Thursday, March 31, 2022

Green Book - Movie

 A true story of a black pianist in the 1960s who hires an Italian bouncer to drive him for the concert tour in the racist South. Lovely movie.

A Drive, A Traffic Jam, A Party, A Breakfast Meeting, A Wedding, A Dinner and A Drive Back

 The call came pretty later - I was uncertain about the trip until the last moment and like I do these days - push myself through my discomfort and headed off. 

Friday, 25th

An early start with Gaz who accompanied me one way - at 5 am - got us off to covering good ground in cool air and low traffic (there was still quite a bit of activity on the road). A quick stop at a small tapri after Zaheerabad for chai.

By 1030 we were past Solapur putting away some breakfast at Hotel Sunil. This was good time and we hit Pune by 2 pm. A crazy jam near Hadapsar made even more difficult by the BRTS system and its insane barricades delayed us by an hour else we would have been fully settled in by 3. After dropping him off at Deccan I drove off to Kothrud and dropped off the luggage at home. 

Called Parth and invited myself over for tea.

Chai past Zaheerabad

Parth, Maria and Manik Maushi

Tea and snacks with Parth, Manik maushi, who recently had a shoulder surgery, and Maria, and I was fighting off sleep. I bid bye and then called Milind.

Milind and Neelima

I dropped the car off at home and headed to Milind's by walk. He wanted to walk an we went on a short walk. Neelima was busy with her mother but I got to say hello to her. Milind and I went to the new park near Kirloskar Cummins and then headed back - some cold coffee, pav bhaji at Durga and we were good to go. He was also in the mood for a cold beer and we got a couple of Kingfisher and downed them at home. Despite the early start etc I could not sleep. It was hot. But I did manage to.


I woke up early and wrote a draft of my article for the column. Then I caught Milind on the walk and we went for a walk, had chai and returned. 

We picked up some idli and vada from the South Indian joint and went to his place to eat. After that I headed back home, showered, finished my article and got the house cleaned. My drive to Mumbai will be by cab - I don't fancy driving there. So cab it was.

A Traffic Jam

The expressway was blocked off. Apparently a chemical tanker had toppled over and the road was blocked off. The old Mumbai highway was jammed. People were turning back. The cabbie was also considering that option. We decided to try till the next point and so on and on. 

He was pretty resourceful so we actually made it through some zig zag way in and out of the expressway until we got through. It turned out that Suhita and Jayanth were at Kahndala which I passed and had no clue how to reach out. Never saw traffic choc-a-bloc like that. Cars and vehicles stopping etc. Anyway we made it out and I reached Mumbai, Bandra by 4.

Mother of all jams

I was even in a condition to do my coaching session with Hari. Then some work on the article and at 6, Suhita and Jayanth came. We had some tea and chatted.

A Party 

The party was at Miskil and Kabir's house at Oval Maidan. S, J and I left at 830, beat the IPL traffic and made it to their house y 9. No one had arrived but Madhav, their friend. Kabir gave me some interesting Goan rum which was really good. 

Khayal was busy trying out all sorts of food. Gary, Satya and Yashoda joined us and the party continued. 

Goan Rum

At 12 S and J decided to crash after trying a spot of food. I have an early morning breakfast meet tomorrow.


I managed a decent sleep and got up on time. Piyush and Priyanka came up to Queen's Court by 730 and we headed off to Fort. Piyush grew up here so her walked me around and showed me all the sights - I had walked these roads before but I have no clue where and what we walked - but we clicked a picture at the Asiatic Society and went to Jimmy Boy, a Parsi restaurant for breakfast.

 I tried some Sali per Edu from Priyanka and ate my scrambled eggs and tried the masala cola and chai. Nice breakfast. They dropped me off at 10 after a nice chat.

Piyush directed this shot - location and how I was to approach him

Chat with Miskil

Miskil was up by the time I had showered so we sat down to chat. Their party wound up at 530 am! We chatted till lunch - most of the time being taken up by Khayal who entertained us. Some nice lunch and I was ready to go to the wedding at Haji Ali. Bid bye to Miskil and Ubered off.

A Wedding

The wedding was a small affair with about 70-80 people which was fun. I met Parag and Mamta and Esha and Siddhanth the groom and Chaitrali the bride.

Siddhanth, Mamta and Parag

 It was a nice Maharashtrian wedding. I had a petha tied on my head. Met Ajay Dharne and we chatted a long time. Spent time with Parag and left at 530.

Me with petha

 He asked me to come back for dinner but I told him I might not - I was pretty pooped. 

Dinner with Suhita and Jayanth

There was Yashoda at home when I went and then we chatted for long and ordered some food from the club. Suhita and I walked around the colony. Interestingly there is a road named after Suhita's father Yadunath Thatte in Pune and the road where they live is named after Jayanth's father, Vinayak Dharmadhikari. I crashed out despite the sultry heat. Have an early ride.

Monday - Ride back to Pune

J Pal picked me up early, at 545 am, and we drove comfortably to Pune. The vada pav was the highlight of the ride. 

In Pune I got off on FC Road and headed off home and completed my article and sent it off. I checked with Milind and he invited me home for lunch which was lovely. I spent some time with him at his old home and then went back to catch some sleep. Malay called and said we could meet for dinner. i packed up stuff and got ready to fill up gas and get the tyres checked. Off tomorrow. Milind said he would have liked to come but...

Dinner at Irani Cafe with Malay

Malay and I met at Irani Cafe Prabhat Road at 830 and tried their rice and kebab and berry pulao. I liked the fresh lime water best. We had a good time chatting about many things including money. We finally split at 1030. I had a long ride back tomorrow.

Me and Malay at Irani Cafe


 Early start and off on a solo drive back home. It was a comfortable ride and I stopped at Hotel Sai Prasad after Naldurg at 1030 and then at Food Pyramid after Zaheerabad where they served the most wonderful natu kodi biryani. Then I drove in a leisurely fashion into town and was home by 330.

Food pyramid near Zaheerabad

Job well done! 

