty and Ritika on the dais

Further activities that the Trust proposes to take up are

  • An annual ML Jaisimha Memorial Lecture by an eminent personality
  • Coaching by experts assisted by Trainers and Physiotherapists
  • Online Webinars, Lectures
  • Debates and Panel Discussions
  • Workshops on Leadership, Peak Performance, Umpiring, Sports Management, Commentating
  • An E-Zine on Subscription Model
  • Cricket and Sports Library
  • Digital dissemination of cricketing knowledge
  • Match opportunities in India and abroad
  • Scholarships for talented sportspersons
  • Fund-raising activities
    Me and Junie aunty
Sunil Gavaskar kindly consented to deliver the inaugural lecture. A select gathering of 100 people was invited which included the Hyderabad senior women's team and select members of the press.
Me, aunty and Vidyuth

Jayesh Ranjan, IAS, a trustee on the Foundation (other Trustees are Jayanthi Jaisimha, Vivek Jaisimha, Vidyuth Jaisimha, Ritika Jaisimha, Jayesh Ranjan, Tarun Singh Chauhan, MV Ranganath and myself) called the meeting to order, invited Sunil Gavaskar to garland MLJ's portrait and take the dais along with Mrs Jayanthi Jaisimha and Ritika Jaisimha. I introduced the Foundation's plans and invited Sunil Gavaskar to deliver his lecture.

Loved this pic - me and old buddy Vidyuth confabulating

And then SM Gavaskar spoke as only he can.
Sunil Gavaskar

It was as well-crafted a speech, as well-constructed as any of his knocks we have seen. SMG began with how he will always be a fan of MLJ, forever and forever. 

He recalled how he saw a black and white picture of MLJ as a ten-year-old and was struck by it and ever since MLJ has been his idol. In 10 years time, he was playing for India alongside his idol, heading to the West Indies for the historic 1971 tour. He recalled the initial interactions with MLJ, how he tried to copy Jai's habit of using cold cream on his hands, his infected fingernail which was treated by Govind Raj and PK (stick it in a lemon), his discussions on cricket and life with MLJ, how he wished that he had got 300 runs less on his maiden tour so that Durrani and MLJ could have made the England tour. The way the small yet key contributions that these two seniors made was overlooked when analysing the success of the tour and we are left wondering again at the importance of assessing contributions by their impact and not sheer numbers. 

Nice shot by Kumar sir - MLJ in front 

He spoke of how every March 3 (MLJ's birthday) he wishes his idol and how on July 7 (MLJ's death anniversary) he wakes up not wanting to get out of bed. 

And then the toughest person we have seen perhaps, showed why he was the toughest, broke down at the memory of his idol passing away, and how he could not deal with the fact that he would be no more, and how he did not want to see him any different from how he always remembered him. And as he choked, we in the audience felt that emotion as if it were own own and remembered that we were all mortal. 
Joel and D Suresh who came all the way from Haryana to attend the function

SMG had a conversation with his wife and she told him he was being selfish and that he should meet MLJ, whatever state he was in, for MLJ's sake. SMG did come on July 7, met MLJ, was glad that he looked just the same. He left and MLJ also decided to leave soon after.
Me and my first captain  - Shivlal Yadav

To see such open emotion, to see SMG break down and choke not once but twice, was a revelation. This is how deeply one feels. Even as a fan he had to be the greatest I felt. It was beautiful.
Joel clicking a selfie  with SMG

He then switched on to the game and as memorial lectures go, gave his views on the improvements to be made in the game - longer boundaries, a relaxed bouncer rule, less timewasting to contain games, removal of leg byes - and other improvements without changing the game too drastically. Like I said, it was perfectly crafted with a foot in the past and another leading to the future. Superbly balanced.
Venkatapathi Raju and Vijay Mohan Raj

Some important guests were Shivlal Yadav, Venkatapathi Raju, D Suresh, Carlton Saldanha, Rajeev Reddy, Vijay Mohan Raj - might have missed a few here and there. After the lecture, we all had some fine high tea, organised by Pallavi who did a great on in organising the event at short notice. (Tarun remotely got the whole show going with his enthusiasm, energy and clear direction - so big thanks there - he couldn't make it due to the COVID situation there.) SMG patiently took pictures with everyone almost, standing up each time to take the picture, signed books, bats tirelessly. 
With the Hyderabad Senior Women's Cricket Team

All his great qualities were on display - courage, humility, patience, style, candour, loyalty, awareness, humour. Wonderful. I gifted him a copy of 50 Not Out which he graciously accepted.
Me gifting a copy of 50 Not Out to SMG
-  Didn't realise that the photographer had clicked a pic

For the ML Jaisimha Sports Foundation, it was a wonderful start made possible by the incomparable SMG. Now to build on it.

For those who wish to donate to the Foundation, here are the details to make the donations to.
M.L. Jaisimha Sports Foundation

Account Number 10761011000409
IFSC Code PUNB17610
Punjab National Bank
PNB Kapra, Dr A.S Rao Nagar,

G Pay - 9866355154

Address - 207/5, Bantia Estate, Sikh Road, Secunderabad - 500 003
Contact - Vidyuth Jaisimha 98663 55154, Ritika - 98668 69179


Tuesday, March 30, 2021

eCanteen Fundas - Marginal Gains of 1% Add Up to 37 times in a Year!

 The aggregation of marginal gains - tiny gains, remarkable results! Rakesh, Rahul and Rinku discuss James Clear's Atomic Habits.

E-Canteen Fundas: When one per cent goes a long way in achieving 100%

'Bhaiyya,’ said Rahul. ‘I’ve been trying to top the class for a while now. But however hard I try, I am not making any progress.’

‘True,’ said Rinku. ‘Why can’t we get big results through smaller and more efficient efforts? Why is change so big and difficult? Isn’t there an easier way?’

‘There is,’ said Rakesh. ‘In fact, all big things are a result of tiny changes, made consistently. In his book Atomic Habits, author James Clear explains how a simple 1% change daily can lead to unbelievable results.’

‘Just a 1% change?’ asked Rinku. ‘How?’

‘Look at this example to understand how it works,’ said Rakesh. ‘The British cycling team hasn’t won a single major title since 1908. In 2003, Dave Brailsford took over and introduced the idea of ‘aggregation of marginal gains’, wherein, they broke down every aspect related to riding a bike and improved each by 1%. Seats, grips, fabric, massage gels, hand-washing methods, pillows, mattresses — all things, directly and indirectly, affecting the process. Over the next decade, the British team won 178 world championships, 66 Olympic and Paralympic medals and five Tour de France Championships. The marginal gains added up and delivered astounding results.’

‘Wow,’ said Rahul. ‘So, if I pick my studies as my area to improve, how can I break down the system?’

‘Let’s figure it out,’ said Rinku. ‘Where we study, when, who with, how, the chair, table, light, posture, clothes, food, water, rest, distractions and routine. Even a five-minute improvement works out to 30 more hours of study time over the year.’

