Monday, May 31, 2021

eCanteen Fundas - Toxic Positivity

 Don't make them feel worse with your positivity!

E-Canteen Fundas: Feeling positive or a little too positive? Toxicity positivity harms more

I’ve had a strange experience today,’ said Rinku. ‘Krishna and I talked to his aunt about how we were feeling about the pandemic, hoping it would help. We ended up feeling worse.’

‘Why?’ asked Rahul. ‘Was she very negative?’

‘No,’ said Rinku. ‘In fact, she was too positive. Every time we tried to express our feelings, she’d butt in with ‘it’s going to be all right’, ‘you’ll be fine’, ‘don’t feel like that’, ‘be happy’ and so on. I felt I was doing something wrong by not feeling positive.’

‘Ah, you’ve been a victim of toxic positivity,’ smiled Rakesh.

‘Whoa, what’s that, bhaiyya?’ asked Rahul.

‘Toxic positivity is when people try to ignore or minimise real and difficult feelings with a false front of positivity,’ said Rakesh. ‘It makes you feel like something’s wrong with you.’

‘But isn’t positivity good, bhaiyya?’ asked Rahul.

‘Not if it makes you feel worse,’ laughed Rakesh. ‘These are difficult times and we all feel anxious, lonely and fearful, and want to share our vulnerable feelings and talk about them. It’s not right to dismiss these feelings and say ‘all is well’. Painful emotions have to be dealt with openly and honestly. Positivity is not bad — the problem is with our timing and the outcome we achieve.’

‘How does toxic positivity show up, bhaiyya?’ asked Rinku.

‘When someone expresses their vulnerable feelings,’ said Rakesh, ‘And people come back with — ‘You’ll be fine’, ‘it’s nothing’, ‘be grateful’, ‘be happy’, ‘you’ll get over it’ and so on — instead of making the person feel supported. They make them feel invalidated, ashamed or guilty for feeling what they feel.’

‘But the words sound kind,’ said Rinku. ‘I use them too.’

‘Toxic positivity isn’t about the words, it’s how we make the other person feel,’ said Rakesh. ‘In a different context and time, the same words have a completely different result.’

‘How should we deal with the negative feelings?’ asked Rahul.

‘There’s nothing negative or positive about our feelings or emotions,’ said Rakesh. ‘If we feel fearful or upset, we must process it for our well-being. Brushing them away will not solve the problem. It’s when we feel our emotions that we make room for other emotions.’

‘How should we deal with people who are feeling low, bhaiyya?’ asked Rinku.

‘Listen,’ said Rakesh. ‘Be empathetic, ask questions and ask how you can help. Validate their feelings and help them feel their feelings. By the end of it, help them feel better.’

‘Thanks, bhaiyya,’ said Rahul. ‘We’ll be wary of toxic positivity.’

Pro Tip: Toxic positivity harms more than it helps. Feeling your real feelings without always covering them up with positivity helps

Butter Chicken in Ludhiana - Pankaj Mishra

 Written in 1995, on an offer by the publisher to the 25 year old writer to write about travels in small town India, Pankaj Mishra's book is considered one of the better travelogues as I remember. I do not have much expertise on the matter but its been years since Vinod gifted me this book and I tried reading it one and gave up because I had too many judgments and then finally, got done with it yesterday. It was quite nice reading and though I agree with Pankaj when he writes at the end that he feels embarrassed at his tone in the book, I also understand that for a 25 year old its quite an accomplishment to write this book.

He travels from Shimla, to Delhi, to Jaipur, Ajmer, Pushkar, Hapur, someplace in Punjab, Gujarat, Bangalore, Trivandrum, Kanyakumari, Kottayam (where he meets Mary Roy), Shimoga (where he delivers a lecture to a largely Kannada speaking audience), Calcutta, Varanasi, Jehanabad, Murshidabad and several such places. He travels in buses, trains, cars and the best parts of the book to me were the people he met - without doubt the medical representative he meets who reads eclectic stuff in Trivandrum being the best character. But then, all of them offer a window into India and its people, though sometimes they come across as one-dimensional caricatures. They are products of the system, and have their own dreams and ways to get by. Conversation about caste - his friend who studied in Allahabad University and was into Osho and literature  who went back to farming, the chap he meets whose grandfather killed 14 Harijans and was mentioned in the BBC which he wore as a badge, the number of people who had issues with Muslims and prejudices against them without really understanding what they were talking about, the travails of the foreign girls in Varanasi who were troubled by sex-starved locals (upkeepers of our culture), it flows nicely and gives a perspective of an India on the move.  

Quite a nice read. Now few would identify with the trains, the buses he wrote about and you realise that for a book that was written in 1995, it's almost like it was written in another era where we travelled by bullock carts. Thanks Vinod bhai!   

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Anjali - And Now, Akela's Injured

 This morning Anjali discovered Akela was injured. Her paw was torn, no idea how, and full of blood. Anjali was upset and wanted to do something because he poor mother was in pain. She finally called the volunteer group lady and she said they would send somebody. That's a huge relief.

The volunteer arrived a couple of hours later. I am amazed that they do such things during lockdowns and stuff. He tried to nurse Akela and put some medicine but she would not let him. So he left the medicine with Anjali and told her to do it.

This is like a full scale soap opera. 

Through the afternoon Anjali tried bit by bit and finally got the medicine on Akela's paw.  Seems like she is getting better. Meanwhile the three pups have got some teething problems and are gnawing away at anything they get their teeth into. 

One wonders at the fragility and uncertainty of their lives. The mother does not know what will happen to her children, all three now back in the inner circle, and the pups surely don't know what happened to their mother. Its difficult to not think of a benevolent god up there who seems to take care of all beings on earth.


These days when I step out for my walk I notice the young pups waking up and popping out from under the Santro as if to say a sleepy 'Good morning'. Later in the day they bug me by snapping at my heels.   

Oka Mini Katha - Movie

 It's the story of a boy who grows up thinking that his penis is too small. Porn movies and other such don't help and he is feeling the heat when his father wants to get him married. Visit to a brothel, a doctor who claims to increase size through surgery are botched and he marriage seems imminent. What the boy does to hide his secret and how he tries to overcome his shortcoming is the story.