Monday, March 28, 2022

Another Year and A New Batch - Art Management at the University of Hyderabad

This is one of the most satisfying parts of the year for me - the course on Art Management that I teach at the Department of Dance, University of Hyderabad. After two years of teaching online thanks to the pandemic I was immensely glad to go back to teaching offline. The heat was a factor but I braved it - anything for an offline class which is so much more fulfilling and effective.

There are 15 students in this batch and though I have already taken 6 online classes and two offline classes, I find that I have not met them all. Anyway, the course in my mind has to achieve three objectives - making the student feel secure about a career in dance, teaching them how to take 100% responsibility for their career and then to empower them with process orientation.

We do follow the Why, How and What of Simon Sinek's Golden Circle and address them through many ways - vision statements, process orientation, values, learning techniques and approaches, goals and so on. I am looking forward to the remaining nine sessions which I hope will be as productive and will help achieve our set aims.

More on this later. 

License to Live - Priya Kumar

I've read Priya Kumar's 'I am another you' and found that a wonderful story. I have three books of hers with me and started on License to Live - a completely different take from Mr Bond who flaunts his license to kill. It's told like a story with characters.

Priya is the narrator and plays herself - a successful corporate guru who is finding no purpose or meaning despite her success. She is close to committing suicide when a life coach passing by kind-of saves her and asks her to call him if she needs help. She does and joins a 25000 USD seminar which lasts for a week - License to Live. The story goes through various turns as the eccentric and touch coach puts them into situations that they have to deal with without questioning him - no money, no information - jump off a parachute, go into a dark forest - stuff that Priya has actually done in her real life as told in her other book. Few trust the coach and fewer make it through. Priya does.

The story however has three parts - first meeting a keeper of the past from whose chains she has to free herself (some place like Vietnam), then meets the keeper of the future who traps people in their thoughts and worries and escapes (in Switzerland I think) and finally the present where she has the license to live. It's a tale told well and thought well, though I felt there was some more editing to be done to make it go home harder. But suffice to say - you are not really living if you are living in your past or the future. So stay present.

A nice easy read with some poignant takeaways. I do like Priya - she is earnest and is honest and wants to share her life and experiences.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Off on a Road Trip to Pune, Mumbai

 Off tomorrow on a road trip to Pune and Mumbai. Heat is a factor so an early start will help.


Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Links to my Columns

 Here are two links that lead to my columns

This one is about Canteen Fundas in the New Indian Express

This is from Life's Like That form HANS India

Click on them to access all the columns 

The Two Indias

 Whatever Vir Das started with his talk of the two Indias, we see everyday and that is what made that talk strike a chord. Here's a nice example of our two Indias, one of the entitled and one of the common man. The scene is from a couple of days ago, outside KBR park at 730 am. The road is a busy road, but hey, we are entitled to all this. We own this and we will do what we want.

 Clearly a car can go but this road is not meant only for cars. There is no reason why anyone should park there and not find a better place to park. But this has to be close to the gate, and our convenience matters more than anything else.

The water tanker guy honked like crazy apparently and the guy next to him shouted at him and told him that this was 'parking'. So how is he supposed to go?Fly? But hey, we privileged types will stick together and you better find some other way. My bet - if the guy in the car was summoned he might well have beaten up the lorry guy. How dare you?

So the water tanker guy scraped and adjusted while saab parked and went off for a saunter. We all do that don't we? After all this is the story of two Indias - one the privileged for whom no laws seem to apply and one for the rest, who has to bend, crawl, scrape and adjust. 

Or get beaten up. 

Canteen Fundas - The Principle of Legitimacy

 How does a leader earn respect? By following the principle of Leigitmacy.

E-Canteen Fundas: Want to command and not demand respect as a leader? Follow this principle

To get people to conform to your directions willingly and enthusiastically, you must earn their respect. To earn their respect, follow the Principle of Legitimacy

Lead away | (Pic: Edexlive)

‘Rinku, there was this interesting situation in the college assembly today,’ said Rahul. ‘Some students had a heated altercation over a trivial issue. Even the principal could not get the students to disperse.’

‘Really?’ asked Rinku. ‘What happened then?’

‘No one was listening to the princi despite his warnings and threats,’ said Rahul. ‘Then Professor Shama walked in and everyone went quiet. It was like magic. She smiled and asked everyone to disperse quietly and they did it. It was amazing to watch. Respect.’

‘True,’ said Rinku. ‘Everyone respects Shama ma’am. Though we fear the princi and his position of authority, the students don’t really respect him. I would love to be like Shama ma’am who has so much respect among the students and staff despite not having the power of princi’s position.’

‘That’s an excellent idea, Rinku,’ said Rakesh. ‘A good leader, teacher, parent or coach looks to get people to work willingly and enthusiastically. That is how they get the best results. And to get people to work willingly one must earn their respect. As we all know, one cannot command or demand respect — respect has to be earned.’

‘How do we earn respect?’ asked Rahul. ‘By being nice to people?’

‘No,’ laughed Rakesh. ‘By being consistent with our behaviour and genuinely caring for people. And, by following the Principle of Legitimacy that Malcolm Gladwell refers to in his book, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants. The Principle of Legitimacy says that when people in authority want the rest of the group to behave in a particular manner, it matters — first and foremost — how the leader behaves.’

‘You mean that it is the leader’s behaviour that influences the people’s behaviour?’ asked Rahul. ‘That whether they are the class monitor or the head of state, the Principle of Legitimacy applies? How can we use this Principle of Legitimacy, bhaiyya?’

‘The Principle of Legitimacy is based on three criteria,’ said Rakesh. ‘A good leader is aware of these criteria and behaves accordingly. When the leader is not consistent with these three criteria, her people will not conform and work unwillingly — which compromises the results.’

‘What are the three criteria, bhaiyya?’ asked Rinku.

‘The first is to listen to your people and make them feel heard,’ said Rakesh. ‘If you want people to conform or obey, you must make them feel like they have a voice. That if they speak, they will be heard. When a leader lets people express their thoughts and listens to them, people feel empowered and feel they have a say in what they are doing. They respect you because you’re respecting them. Consequently, they follow your instructions and engage in work willfully. On the other hand, if you do not listen to them, they will work, but resentfully.’

