Friday, February 25, 2022

Canteen Fundas - Conversations with Sagar on Goal Setting

 How the Correct Goal Can Drive Action

Goal setting basics, SMART goals, How good goals drive action and lead to preparation

Canteen Fundas - Conversations with Sagar How to be an Expert and the 10000 Hours Rule

 How to be an Expert - The 10000 Hours Theory

How to be an expert, Dr Anders Ericsson’s 10000 hour theory, Deliberate Practice vs Normal Practice.

Canteen Fundas - Conversations with Sagar - How to Learn Anything in 20 Hours (and Address Weak Areas)

Gaining Competence Quickly - How to Learn Anything in 20 Hours
Josh Kaufman's TED Talk

Learning strategies that work, Addressing areas we are not confident about, Josh Kaufman’s theory of ‘How to Learn Anything in 20 hours’

Canteen Fundas - Conversations with Sagar on How to Do Great, Inspired Work

 How to do great inspired work - Start with Why

Finding deep and lasting connection with work, Simon Sinek’s golden circle of What, How and Why, Why we should always start with ‘why’, then ‘how’ and ‘what’

Canteen Fundas - Conversations with Sagar on Learning Mindset and Achieving Potential

Growth and Learning Approaches - Achieving Potential

 Learning Mindset, Growth Mindset, The way to reach one’s potential, Dr Carol Dweck’s theory of learning to achieving one’s full potential

Sagar and I (with help from Shobha and Pallavi)

Canteen Fundas - YouTube Channel and Conversations with Sagar (Being Secure and Being Confident)

 A huge thanks to Sagar for initiating and holding my hand through the project of creating a YouTube channel where we can discuss the main points that we discuss on the Canteen Fundas column. Sagar has more faith in that stuff than even I have and he spent hours and hours fine tuning the concept and shooting etc. And not to forget the help Pallavi gave, Shobhs gave and supported by Anajli and Abhinay.

I'll keep posting them as they come but we have some six right now.

Being Yourself - Being Confident

Accepting insecurities, Being OK to say ‘I Don’t Know’, Asking for help, Being yourself as you are

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Fallen Flowers and Leaves

 Some more

If You Love Someone...- Harimohan Paruvu

 It's so long since it got published and while writing a synopsis for the book I realised I had forgotten some parts of it. So I reread it and found that I now had enough distance to appreciate the good parts and the sincerity of effort form my side. After an initial phase where I felt a  tad embarrassed, i felt it flew nicely. The characters were honest and I could still feel what I felt when I wrote it in 2010.

The story is about two youngsters with completely contrasting backgrounds ideologies, goals and aspirations, who meet as passionate and idealistic collegians in the 1970s in Bombay and are deeply attracted to one another. But they have their issues and their goals and aspirations and decide to preserve what they share instead of destroying it; kind of using it to fuel them on in their life than to let it drag them down. Its an unconventional decision and they decide to meet again after thirty years on her 50th birthday. The story is about how they meet, what they share and whether they are able to honour their promise and meet on her 50th birthday. 

Here's the latest synopsis I wrote. 


A young boy and girl with contrasting lives and goals, meet at a college festival in the 1970s, find the perfect connection, fall in love, but decide to part and preserve the beauty of what they share forever. They promise to meet after thirty years. Why they made that unusual decision, what happens to them in these three decades and whether they find the beauty of their old relationship in the end is what the story is about.


It’s 2005. Mumbai. Isha, daughter of Meghna and Pankaj Mathur, has just got married to her childhood sweetheart in a grand wedding. After a hectic week of handling guests and arrangements Meghna wakes up to a household that’s asleep. She is enjoying a quiet moment for herself when she sees a date circled on the calendar. Her 50th birthday is coming up next week and it reminds her of a promise she had made thirty years ago to meet someone on that day. She wonders if she should go. But when her son Siddanth makes plans to celebrate her birthday with the family, Meghna refuses saying she promised to meet an old friend in Goa that day and will not be available. The family is curious.  Decision made, Meghna is ready to visit her past and find some answers.

1975 in Bombay. A nineteen year old happy go lucky, carefree, collegian from the Railway Colony in Dadar, Meghna Rao, wants to make it on her own and be a successful executive in a PR and advertising firm, an unconventional choice in those times. Her friends, Kalpana, Reena and Maria, and her family have limited aspirations, as most middle class families had then. But Meghna has built the perfect resume, filled with academic and extra-curricular achievements, and balances her academic excellence with mischief– treks, movies, escapades and Inter Collegiate competitions.

At an Inter Collegiate festival at St Joseph’s College, Meghna participates in the debate competition on the merits of capitalism and communism. Out of nowhere, a long haired, slim, competitor appears at the end and rebuts her arguments for a capitalistic society with well-articulated, strong views on social justice and equal opportunity. She is taken aback at his arrogant demeanour. But after the contest he comes to her, talks politely, lights a cigarette on stage caring two hoots for the audience and judges and leaves before the winner is announced. Meghna wins, looks for her opponent and finds him acknowledging her victory. When she looks again, he’s not there.