‘True,’ said Rakesh. ‘Gains can result in direct process improvement or by cutting losses. Mathematically, a 1% gain daily over 365 days translates to a phenomenal 37.78 times increase, while a 1% loss daily takes you down to almost zero over a year. That’s the impact a 1% change has over a year. The key however is small changes made consistently. Big and inconsistent changes will have no effect.’

‘Great,’ said Rahul. ‘My goal is to top the class. I’ll use this marginal gains technique to achieve it.’

‘I’d suggest you adopt a systems-focused approach rather than an outcome-focused one,’ said Rakesh. ‘Clear says we don’t rise to the level of our goals, we fall to the level of our systems. So keep your focus on small improvements in all the systems that affect your studies — and you’ll achieve way more than you can imagine. A bigger benefit of being systems-focused is that you’re fully engaged, the process becomes highly enjoyable and every 1% gain is a win.’

‘Wow, bhaiyya,’ said Rahul. ‘That’s true. I’m starting right away.’

Pro Tip: To get significantly bigger results, incorporate tiny 1% changes in your systems and processes daily. These tiny gains aggregate into huge results over a period of time

Sunday, March 28, 2021

North Country - Movie

 2005. Based on real life incidents and the 2002 book Class Action: The Story of Lois Jenson and the Landmark Case that Changed the Sexual Harassment Law. A mining company employs women who are subjected to sexual harassment under the guise of boy talk. One of them protests and brings on a class action against the company. Powerful movie. 


In Family We Trust - Movie

 2019. Spanish.Romantic comedy. Crazy family, lovely scene at the end where they all dance when the mother passes away. 

Very watchable!

Friday, March 26, 2021

Pimpal - Movie

 2018. Marathi movie. An old man lives alone in a town. His children are all abroad and they are worried about his well being. They force him to join them but he realises he has to go towards his roots and not away from them. He returns to his village and plants the Pimpal tree that his mother had asked him to fifty years ago.

Never too late!


Thought for the Day - Stress comes When we Go Away From Ourselves

 This one is inspired by Hari Rao who asked me what nirvana was? I had no idea. he said nirvana is being in your body as you are. The further away from your true self that you go, the farther away from nirvana you are. 

The more stress you have in your life.

There is a reason why we go away from ourselves. It is because we do not like our true selves as we are. We go away and try to be something else instead being the best version we can be of ourselves.

If we can go back to our true selves, if we can accept ourselves as we are, we are in the best possible space.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Thought for the Day - When We Give Up Attachment to an Outcome, We Give Freedom for it's Opposite to Come Alive

 We are attached to not looking foolish. We become rigid in trying to protect that aspect of ourselves with our life. All our life is about protecting 'I am not foolish'. What agrees with you, you will associate with. What does not, you reject.

 The world is - 'those who think I am not foolish' and 'those who think I am foolish'.

We are mortally scared of being found out as foolish. Even more significantly we are mortally scared of the opposite (being seen as intelligent) which we feel we may never be.

But let's say we give up our attachment to this being 'foolish'. We are light and loose about it. We are ok with being called 'foolish'. Then what happens?

It gives us the freedom to explore what this 'intelligence' si about. We can, like a simpleton, or a child, or a foolish man, hold this 'intelligence' in our hand, turn it this way and that, press a button here or there and slowly learn or understand it.

We can begin the process of learning, or becoming intelligent.  

The first step to growth then is to let go of whatever we are holding on rigidly to. All that we are holding on rigidly to means that we are scared of its opposite. That we are scared we can never be the opposite of that.

To get there, let this one go. 

Monday, March 22, 2021

eCanteen Fundas - Twaddle Tendency - Simple vs Complex

 Between simple and complex choose simple!

E-Canteen Fundas: Why simplicity can prove to be the ultimate sophistication

Rinku,’ said Rahul. ‘I didn’t understand what our new lecturer was trying to tell us today. Did you?’

‘Not really,’ said Rinku. ‘But it was fascinatingly complex. Very intelligent. I want to spend more time and understand what he said.’

‘I can’t believe that he spoke so much in two hours and I still didn’t get what he was saying,’ said Rahul. ‘I feel like a fool.’

‘Don’t be harsh on yourself, Rahul,’ said Rakesh. ‘You could be the victim of twaddle tendency (TT) — the tendency to use too many words that convey nothing. In such cases, the speaker or writer uses many words or abstract ideas to hide their lack of clarity or present undeveloped thoughts. Simply put, a lot of gas.’

‘But he’s our lecturer. How can you say that?’ asked Rahul.

‘Twaddle tendency becomes more dangerous when authority figures are involved,’ said Rakesh. ‘Since we take them seriously, we don’t question and assume there’s a deeper meaning. The bottom line is this — if a person cannot convey an idea clearly, be it in ten minutes or an hour, then it’s mostly an acute case of TT.’ 

‘But isn’t it possible that they’re highly intelligent?’ asked Rinku. ‘That we don’t understand such complexity?’

‘The clearer we are about our ideas, the simpler is the way we present them,’ said Rakesh. ‘That’s the hallmark of someone who knows what they are talking about. People who say things simply are not simpletons — they’re the intelligent ones. And Rinku, if you think that those who complicate simple things are geniuses, then you could be a victim of the complexity bias.’

‘What’s that?’ asked Rinku.

‘It’s our bias to choose complex over simple,’ said Rakesh. ‘Like we choose products that advertise complex features that mean nothing to us. We assume they’re important because we don’t understand them — when it’s just a lot of gas.’

‘Hmmm,’ said Rinku. ‘Any pointers, bhaiyya, to help us identify TT in the future?’

‘Firstly, that people who know what they’re talking about seek to clarify and help you understand, not confuse you,’ said Rakesh. ‘Secondly, those who are clear, say honestly that they know this and don’t know that, while those who aren’t clear go round in circles, talking endlessly and complicating the issue. Between simple and complex, go for simple.’

‘Yes, bhaiyya,’ said Rinku. ‘And practice it too — if I have nothing to say, I’ll keep quiet.’

Pro Tip: Don’t get swayed by people who make simple things complex and confuse you. Choose simple over complex when making decisions because your decisions are then made from understanding and not from ego.

Pro Tip: Don’t get swayed by people who make simple things complex and confuse you. Choose simple over complex when making decisions because your decisions are then made from understanding

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Thought for the Day - The Overarching Goal Pulls You Up, The Minimum Expectation Keep You Stuck

 In all relationships, there is bound to be conflict. Everyone wants the relationship to work in a particular way but no one knows how. Magically, we hope that just being in a relationship will take care of the relationship. So a relationship, or a marriage, begins on the premise that the highest ideals are agreed upon (if one is hearing what the priest is saying) and that everyone understands it and will let the relationship take care of itself.

What I am hinting at is that most times we don't even know what the relationship is for. I see a car, and someone opens the door and I sit inside and hope it takes me where I want.