‘True,’ said Rinku. ‘Most leaders prefer the, ‘My way or highway approach’ instead of listening. That’s exactly the difference between Professor Shama and princi. She listens. He doesn’t. What’s the second criteria, bhaiyya?’

‘As a leader, you must ensure that the rules remain consistent,’ said Rakesh. ‘The law has to be predictable and be roughly the same tomorrow as it is today. If you keep changing rules at your whim, people won’t trust you to have their best interests in mind. And when people don’t trust you, they will not respect you. Since they do not know what to expect from you, they do not conform or engage with the work wholeheartedly.’

‘Our previous football coach would keep changing the rules and we could never trust him or respect him,’ said Rahul. ‘We didn’t fare well under him. What’s the third criteria, bhaiyya?’

‘This one is very important and one that most people miss,’ said Rakesh. ‘Any good leader, or any person in authority, cannot treat one group differently from the other. People expect authority to be fair, but if the leader is soft towards those who are his friends, relatives and favourites, and harsh towards others, then the leader will neither earn respect nor will people work willingly.’

‘Wow, that’s where Professor Shama scores,’ said Rinku. ‘She’s fair to everyone and treats us all equally. So, let me sum up what I need to do — be open to listening to my team, apply rules consistently and treat everyone equally.’

‘Absolutely,’ said Rakesh. ‘When you behave consistently like that, you earn their respect. In fact, these behaviours show that you genuinely care for people. That’s all you need to do, really.’

‘But bhaiyya,’ said Rahul. ‘Most leaders in our world are not doing any of these things. They don’t listen to people, they change rules to suit them and they treat one group differently from the other. In fact, most leaders are in power because they differentiate and pit people against one another.’

‘True,’ smiled Rakesh. ‘These are leaders who are feared, not respected. Though they say all the right words, their actions betray them. Like not listening or engaging in a discussion, changing rules arbitrarily and being quiet on certain issues. Since they are not following the Principle of Legitimacy, the people will not conform or act willingly and enthusiastically.’

‘Wow,’ said Rinku. ‘I think the Principle of Legitimacy works in every human relationship. I’ll practice it properly so that it helps me and my team and all other relationships as well.’

‘Absolutely,’ said Rakesh. ‘I respect your decision.’

Pro Tip: To get people to conform to your directions willingly and enthusiastically, you must earn their respect. To earn their respect, follow the Principle of Legitimacy and practice its three criteria — listen to your people and make them feel heard, don’t keep changing the rules and treat everyone equally and fairly.

Monday, March 21, 2022

Thought for the Day - Does Time Take Away from Life

 How much of the quality of our life leaks away thanks to time? A lot of it. We are guided by time.

In fact all the drama that comes into our life is because of time. Everything is deadline driven. Study, exams, job, marriage, children, earn, settle down...its all future driven. There is no time to live actually. Which is why it is difficult to meditate or get into anything that is timeless in any way.

To start living, cut out time. In as many things as you can. Be free of time and we realise we have begun to experience life. 


Thought for the Day - How Open Minded Are We Really

 We think we are open minded. But to some extent only.

When we are open minded we should also be open to closed minds also.

That is being open minded. 

Thought for the Day - The Universe Unfolds Itself, Don't Rush

 In our hurry to control, to get to an outcome we want, we force things. But that's not the way to experience the universe at its most glorious. We have to allow things to happen.

We have to allow our universe to unfold.

It's like a flower. We cannot force it open. We have to allow it to unfold at its own pace. Then we see it in all its glory.

Don't force things. Wait. Let it unfold. And it will. In all its beauty.


Jalsa - Movie

 2022. Hindi.

Read about this movie in the papers and put it on. Starts dramatically and then very quickly we know who did what and that at some point they will come to know and we also know how it may end. But then they are all nice people who are caught in circumstances so they end up being nice in the end. Shefali Chhaya and Vidya Balan carry the film well. Nice overall though it could have been a little more unpredictable perhaps.


Saturday, March 19, 2022

Thank You Helping Hands Foundation

I got a call this morning from our maid Lakshmi's nephew that her husband Raju had a heart stroke last night and he was admitted to the Osmania General Hospital. Apparently he was uneasy for a bit and then had the stroke around midnight and they took him to a hospital close by and then to Gandhi Hospital, Secunderabad and onwards to Osmania GH. One wonders at the wisdom of having them traverse some 40 kms across the city but what I realised was that these people will be clueless in a hospital. They come from a village in East Godavari district and find it difficult to communicate anything. Urdu and English would pose a problem. Also, if what I remember of General Hospitals still is true, they will find it difficult to get any kind of help - medical or otherwise.

I remembered that my friend from my cricketing days Mujtaba Askari, who is the President of the NGO Helping Hands Foundation, posts the good work they do. They help people who are economically backward to get basic healthcare and have a team stationed at OGH. In fact they did commendable work during the pandemic and got recognised for it as well.

So I messaged him and he said they will take care and took the patient's name and number. Lo and behold, in a few minutes I get an update with the patient's picture. his bed number and whereabouts, his current situation. Apparently he is scheduled for an angiogram on Monday. 

Mr.NookaRaju 45/M
DX: Heartattack
Under treatment at ICCU bed no 11
Dr advice lab investigation done and Echo
planning for angiogram on Monday

He had suffered a heart stroke. Just knowing that there are these healing and helping angels makes one feel so comforted. I can imagine how much of a relief people must be getting from them. Thanks so much Mujjam, its just lovely lovely work.

I must also mention the word that Dr Prabhudheer my good friend put across to his friend Dr  Imamuddin, HoD, Cardiology, who visited the patient and gave an update on his condition. Mujtaba and his team and Dr Imamuddin, are definitely angels of mercy for Nooka Raju. On one hand there are these nut cases going ballistic with toxic information about Hindu-Muslim stuff on social media. And then, this is also the reality we see and experience. 

There's no religion greater than humanity. And all we need are stories like this which is our reality. 

To contact Helping Hands

 Helping Hand Foundation

#6-9-14/3/6/200/A, Opp Pillar No. 270, PVNR Expressway, Beside Colours Marble Shop, Indira Nagar Colony, Shivrampally, Rajendrenagar, Telangana - 52.

