Thursday, April 29, 2021

Happy International Dance Day - Some Heartwarming Performances Shared by Students of UoH

I was surprised to see a message from Sharath, an old student of mine from the Department of Dance, the University of Hyderabad today (I teach a course called Art Management). Sharath is a serious thinker, a committed practitioner and one with varied talents. If I remember right he is also a trained physiotherapist apart from being a dedicated dancer. 'Happy World Dance Day sir,' said the message and with it was attached a short video clip of him dancing. It was so uplifting to watch his video that I shared it with my current students and asked them to share their videos to celebrate the day. Sravya and Praveena shared so far and it was so heartwarming to see them do something they loved so deeply and enjoying this refined art form they dedicated themselves to.

I checked in to find out more about International Dance Day. "In 1982 the Dance Committee of ITI founded International Dance Day to be celebrated every year on the 29th April, the birthday of Jean-Georges Noverre (1727-1810), creator of modern ballet. The intention of the International Dance Day Message is to celebrate dance, revel in the universality of this art form, cross all political, cultural and ethnic barriers, and bring people together with a common language - dance." Wonderful.

I also read that every year a message from an outstanding choreographer or dancer is circulated throughout the world. This year it was given by Friedemann VOGEL, Ballet Dancer. The content is given from the link below.

Sharath's performance

Sravya's performance (extreme right)

Praveena's link

Gangadhar's link "Bho Shambho Shiva Shambho"

Wonderful watching isn't it? The last two years classes have been mostly online and I have not seen the students offline, especially the current year, and I am glad to watch their videos and share on the blog. I would love to watch the other students if they share their videos too.

Happy International Dance Day everyone. 

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

TED Talk - 10 Things I Learned After Losing a lot of Money - Dorothee Loorbach

I loved this talk. It made a lot of sense. 

Money is important - makes you more of the person you are
Money equals time - get more value for your time
Money equals value - value yourself, reflects self-worth, see yourself as a person of value
What people say doesn't matter
What people say matters - be kind to yourself in your self-talk, circumstances don't define you
It's really simple - spend less, earn more, invest wisely, value yourself
Being broke sucks
Stay broke
Stay broke - best things in life are free
Money is not important

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

And Mom's Mango Tree Gives and Gives

I am amazed at nature. At my mango tree actually. Now, this is a tree my mother planted in 1975 or so and I never realised how it grew and what it was about until recently. Yes, it did give out a lot of fruits and we may have enjoyed them then, but I don't remember anything except watering it on mom's instructions. And then only recently I am noticing that this tree, now constrained by space thanks to the vertical rise of our building and the one behind, still finds ways to fulfil its life purpose - of giving out delicious mangoes by the hundreds every year.

Forced to reach for the stars

Much of its sideward growth has been chopped off and it has grown taller and then found its way through the gap between our buildings into space where it can get some sun. And in these precariously grown branches come the flowers in March and then in April come the fruit. Rasalu, and that too, pedda rasalu, of a large size and a sweetness that one cannot compare. 

The stump saddens me immensely - must have been sacrificed when building, but it finds a way, and reaches out to the sun sideward

For the last few years, our mango tree has become the tree that people all around eye for its fruit - my next-door neighbour, a lady, continuously steals from it, my neighbours from the house behind claim ownership because one of the branches leans over into their house, and the house next to their has manufactured long poles that help them take away the fruit. The other day two ladies came and asked if they could get a few -I told them that they cannot because the fruit was not yet ripe upon which they apparently went to the house behind to gain access from their side.


Sensing that the fruit was already in danger, several had been picked already by neighbours and random boys stealing under our noses, our maid Lakshmi told me to do something bout it. 'I will ask the boy who lives behind to pluck,' she said. I told her to ask the boy to come and he did. He said he would help. I also asked Vasu who loves climbing trees and plucking fruit to join if he wished and he came by (with some lovely egg puffs).

And so we got down to the job and climbed on to the terrace and picked from this side and from that side too because Chandu was walking along the tree with the ease of a monkey. The neighbours from the house behind got offended that we were plucking fruit from their side too and we mollified them by offering them a few. A lady came from another house and she asked us to pluck this fruit and that.

Overall, after an hour of dealing with people who felt very possessive about this tree, we ended up with a few bags. Some had grown to a good size,e some were still small. I counted the lot after giving away some 40 mangoes to Chandu and the lady behind - they were about 200. I can hardly believe it. For nothing but some water, this amazing tree gives us this bounty, these sweetest of mangoes and each one reminds me of my mom and her sweetness. Of course, like the tree, I propose to spread the sweetness too and give it to some of our friends and family.

This tree will teach me a lot of lessons I feel. But right now I am both in awe and in love with it. 


eCanteen Fundas - Not Passive or Aggressive but Assertive is the Way Forward

 Passive, Aggressive - Vote for Assertive!

E-Canteen Fundas: Don’t be combative to control conversations

Rinku, you should be more aggressive in class discussions, yaar,’ said Rahul. ‘Parul completely dominates you. You’re too passive.’

‘I’m not passive,’ said Rinku. ‘I’m being respectful. I just don’t want to upset others, bro.’

‘But Rinku, your viewpoint’s important too,’ said Rakesh. ‘By not expressing your views because you fear others’ reactions, you’re undervaluing, disrespecting and hurting yourself.’

‘Better than disrespecting others, na bhaiyya,’ said Rinku. ‘Parul doesn’t care about hurting others’ feelings or overriding their opinions loudly, intimidatingly. All she wants is to control the space fully, at any cost. I don’t want to be like that.’

‘But that’s the only way to deal with people, Rinku,’ said Rahul. ‘Otherwise, they will walk all over you.’

‘No, Rahul,’ said Rakesh. ‘Both aggressive and passive behaviours are insecure behaviours. You cannot arrive at the best outcomes because these behaviours do not enable an equal and fair exchange of ideas.’

‘How then, bhaiyya?’ said Rinku.

‘Be assertive,’ smiled Rahul. ‘It means expressing your viewpoint clearly, even gently, because you respect yourself and your views. Being assertive means that you honour and respect others’ views, ask and listen to all viewpoints. Such exchanges are conducted harmoniously. They allow space for one to accept mistakes and retreat gracefully instead of defending endlessly.’

‘True,’ said Rahul. ‘If everyone speaks assertively, all ideas come to the table. We can collaborate on the best ideas and drop ideas that may not work. I wonder why we don’t do that.’

‘We don’t because there’s always bound to be conflict when there are different ideas,’ said Rinku. ‘How do we deal with conflict?’
‘It’s our fear of conflict that makes us behave insecurely,’ said Rakesh. ‘The fear that we may lose or have to fight for space makes us behave passively or aggressively. But the way forward is win-win. Accept that conflicting opinions are bound to come up. Resolve conflict by looking at the process collaboratively, expressing yourselves assertively and seeking others’ viewpoints. Normally, it leads to the best outcome for all concerned.’

‘So it’s not about being loud or even withdrawing from participation, but being assertive and facilitating the best outcome for all, effectively and elegantly,’ said Rinku. ‘Thanks, bhaiyya.’

Pro Tip: Be assertive and express clearly. Respect your views and that of others for a win-win and enable the best outcomes

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Nowhere to Run - A Book About Germs, Lessons and the Disproportionate Importance of Soap - Shwetambari Reddy

The title gets you right away. These are pandemic stories, eight essays on pandemic-related themes.  They start with the discovery of the importance of maids, how the internet helped, of Maa and healing the mother-daughter relationship in a way thanks to the lockdown, the concept of beauty and appearances, masks real and virtual, depression and mental health, Chinese incursions and the mantra to get rid of Corona (Go Corona Go). I was left wondering why Shweta had not written more. But then she said she felt she was done and this was a first and was quite happy to let it go out into the world as it is and that's as good a reason as any. They are a delightful bunch of stories that help us look at that period of the pandemic and the lockdown with a smile on our face.  