In more formal relationships the parties concerned set out some expectations. For example, jobs, where they give you a role, and say that these are the expectations from you. Anyone who has worked in an organisation knows how deliciously vague these roles are - most times we need to set our own expectations and hope that they match our bosses. In whichever case, everyone here is talking only of baseline expectations. Do this, and you won't get fired.

That's no way to reach our potential. A basic contract can make us tick items off and get some clarity, and maybe a good starting point, but if it becomes the blueprint, then it becomes rather limiting because then both parties are only going to hanker over the finer points, and over who was right - on a baseline level. This is the least amount of growth, this is survival strategy at play.

The other way to look at it is to set your own goals. Any relationship has two components - the individuals and the relationship. In its simplest form, if the two agree to set themselves a goal of 

- 'contributing towards making the relationship reach the highest potential it can, and also help each other reach their highest individual potential', 

it becomes a fine aspirational goal or premise. 

Now there are several advantages to this.

First, we own our premise, which means we will work towards it. Secondly, it is clearly towards everybody's highest good so everyone gains and benefits by committing to this shared vision or goal. Thirdly, a shared vision like this enables us to see the entire relationship from a higher vantage where smaller issues do not become the main cause of bickering, but in the larger scheme of things, even bigger issues get resolved because of the overarching premise. Lastly, the overarching premise becomes the beacon on the road and guides you when you slip and fail and do what is right by one another and the relationship.

Have a minimum expectation, but don't let that limit you at a petty level. You are capable of much more. Set an overarching goal, vision, premise for your relationship, the best version it can be and what it can do to you, and make it work for you. Bring on the magic on the relationship, the highest potential it has.     

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Rajnigandha - Movie

 1974. Basu Chatterjee's film based on the short story 'Yahi Sach Hai' by Mannu Bhandari. It's about a woman who is in love with a man, gentle and kind, but forgetful and lost in his own world. She meets an old flame when she goes to Bombay for a job interview and finds in him all the qualities that are missing in her current boyfriend. However much she hopes he will rekindle their affair, he does not. And in the end her new boyfriend comes and all is well. A bird in hand is worth two in the bush. Vidya Sinha looks stunningly beautiful and perfect for the role. Loved the Delhi and Bombay and the time it captured. So progressive with so little that world was.


Thought for the Day - To Beat Insecurity, To Get, To Include, Expaaaand

 When we feel insecure, we are experiencing separation from the whole, from others. Our reason for insecurity is exactly that - we perceive the world as against us, as outside of us, and on the opposite side of the table. We pretty much shrink our soul, and as we shrink, more and more of the world appears outside of us, against us.

If you can get a visual of us shrinking, being smaller than whoever else we are dealing with, whatever circumstance we are dealing with, we can do something about it.

We can expand. 

Even when we walk into a room full of strangers, who we normally feel are judging us, and make us feel insecure, we can expand, make ourselves big enough to envelop them all. And when we do, we are all on the same side, we are bigger, we have included everyone and there is no more room for insecurity. We are with trusted people.

All our insecurity comes from a place of lack of trust. We cannot reply on the other to make the place one of trust for us. The only way to overcome this feeling of lack of trust is to expand. Understand that anything that upsets us, anything that causes us to separate and exclude, anything that makes us feel insecure, needs us to expand and include the very stuff that grows us.

We must understand that the stuff that we resist and exclude, is that stuff that grows us. By expanding and including our growth, we are fast-tracking our growth. 

Every time we deal with anything that makes us feel insecure - growth, relationships, money, circumstances - expand. Become bigger, include it all, the entire situation, and things become easy. There is no resistance, no fight, we are all one.

It's easy to trust. It's easy to flow then. It's easy to grow.


Friday, March 19, 2021

Thought for the Day - True Surrender is To Let Go of All Expectations and Judgments

 Surrender I guess is surrendering our ego which sometimes gets in our way by wanting to do too much, wanting to do things by doing things by itself, taking on too much responsibility when not required, looking at perfection as something it can control and in the end ending up by not getting exactly what it wants to get for all the above reasons and more.

There are times however that we realise, that there is an efficiency to the universe, of which we are a part of, that flows through easily. If we align into it, trust it and let it flow, things happen. We do our bit and that much only, without attachment and judgment and allow the other parts to align and make it happen. Most times, we end up with better results than we can even dream of. An ease shows up in our life.

The key is to have no attachment to the outcome, no judgment. All possibilities are ok and all can be embraced with the same non-judgment. When we get to that state, it is true surrender to me. A state when our ego is at peace and we are in alignment with the universe or god or spirit or energy as we would like to call it. 

In true surrender, ease shows up. There is no regret. We have burnt ourselves in the process and there is nothing left behind. If something is left in the form of regret, then we have had attachment. Or judgment.

Surrender is ease.   

The Compound Effect - Darren Hardy

 Darren Hardy is the publisher of 'Success' magazine, a self-made man who experienced the power of compounding in his life. I have always been interested in learning more about the compounding effect so I can share, teach and more importantly, practice its principles. From James Clear's 'Atomic Habits' I got some pointers and now some hard facts from this book.

I love the examples of compounding. Rolf Dobelli in his book 'The Art of Thinking Clearly' gives. Here's the most astounding one.

Example 1. When you fold a paper 50 times (fold into half and that into another half), how high do you think it will become? 

Answer: Assuming the paper thickness is 0.004 inches thick, after fifty folds it will be a little over 70 million miles - approximately the distance between the earth and the sun. 

Example 2. If you have to choose between taking a penny that doubles every day for 31 days as against $3 million today which one would you choose? 

Answer: The penny doubles every day and reaches 10 million - ($5.12 on Day 10, $5243 on Day 20, $ 3 million on Day 29, and $10,737,418 on Day 31)

Example 3. Kaun Banega Crorepati. The progression is something like 1000, 2000, 3000, 5000, 10000 (Question 5 takes you to 10000), question 10 earns you Rs. 320000 i.e. at 2/3rd distance you are only 3%, and then it compounds - 6.2 lakh, 12 lakh, 25 lakh, 50 lakh and 100 lakh. The biggest jumps are at the end. If you can stay till then, you take the jackpot home. (However, unlike KBC which needs some amount of skill and knowledge, the other things in life can be done by merely staying on course.)  

The key - the biggest jumps come in the last three steps which means we must stay in the game till then. Small and consistent over a period of time pays off big time if you don't interrupt! Habits, money, relationships, cricket - everything.

Darren Hardy says that compounding is the principle of reading huge rewards from a series of small, smart choices. The steps are not significant, subtle and imperceptible and can be used to improve every area of life. 