+91-7207538605, 8790679505

Mon to Sat - 9:00am to 6:00pm

Friday, March 18, 2022

Gouri Dange - For SOP Essays for Admissions, Grants and Proposals

My good friend Gouri Dange, who writes wonderfully well and knows all about writing interestingly and convincingly, is offering a wonderful service that students can utilise to write SOP essays for admissions, grants, proposals.  I've read her books and her columns and she writes amazingly well and knows her craft.

Take a look at her services given below and avail of them. She's wonderful and knows her stuff. I recommend her.


Writer Editor and Counsellor Gouri Dange offers a 6-session module (1.5 hours each session) for students of all ages who need to write SOP essays for admissions, grants, proposals. 

How it works:

This is not a ghost-writing or re-writing service. It is one-on-one,

online or offline, in which you will learn to think emotionally and intellectually. 

Each session is custom-made for your specific area of interest and focus, as well as your time-schedule. 

There will be required reading and vocabulary strengthening games.

We will go through two drafts for you to come up with the final essay that you are satisfied with. 

On a larger level, you will learn different way to examine and articulate your responses to the world within and the world outside, which would help in all future written assignments and presentations. 

The Module will cost a total of Rs 15,000/- 

For more information or to book a Module, write to or watsapp text 9822407232 and we can schedule a call.

Stoner - John Williams

 It's a 1965 classic. Set in the University of Missouri, it traces the life of William Stoner, a farm boy, who joins the University to study Agriculture, finds himself drawn to English Literature and ends up staying to teach at the same University. 

The novel traces his life, his state of mind as he goes through life with no great passion or expectation, enjoying his teaching and bearing his difficulties with no resentment. His decision to stay away from the family, his work ethic at the University, his indifference to the bad behavior of his Professors, his relatives, his wife, his colleagues - his one passionate affair with his research assistant (perhaps his one moment of happiness), his love for his daughter, his final recognition at the University and his illness and death. There's a quality to the writing that takes you into Stoner's body, his feelings, his life, until we all feel we are the same at some level.

Brilliant writing. Thanks Vinod for sharing.

1917 - Movie

 It's a  2019 movie. 

The story begins in the First World War and the camera follows two young British soldiers resting under a tree being called by their superiors. I loved how the camera unveils their walk - pretty much throughout the film (no wonder he won and Oscar) - and their surroundings become clear to us. They are given an important job - to go past the front line where the Germans have just retreated and stop the battalions ahead from launching an attack which is actually a trap. Blake is chosen because he is good with maps and his brother is in the doomed battalion and Blake chooses Bill as his companion. The two set out into the war zone with nothing more than their 19-20 years of age and in the hope of saving Blake's brother. Brilliant. Three Oscars.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Canteen Fundas - Level 5 Leadership - The Most Effective Leadership of All

 The first requisite of a company that is not just 'good' but 'great' is a Level 5 leader - and this is how a Level 5 leader looks like.

E-Canteen Fundas: Here's how you can unlock Level 5 in the game of leadership

Level 5 leaders are those who can take a team from being just ‘good’ to ‘great’. They create enduring greatness through a blend of personal traits such as personal humility and professional will

March ahead | (Pic: Edexlive)

‘There’s so much turmoil in our world,’ said Rinku. ‘I wonder how much of it reflects on the quality of global leadership?’
‘True,’ said Rahul. ‘And I wonder how can one find the right kind of leaders to lead the world now.’

‘Good questions,’ said Rakesh. ‘In any situation, it is the leadership that matters. And though we see all kinds of leaders at various levels — individual, group, state, national or international — it’s only the great leaders who can vision and execute plans that are good for all. They go beyond their group, society or nation and look to benefit humanity as a whole.’

‘How are leaders categorised, bhaiyya?’ asked Rahul.

‘I personally categorise them as secure and insecure leaders,’ smiled Rakesh. ‘An insecure leader is someone who clings to power and does anything to stay in power — which may not necessarily be the right thing for all concerned. And a secure leader is someone who does what is right for the greater good — even if it costs her the position.’

‘Hmm,’ said Rinku. ‘That’s a simple and interesting classification.’

‘There are many other classifications but we can look at the one given by Jim Collins in his book Good to Great,’ said Rakesh. ‘According to him, any company that wants to grow from good to great needs to have a Level 5 Leader as the primary requirement. Though his book is about companies, I feel this principle applies to any team, society, nation or the world itself.’

‘Oh, wow,’ said Rahul. ‘The Level 5 leaders must be all the popular names, right? ’

‘Not really,’ said Rakesh. ‘They are known by the legacy they leave behind and not by their own individual identities. But what’s more important for you to know is that Level 5 leaders evolve through a process of learning — from Level 1 onwards.’

‘Wow, can we look at how they evolve?’ asked Rinku. ‘Maybe we can evolve too.’

‘As a Level 1 leader, you are a highly capable individual who does the job well and contributes to the team output through your talent, knowledge and work ethic,’ said Rakesh. ‘You contribute positively to the team through your individual efforts and lead by personal example. Needless to say, you are not a good leader if you do not contribute positively to the team.’

‘So, we do our job well and lead by example in Level 1,’ said Rahul. ‘And Level 2?’

‘In addition to performing your own tasks well, you work with others in the group and find ways to contribute more as a group,’ said Rakesh. ‘You think for the group and how to achieve its objectives by collaborating. You move from focusing on individual excellence to improving group performance.’

‘So, we take greater responsibility as a member of the group,’ said Rahul. ‘And Level 3?’

‘At Level 3, you’re competent enough to lead people and utilise resources on your own to achieve group objectives effectively and efficiently,’ said Rakesh. ‘You can be trusted to lead and achieve set goals. You’ve now moved to an active leadership role.’

‘But what else can a leader do other than deliver given results, bhaiyya?’ asked Rahul. ‘What does a Level 4 leader do?”

‘Level 4 leaders take the team to the next level,’ said Rakesh. ‘They do not just deliver given results, but utilise given resources to achieve far greater results than the ones which were committed. They bring in a grander vision, improve processes, motivate people and drive them to high performance. However, though the Level 4 leaders are high achievers, their teams are only good teams and not great teams. They succeed once or twice, not over a long period of time.’