I liked it. It was funny and never vulgar. Santosh pulls it off with amazing elan, never making it seem fake or forced, and holds it all together. As always I am very impressed with him and he seems to be only getting better ever since I first saw him in Golconda High School as a schoolboy. In the end he ends up giving an important message that size is not everything. I enjoyed it.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Anjali - A Class on Existential Philosophy

 Anjali signed up for an online class on Existential Philosophy by Karim Benammar. So naturally I asked her what it's all about and she gave us a half hour talk on the points she made - and well, it was quite a class.

She started by the existential question on why are we alive - to live and to make a living. And how life is about the meaning we give it. How we are free to sculpt our life and how we have a responsibility to give shape to it, by becoming who we are. The way to live authentically is to create your life your way - that we must construct the answer to why you are alive and not discover it.

What holds us back from an authentic life is fear and laziness. But we must believe in our uniqueness. We must not decide out of fear or laziness. Focus on what you want, not what you don't want.  To know if you were living authentically look to the Eternal Return experiment where the same life gets repeated over and over again - would you still want it? 

We can decide what we want to spend our time on - look at the world from a scarcity view point or an abundant viewpoint. We must believe in abundance and expend our surplus with projects.  And if life has no meaning, give it meaning and enjoy it. Be who you are. You are not alone - take help. Create your life as a work of art.

Albert Camus, Sartre, Foucalt, Viktor Frankyl. It was exhilarating stuff. I loved it. Good course to take and am glad Anjali took it. I knew nothing of this when I was her age.  

Anjali - Zor Drama Continues

 Zor's drama continued again through the day. Akela would keep snapping at her and this one would yelp - each time the poor Zor tried to return to their fold under the Santro. Obviously something had happened and Akela decided that she would disown Zor. Or perhaps she was weaning it away.

But all this drama is too much for humans to bear so everyone got into the act (but me). Shobhs started showing Akela her place when she would snap at Zor. Zor would yelp piteously when she spotted Anjali and would find way into the house.This continued four or five times. Anjali got a number of a volunteer group that helps adopt  pups and spoke to that lady who told her she would put it up in the group if Anjali sends pics. Pics were sent and we are hoping some kind soul will adopt the hapless Zor.

Meanwhile Anjali returned this afternoon with a triumphant smile. 'Akela has finally accepted Zor back into the fold,' she said. 'She did not snap at it.'

Ah, some less drama now. 

Each time I step out the three pups snap at my heels. Can't stand it. I hop and skip like a retired ballerina. Also I am not able to get my car out because they lie under the Santro. Who says they have problems? What about me?     

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Anjali - Zor Returns, Traumatised

 Late at night, almost midnight, we heard sharp yelps. Really loud, as if the pup was in pain. I am not too much of a use in such conditions and found Shobhs heading out to check things out. With mixed feelings I found one of the pups (later found out it was Zor) was under the Ertiga and yelping, perhaps in pain. Its mother Akela was trying to console it but obviously wasn't doing a good job of it.

Zor returns

I normally slink away from such situation simply because I find myself very inadequate while handling pups, cats, birds - need to get over this fear of not being able to handle their unpredictable responses - but I found Shobhs more than equal to the task. The pup had by now limped across, yelping, on its own, and Akela seemed rather lost. Shobhs decided to get into the act and picked up the pup, held it, and miraculously, it started calming down, like a cranky or upset baby. Since we could not see any outward injury, we felt it was just scared out of its wits. If Shobhs released her grip a bit, she would yelp.

So Shobhs brought the pup back in and watched the rest of the movie we were watching with the pup in her arms. Couple of times it yelped, like it remembered a bad dream, but otherwise it slept exactly like how a baby would. After a while Shobhs deposited Zor on a doormat and she slept quietly.

In the morning when I started out, I saw three brown pups - Zor and Sona seemed to have returned from their adventures, looking a lot worse for the wear. Anjali woke up and we updated her on the night drama. She quickly figured out with her instincts that Zor was being abandoned by Akela, who would not let this one under the car. Anjali nursed, fed it until its tail was up and then, Akela admitted her back. The animal kingdom has a strict sense of survival perhaps. No sign of Kroor yet though.

The drama continues.   

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Anjali - Zor, Kroor and Sona go Missing

 I was surprised to find Anjali very composed when she told me that three of the four pups were missing from a couple of days. Akela, the mother, and Zindagi, were still around. Anjali went around following Akela to see where the pups were but Akela generally went for her normal outing and came back. zindagi was lolling about by herself.

Zor and Kroor 

Just like that.

Guess that's how nature is. I am still not ruling out the possibility that the three month old pups will come back - adorable little ones. Anjali was quite calm.

'I know they are old enough now to forage,'  she said. 'I am not too worried now. They will be able to look after themselves.'

She still feeds Akela and Zindagi and plays with them every few hours.

'Will you get upset if Zindagi goes away too?' I asked.

'No,' she said. 'If they they have to go, they will go. I am ok with that.'

Nice. Looks like I am the softy at home.

But Anjali, for treating them so well and caring for them so dutifully, feeding them, playing with them, protecting them, a big hurrah. I'm sure they will always remember you and your love.

And wherever you three are, have a good life!

Thought for the Day - Don't Have Judgments - They Obstruct the Flow

 It's rather simple - drop judgments.

They obstruct the flow.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Thought for the Day - All That We Want Is Already Within Us

 This is a powerful thought I picked up from a book. All that we want, which is outside us, will remain there because there is a separation. We always feel it is difficult to attain it because i n our mind there is a separation. And it is this separation that causes much heartburn to us.

Pic Satish N

If we flip it over and then look at it this way - all that we wanted is already within us - it does wash away much tension from us and our separation from all these things that are outside us. And if we receive the next moment with this simple thought that all that we did in our life so far is to meet this moment - it is quite liberating. It makes the moment, this life seem so worth it. This one grand moment.

And then we can reduce this separation from the outside. You see, the book said something like, all of this universe is already within us, and so it is. If we believe that, if we can do away with this separation, it will truly be ours.

Until then, remember, all we want is already there within us. All we get will also come into reality the moment we see them clearly within us and not as separate from us.  

Thought for the Day - What Excites Us is What We Want

 Many times they say - what do you want, what are your goals? And we saw success, money etc. And they say, affirmations, visualisations - get excited about what you want. And we are like - hey, i don't know if I'll get it so why be excited about it?

I am one of those people who doesn't get excited by much.