So 'Baai Mere' is about the various emotions Shweta felt after cheering Modi's lockdown and how her life slowly became a baai-less reality. She describes how she got down to sweeping, cooking, cleaning and pretty much didn't like the experience as I gathered. (I cannot forget her upma making bit for some reason.) In 'When the Internet is Life Bro' she shares how, with nowhere to run, she was forced to browse the internet more than before. Suddenly she changes tone from her irreverent and self-deprecating humour and thoughts on Gen X and selfies to sharing Insta handles of people she follows @Ericapackard, @Alaya.F, @fayedsouza and @jameelajamilofficial and writes so well about them that you instantly feel like checking them out, especially the last-named. 

The one about her mother 'Maa ka Phone Aya' was funny, reflective and drew me fully into a mother-daughter relationship  - honest, loving and touched with the right balance of emotion. The dynamic, successful, realtor mother who made a local rowdy sheeter change his career and begin an honest life, one who is an achiever in every sense of the word, and the daughter who is not too concerned with pushing things unless she wants to, but who always feels she should match up a bit. The call at 10 am from the mother during the lockdown days and the normal enquiries, and Shweta's helplessness at not matching up and then making peace between the tiger mom and dino daughter in the end. Very nice. 'Hello Beautiful' is about the world she lives in where being beautiful is a big thing, where parties are about showing off jewels and clothes, and how after lockdown, the absence of beauty parlours transformed her into Kroor Singh, a character she met in a 90s serial called Chandrakanta. She takes off lustily on how the mirror se dar lagta hai from Dabangg, about exercise costumes and their rather high expectations and low self-esteem they leave one with, this and that. Delightful. 

'Masked' is about the masks we had to wear thanks to the virus and she connects Jim Carrey's mask, to the masks we wear normally and how we can finally be ourselves behind these masks where we can hide our mistakes. Shweta touches the subject of depression and mental health in 'The Great Depression' and she leaves us with the optimistic thought that it is, in the end, about picking ourselves up, not about falling.  Shweta went slightly political with 'Hindi Chini Bye Bye' and is pretty clear that the Chinese have to be left alone - that we have to make the transition from bhai bhai to bye bye - and bid goodbye to for more reasons than one - can't trust them. She rues the fact that we can't beat them in cricket as we do Pakistan and we can do little more than ban Tik Tok but she ends with An emphatic Jai Hind. And we can sense that she has come to the end when she begins her last article titled 'Go Corona Go' where she ponders about life during Corona and after, through the song Bhaag DK Bose and explains why it makes sense to understand certain things only by living in the storm. 

My first thought after reading the slim 90 odd page e-book was that she should have written more. There is something in the way she writes, a freshness to her voice, a sharp sense of humour, a twist in mood as she ponders over something deeply philosophical, an honest beat as she ponders over something and the ease with which she switches tone and topic. The book is eminently readable. Shweta writes credibly and convincingly, makes you laugh, think and ponder. Above all, the one quality that stood out for me, is her capacity to leave vivid impressions of the world she draws you into; images that don't stay. This is a wonderful trait and not many writers have that. Without a doubt, Shweta will write more and more, and I hope she finds a Part II in the pandemic that inspires her to write her second and then, hopefully without a pandemic, a third, and more. It's a sparkling debut and wishing Shweta lots and lots of success with her writing, and more importantly, lots and lots of satisfaction and joy.          

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Uyare - Movie

 209. Malayalam. Rise is what Uyare means I think and it's such an uplifting movie that I felt I haven't seen such for a long while. Director Manu Asokan debut film weaves in the story of an acid attack survivor into so many other layered subplots and ends it on a high. Can watch it again which is my way of saying watch. Not for a moment did I feel that Parvathy was playing a role. Wonderful.


Thursday, April 22, 2021

Jack Welch and the GE Way - Robert Slater

Robert Slater is the author of another best selling book on Welch titled '31 Leadership Lessons from GE's Jack Welch.' The book covers many aspects of Welch and how he grew GE and there are several nice insights into how he went about things. 

For instance, when he joined as CEO of GE which was then a healthy company he did not sit comfortably - instead he saw trouble and went about making corrections to anticipate the future and be ready for it. Among the many things he believed in was the power of having the right kind of people - he spent time figuring out what kind of people were good for him and kept them and removed the others. He wanted people with energy and the kind of energy that would re-energise others. He wanted leaders and not managers. He wanted people who got everyone to contribute and who would make GE a learning organisation that learned from everyone. He was for speed and flexibility and not for rigidity and beaurocracy. He wanted people with integrity because then he need not police people - they would do it themselves - and he would not hesitate to fire them if they did not match up on their value system.

Welch believed business is simple - don't overcomplicate it. He was not interested in the past and more interested In current reality because that would help him take the hard decisions like downsizing or restructuring so they would retain their No 1 or No 2 spot. Welch was all for change and would advocate that the people he wanted were those who embraced change and not those who feared it. he differentiated between managers and leaders - leaders are those who inspired and grew people. The way to lead is to ask the right questions, create a vision and make your team buy-in and then get out of the way. Of course, he tells them to cultivate managers who share their vision. One line I loved was that to engender enthusiasm you must allow employees far more freedom and responsibility. Facilitate, not control. Welch categorised managers as ABC - keep As' work on Bs and get rid of Cs.

He says leading comes down to facing reality and acting decisively and swiftly on it. He made all GE employees carry a values card so they are fully conversant with them. Those who weren't were removed. Values were - Integrity, passion for excellence, being open to ideas from anywhere, live quality and gain a competitive advantage, have the self-confidence to involve everyone, behave in a boundaryless fashion, bring in energy, view change as an opportunity not as a threat, build global teams.

Some of the ideas he pitched for passionately showed that he lived his talk - to change people's minds, be consistent - communicate, communicate. He practised boundarylessness as far as getting ideas, breaking down barriers between divisions, people, he drove a program called Work-out which involved everyone in giving ideas in a structured manner, he introduced Stretch to go for massive goals, he brought in quality as a factor of competitive advantage, he wanted a learning organisation and pitched for it. It may all seem very common sense like but he was good at that.

Welch focussed on vision and not numbers. He always looked for quantum leaps - surprise, boldness and shock were his weapons for that. Speed was big for him - if he found a problem his approach was to fix, close or sell - fast. He believed speed decreases control. He wanted the organisation to be lean, agile and fast like a small company. To him, only three parameters really mattered - employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction and cash flow. He wanted to get rid of anything that got in the way of being informal. To harness people he would harp on speed, simplicity and self-confidence (which he believed was the opposite of bureaucracy). Quality to him was also a product of speed, the next step to the learning process gets rid of fat, the next act of productivity. To foster the learning culture he established the Management Institute which is known as the Harvard of Corporate America. One other big lesson I learned from him - celebrate all progress. Find ways to celebrate he says. Gives an incentive to progress some more.

Lots of good takeaways (another Welch term). Though I felt it could have been presented better. The many quotes of Welch actually distract us because we are keener to know what the author is saying, not just quoting Welch. That said, the way it is structured, the headings of each chapter which is the lesson and a key principle makes it a nice and easy read with plenty to learn for any aspiring leader - corporate or otherwise.         


Anjali - The Dog and It's Pups

 So this stray came into our compound and found a cosy corner at the end of the garden and had its pups. I heard their squeals and then told Anjali about them the next day and she was as usual thrilled. My concern was that she should be careful with the mother who might be aggressive at this stage and to stay clear but Anjali was on a different track.

'They must be hungry na?' she asked. 'Can I give them some food?'

