Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Breathing (Ki) Exercises for Hapkido Students by Satish Nargundkar

 I asked Satish, a Hapkido black belt, to teach me the breathing exercises they do and he showed them to me. He was also kind enough to share a video link to the exercises that he had demonstrated. I feel they are very useful so I asked him if I could share the link and he agreed.

Here they are.


Monday, May 30, 2022

The Sundar Nagar Joy of Sharing Club!

Without doubt the first idea of sharing was inspired by Abhinay and friends when they invited me to a TEDx event at VJIET and offered new bestselling books for free. Despite my age and my exposure I was surprised - free? Any book? I realised we have such deep rooted beliefs about anything free, such mistrust that the world can offer anything free to us, just for love. That really made a strong impression and I felt that to make people more 'giving' and 'receiving' we need to encourage the spirit of sharing.

Darahas made the poster

Prasad garu and me 

Then of course I see these news items on WhatsApp - people giving away free food by keeping a fridge in the wall facing the road, people collecting old clothes and giving them away free, Goonj collecting all sorts of urban waste and recycling and reusing the same. 

Me sharing Gopichand's bio with Darahas

Joy of sharing


Each time I give away stuff I feel I should find someone who could use it well. I remember how precious the first laptop that Sunny had given me was to me (he was about to throw it away but it was a lifeline to me), the first mobile (Shobhs had got a new one and I got the discard), used socks from Naresh (they were a lifeline the US socks for my cricket), used books from Dad's collection and so many others who had opened their collections to me, clothes, Sanjay's Akai music system, and what not. Each much treasured.

Looking at the stuff he picked

Good energy

So I bounced the idea off with a 'Share a book'concept with Anjali and we kept many books at the community hall as part of some function and we managed to share many books. But I remember how a child wanted to pick up a comic and her mother would not let her. She was worried about the catch I am sure. We fear what others will think of us, what the trap is, whether it is seen as being greedy - oof too many such complexes. Anyway after that Secretary went away (even he had questions like, should we give them free, should we exchange etc), the idea died.

Comics and play things

Anirudh and Rushita helping someone

Until I met young Darahas who has a reasonable following among the youth of the colony. I told him of the idea and how we can all share stuff and make it a regular habit and he said he would help. We finally fixed a date and he did all the work - spoke to the colony Secretary, arranged for snacks etc, organised the participants, arranged the display, made posters and so on.

One pic

Yesterday we finally had our first 'Joy of Sharing Club' event where we shared about 30 odd books, (5 of mine included), 50 comics (Anjali), my old cricket kit, Darahas's shoes, sports t shirts, Anjali's old Wii Sports, socks, coolers, toys, play items, Jenga blocks and what not. A small bunch of kids came - some 20 odd and Darahas kicked off the proceedings with an introduction to me. I explained the idea and how when they all share, they will have a better society around them using recycled resources. Then Prasad garu the Secretary spoke and then we asked the kids to go for it.

A better one with Prasad garu

I began the proceedings by gifting Darahas Gopichand's bio. Vishnu took 'Mana Akkineni'. Anirudh picked up '50 NO'. Pranav took 'The Men Within'. I gave Rushita 'This Way..' and she said it was apt because she shared a great relationship with her Dad. The younger ones took the cricket stuff, comics, and within half an hour we achieved our goal (almost) of getting rid of everything.

Table full of books

Cricket kit, shoes, Wii, t shirts, an old ipod

Job well done!

Despite the encouragement many would pick one comic and stop - I had to force them to take more and tell them that every book should go by the end of the evening. I know how important a single visual, a single story, a single act, can impact a life and if this idea made them that much happier and open to life, it was well worth it. 

We took some pictures and well, it was a treat to see the faces on the kids faces. We hope to handhold this for a few times and then hopefully the younger ones will take it forward. Prasad garu was of the opinion that we should do this once a month and I think its a good idea. So thanks Abhinay and all others who have inspired this activity. And much thanks to Darahas and his gang and I hope they will carry this idea forward.         

Thought for the Day - Happiness!

 So we don't need a lot of things to be happy - we can just be happy wherever we are, whatever we are, however we are. Just like these two.

Sitting in the back of the truck, chatting and smiling away, easy and relaxed. Happiness.

Even better. Life!

The Pune Diaries - Day 4 (May 13, 2022)

Day 4 was more about clearing stuff and sleeping the heat off and walking with Milind and drinking cold coffee at Durga. Raja left and we continued with the clearing work, emptying cupboards. getting quotes to ship the furniture etc. Found some priceless stuff like this identity card of Kaka, Shobha's father, when he worked at Singareni Collieries.

Kaka's id card (Pic Satish N)

Marla and Satish - eons ago 

Shobha and Anjali went to watch Dr Strange at City Pride and Milind landed up with some beer so we sat at home and chatted for a while until it was time for the movie to get over. I think we planned a meal at Barometer but Milind was of the opinion that Barometer was better for breakfast. Anyway Satish and I went over to pick them up and we discovered that Barometer had a huge waiting time.