The logic struck me the other day though. If I am saying i dearly want it, I should be excited right? Why do I not get excited? Because  I am scared it may not come or if it comes, i am scared I can't handle it? Actually you know what - I don't want it.

So we have already rejected it.

But my new insight is, be excited as if it is already here, it is within you, like you are already owning it, driving it - hallucinate. In fact it might be a good idea o have parties like that - visualisation, hallucination parties. Just let go and feel good about having it, owning it.

Two keys - owning it NOW. Feeling good that we own it NOW.

Compress life, your future into your present and ramp up the excitement. It's like celebrating even before the birthday comes  - well you can't beat such people right?

I finally got it. Be excited about life, about what we want, celebrate like its already here. You can't lose when you're in celebratory mood. I would like to bring in 1% of this celebration, this excitement into my life starting now.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Sudani from Nigeria - movie

 2018. Loved it. Majeed, a passionate manager of a football team in Kerala recruits Nigerian players to play prize money tournaments. His star player Samuel from Nigeria (nicknamed Sudu because the locals think he is a Sudanese) suffers a fall and sustains a fracture. How Majeed and his family helps the young man recover by putting him up at his own house and sending him home is a heartwarming story. I am somehow convinced that it must be a real story - its too good a tale to be fiction. Watch.


eCanteen Fundas - Duty vs Responsibility

 My attempt - duty vs responsibility. Duty is what we sign up for as part of the unit, and responsibility is how we fulfill that duty.

E-Canteen Fundas: Is wearing a mask our duty or responsibility?

People are so irresponsible,’ complained Rinku. ‘No masks, no distancing.’

‘My father says it’s our duty as citizens to follow guidelines,’ said Rahul. ‘I’m confused — what exactly is my duty and what am I responsible for?’

‘Let’s see,’ said Rakesh. ‘Duty is a commitment, moral or legal — job, family, team, society, nation and so on. Simply put, duty demands that we work in the best interest of the team we’re part of. For example, your duty as students is to follow rules and bring glory to the college. You’re obliged to fulfill your duties and if you don’t, you could be penalised.’

‘And responsibility?’ asked Rahul.

‘Responsibility is how we undertake our duty,’ said Rakesh. ‘Responsibility, they say, is our ability to respond correctly. For instance, you could undertake complete responsibility for a college programme even though you are entrusted with a part of the duties — by bringing great energy, completing your tasks and helping out. Greater the responsibility, greater is your involvement, resulting in higher good for you and your team. Of course, you could also perform the same duties with zero responsibility.’

‘Can you explain some more, bhaiyya?’ asked Rinku.

‘Sure,’ said Rakesh. ‘Duty is ‘what’ is expected from you. Responsibility is ‘how’ you deliver it. Your duty as a student is a broad set of obligations to fulfill — and your full commitment is expected. However, despite the fact that all students are bound by the same duties, each one responds differently.’

‘But, bhaiyya, what if the unit I am part of treats me unfairly?’ asked Rinku. ‘Am I bound by my duty still?’

‘Good question,’ said Rakesh. ‘It’s only fair that it works both ways. Just as a student of the college has a duty towards the college, the college also has a duty towards the student. Many times, the duty of the member is demanded by the unit as an obligation. But if the unit does not fulfill its duties to its members in the same spirit, the commitment must be revisited.’

‘How can we handle our duties and responsibilities in a balanced manner, bhaiyya?’ said Rinku.

‘Clarity helps,’ said Rakesh. ‘If you know why you’re doing what you’re doing, the how will fall in place. It will help fulfill your duties and responsibilities correctly — not more, not less — in the right spirit and in a balanced manner.

‘Thanks, bhaiyya,’ said Rahul, ‘I think we now know why we need to be responsible and do our duties rather mindfully. Our lives depend on it!’

Pro tip: Be clear about what your duties are and commit to them. Be aware that it works both ways. With responsibility, take up more than your role demands and see the difference it makes

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Lockdown Traffic at 8 am Near ESI

 I went out for a walk as I do every morning and returned at about 730 to ESI to find the road choked. There is no way I could cross the road so I took the Metro station and crossed over. While crossing over I took this pic.


God Save the Child - Robert B Parker

 Private detective Spenser, glib talking, too smart or his own good, smart with his hands gets a assignment to track down a missing boy. Then a ransom note, then a death threat. The boy's family is dysfunctional. Spenser uses the investigation to fall in love with a school administrator and beats up a muscleman and rescues the boy.

It's slim. Too much description. Weak plot. Liked that it was slim. (It seems to be popular with many editions though.)

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Shyamchi Aai - Sane Guruji

 Sadashiv Pandurang Sane aka Sane Guruji (1899-1950) was a well-known teacher, philosopher, author and a poet. His most famous work is his autobiographical work 'Shyamchi Aai', about his mother Yashoda and the lessons he learned from her, which was made into a film that won the President's Gold Medal in 1954.

The book is split into forty two stories, each told by Shyam to his friends in an ashram, one per night. Each story has a lesson in equality, forbearance, courage, self-respect, honesty, tough love, love for all human beings and is told through an incident that actually happened in his life with his mother. Shyam's father was originally from a rich family but he was cheated of his inheritance and lived most of his life in poverty. His wife Yashoda supported every decision of his and brought up her children with dignity, care and love and the right guidance. As her favorite son, Shyam helped his mother as much as he could, in household work, even doing women's work, pressing her feet, taking care of her when he was ill, which she was frequently. A couple of his siblings die to illness. Shyam's father agrees to send him away to Aundh to study and while he was there, his mother passes away. That their house is auctioned off to pay the money lender's dues also bears heavily on poor Yashoda.

Apart from the lessons and life of the Sane family, the book gives a wonderful insight into life in a typical middle class family in Konkan district - the food, the customs, the games and thanks to the book, will be forever captured. 

It is translated into English by Shanta Gokhale and she mentions that she has reduced the drama and tears and focused on the lessons than on the hardships. Sane Guruji went ahead and completed his education, doing his BA in Marathi and Sanskrit and MA in Philosophy from New Poona College and then chose to teach in Pratap High School Amalner, a small town in Jalgaon district. He remained unmarried and was given the title of National Teacher. 

Interestingly Shobha's maternal grandfather Mr Oak was also Head of the Philosophy College in Amalner around the same period, so I am sure they would have met.        