Darren's formula is "Small, smart choices+Consistency+Time= Radical Results)

Darren gives examples of people who start with small, smart choices in terms of food, exercise, money and shows how over a 27 month period they reap incredibly different results - one loses 33 pounds by cutting out 125 calories (the difference in choosing between mustard and mayo in a sandwich) while another ate 125 calories more and gains 33 pounds - a difference of 67 pounds separates them at the end of the 27 month period. The graph looks flat for most part - till 25 months - and then it branches out drastically. Lesson - small and smart choices + consistency + time and boom. Progress is slow, the pay off is delayed, but if you stay the distance, it's exponential. What he is saying is that sticking to that diet consistently is the hard part which requires some work, but it's small compared to the payoff in the end. Don't believe in the genie in the lamp box he says.

Our Choices Make Us - Small Choices Can Have Drastic Results

Darren says that you make your choices to begin with, and then your choices make you. 

He talks of how he turned his relationship with his wife around by keeping a year-round gratitude and appreciation journal which he presented to her on her birthday (looks like a good idea). Small consistent inputs over a year which paid off big time! And while on relationships - how when he attended a workshop he was asked how much responsibility each one takes to make a relationship work and he said 50:50. The facilitator said 100:0. "When we 'own' 100% responsibility and give 100% with 0 expectations of receiving anything, it will work." Anything will work when we own things like that. That's pretty much the Gita.

He talks of how Richard Branson told him that we are all lucky - only most don't take advantage when luck shows up. To the old adage of "Luck is what happens when Preparation and Opportunity meet' he adds two more "Preparation+Attitude+Opportunity+ Action + Luck) 

To Change Things Around - The Scorecard technique

Let's say you want to improve your money situation.
Picture where you want to be first (let's say 10 million or 1 crore). Then, become aware of your choices. Track every action that relates to that area. Write it down religiously. Tracking takes your attention to the smallest things you are doing right and doing wrong. The small course corrections you make when you realise where you can tighten up are what add up.
He gives the example of how a CEO of a company changed the company culture by simply keeping score of how many people he met in a day and appreciated (his target was three people). Within a year, the culture changed and net profit was up 30%. Also, Darren's assistant Kathleen who was short of money began saving 1%, then 2% and landed up at saving 10% of her income and soon her habits changed her money situation.

The Effect of Time on Compounding 

Clearly, the earlier you start the better (which means NOW). He gives a fine example.

1. X saves and invests 250 dollars a month from age 23 to 40. At 40 years, she has no further need to invest, has more than 1 million which is growing at 8%. She has invested $54000 over 17 years and ended up with $ 1,033,289.

2. Y saves nothing till 40, starts saving 250 a month from then on till he retires at 67 years. He has invested $81,000, for 27 years and still has earned $300,000 less. 

Earlier the better, which means start small, but start now!

Darren also gives the example of how we can get 1000% improvement if we make a 1% improvement to each workday! Atomic Habits at play!

The Importance of Habits

Darren talks of how building the right habits is important to get large pay offs. Getting rid of all that gets in the way of your goal, the stuff we do for instant gratification, and bringing in tiny positive changes into our lives that build over the years is important. Our habits are automatic and unconscious so we must carefully analyse and build in the ones we want versus the ones that are getting in our way. Progress is slow, but over a period of time, the compounding effect will show in our graph (both ways)

Know Why

To build these habits needs some work. We cannot merely rely on our willpower for that. Our will power is limited. A better way is to identify our purpose, our core values, our highest values and go with them. They will guide you and give you the strength to pull through. They will draw you, guide you, because they are bigger than you. (Seek fulfilment and not achievement he says.)

The access point to your why is through your core values. So get the core values defined and calibrated or else they will conflict with your behaviors causing stress. Stress is when our actions and behaviors are not congruent with our core values.

Find your motivation he says - whether it is what you love or what you hate. Map out your vision a well defined target that you can see clearly in all important areas. Figure what you need to do and what you should not do to get there. What you finally do is the key.

Eliminating Bad Habits, Building New Ones

To eliminate bad habits - 1) identify triggers (who, what, when and where) 2) remove stuff from the environment 3) swap a healthier option for a unhealthier one 4) ease yourself in or jump in as the case may be.
To install good habits - 1) make it easy by setting up the environment 2) add versus removing such as add a healthier option instead of denying yourself what you like 3) commit to public displays of accountability 4) find a success buddy 5) set up challenges and competitions 6) celebrate achievement. Love the hard stuff and be patient.

Don't Stop - Picking Momentum is Difficult When We Stop

The importance of building and maintaining momentum is discussed. when we stop we go to zero and start again which needs a lot of energy. You are better off not stopping completely, because otherwise, you lose all the benefits you accrued over a period. 

To build momentum

- make new choices based on goals and core values
- put choices to work through new positive behaviors
- build routines and rhythms into daily discipline
- stay consistent over a long period

Greater the challenge, more rigorous the routine needed.A routine is something you do every day without fail. Make a checklist and keep at it if need be. Darren suggets we bookended our day - build routines on how you begin your day and how ou end it. Shake it up once in a while to add fun (date nights with wife etc)

Importance of Influences on Our Life and Habits

The importance of influences on our habits and our life is huge. Our major influences are 

1) the inputs
2) our associations
3) our environment. 

Be aware of what your inputs are - feed in the right stuff into your brain so it thinks right. Having a media diet, a junk filter can help. 

In your Associations identify who is influencing you and who you are spending time with. Begin a program of Dissociation, Limited association and Expanded association. Seek peak performance partners and mentors and a Board of Advisors.

As far as the environment goes, he says, change your view and you change your perspective. You will get in life what you accept and expect that you are worthy of. What you tolerate you'll get.

Accelerate Your Growth

To accelerate your growth add in small improvements every day. When you hit the wall, ask yourself and push some more. Beat expectations he says (this lovely story when Oprah called 11 members from the audience who needed a car and then announced an extra one for a lucky member in the audience. The audience had to open a box in front of them and if they found a key they were the lucky ones. And guess what, everyone got a key and a car.)

Dareen says, do the unexpected, do better than expected. Identify your moments of truth and push through to find new points. Do extra in areas of your life that matter, find 3areas where you can beat expectation.


The idea of compounding has been well explained with enough examples. To do small things consistently over a period of time is the key to gaining big outcomes in the end. Waiting for a big something to happen one fine day is not going to work because we are not prepared to receive it, handle it or use it wisely. It is better to prepare and build. 

It's a behavioural thing so we need to go back to our behaviors, our habits and analyse them by tracking them, especially in areas that are not working. The small corrections we make of reducing a harmful habit and adding a beneficial one, however small (like adding a glass of water instead of a soft drink, or walking for 15 minutes instead of watching junk, or spending 15 minutes of quality gadget-free time with your partner as opposed to being on WhatsApp), will have huge benefits in time. It helps to have clarity on the person we want to be, identify our core values and drive our story from there. You can visit for more inputs. Definitely worth a read.                          

Thursday, March 18, 2021

The Two Dogs - Who Blinks First?

 I was jogging and saw these two dogs - one a pomeranian that seemed to have escaped home close by and ventured out and one a mongrel that looked as scared as the pom. The pom was unsure in new territory and wagged its tail nervously trying to make peace with the mongrel which was actually running away from the pom, a new animal.