Meghna’s friends tease her about him. Aditya is from a well known boy’s college St Peter’s, a loner, the only son of a rich father, who lost his mother early in his life. He and his father do not get along. He’s an enigma – arrogant and rude - and no one can get close to him. Meghna defends him against her friends’ accusations that he is a fake socialist.

Six months later, in an Inter Collegiate festival in Goa Meghna meets Aditya again. They talk easily before he invites her to explore Goa with him. She agrees and the two disappear into a world of their own discussing everything under the sun – food, books, movies, their lives. Meghna reveals her deepest thoughts to Aditya, drawn to his vulnerable and honest eyes. Aditya sees a rare strength and understanding, a connection he had never felt before. Despite the stark contrast of their lives and goals, they are alike at the core.

One day stretches to two. They both acknowledge that they are soul mates. On the eve of their departure, they’re walking a moonlit beach at midnight. The moment is ripe and the silence growing. While Aditya is finding the right words to say, Meghna waits, with a ‘yes’ on her lips. Aditya says  – “Meghna, we should stop here before I destroy this beautiful thing we share.” Meghna cannot believe what she has heard. But we’re perfect together she says, what we share is rare. Aditya tells her he is not the person that he is with her; he is difficult and complex and knows he will end up destroying their perfect relationship. To keep this rare relationship they share forever, he suggests they get on with their lives, finding strength in the memory of their beautiful relationship. That way they can sustain their relationship and there is hope to meet again – else they will lose everything. Meghna looks into his eyes and knows he knows exactly what he was talking about. She tells him its her 20th birthday. They celebrate.

Before parting the next afternoon she asks when they would meet again. On your 50th birthday he promises, at this same place, enough time to fulfil their dreams – she to become a high ranking executive and he fighting for causes he believes in/becoming a painter. That’s it, she asks as she is about to board the bus. No letters, no meetings if I want to meet? But I’m always with you – all you have to do is look at the sun.Always.  They part with mixed feelings, and a vague, youthful hope.

Back in Bombay Meghna joins the top PR agency in Bombay, O’Reilly, works hard and makes her mark. Her good work earns her a chance to go abroad to the US on a foreign assignment, where she meets her charming colleague Pankaj, who woos her and proposes to her. Lonely and homesick, and falling for Pankaj’s charm, Meghna agrees and they marry.

Meanwhile, Aditya has left his father to live with a painter who paints film posters in Dharavi. His father dies eventually, leaving a fortune to his only son. But Aditya leaves everything to a Trust and moves to Kerala with his friend, teaching in a local school and painting. His paintings make him famous but he remains reclusive.

1985. Five years into their marriage, Pankaj’s father dies and Pankaj is caught in a bitter power struggle with his greedy uncle who wants to wrest control of the company. When she talks to her mother-in-law, Meghna realises Pankaj is losing the battle to the wily uncle and makes the difficult choice of sacrificing her career to help her husband. Meghna slowly settles with the uncle and turns the company around slowly but surely. Insecure and jealous of her popularity in the company, Pankaj clips her powers in a petty manner and an upset Meghna leaves the company vowing never to set foot in it again. She cannot get over the fact that Pankaj could be so petty when she had given up the most precious thing, her career, for him. But now she is pregnant and not in a position to restart her career. She feels stuck and let down.

First a son, Siddhanth, and then a daughter , Isha, in a couple of years, and Meghna’s stuttering career comes to a halt. Sensing her growing frustration, Pankaj’s mother makes amends for her son’s stupidity, and makes Meghna Chairperson of a large Foundation for Arts. Meghna realises that though she has all the trappings of a good life, this is exactly what she did not want to end up as. She feels no one understands her. She wonders what Aditya is up to.

In Kerala Aditya’s friend finds a child at his doorstep – his son. The mother died of HIV and the boy is HIV positive too. When the painter abandons the child Aditya adopts the kid who reminds him of himself. But the child remains closed to Aditya’s love.

1990, 15 years since Goa. 35 year old Meghna makes enquiries, finds that Aditya is an artist, sponsors an Art exhibition and invites Aditya anonymously. They narrowly miss meeting each other at the exhibition but their eyes meet, just like at the first debate, and they know that what they share exists.

When Meghna meets her friends, she finds them independent, self-made women in charge of their lives, leading the kind of life she wanted to lead. When she goes as chief guest to a college function Meghna meets a young girl who speaks exactly like she had when she was in college. She wishes she could be like that again. She revisits her albums, her diaries and wonders what had happened to her. Her frustration grows and she cannot share her angst with anyone, about the potential she has lost. It seems hopeless. She wants to meet Aditya. That’s when she finds out that his son had died and that he had stopped painting. She would like to be there for him but he is nowhere to be found.

2005. It’s 30 years since Goa. Pankaj has drifted away and found new distractions in drink and other vices. The children are grown up and married. Meghna realises that she has nothing to look forward to in life and panics. She remembers the promise to Aditya, a final chance to find her old self. Maybe even restart her life and live it instead of dying meaninglessly every day. She decides to go to Goa knowing that things at home may never be the same again. But her mind is made up – between a purposeless life and a distant chance to find her old self, it is the latter she wants. When Pankaj asks her if she will return she says she does not know. He puts his men to trail her secretly. Meghna sets out, not knowing if Aditya is alive, whether he would come and if they can find what they shared thirty years ago.