A 14 Day Isolation - And Changed Architecture in My Room

 So Vasu and I decided to visit Beauty Green for some work. Since the cases were increasing we thought about the pros and cons - we were both fully vaccinated two  weeks ago and had not been meeting too many people so we decided it was safe enough. We were together for three hours before we came back. Two days later Vasu called and said that one of his consultants he knew had tested positive and he had tested positive too.

That set off all sorts of alarm bells ringing in my head. I set off to do a test immediately and isolated myself in Anjali's room and decided to follow the protocol for 14 days anyway. I moved my laptop, my stuff, books, clothes, toiletries and sat down in the room. Now I had done a 10 day Vipassana course so this would not be tough except for the worry about testing positive or having passed it on to others I had met. Shobha was half-vaccinated, but Anjali was not. I had briefly met Ranjan the day before so he was worried too.

Couple of days later the test results came and they were negative which was a huge relief. I still decided to isolate and stay away. I realised the mind plays tricks and its easy to worry and panic if the oxymeter mistakenly shows a weird number or if you cough once. Your mind goes to extremes. I decided to cut off reading news, talking to negative people, watching scary movies. I decided to watch and read funny movies and books. And speak to those who would put me in a good space.

The changed architecture in Anjali's room aided my productivity and I quickly upped my writing. I caught up with some other things I had been meaning to do - blogs, writing work, mails, people. Shobha was fantastic as always in a crisis - she has this stoic response that focuses on the positive, does not get too worried and has a practical and balanced view. So she took it on herself to serve me all that I needed and after the first week and ten days we all breathed easy. The toughest thing was not meeting Anjali of course and we kept in touch over the phone.

I returned back to my room and instantly changed the architecture inside. I found that this new set up already has improved my productivity. And surely the isolation has improved my perspective on many things as well. 

The Last Paradiso - Movie

 2021. Italian. Movie about a small Italian town ruled by a few landlords, a philandering revolutionary who is having an affair with the landlord's daughter, a murder and revenge. 

V Hindi film like. I am wondering if our movies were ahead of time or what.


Wonder Woman 1984 - Movie

 2020. The movie picks up from the last one which was set around 1944 and we're in 1984 dealing with a person who gets the power to become anything he wants. So everyone gets what they want thanks to him including Wonder Woman who gets her old boyfriend back but then they realise that it is better if we give up what we wish for, for a better world. I loved that idea. The rest of the movie reminded me of an old Telugu movie.


Aanandam - Movie

 2016 Malayalam movie about an engineering college group that goes on an industrial tour. Simple, fun and makes you wonder why we don't have such uncomplicated and fun movies in our lives. My faith in campus stories has gone up since.

V watchable.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Anjali - We Do Take Ourselves Too Seriously

 This came out of the blue. We were chatting recently when Anjali recollected an old conversation we had, one that I had forgotten.

'I really found that interesting Nanna,' she said, her eyes twinkling. 'We do take ourselves too seriously. Who cares what we do, what we are, what we feel? We just give ourselves too much importance and feel bad etc.'

Wow. That's a good one Anjali. I don't remember in what context I said that but makes perfect sense. To stay grounded and not take ourselves too seriously makes immense sense. It gives us the element of flexibility, openness to do our work well which in other words can become too rigid and inflexible, leading to low growth.

The attitude of not taking things too seriously actually helps improve productivity. It can make a serious difference. What it does not mean is that we become flippant - it means we do what we do with the same focus - and more flexibility 


Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Devraj Govindraj - The India Fast Bowler Who Missed out

In an article that he wrote in 1982, Sunil Gavaskar picked a team of all the cricketers in India who were unlucky to have missed out on playing Tests. To open the new ball, he picked Hyderabad's Devraj Govindraj.

"To open the bowling I would have Govindraj of Hyderabad. He had a lovely rhythmic run up and bowled outswingers mainly, but had a very, very nasty bouncer. No less a person than Barry Richards had to take evasive action after having been surprised with the pace with which Govind's bouncer came at him. Govind was also a very useful batsman who sold his wicket dearly and a fielder with a very good throwing arm. He could also use the old ball.' 

One doesn't need to say anymore. 

Sunil Gavaskar and Govindraj - 1971 West Indies tour
 (pic courtesy Govindraj) 

I played one game with Devraj Devendraraj Govindraj around 1985-86. I was an 18 year old playing for Marredpally Cricket Club (MCC). He was in India on a trip from England where he was living then. He was gaunt, slim, did not bowl and stood at mid on and encouraged us as we bowled. I was hoping he would bowl but he didn't. It was an easy game and we won and perhaps celebrated as we always did at the MLJ residence. His old captain ML Jaisimha was leading the MCC side that day so he was quite comfortable with us, a bunch of youngsters.

We knew of course, that he had been part of the 1971 Indian team that went to the West Indies and beat them, Sobers and all, a historic tour that also signaled the emergence of Sunil Gavaskar who scored over 700 runs. Govindraj was the only fast bowler in the squad but did not play a game - the team opted to open the new ball with Abid Ali and part time medium pacer Eknath Solkar. But he did play five side games on that tour and in one game, clean bowled Gary Sobers, a memory he cherishes. He also went to the historic tour of England when India beat England 1-0 but once again didn't get to make his debut despite playing many side games. But there's something to be said of being part of those two historic tours - he probably was a lucky charm. He was part of a fantastic squad from Hyderabad of which 7 were in the Test squad - Pataudi, Jaisimha, Abbas Ali Baig, Jayantilal, Abid Ali, Krishnamurthy, Govind Raj - if I got my facts right. 

The 1971 team with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi
- inset with Gary Sobers and Dennis Lillee (pics - Govindraj)

I met Govindraj again last year when good friend Jagannath Das wanted to interview him for his paper and took me along. We met Govindraj at his cricket coaching camp at Amberpet, filled with a lively and enthusiastic bunch of kids, and he was fully involved in the process. He looked like he was enjoying his life on his terms and spoke candidly about his life and cricket. In one moment that he took the ball and loaded his arm to show the basics of bowling, I instantly knew how devastating his outswinger would have been, his control would have been, with that loading and action. Ah, I'd have loved to see him in full flow. It was fascinating to chat with him and to see his passion about encouraging local talent in the area.


This year, when the MLJ Foundation was launched in March 2021, I decided to get going on my long-pending project on finding more information about MCC and its earlier days. I decided to speak to those who played for MCC in the 60s. Arvind Rao, Govindraj and Santosh Reddy. I messaged Govindraj and asked him if I could interview him on the phone. He was fine with the idea and we finally caught up over phone the other day.