We turned around and went directly to the ever reliable Fish Curry and Rice. The waiter was pretty surprised to hear Satish order chicken biryani - in a place called Fish Curry and Rice? Anyway, we assured him that all was well and he did manage to get some chicken curry going. Fish Curry and Rice is always a nice place to go to.

Watched some boring IPL game on TV and crashed out. Reading the book 'Why we sleep' is giving me a lot of ideas of how to sleep and how I may have missed out on much. I realise that despite my best intentions I cannot get any work done on my manuscript this trip so I dutifully put it away.       

Thursday, May 26, 2022

The Pune Diaries - Day 3 (May 12, 2022)

 Pune is hot - very unlike earlier years. So a walk in the morning and then back home and its draining enough to crash out for an hour or so again. Our food is mainly through Swiggy or our reliable Madhuri tai who has sent us a couple of meals - she has hinted she may not be around over the weekend. But today she sent some nice upma or poha or some such nice breakfast.

Anjali wants to watch a movie - Dr Strange. But today Raja and Prarthana were to come home so the plan got shifted to the next day. Most of the day went in rummaging through the cupboards and finding old books, old photos, old certificates (including Aai's birth certificate from 1929 - I don't even have mine). This went on for most of the day and it was fun to hand around doing all  this cleaning up stuff etc.

As evening set in Raja and I set out to get some rum and coke and we settled down to watch some IPL game and chat alongside. Soon Shambhavi dropped in primarily to explain the idea of cluster development and possible scenarios of what one can do with the house. Milind and Neelima dropped in and conversation went on till late in the evening. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Why We Sleep -Mathew Walker

Abhinay gave me this book a couple of months ago to read and I wish I had read it twenty years ago. Even now I feel it could be a game changer for me. Mathew Walker has researched sleep extensively and his book gives us certain pointers on how sleep must be understood. For starters he says that those who do not get 8 hours of sleep (those who get less than 6-7 hours of sleep) are in danger of health issues like a weakened immune system, double the risk of cancer, Alzheimer's, pre-diabetic, cardiovascular disease and stroke, obesity (less sleep tends to eat more). Also the shorter you sleep, the shorter your life span he says. So much so that WHO has apparently called out a sleep epidemic in industrialised nations i.e. people suffering from lack of sleep.

On the plus side, apart from the health benefits, a good 8 hour sleep enriches your ability to learn, memorise, helps creativity, helps make logical decisions, calibrates brain circuits, helps through dreams, restores immune system and helps fight malignancy and infection.

Walker explains that we all follow the circadian rhythm of the day and night, of 24 hours, and though we may have different rhythms (day birds and night owls), we must get our eight hours of sleep. He explains how this chemical called melatonin runs after dusk and brings on sleep and then shuts off gradually towards dawn helping you wake up. Research of sleep deprived professionals such as cabin crew of airlines who fly across continents and are coping with jetlag and its effect on their circadian rhythms, had parts of their brain related to learning and memory shrunk and their short term memory was impaired.

In short our
1) 24 hour circadian rhythm of suprachiasmatic nucleus and
2) the sleep pressure that builds on due to adenosine build up -
are what decide our wakefulness and sleep cycles.

When we drink caffeine we suppress adenosine (caffeine is the second most sold commodity after oil apparently). An interesting study shared is that of a spider that made its web after being administered LSD, speed, marijuana and caffeine and guess which affected it most - caffeine! And we encourage our kids to drink caffeine.

In a normal human, after a good 8 hour sleep, adenosine is purged and the circadian rhythm begins - ready for 16 hours of wakefulness. 

To know whether you had a full nights' sleep or not check this

1) after waking up,  can you fall asleep at 10-11 am again

2) can you function optimally without caffeine before noon

Sleep Verification

The gold standard for verification of sleep includes measurement of 1) brainwave activity 2) eye movement activity 3) muscle activity.

A good sleep cycle will include NREM sleep (non rapid eye movement sleep), deep NREM sleep and REM sleep (rapid eye movement sleep). Now NREM sleep and REM sleep go through a push-pull cycle of 90 minutes during which the first half is of NREM sleep and the second half is of REM sleep. NREM weeds out unnecessary neural connections while REM strengthens those connections - which means one needs both NREM and REM sleep for greater neural efficacy. What begins in infants or babies upto 6 month as 50:50 between these two, becomes 70:30 for a five year old and 80:20 for teens and adults. NREM activity typically is more during the early part of the 8 hour sleep while REM activity is more during the latter part of the 8 hour sleep cycle - so one cannot do without both ends. If sleep is insufficient, siestas are good. Daytime naps offer significant motor skill memory. 

Why Sleep

When we sleep before learning, we get a 20% learning advantage because it helps make new memories. By sleeping less than 6 hours we shortchange the brain of this learning restoration benefit. Similarly sleeping after learning helps 'save' newly created files. The more deep NREM sleep we have the more information we remember. It was found that sleep selectively boosted words tagged to 'remember' and avoided memories tagged to 'forget'. Practice of a game or music piece followed by a night of sleep led to perfection. 