‘Whoa,’ said Rahul. ‘Now I am curious to meet the Level 5 leader. Must be a rare animal.’

‘Yes,’ said Rakesh. ‘Level 5 leaders are rare. They build enduring greatness and produce sustainable results through diligent work and benefit not just for those in the team, but for all those who are around.’

‘Wow?’ asked Rahul. ‘Must be a set of supercharged people.’

‘Not really,’ smiled Rakesh. ‘They have what Jim Collins calls a great paradoxical quality that most leaders lack — a blend of personal humility and professional will. They are not tyrants. In fact, they are described as humble, modest, gracious, mild-mannered and understated people — qualities we do not normally associate with such great leaders. They do not look to promote themselves, take credit or want to be larger than life heroes. For them, the team is always bigger. Their ambitions are not personal, but for the team. But along with their great humility, they possess a fierce determination to produce lasting results, to create leaders who can carry the legacy forward. They are true visionaries who work diligently to create win-win solutions that are beneficial for all over a long period.’

‘How I wish a Level 5 leader is now working towards bringing the world together to create peace, global harmony and abundance for all,’ said Rinku. ‘Humbly, fiercely.’

‘You could be one too,’ said Rakesh. ‘Jim Collins suggests that as you evolve from different stages, you can evolve to Level 5 by engaging in self-reflection, personal development, having good mentors and teachers and learning from life-altering experiences.’

‘Thanks, bhaiyya,’ said Rinku. ‘I will try to practice humility and bring in a strong will into my execution.’

Pro Tip: Level 5 leaders are those who can take a team from being just ‘good’ to ‘great’. They create enduring greatness through a blend of personal traits such as personal humility and a fierce professional will. They leave lasting legacies for the team and benefit all.

Monday, March 14, 2022

One Day Workshop for the Andhra Cricket Association Under 25 Boys

 When Madhusudhan Raju called me and asked me if I could do a one day program and meet with the Under 25 team that was heading out to play the CK Nayudu 4 day tournament, I was excited. Mostly because much of my writing and thinking has been around using cricket to understand personal excellence and building winning teams. I enjoyed all the cricket programs I have done over the years - with HCA's Under 17 team in 2010 if I remember - there's one Test player from that and many first class players. Then there were many with the MCC team, the trainees at Vidyuth's Academy and several with corporate teams. But the entire focus has been the same - that there is a design to winning and we can at least do these few things to plug leaks and work to greater efficiency thus increasing our chances of a better result.

Arriving at the Academy

So after some hectic scheduling thanks to Madhu, I took the 715 flight to Vizag, then a cab to Vizianagaram. They had booked a meal for me which was very thoughtful of them and the cab was waiting when I arrived at Vizag with the dignified Appa Rao at the wheel. We reached Vizianagaram after an hour and a half. It was a scenic route - the highway that connects Calcutta to Madras.
Me, Sanyasi Raju, Ramakrishna and Ratna Kumar

I was received by Mr Sanyasi Raju, Chairman of the Academy and a former Ranji Trophy player, Mr P. Ramakrishna, Manager of Cricket Operations and former BCCI umpire, Mr Jagadish, Administrative Manager of the Academy and Mr K. Ratna Kumar, Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Academy. A small memento to me, a flower pot, quick introductions and we were away. There were 22 boys of the Under 25 side, four of them had already played Ranji Trophy. The side was led by Rasheed, the India Under 19 vice captain from the latest campaign who was not present because of a felicitation. The support staff was eight in number and was headed by former Ranji player AG Pradeep, who is the Head Coach. 

I informed the team that we would follow Simon Sinek's Golden Circle for inspired work and inspired leadership (Why, How and What - Start with asking Why we are doing what we are doing, How we can achieve that objective most efficiently and What are we going to actually do) to gain clarity and also find ways to plug leaks. 

This is a format that can be used for the largest of organisations and for individuals to gain clarity and to do inspired work. I use it everywhere. One key idea was to address gaps in communication that causes much leakage. So as usual, we began with the Why.

Why are we here?

We are here to achieve a common purpose - the entire team should look in the same direction. For this team that's heading out to play a tournament - the common purpose is to WIN. Everyone is there to win the title for the ACA (which incidentally gives them the opportunity)  

Start with WHY

Common purpose - To Win

A common purpose will add a minimum 30% to team efficiency. In terms of behavior what we need once we decide the common purpose is that we need everyone to think, speak and behave with that purpose in mind - all thought, speech, actions are oriented to achieve the common purpose. Anything against it is to be called out and dropped. Like an army that has one clear common purpose, so must the team believe in it so there's no cross purpose. 

Why should we win?

The next logical Why question. There is the matter of Pride - for ACA, of each individual being part of a winning team. 

We spoke of individual benefits of being part of a winning team -

  • Growth (if they win, 6-7 players will get an opportunity to play Ranji Trophy)
  • Opportunities (more opportunities to perform as they play more games)
  • Pleasure of being part of a winning teams
  • An opportunity to create history (be the first team from Andhra to win a major championship)

I gave examples. Bombay players play more for the country (a quarter of India players are from Bombay) because Bombay won half the times Ranji Trophy was conducted. Winning teams benefit everyone including the reserves - even a reserve like Sunil Valson who was in the 1983 World Cup benefits from the winning team. So it is in their own best interests to do their best in whatever capacity they have to help the team win.

Team wins - Everyone wins (Team Loses - Everyone Loses including the Performers)

We also discussed how CK Nayudu was from Andhra and apart from being India's first captain, was also Andhra's first captain in 1953. For so many reasons, the team has enough motivation to win the tournament. 

Reality Check

Where exactly were they in the Indian cricket scene? Certainly these players were in the top 300-500, but their big push upward comes when their team wins.

How Do We Win?

They did group exercises and came up with responses. 

By giving 100% as a team, and by giving 100% as an individual.