Now my concern always when I do something for someone is that they will get used to it and never leave and this insecure belief of mine has stopped me from making any helpful overtures and also from making friendships that were made for no reason at all. '

'Err,' I said. 'Then they may never leave. Any way ask mamma.'

This was my way of making a decision.

Anjali asked Shobhs and somehow convinced her and then had a chat with her friend, mentor and guide in all things, especially canine, Niveditha, and found out what to feed and how. And so began the feeding saga. On day one, the mother growled, on day two also, on day three, also and on day four she didn't.

'Yeaahhh,' said Anjali. 'She didn't growl at me. The pups are also looking bigger.'

I noticed she had stopped feeding the dog and pups after a couple more days.

'What happened?' I asked.

'I think they are now ok,' she said nonchalantly. 'She is able to go looking for food etc.' 

Wow. Talk of tough love. And so we move on, having done our bit. Nothing more, nothing less.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

The Priest - Movie

 2021. Malayalam. Reminded me in bits and parts of 'The Omen', 'Exorcist' and 'The Sixth Sense' - but keeps the story moving with twists and turns every now and then. Parapsychology et al. Mammootty's show all the way though the young kid Baby Monica was brilliant. 

Joji - Movie

 2021. Malayalam. Faahadh Faasil. Based on Macbeth and adapted to a Malayali landlord's setting. Quite watchable.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Anjali - The Dog Will Come Somehow

 After years of discussions on dogs and protests and stuff Anjali seems to have reached a point where the dog is almost there. She has convinced me and Shobhs and right now we have a loose agreement that she will take care of the dog etc and we hope that it is as simple as that. This summer was when the dog was to make its entry and the only thing that prevented it from coming was our impending trip to Pune in May.

'So when is it coming?' I asked on our walk the other day.

She laughed and said. 'You know nanna, this time I feel it will come on its own. Now that we have made up our mind, it will come.'

Wow. That's some serious confidence in the universe. I think so too. Beautiful. The right dog will come at the right time.

And a Lovely poster by Sravya - Be Yourself!

 Superb theme! And a worthy journey for most.

'Be Yourself'. 

It's designed by Sravya, who is my student at the Department of Dance, University of Hyderabad and fits in so well with the theme we discussed yesterday.

Three Friends!

 I was at the end of my walk when I noticed these three gentlemen, early in the day at about 730 am, walking towards perhaps their workplace. They were ahead of me on the Metro pavement and were deeply immersed in their conversation, occupying the entire breadth of the pavement. By their clothes I could make out they were doing a lot of manual labour, perhaps some kind of technicians, as their shirts were dirty.

 What struck me was the easy camaraderie, the animated discussions they were having, the peace of the morning before the tensions of the day, their jobs and their lives take over. I wondered where they were from, what their families were doing, what their hopes were, what their fears were, what they were like as children. They were not wearing masks but I am sure they were bothered about the pandemic and that they worry about what would happen if they contracted the virus. I wondered how their health was, whether they had their lunch organised or whether they were on their roza.

I wish I had taken the picture when they were still inside the railing because their demeanour there was even more contained. But I am glad I still got a pic, of the three friends, and hope that they sustain the energy, humor and strength as they go along and that all goes well with them.

It is a beautiful world. 

Monday, April 19, 2021

Khoobsurat - Movie

 Ah, another of the early 80s movies, this one is the 1980 gem by Hrishikesh Mukherjee about a disciplinarian lady who keeps her entire household under strict rules. Enter a daughter in law followed by her feisty sister (Rekha) and all rules go out of the window. The romance between the younger son and the mischievous girl flowers and alls well that ends well.

Khatta Meetha - Movie

 Loved watching this old 1978 Basu Chatterjee movie - the perfect one for a Saturday afternoon. Two Parsi families get together because of their parents who are widowed (Ashok Kumar and Pearl Padamsee) and the kids of all ages and sizes have trouble adjusting. Rakesh Roshan has a love story going with Bindiya Goswami and I loved the entire 70s wala romance, walks, outings etc.

Anytime watch.


Shiva Tandava Stotram - A Lovely Dance Production by Pasumarthy Kumara Datta and Team DP Chores

Paumarthy Kumara Datta has always struck me as a  serious student of dance and displays a learning mindset, considerable ambition and desire to work hard and grow. So today when he shared a video he directed and choreographed on Shankar Mahadevan's superb rendition of Shiva Tandava Stotram (something which I heard at full volume last year during the lockdown period to preserve my sanity).

Watch the video. I loved it. 

The team is called DP Chores and comprises of the following artists - Mallikarjun, Pavan, Badari, Bharat, Kumara Datta, Harsha and Chandrika. They shot the video at the Narayana Swami temple located in Saamarlakota near Kakinada over two days (plus another two days for post-production work).

Datta said that they are all childhood friends who are on the same journey who came together for this production which is their first and are planning to do more in future. 

The story behind the 'Shiva Tandava Stotram' - Ravanasura, a great devotee of Lord Shiva, travelled to Kailash Parbat by walk, playing his damarukh and chanting slokas on Lord Shiva which are said to be "Shiva Tandava Stotram."

Good work Datta and team DP Chores. Looking forward to more such productions.

eCanteen Fundas - Choose the Right Values and Practice Them

 Choose the right values, own them and practice. They will guide you, hold you.

E-Canteen Fundas: One man’s value can be another man’s vestige

Rahul’s devastated, bhaiyya,’ said Rinku. ‘He saw his favourite uncle who preaches honesty and integrity paying a bribe.’

‘I’m disillusioned,’ said Rahul. ‘For us, it is ‘honesty is the best policy’, ‘love all’, ‘respect elders’ and so on but they don’t seem to apply to those preaching to us.’

‘Ah,’ said Rakesh. ‘What should ‘you’ practice is the question. Honesty, respect, love and so on are aspirational values for us to live up to, lofty examples to follow and become better people.’

‘But why follow these values when others aren’t?’ asked Rinku.

‘Our values are our personal choice, not a rule,’ said Rakesh. ‘Your values are what you value. Don’t adopt them because someone told you to. Own them because you believe in them.’

‘So I can have my own values?’ asked Rahul. ‘How?’

‘By defining, calibrating and choosing your own value system,’ said Rakesh. ‘The clearer we are about what our values mean, the easier it is to practice them. To your uncle, bribing and talking of honesty in the same breath is fine, it’s his choice. But you can choose not to bribe. Do what you believe is right.’

‘But bhaiyya, how will these values help us?’ asked Rinku.

‘Our values guide our behaviours,’ said Rakesh. ‘They help us choose between right and wrong actions. They hold us when the stakes are high, when we require clarity and strength of character. When we have a weak value system, we take the easy way out when the heat increases. The right values strengthen us.’

‘But why take the tough route for nothing, bhaiyya?’ said Rahul.  ‘Why not enjoy the easy route?’

‘Because we must ‘be’ what we wish to see in this world, Rahul,’ said Rakesh. ‘If you want an honest, open, transparent world, practice the values you wish to see. Put those behaviours into the pot. Don’t crib about the world if you can’t do your bit. Sure, people and situations will test you — that’s when the strength of your convictions will show up. What we give is what we get.’

‘But bhaiyya, I’ve seen people with no values become rich,’ said Rahul, ‘And people with values suffer. How’s that?’

‘Ah, don’t make the wrong connections,’ smiled Rakesh. ‘There are many ways to get rich and successful. You can choose the right values, be creative, help millions and get rich. Or you can cheat, lie and rob. It’s your choice. Your values are the foundation on which your character gets built.’

‘Thanks, bhaiyya,’ said Rahul. ‘I’ll choose my values clearly now.’

Pro Tip: Your values are your personal choices. Choose, define and own your values. They guide your actions and help you become the person you wish to be.