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Meeting Subbu

 Subbu alias Subba Rao Vdlamani is the quintessential fun guy who was full of life and beans, mischief and stuff. He was a left arm spinner and hard hitting middle order batsman from HPS Ramanthapur and was ahead of Venkatapathi Raju in the race to be Hyderabad's premier left arm spin option. But he lost his way after the 15 and 19 age groups.  Though I knew him before it was only at the OUCE that we became close pals playing a lot of league cricket together, being classmates, having parties, dating girls etc.

Blurry - like our memories and also because we were laughing at where to look

Subbu was the only one who was clear enough he wanted to go abroad. We would hang out at his house which was close by to the college and spent much time together. Memories of Subbu then:

1) His century in the semi finals of the Inter Collegiate

2) His smile and infectious energy

3) The fizz he got on the ball, a really tough customer with the ball

4) His unadulterated zest for life

5) His charm with women, men, to get anything he wants

6) His clarity

7) His easy affection with people - just slides into your world from being completely out of it

8) His capacity to rev up the energy in the party with his laughter and energy

9) Us buying some cassettes together in Shankar Mutt (Billboard hits)

10) His great love for Paul Young's 'Every time you go away'

11) Him getting his tape recorder to the class trip at Nagarjuna Sagar and we walking along playing Beatles 'Paperback Writer'

12) Catches he would pick up at gully

13) Catch he took off Vivek Jaisimha's pull at mid wicket off my bowling

14) Him leaving us all and hitchhiking back to Hyderabad from Suryapet because he had a date 

15) Me gifting him my new leather belt as a gift when he left to the US

16) He gifting me several cassettes he bought back form the US - taped Billboard top 100s

 17) Him calling me from random numbers in the US during his college days there

18) Him stealing kisses with ease in Calicut 

19) Us beating a strong Electrical in the TT inter faculty final - Subbu playing out of his skin to win his match against a tough opponent

20) Me and Shobhs going all the way to Jangaon to deliver a bouquet to his fiancee Indira on a Kinetic - only Subbu can convince you to do stuff like that

Now in the US he keeps coming every few years and I caught up with him after three or four years. 

And also met his mom who looked just like she did 30 years ago. Subbu was the perfect host - fed me the best upma I have had in a long time - apparently he had cooked it himself. Very impressive. More on Subbu soon and our capers on the field and off it!

Canteen Fundas - Resolving Conflict Like a Leader

 Energy management and how to resolve conflict by taking the leadership position!

E-Canteen Fundas: Conflicts leaving the team in knots? Here's how you can untangle it all amicably

Conflict happens when both parties believe they’re right. To resolve conflict, take the leader’s position and rise above the situation. Change your energy first!

Learn how to resolve conflicts | (Pic: Edexlive)

‘Our group’s Vice-Captain Sanjana and I are having major problems,’ said Rinku. ‘It’s affecting the group’s energy.’

‘Yes,’ said Rahul. ‘Even I can see from the outside that everything is stuck.’

‘What exactly is happening?’ asked Rakesh.

‘Sanjana is not cooperating,’ said Rinku. ‘She opposes my point with no rationale, without listening. It’s almost like she has an agenda to mess things up. If it continues like this we may have to remove her from the committee. But she was really good, bhaiyya. I don’t know why she has become so unreasonable suddenly.’ 

‘Rinku,’ said Rakesh. ‘Like we discussed earlier, people management is all about energy management — ours and others’. In fact, other people’s energy changes miraculously when our energy changes — so, in a way, we have the power to manage the energy in the space. Right now, your energies are on different frequencies so you’re stuck.’

‘It’s all her fault,’ said Rinku. ‘I wish she was more reasonable.’

‘Rinku, though you may feel you’re right and that she’s wrong, it’s your job to resolve this issue in the interests of the team,’ said Rakesh. ‘Instead of finding faults with her, rise above this situation. Try to understand why she’s behaving like this — the real dynamic behind what she’s trying to say through her actions. When a child cries you do not punish the child, do you? You understand what she wants and give it that or distract it. So, be a leader and resolve the situation, don’t be another victim who is adding to the mess.’

‘How, bhaiyya?’ asked Rahul.

‘All conflicts happen because two parties believe they are both right – but have been wronged,’ said Rakesh. ‘As a leader, you must understand that everyone has a perspective and they feel strongly about it. When you accept that there are other perspectives and that they could be right too, it changes your energy from being closed to being open.’

‘Hmm, but what if she continues to be stubborn?’ said Rinku.

‘When someone behaves irrationally it means they are in an insecure space,’ said Rakesh. ‘In your case, both of you are insecure and are trying to prove yourself right. As the leader, it’s your job to bring secure energy to the space. Being secure simply means not defending or proving your perspective. Instead, be secure about your stand and also, be open to other perspectives. Both can exist.’

‘But how will things change?’ asked Rinku. ‘All I am doing is accepting that she has a perspective. It will change my energy but what about hers?’