Govindraj recalled that he played for MCC in 62-63 as a fourteen year old who was in awe of ML Jaisimha. 'I would go to watch Jaisimha play all his games, at Osmania, Nizam College etc,' he said. 'I was a huge fan.' When I found that a friend of my uncle's, one Mr Samuel knew the Jaisimhas, I pestered him to take me so I could meet him. We went in Samuel's Fiat car to Marredpally. I remember seeing Jai's Buick parked in the yard. And meeting Jai, I was awestruck, so much so that I took a stone and scratched Jai's number on Samuel's Fiat car. Samuel did not much appreciate that!'

Schools pics - Can see Manohar Sharma, Man Singh, Habib Khan, Sultan Saleem (I think), 

He was a schoolboy then, studying at Keshav Memorial, primarily a batsman who bowled a bit of off spin . Once Jai saw him bat at Gymkhana grounds and asked him to play for MCC and that began a long relationship - one in which Jai saw serious potential in Govindraj and backed him to the hilt. Also a school boy cricketer, Govindraj scored a hundred against Jai's team, Secunderabad XI, in the Zonals or what was called the local Moin Ud Dowla tournament then.

14 year old Govindraj scoring a hundred against Secunderabad XI 


'I initially played for SUCC in the A division league and without knowing the rules played for Gagan Mahal CC the same year and was suspended because we cannot play for two teams in the same year,' he said. 'Then I played for MCC as a fourteen year old and we won the league championship and beat top teams. That year I played Hyderabad Schools, South Zone schools, Under 25 and scored runs and took wickets. In 1964, when I was 16, I made my Ranji Trophy debut for Hyderabad against Madras at the Railway ground. Jai was my captain.' 
With West Indian wicket keeper Gerry Alexander

'Jai was a beautiful batsman,' he reminisced. 'His square cut was a delight to watch and he was aggressive, playing lofted shots once he settled in. I remember him and Budhi Kunderan getting 99 before lunch against England at the Madras Test. I went to watch that match - and stayed at Telugu movie villain Prabhakara Reddy's house. I was so happy to be there.'

The MCC team of those days comprised of Jai, Govindraj, Lakshman (leg spinner), Bobjee, Arvind Rao, Santosh Reddy, Muddaiah (who also played a couple of tests). Visiting Test cricketers like Hanumanth Singh, Balu Gupte, who would come for training with the SBI Training Centre, played a few games for MCC as did Prasanna. And Pataudi of course. 'When Pataudi threw the ball, Jai would ask two fielders to back the wicket keeper, that's how fast the throw would come.'

'It was a 40 over league,' said Govindraj. 'If we won outright i.e get a good score and then bowl them out twice we got 10 points, else 5. We won many outright games and topped the table.'

'I used to swing the ball a lot,' said Govindraj. ' And I'd bowl off a crooked run up. From off spin to fast bowling I transitioned mainly because of Roy Gilchrist, the West Indian fast bowler who was the South Zone coach. He asked me what I do best and I said I bat and bowl. He told me to bat and took his full run up which was scary. But even after he released the ball slowly, it went past before I could bring my bat down. Don't lift it so high he would say. Then he saw me bowl and encouraged me to bowl fast.'

A couple of years later Ken Barrington, who came to coach at Fateh Maidan saw Govindraj at the nets and predicted that he would play for India in two years. He did.

'I had no coaching,' said Govindraj. 'Fully self-taught. I started with 10-12 steps then 14 and finally at 16 steps run up I found my rhythm. I don't know how, but I used to swing the ball a lot and get all my wickets caught in slips or bowled. Against a Sri Lankan team, their first eleven, I got 11 wickets, six in the first and five in the second with scalps like Tennekoon, Mendis - they were getting bowled round their legs, so much was the ball swinging.'

Govindraj was picked for the Indian camp of 30 probables before the 1967 tour of Australia and though he appeared to be a certainty, he was dropped and Umesh Kulkarni and Ramakanth Desai were picked. That was the same tour that Jai was picked for after being dropped initially and called as a replacement and he scored a hundred after he landed in Australia. 

'I remember bowling to Jai at the SBI nets from 2-6 pm everyday before he left for that tour,' he said. 'I also remember that I would get the best of batsmen bowled at nets - Umrigar, Manjrekar   - but I could never get Jai bowled ever.'

Govindraj remembers Jai as someone who was very serious about cricket. 'He was very punctual and would practice morning and evening. All discussions would be centred around cricket - win or lose. We would discuss strategy, technique, and would conduct post mortems of each game. It was a lovely time.'

With SMG

Jaisimha, Pataudi and Abbas Ali Baig were the poster boys, stylish, good looking, cultured. Pataudi was Oxford and Abbas from Cambridge. 'People would flock to watch them when they stepped out to field,' said Govindrjj. 'It was a sight. Upturned collar, scarf around his neck, that walk of his.'

Govindraj played continuously for about ten years for Hyderabad and South Zone from 1964. In 1971 he was picked for the West Indies tour and did not get a game. He went to England in 1971 and then his shoulder injury ended his career  pretty much. In 1979 he left for England and settled down there. Interestingly he chose to drive buses, and loved the job. 'I never enjoyed any job more than driving the bus.'

Such joy, such comfort in his own choices and beliefs, such dignity in what life offers - a lovely insight into his personality. Do what your heart tells you to do and enjoy it without worrying about the rest of the world. Beautiful.


A Cricketing Family

I knew that his family was one where there were many cricketers. I had heard stories of his younger brother Inder Raj who people say was one of the most exciting batsman ever with an array of strokes that he played fearlessly, hooking fast bowlers off his nose. He played for Indian school boys and made two appearances in first class cricket - one for Hyderabad and one for Tamil Nadu. Three other brothers played for Hyderabad schools. I asked Govindraj how this came about.

'My father Devendraraj was very interested in cricket,' said he. 'He had a league cricket team called the Deccan Recreation Club which he started in 1936. He was an Accounts Officer at the AG's office and rose to the rank of Assistant Accountant General by the time he retired. He would wake up and go to the temple every day at 5 am and wake us up at 6 am to go for our cricket practice. He would put a Hanuman bottu for all of us every day. We would cycle to Fateh Maidan and when it rained we would go to Gymkhana. Of course we would play a lot at home, with a water drum as our wicket.' 