The Story of Three ATMs

 For some reason my bank, Andhra Bank never believed in the ATM philosophy. Most of their ATMs were very reluctant to dispense cash. Some ATMs would convey their reluctance from a distance - they were dirty and I always felt unwelcome. The ATM machine would be dusty and even in pre-COVID times you needed sanitisers and gloves and perhaps some amount of vacuum cleaning before we got to the keyboard. Normally the screen would be dark and I would anyway try fearing for the safety of my card because the machine would make sounds as if it were digesting it. Thanksfully it would spit it out and I'd scoot to the nearby HDFC or Axis Bank ATMs to save me.

Union Bank ATM

After Union Bank took over the ATMs still remain the same. Only now, if I transact with HDFC Bank or Axis Bank I get a warning from Union Bank about how I was better off dealing with the reluctant Union Bank ATMs. I don't even know which world these guys live in. My guess is probably Delhi.


So the other day I went to the ATMs near Vengal Rao Nagar (after some failed attempts at a nearby Axis bank ATM) and found three ATMs standing side by side like proud soldiers. Union Bank was first and I looked in and decided not to go in fearing infectious diseases, passed SBI for no reason but for this unhealthy fear of mine that if anything happens I will never be able to get anything transacted in SBI's massive offices and then stepped into my old employer IDBI Bank. Transaction smoothly done.


Stepped out. Saw warning message from Union Bank and took pic of all three ATMs. Here they are. Sorry Union Bank.    

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Anjali - Better Not Proffer Unnecessary Advise

 While on the same walk, Anjali made this observation.

'Nanna,' she said. 'Sometimes, I get this feeling to share this information I have, this gyan that I hear from you all in terms of self-help, coaching or counselling etc. Then I realised that people are not too keen to hear that and stopped saying that. Nowadays I share it lightly and sometimes they pick it up, understand it from their point and use it if they find it useful.'

Absolutely. What was that quote I had heard - "To give advice is bad, but to give good advice is absolutely fatal." Many times we are keen to share principles and philosophies and most times we thrust them on people who are doing quite fine without. It si better then, to follow Anjali's path and leave the thought hanging loosely in the air - if they want to pick it up they will else no harm done.

Good one A.  

Anjali - Putting the Ego Aside and Applying the Four Agreements

 So Anjali and I went on our walk post-dinner as we do sometimes and I realise it's a great way to catch up. She spoke about this and that and said that she messaged a friend of hers who had not been in touch for a long time now.

'We were in touch over mail last October,' she said. 'And then he didn't reply to my last mail. I wondered if he was avoiding me. But the other day we were talking about 'having no assumptions' and you were teasing me about my ego, so I decided to keep it aside and mail him again. Guess what, he replied and apologised for not replying to my last mail. Realised that life is pretty simple if we keep our ego aside and not make assumptions.'

Wow, I am still struggling with that. Glad you could make progress Anjali.

'Wonderful,' I said and we did a high five. I did all I could to keep my mouth shut and not overdo or overspeak as we normally do. That she did it once and consciously is enough. She can always do it again when she wants to.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Alex Ferguson - Managing My Life

 Think Alex Ferguson and instantly we think of Manchester United and the story they created of being a champion team - one that could never be written off. Under Ferguson, the team grew from strength to strength and won five league championships, four FA Cups, the Euro Cup and the Euro Super Cup. Though I did not follow much football except theWorld Cup in all these years, Manchester United certainly caught my attention and when I saw this book in the Book Chor exhibition I picked it up.

Ferguson grew up in the tough area called Govan, a district in Glasgow, Scotland, but Ferguson thinks it's a different culture by itself. His father worked in the shipyard quite close to where they lived and he and his brother Martin grew up playing and discussing football which was a big thing in those parts. Alex did well and performed well for his school, for his junior teams and was picked for the senior teams quite early, scoring against the local big club Rangers. He was a talented striker, worked hard at his game, had spirit and really wanted a future. He also took up apprentice jobs as a toolmaker and one in Remington Rand while playing football. From junior level to senior level football and Alex did well to avoid injury, score goals and win matches for his teams - travelling abroad to Israel, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong with one club. He recounts many of the players he played with and we get a sense of how much talent also got wasted over the years.

Alex marries Cathy who is a Catholic which seems to make a big difference in those parts, a bit like the caste system here I guess. After thirty and with three kids (a pair of twins) he starts looking at life in football beyond playing, starts a couple of pubs, trains as a coach and then picks up work as an assistant manager. He does a good job of managing, working hard as always and making his teams perform. He recalls his stint with Jock Stein and how he learned so much about managing players from him ad how his sudden death shocked him. What Alex does well is to pick his players well, based on their character, invests in them, has a tough work ethic, disciplines them and make them perform. He is not sentimental about them though - when the time comes, he looks out for the best interests of his club. He gets picked as Manager of Manchester United and though he is not too happy with his salary, chooses the job for the reputation of the club ad the possibilities it brings. He works on a youth program that throws up a whole bunch of stars like Beckham, Scholes, Neville, plays his old favourites and somehow they always give him their best. Though he does not say it, they clearly feel he has their best interests in mind.

He was with Manchester United from 1986 to 2013 and has won more trophies than any manager in football. That was indeed the golden period for the club and perhaps even for English football. The book throws light on his sacrifices, his family life, his convictions and beliefs (like the time a foreign agent gives him some 40000 euros in cash as a gift and he notices it only at night and returns the entire thing to the club next morning with a sworn affidavit and the money is finally returned to that man after some ten years). Interesting lives. And for such a tough man he is squeamish about blood as he himself says. The way he writes about his players - Mark Hughes, Eric Cantona, Schmeichel and others shows a degree of his admiration for them and their commitment. I liked the bit about how he recruits Eric Cantona as a last-minute change and how Cantona changes the culture of the team with his work ethic. How Paul Gascoigne does not join MU and joins Tottenham  Spurs because they offer his parents a house and other little tidbits are many.

Interesting. I still could not get how they buy and sell players but it's a very interesting game and how the players themselves negotiate with their agents etc about their prices.  I got some idea though as to how seriously they play, how professionally they look at their football. Glad I read the book. It does what most autobiographies should do - give you a sense that you really know this person inside out. And Alex Ferguson is a good one to know.           

Jathi Ratnalu - Movie

 Absolutely loved it. What I loved was the way Anjali joined midway and was completely laughing at their gags. Ligh hearted stuff that keeps you fully entertained and leaves you feeling light and loose. Naveen Polisetty, Priyadarshi and Rahul Ramakrishna have superb timing and carry off a thin plot.

Watch it. I certainly would watch it again.


Monday, April 12, 2021

eCanteen Fundas - Laziness vs Procrastination

 Are you lazy? Or are you procrastinating?

E-Canteen Fundas: Get the important tasks out of your way first! Don't postpone

Pic: Edex Live

Rahul,’ said Rinku. ‘The deadline for submitting Priyanka ma’am’s assignment is almost over. Why haven’t you started on it?’

‘’I’ll start today, Rinku,’ said Rahul.

‘Why are you so lazy?’ chided Rinku. ‘Bhaiyya, is there a cure for laziness?’

‘I don’t know about curing laziness,’ said Rakesh, ‘But I do know that Rahul is not lazy. In fact, he’s very busy and active — doing odd jobs, workouts, on social media. But yes, he’s putting off doing his assignment, which is procrastination.’

‘What’s the difference, bhaiyya?’ asked Rahul.

‘Laziness is a personal attribute, of not doing an activity because you’re not inclined to, whatever the cost,’ said Rakesh. ‘Whereas, we postpone important jobs and get busy doing less important, seemingly urgent jobs, when we procrastinate. We finally end up doing the important work, but at the last minute and we do it less efficiently and at a greater cost.’

‘But why do we do that?’ asked Rinku.