‘Rinku, once your energy changes, the energy in the space changes,’ said Rakesh. ‘All you have to do is not judge her and ask her to convey what she wants to. Give her complete space. Listen actively without interrupting. Let her express herself fully, even if it’s just venting. Try to understand her real issue. 
What’s making her insecure?’

‘Like what?’ asked Rahul.

‘Like, maybe she feels she is not being heard in your meetings,’ said Rakesh. ‘Or not being respected, or not feeling good enough. Find out. Only when you give her space to express, make her feel heard and respected will you be able to make her feel secure enough to say what she really feels.’

‘So, we simply listen to whatever she is saying?’ asked Rahul. ‘Even if it’s wrong? And not defend ourselves.’

‘Yes,’ smiled Rakesh. ‘As a leader, listen to her viewpoint without your judgment. Something is bothering her and you must know what it is to resolve it. Most times people say something but mean something else. For instance, when we ask others how they’re feeling, they say ‘Fine’ — when we all know they are not. To get them to speak the truth we must give them space to express themselves fully, listen genuinely and make them feel secure to communicate honestly.’

‘But will she be more rational after that, bhaiyya?’ asked Rinku.

‘You know, it’s like traffic,’ said Rakesh. ‘When you see a space you’re angling for and find there’s another car going for it, we get insecure about losing it and accelerate. It’s a human survival mechanism — to attack or run. When we attack, the other person feels threatened and attacks us back. But on the other hand, if we slow down, the other person slows down too. It’s instinctive, not rational. So make them feel secure, so they don’t feel threatened and there’s no conflict.’

‘Wow! Thanks, bhaiyya,’ said Rinku. ‘It would have been terrible to lose Sanjana. I’ll take the leader’s position here and resolve this.’

Pro Tip: Conflict happens when both parties believe they’re right. To resolve conflict, take the leader’s position and rise above the situation. Change your energy first by accepting that everyone has a perspective that they would like to be heard and respected. Listen actively to their perspective and let them express themselves fully. Once they feel secure, they open up and communication is established again.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Maula Ali - Long Pending Visit

 I have always heard of Maula Ali dargah, seen it from a distance, but never visited it. They say that the place has to call or rather you have to be ready for it and i guess I finally was and took off early today. Tarnaka, Lalapet and onwards. A lovely bridge which was not there overlooking some government properties with lots of trees (please don't see them for God's sake). And then onward to Maula Ali.

From the parking


The dargah was built by the Qutb Shahi rulers (which means it must have been between 1512-1600 AD) on top of a fascinating hill, and is dedicated to Ali. On the hillock opposite you find two rauzas, one of which is supposed to have relics of the prophet. Though it's built by Shias, people from all faiths visit the dargah. There's a Urs-e-Shareef that goes on for a month and has been on for the last few days. Apparently tomorrow i.e.18, 19 and 20, people can into the inner shrine.

Steps - 484

The car goes half way. There were not many people, owing perhaps to the early time. I parked- no parking fee and attendant. Then I walked up the steps - some 484 steps they say. The hillock has several small structures - as steps go up to the dargah, steps also go down to the bottom of the hilloc form where one can climb to the rauzas on the other hillocks. 


There are toilets, that looked clean. One huge project of building a road around the hilock to the top is underway and it will mostly take away the pristine nature of the hill in my opinion. As you climb the hillock we notice some serrated steps carved into the hill side (its soid granite) for those wishing to take a more arduous route perhaps. 

Up on the hillock is an old gateway. It looks pretty old and in bad shape and there seems to be some work going on - whether it is restoration or demolition I could not make out. To the left of this gateway one can see the city stretching to the horizon and one also can sit on the round granite hillock to enjoy the view. 

Other hillocks - with rauzas

Further up is another gate and I saw some people sleeping in their blankets. Onwards and the actual dargah comes into view and I went in. I met one Shabbir Mohammad from Lucknow who had come to the Maula Ali Urs.

Classic - thanks to Shabbir

The tea seller form Chandrayanagutta - pic courtesy Shabbir

The gentlemen inside were very polite and courteous and informative and said that one could come back tomorrow and go right in. That the dargah was known to fulfill wishes and that Banjaras come there from far and wide because they have great faith. After many years I saw a lambada family. They were sleeping, cooking etc. I sat outside on the steps enjoying the magnificent view, had some chai prepared by this family who came from Chandrayanagutta - I feel they only come for the Urs. Shabbir  Mohammed insisted on taking a few snaps of mine after he saw me taking pics.

A rare sight - lambadas

After a good one hour I set out, went to the other side where there are steps, and got back to the car. Fully worth it. Go at sunrise or sunset to enjoy the view and if you want to attend the Urs, Go now. 


Please Call Me By My True Names - Thich Naht Hanh

 Hari shared this wonderful poem by Thich Naht Hanh.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Thought for the Day - What to Do When Energy is Stuck

 Happens often. We are with someone and soon find that the energy is stuck. We don't know how to get unstuck and get back again. Most times this leads to further stuckness and worse things follow.

How to get out of being stuck?

The key word is stuck. What do we do when something is stuck. We shake it up right. That's what we need to do. So when we feel that the conversation is stuck we are basically saying that the energy is stuck. We need to get it to flow.