A study on sleep loss and injury showed the following corelation - - 6 hours of sleep - 7% chance, 7 hours - 60%, 8 hours - 30%, 9 hours -15%.

Walker suggests that creativity increases when you sleep.

Sleep Deprivation and its Harmful Effects

Guinness Book of World Records recognised the dangers of sleep deprivation and has stopped sleep deprivation records. As mentioned earlier a host of health problems that include Alzheimer's, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, suicide, stroke, cancer, diabetes, heart attack, infertility, weight loss, obesity and immune deficiency.

Sleep deprivation leads to loss of concentration. We fall into micro sleeps which cause accidents. An experiment showed that a person who had 4 hours of sleep for 6 nights had a 400% increase in micro sleep! For someone who was sleepless and had alcohol, the result was 30 times worse than a sober person.

Walker says that for those who have no option, power naps could be a solution - in the early 30 minutes - which momentarily increases concentration (but does not help with complex functions)

Sleep deprivation causes emotional instability, aggressiveness. Those who do all nighters before exams actually tend to forget what they learned soon after. But if you study and sleep after learning, it consolidates learning.


Scientists can predict content of dreams using MRI scans

REM sleep includes emotional and mental health and boosts problem solving and creativity

REM Sleep + Dreams about trauma leads to healing

Walker cites the scientist Mendleev who cracked the elementary table after a night's sleep and Paul McCartney who dreamt of the song 'Yesterday' after sleep.

More importantly he says good sleep makes the difference between knowledge and wisdom, code cracking and problem solving

Dreaming - experience and past experience

Sleep disorders 

These include somnambulism (sleep walking), insomnia (dissatisfaction with sleep quality or quantity, difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, early morning awakening). Insomnia would mean that one has to have these issues for at least 3 nights a week for over three months. Narcolepsy (excessive day time sleep, sleepiness, sleep paralysis or cataplexy).

Alcohol, alarms, sleeping pills are not good for sleep. Instead they say try Cognitive Behavior Therapy CBT-1 which is considered the first treatment for insomnia (not sleeping pills).

Benefits of sleep in education

Of the many benefits of sleep is the connection between sleep and education. It was found that the longer the child slept the more intellectually gifted they were. It is no secret that a tired and under slept brain is like a leaky sieve. Two disasters that were caused by human error - Chernobyl and Exxon oil spill - were the result of tired and underslept people.

12 Tips to Sleep

- Stick to a sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time. This is most important.

- Exercise for 30 minutes but not later tan 2-3 hours before bed time

- Avoid caffeine before bed. Same with nicotine, coffee, teas, chocolate 

- Avoid alcohol before bed (heavy use robs you of REM sleep)

- Avoid large meals and beverages late at night (indigestion)

- Avoid medicines that delay or disrupt sleep

- Don't nap after 3 pm

- Relax before bed - read, listen to light music, don't use LED lighting (mobile, laptop, TV screens) because it suppresses melatonin and delays sleep

 - Let the room be dark and cool, wash your face before bed, make room gadget free, no noises, lights, get good mattresses, avoid TV, mobile in room, get a good pillow, avoid clock (for clock watchers)

- Sunlight exposure is good for sleep so get 30 minutes of sunlight exposure every day. Wake up with the sun. Experts recommend getting an hour of exposure to morning sunlight, turning down lights before bed time

- Don't lie awake in bed - if you cannot sleep get up and do something until you fall asleep

Okay, so there's this site called https://www.sleepfoundation.org/ you can check on and sleep better. 

I loved the book. For years I felt I could do with little sleep going by some accounts of busy people's lives. But Walker says clearly that it is not good at all and we perform less than our capability. I have at least two or three episodes where sleep deprivation had me very disoriented and that's a feeling I can never forget. I know I still try to push my nights and try to get up early which is clearly a bad,bad idea. I am now convinced about the benefits of an 8 hour sleep and I promise myself that for the rest of my life. I must certainly thank Abhinay for giving me this book and opening my eyes to sleep!  


Canteen Fundas - Judging People and Helping Them Grow

How to judge people and how to promote them! 


E-Canteen Fundas: Team members up for promotion? Here's what leaders should keep in mind

Promote those who have been consistent — but don’t promote marginal cases for fear of losing them. If they’re good they will learn and shine through eventually

Here's what he says | (Pic: Edexlive)

‘I’m planning to promote some of our team members,’ said Rinku. ‘But I’m confused about who to promote.’

‘What are you confused about?’ asked Rakesh.

‘For example, Rithu is a good candidate, in my opinion, with the right intent,’ said Rinku. ‘But she says something and does the opposite. Like she says all the right words — ownership, commitment, responsibility and team first — but I see nothing of that in her actions.’

‘Yes, bhaiyya,’ said Rahul. ‘Even I get confused with such people. They say all the right things but do the opposite.’

‘That’s a good observation,’ said Rakesh. ‘The general rule when it comes to judging people is to judge them by their actions, not their words. That’s because most of us believe we’re doing what we’re saying, while in reality, we may be doing the opposite. Like a person may talk with great conviction about being punctual but may be a habitual latecomer. She may genuinely believe she has valid justifications for being late often.’