‘One reason could be the fear of going out of our comfort zone,’ said Rakesh. ‘Doing important jobs well directly impacts our progress, which is sometimes scary. So, we get overwhelmed or approach the tasks in a disorganised manner. If we’re perfectionists, we postpone the task fearing imperfection. Fear of failure or the fear of success makes us distract ourselves, wait for the right mood, making it difficult for ourselves to do a good job. The quality of work suffers, deadlines get missed and we lose our confidence and reputation. What started as a small habit of postponing important jobs grows into a big pitfall that compromises our progress.’

‘Whoa,’ said Rahul. ‘How can I stop procrastinating, bhaiyya?’

‘By first becoming aware that you’re procrastinating,’ smiled Rakesh. ‘If you’re overwhelmed, break the task down to bite-sized versions and get started. If you’re disorganised, organise yourself better. If you’re a perfectionist, realise that some things need several iterations. Whatever it is, get started on the important things, otherwise you’ll be running in the same place without making progress. The cost of postponing important things is huge.’

‘Any tips to get started, bhaiyya?’ asked Rinku.

‘A well-known practice is making a To-Do list with six most important tasks for the next day in order of priority,’ said Rakesh. ‘Start with the first task first thing next day and don’t go to the second until you finish the first. That way, you make definite progress on your most important tasks every day before other tasks take over.’

‘Thanks, bhaiyya,’ said Rahul. ‘Didn’t realise procrastinating had such huge costs. Now that I know, I’ll act decisively.’

Pro Tip: For efficient completion of work, don’t postpone important tasks. Make it a habit to complete them first. Focus on progress, not merely activity

Friday, April 9, 2021

Anjali - I Flopped Badly at Taking Feedback

 So Anjali learned to design digital posters and websites recently and is helping out Shobhs preparing her collateral. She made one for her new course and showed it. I gave her some suggestions and then she asked Pallavi, who has far more knowledge in the area of design and visual (she studied photography at the film school in UCLA and is much accomplished) for some suggestions. Pallavi said she would drop in and they could work on it.

I could see them both working on it for a long time and then Pallavi left. Not long after Anjali came to me with a big smile and said 'Nanna, I flopped badly at taking feedback today.' We both laughed at her realisation but the fact that she is aware is in itself a huge thing.

(I am pretty bad at it myself. But I try.)

I guess the realisation came to Anjali more so because she wrote this fine blog post recently about dealing criticism. I liked that post and I think writing about it probably made her more aware.

It's a good path she is on. I feel if one can learn how to take feedback well, one has made it. I am trying too to get better at it.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

The Home and the World - Rabindranath Tagore

 I watched Satyajit Ray's 'Ghare Baire' which is adapted from this story and was so impressed by it that I remember it scene by scene. Now when I read Tagore's 1916 novel, it's even more fascinating for me that he could write about a world so clearly, and how it remains as relevant today as it was then. In fact the present regime so much fits into Sandip's narrative of making the nation into a Goddess, of a particular brand of swadeshi and how the whole idea is twisted to suit some people's agendas. And it's so uncanny - there are even Mussalmans who are upsetting the swadeshi characters. Uncanny.

So we have Nikhil, a Maharaja with progressive views, his wife Bimala to whom he gives a lot of freedom, his activist friend Sandip from college who is all fire and brimstone, poetry and passion - and quite a bit of manipulation. The story is told from the viewpoints of these three protagonists and we understand their motivations and dilemmas - Nikhil is true to his values and tries to keep the balance and sanity, Bimala is misled and carried away by the drama and passion of Sandip's revolution and Sandip uses his glib tongue to fool Bimala and a whole bunch of gullible youth and has his own plans of making the most of the revolution. Sandip's demands of Bimala for money, Bimala's being forced into giving it to him and all that follows later ends with innocent and noble blood flowing while Sandip escapes having lit the fire. The fiery and glib orators who have an agenda, the gullible voters and the helpless cause of the right-thinking are all out there to see even today.

Loved reading this story. And now to read 'Gora'.        

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

YouTube Link - Video Recording of Sunil Gavaskar's ML Jaisimha Memorial Lecture

 Here's the YouTubelick o Sunil Gavaskar's entire speech at the ML Jaisimha Memorial lecture, part of the ML Jaisimha Sports Foundation's initiative.

Warning - audio is not very good. Working on it.

Mashi and Other Stories - Rabindranath Tagore

 From the collection of Tagore's works that Sagar gifted me on my birthday a few years ago, is this book 'Mashi and Other Stories. They are set in Bengal and reflect the times - of widows, patriarchal families, love and intimacy, betrayal and hope,

'Mashi' is about a couple, a young man who is craving for the attention of his young wife who is is not as interested in him as he is in her. His aunt, Mashi, tells him nice stories about his wife, painting a good picture of her. It is only in the end when he is seriously ill that the girl returns from her father's house. (Or something like that. I need to re-read that story.) In 'The Skeleton', a skeleton speaks about how she was a beautiful young girl and murdered the love of her life and then died. In the 'Auspicious Vision,' a rich man marries a girl thinking she is another but later realises the girl he saw was mentally imbalanced and finds it was not a bad thing after all. In 'The Supreme Night' a man meets the girl he always loved but who marries someone else when he moves away and cherishes the one night they spend together in a storm. In 'The Raja and Rani' the Rani plays her cards such that a person who is getting close to the Raja is sent away. In the 'Trust Property,' an old man plans to sacrifice a young boy to safeguard his wealth so it comes back to his descendants (apparently an old practice), but ends up sacrificing his own grandson. In 'The Riddle Solved' a young man ousts all of his father's tenants and specifically one troublesome one, only to find that he was his half brother. In the 'elder Sister' Sasikala tries to do the right thing for her younger brother at the cost of her life. In 'Subha' the girl is dumb, but she is married off without telling the groom, who marries a second wife. In 'The Post Master' the postmaster showers his attention on the girl who helps him and leaves her for Calcutta when he gets bored, causing her immense pain. In 'The River Stairs' a sanyasi meets his wife whom he had abandoned and runs away when she recognises him. 'In the 'Castaway' a young boy who is taken into a rich household at the lady's insistence becomes jealous of her brother and steals an inkpot - with painful consequences for all. In 'Saved' comes a guru who falls for a married woman and poisons her husband and se kills herself when she realises what he has done. 'In 'My Fair Neighbour' the hero falls for a widow next door and wants to marry her, and soon finds that a friend of his, whom he had been encouraging to marry widows, had changed his view and married the one h had set eyes upon.

Interestingly most stories have angles of love, of man-woman romantic love. Most also have tragic endings. Most also pick subtle misunderstandings or desires as the cause of the trouble. Most characters have some flaw - physical or psychological. All of them show the emotional upheaval humans go in the chain of human relationships. Wonderful reading because it gives a wonderful picture of life in those times. 

Thanks Sagar.         

Meethe Miya - Authentic Hyderabadi Desserts

 Vasu likes Phirni. So do I. So the last two times we went to Sarvi for a meal he asked the waiter for a Phirni. Both times it was a negative. This time however Vasu remembered that there was a new place called 'Meethe Miya' near Meridian School. So we headed off to find the place.

It was the quaintest of stores. Apparently has been around for three years. Specialises in authentic Hyderabadi desserts. From the royal kitchens of the Nizams it says. 

So we have Hyderabad Specials like Double ka Meetha, Qubani ka Meetha. Shahi Tukda. Seviyon ka Meetha, Sheer Khorma, Ande ke Lauz, Dum ka Puran, Qubani Triffle, Shahi Roll, Badam ki Ashrafi, Badam ki Jaali, Halwa Puri, Meetha Samosa, Bismillah Ka Laddu, Zarda, Gulgule Malida (the last three on order only). 