First and easiest way to get the flow going is to break the current stuck thing, physically get up, move about, move things around, get a coffee, take a break - something physical so the energy moves around. Just the physical act of moving energy breaks the stuckness. Now walk, shake, dance, play, eat, whatever. Shake it out.

The second way to get stuckness out is to look at the situation and ask - what's the best that one can do with the situation? With one another? Just zoom out and look at the situation and put the garbage that caused the flow of energy to get stuck aside and say - hey if we put that aside, what can we actually do that is best for both of us? We can have a good time or we can have a lousy time. It's our choice. 

One way is to tell the truth - as it is. When you describe what you feel exactly as you felt - this is what I felt you did to me, and this is how I felt. Absolute honesty, not that sparring game we play. I read somewhere that the best way to get flow back is to be honest - this is what I am feeling now physically - hot, cold, lost - something true that makes you vulnerable. Its how we connect to people. By showing our cracks.

I will write more on the aspect of how honesty and flow are connected - flow is nothing but being fully open, fully adaptable, having no walls. Stuck is having walls, being suspicious, not telling the truth. Clearly flow and honesty are connected just as honesty and vulnerability are connected. 

The best way to get into flow is to smile, find something to laugh at, the situation, ourselves. Make the whole thing light and loose. One way to do that is to look at it closely - or to zoom out and see how insignificant this can be in the universe when so many things are there to enjoy and have fun with.

Change the energy. Dilute it with something honest. Something funny. Something physical. 

Here's to shaking the stuckness with a Drainex called honesty, laughter or just some physical shaking up. 


Thought for the Day - Energy and Judgment

My energy is linked to my judgment. Any form of judgment drains my energy. 

If I want my energy to be clean and pure, I should have no judgment.

When I gain full access to my energy, I am full of curiosity and life. I am forgiving because my energy is not stuck in the past. When my energy is compromised, I am stuck.

Bollywood Calling - Movie

 2001. I cannot believe how different Hyderabad looked even 20 years ago. And I cannot get over the fact that I missed watching this absolute classic from Nagesh. Hilarious movie about the son of a make up man who wants to produce his first film (and ends up directing it). His big strength is that he has the ageing star Mannu Kapoor's dates and ropes in an American actor. There's no script, no order, people are fired left and right and there's absolutely no sense but things get done. Om Puri at Subra,the producer- director, is absolutely fantastic. You should watch the movie again and again just for him. Brilliant.

One can never forget the 'Baaall, baaalls' scene.


Thinkalazhcha Nischayam - Movie

 2021. Malayalam. Set over two days it is about a young girl's engagement against her wishes, patriarchy, the simmering dynamics in a family, all told through such delightful, real characters. Absolute pleasure.

Sagar recommended it and I subscribed to Sony Liv just to watch it. No regrets at all.

Jump Cut - Krishna Shastri Devulapalli

 I revisited Jump Cut after 2013. Krishna magnanimously gifted me both his books (which i owned but which were taken off by someone who liked them looks like). Reading it this time was different - I realised I was different form the person who had read it then. I guess I probably looked at it more from an entertainment angle or rather superficially. This time I think I got more of what Krishna was attempting to say - the story, the message, the plot, the fun - and got more insights into him as a writer and a person.

Jump Cut is a revenge story and he dedicates it to all the people from Chase to Raghavendra Rao who were instrumental in his growing up with such stories. But here, Ray, named after Satyajit, by his film buff, script writer father who always got ripped off for his niceness by crooks in the film industry, decides that justice must be done. His father had not dies of a heart attack but a broken heart and so he ups from the US and gets to Madras and plans an elaborate plan to get the villainous RR and his bunch of cohorts who pass off others original work as their own and never pay them nor even credit them. Ray, with his friend Abie and his wife, and his girl friend Padmini, and the reliable Selva, 'take RR's treasure away from him' - the film industry.

It's different from 'Ice Boys and Bell Bottoms' simply because it is a serious revenge story that rips into the film industry and its ways. Krishna also mentions how the bookie at the race course would rip off his gullible father every weekend. But it is filled with hilarious lines and scenes, fantastic characters you will not forget easily, and once again I found that Krishna practices the light touch, the bittersweet flavour throughout. Once again a real pleasure reading it and I am even more impressed with KSD's control over the craft of storytelling in his own inimitable style.   

Meeting Baig Sir After the Pandemic

 After recovering from his serious illness where he was laid low for a year, Baig sir had to cope with the pandemic. We stayed away from meeting lest we expose him. And it was only recently that Prakash, a die hard fan of Baig sir and one of his best students, invited Baig sir and me to his new home in Rajendra Nagar.

Prakash, Baig sir and me

I went to his house, a lovely little flat with lots of ventilation. The greenery of the Agricultural University will remain and the area retained a nice rural flavour. Prakash's son Manideep told me many things about his desire to become a director (he is seven) and how he sees everything at different angles and how he uses the camera and stuff.

Baig sir came with Mrs Baig and they were in good spirits, MrsBaig especially always has a lovely smile and is full of mischief and laughter, a terrific attitude to life. Baig sir was happy to see me and Prakash, and as usual asked me about the state of cricket, foretold the doom of cricket and asked how we can correct it. I said we cannot, it is flowing like a river and we flow with it.

