Thursday, June 30, 2022

Feedback Letters Over the Years - Goal Setting Workshop for Teenagers

 Here's some feedback for programs, talks, classes, writing, mentoring, just being  - over the years. Very precious to me. I found this the other day and decided to keep it someplace I can see it. These were workshops we did in 2014 - and now they are all lawyers, computer engineers, body builders and what not.

Anjali - Some New Paintings

 Anjali's been on a painting spree - some in collaboration and some on her own.


Anek - Movie

 2022. Hindi. A secret service agent is sent to the North East to break up the separatist groups who believe they were never treated like they were part of India and hence they are not Indians. The way to bring peace in the North East seems to be more dangerous than the existing situation as they create a new separatist group to reduce the clout of the main group and thus add fuel to the fire. In the politics that ensure, reaching the peace accord becomes bigger which means that the bigger warlord has to be appeased by sacrificing the one they created (one who is actually using that name to do some good work as well) and there are moral dilemmas.

Interestingly we see JD Chakravarthy after a long time and he does not lose any of his charm as Anjaiah Bellamkonda, IPS - a rather difficult name to process if you know Andhra and its names. Ayushman Khurana looks fir for the role and carries it off with great conviction. The young boxer and her story runs as a parallel, she representing the North East and Ayushman representing the government or mainland, making promises and deceiving her. Their love story however was rather weakly portrayed - for a while it appeared that he was mentoring or being the Big Brother to her but apparently he was in love.

In the end she wins and wears an India jacket. Nicely done. Gives a good insight into that play. Watch.


Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Top Gun: Maverick - Movie

 I remember the adrenaline of watching 'Top Gun' in 1986, the year in which I also discovered World Cup soccer and Brazil and Socrates. I was instantly hooked to 'Danger Zone', 'Take My Breath Away' and the 'Top Gun' theme. I still have that cassette somewhere. And, I cannot forget how we rode our fighter planes (my Bajaj Chetak, in death defying stunts on the way back - and survived that). Pure adrenaline. Everyone bought those glasses, those jackets, tried to make 100 cc bikes look like Tom Cruise's bike and well, that was that.

And now, 36 years later, I went to watch the sequel with Anjali at Prasad's and the entire dream came alive. Of course Tom Cruise now looks older and wiser like us, but he still has a few tricks to teach the young uns at the Top Gun school. Dangerous mission, he's brought back to teach, ends up leading - has his old wingman Goose's son to deal with. The movie is more or less predictable but the stunts and the style full make up and we end up feeling very good indeed. So many scenes are reprised - Cruise racing the plane on his bike, the bike, the jacket, the glasses, the fight scenes. Ah. Missed Kelly McGilis. That would have made it complete.

Liked it. So did Anjali.  

Monday, June 27, 2022

Canteen Fundas - Passionate About Something, Pay Attention to It and Start Living It!

To live your passions - start paying attention to them!

E-Canteen Fundas: Passionate about becoming a CEO? Here's how you can start working on it ASAP

To make your passions come true, start paying attention to them and start living your top 5 passions

Are you passionate? Then read this | (Pic: EdexLive)

‘Last week we identified our top 5 passions after doing the Passion Test,’ said Rinku. ‘My passions when living my ideal life are — I’m the greatest keyboard player in the world, I’m playing basketball for India, I’m helping people achieve their potential, I’m having fun and I’m spending quality time with my family.’

‘And my top passions are,’ said Rahul. ‘I’m a successful CEO of one of the top five companies in the world, I’m living a luxurious life, I’m having great relationships, I’m a celebrity and I’m having a lot of fun.’

‘Excellent,’ said Rakesh.

‘And we made passion cards with our top 5 passions and stuck them up so we can see them often,’ said Rahul. ‘But when I look at my passions I’m feeling tensed. Some of them look impossible. Have I asked for too much?’

‘No tension,’ smiled Rakesh. ‘Now that you’re clear about your top 5 passions, let the ideas sink in and firm up. The next step for you is to live it, which means that every time you get an opportunity to choose between living your passion or doing something else, choose in favour of living your passion.’

‘Bhaiyya, choosing in favour of having fun is easy,’ said Rahul. ‘But how can I choose in favour of living the life of a CEO of a top 5 company in the world? I’m only a student.’

‘Good question,’ said Rakesh. ‘Authors Janet Bray Attwood and Chris Attwood say that the more attention you pay to what you intend to create, the stronger it gets. Right now, your attention is weak on this passion of yours. To make it stronger, start giving attention and visualising how living the life of a successful CEO feels. To help one get started on the path of living your passions, the authors suggest tools like Passion Score Cards, Markers and Vision Boards.’

‘Interesting,’ said Rinku. ’How do they work?’

‘Let’s start with the Passion Score Card,’ said Rakesh. ‘Take a pen and paper and make three columns. In the first column write your top 5 passions. In the second write 'Attention score' and in the third write 'Living my passion'. Score yourself on ‘attention’ and ‘living it’ on a scale of 10. If for ‘Living the life of a CEO’, ‘attention’ is at 4/10 and ‘living it’ is 0/10, improve your attention on it. The more attention you give, the more clarity you’ll get on further steps to take that lead towards living that passion.’

‘Bhaiyya, my scores on my passion of ‘having fun’ is 7/10 on ‘attention’ and 8/10 on ‘living it’,’ said Rinku.

‘Great,’ said Rakesh. ‘Once you get high scores, say more than 7/10, it means it has become part of your life. You are living your life aligned to a passionate life.’

‘Hmm,’ said Rahul. ‘My scores are low bhaiyya. Can we change our passions?’

‘Sure,’ laughed Rakesh. ‘But this is a list you arrived at after taking the Passion Test and putting in a lot of thought. Perhaps you should give it some time before you change it. Take the passion test again after three to six months by which time you may be living most of your current passions. Then you can find new passions to bring into your life. For now, try these exercises to get started on living your passions.’

‘Alright,’ said Rahul. ‘How does the ‘Markers’ exercise work?’

‘Simple,’ said Rakesh. ‘Write down three to four markers that show what would have happened if you would actually be living your passion. For example, what are the markers that show you are a successful CEO of a top 5 company in the world?’