Then we have halwas like Gajar ka Halwa, Chane ka Halwa, Kaddu ka Halwa, Jauzi ka Halwa, Nariyal ka Halwa, Anjeer ka Halwa, Badam ka Kund, Piste ka Halwa, Miya's Special Halwa. 

Then the Kheers - Chawal ka Kheer, Gile-e-Firdaus, Phirni, Anjeer ka Kheer, Zafrani Kheer, Badam ki Kheer, Miya's Special Kheer, Rabdi like Malai Rabdi, Leechi Rabdi, Anjeer Rabdi, Seasonal Fruit Rabdi.

Vasu enjoying his Phirni

All of them mouthwatering. We ordered Phirni which was served in a clay bowl and thoroughly enjoyed eating. I have many plans for this place. 

The address is Meethe Miya, road no 9, Banjara Jills, Opp HDFC Bank, Lane Opp Meridian School. Ph 63092 63092. Pretty simple.

Some Interesting Sights on My Daily Walk

 My daily walk has now changed course - I take the tree-lined avenue that leads to AG Colony, it also has less traffic, go straight to Moti Nagar, turn left towards Vengal Rao Nagar, past this ground where a bunch of kids are doing some sporting activity, past the Saibaba temple which has some cows that are fed every day. I am quite impressed with the number of early walkers and runners, the bare chested runner who runs pretty fast, many younger ones who overtake me very easily, couples, ladies.

I saw one old car the other day in front of the temple. 

And was even more thrilled to see a Vijaya Dairy outlet which brought so many memories of our childhood. Vijaya was the state-owned brand of APDDC and the sole suppliers of branded milk - else go your local cow owner. Milk trucks would rumble in at 3 in the morning, colony elders on duty would receive, keep watch and distribute. Getting the milk card renewed was a big affair. For years we lived in that tyranny of state-owned monopoly and then one day we decided we can buy milk in any shop, any brand. freedom at last. But it always brings a tug at the heart, like the memory of the first girlfriend.

Vijaya Dairy Parlour

And then of course, the way the leaves fall - laying out a golden path, in the colony, on the road.

The shower of gold in our colony

Beautiful - a solitary leaf in the metro station

It's beautiful. I need to get some more pics.

The Spectacular Now - Movie

 2013. American coming-of-age movie. Popular boy with problems at home gets dumped by popular girl, has problems with alcohol, finds a new uncool girlfriend who steers him in the right direction. Watchable.

Thought for the Day - Life Finds Its Way

 The other day I saw this blade of grass popping out between the tiles in the front yard. I have seen some amazing pictures like that - of life perpetuating itself despite incredible odds. It's so beautiful to see how we can adapt, how life adapts.

Makes you wonder. 

Monday, April 5, 2021

eCanteen Fundas - Create and Celebrate Small Wins

 The art of creating and celebrating small wins!

E-Canteen Fundas: One small step per day, a giant leap for life!

Bhaiyya, I tried building new habits to improve my health and fitness routines but I’m not satisfied,’ said Rahul. ‘Any tips to make these habits stick?’

‘Of course, author James Clear gave several,’ said Rakesh. ‘Remember the key principle — we repeat behaviours that have satisfying consequences and avoid behaviours that have unpleasant consequences.’

‘So, to build a new habit into a routine, we need satisfying consequences for the new behaviours,’ laughed Rinku.

‘Yes,’ smiled Rakesh. ‘But first, get the behaviours going. For starters, rearrange your environment. Our behaviours are guided by our vision; so make what’s related to your new habit clearly visible and within easy reach so you can start ‘doing’ easily. One use, one place. Make what distracts you invisible.’

‘Okay,’ said Rahul. ‘So I put my tracksuit, shoes, water bottle and so on in sight and easy reach if I want to exercise, right?’

‘And keep my phone on silent and away from my study table to avoid distractions while studying,’ said Rinku.

‘It’s proven that small and frequent repetitions are more effective than one big effort,’ said Rakesh. ‘It’s not how long, but how many times. So, design stuff to get you to act easily and frequently, even if it’s for two minutes. Don’t break your routine more than once because then, you’ll likely fall off the habit.’

‘Okay, bhaiyya,’ said Rinku. ‘Now how do we stay on course?’

‘Use commitment devices,’ said Rakesh. ‘Commit upfront for the long term. Paying an annual subscription to the gym ties you in to your habit. Another effective commitment device is to have an accountability partner. When we share our goals and plans with a partner and report our progress regularly and informally, we hold ourselves accountable. It’s a powerful tool.’

‘True, bhaiyya,’ said Rahul. ‘I never commit long term. That’s why I break habits easily.’

‘But, bhaiyya,’ said Rinku. ‘All this seems like a lot of work again. Where are the satisfying consequences so we repeat our behaviours?’

‘Ah, important question,’ laughed Rakesh. ‘To get your habit to stick, you must feel immediately successful after your action. So, after you begin your small, regular behaviours with marginal improvements every day, it’s very important to celebrate every small win. A cool drink, lying on the grass, anything that makes you feel good. Got it?’

‘Yes,’ said Rahul. ‘Create small wins and celebrate every win. Awesome!’

Pro Tips: Design your life so it’s easy to start small, repeat behaviours with marginal improvements every day. Celebrate small wins and share them with others to make the habit stick.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

You Cannot Miss This Flight - Capt GR Gopinath

 Captain Gopinath was from very humble beginnings and went on to serve the Indian army and then founded Deccan Airways, India's first low-cost airline. This book is a collection of essays he wrote on emerging India in various publications. He is well-read and has ideas and opinions which he expresses in the book. 

The book is divided into sections - Aviation, Enterprise, Society and Governance, Politics and  Musings. In aviation he makes a case for low-cost airlines and why that model will never make losses. He is a Modi fan clearly and feels that Modi has all the right ideas but the world, the babudom etc are coming in his way. He seems to have some nice words fro Mr Naresh Goyal too and does dwell on Mallya and feels the banks should have given him a package instead of hounding him. In enterprise he says entrepreneurs are the new freedom fighters, naively wonders why India Inc is silent on corruption and has something about Uber being punished for its drivers' faults. He joined the AAP and then unjoined it. 

Capt Gopinath is very well-read and most of his pieces are quite balanced and thought-provoking. his penchant to pick heroes perhaps comes in the way once in a while. He quotes excessively from various sources. The best part of the book to me was the last section 'Musings'. I liked the story of him and RK Laxman. Otherwise too much telling.     

Games People Play - Eric Berne

Eric Berne was a psychiatrist famed for his theory of Transaction Analysis. In this book, he explores social transactions. Its tag line - The Psychology of Human Relationships. What a lovely book.

We begin as children hungry for positive strokes or intimacy and never grow out of it. Stimulus Hunger, where, if we are not stroked, we shrivel, guides us. This also develops into Recognition Hunger. A stroke then becomes the fundamental unit of societal action. An exchange of strokes is called a transaction which is the unit of social intercourse. Humans have Structure Hunger - the need to structure their lives, what to do, how to structure their time. Time structuring is a natural need.

We operate on two levels - Social Programming and Individual Programming. Social Programming includes traditional rituals, manners etc. Pastimes and games are substitutes for real living of intimacy. Individuals structure time on activity or fantasy. In social programming, we rely on rituals, pastimes, games, intimacy, activity. Our goal is to obtain as many satisfactions as possible from our transactions. The more accessible we are, the more satisfactions we have.

Analysis of Games

The three main ego states are Adult, Parent and Child. Everyone carries his parents inside him, has an adult in him and carries a little boy or girl inside. The Child state is about creativity, spontaneity, the adult state is about survival and the parent state is about making response automatic to conserve time and energy, survival of human race. 