Watching the IPL auction

He smiled. He has become rather weak but he is able to walk on his own, speak quite coherently. He cannot eat hard stuff and tries to eat soft stuff. We watched the IPL auction for a while before I left - i had come early and had another appointment. As usual he said an enthusiastic bye and I promised to visit him at home soon. Thanks Prakash, was great meeting Baig sir thanks to you.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Uttarayan - Movie

 2004. Marathi.

I love anything that's 20 years older than now. So we watched this movie based on Jaywant Dalvi's novl 'Durgi'. My synopsis - A widower from Nagpur comes to live with his about to get married son in Mumbai, finds that his childhood love is around, recovering from a bad marriage where she was tortured and accused of having an affair with her father in law, and marries her in the end. There, not so bad!

I am loving these movies. In fact I wished these two had just lived together. Got me thinking - how about a couple of oldies who meet at 60 and decide to have fun together - travel, have an affair, try a sexual fantasy! Think about it.

I loved the movie, the feel, the actors, Suhita in all her radiant glory, Shivaji Satam in a nuanced role (I could not understand him in CID). 

Gehraiyaan - Movie

2022. I would have written my two bits if I could have gotten the spelling right. Anyway let me attempt a short line on how the film would have been pitched - a young depressive, bad luck carrying yoga trainer prone to panic attacks lives in with an ex-advertising copywriter who is on a break to write a novel and thereby make a lot of money, meets her rich and naive cousin and her unscrupulous, killer boyfriend, has an affair with him, gets pregnant, leaves live in writer, realises that new boyfriend is planning to bump her off and somehow manages to bump him off instead, and lives happily ever after. The writer marries a new girl and the two cousins (bad luck) attend the wedding. I rooted for the writer to go back to his job. 

Question - does yoga not help with panic attacks and balance of mind?


Saturday, February 12, 2022

Tilaka - Dr Priyabala Shah

This is an academic book about Hindu marks on the forehead and I got it from a most unlikely source - Brother Joseph. He gave it to me and told me it was an interesting book to read and I did.Published by the New Order Book Co, Ahmedabad, in 1985, it covers topics such as Tilaka the sect mark (Sampradaya), religious and spiritual significance of Tilaka, as a class mark, for women, materials to be used, as a beauty mark, as a charm spell, as part of worship, the different colours for Tilaka, Tilaka in scriptures and paintings and in Sanskrit literature and as a custom of tattooing.

There seems to be general agreement that the Tilaka was not form the Vedic age because the general notion seems to be that in those days people could see Gods directly but in the current Kali age we need idols and hence we need Tilaka. It has special marks to differentiate between Vaishnavas, Lakhmiji or Sri (Ramanuja), Seaaji (Madhavacharya), Mahadevji (Vallabhacharya), Sanakadika, Saivas, Saktas, Jainas, Charana Dasis, Satanis (Sudras also employed by Brahmanas to brand outcastes with the disc and conch of Vshnu), Ramanadis, Kabirpanthis, Kararis, Bab Lallis, Ramadasis, Vadagalais (accept Vedas as their own scriptures), Tengalais, Ganapatyas, Swami Narayana...each with their own brands and symbols. Whew!

Who can wear what Tilaka is given. Colours of tilaka correspond with the with the complexion of each varna, which was assumed to convey its general mental qualities - Brahmana (venerable), Kshatriya (merciless), Vaisya (merciful) and Sudra (vain). Different colours, patterns, number of lines for varnas. Women were on par with Sudras - cannot hear or read Vedas (outcastes are not even Sudras as most think - they cannot even think of the Vedas perhaps - they can only vote). Other interesting things are about how women should serve their husbands fully and they will go to heaven if they do all the right things. There was this thing about linga basavis or women of the lingam who bear a sign tattooed on their thighs and how the priests as God's chosen ones can take them as their mistresses and even brand them upon their completing their duties satisfactorily as a certification and wherever they go their wants will be abundantly supplied. How gracious of them!

And some other such interesting stuff. One can only wonder at the way these ideas have been practiced as organised religion and to see how these ideas are still being mischievously used politically. The book is very interesting and the author has presented it as truthfully and dutifully as one can and there is much to learn but then these aberrations in Hindu society come up and one wonders at how mischievous the interpretations have been and how some castes have given themselves greater privileges and some have been kicked down to hell - women and sudras - and below them, the out castes.

But thanks Brother Joseph.   

Friday, February 11, 2022

The Butterfly - Beautiful Even in Death

I was sitting on my chair and noticed this colourful butterfly on the ground. I noticed it was not flying and when I tried to pick it up I realised it was too weak to fly. It was dying, almost dead.

And then one wonders, how beautiful one can be in death. And how the butterfly chooses to share so much beauty even in its death. And how death itself can be beautiful, a cause for celebration.

Colourful butterfly 

RIP butterfly. I will not forget the message you gave me.

A Day at Beauty Green

 So I told Raju and Gowri that they could come along to Beauty Green with Hari, Tenzin and Rohith, for a day out. We could play some table tennis, cricket eat some lunch and return. Koni was ok with the idea and as planned we reached there close to 1 pm.