The Deccan Recreation Club - 1936 owned by Govindraj's father Devendraraj, a cricket enthusiast

Five brothers from that family played state level cricket which is a rarity. Govindraj was the second brother (the first was Rajenderraj who did not play much cricket), then a sister and then he, followed by Inder Raj, Chander Raj, Narender Raj and Gour Mohan Raj. The last three played Hyderabad schools.

Sitting - Inderraj, Govindraj, their mother, Rajendraraj
Standing - Chandramohanraj, Chanderaj and Narenderraj

'But Inder was incredibly talented,' said Govind Raj. 'He was a left hander in the Sehwag mould, only more exciting. He would challenge me when I was at my peak that he would thrash me and I remember a game in Nizam College when he hit me for four or five boundaries in an over. We couldn't stop him and when my skipper wanted to take me off I asked him for one more over - I wanted to hit him. I hit him on the head and he got a bad injury which needed 6 stitches. He was 76 not out then, came back with his stitches and got his hundred. Sadly he wasted his talent.'

SMG at Govindraj's home in England - with wife and son 

'Father was a huge cricket enthusiast,' said Govind. 'He would call me in England after he retired, almost every twenty minutes to update me on the games. He would tell me of Gavaskar's exploits and I would tell him - if he passes 20, he will get a hundred.' 

Govind fondly remembered young Sunny on his first tour to the West Indies and how he suffered an infected nail. 'He was in agony,' said Govindraj. 'I had the same problem just before, so I advised him to treat it with lime. It worked. He missed the first Test though because of that nail.'

It was lovely talking to him of the times gone by. I asked him about any colourful stories he heard of and he laughed and said there were many but they were best kept secret. There was so much more to ask and share and I told him I would call again to pick some more stories. I told him about Gavaskar's speech at the Foundation's Memorial lecture and he asked me for the link and for Arvind Rao's number. I sent him both. He promised to send me some pics and did. I propose to catch up with him again and fill in some more details. 

Lovely talking to you Govindraj Saab. Catch you soon.



Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Without Remorse - Movie

 2021. After 20 years of development, this movie loosely based on Tom Clancy's novel of the same name  finally sees the light of the day. A Navy SEAL gets back at a Russian gang that kills his mates and his wife. But it's not as simple as that.

Fast paced action and you don't realise how time flew. No wonder we loved action movies when we were young. Should watch more.


Wonder Woman - Movie

 2017. Based on the DC comic character, we have wonder woman Diana,who is brought up on an all woman island filled with Amazons trained to fight, and whose mission is to save the world from Ares the god of war. Only, its the second world war and Ares has many faces. Watched it with Anjali so its always fun.

Monday, May 17, 2021

Karnan - Movie

 2021. Mari Selvaraj. Based on the 1995  Kodiankulam incident when 600 policemen raided the all Dalit village of 257 households which were getting educated and prospering thanks  to their children working abroad. In retaliation of their assertion and based on provocation of upper caste officials, the police, in a raid that lasted 5 hours destroyed all material property, sole cash, gold worth lakhs of rupees, burned documents, harassed women, assaulted elders. A one man commission found no evidence of police excess.

Karnan is loosely based on this incident. I love the way the Tamil directors make these movies based on real life incidents.


Golmaal - Movie

 1979. Hrishikesh Mukherjee. Watched it with Anjali - and I like the way she enjoys the humour. We had a ball watching this old hit with Amol Palekar, Bindiya Goswami and the incomparable Utpal Dutt. Can watch it again and again.


Canteen Fundas - Stay Present and Stay Healthy

 Stay present and don't fight imaginary demons!

E-Canteen Fundas: Here's how to stay in the present and not imagine situations you can't handle

Pro Tip: Stay in the present. Don’t imagine situations you can’t handle. Cut out scary news and take the rest as it comes

I feel this heaviness in me these days,’ said Rinku. ‘Don’t feel like doing anything.’

‘We all feel it, Rinku,’ said Rakesh. ‘It’s fear. We hear about the COVID situation outside and don’t know how to cope with it. It paralyses us.’

‘We’re staying home, no?’ said Rahul. ‘Why this heaviness then?’

‘There are three levels of fear,’ said Rakesh. ‘This is Level Three fear, where we feel we cannot handle things and that makes us feel heavy. We imagine the worst and feel helpless about it.’

‘How do we deal with it, bhaiyya?’ asked Rinku.

‘First, stop terrorising yourself by imagining extreme situations,’ said Rakesh. ‘Trust your capabilities to handle whatever comes. Don’t worry about situations that haven’t arrived. Like they say, worrying is like wishing for things you don’t want.’

‘But how do we stop worrying, bhaiyya?’ asked Rinku. ‘We hear so many dreadful stories around us.’

‘Use the Circle of Control concept,’ said Rakesh. ‘You see, there are things we can control, things we can influence and things we’re concerned about. Things we control are those we have direct control over, things we influence are those we have indirect control over and things that concern us are things we have little control over. This could help.’

‘I’ll stay with things I can control,’ said Rahul. ‘Build my immunity, stay hydrated, exercise, stay home, mask up and wash hands. Also, control what I consume like news and who I interact with.’

‘And in the circle of influence, we can influence others,’ said Rinku. ‘Behaving responsibly, keeping others in our circle of influence in a good space, helping wherever possible, not sharing morbid, fearful and alarmist information.’

‘And keep off the circle of concern for now,’ said Rakesh. ‘The more time we spend on things out of our control, the more helpless we feel. Stay away from things you can’t control like distant news and fearful predictions. Make the best of what’s in your power, surrender to what you can’t control and take it as it comes.’

‘But, bhaiyya,’ said Rahul. ‘We can’t cut out all information.

‘True,’ said Rakesh. ‘We’ve to face our fears to overcome it. But let’s face it only when it is real. Until then, build capability, join like-minded groups and do breathing practices. Stay in the present and process the fear rationally. Choose what’s light — people and content — what makes you laugh.’

‘Thanks, bhaiyya,’said Rahul. ‘I’ll stay in the present and take it as it comes.’