With Head Coach AG Pradeep

Give 100% as a team

- Fix energy leakages (loose talk, low energy, groupism)
- Communicate better
- Have a learning culture
- Support one another
- Team work
- Make use of all resources
- Have more discussions around the game, how to win etc

We did some exercises/role play -
1) how the team should be as close bound as a FIST with not one player sticking out and spoiling the alignment for maximum impact
2) how the team should be close enough to hold up a person who is having a bad day 

Give 100% as an individual
- Role clarity (what is the role) - checked with the coach
- Deliver to expectations
- Prepare to deliver
- Seek help
- Form support groups
- Help one another give their best

Some learnings

Performance Management Tools
We discussed

- The Learning Mindset - a culture of learning, asking questions, clearing doubts and apprehensions
- The 10000 hours theory to gain expertise and how it can be used - strengthen strengths and then strengthen weaknesses
- Deliberate practice (doing the same thing deliberately till its perfect, deconstructing their skill and working on strengths and weaknesses)
- Being open to feedback and using feedback to constantly improve
- Importance of structured discussions about the game, skill, strategy, tactics as a culture


What - do we bring to the table?

- Goals - what are the team goals and individual goals for the tournament (specific numbers, runs, wickets, for the tournament, for each match)

We discussed how goals stretch and help the individual prepare better and organise thought as they head into each game. Goals also place some responsibility on each individual to bring a minimum delivery to the game in each department. We also discussed how each individual can also expand their roles to help the team when the team needs it. 

Winners CK Nayudu Tournament 2022 (in advance!) 


We discussed the strengths of the team and the individual (and one area to improve on for both)

- Of the team -
Sticks to a plan
Good communication and coordination
Positive dressing room atmosphere
Balanced side - experience and youth
Ability to bounce back from any situation
Experienced coaching staff
Players back their natural game
Team can adapt to any situation
Good work ethic
Team can handle pressure
Behave professionally
Batsmen who can play long innings
Bowlers who are consistent
Good fielding side.

Some powerful ones there - coming back from tough situations, experienced and balanced team, can handle pressure, good bonding, young side, hunger to achieve.

- Of Individuals - everyone wrote three strengths - and one area to improve - and shared the same. They all got some inputs from their team mates. Others chipped in with what they thought were that person's strengths

Strategies for the Campaign

The team formed groups and came with strategies to win - specific to the Pondicherry leg, to their team composition, attitudes etc.

The support staff - Faiz, Watekar, Pradeep,Surendra

Summing Up

I felt they have everything to actually win. If they can believe they can win, plug leakages, cut out doubt and fear, stay present and be open, they can definitely go all the way. It's that little turn that's required and maybe the day's exercises could have helped prod some thought.

Key thoughts/practices

- Believe in common purpose - the Why
- Speak the same language - support staff and players
- Be supportive of one another, don't speak negative or toxic words
- Avoid blame and excuse - in any situation - call out when someone does
- Adopt a learning mindset - ask questions, look to improve and help one another's process by sharing information or insights and practices (have a session everyday on individual insights and practices) so everyone can learn from each other - a 5% improvement in the runs, wickets or fielding is huge
- Stay open to all possibilities at all time - find ways to regroup in tough situations
- Use all resources available
- Everyone can bring one practice that brings in a 1% improvement to the team everyday in one way or another - it all adds up

Outcomes achieved

- Set a common purpose
- Connected the benefits of a winning team to each player / support staff in team
- looked at ways to perform at best as team and individual
- clarified roles and goals - placed responsibility on each individual to deliver at potential
- shared performance management tools
- formed strategies to win

Winding Up

Jagadish, Manager of the facility was extremely good at handling the entire show and treated me extremely well. It was a pleasure meeting AG Pradeep who is the Coach of the team, Watekar, and Vijay Kumar, both ex Ranji players who are serving as Batting and Bowling Coaches respectively, and a whole bunch of others.

In the end it was extremely satisfying to see the boys actually say they started believing they can win, that they will think like a leader even if they are a reserve and that they will do their best to help the team cause.    

Day well spent. I had a tiring but extremely satisfying day so the snack box on the return journey was hugely welcome.


Friday, March 11, 2022

Thought for the Day - Can I Take Things Personally if I am Mindful?

 I would think not. Because being mindful will ask us to be fully present which means that the mind cannot escape to its favorite destinations - past and future. In the present we can only deal with things with love. In fact the present is the portal to love. Or in other words - the key to the present is through love.

Cushion Art by Tenzin

So, I feel I cannot take things personally if I choose to be mindful. In mindfulness there is very little drama. The next time you are caught up in am emotional turmoil - try mindfulness. Immerse yourself in some activity - fully, mindfully, and you are delivered from the turmoil.

Budding Engineers and Architects at Play

 I was out on my walk when I saw these three kids of the watchman at a new construction site playing in the sand. I noticed that they had made pretty good looking structures with the sand - I am comparing them to me - I am hopeless in that department. Good work kids. Super stuff.

And I can only wish that they do not lose the enthusiasm to bid things like this - for fun - and not get too serious about life.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Darkness - Bharati Mukherjee

 It is a collection of 12 short stories about immigrants to the US and Canada. I normally try to recollect the stories which is an indication of the impact they have made of me. There was a story of a father who hits his young daughter on her womb - they are immigrants but he still has his honour I guess. One about Sikhs in California - a young boy who talks to his grandfather who talks to him about assassinating Gandhi on October 2, 2948 (wasn't that his birthday? I missed the context is there was any). 

One about a young lady who marries a perfect catch in the USA and is looking for a dalliance. One about an affair caught by the wife - an old man and a younger lady. One doctor called Manny Patel who appears in two stories who is rich but goes for young women and gets blackmailed once. A story where they call Hindi as Hindu. A bunch of cooks who resist the cops and get shot.

Stuff like that.  I am not a very good short story reader I think.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

A Story of the Legendary Holkar Cricket Team - Dr Avinash Chitale

This is an important book because it places on record the story of the Holkar team which came into existence in 1943 and played in the Ranji Trophy 14 times, making it to the final on ten occasions and winning it on four, which is a pretty strong record. The book traces the Holkar team's history, key players and their statistics and bios. The cover of the book has the insignia of the Holkar kingdom perhaps, Jai Malhar, and pictures of the two men who were instrumental in making Holkar the force it was - Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar and Cattari Kankaiah Nayudu aka the legendary CK Nayudu. 