Tenzin and me

Raju, Gowri and gang reached there half an hour later. 

Tenzin having fun

Hari and Gowri on the swings

We played table tennis for a while and sipped some beer and at 3 or so, ate some fine lunch that Raju and Gowri bought - biryani and stuff. Post lunch we played some cricket. Now Hari is an accomplished cricketer having played varsity cricket in his University days and he picked up a bat after 22 years and guess what - everything was picture perfect. He batted superbly. We all batted a bit, bowled a bit and had fun. 

The monk who played cricket - Hari played varsity cricket 

Koni. Shobhs, Gowri, Raju, Tenzin, me, Rohith and Hari

At 530 or so we took a detour and saw the new Statue of Equality of Ramanuja from some distance and returned home. 

It was 8 by the time we reached home. Day well spent though. 

Ice Boys in Bell Bottoms - Krishna Shastri Devulapalli

 I read Krishna's book for the first time in 2009 or so I guess when I met him and Chitra at the HLF. I found it hilarious and I could easily see that Krishna was one of the funniest voices we have in India - and this was his debut book. But recently I felt like reading it again and Krishna gifted me a copy and I reread it. I fully got the beauty of the book and how evolved he was as a writer even then.

The story is his own - a famous grandfather, a father who drew cartoons, Krishna's childhood in Madras. But the way he wove the story to accomodate a steady stream of amazing characters who push the story forward, while making you laugh at each page, and then winding down a beautiful coming of age account with a bittersweet ending was brilliant. The family, the famous poet grandfather, father, mother, two sisters, the endless stream of wannabe film artistes, the protagonist Gopal's local friends who play Ice Boys (I Spy) with him is one lot. The other is the people around him - the Banka family with their super forward kids and mostly Sachu whose French and fashion sense many try to copy (including Gopal which is where the title gets its second part from - bell bottoms), the neighbour who would have his butt shaved by a barber, Deshbush and Ramki, and their drunken episodes, and finally Vini and Lata and the dance party that goes wrong.

I loved the way he crafted it, made the characters come alive, kept the funny bone alive all through and ended on a poignant, bittersweet note. Take a bow Krishna, brilliant stuff.      

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Canteen Fundas - Use the 3 As to Make Connections

 Use the 3 As - Acknowledge, Appreciate and Ask for help!

E-Canteen Fundas: Want to really connect with your team as a leader? Try the '3 As' formula

To make great and instant connections with people and to maintain good energy in the environment, practice the 3As — ‘Acknowledge’, ‘Appreciate’ and ‘Ask for help’ with people


‘We’ve begun the trust-building process with our team,’ said Rinku. ‘But I realise it takes time.’

‘Yes,’ said Rahul. ‘I wish there were techniques to build connections within the team faster.’
‘There are simple practices that every leader could follow to help make trusting connections and improve the energy in the team,’ said Rakesh. ‘I call it the 3As. Practice them and watch the energy in your world change.’

‘3As,’ said Rahul. ‘Let me guess. Action. Assertion. Authority. Right?’

‘No,’ smiled Rakesh. ‘Acknowledge, Appreciate and Ask for Help.’

‘What?’ said Rahul. ‘How is that leading? It’s more like pleading.’

‘Absolutely,’ said Rakesh. ‘Since you need people to help you in achieving your team goals, you need to find ways to crack the connection to their hearts. The first thing to understand in people management is that people like to be seen as individuals — who bring value, who are important, who are more than a job or a role. Most times, we do not treat people as real people with feelings or emotions. We do not ‘see’ them or acknowledge them. It lowers the energy drastically like there’s a wall between you.’

‘But we acknowledge everyone, no?’ said Rahul. ‘We say hello, talk to them and so on.’

‘To acknowledge someone is to treat them as a distinct, special individual,’ said Rakesh. ‘Most of us 
don’t even look at people when we speak to them — the doorman, waiter, driver, colleague or family members. Our greeting does not get delivered when we do not look at them, into their eyes.’’

‘How then?’ asked Rinku.

‘Try it Rinku,’ said Rakesh. ‘Look at Rahul and make eye contact when you say hello so it registers for both of you. Secondly, address him by his name, the sweetest thing in the world for anyone to hear is their name they say. If you don’t know their name, find out and use it immediately so you remember it. Then make physical contact like shaking hands, touching him appropriately on the shoulder or bumping fists because there’s magic in our touch. When you do these things you’re saying — 'Hey, I see you and I care about you'. So how did it feel, Rahul?’

‘I felt like I exist, like I am special,’ said Rahul. ‘Felt good.’

‘Hmm and I realised I hardly look at people when I meet them,’ said Rinku. ‘I haven’t even looked at my family members properly in so many days. I’ll start acknowledging people properly from today.’
‘This is a great way to build connection and trust,’ said Rahul. ‘And what’s the second ‘A’ bhaiyya?’
‘Appreciate,’ said Rakesh. ‘Most leaders only have negative things to say about people. They only see what’s wrong with them, what’s not there — and send signals that the others are not good enough. It’s not a great way to build good energy in the team. If you want good energy in your team, practice appreciating them every time you meet them — find some small thing about their attitude, work, energy or qualities — and appreciate them. It makes people feel good about themselves. They feel there is hope. Practice the art of appreciating because this is not just about them, it helps YOU big time.’