Simple Transactions - Superficial relationships - activities, rituals pastimes

Ulterior transactions - Games

Procedures and Rituals - are the simplest form of social activity. Procedures are a series of simple, complementary, adult transitions directed towards manipulation of reality. A ritual is a stereotyped series of simple complementary transactions programmed by external forces. It is either guilt relieving or reward-seeking. It employs strokes to increase or decrease intimacy. Procedures and rituals are stereotyped and predictable. Those who aren't adept at rituals avoid social interactions - they are normally seen helping the hostess serve or cook.

Pastimes - Simple pastimes are a series of semi ritualistic, transactions to structure an interval of time. Typically played at parties before the formal meeting. Pastimes include - PTA, Psychiatry, Ever Been, What Became, Man Talk (Compare cars, Sports), Lady Talk (Kitchen). Man talk and Lady talk don't mix, are exclusive. Pastimes are played based on roles, persona, which result from positions taken. Our positions are taken early, by the 7th year of our life itself. Some more Pastimes are - Me too, Aint it awful, Why don't they, Let's find.

Games - are an ongoing series of complementary ulterior transactions progressing to well-defined predictable outcomes. They are a recurring set of transactions. Games differ from procedures and rituals because of the ulterior quality and pay off involved in games. "Procedures may be successful, rituals effective, pastimes profitable but they are all candid. They do not involve conflict. Games on the other hand are dishonest and have dramatic outcomes." An operation is a simple transaction or set of transactions for a specific, stated purpose.

A typical game - "If it weren't for you - I'd have done that", commonly played out in marriages where wives feel that because of their husbands they cannot do more with their lives. Thesis (prohibitive), antithesis (permissiveness), aim (reassurance). As the players become more adept, moves are eliminated. Games happen because there is little opportunity for intimacy in daily life. The essential feature is in games is the payoff. 

Games are classified based on 1. No of Players 2.Currency 3. Clinical types 4. Zonal 5. Psychodynamic 6. Instinctual. Games have different degrees based on Flexibility, Tenacity and Intensity. In the first degree, the game is socially acceptable. in the 2nd degree, there is no permanent damage but the game is concealed from society and in the 3rd degree, the game is played for keeps, ends in surgery, courtroom or morgue

Types of Games

Life games, Marital games, Sexual games, Underworld games, Consulting room games and Good games

Life games - Alcoholic (how bad I have been, see if you can stop me, aim- self-castigation), Debtor - (try and collect), Kick me (Please don't kick me, why does this always happen to me, my misfortunes are better than yours), Now I got you, you son of a bitch (justification, see what you made me do, vindication, I am blameless)

Marital games - Corner (whatever I do I am cornered, Courtroom (no resolution, aim reassurance), Frigid woman (afraid of sexual intimacy), Uproar (beat me daddy, uproar in foreplay, aim vindication, see if you can seduce me, I'll try, if you stop me), Harried Housewife (too many roles, takes on everything and breaks down in time), If it weren't for you (look how hard I tried, ulcer, wooden leg, keeps it secret, aim - vindication), Sweetheart (calls the other sweetheart but says derogatory things)

Party Games - Ain't it awful (sick suffering, doctor, surgery), Nowadays, Broken skin (what pity, horrible situation), Blemish (I am no good), Schemel (mess up things, I'm sorry, expect them to stop me - aim absolution), Why don't you, Yes but (aim - reassurance)

Sexual Games - Let you and him fight (a woman has two men fight over her), Perversion (first-degree rapo or kiss-off), Pursuit of a woman (aim-malicious revenge), Stocking game - (I've a run in my stocking, exhibitionism, no judgement, makes women angry, men aroused), Uproar - (domineering father, teenage daughter, leads to courtroom)

Underworld games - Cops and robbers (kleptomaniacs, see if you can catch me, aim - reassurance), How do you get out of here (escape, good behaviour, sabotage and not released), Let's pull a fast one on Joey 

Consulting room games - Greenhouse (joke about psycho problems), I am only trying to help (look what you made me do aim - the alleviation of guilt, masochism, I'll make you feel inadequate), Indigence - (welfare, don't get jobs, no one wants to leave), Peasant - (Gee, you're wonderful Prof), Psychiatry - (I treat but god cures), Stupid- (I laugh with you at my own clumsiness and stupidity), Wooden Leg- (What do you expect if I have a wooden leg)

Good games - Bus Man's holiday - (go on vacation and help people there), Cavalier - (Courting women within limits, mutual admiration), Happy to help - (helps with some ulterior motive), Homely sage - listens, They'll be glad they knew me

'Human life is mainly the process of filling in time until the arrival of death. For some, there is awareness which transcends all classifications of behaviour, which arises out of past programming and that is spontaneity, and something more rewarding than games, intimacy. For the unprepared, these three ways may be frightening and even perilous.'. 

Games are passed down from generation to generation. Raising children is teaching them games. Games are played most intensely by disturbed people. Autonomy manifests with the recovery of awareness, spontaneity and intimacy. Jerk - how we'll look to the boss, lack of autonomy.

Awareness - living in the present moment
Spontaneity - means options, freedom to choose, liberates from playing games, have only feelings one ought to have
Intimacy - spontaneous, games-free candidness of an aware person, the liberation of an uncorrupted child living here and now

Classification of behaviours

Class I - Internally programmed (Dreams, fantasies, fugues, delusions, involuntary actions)

Class 2 - Productivy programming - activities (professions, trade, sports, hobbies)

Procedures (data processing, technology)

Class 3 - Socially programmed (rituals and ceremonies, pastimes, open manouvres, games - professional games, social games)



Superb stuff. I can see so many of these behaviours in me and around me. Wonderful. Now to cut the crap and head for awareness, spontaneity and intimacy. Thanks Dr Berne.

Friday, April 2, 2021

Dr R. Patnaik - Our Address for 45 Years!

Ever since we moved into our house in Sundar Nagar, Hyderabad, in 1976, our address has been 'opposite Dr Patnaik's house'. Everyone knew of Dr Patnaik, Skin Specialist. Technically we were not really opposite, but anyone who came as far as his house could find us a couple of houses askew. Dr Raghunath Patnaik was one of the leading dermatologists in the country, one with a reputation that crisscrossed all sections of society - politicians, beaurocrats, the whos-who would call on him, including the very poor. As we grew older I realised that there were many doctors who had earned a reputation as a professional, but not many could earn Dr Patnaik's reputation of a 'good man'. Every single person who uttered his name said it with deep respect. 

Dr Raghunath Patnaik 

So when Uncle passed away on March 23, 2021, I, who thought I had seen a fair amount of death in my life, felt a heaviness in my heart that would not go. I looked inward and felt that that reason was that somehow I felt that the balance of good in the world had suddenly got compromised by his departure. He was that sort of a person.

My earliest memories were that of people who would come to consult Dr Patnaik, waiting for hours on end, long lines, going through a process of coming and picking up coupons at dawn (which meant that Uncle would put those coupons out there even before that), and then coming back later to consult him. Many a time I picked up coupons for people who wanted to consult him - Uncle never made concessions to skip lines as I remember. He was principled, treated everyone with a fair and just hand, but more importantly, patiently and compassionately. I have never seen him lose his temper, never heard him use a harsh word, never heard him raise his voice. He lived frugally, in a disciplined manner, focussing on his profession and his patients, his family and his life. There was nothing beyond that - a simple, focussed life that rubbed off on all who came in touch with him. You would want to be as focussed as he was, as patient as he was, as humble as he was, as generous and understanding as he was. Time, it seemed stood still for him and he never cared much for it - knowing it would stretch if he asked it to. 

But let me go back to the beginning when I knew him as a reputed doctor and also as the father of my good friend Dr Satyanath aka Mani, now a famous dermatologist himself. While Mani was set up to become a doctor like his father, I was a sportsperson who was playing cricket all the time, not pursuing academic excellence and not in Mani's line of education either. But Uncle let our friendship be, did not in any way judge me, or perhaps judged my better qualities. It always made me curious that Uncle never objected to our friendship and in fact seemed quite fine with it despite the lack of common interests - which did not include academics.