The Maharaja was the patron and CKN, the visionary. The author Dr Avinash Chitale, is an avid cricket fan and a former University and first class player who went for the Combined University selection from Rajasthan University and played one first class match for Madhya Pradesh in 1961-62. It's obvious that he had ample skill as a cricketer but it is his great passion for the game and for Holkar and Indore cricket that is most endearing. He is a highly educated man who did his BE from BITS Pilani, ME from MS University Baroda and PhD from DAVV Indore. He served the SGS Institute of Technology as HoD, Production. The book places on record financial support in its publication to her Highness Maharani Usha Devi Holkar, Satish Chandra Malhotra and the Devi Ahilyabai Holkar Educational Trust. 

The story begins in 1923 when, CK Nayudu, born into an affluent Telugu family from Nagpur (his father was Chief Justice of Indore for some time), and known for his cricketing prowess, was invited by the Maharaja Tukojirao Holkar to coach his son Yashwantrao Holkar. The 28 year old CKN took up the assignment, was made Major in the Holkar Army and went about playing cricket, becoming the first captain of an Indian team and winning many laurels. Fit, disciplined and immensely talented, CKN retired from the game at 57 years of age in 1952 - and - made a comeback at the age of 61. His career lasted 50 years! The Nayudu family was full of cricketers - CK's son, CN Bobjee Nayudu, younger son Prakash Nayudu, brothers CS and CL Nayudu, grandson Vijay Nayudu - all played first class cricket, his nephew Govind Raj played for India and his daughter Chandra Nayudu was the first woman commentator.  

But it was only in 1943, when CKN was 48 years of age that the thought of putting together a Holkar team came up. on the request of the Maharaja. CKN put together a core team consisting of himself, CT Sarwate, Hiralal Gaekwad (Nagpur), Nimbalkar, Kamal Bhanderkar, Sanjay Dhanwade (Maharashtra), Rangnekar (Bombay), Arjun Naidu, Kuppuswami Naidu (Rajkot) Mushtaq  Ali, JN Bhaya, MM Jagdale (Indore) and others such as Ramesh Pratap Singh, Devi Singh Dahi, Salim Khan, Nivsarkar, Kunzru, OP Rawal, Ravi Vaid, Shungloo, Sayed Ibrahim Khan, Kanta Swarup Bhatnagar. As mentioned earlier, in its 14 years, this team won 4 titles and made the final ten times. CKN led for 40 games and Mushtaq Ali for 10.

The author has profiled all the major players in great detail, analysing their technique and temperament which adds a refreshing dimension to the book. Interesting vignettes of how Mushtaq Ali was known as a 'balle ka jadugar' (magician with the bat) with his vast array of shots many of which were unconventional, the ambidextrous Rangnekar who could play cricket and badminton at national level, CS Nayudu who played for 8 states and led four of them, are interesting to read. It was a team of all rounders that could bat till number 10, relied on its batting strength (only one pure bowler). Mushtaq Ali was the only one who played all 49 games for Holkar. Their opposition ranks included players of the calibre of Hazare, Adhikari, Gul Mohammed, Mantri, Umrigar, Phadkar, Pankaj Roy and others.

Dr Chitale analyses the various schools of cricket in India - zone wise - and the Holkar school of cricket which he says is bright cricket, based on discipline and hard work. He profiled players in the post Holkar era for the state of Madhya Pradesh - players such as Bhagawandas Suthar,  Ramesh Bhatia, Balkrishna Kher, Manohar Sharma, Sanjeev Rao, Amay Khurasia. He considers Captain Manohar Sharma as the foremost in this lot, as someone who had made it all the way but to the national team, by dint of his own hard work. Captain Manohar Sharma was known to me as a senior administrator. He was my manager in the Under 25 tournament at Madras in 1984-85. I knew him well as a pleasant, dignified and supportive gentleman who knew his cricket, but knew little of his history and wish I had read this book when he was alive. Captain Sharma led Vikram University, played Ranji for three states - MP, Services and Hyderabad, Zone and played for the Board President's XI against Sri Lanka, England and the West Indies. 

I was pleasantly surprised to find my name mentioned in the book based on my blog about my manager Captain Manohar Sharma. Though I did mention there that I would like to visit the various grounds when I visited Indore I did not, primarily because we stayed on the IIM campus which is far away from everything. But next time, with Dr Chitale, I hopefully will! 

Mention - and interestingly Capt Manohar Sharma is also in the pic to the right

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book. I am very impressed by Dr Avinash Chitale who put together this valuable book at his age, inspired he said by the one and only Sushil Doshi. Dr Chitale's enthusiasm is evident from the fact that he called me and told me of his book and I ordered it online. I got a signed copy by the author himself. Thank you so much Dr Chitale and my congratulations to you on writing such an important book. I now carry lots of memories from the book of the players, the place and the culture. Wishing the book and you all the very best and hoping to meet you sometime.  

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Thought for the Day - Mindfulness is Actually Bringing More of Us In

 Mindfulness is being mindful. Our mind keeps wandering away into the past and future and the idea of mindfulness is to bring it to the present so the mind is present. When the mind is present, we are present. And when we are present, we bring more of ourselves into the work we are doing.

No wonder our work is normally not fully there - because we only bring some part of ourselves to it. When we keep our mind present, we bring our entire self into the act. Our body is fully there, because our mind is fully within our body.

It's a nice practice - to be fully present as I type, as I listen, as I sit, write, read. I can see a sense of deliberateness coming into the act. A quiet. A care. Love even.

Mindfulness at work. Mindfulness is love perhaps.  

Pushpa The Rise - Movie

Pushparaj is a coolie, born out of wedlock to a rich man, who rises from the ranks of a coolie to become the chief of the syndicate that is controlling the smuggling of red sandalwood from Seshachalam Hills in Chittoor district.  What is impressive is the nativity of the region that's been so well captured - something that's been missing all this while. Suddenly we are seeing our land in so many hues - Malayalam, Bhojpuri, Badrinath, Chittor district. Allu Arjun completely dominates the show with a superb performance and despite my reservations about movies based on gangsters, I must say this one was well crafted. I liked it.