‘My face is on the cover of the Forbes magazine,’ said Rahul. ‘I’m one of the top 50 most influential people in the world, I’m one of the highest-paid CEOs in the world and I’m quoted all over the internet.’

‘And Rinku?’ asked Rakesh.
‘My Markers on spending quality family time are — I’m enjoying the company of my family members, we’re sharing meals and family time every day, having frequent outings and vacations and we’re having great communication that makes it easy to share and ask for help and support.’

‘Good,’ said Rakesh. ‘Now, pay attention to your markers and start working on them.’

‘How, bhaiyya?’ asked Rahul. ‘I’m still confused on how to start living or working like a CEO.’

‘Step by step,’ smiled Rakesh. ‘Do the things you can. For example, take the cover of a Forbes magazine and stick your photo on it. Create a headline in a newspaper cutting that says you are one of the top 50 influential people in the world and show your salary as a news item. Make a visiting card with your name and designation on it. Start living your reality in ways that make you feel like you’re on your path. You must first create the reality you want in your mind. As you act on your passions, you keep your attention going, and get more ideas. New opportunities open unexpectedly.’

‘Wow, I got it now,’ said Rahul. ‘And what’s a Vision Board?’

‘A Vision Board is a good tool to help you see your vision clearly,’ said Rakesh. ‘What we want shows up to the extent we are clear about it, so the clearer we are, the better. To create a Vision Board, take a chart paper and stick pictures from magazines or the internet of all the things that you want in your life. Keep that chart where you can see it every day. After every exercise, write at the bottom, ‘This or something better’ to open yourself to better possibilities. Have fun, enjoy the journey and appreciate yourself for your progress and effort.’

‘Yes, bhaiyya,’ said Rahul. ‘No tension. These exercises are fun.’

‘I agree,’ said Rinku. ‘I’ve got my top 5 passions and passion cards. I’ll get more clarity on them by paying more attention to them and I’ll choose in favour of my passions each time I get an opportunity.’

Pro Tip: To make your passions come true, start paying attention to them and start living your top 5 passions. Use tools like the Passion Score card, Markers and Vision Board to focus your attention and start living a passionate life. Have fun while doing it and appreciate your progress.

Meditations and Mantras - Swami Vishnudevananda

It's a fascinating book with much insight into the world of meditation, mantras, yoga, human evolution and growth. Swami Vishnudevananda (1927-93) was a disciple of Swami Sivananda and was the founder of the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres. He established the Sivananda Teachers Training Courses. His book 'The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga' is considered the bible of yoga. A peace activist, he flew peace mission in conflict ridden areas. He created an 'Om Namo Narayana' bank in the Himalayas.

The book starts with the simple question - why meditate. To find out the meaning of life. When we go deep into meditation, over time and over years of Sadhana, we discover the infinite well of wisdom within where we find the answers. What comes between us and our truth, is the mind, on which are grooves or Samskaras created by Vrittis (thoughts). Samskaras can be good or bad but they can get in the way through Ahamkara (ego). Meditation subdues the ego. Our thoughts are made of vibrations.

The source of our wisdom is the self. To go deep into our self we must eliminate our karmic debts. To do that we can choose any of the following methods - Raja Yoga, Karma yoga, Jnana yoga, Bhakti yoga, Hatha yoga, Kundalini yoga.

A simple guide to meditation 

  • Meditate at a  regular time, place, best time is dawn or dusk, 4am-6 am is best
  • Practice in a separate room, don't allow others into your space, face North or East,
  • Keep spine and next erect, command the mind to be quiet, forget the past, future
  • Inhale 3 seconds, exhale 3 seconds, focus between the eyes, repeat, start with 20 minutes and extend up to an hour

Proper exercises, breath, relaxation, diet and positive thoughts can 

Concentration - Theory

When we concentrate, hidden psychic and occult powers are awakened by the mind. With these powers yogis have been able to see distant objects, hear distant sounds, send messages to all parts of the universe, heal people sitting miles away, move to distant places in no time etc.

They say that there is no limit when the human mind merges with the Cosmic mind.

Concentration clarifies, reduces senility. Concentration is the first stage of meditation. Meditation is nothing but concentration. Beyond a point however, the mind cannot be controlled in meditation. A good yoga practitioner follows this route - Prathyahara (withdrawal of senses), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation), Samadhi (superconscious state)

There are five types of behaviors of the mind

  • Kshipta - fragmented, distracted
  • Mudha - dull, forgetful
  • Vikshipta - gathering mind
  • Ekagrata - one pointed state where only one idea exsits
  • Niruddha - full control

The purpose of life is to focus the mind on the Absolute. Concentration opens the inner chambers of love and as it leads to meditation, is the sole key to the reality of eternity. The average person has only 10% conscious control of his mental powers.

The foundation for practice of concentration is built on right conduct, healthy body, steady posture, breath and withdrawal of senses.

The blueprint for the path is found in Ashtanga of Raja Yoga 
1. Yama (abstentions - non-injury, truthfulness in thought and deed, non-stealing, sublimation of sexual energy)
2. Niyama (observances - cleanliness, contentment, austerity, controlling of senses, surrendering to divine will )
3. Asana (posture - keep the body and nervous system strong and flexible)
4. Pranayama (breath control - slow and regular, steady the mind)
5. Prathyahara (withdrawal of senses - fasting of the mind from senses)
6. Dharana (concentration)
7 Dhyana (meditation)
8 Samadhi (superconscious state)

The first five form the basis for concentration. Develop attention on everyday situations. A person with good concentration can complete the task n half the time and twice the accuracy. 

Practice Tratak - candle gazing

Establish the practice - focus on the Ajna (between the eyebrows), Anahata (heart) while in meditation

Be patient and regular with the meditation practice. 

Meditations are of two types - 

1) Saguna - where we meditate on qualities or something concrete and
2) Nirguna - where we meditate on the abstract.

Samadhi is the highest goal to be achieved through meditation. One can choose any route - Raja yoga, Mantra, Kundalini, Jnana, Bhakti yoga

Japa Meditation - Theory

A mantra is mystical energy encased on a sound structure. Mantras contain a certain power. The mantra is constructed from a combination of sounds derived from the fifth letters of the Sanskrit alphabet. Sanskrit also called Devanagiri - the language of the Gods. Mantras release spiritual energy in the chakras of the body.