One day my temperamental friend Mohan who lived in Model Colony, and Mani, somehow got into a fight. For some reason they never liked each other and perhaps might have fully avoided one another except for the fact that I was a common point. I have no idea what happened but things came to a flashpoint one day and Mohan challenged Mani to a fight and Mani rushed in. They both went to the sandpit at the community hall that was under construction, with me in attendance. Now something told me that it was better for them to have this fight and vent it out. In the twilight sun the fight began - both amateurs full of anger and emotion went at one another. I decided to be the referee and see that things didn't get out of hand. And just when things were picking up, Uncle rushed in from out of nowhere and separated the two and took Mani home. Not a word to Mohan or to me, or even Mani. He just took Mani home. I know many fathers who would have whacked us both, said that their son was right, etc etc but not Uncle. He just took Mani home and that was that.

Many were the times we met uncle - professionally of course. Once during my adolescence when I was afflicted with pimples my father took me to Uncle's clinic in Secunderabad. Typical of my father, we waited our turn for more than an hour and when we finally went in uncle was apologetic, saying we should have told the attendant. But my father was like that and deep down even Uncle was like that so it was a good lesson for me that day on waiting your turn (though I don't do it nowadays sometimes and pull my connections). Another time I woke up with a swollen nose and I thought my world ended and my mother hurried me across and uncle was calm as ever, said it was normal, prescribed some medicine and I was fine by evening. I thought he saved my life then.

His parrot green Premier Padmini, ADU 7220, was always something I remembered him by. He would look very distinguished in it, driving off in it. Principled he was - when the government came with an order saying government doctors cannot practice privately, Uncle, a Professor at Gandhi Medical College, and a senior doctor then, took the decision to quit his career as a Professor and continue to practice privately. Whose loss it was is anybody's guess. Not Uncle's surely. I would think it was more as a principle that he quit than anything else. These were the type of people who would stake anything for what they believed was right, who would leave noting behind when they believed in something.

I got a great insight into his character one day when there was a crisis at home later afternoon one working day. I was still in school then or perhaps just out of. Our gas cylinder pipe leaked and caught fire when my sister Chanti was cooking something. A huge flame of fire gushed out, the leaking gas fuelling it into a great ball of fire in the kitchen. It was just me, Chanti, mom and Ram at home I think. We did not know what to do and ran out. I had no idea how Uncle realised that there was some trouble but he sensed it and rushed in. While all others watched from the outside Uncle went right in, told me to get some sand and tried to douse the fire. Before I could get sand however, he had gone into the flaming kitchen, to the blazing cylinder and shut off the knob, cutting off supply. The cylinder could have burst anytime and I was amazed how anyone could have so much courage, such clear values that he set himself aside and at such danger put off the fire. Who would risk their life for their own family, much less a neighbours? True character shows under pressure. I wish I had heard my father's conversation with Uncle when he returned. And our values, our persona, our love for humanity and for life, makes us bigger than we are. And as always, he quietly went away after the fire was doused, not staying back to revel in his heroics.

Hero, he was, good looking, gentle, strong, mischievous even. 

He was there when my father died suddenly, in a road accident. That morning Dad was fine and in the evening he was in the hospital and next morning he was not there. I think Uncle looked at us more kindly after that early loss of our father and would indulge us when we would visit them with a smile, or even allow us free treatment when we visited him professionally. 

As we grew older Mani joined medicine and I joined engineering and played cricket and my name would come in the papers and Uncle would smile at me when I would visit them. Jyothi became the fifth of my sisters and she would tie rakhi to me those days and we formed a lifelong bond of brother-sister. In 2007 when I wrote my first book after quitting a secure job in a bank,  I visited Uncle and told him about it. He was very impressed that I wrote a book and then asked me to wait and brought out a paper he had written which had got published in a medical journal. He showed it to me with great pride, spoke to me like I was an equal and asked me for my opinion on what he wrote when clearly his work was one of great experience and expertise, and mine was just pop-fiction. Such humility. Such child-like wonder. He spent a lot of time with me on that, that day and I felt guilty I was taking up too much of his time. 

The way Uncle dealt with his patients was an experience in itself. He would ask us in his gentle manner what the problem was, his eyes kind, showing no sign of judgement. He would be fully engaged with you with all his senses as you spoke. He would listen, not interrupting, or only interrupting us when necessary. He would check us unhurriedly, almost as if following a checklist, visual examination with a magnifying glass, questions about ourselves, our lives. All this would happen at an extremely relaxed pace, and we would start worrying if we were taking up too much time with our small ailments. And then when he was fully satisfied, he would patiently explain the ailment, mention why it might have been caused, suggest that skin issues had to do with emotional angles - to not fight and be calm at home, he would say. Drinking water, diet, washing face often were other tips. He would write a long prescription in his neat handwriting and then you could go. Normally, that would treat you for good which was why his reputation was so solid. People kept coming back with other patients only wanting the Pedda Doctor.

I realised what full attention means when I saw Uncle consult. I also realised how time stretches when you master it, not becomes its slave. 

When I was made the Chairman of Selectors for the Hyderabad Senior Selection Committee in 2012, Uncle was very happy. He told aunty when I visited them with great pride - "He has been made Chairman of such an important job because of his integrity." I will never forget those words.

I once interviewed him for my blog and I have no idea where I misplaced that interview. I will have to rummage my papers. But I remember he credited everything to god and others - and never took any credit for anything. There was nothing he was in conflict with - the system, patients, government - everyone was doing their best according to him. At the end of the interview, he smiled at me apologetically and said 'I think it must be a boring interview no?' I said no. I had learned a lot.

In the past few years we would meet on the road during our walks. He would be pleased to see me going for my walks and told me a couple of times to motivate Mani (which I could not). But on the walk we would exchange a couple of words, he would smile fondly and we would move on. Once he caught me and told me quietly - 'get the house painted'. I feel guilty when I see the house and even now I think of him when I see that it needs a paint job. 

When aunty passed away last year, Uncle lost the love of his life. They shared something very special and he was fully committed to her. I sat next to him as he sat quietly, asking him if he wanted water, anything. He would simply smile and nod his head. And then within a year he got cancer and had surgery. I wanted to meet him and chat, but it never happened - our meetings were on the road where I would be jogging and he would be walking. He would smile at the sweat I worked up and ask - you're running for an hour almost now? I would nod and he would smile. The last time was in Feb when he came for aunty's death anniversary, looking a bit frail.

I had returned from my jog the other day when I saw shamianas being put up. Ramu told me Dr Patnaik was no more and my worst fears had come true. Apparently, Uncle told Mani not to tell anyone of his illness. Quietly he suffered for two weeks and passed away. He was 84. For the first time, I saw him with a slight beard and moustache and thought he looked so handsome. His face as calm as ever, as radiant as ever, his body perfectly proportioned. Something divine.

I always feel that when fathers die, it feels that the roof on our head goes. They somehow make you feel secure, taken care of when they are around. When Uncle left us I felt that the roof on my entire colony was lifted off. People came in, old and new, and on everyone's face I could see that question and fear large - now who will be there for us? So many wonderful qualities, so much good, all we can do is perpetuate those qualities to remember him. We, at my home, are now bereft of our best-known identity, our landmark for 45 years. We now have to create a new one.

But I am so glad we had this wonderful landmark, this gentle and compassionate soul, who touched our lives and in some way transmitted some of his goodness to us. Thank you Uncle for all the wonderful memories. I am so fortunate to have known you, spent time with you. I would love to imbibe even a bit of your qualities of patience, non-judgment, compassion, softness, goodness and the pursuit of excellence. I would love to be as present as you, and by being present, make time stretch forever.