Pro Tip: Stay in the present. Don’t imagine situations you can’t handle. Cut out scary news and take the rest as it comes.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Anjali - Akela and Zindagi and Serious Drama

 Akela now feels very much at home and wags its tail and even comes looking for Anjali when it is hungry etc. The four pups have also now become more mobile and are able to wobble about in the yard. Yesterday I found that they had all moved closer to the tap next to my window and are yelping away. Anjali spent a lot of time with them, petting Akela, taking pictures, feeding them. She came to me and told me - 'Be careful when you take the car out Nanna. The pups are sleeping under the car.'

This morning when I was heading out for my run I heard Akela barking and running out form under the car. Then she saw me and though i don't pet her or feed her or show any signs of affection, she seemed to sense that I was her friend Anjali's dad and wagged her tail most vigorously, in a way that could only be seen as someone who was most pleased to see me. I shook my head and went out when I found Akela trotting out with one of the pups latching on to her, trying to feed. It made such a pretty sight that I stopped and took a picture. A couple of steps later I stopped to switch on the talk I wanted to listen to when I heard a high pitched yelp.

Followed by the sound of ferocious barking and growling, like two adult dogs fighting. I turned to see a big dog running away, being chased by the much smaller Akela who was furious. And then Akela returned to the bigger concern, her pup (I later found that it was Zindagi - Anjali tells me). The pup probably  had been bitten or was in some distress and the way Akela let out a loud helpless wail, and circled near the car, in the throes of what only a mother can feel, curdled my blood. And then, she remembered that her injured baby needed her and crawled under the car urgently.

Every bit was as human as any - or even more so - because she did not try to hide her emotion as humans do. I left with a heavy heart hoping all was OK. 

An hour later I was back from my run and I looked over the wall to see where Akela and her pups normally rest. None. I looked near the tap - no sign. I wondered what happened. Most likely Akela shifted her pups someplace. I walked in and found Anjali and told her of the development. She looked around and searched for the dog and her pups. She found none. Then she searched in all the places near our home.

Half an hour later she returned dejected. No sign.

Twenty minutes later I saw Akela near the gate. My heart leaped and I yelled out to Anjali. She ran out and petted Akela. The pups were still missing and Anjali followed Akela around. Ten minutes later she came back triumphantly - all four pups were back. She examined them and though Zindagi looked roughed up, she had no injuries. They were all hiding under a car.

I heaved a huge sign of relief. But then that's how life is, you never know. All we can be is grateful and aware of the grace that seems to guide us through.     

Friday, May 14, 2021

Short Animation Video on the Pandemic by Anjali Yadav , NIFT, Hyderabad - Lovely

 And here's a lovely short animation video on the pandemic - ending in a ray of hope. Well done Anjali.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Interesting Article - 25 Genius Quotes

 Liked this that KP Nukala shared

Minari - Movie

 2020. Oscar nominated movie about a family of Korean immigrants trying to make a good life in the USA. Their struggles, their growth, learning and the intense look at what life is about really - living - as shown by the grandmother (who incidentally plants the Minari plants). Very watchable.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Aadupambe - Wonderful Performance by the AVAR Team

Pooja, Sruthi, Aashika Shanmugan, Krishna Suresh, Shilpa and Dhanusree Dhanraj form AVAR, a performing arts ensemble dedicated to presenting new experimental dance productions in the genre of classical, semi-classical and contemporary dancing styles. The dance company is founded by a group of post graduate performers from the University of Hyderabad.

The ensemble works towards contributing to the cultural aroma of Indian dancing styles, collaborating and commissioning with major music productions through dance covers and jams. AVAR, (which means a layer of fallen dry leaves on the ground) targets the  presentation of these performances to diverse audiences including those who are not well versed in Indian Classical Dances through their YouTube channel, which is been followed extensively by the dancing community of Kerala.

Pooja, Shilpa, Sruthi, Aashika  and Krishna were my students from University of Hyderabad and they informed me of this production. I loved it. Watch.

I will also give a link to their previous production. Equally pleasing to watch. This one is shot outdoors at Chavakkad beach, near Thrissur.

Very well done AVAR. Looking forward for more.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team - Patrick Lencioni

 Patrick writes it like a fable - a Silicon Valley startup which is not doing as well as it should brings in a new CEO to change things around - a 57 year old ex-teacher Kathryn. She knows little about the Silicon Valley culture or technology but knows enough about teams and how they work. So she takes the lot into an off-site and works on building a team.

The five dysfunctions of a team are 

1) absence of trust (caused by invulnerability)
2) Fear of Conflict (caused by artificial harmony - a factor of absence of trust)
3) lack of commitment (caused by ambiguity)
4) avoidance of accountability (shown through low standards) and
5) Inattention to results (caused by putting status and ego ahead of team goals).

A good team or a functional team would on the other hand display 

  • Trust
  • Engage in healthy conflict to bring best ideas 
  • Commit to goals
  • Hold each other accountable
  • Collaborate to achieve results

 Patrick goes through the book giving suggestions and scenarios on how things break down and how they can rebuilt. Kathryn builds trust, a sense of collective purpose, removes the bad apples and saves the good ones.

At the end of the book he gives some exercises for each dysfunction
1) To build trust - Personal Histories Exercise (share your stories), Team Effectiveness Exercise (each member shares how the others have contributed to the team and also a point about what they can improve on to make it better), Myers-Briggs Instrument, 360 degree feedback, Experiential team games.

As a leader has to facilitate an environment that does not punish vulnerability.

2) Engage in Conflict - Mining exercise (to mine points that have been hidden and not debated)

3) To improve Commitment - Cascading Messaging, Deadlines

4) To Improve Accountability - Make it public, Periodic Progress reviews, Rewards

5) To Improve Focus on Results - Public declaration of results, Result-based rewards

 Interesting book and certainly useful to build teams. Lots of practical information at the end. Thanks Chandra for recommending.

Anjali - Akela and Zor, Zingadi, Kroor and Sona

 And here's the lot. Anjali came up with names for the four pups and I like the names too - Kroor, Zor, Zindagi and Sona. Some pics of the young uns.

And life goes on in the lockdown!

Let Me Lie - Clare Macintosh

 Clare Macintosh is an ex-police officer and now a best selling crime novel author whose books have been translated into more than 35 languages. Her's is an extraordinary story. Having begun with her award winning first novel in 2014, she has already written 8 books.