Bija mantra - 

A specific form of Siva mantra destroys negativity - Om Namah Sivaya

Vishnu mantra for a loving and responsible family - Om Namo Narayana

Krishna mantra - for all encompassing love

Sound is the seed of all matter. Word, sound and mantras are integral. 50 articulate sounds or varnas, each sound having its own colour - Sanskrit is derived from them.   

  • Vaikhari - the spoken word is dense
  • Madhyama - is the difference between thought into word
  • Pashyanthi - visible sound, the telepathic sate
  • Para - transcendental (highest state) above all names and forms

Japa channelises one's energies form lowest to highest level of pure thought. It is a direct way of self realisation. Typically a guru initiates one into the mantra.

Japa - Practice

Mantras are Sanskrit invocation of the hygiene. Neither mantra, deity nor guru, once chosen should be changed. Persevere. Saguna mantras are deity mantras.

Mantras fulfill these conditions -  are originally revealed to a sage, has a presiding deity, has a specific meter, has dynamic power Shakti, there's a plug that conceals the pure consciousness hidden in the mantra 

Saguna mantras - choose your Ishta Devatha
Om Am Saraswatiyai Namah - for wisdom
Sri Maha Lakshmyai Namah - for wealth
Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra - prevents accidents, including calamities, disasters, bestows longevity
Hayatri Mantra - purifies, brings iberation

Om Sri Maha Ganpataya Namah
On Namah Sivaya
Om Namo Narayana
Om Namo Bhagavathe Vasudevaya
Hari Om
Om Sri Duragaya Namah
Om Sri Maha Lakshmyai Namah
Om Sri Maha Kalikayai Namah
Om Hanumante Namah

Nirguna Mantras - without form
All mantras are hidden in OM which is the abstract, higher mantra of the Universe.The Universe has come from OM, rests in it, dissolves in it. Each element of the Universe has its corresponding bija.

Ether - HAM, air - YAM, fire - RAM, water - VAM, earth - LAM

Soham - I am that I am
Aham Brahma Asmi - I am Brahma
Tat Tvam Asi - That thou art

Bija Mantras - Haum, Dum, Kum, Hum, Srim, Aim, Klim, Hum, Gam, Glam, Kram

Use a japa mala - focus on the ajna chakra, the anahata chakra 

  • Vaikhari japa - audible
  • Upamsu japa - humming
  • Manasika japa - Mnetal
  • Likhita japa - written

Purascharana - concealed japa over a long period

Hatha Yoga - Kundalini

Kunalini Shakti is the culminating meditative experience of Hatha Yoga under a guru. In Kundalini meditation the divine power that lies dormant in every human  is aroused and pulled up through the Chakras. The masculine passive force Siva resides in the Sahasrara Chakra and the feminine active force Shakti, lies at the base of the spine, dormant and potential. Its the pristine, psychic and spiritual power.

Hatha Yoga awakens the Kundalini by disciplining the body, purifying the Nadis, the astral channels through which Prana flows, controls Prana and regulates flow of Prana by locks and seals called Mudras and Bandhas.

Kriyas - Cleansing techniques
7 psychic centres - Chakras, the Sushumna nadi which is the passage through which the Kundalini rises
72000 Nadis, most in Sushumna, the astral counterpart of the spinal cord, on either side of it are Ida and Pingala nadis, Prana flows through these Nadis and as long as it flows through them we are bound by time and space, when Prana starts flowing through the Sushumna, we are not bound by anything
Sushumna flows from the Muladhara Chakra to the Brahmarandhram at the top of the skull

Within Sushumna is Vajra, within is it Chitra nadi - the heavenly way, within it the Brahma nadi

The 6 Chakras are way stations along the Sushumna to Sahasrara

  • Muladhara - lower end of spinal column (4 petal lotus)
  • Swadishtana - genital organs (6 petal lotus)
  • Manipura - navel (10 petal lotus)
  • Anahata - heart (12 petal lotus)
  • Vishuddha - throat (16 petal lotus)
  • Ajna _ Eyebrows, trikuta (2 petal lotus)
  • Sahasrara - crown of head - (1000 petal lotus) 

When the Kudalini  is dormant the petals hang down, upward in ascendancy
Focus on Chakras chanting OM

Jnana Yoga - Vedantic Theory
Wisdom - intellectual approval, inquiry, analysis
Vedanta is the body of knowledge based on ancient texts. It means the end of the Vedas, and is based on Upanishads. 

Rig Veda - questions and commentaries on the nature of reality
Yajur Veda - rituals and sacrifices and rules for performing
Sama Veda - theory and practice of music and singing
Atharva Veda - magic and black arts

Each Veda is split into 4 sections - Mantra Samhitas (hymns in praise of God)
Brahmanas (guide of performing rituals, pronouncing mantras)
Aranyakas (mystical books, philosophical interpretation of rituals)
Upanishads (essence of knowledge of each Veda)

Indian philosophy - 6 categories

Purva Mimasa - Jainini rishi (rituals and rules, dharma and adharma)
Uttara Mimasa - Vyasa rishi (Advaita, all is Brahman)
Sankhya Mimasa - Kapila rishi (duality, Prakirti and Purusha. Prakriti is creation of 3 gunas sattwa, rajas, tamas  - purity, activity, inertia)
Yoga, - Patanjali rishi (Yoga sutras)
Vaisheshika - Kanda rishi (material, scientific)
Nyaya Mimasa - Gautama rishi (Ishwara)

Vedanta has a triple basis - scripture, reasons, experience. It is about exhaustive intellectual enquiry, intuitional experience.

Maya is the reflection of Brahman. Maya creates the idea of limitation

Until we see reality, we experience Avidya, ignorance, dissociation from all sheaths. There's no difference between dream of sleep and dream of Maya at Turiya

Vedantic parts - neti, neti
control ahamkara - ego
I AM BRAHMAN is possible only through reflection

Adhyaropa - principle of Superimpostition. It superimposes the mind with pairs of opposites, illnesses resulting from ignorance of real objects. See everything on the Self. Real love begins when people are seen, not as indviduals but as beholders of self.