Until the mongrel realised that the pom was actually more scared of it than it was of the pom.I could see the exact moment when both dogs realised this and then the mongrel turned. The pom realised its overtures had failed and turned and ran. The mongrel gave it chase and they ran off into the next street from where emanated some sounds of distress and fight. The mongrel might have caught up and vented its frustrations on the pom, finally having found one who was scared of it.

That's how life is I guess. There is a moment when we realise one is more scared than the other and that's when one becomes the victim and one becomes the hunter. If the pom had stood its ground, instead of wagging its tail pitifully, the mongrel would have run.

Lesson -  hold your ground, don't wag your tail too early and show you are scared and willing to do anything.    

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Auroville- Dream and Reality - An Anthology (compiled by Akash Kapur)

This is a lovely anthology compiled by Akash Kapur with 40 odd contributors of different nationalities to celebrate fifty years of Auroville, a city of human unity. The book is divided into sections - Foudnations, Departures and Arrivals, Ideals and reality, Work, The Earth, The First Citizens of Auroville, Maitrimandir and Love. It includes essays, fiction, poems, a play, cartoons and somehow, amazingly, they all seem to say the same thing. You get a great sense of how the idea came into existence and how so many people came together to build it and sustain it because they believe in the idea and put everything out to make it happen. Just for that, one senses, this idea, will, as the Mother said, could take as long as a thousand years to come to fruition, but its already there, in progress.

Auroville remains a mystery to many, an idea everyone wants to touch and see and wonder at. How can you have a community like this - that claims to bring together people from everywhere and create a city of human unity, a place were superminds in terms of spiritual consciousness exist. Created from the vision of Sri Aurobindo's (1872-1950) Integral Yoga, a scientific and spiritual vision of evolution to create a transformed world, a new spiritualised species. Integral Yoga recognises evolution on earth as an ongoing process. It does not see material evolution not as blind chance, but as an expression of will, of a hidden spirit, the possibility of a higher spiritual consciousness, the Supermind.

The actual idea of Auroville, in mud and stone and concrete, was however brought to reality by the Mother, Blanche Rachel Mitra Alfassa (1878-1973) whom Sri Aurobindo considered his spiritual equal and collaborator and it was under her guidance that on February 28, 1968, that a handful of earth from 124 nations and 23 states of India was mixed together in a lotus-shaped urn marking the founding of Auroville as a city of human unity. Located outside Pondicherry and adjoining the state of Tamil Nadu, Auroville was a barren land of 20 square kilometres with no trees (the forest had been cut down by the villagers) infested by snakes and scorpions and such. People came from faraway lands in their caravans, looking for this city, found nothing, traded their clothes for loincloths and got down to work, building the city. They built different communities with names like Bliss, Courage, Creativity. People with goodwill from all over the world were invited to join. Today there are 2500 members, from 50 nations, 45% of them Indians.

The writings and pictures convey what these intrepid dreamers faced - barren lands, no water, no shelter. They went about by trial and error, planting over 20 lakh trees, creating a full-grown community with all the facilities, power, education, water, sanitation, dams. There are people who drove all the way from France, those who left their parents and came away, those who felt that their soul lives in Auroville, those who recollect how they worked and worked and worked, failed and then worked again. The story of the man who was almost dying but would not go to a doctor and who left after that because he felt he violated some pact with himself, of the love story where the girl left for her hometown and later died of cancer, of those who left a world fo material comforts and landed in this hard idea. The way they built Maitrimandir and other significant landmarks, the way the community figured its way by itself is a wonderful story of cohabitation. 

The energy in the writing, in what they created and the idea they wish to see fulfilled is very evident. I am all the keener to go to Auroville, walk along the communities and get a sense of what these wonderful people have created.          

Thought for the Day - Rewriting Our Story With a New Premise

We live the story that we tell ourselves repeatedly. This is what I realised when I read the book 'The Art of Dramatic Writing' by Lajos Egri. One of the most powerful ideas I got from the book is about how we can use the premise of the story to rewrite our narrative - and change our lives. We can wrest happy endings out of dull, dreary and hopeless plots, make ur characters come alive, claim a new life.  

Change the Story You Tell Yourself - Change Your Life

From the Book - For Context

A premise is "a proposition, stated or assumed, leading to a conclusion." It shows the road. The premise is the conception of the story. 

Some famous premises
Great love defies even death - Romeo and Juliet
Blind trust leads to destruction - King Lear
Ruthless ambition leads to self-destruction - Macbeth
Jealousy destroys itself and the object of its love - Othello

A good premise is the thumbnail synopsis of our story. The premise is the motivation behind everything we do. Believe in the premise and prove it. Do not write a premise you do not believe. 

Prove the premise wholeheartedly.

How We Can Use the Idea to Change Our Life

Do we have a premise for our life story? 

What are we proving through our life? 

What are we putting our very life (literally) at stake here? Is it worthy of our life?

Most times we do not have a premise for our life. Without a premise, we will go hither and thither because we have no path or premise to prove through our life. Because Without a worthy purpose (or challenge), we do not stretch our capabilities, living well below our potential. We are at the mercy of the world to throw us into the cauldron and hope that the right things happen and bring out the best in us.

But why should we always be at the mercy of the fates? Can we do things differently? Can we use the idea of a premise, to rewrite our narrative?

The Three Stages

Stage 1 - Having no premise and believing we have no power over our story because of that

Stage 2 - Having no premise but somehow believing that the story would turn out well

Stage 3 - Having a premise and creating a sorry where you are the protagonist and lead the story the way you want it 

An Example

Let's say my current narrative is that of a nice guy who works hard but does not get any recognition, fame or money. It is a hard luck story. A loser's story.

The premise of my life (working backwards from my story) from the above description could be - "I am helpless against the powers of the world'. Or. 'I have no power to change my life." Or. "Whatever I do will not work for me". Or. "I am a tragic hero."

If I believe this premise, I will always remain here. That will be my story. I will never challenge myself to bring the best me into the arena of life and change it, because the premise which I did not set earlier, but which has now become my story through my experiences, is driving me! 

Let's say I want to change that story.

I change the premise of my story. I will pick the things that are eluding me or limiting me in my life and turn them around. I will make this the story of someone who can turn anything around and into gold. And I will die for that cause.

Let's say a premise like - "I have the power to change anything I take up, whatever it takes." Or. " My life is of continuous growth, learning and progress and shows in recognition, success and wealth.' Or. "My sole purpose in my life is to grow to my fullest potential." Or. 'My purpose is to be the ideal/best version of me that I can visualise.'

Now, having set a premise like that, my only job in life is to prove this premise right.

What this new premise does is that it summons all of our innate qualities and strengths and focusses them into proving our premise. We get a clear path to work at and focus all our energies. All that is not going into proving our premise becomes secondary. This becomes an all-consuming thing for us and this is something we are willing to stake our life for.

Whatever and whoever supports our premise and our new story will come into our life. Whatever and whoever does not support this new story will fall off. As simple as that.