‘On the other end are people who deliberately mislead with words because they know that most people give the spoken word greater importance than deeds,’ said Rakesh and continued, ‘Such people can take others on an emotional ride of how they were delayed, obscuring the important fact that they are actually late. So for a leader, it is important to judge people by their deeds and not their words. Are they actually coming on time? Are they showing proof of ownership? If they are not, don’t get swayed by mere words, however emotional or emphatic.’

‘But bhaiyya,’ said Rinku. ‘What if some of them, like Rithu, are well-intentioned but, for some reason, are not able to put their thought into action? Should we not give them a chance?’

‘That’s excellent leadership thinking,’ said Rakesh. ‘When it comes to the future — always give them the benefit of doubt. Believe that they are well-intentioned and will change their behaviour with timely feedback that shows the gap between their words and actions. Don’t label them based on one deed and write them off for life, because they could turn around and do what they intend. But when it comes to the present, judge them by their deeds.’

‘So, you’re saying that Rithu’s errors must not be overlooked while judging her for the present role,’ said Rinku.

‘Absolutely,’ said Rakesh. ‘They say a person is true to his character when erring. It means that errors give a good insight into the character of the person. If you can understand their errors and their motivations, you can judge them better and will have fewer surprises, that is, the gap between your expectations from them and their delivery will be less.’

‘That’s very helpful, bhaiyya,’ said Rinku. ‘There are two people I’m considering promoting as group leaders. One’s Sheelu who’s been a reliable performer. Nothing outstanding but she is consistent. The other is Rithu who performed well this time but there’s a gap between her words and deeds. I am thinking of promoting both.’

‘Why?’ asked Rakesh. ‘I can understand why you want to promote Sheelu. But why do you want to promote Rithu when you’re not sure if she’s ready?’

‘I want to encourage her, bhaiyya,’ said Rinku. ‘I feel if she does not get the promotion, she will get disappointed and stop working so hard. She may give up even. I need to develop my teammates, right?’

‘Good point,’ said Rakesh. ‘But to develop your people, you need to make them tougher. Don’t give the rewards too easy. Don’t lower your standards. Set high standards and give them feedback. The best leader, they say, is easy to serve but hard to please. If you give Rithu the promotion because you think she will be disappointed and give up, then you’re promoting her for the wrong reasons. If she’s the sort who’ll give up at the first sign of failure, she’s not ready yet. You need people who can handle failure and grow past their limitations.’

‘Are you saying that the ability to handle failure could be a criterion in judging people?’ asked Rahul.

‘Yes,’ said Rakesh. ‘I’m sure you’ve heard of organisations that select people based on how they have handled failure in the past. They prefer those who have experienced failure, worked on their limitations, and then made a comeback — over those who have not experienced failure at all. So very simply, if you think they’ll give up after one failure, they’re not yet ready.’

‘Isn’t that a little harsh, bhaiyya?’ asked Rinku.

‘Not really,’ said Rakesh. ‘It’s the right thing to do for their own sake. It’s how you develop them. If they are really good, they will shine through. You cannot keep good talent and good attitude down. If they give up after one failure, it only means they need to learn some more.’

‘Wow,’ said Rinku. ‘Never thought of it like that. Thanks, bhaiyya. No room for misplaced sympathy in people's development. Tough love and empathy is the way to go.’

Pro Tip: Judge people by their deeds and not their words. Don’t label them based on their present actions and write them off for life because they might turn around and improve with correct feedback. Promote those who have been consistent — but don’t promote marginal cases for fear of losing them. If they’re good they will learn and shine through eventually.

Canteen Fundas - Leadership is About Being Other-Centric

Why good leaders care or their team members genuinely? 


E-Canteen Fundas: Being a leader is all about being 'other-centric' and genuinely caring for your team

To get the best out of your team members, care for them as one would care for one’s children. Love is bringing out the best in your team members, by exploring their talents and helping them

As a leader, it is always others first | (Pic: Edexlive)

‘Bhaiyya,’ said Rinku. ‘Some of my team members are not fully loyal to me or the team. You keep telling us that it’s the leader’s job to develop the individuals in the team. Why should I?’

‘Yes,’ said Rahul. ‘Why should we care?’

‘Because your results are dependent on the individuals in your team,’ said Rakesh. ‘When individuals feel taken care of, they perform well and you get better results. There’s an old saying that goes — The wise leader meets the individual’s needs, just as a parent does for his children.’

‘That’s too much,’ said Rinku. ‘On one hand, they’re not doing enough and you say we have to care for them like parents.’

‘Good leaders do that,’ said Rakesh. ‘They’re genuinely concerned about every team member and their growth. Though you may feel they do not deserve any love from us, we must persist as parents do with children who may have different ways. As they say, evidence of trust begets trust and love is reciprocated by love.’

‘But can’t we get work done without getting too close with them?’ said Rahul. ‘This caring and loving stuff is sounding too sentimental.’