Monday, March 7, 2022

No Time to Die - Movie

 Bond dies in this movie. I could not figure what he was trying to do etc so I was happy to let him go. There was nothing Bondesque - the villain is sad and not threatening, Bond looks like he will cry any moment, the heroine is never in a swim suit and is crying most of the time. Why would Bond marry? I am glad they killed him off.


Sunday, March 6, 2022

Canteen Fundas - Art of Making Connections and the Power of Vulnerability

 The power of vulnerability in making genuine connections!

E-Canteen Fundas: Being vulnerable is the highest form of being yourself and can make you a better leader

To make genuine, wholehearted connections with others, be seen as you are. To be seen as you are, have the courage to accept your imperfections

Be vulnerable, be you | (Pic: Edexlive)

‘I’m amazed at how easily Sujith connects with people,’ said Rinku. ‘I wish I could connect to people like that. It’s a great quality for a leader to possess.’

‘Absolutely,’ said Rahul. ‘Some people connect easily while some struggle. Wonder what the trick is.’

‘You should watch this TED talk by BrenĂ© Brown on The Power of Vulnerability,’ said Rakesh. ‘It throws up some interesting perspectives.’

‘Vulnerability?’ asked Rahul. ‘That’s the farthest thing from leadership, isn’t it? Vulnerable people are like cry babies, no? People don’t like cry babies, bhaiyya.’

‘According to Brene Brown, people who make connections easily have certain characteristics that those who experience disconnection do not,’ smiled Rakesh.

‘What are those, bhaiyya?’ asked Rinku. ‘Don’t tell me vulnerability is one.’

‘Let’s look at those who feel a disconnection first,’ said Rakesh. ‘She says those who experience fear of disconnection come from a space of shame. They feel they’re not worthy of connection, not good enough to be seen as they are. Naturally, they struggle to make connections.’

‘Oh,’ said Rahul. ‘Does that mean that we’re not feeling good enough about ourselves and that’s why we are not able to connect as well as Sujith? But we’re quite confident and self-assured, no bhaiyya?

‘Yes,’ smiled Rakesh. ‘But obviously, you need more than that to connect. And sometimes Rahul, our confidence and self-assurance can put people off.’

‘Oh and those who make connections, bhaiyya?’ asked Rinku. ‘What’s their mindset?’

‘Those who make connections easily have a sense of worthiness, a sense of love and belonging,’ said Rakesh. ‘As simple as that.’

‘So, the next question is obviously this,’ said Rinku. ‘How can we improve our sense of worthiness so that we connect easily to others?”

‘Ms Brown has identified four qualities,’ said Rakesh. ‘They are — courage, compassion, authenticity and vulnerability.’

‘Courage?’ asked Rahul. ‘As in brave? Out there? Lead from the front? Larger than life? Confident?’

‘No,’ smiled Rakesh. ‘Courage as in simply being okay with who you are, warts and all. The courage to be imperfect. When you’re good enough for yourself, you become a wholehearted person. You feel worthy. You’re someone others find easy to connect to, because you are human.’

‘Oh,’ said Rahul. ‘And how do we use compassion to connect better to the team?’

‘Genuine compassion comes from those who are first compassionate to themselves,’ said Rakesh. ‘When you are compassionate with yourself, you can be genuinely compassionate with others. You reach out to others at an energy level, making it easy for them to trust you, and consequently, connect.’

‘And authenticity, bhaiyya?’ asked Rinku. ‘We all are authentic aren’t we?’

‘We are, to a large extent,’ said Rakesh. ‘But we all hide some parts of ourselves which we are not sure of. Authentic people are what they really ‘are’ and not what they ‘should be’. They are not playing a role. Others can feel the gap when we are not fully ‘there’. Just as they sense the openness to connect when we are who we are.’

‘I know,’ said Rahul. ‘I show only my best side and hide certain aspects from others.’

‘I get courage, compassion and authenticity,’ said Rinku. ‘But how can being vulnerable help in making connections. Like Rahul said, aren’t they like cry babies?”

‘No Rinku,’ said Rakesh. ‘Being vulnerable is the highest form of being yourself, of being seen as you are without feeling shame or inhibition. Without that feeling of ‘not being good enough’. You are vulnerable when you are yourself despite knowing you could be rejected and hurt. Wholehearted people embrace vulnerability, despite feeling unsure. They believe vulnerability is what makes them beautiful and human. Look at the people around you, stories you hear, movies you see — you realise that it’s to those who are willing to be vulnerable that you feel connected to, that you want to help. And vulnerability is not being a cry baby. It just means you are enough as you are — crying or otherwise.’

‘Hmm,’ said Rahul. ‘But bhaiyya, this is very different from my understanding of leaders? Does it work to be so vulnerable?’
‘It works not just for leaders but for everyone who wants to feel connected,’ said Rakesh. ‘Being vulnerable is being secure with your imperfections and trying your best. It’s honest. It creates a safe environment for everyone because people don’t feel threatened. We think of our leaders as perfect pillars, smooth and strong. But we cannot make a genuine connection when there is no crack to hold on to. If we try, we simply slip and slide off. Such leaders are inaccessible. But if the leader is vulnerable and shows a crack, an imperfection, it gives us an opportunity to hold on, to connect. To help.’

‘Hmm, makes sense,’ said Rahul. ‘Any other advantages apart from making connections?’

‘It’s the easiest way to live,’ said Rakesh. ‘When you’re vulnerable you love without guarantee, can be who you are without holding back. Being vulnerable is being fully alive because you let your walls down and allow life in. You trust life. And by simply believing you are ‘enough’ as you are, you listen empathetically and are kinder and gentler — qualities any human can be proud of. Be vulnerable and watch how it works wonders.’

‘Thanks, bhaiyya,’ smiled Rinku.

Pro Tip: To make genuine, wholehearted connections with others, be seen as you are. To be seen as you are, have the courage to accept your imperfections, be compassionate to yourself first and then others, be authentic as you are and most importantly, be vulnerable, which allows others to connect to you.