What to Watch Out for While Setting the Premise

A weak story is the result of a weak premise. If the premise is weak it cannot challenge the character and the character never rises above. Typically weak premises that lead to weak stories could be afflicted by the following issues

- too many limiting factors, feelings of helplessness
- a mindset ruled by the ego, where we are bent on proving ourselves right and others wrong, of blame and excuse, of separation and isolation
- an insecure space, a space where we are scared to let go (of our identity, past, relationships etc)
- a fear-based approach to life, to our story
- a heavy and tight space that is brittle and breaks at the slightest hint of pressure

A strong premise that will grow you will have elements that are

- a story of having the power to overcome the limiting factors or at least die in the effort, no compromise
- a mindset ruled by growth (self), of inclusion and collaboration
- a secure space where we are ok to let go of our old identity to create a new one (even being ok to let go of people, past, relationships etc) in search of the new story
- a love based approach to love
- a light and loose space that allows you fluidity, flexibility, fun and the quality to adapt and move on instead of breaking 

You set the context. You give your story meaning.

Even the slightest vision of a better version of ourselves, as one who can overcome our limiting elements in our present story, written down as a premise, will give us the power to change our story. It will fuel our character and our inherent virtues and qualities that we haven't yet seen, rise. Every time we have doubt or hardship, our premise will drag us back to our vision of our new story - an empowered one. 

Like they say the premise is the motivation behind everything we do. 

What is the premise of our life that we want to prove wholeheartedly? 

That we want to burn our life to prove?

Find it. Write it down in a short, powerful line. Believe it. Prove it. It's a life well-lived. It's a life of purpose.

Collaboration Helps Too 

 As with anything else, it helps to collaborate with someone you trust, someone who is interested in your growth like a mentor, coach, therapist. Set the premise for your life. Discuss. Take help. You may take a few versions to get the right one. it is worth taking the time for it because then it holds your energies, shows the path. It can elevate your life. It makes you the hero/heroine of your movie and not some extra.

Setting a Premise for your Relationships 

You could also collaborate with others to set a premise for a relationship or a team as well. What is the story arc for your relationship? What would you like it to be ideally? Can you see that premise and share and agree on proving that story? 

A relationship with no premise that is shared can go here and there. But a relationship that shares a premise that is as simple as - "let's work towards our growth and help one another in furthering our aspirations and reach our higher/highest potential" - can give a whole new energy and direction to the relationship.

Now not everyone is tuned into that frequency. Some people may not buy into it because they have a weak premise for their story. But you need not limit yourself. You can rewrite your story. if they care to join on the path of growth, they are welcome. If they wish to remain where they are that's fine too - but you be clear that you need to drive your story the way you want to. At all costs! It's after your life at stake. Make it big. Make it worthwhile. Only you can do it. No one else.  

Change the story in your head. Change your life.   



Tuesday, March 16, 2021

We Should All Be Feminists - Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche

Chimamanda is the award-winning author of four books - The Purple Hibiscus and That Thing Around Your Neck come to mind immediately. This is a short book of 48 pages adapted from her TEd talk 'The Danger of a Single Story.

In this book she writes about the need for a fairer world, her experiences since her childhood in Nigeria where she experienced discrimination because of her gender and how we must raise our daughters and sons differently to build a better world. The TED talk gives a good perspective too so you could watch it.

Pallavi gifted this to Anjali. I sneaked a quick read.  

Monday, March 15, 2021

Thought for the Day - When Things Look Overwhelmingly Big, Break Them Down

Know that feeling when you felt nothing can happen? Nothing can be resolved? It's a gone case?

Always a way!

I have been guilty of spreading my helplessness over the entire situation, the person and saying nothing will work. When two people come to the table with serious differences or the situation offers little hope, we are probably being overwhelmed because we are fighting with the entire issue rather than only where the difference is.

If we have a problem with a person and say - 'you are always like that' - it is clearly not true. No person is 'always like that'. But if we break it up and find out in what circumstances that person behaves that way, we can address only that part. As long as we blame the entire person, we will never be able to resolve it. 

Similarly with situations. When they overwhelm us, we look at the whole and feel we cannot fix it. But if we look at what worked and what is not, break it up, then we can separate the parts that need attention and those that are ok. Then it becomes doable.

In our fear-based reaction, we make the problem bigger than it is and try to escape by blaming the entire person, or the situation. But if we can look at it without fear, look at the parts that are fine and those that need to be worked at, you can pretty much resolve anything. Things are generally good - only some parts need to be worked at. 


Canteen Fundas - The 2 Minute Rule!

  The incredibly doable 2-minute rule! Try it.

E-Canteen Fundas: All it will take is two minutes of your time to be more productive

Rahul, have you been slacking off your exercise routine?’ asked Rinku. ‘It’s showing, dude.’

‘Arre, don’t remind me, Rinku,’ said Rahul. ‘It’s difficult to keep it going despite my best intentions. I get up, snooze for five minutes and then never get going.’

‘Same here, man,’ said Rinku. ‘I planned to study for two hours every day but I just can’t seem to sustain it. I feel like a loser.’

‘I have a technique that can change it all,’ said Rakesh. ‘It’s a superb idea called the two-minute rule that I found on James Clear’s blog. Haven’t missed a day of writing since.’

‘Wow,’ said Rinku. ‘What’s it about, bhaiyya?’

‘The two-minute rule says that any activity should not be for more than two minutes,’ said Rakesh. ‘Just two minutes. Breakdown your big activity into a two-minute version and get going right away. Rahul, put on your workout gear and get started – a couple of push-ups or crunches — for two minutes. And Rinku, study one page. No major preparation, no pressure.’

‘What?’ asked Rinku. ‘That’s it?’

‘But bhaiyya,’ said Rahul. ‘What can we achieve in two minutes as against our two-hour schedules?’

‘Our big plans overwhelm us. Thinking of two-hour routines paralyses us into inaction. By making it easy and getting started, we bypass our suspicious mind which sees no threat in the two-minute activity. There are two advantages here. Firstly, once we get started, we tend to carry on for way longer. Secondly, even if we did the activity for two minutes, two push-ups or one page of study daily, it’s better than doing nothing, right?’ said Rakesh.

‘Yes, bhaiyya,’ said Rahul. ‘And we feel good when we don’t break the chain.’

‘True,’ said Rakesh. ‘Doing things consistently is the key to building habits and achieving great results. Get the body started for two minutes, quieten the mind and you’re on your way to achieve what you set out to achieve. The best part is that we can do the two-minute drill anytime and as many times as we like.’

‘Wow,’ said Rahul. ‘Why didn’t we think of this before? I’ll use the two-minute rule in all areas of my life.’

‘This two-minute rule will surely change my life,’ said Rinku.