‘Rahul, it’s only when people feel emotionally connected that they take up things on a personal level and go to great lengths,’ said Rakesh. ‘Do you want your team members to work in a normal, transactional way or do you want them to feel fully connected to the job like they own it? As we all know, team members and employees have made the greatest sacrifices for their teams in the past. The choice is yours — would you like your team members to be superficially involved or deeply involved.’

‘I’d like them to be deeply involved,’ said Rinku. ‘Whatever it takes.’

‘Right,’ said Rakesh. ‘In which case, follow the Chinese philosopher and general, Sun Tzu, who said — Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys, look on them as your beloved sons and they will stand by you even unto death.’

‘Isn’t that a bit too intense?’ said Rahul. ‘Might work on the battlefield. But here, all we need is some good work without having to go through all this love business. And bhaiyya, many sons and daughters are abandoning their parents these days. These people might abandon us too.’

‘I think you need to first understand what love means,’ said Rakesh. ‘Love is to bring out the best in people you love and care for. So, with regards to all the people you love, ask yourself — are you bringing out the best in them?’

‘Never thought of it like this, bhaiyya,’ said Rinku. ‘Bringing out the best in others sounds like a cool definition of love. Now what Sun Tzu said about loving your team members makes sense — we care enough to bring out the best in them and it’s the leader’s job to do it.’

‘How do we actually get the best out of them, bhaiyya?’ asked Rahul.

‘Firstly, delegate wisely, that is, give them jobs that make them stretch and let them find their way,’ said Rakesh. ‘Make them feel like they have a stake in the group, allow them to contribute and make mistakes because that’s how they grow. Be around to guide and support them without getting in their way or suppressing their creativity and initiative. Like how it should happen in a family.’

‘But we do all these things anyway, right?’ asked Rahul. ‘What’s the difference here?’

‘Rahul, don’t just go through the motions looking for results,’ laughed Rakesh. ‘Genuinely care for them and they will give everything for you. As a leader, you must genuinely be other-centred, not self-centred. Be approachable. Know them well — their aspirations, motives and limitations. Listen to what they have to say and weigh it. Then you can develop them in the way that’s best for them.’

‘Hmm,’ said Rinku. ‘It needs patience and genuine interest in the team members’ development. I must confess I haven’t walked that extra mile with my team.’

‘Ideally, such leaders develop their team members gently, non-intrusively, without them even realising that the leader is doing it,’ said Rakesh. ‘This has been the approach of Confucius, another great Chinese philosopher, on leadership, and its best expressed in this quote — To be able, yet to ask the advise of those who are not able, to have many talents yet to ask the advise of those who have few, to have yet to appear to want, to be full yet to appear empty, to be transgressed against yet not mind.

‘What does that mean, bhaiyya?’ asked Rahul.

‘It means that the leader who loves his team like a parent develops each individual in a manner that the individual feels she has done it herself. Though the leader knows everything, she will still seek advice and help from team members who do not know more, making them think and feel valued. Though the leader has everything, she appears to want, thus, motivating the team members to strive for more. Though the leader is attacked, she does not mind, knowing that these are her children. Such is the stuff great leaders are made of.’

‘Wow,’ said Rinku. ‘I have to learn to be other-centric, think about my individual team members' good, and facilitate their development in a fashion that they feel they have done it themselves. That way they grow the fastest. That’s true love.’

‘Thanks, bhaiyya,’ said Rahul. ‘I would like to bring out the best in all my close relationships by knowing them and their deepest aspirations and helping them achieve that. Like you said, that’s true love.’

Pro Tip: To get the best out of your team members, care for them as one would care for one’s children. Love is bringing out the best in your team members, by exploring their talents and helping them open up possibilities that even they may not be aware of.

Monday, May 23, 2022

The Pune Diaries - Day 2

It's super hot in Pune which was not the case in earlier years. I managed to wake up early and catch a walk with Milind which culminated in a gulacha chai (or rather chai with jaggery). It was a long and leisurely walk and we stopped for breakfast at Prithvi.

Maria's birthday so we decided to call her and also drop in for a chai. We drove down to their house and met Maria, Parth and Manik maushi over chai. We then drove back to Konkan Express which was top of Anjali's places to visit. The Municipal guys seemed to have removed the shaded parts outside where they had seating arrangement and now the restaurant shrunk to a mere three or four seats inside. The food was good though I didn't eat much.

I had this funny feeling that day of being so full that I had no appetite at all which is a first for me ever -but the heat does funny things so I decided to chill and take it easy. Of course the heat would also not let me do any other work so I just crashed out most of the day.

Evening was the time to head out to Durga Cafe which is a fine addition to Dahanukar Colony and we met Milind and Neelima and had some cold coffee and stuff before returning home. The kitchen not being fully functional we gave Swiggy much business. 

The heat was first for me. Just knocked me out senseless. Global warming they say - from years we have been hearing about it. Looks like it finally caught up with us. 

Anyway, we took some old stuff out from the cupboards and sorted some books and stuff which was a huge achievement. 