  • Rajjusarpa Nyaya (snake and rope)
  • Mrigatrishna nyaya (mirage)
  • Shuktirajata nyaya (man or post)

Jnana Yoga - Vedantic Practice
Kanaka Kundali (God or ornament)

Jnana Yoga - Vedantic Practice

-Neti, Nei - process of negation (not this, not this)

Sakshi bhava - the witness (Om Sakshi Aham)

Abheda Bodha Vakya  - eliminating form and name (Sat Chit Ananda - Existence Consciousness Bliss)

Panchikarana - quintiplication

Quintiplicated elements

                 1/8 Ether    1/8 Air  1/8 Fire     I/8 Water    1/8 Earth

Ether         Grief          Desire      Anger     Delusion    Fear

Air            Running     Bending   Walking    Expansion

Fire          Hunger        Thirst       Laziness  Sleep   

Water      Semen         Blood   

Earth       Bone Flesh  Skin                            Hair


3 heads - Injunctions, Prohibitions, Proclamations of the highest truth

Aham Bahma Asmi - I am Brahman (identify with the Supreme)

Tat Twam Asi - That Thou rt

Ayan Atma Brahman

Bhagyata Lakshman - meaning of a word is approached in three ways

  • Vachyartha - primary meaning, conveye directly by word
  • Lakshyartha - implied meaning
  • Vyanyartha - suggested meaning, hinted at

A word and its meaning are linked by a mind wave - vritti

Bhakti Yoga Meditation

Path of devotion - moved by 1) distress 2) curiosity 3) desire for gain 4) selflessness

1) Sravanam - stories
2) Kirtanam - singing
3) Smaranam - remembering
4) Padasvanam - service at the Lord's feet
5) Archanam - worship through rituals
6) Vandanam - prostrations to the Lord
7) Dasyam - Servant
8) Sakhyam - Freindship
9) Atmanivedam - surrendering of self

5 ways of relating
Shanta - Peace
Dasya - servant
Sakhya - friend
Vatsalya - parent
Madhurya - love

Raja Yoga Sutra - Theory

It is the royal path of mind control. Most comprehensive God realisation. Patanjali is the greatest psychologist of all time.

Chapter One - Road to Samadhi (super conscious state)

Yoga is the union of individual with the universal soul, calm mind. Yoga restrains the activities of the mind. 

Citta - mind stuff

Antah karana - inner instrument 
- Manas (mind) - thinking, doing, willing
- Buddhi (intellect) - discriminating deciding
- Ahamkara (ego) - separating from the source
- Citta (subconscious) - storehouse of the past

Citta is the lake, vrittis are waves. Activities carried on in the physical plane is also a mirror of the inner workings of the mind

Raja Yoga - practice

Chapter Two - Yoga Sadhana

Kriya Yoga - Yama, Niyama, Asana Pranayama, Pratyahara

Chapter Three - Divine Manifestation of Power

Dharana is fixing the mind on one object.
The unbroken flow of perception between mind and the objects is Dhyana (meditation).
Samadhi is merging of the mind into the essence of the object of meditation. Nothing exists but pure awareness.
The practice of the three is Samyama, By mastering Samyama comes the light 

Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi are internal. Through constant replacement of thought waves by control, the mind is transformed and gains mastery of itself. ts flow becomes undisturbed through repetition.
One pointedness occurs when the contents of the mind that rise and fall at two different moments are exactly the same. 

Karam may be either dormant or active, by performing Samyama on both, and though omens, the yogin may know the time of death

When the cause of bondage has been eliminated, the mind can enter another's body through knowledge of its channels. From the ability to control the elements come the eight Siddhis such as making the body small etc. Only through realisation of the difference between Sattwa and Purusha comes omnipotence and omniscience

Chapter 4 - Liberation

Siddhis are attained as a result of herbs, mantra or samadhi. Minds are created form egotism. Kaivalya is that state of mind in which gunas merge in their cause having no longer a purpose in relation to the Purusha.

Obstacles to Meditation

  • Cessation of practice 
  • Health and diet
  • Laziness and sleep
  • Complications of daily life
  • Useless conversation
  • Uprooting the ego
  • Emotions
  • Discouragement
  • Loss of vital energy
  • The Mind

Experiences in Meditation

Visions, loss of consciousness, light, separation from the body, vision of God


It is a comprehensive book that clearly lays out all the little pieces that sound so disparate to us - Vedas, yoga, meditation, mind, rituals, chants, prayers, karma. We have heard of these in different contexts, tried to understand and practice them separately but have not been able to put them all together. This book puts it together effortlessly and one can get a good picture of the whole and choose one's way to go about trying to achieve god realisation or to merge with the Cosmic state or even to achieve a state of superconsciousness. Or just to make sense of it all.

For that, thank you Swami Vishnudevananda. I loved the peace missions of his, flying over conflict zones at great risk to himself, chanting Om Namo Narayana. As with all such books I made some notes to refer later which I put up on the blog - may not make sense but just looking at the sheer detail they have gone to in classifying and sub-classifying is fascinating. Such great work and we wonder why it was kept hidden.         




Lovely Article - Coaching and Mentoring

 Nice - differences between coaching and mentoring!,them%20reach%20their%20full%20potential.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

And Madhya Pradesh Wins the Ranji Trophy for the First Time!

This deserves a longer post and I will get back to it but I cannot not celebrate this today - it was fascinating cricket - some of the most absorbing I have seen in years. And to see it played in all innocence with fresh faces full of intent (not the 'we have a good game and we have bad games' types but 'we will make this count - today' types). Luckily I watched a lot of the MP and Bengal game and have been hooked since then.

What struck me first up was the balance in the bowling side - without any big names but for Kumar Kartikeya who played the IPL - seamers Anubhav (I think) and the indefatigable Yadav, offie Saransh, and leftie Sahani and how with limited resources they kept pegging away and kept knocking over the young Mumbai side. I loved the way their skipper Aditya Srivastava remains calm and unflappable in any situation - and there's a big difference between his lack of emotion and Prithvi Shaw's - where Aditya's is full of intent and holding the energy, Prithvi's bordered on the apathetic. No words, no plans, no holding of the energy. Where it was clear that every one in the MP side looked at Aditya for leadership, I cannot say the same thing with the Mumbai side where everyone seemed to have a say and an opinion. Like Coach Pandit said at the end - a lot of credit to Aditya because a good captain means 50% of the advantage is with you. Aditya had his plans and they worked (despite the commentator getting upset and wanting him to change strategies).