Pro Tip: When you feel stuck about doing something regularly, start doing a two-minute version of it. You end up doing more and build a productive habit that hastens your growth

Sunday, March 14, 2021

The Psychology of Money - Morgan Housel

 I thought he would tell 19 short stories but Morgan tells more than 19 - though in a format that I expected them in. But the ideas and wisdom are worth their weight and we shall stay with them. Morgan talks of how creating wealth or making money is a behavioural thing, more than something to do with being smart or intelligent. In fact, those qualities might get in the way of making money. The themes are simple - understand the power of compounding, keep investing, don't break the chain, be patient, save what you can, don't spend what you generate on unnecessary things, know what's a good enough lifestyle for you and stay there - and in some time, you will be sitting on a pile. He says - sit on it and keep doing what you have been doing. Don't blow it all away. Maintain your relationship with money in a healthy way.

He starts with the story of a techie who would come to Las Vegas and splurge his cash like there was no tomorrow - throwing wads of money around, buying gold coins and throwing them into water and stuff like that. He ran out of money in a few years. On the other hand, there was this janitor Ronald Read (philanthropist, investor, janitor, gas station attendant) who lived a small life until he was 91 and then gave away his 6 million to his children and charities. What Read di was simple - he found out what he needed in life, invested his tiny savings regularly and waited as they compounded.

The 19 chapters have a lesson each.

1. Our personal experience with money is only 0.00000001% of what happens in the world. But we think that 80% of the world thinks like how we think. So our financial decisions are made on the bias of our personal stories with money and that leads to our never getting started at all.

Don't go by your personal story - find out from experts and follow the principles.

2. No rich story is as good as it seems and no sad story is as bad as it sounds. Everyone has their capacity and are happy where they are.

Two suggestions he gives which holds good for us  - be careful who you praise and admire and be careful who you look down upon and wish to avoid becoming.   

Focus less on specific individuals and more on broad patterns.

3. If you know what's 'enough' for you, you are in a great place. Like they say, the richest man is the man who is content.

The hardest financial skill is getting the goalpost to stop moving. Avoid social comparison and stop trying to outdo the neighbours.

Enough is not too little. There are many things not worth risking, whatever the gain.

4. The law of compounding - 81.5 billion of Warren Buffet's networth of 84.5 billion came after his 65th birthday. he had been investing since he was ten. (If he had stopped investing at 60, he might have stopped at 11billion)

It's important that your investment lasts. Shut up and wait. It will compound and zoom at one stage.

5. Getting wealthy and staying wealthy are two different things. Hold your money. Stick around. Avoid ruin at all costs by making hasty decisions.

Recommends a barbelled personality =- be optimistic about the future, but paranoid about what will prevent you from getting there.

6. Tails you win - Remember, you win some and you lose some. But the few things among your losses are the ones, the tails, that hit big time and make all your money. Disney made 400 cartoons before Snow White and the money that 83 minutes made, made up for everything.

Anything that is huge, profitable, famous or individual is the result of a tail.

Creativity works like that too - the more you do things, the better are your chances at getting a masterpiece.

'The man who can do the average thing when all else around him is going crazy is a military genius' - Napolean.

Tails drive everything!

7. Freedom - Controlling your time is the highest dividend money pays. The highest form of wealth is to be abe to say - I can do whatever I want today.

Happiness - is being able to control your life.

'Having a strong sense of controlling one's life is a more dependable predictor of positive feelings of well being than any of the objective conditions (money, work, others) of life we have considered. - Angus Campbell, Sense of Well Being of Americans

What seemed to make them happy were quality of friendships, being part of something bigger and time with children.

8. Man in car - People buy cars thinking it will make them appear rich, but the fact is others only look at the car ad not the person behind the wheel. For earning respect - humility, kindness and empathy are better.

9. Wealth is what you don't see - Spending money is the fastest way to have less money. Being rich is about current income. Wealth is income not spent. For example, exercising could be equivalent of rich, and denying that rich meal is creating wealth.

10. Save money - Building wealth has little to do with income or investment returns - it has everything to do with your savings rate.

Savings can be created by spending less. You don't need a specific reason to save. Flexibility and control over your time is an unseen return. having more control over your time and options is one of the most valuable currencies of the world.

11. Between being rational and reasonable- choose reasonable. 

12. Surprise - Be open to surprises. Things change. Allow room for error. Plan for things not going according to plan. Build in a margin of safety - aim low.

Take risks wth some, hold on to some.

13. Long term planning is hard because we change and our goals change. Be flexible with your goals, with yourself.

Compounding - never interrupt it unnecessarily

-Avoid extreme ends of financial planning - stay in moderation. Understand the reality of changing minds.

14. Nothing's free -everything has a price, be willing to pay it

Money gods don't look highly upon those who seek a reward without paying the price, Volatility is always fee, not a fine.

15. Don't take financial cues from people playing a different game. Write a personal mission statement and be guided by it.

16. We have an intellectual allure for pessimism. Progress happens too slowly, setbacks happen too quickly. Pessimism reduces expectations, narrows gap between possible outcomes and outcomes you feel great about.

17. The stories we tell ourselves create the reality of our life. what you want to be true you will believe. we complete the narratives with stories and fill the gaps. Its ok not to know.

18. Find humility when things are going right and forgiveness/and compasison when things are going wrong. Less ego, more wealth. Saving money is the gap between your ego and income. Manage money so it helps you sleep at night.

To do better as an investor, increase your time horizon.
Be ok when things go wrong- you can be wrong 50% of the time and still make a fortune.
Use money to gain control over your time
Be nicer and less flashy.
Save without specific reason.
Find the cost of what you want and pay for it.
Have room for error.
Avoid extreme financial decisions.
Risk pays off over time.
Define the game you are playing.

Simple stuff, well explained. Save, let it compound, aim low, be patient, stay in the game, spend less, find out what you need, keep your ego in check, start early. Good one!

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Shyam Benegal - Sangeeta Datta

Shyam Benegal is from Hyderabad, is Guru Dutt's cousin, was my mentor and guru ML Jaisimha's friend from Mahboob college (there's a lovely letter he wrote to aunty that Vidyuth showed me). His name is synonymous with the New Wave cinema, the kind that I would want to see as a child but was scared to because they showed life as it was and could be. During the pandemic, I corrected this and watched several of his movies - Ankur, Nishant, Manthan, Bhumika, Trikaal. Suraj ka Saatwan Ghoda, Trikaal, Kalyug, Well Done Abba - and others and learned much about the times and circumstances in various parts of India that he chose to depict so well in his movies. He has been awarded the Padma Shri, the Padma Bhushan, Dadasaheb Phalke award etc. The author, Sangeeta Datta, is a historian, critic, lecturer and film maker, and knows her films so she analyses his films. 

That he was an advertising man and was Creative Head of Lintas, then Chairman of FTII, then moved into filmmaking - he is still making films at 86 - I saw a news item of how he was embarking on a film on Mujibur Rehman yesterday. His desire to create an alternate system bereft of stars where talented actors who did not fit into the commercial film could showcase themselves and contribute gave out several alternate artistes such as Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri, Smita Patil and others a new lease of life. His films had a cause, a message, stayed close to reality and discussed contemporary issues in society like casteism, patriarchy, gender bias, communal bias and so on. He used his films to create social awareness.