Sunday, May 22, 2022

The Pune Diaries - Day 1

 May 10, 2022

As planned we  set out at 530ish - all five on time and piled into the faithful Ertiga. In a couple of hours we stopped at Zaheerabad for a chai (and beedi - in memory of Kaka).

Tea break at Zaheerabad

Anjali woke up and started her games - this was was really cool - each one had to pick a song to play and that was a fun experience. Raja, Satish, Shobhs, Anjali and I - the range of songs was fun to experience and it really spread over languages, time and genre and kept us entertained and also gave us some insight into the kind of stuff that person likes to listen to - very nice. Pretty much kept us going till Pune.

Chai at Z'bad

I took a break and a quick nap between Zaheerabad and Naldurg where we stopped for breakfast at Sai Prasad. Some nice poha and idli and stuff and off we went to Pune with hardly a break. We reached Pune at 230 which was good time.

Breakfast at Hotel  Sai Prasad 


Dropped Raja off at his house at Kondhwa and after somefine chicken sandwiches from Mondegar that Prarthana ordered, we headed off to Kothrud.  

The drive was really good. Four laned all through, lots of eateries. The music session in the car was super fun and it was good to see Anjali take the lead and host the show all along!

Monday, May 16, 2022

Pune in Summer

 Two years ago before the pandemic we spent lose to a month in Pune. Anjali was growing up and was old enough to understand things and people and has set out making her own relationships - with her grandmother, cousins, uncles and aunts. It was a wonderful time and we decided to spend our summers in Pune since. There's a lot to do in Pune - places to see, walk, hike, trek, eating places, people to meet. Even the trees and the weather (then) was very beautiful.

But then came the pandemic and things changed. We could not come for the next couple of summers and then Shobha's mom passed away. Though we stay in the same house when we visit it is not the same anymore. But this time when Shobha's brother from the US, Satish came visiting, it was an opportunity to meet everyone perhaps one last time in this house.

Milind it was who organised the get together - Shashi maushi and Manik maushi, Milind, Neelima, Gauri, Parth, Maria, Raja, Anu, Meera, Mangala tai, Suhita, Miskil, Khayal, Shobhs, me and Anjali, Satish and so on. It was a fun get together and we all caught up over some good food and conversations.

Monday, May 9, 2022

Akela Gets Spayed

 The issue of Akela getting pregnant and the attendant issues of pups and their separation etc was on our mind and since Akela had adopted us, we decided that the best way was to get her spayed. And so we took her to CanFel where the good doctor (Anjali likes him and he likes Anjali too) said she was not pregnant and we could get her spayed on Tuesday.

Anjali has holidays so she could really take care of Akela pre-op, during op and post op. She is so good with the dog that I really envy the care and love the dogs get from her. Feeding them, loving them, giving medicines, taking care in the hospital and out of it - really good.

Akela has now spent a whole week at home recovering and Anjali took care of her. Now Akela is backto spending time outside from last night. Big job done. Well done Anjali.  

End of Another Year - Arts Management at the University of Hyderabad, 2022

 Last day of the course today. Glad that we had offline classes after two years. The classes sarted slowly but picked up energy along the way. Ended on a good note once again. Thanks everyone - University, Faculty, Students, Staff.

 Some of the exercises we did in class - people skills.

I've asked the students to give some feedback which I will post here when I get it.

Saani Kaayidham - Movie

 2022. Tamil. Interesting movie - lots of violence. Caste angles, upper caste fellows want to teach a lower caste fellow a lesson and do the most horrid things to his family, leaving his wife alive but raped. How she gets her revenge along with her step brother is the rest of the story.

The violence kept me going for some reason. Then you realise we are suckers for this kind of revenge stories any day. They've got that figured out. 

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Interesting Point of View - Fully Subscribe to It

I can't seem to get the link to it but the conversation goes 

- I am not going to leave my kids much because I am going to spend 85% of my earnings on me and my wife. Then the other person says, it's not what you give to them that makes them great but what you give in them that makes them do good and great stuff.

I subscribe to the idea. We can only give them education, life wisdom, values, the wisdom to have a sense of discretion, to understand the world and get along in it. And then, the freedom to pursue their path.

All else is just baggage.

A Poem That Anusree Shared

 Anusree, my student, shared this poem. She's on a journey to improve her language skills and as part of it she is listening to English videos and found this one. She said it was a good motivational poem and though she did not understand all the word she liked it.

I am so happy that she is doing what she is doing and also that she thought she should share it with me. Thank you Anusree.

Play it!

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Canteen Fundas - A Good Leader Should Know How to Follow

 When a leader knows how to obey (or follow), you have a good commander!


E-Canteen Fundas: What has obeying got to do with leading? Everything! This is why...

As an ex-leader or as an ordinary member, fulfill your role fully and help the team perform to its best by giving your inputs

Remember, always | (Pic: Edexlive)

‘Where have you been Rinku?’ asked Rahul. ‘We’ve been waiting for you!’

‘Two of our sports captains, Reena and Parul, have been replaced as per our rotation policy,’ said Rinku. ‘I went to the farewell party.’