At a stage when Mumbai looked like it might run away to a big score the MP bowlers stuck to their task and bundled them out for 374, maybe 150 runs less than what they should have got. And then came the character - Yash Dubey and Mantri began so solidly - Yash being so compact and batting with such a straight bat that it was a pleasure to see. When Mantri who got a huge 150 in the semis got out in came the experienced Shubham Sharma and what a partnership these two built shutting Mumbai out pretty much right then. After Shubham got out came the new star Rajat Patidar. Yash Dubey shut his ears off and kept going and to me much of the credit for shutting out Mumbai bowlers should go to him. Rajat got a hundred and Saransh Jain got a 50 and the last day showed up with Mumbai making a last ditch effort and falling short. Once again, the MP batsmen showed remarkable restraint and knocked off the 108 runs to win. What a sight it was.

The way they carried their emotional coach on their shoulders, gathered around for pictures, went and acknowledged the crowd, bowed to the ground and the pavilion, spoke at the post match ceremony where Aditya came wearing his MPCA blazer - everything showed the culture around which the team has been built. I am so thrilled that I watched this match.

This is cricket at its best and thank you MP and Chandrakanth Pandit for providing such pleasure and reaffirming how the basics make all the difference.          

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Chikki Bites - Sunil Shivsale

Sunil Shivsale is a fine young man, a techie from Bangalore with many talents and this is his debut book. Sunil has been on his writing journey through the past decade - writing, learning and working at his craft. (His magnum opus is far more elaborate and explores mythical lands and characters in a much deeper scale and will surely come out sometime soon.) So when he said his first book 'Chikki Bites' was out, I quickly got a copy. I always admire those who write purposefully and pursue their writing seriously enough to get published. It's not easy.

Straight up I loved the title (Chikki was my favorite snack at school). The illustrations on the cover (and inside Himanshu Anand) by were very promising so I knew they would complement the content well. The 73 page book has eight short stories all of which feature animals in a large way, very Panchatantraish even in the way they are dealt - every one of them has a lesson, a value to take home. I really liked that aspect of bringing in animals in that manner. Somehow those who care about animals seem to have a deeper human quality.

So we have 'Koyal's Concert' about a Koyal whose talents are misplaced which makes her rather unpopular and how Gani the baby elephant and Koti the little monkey help her find her real talent - she suddenly finds her mojo and flow in life (a hint for some techies surely), 'What is in the old trunk' is about a penitent thief and how some animals help him discover the human in him - the world is full of second chances, if we want to change. In the 'White Lamb and Grumpy' we learn how what we hear and what we experience are two totally different things - judge others by their actions and not by their looks (or words). 

'Monkey business' is a heartwarming story of a human and his love for animals and how they all benefit from that one thing - unconditional love. 'Where is the Kitten' is about a dog who makes amends to his outlook on life after an incident with a kitten - flow with life, don't differentiate. 'Chippi and Munky' are two chipmunks in danger from a cat - and they take a big risk in favour of doing the right thing, which pays off handsomely. 'Face on the Moon' is about a rabbit and a doe who claim that the serene, peaceful moon is theirs - until they realise that they can find love and support within and around them. And 'You must be hungry' is about a temple priest who has this mission of feeding people in his temple everyday and how it saves his kingdom and his people - do your job with utmost dedication and sincerity in the worst of circumstances and miracles happen.

They are all lovely little stories with fun and chirpy characters. Each story deals with seemingly small but real issues and how the characters  choose in favour of doing the right thing even in the face of danger - and how it works out well for them in the end. In a world of stories trying to shock and be popular, Sunil sticks to the straight and narrow, like his characters, the hard route and i am sure it will pay off in the end for him and for the readers. It's a lovely gift to anyone - especially children. Written in an easy, lucid style, with a dash of humour, it slides the value across subtly, and maintains the fine balance between telling the story and conveying the lesson. 

Sunil has a fine imagination and builds a credible world with fun characters. His writing is easy and has a light touch. More importantly, it is honest which to me is the key to good writing. Fine debut Sunil and hoping to read more from him.       

Every Night Jospehine! - Book Review

 I remember seeing Jacqueline Susann's 'Valley of Dolls' at home in my father's collection and knew even from the cover that it was adult reading (there were some pills on it if I remember) and that someday I ought to read it. That way Jacqueline has been familiar to me from my early childhood. When I saw this old copy of 'Every Night Josephine!' at Aai's house in her collection I thought I should give it a read. It looked slim and readable. It also had a noting - perhaps gifted to Asha maushi on 17th Dec 86 by Bishu. The book itself was published in 1970 and was a bestseller as all her books had been.

Most surprisingly for me - pleasantly - I may add, the book was all about Josephine, her French poodle. Apparently the book  was a collection of letters that JS wrote and a friend told her it would make a lovely book and so it happened. Anyway the book covers the gamut of her decision to buy a pup, buying a most expensive one, convincing her husband about having a dog at home, her husband falling in love with the pup. the many health and weight related issues of the pup. I loved the way JS tried to get Josie to pee against trees in Central Park and Josie would not, despite watching many others - until one lady educates her - female dogs squat, they don't pee against trees. Josie has a small TV career and enjoys her show time, becomes some kind of a celebrity with strangers and stars petting her and in the end even surviving a ligament issue. Josie lives to be sixteen by which time the boo ended, still battling some weight issues and having a great time.

JS's racy style of writing is full of energy and wit and I am once again blown by how some of them would write in those days. Now we are so used to seeing such mediocre writing that when we read something like this, we are reminded of what good writing can be - happy, cheerful, honest and interesting. So glad I picked it up and read it. I think I'll kept it.      

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Bhool Bhulaiyya 2 - Movie

 Bhool Bhulaiyya 2 is something I might not have ventured by myself but happened to - and soon found out that a girl and boy who meet on the bus which has an accident where everyone dies but the boy who claims he can speak with spirits and says the girl died and is a ghost and sent him with some purpose of bringing the family of the haunted haveli together.The girl wants to escape matrimony to a guy who her sister loves and is waiting for them to marry and also get rid of the famous ghost in the house. Two funny priests and a pretty ghost (Tabu) who has a double role and lots of timepass and all's well and it ends well for most (some people die thanks to the bad ghost). Kartik Aryan carries his role lightly and does a nice job and Kiera Advani is nice to look at.


Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Toscana - Movie

 A chef with father issues (and anger issues) - how did he ever become a good chef with so many anger issues and god help all those who ate his angry food, finds that his much detested (by him) father has passed away and left this Tuscan place for him. Short of money he travels there, meets a very rude waitress (who you know he will fall in love with), hates the place and undersells it (and you know he will buy it back again), helps the girl marry and also helps her divorce, until they all settle down in the Tuscan place after he makes peace with his father (who turns out to be not such a bad guy after all).

Rushed scenes don't augur well for such movies - nice locales, you need to let the mood grow on you. Anyway, its not a bad watch for a 90 minute movie if you want to watch a middle aged romance between two angry, ill-mannered people.

Monday, June 20, 2022

Some Random Pics

 Sometimes it's better to let the pictures talk!

Pics Satish Nargundkar

Sunday, June 19, 2022

The Punch Magazine Anthology of New Writing - Select Short Stories by Women Writers - Edited and Introduced by Shireen Quadri

This collection of short stories is brilliant. I loved them all. I do not use the word brilliant loosely here - I was quite taken in by the variety and the texture of each story, the distinct voice and tone each writer brought. The stories themselves held me spellbound. Putting together eighteen stories into this anthology must have been no mean task and I am glad Shireen did that so well. Not to forget the lovely introduction to the book by her - setting the tone. 

Ameta Bal's 'Static A.D.' - a single girl stuck in her apartment for a month while the world is ending outside - riots, lockdowns (I think) - and then she  steps out to get some essentials, lies down on the empty road enjoying the quiet and the freedom of looking up at the blue skies...until ....One feels for her, for her cat, for us, for our world that cannot stay peaceful.

'A Tale of Disconnect' by Anila SK -a young woman who hears a young lad speaking his own language outside the courthouse in Colombo and remembers the trauma of being dyslexic, of making up her own language, of her friend who had to go to a deaf and dumb school - about the disconnect of not being able to communicate 'right' which perhaps led to her divorce. It's always a terrific theme - this feeling of not being understood, of not being able to communicate, or of trying to in different ways and not being able to get through, and its not that those who can speak well can communicate - we don't. When we do, in whatever language, people are happy, feel understood. It's heaven.

'Pandemonium' by Anjali Doney completely stole my heart and is the best of the lot for me (along with 'Crossing') - she drops us into the 70s in Cochin, ABBA playing Voulez Vous, Jessie, James, Usha and her guy, the DANGERUS girls, Asif and Lubeena - ah, what spine tingling romance - a love letter, the meeting after, a word of appreciation, a fall and then glorious hope. It will always remain with me. I hope someone make a short film, or even a film with this part and blows it up. Reading it was like watching a film for me though and I can watch this movie again and again like one watches 'Holiday' or something - only this is so much more summery and more romantic. In fact could just stand near those cold coffee shops and grow old watching Jessie and the DANGERUS girls. Superb Anjali.

Camilla Chester's 'Terms and Conditions' had this lovely twist - a tale wishes coming true. Into Ms Pimpleback's drab life appears a strange delivery - of wishes she had asked for - horses, people, chocolates, candy by the tons. And then I thought, what all did I wish for and what if they come true. And even more poignantly, what are the wishes I throttled and did not let them see the day. They could have come true right? Don't kill your dreams fellows, give them a chance. Like Ms. Pimpleback seems to have done. 

Geetha Nair's 'Falls' is another lovely Sai Paranjpeisque romance of two young people who meet in Delhi, studying literature, so in love, he aiming for the Civils and getting it and she not, and ending up as a lecturer. He breaking off his relationship casually (always knew he would - I also feel she paid all the bills at their outings - can picture him) and she nursing that heartbreak for long and finally marrying her driving instructor - with no intellectual baggage (and for some reason I think, for great sex). Until the two old lovers happen to chance upon one another - he the big IAS officer taking care of his wife's dog, obviously on leash - rich but on leash and she walking away thanking her stars. Clearly, she has the better deal.

Helen Harris's 'Olya's Kitchen' is so clearly etched in my mind that I can picture the entire movie in my mind - about immigrant Russians who carry their grandma Olya's food tradition on in London. I don't know how and why but everything about the story comes to me like a frame in a movie. I can't get the flavour of the food - not just yet. But its there.  

'Kashmir Valley's Soofiya Bano' by Humra Quraishi has this urgency in its voice and this wave of relief at the end, when the young son returns from jail in the midst of a terrifying flood in Kashmir, to take his mother away to safety. A son she had found abandoned in a shikhara and had taken care of every single day until the police took him away and locked him up in jail. He comes out in the flood (how I don't know, maybe he escaped, or maybe they let him go) and off they go - mother and son. Nice happy ending, lovely  mother and son meeting, and one only hopes they live happily wherever they are.With so much love in her heart they would I guess.

'Indigo Blue' by Jayshree Misra Tripathi is a story within a story where the story teller tells the tale of  Queen, Vakula Devi, who loses her right to the throne because her step daughter had been named the Queen (assuming that she never had children which is why). The step daughter is poisoned and she dies, paving the way for Queen Vakula Devi. But then the snake bites again and the Queen is no more. And the hand maidens show up, dead, and blue. And then something eerie happens to the narrator. 

'The Very Narrow House' by Latha Anantharaman is deeply mysterious - the house, the occupants, their ways and their secrets. Fascinatingly visual again, with a very intriguing and well placed twist at the end - one that never leaves you. Reminded me of Murakami for some reason, the story touched that place in the mind that makes you wonder if its an image or fantasy, slippery yet fully real, as in a dream. That street, the house, its backyard, the sixth toe - and the black and gray energy. Fabulous. 