‘Us?’ asked Rinku. ‘How?’

‘When you start looking for things to appreciate, your outlook of life and the world changes,’ said Rakesh. ‘It changes your energy into an optimistic, hopeful and energetic one. Instead of being a drain on the environment, you bring good energy that uplifts the entire place. Rahul, please go on and appreciate us.’’

‘I’m struggling to find something to appreciate and I can see how negative my outlook has become,’ said Rahul. ‘I’ll try though. Bhaiyya, you’ve explained these concepts so well and Rinku, you’ve been showing a great capacity to learn and make a difference.’

‘Wow, thanks Rahul,’ smiled Rinku. ‘That felt good to hear and I feel like I am on the right path. And bhaiyya, what’s the third A?’

‘Ask for help,’ said Rakesh. ‘Most leaders think their job is to dictate. They feel they know everything and others only have to follow their orders. But people resent being ordered because it does not give them a sense of control in the proceedings. You have to make them feel they have a voice, a stake. Work should be done voluntarily, not out of fear.’

‘But work only gets done like that, no bhaiyya?’ said Rahul.

‘Rahul, you’re looking at developing a team where everyone is willingly doing great work and fully trusts one another,’ said Rakesh. ‘That kind of a dream team happens only when you show vulnerability as a leader and ask for help. When you ask for help they see you as someone who is like them, who is not perfect, who needs them. It makes them feel important. They feel part of the story and realise you all need to help one another. As a leader practice this quality because you need people to help you willingly and enthusiastically. So get comfortable asking for help everywhere. Ask for help from the vegetable vendor, waiter and colleagues — see how it makes them feel important and purposeful. See how they take up that responsibility and involve themselves. See how the energy changes and how they take it personally.’

‘Thanks, bhaiyya,’ said Rinku. ‘I’m going to practice the 3As now with every person I meet and make genuine and instant connections.’

Pro Tip: To make great and instant connections with people and to maintain good energy in the environment, practice the 3As — ‘Acknowledge’, ‘Appreciate’ and ‘Ask for help’ with people. The energy in the relationship and the team shifts for the better instantly.

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Gayatri Bhavan - Raj Bhavan Road

 So Vasu discovered this place which serves some fine veg food and lemon tea.


He tried it a few times and now we catch up there over a snack or a cup of tea.

Ghee Karappodi Idli

The ghee karappodi idli was a hit until they changed the karappodi. 

Lemon tea - top view

Other stuff is good too - dosas, parottas, meals - though I didn't try them all. 

Saturday, February 5, 2022

After 24 Years, Ramu Heads Back to His Village

 Something in me has gone soft. Or so I think. Ramu, the next door dhobhi, has lived next door for almost 20 years as I know. He says he has been here for 24. Dressed in his trademark shorts and a mischievous smile on his old, wizened face, Ramu is always up for a conversation. He has the energy of a ten year old, nay, eight year old.

Akela and Ramu

I would call out 'Ramu' and he'd come running with an 'Aye'. He never said no and always has a smile and something nice or nonsensical to anyone he comes across. 'Ela unnaru Anjali amma?" he would ask Anjali with great love. He has the same love for dogs, cats and talks to them in the same manner.

He would be at his work ironing clothes, beedi in his mouth. At night he would go off for a drink and get nicely drunk. Many a tantrum he would throw at his wife (their tiffs grew worse in recent years). He would sleep out in the cold and cough like crazy and I'd wonder if he would survive. But he would survive and was back on his feet again, smile on his face, beedi in his mouth.

Clean the tank, get a mason, get a carpenter, clean the car, iron the clothes, trim the plants, water the plants, receive the courier, fill air in Anjali's bike...anything we needed, he was there. Rarely he would ask for money and I would give him without hesitating. Just for that smile and energy and always being there he was worth his time in gold.

So it came as a surprise when he suddenly said, 'I am going back to my village saar. I won't be coming back.' I was shocked. When? I asked. This evening. I had to go out and was disturbed all through and when I got home I looked for him. He was still there. I realised for all the work, for all the loyalty, for all his good energy, I never had one picture of him. I called him and he came and in his typical ways stopped to pet Akela.

'Entamma Akela, tinnava?' he asked. (Did you eat Akela?') Akela wagged its tail and went to him. He petted it. It was a beautiful moment epitomising the spirit of Ramu, giving love wherever he goes. not thinking transactionally, always happy, always young at heart. I asked him to pose and he posed with Akela.

I asked him why he was going away and he told me matter of factly that his wife wanted to go back. I told him Shobhs was upset at his sudden going. He turned emotional too and said it pained him to go after all these years where he got so much love. For a moment his eyes grew moist. And mine did too. There's so much to learn from him - his smile, his child like nature, his loving and giving nature. Wonderful stuff. So happy to have met Ramu in this life. There will never be another quite like him. Wherever you go Ramu, have a great life and my best wishes are with you.