‘They were very senior, weren’t they?’ said Rahul. ‘I wonder how they’ll adjust to being led by a junior. It might create ego issues, don’t you think?’

‘Reena has adjusted to being part of the team very well while Parul’s struggling.’

‘I can understand what Parul might be going through,’ said Rahul. ‘I went through the same thing when I was replaced as captain of the basketball team. I found it difficult to be led by my junior. It was an indignity.’

‘How can we handle it, bhaiyya?’ asked Rinku. ‘When someone has worked at a higher level, how can they obey others?’

‘As Greek philosopher, Aristotle says — he who has never learned to obey cannot be a good commander,’ said Rakesh. ‘Reena appears to have been a more secure and better leader than Parul — she knows how to obey, to follow.’

‘What has obeying got to do with leading?’ asked Rahul.

‘Leading is not about throwing your weight around or feeling like you’ve got a higher status than the others,’ said Rakesh. ‘Those are insecure behaviours that do not empower others. Leading is doing what is best for the team. A good leader always keeps the team’s needs ahead of her own and adjusts to her role.’

‘But what about our pride as a leader?’ asked Rahul.

‘It’s not about pride,’ smiled Rakesh. ‘It’s about the team. If the team’s not producing results, or has a rotation policy, the leader must accept and play her role to her best capacity — which includes following the new captain’s vision. Not be a disruptive force. Many cricket captains, including MS Dhoni who’s considered one of the finest captains, have been replaced, and they did a great job as members of the team. The ones who could not follow have had a negative effect on the team and have been removed. There are many cases of prime ministers of countries who chose simple lives and went back to leading productive lives as ordinary citizens. So there’s nothing to feel bad about when dropped as a skipper. It’s about the team, not you.’

‘What should we do with Parul then?’ asked Rinku. ‘What if she continues to sulk and create problems?’

‘It’s an energy issue,’ said Rakesh. ‘Parul’s feeling insecure. It helps if the new captain has a chat with her and makes her feel secure, valued and lets her know that her contribution can be very useful. If she continues to be a negative effect, then do what’s good for the team. All good teams have players who have led before, who focus on their roles and help the team with their experience and perspectives as an ex-leader.’

‘Hmm,’ said Rahul. ‘So, are you saying that a leader who knows how to follow is a better contributor to the team as opposed to someone who has not led previously?’

‘Yes,’ said Rakesh. ‘It benefits the team to have people who have led before and who know how to follow. Simply because they know what a captain wants from his players — 100 per cent involvement and effort. Most leaders’ energies go into motivating team members to give their best. So, when a secure ex-leader becomes part of a team, she gives her 100 per cent, adjusts her role, thinks like the captain, gives inputs without sulking or interfering and does what the captain expects from her without being told. It reduces the captain’s burden and makes it easy for the captain to focus on other issues.’

‘Hmm,’ said Rahul. ‘So, we need a team full of secure ex-captains to get great performances as a team?’

‘In principle, yes,’ laughed Rakesh. ‘But since we cannot get a team full of ex-captains, it makes sense to have everyone ‘feel’ like a leader — including insecure ex-captains like Parul. A secure captain transfers ownership of the team to each and every member and makes them feel as responsible as the captain. That way everyone starts thinking like a captain and gives 100 per cent — even without the title.’

‘How to transfer ownership. bhaiyya?’ asked Rinku. ‘I’d like players on my team to take more ownership.’

‘Simple,’ said Rakesh. ‘Treat them like they ‘own’ the team too. That it’s their responsibility too. The more responsibility you give, the more ownership they take. Let them experience freedom to think, contribute, take decisions. Be there to help and guide, but don’t rush in to sort their issues. Don’t always provide answers but give pointers, ask questions. Let them do their bit for the team in ways that benefit the team. That way we help them grow as secure leaders and get better results as a team. But remember, only a secure leader lets others take ownership — and obeys a new leader.’

‘Interesting,’ said Rahul. ‘When everyone in the team thinks like a leader, like an owner, the team works to its potential.’

‘Yes,’ said Rakesh. ‘Works everywhere — as citizens in the society, as team players, as family members. So, are you thinking like a leader in all your teams, taking ownership for what’s happening around you and helping out the leader?’

‘No, bhaiyya,’ said Rinku shaking her head. ‘But I’ll start today.’

Pro Tip: Think like a leader even when you are not the leader. As an ex-leader or as an ordinary member, fulfill your role fully and help the team perform to its best by giving your inputs and adjusting to what the team needs from you.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Lunana -- A Yak in the Classroom - Movie

 2019. Bhutanese. A simple, endearing story about a young government teacher who is posted to a remote school in a village called Lunana - which involves an eight day trek. The young teacher is not enthused and plans to return but stays back after meeting his eager students. He gets involved in teaching them, gets stuff from Thimphu for them and even wants to complete his course but is forced to return before winter. The villagers love him - and he gets a yak for his daily needs - which stays in the classroom. After a rather painful separation form his students who ask him to come back after winter, the teacher is  shown singing in a pub in Australia but one can see that his heart is not in it and that he would return to Lunana to teach and perhaps settle down there. Watch.