'The Closed Cinema' by Meena Menon is about Firdaus theatre in Lal Chowk, Srinagar that seems to have been closed by the militants. The owner, a film buff who grew up watching movies - Tarzan was his first as a young kid - is taken away by the militants one day. And as he is taken away he cannot but help think of flashes of films he has seen, the high points of his life - and when he remembers Charles Heston as the charioteer in Ben Hur, he is so happy that the impending death by the bullet cannot do anything to him. Shades of 'Cinema Paradiso' to me, the flashes he has. A story beautifully told.

'Ghost' by Meher Pestonji has a mischievous, chilling quality to it. A young kid wants to scare his sister by dressing up like a ghost and almost ends up meeting one and perhaps inadvertently ends up saving the house from being sold which is what the ghost may have liked. Now how many times have we done that and how close have we come to falling into the water tank. Something looking after us from up there. Grace. And something else. 

Rinita Banerjee's 'The Dance of the Happy Muse' is about a person who goes to visit a museum in Washington DC where he is on a holiday with his father, visiting her aunt after the death of his mother. He ignores the incessant calls on his phone, focusing instead on another visitor, his muse, until he can ignore the phone no more. And then he goes home - to a teary eyed father and his expectations that he cannot seem to break out of. For some reason I believed strongly that the person was a woman, still cannot believe its a man. 

'Honour' by Rochelle Potkar is about a washerwoman Purna and her life burdened clearly with the men in her life. First her father who does something to mess with the family reputation and then the husband who is in jail for raping and killing a young girl - and she has to carry the burden of looking after the family, after these men. Endless, dreary, thankless, the lives of so many women perhaps.  

'Marietta's Song' by Sarah Robertson is a hauntingly beautiful story about a woman who is in an old age home for the rich suffering from dementia. She talks of her liaisons with a royal in a note but no one takes her seriously until her birthday when she says she'll get a gift from her royal friend. Nothing happens until a royal decree orders a special treat for her - a musician walks in and plays her song reminding her of all her past memories - and she sings along. From the sidelines the royal lover watches. Ah, for love like that. One would think that if she finds one moment of peace thanks to all these efforts - it was worth it. But only someone true would go to that extent - so many of us would take the easier route of 'she cannot remember anyway'. But then we do not know what love is do we?

'The Vacation' by Shilpa Raina was heartbreakingly familiar in the way it ends - the lady of a Kashmiri Pandit family that fled the valley and somehow got through life with great difficulty now finds her husband ill enough to be hospitalised. She flies him to the big city and her children want to admit him in a good hospital but she is not sure they should spend as much - she has always saved so the family could get by and knows no other way. When the children insist and tell he they can afford it now - she decides to convert the hospital stay into something they never had - there's air conditioning, a TV,, comfortable bed. Ah, how many such compromises have we all made? How many times have we throttled our dreams and fit them into our lives? Powerful.

'Artichoke' by Tammy Armstrong - about a couple on a 'holiday' to research an artiste and while the man gets lost in the academia, the woman seems to understand the artiste and his art better by walking round the streets and seeing and experiencing all those things her husband seems to be getting irritated by. How familiar is this theme where we love the spirit and stick to the word and feel supercilious about it. The jokes on us - for missing out on the real thing - for being stuck up. 

And then Vineetha Mokkil's 'Sunday, Bloody Sunday' is a chilling tale of how patriarchy rules in modern and educated families even today just as biases and honour comes to the fore - especially when it comes to girls marrying a person of another faith. The young girl is an IAS officer but despite that she has to face the family's hostility - locking her up in her room at night, trying to dissuade her, and when they realise she will not relent, take some necessary steps to protect their family honour.

'Crossing' by Vrinda Baliga is heartrending and took the refugee crisis to another level - as good as any other for sheer economy of words and how she structured such a complex story so well. Again, my best, along with 'Pandemonium'. The journey of a fourteen year old, across the border, escaping the tyranny of their 'homeland', trying to find peace, a better life, but first one has to cross the border across the sea. The quick realisation that one is just a parcel, cargo, the changeover and the decreasing amount of interest in them, as they are left of fend of themselves, the loss of hope. The scene where the middle aged lady with the infant just sits down and refuses to move another inch will never leave me,and how the protagonist thinks of her face when he thinks of his mother - who face he has forgotten, in this pain. It's incredibly painful to go through those emotions and thousands go through it and your heart goes out to them. Vrinda writes as if she was on the ship, on the journey herself. I could not but wonder at how she got the emotion, the journey so accurately. Every word held me as if by a thread and I knew that if I missed that one word, I'd miss a whole idea. Incredibly good writing. 

Clearly one of the better anthologies I have read over a long period of time. Well chosen, well written, well edited and compiled. Didn't find a single typo, have already recommended it to many, am rereading it again, so lots of pluses in its favour. A lot there must go to the editor who perhaps dealt it with a light hand thus enabling some great writing to come forth. And am seriously glad I got introduced to some wonderful writers (and some wonderful characters who will remain with me - Jesssie!) and am looking forward to reading more from them. Well done writers, well done Shireen and well done Niyogi. This is a seriously good one. For all the readers out there - highly recommended. Buy it.     

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Thought for the Day - Give Before They Ask

 I cannot say this enough but this is a quality that amazes me always (something Prakash Iyer mentioned in his book 'How Come No One Told Me That Before) - of giving before they ask. Now the normal behavior when someone is going through something is 'hey, let me know if there's anything I can do for you'. Prakash says this pretty clearly - that's pure bullshit. If you intend to do something - do it - don't simply intend it. He gives the example of 'there were three monkeys on a branch and one of them decided to jump'. How many monkeys are there on the branch?' The answer is three - the monkey decided to do it, but it did not.

Do - Like Nature Does!

A classic example is what happens when people are in need of money of some help - like a medical emergency. Case 1 in point - our school friends spent a lot of time discussing how we should start a trust to help those of us who may need financial assistance etc...lots of thought into how many it should help, how large the umbrella should be, and some even promised to raise money. Cut to a month later when one of the core people in the group was down with a serious illness - a kidney transplant - and what do we get from the group. 'If there's any shortfall, let us know.'

As we all know, this let us know business is like the monkey deciding to jump. (I have used this line enough times to know that I do not do anything with it).