But it appears from the book that the movies did not reach their audiences as much as they should have and somehow we wonder if the advertising man missed a trick in not promoting his films (as it appears from the book). But every creative work comes with its own story and there is no need for it to be anything else than what is. I find great inspiration in his conviction in his art, in the fact that he is still making films. His collaborations with creative artists - Girish Karnad, Satyadev Dube, Govind Nihalani, apart from the many wonderful artistes from FTII, NSD and so on is another feature of his work. They were all interested in bringing out great work - not simply to take credit

Several of his films are now on my list - Arohan, Anugraham, Susman, Hari Bhair, his docudrama on Pochampally, a documentary on Satyajit Ray. A very interesting book that revealed much about him. I would have liked to know more about how he approached his work, how he picked up his skill and honed it but maybe that's covered in other interviews and literature. Thanks Abhinay for giving me this book to read.       

Two to Tango - Mary Jo Territo

 I confused the book with 'Last tango in Paris' and started reading it. After about thirty pages I realised it was not - and checked. It is a Harlequin Super Romance! All my life I wanted to read a Mills and Boon or a Harlequin and never got down to it so I decided to read on. Quite mushy.

Rick and Dori are a champion dance pair, married to one another, and fully in love with each other (complete with crackling wisecracks). On the eve of a major championship, Rick injured himself. Dori finds another partner, the handsome Ian, causing much heartburn at the homefront. After some ups and downs, some predictable scenes, we end up the right side, with all the characters coming shining through.

The good thing is you can miss a few pages and still get the story. These people can't seem to keep their hands off each other. I found that the dialogue was interesting - how the drama builds. Might not read more though.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Thought for the Day - Words and Silences

 Are words the best way to communicate? Or is there something more to communication? How do we interpret silences? How do we communicate?

It's a classic debate. Words versus silences. 

To me words are the basic tools we have to be understood on a transactional level. We agree that these words mean the same things and we proceed on that assumption. It works very well at that level. At a transactional level, we also give words great importance because is almost like a contract. Though we feel differently and have different intentions, we will use words to find peace.

But then at a deeper level, words are limiting. Simply because they cannot fully capture any experience completely. We can only experience deep emotion - we can never fully express it. When we do try, we somehow limit the experience. We somehow get caught in the popular understanding of the word and that can take away from the experience. That way, our inadequacy to express exactly what we feel, also misleads the entire flow of information.

Then there are silences. No one knows what they mean because nothing is said. But at a deep, deep level we do know. Beyond transactional, we can always trust our instinct to know, to feel, to understand the silence. Most people say something and mean something else - which means they use words as a smoke screen to hide their real feelings. If we go with their words we are going up the wrong path. The real thing here is the feeling because we can never do it the other way i.e. use feelings to hide words. No, it's always words that are used to hide feelings. So we need to go beyond words, beyond their literal meaning and into the feeling space to understand. Silence is a language too.

Words can only go that far. Beyond words, there is an even bigger creative space - silence. 

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Thought for the Day - The Fine Difference Between Cruel and Mean

 I remember reading this one line in BR Ambedkar's 'Annihilation of Caste'. 'Cruel is better than mean.' I was amazed by how he made this fine distinction then. But then over time I realised how true it is and I tried to analyse it for myself.

In our midst are those who have severe self-esteem issues, whose lack of self-love manifests in weird ways. Among those, the ones we need to watch out for most are the ones with a mean streak. Now, the fact that it is a streak means that it is just a streak and is not as evident as other qualities. It will show in moments where the real person shows up. Most times the person is nice, gentle, subtle and caring but when the moment comes where he wields power, the streak comes out.

Like in games we have seen some people take extreme pleasure in rubbing the opponent's nose into the ground when they have an upper hand. They cannot win gracefully and move on. They have to demolish the opponent completely, grind them into dust. Warriors do that - they may kill but they will honour the other person normally unless they are mean. In which case they will strip the other person of their dignity.

As sportsmen and those who have been in an arena where human character comes into play have seen, this behaviour stands out, even if for a moment, and everyone in the arena knows they are dealing with a meanie. A person who has this streak. And they know that it is most dangerous to give power to these - because that brings out the worst in them.

To know a person's real character give him power they say. Give this mean person power and he will instantly use it in the most perverse of ways. he just cannot help it. it is how h derives his personal power, his identity, by putting down others. And the way he does it is very deliberately and cold-bloodedly. One-piece by piece he will crush and destroy your identity. He will strip you of any shred of dignity, respect, grind you into dust until you have nothing left. You will be alive, but dead inside.

A cruel person may cause physical pain and may even kill you with torture but he will let you keep your honour, your identity, your dignity. There is dignity even in the most crual death. But with the mean person you may live, but he has destroyed you inside.

That is the difference between cruel and mean. A cruel husband will beat you but will let you keep your dignity. A mean husband will crush your identity and grind you down to be his slave with no spirit left.

The way to recognise mean is by looking for those streaks. It shows in those moments when they have power - they suddenly transform into tyrants, even if for the briefest of moments. Their actions when they have power are all about how to take away power from others and how to assert their own. It shows in flashes and disappears. The rest of the time they are wonderful, sweet etc when they have no power.

If by chance you spot it, be wary of them because they will turn into a Frankenstein when they get power. They will consume you. Those streaks will take over and become the whole and will swallow your identity. Never get into a place where they can wield power over you.  

Sara Akash - Movie

 1969. Hindi. Basu Chatterjee's debut film based on Rajendra Yadav's novel. It is the story of a middle class family in Agra and starts with the marriage of their younger son Samar, a collegian, who has many idealistic plans for his life. Samar is unhappy that he has to marry and blames his educated wife for all his problems. His family also helps by bringing in their conditioned responses to how a daughter-in-law should be and how educated women are not fit for domesticated life. All in all, ends on a happy note.


Monday, March 8, 2021

Thought for the Day - When There's No Flow, There's a Trust Issue Somewhere

 We know how beautiful flow can get in relationships. Everything seems understood, the world looks bright and colourful and everything is perfect. We can be ourselves. In fact, we can be bigger than ourselves. Love rules.

And then this whole flow goes suddenly. A small fight, a word, a gesture and everything collapses around it. Everything is heavy. Nothing flows easy and everyone wants to avoid each other. Anger and fear rule.

Same people, same circumstances. What happened?

To my mind, trust got broken. I don't mean trust as in the foundation of the relationship. When there's trust at a base level you do enjoy that flow once in a while. But what does happen is that we have smaller parcels of trust that are broken and they contribute to the lack of flow.

To regain flow, figure where you have lost trust, and rebuild it. Just that small parcel of trust.

Flow is linked to trust. Lak of flow indicates lack of trust.   

To bring back magic into relationships, figure out how to build trust, where we lose trust.