Badhai Do - Movie

 2022. An interesting though predictable premise backed by good actors like Raj Kumar and Bhumi Pednekar makes it quite an enjoyable watch. A gay cop marries a lesbian sports teacher with an understanding that they an keep their secret safe behind the marriage and carry on quietly. But the families persist and investigate and eventually find out - and its a relief for both and their partners to finally be out of the closet.


Wednesday, May 4, 2022

The Stories Behind Old Stuff - It's Time to Go

 I was rummaging through my stuff and found some stuff I saved up over time - an ipod that my brother Ram gifted me, an old telephone book, a pair of dark glasses...I don't use them anymore so they'll go. But they have interesting stories.

The IPod

The first music system I was ever exposed to was the record player at home that my father had. He bought a large collection of records and enjoyed his music. The next system he bought was the small single speaker cassette player sometime in 1982 - we moved to cassettes then. I hooked that up to the huge radio we had, which was not working very well then and it would make a louder sound but soon I graduated to buying my own stereo - a Phillips car stereo which was hooked upto to two small speakers. This contraption served me for 6-7 years through my college years and provided endless hours of pleasure (all repairs wee done by the thin chap fellow at Ameerpet - he'd get it going somehow. There were a couple of walkmans - I don't remember buying them - though Ratna Kumar gifted me a CD man which I rarely used.

My first big investment was the Phillips Deck - an all in one mini deck that Phillips thought of which did not need a separate player, a separate amp, a separate woofer and separate speakers. It came all in one with two speakers and man, was I over the moon when I bought it with money I had saved in Pune in 199192. That deck served me well for years and years and such lovely memories I have of Pune and later at Hyderabad - the many parties we had at my place. When it became old, I got myself a Sony deck in the late 1900s - now this was a huge improvement on the Phillips one ad had a CD player and a twin cassette player so we were in good shape with it for years. More parties and such.

And then Apple came with the iPod and Apple music and digital music killed all the fun in music. However the ease with which to carry 500 songs in your pocket in a sleek 2GB iPod was incredible - the sound quality was brilliant too. But it was way too expensive at 7000 bucks. Ram knew of my madness for music and on his trip to Dubai once, bought me this iPod. Ah, what fun, I loaded it with my fav songs and the iPod accompanied me everywhere - in the pocket, in the car and gave me years and years of great music experience. I think this would be closer to mid 2000  - 2005 or so or later. I remember considering buying a bigger iPod for storing more songs but then the smart phones started hitting the market and I realised that the phones would do the same job.

Of all the music gadgets - the iPod still remains - and as a wonderful reminder of the good old days. Thanks Ram.

  The Telephone Book

It was our only source of storing contacts - this tiny book that someone would gift us or we would buy at the Greeting Card stores. Filled with names, addresses, telephone numbers, birthdays and the like - it was our lifeline. I carried it in my pocket then with the same kind of care that we carry a mobile now. Lose it and you'll lose contacts that you may never find, addresses you'll never get. It's incredible how we got along those days - writing letters, sending greeting cards, making PP calls on STD after 11 pm.

It has some very interesting numbers and I shared pics with a couple of my old pals. This book was from the 1900s and had entries till 2010 almost. Until I got my first mobile phone I guess.

  The Coolers

It was always a style statement and we had no real reason to wear dark glasses in college then but when i started doing long distance drives I found them quite useful. I bought this pair in Somajiguda, made a big exception and spent happily to buy the pair and they served me very well for many trips over the years. Once I got glasses and the power increased enough for me to not be able to use the dark glasses I have stopped using them.

But they're in good shape my coolers and I wonder if I can find a home for them!

  The Watch

My first watch was a Titan - a simple fellow which I wore on my right hand - a gift from my brother-in-law or from my mother I'll never know (he took me to buy it and told me that my mother told him to, which was probably the truth). That served me until it died - I wonder how - but it did serve me many years. And then, the second watch I had was a gift from Shobha and Anjali who did some kind of bidding on a flight and got me this. It was quite nice and I used it for many years - I liked and I will still keep it and perhaps even use it. 

But then the mobiles came and we didn't need watches anymore - just like we don't need cameras anymore (hey, where are my old cameras - my Kodak Croma and others), or iPods or any players and so many other things. I would love to see how many days I'll last without a mobile now - I'll try it out sometime soon though. 

I think it needs a battery - I'll get it fixed.

 My First Mask

This was in early 2020 - COVID 19 had just made its entry and we were seeing it come closer and the need for masks was felt and I remember telling Shobha to buy a few when she had gone to visit Aunty at Pune - and she came back with a couple of these. 3Ms - N95 - which were rather advanced for then - but rather tacky as you can see. The band was pretty bad but hey, the initial days in Ratnadeep, I was the star wearing the only N95!

 There are stories everywhere we look around and I am amazed at how many things have helped, entertained, given me convenience or pleasure and how many people have gifted me these things. Its a fascinating life!