'Let Me Lie' begins with a young mother grieving on the first death anniversary of her mother, who committed suicide one year after her husband died, in identical fashion - both jumping off a cliff into the sea at high tide with a bag of stones tied to their feet. It's a messy affair and Clare introduces more and more messy characters - the daughter Anna and her partner, her friend, an uncle, a cop who is out of service. Interesting twists with a major one right at the end but I felt it could have been a hundred pages shorter. 

Read a crime novel after a long time. Nice.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Joseph - Movie

 2018. Malayalam. A cop, an alcoholic with a past, finds his ex-wife killed in an accident. He feels it is not an accident and investigates and finds out a sinister gang at play which may have been behind the death of his daughter as well. The investigation could consume him as well.

Slow, but well made.

Kadambari - Movie

 2015. Bengali. Based on the life of Kadambari Devi (1858-1884), the sister-in-law of Rabindranath Tagore, Kadambari begins with her untimely death. She was two years older to Rabindranath and was instrumental in shaping his early forays into poetry with her feedback and insights. Rabindranath was close to her and was devastated by her death. She was his inspiration for many of his poems.

Nicely done.


Monday, May 10, 2021

Anjali - Akela and Her Pups

 So this stray that laid a litter in our compound now feels at home. Anjali has been feeding her and her four little pups for over three weeks now. Now, they seem to have become friends.

Anjali is thrilled that the mother has allowed her to touch her, or is ok with Anjali going near the pups. Anjali does it very intuitively, which is a wonderful thing and now she feeds them all. She has named the mother Akela, after the 'Jungle Book'' wolf character.

The pups don't have names yet. Now they are venturing out on their unsteady legs and wobble around a little further than where they earlier were. They squeak and squeal and no they are making all this noise next to my window. 

The other day there was major drama when the GHMC dog pound guys came to catch strays. Akela was being fed by Anjali at exactly the same moment and it ran off when it sensed danger. It's amazing how they hear the sound of that van and sense it. Anjali was distraught when Akela went missing for a long time. She called Niveditha aunty and she told her to wait till next morning for Akela to come back. 

We worried, I certainly did, all night. I hoped we could have done something to stop them from taking this mother away from her young pups. I was thinking where the dog pound might be, and if we could get it back from there. I could not imagine the pups by themselves without their mom. Anjali was prepping to feed them until they grew up if by chance Akela does not return.

Till late in the night Akela did not return. Images of it being separated from its pups flashed in my mind. It stayed heavy in my heart.

I am sure, on Anjali's head too.

Next morning, I went with a hesitant step towards the corner to see how the pups were, I saw Akela's mouth peeping out from behind the pot and my heart leaped up. Never was I happier to see a stray dog that laid pups in my house. Anjali was still not up but I reported it to Shobhs.

Ah, when Anjali woke up, it was heavenly to see the joy on her face.

Akela was back.

eCanteen Fundas - Saying No Can Save You Time and Energy

 eCanteen Fundas - How Saying No Helps Save Energy

E-Canteen Fundas: Here’s why saying ‘No’ can be good for you

Rinku,’ said Rahul. ‘Sunil wants to come home. I’m not comfortable in these COVID times.’

‘Say no then,’ said Rinku.

‘But he’ll get offended,’ said Rahul. ‘What do I do, bhaiyya?’

‘Let’s first understand why it’s difficult to say no,’ said Rakesh. ‘We’re scared of offending, hurting and losing our equation with others — even if it costs us. It’s a measure of how much we value ourselves and how clear we are about what’s important to us. For clarity, ask yourself this question before saying yes or no – am I doing this to please others or for my good?’

‘Won’t that be seen as being selfish, bhaiyya?’ said Rahul.

‘Taking care of ourselves and conserving our time and energy for our priorities is not being selfish, it’s self-care,’ said Rakesh. ‘If others expect you to give up your priorities for them, they’re being unreasonable.’

‘But bhaiyya, we’ll lose people who are important to us by offending them, no?’ asked Rinku.

‘If someone gets offended because we said no to honour our priorities, it’s better to risk losing them,’ smiled Rakesh. ‘We need people who value us, what’s important to us. And that, my friends, begins with us. If we don’t value ourselves, no one will.’

‘What do you mean, bhaiyya?’ asked Rinku.

‘It’s true,’ said Rakesh. ‘Others value us only as much as we value ourselves. We must be clear about what’s important to us and what’s not and stand by it. If we’re not, we think we’re buying peace in our relationships by making ourselves less than we are to please people who don’t value us anyway.’

‘What then?’ asked Rinku.

‘Don’t be afraid of saying no and setting clear boundaries,’ said Rakesh. ‘Value yourself as you are. If some people get offended and leave, don’t worry. When you value yourself, you’ll always have people who value you for who you are.’

‘Can we say no without hurting anyone?’ asked Rahul.

‘Of course,’ said Rakesh. ‘Be polite, but firm. But don’t feel guilty and apologetic. Take responsibility for your no. You’re not making others wrong, you’re honouring yourself. People may feel rejected but if you thank them for asking and gently but firmly refuse, they’ll understand. Like everything else, saying no needs some practice, but when you start doing it, you change your relationship with yourself and with others in a healthy, growth-oriented manner.’

‘Thanks, bhaiyya,’ said Rahul. ‘I’ll start saying no to things that don’t honour me.’

Pro Tip: Saying no saves you time and energy and reduces unnecessary stress and needless complications

Tarun Chauhan on Éditorial with Sujit Nair - What Makes a Good Leader?

Tarun is an old friend and a successful advertising professional who is now a management consultant. He has refreshing views on many topics and here he is talking about leadership. This talk has some really interesting perspectives. 

Nicely done Tarun. One of the better ones I have heard on leadership.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

When Harry Met Sally - Movie

 Revisiting old classics and it was fun watching Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan in the 1989 classic. Wonderful. Razor sharp.

Landline - Movie

 A slightly messed up family - cheating father, domineering mother, cheating daughter and drug addict daughter - and how they all come together.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Shatranj Ke Khilari - Movie

 1977. Satyajit Ray. Amjad Ali Khan, Sanjeev Kumar, Saeed Jaffrey, Shabana Azmi, Farooque Shaikh.

Its 1856 and The Nawab of Awadh Wajid Ali Shah is being dethroned by the British on a flimsy excuse. The decay that had set into the system is evident in two noblemen who are addicted to chess to the extent of ignoring their wives and families. When such things happen, outsiders usurp your possessions. Based on a Premchand story.

Finally crossed this off my list.