So we come to Case 2 in point. A medical emergency again - my mother in law had a knee replacement surgery. It was not the she was short of money or that she needed or asked for help. Her children are well placed and she was herself doing a fairly good job of managing her finances well. When  Shobhs was planning to go to be with her for her surgery my mother, not as highly educated nor literate, but abundant with the principles of the world and of goodness, not necessarily richer than my mother in law either, quietly put a packet of 10000 rupees in Shobh's hands as she left. I would not have known if Shobhs had not told me. I  do think I should write a few principles of Mom's - Lessons Mom Taught me Through Her Actions series.

Give. Whatever you can. Don't talk about. Don't tell anyone. Definitely don't say 'hey call me if you need anything'.

Go and spend time. Stay for an hour and give some respite. Take an apple. A book, A smile. A hundred rupees. Make a cup of tea. Take some food. Make some food (I remember my friend Hai Rao coming to meet me when I was down with a health issue and cooking the best pongal for me at my own home - just as the doctor ordered. To date one of the best I have eaten.) Hold their hand. Be there. Make them feel better, supported, cared for. 

Whatever it is - do it. 

I am trying to imbibe this quality which to me is one of the highest. I fall very short as things are now - I catch myself saying 'let me know' quite often. But someday soon I want to get to that space where I can give quietly, unconditionally - just slip it into their hand. A hand around their waist, their shoulder. 

To do then, graciously and thoughtfully. On it. And thanks Prakash Iyer, for a timely reminder.          

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Canteen Fundas - Have You Taken The Passion Test?

 Take the Passion Test and live a passionate life! Here's how you do it.

E-Canteen Fundas: This is how you should let passion be the fuel that drives your life

Take the Passion Test to see how you’d like to live your ideal life. Identify your top 5 passions and use the mantra Intention, Attention and No Tension

Be passionate | (Pic: EdexLive)

‘I wonder if it’s possible to live a life doing what we like doing?’ asked Rinku. ‘That would be fun.’

‘Nope,’ said Rahul. ‘We can’t do what we like, Rinku. We have to like what we do. No option.’

‘But I don’t want to be doing something I don’t like for a living,’ said Rinku. ‘I’d rather do something I’m fully involved in, something that’s enjoyable, that helps me grow to my potential.’

‘That won’t earn you a good living,’ said Rahul. ‘Right, bhaiyya? You’ll have to sacrifice comfort. I’d like to play games and live a great life, but that’s not possible, right?’

‘Why not?’ asked Rakesh. ‘I read this book called The Passion Test written by Janet Bray Attwood and Chris Attwood which says that living our passions is the key to a happy, fulfilled, fun and prosperous life. And as we know, there are people making a great living while playing games and having fun.’

‘True,’ said Rahul. ‘But how? What is ‘living our passions’?’

‘Our passions are what we love doing the most,’ said Rakesh. ‘What are most important and critical to our well-being. We’re all unique people with unique gifts. But instead of using our gifts and being at our best, we choose to live a lesser life. Here’s something interesting. A survey of the most successful and prosperous people revealed that all of them had one thing in common — they had all fulfilled the top five things in their ‘things-to-be-doing-when-I-am-living-my-ideal-life’ list. They all knew clearly what their ideal life looked like and in the process of living it, found happiness, prosperity and fulfillment. So, do you know what your passions are?’

‘I think so,’ said Rinku. ‘But I’m not sure if they are my passions or my fantasies.’

‘Don’t discount your passions like that,’ laughed Rakesh. ‘I suggest we do the Passion Test to get clarity on what we want.’

‘Sounds like fun,’ said Rahul. ‘Let’s do it, bhaiyya.’

‘Before we start the Passion Test I’d like you to remember the Passion Test mantra,’ said Rakesh. ‘It is Intention-Attention — No Tension. First set an Intention — and consciously state what we’re choosing to create. Then, give what we have chosen Attention — so it grows bigger and stronger in our life. And thirdly, do it with No Tension — anything we hold on to too tightly eludes us, so be open and easy during the process.’

‘Got it,’ said Rinku smiling. ‘Intention, Attention and No Tension.’

‘Good,’ said Rakesh. ‘Now, let’s do the Passion Test and set our Intention on the life we want to create — which means we identify our top 5 passions. Take a pen and paper and list down 10-15 things you would be doing when your life is ideal. Write ‘When my life is ideal, I am…’ for each of the things you’re passionate about living. For example, ‘When my life is ideal I’m playing cricket for India’ or ‘When my life is ideal I am living close to nature’. Write it like you are living it — like a verb. Like it's happening right now.’

‘But, bhaiyya,’ asked Rahul. ‘That’s a bit too much, right? Maybe we should go for simpler passions?’

‘No, Rahul,’ said Rakesh. ‘We’re looking at creating our ideal life. So, don’t worry about the How. Just get clear about the What. Don’t get in the way, don’t play safe. Don’t settle for less. Go for a passionate, ideal life. Once we’re clear about What, we’ll find the How.’

‘Okay, bhaiyya,’ said Rahul. ‘What next?”

‘Now, from your list of 10-15 passions, identify the top 5,’ said Rakesh. ‘To do that, start by comparing 1 and 2 and choose the one you want. Your first instinct is the most accurate. Then, take the one you chose and compare it with item 3 and choose between them again. Once again, take the one you chose and compare it with item 4. Run through your list of 15 in this way until what remains is your number one passion. Write that down as Passion number 1.’

‘Hmm,’ said Rinku. ‘And then?’

‘Exclude your first passion from the list and start the process all over again from the top,’ said Rakesh. ‘Compare each one with the next. Do it even if you had chosen differently between the two the first time. Once you run through your entire list you will end up with your Passion number 2. Eliminate your first two passions, and start at the top again and run through the list for your third passion. Be honest. Go with your instinct and I promise you’ll be surprised at your top 5 passions.’

‘Yes, bhaiyya,’ said Rahul. ‘I never thought I’d choose quality family time over chilling with friends as one of my top 5 passions when living my ideal life.’

‘See,’ said Rakesh. ‘Okay, now you have clarity on how your passionate life looks. Next, give attention to your intentions to make them stronger. One idea is to make Passion Cards with your top 5 passions written on them and stick them in places where you can see them through the day — your bathroom mirror, your computer, fridge, or car dashboard. They’ll remind you to live your ideal life, your passionate life. And to do it without tension.’

‘But, bhaiyya,’ asked Rahul. ‘What if I don’t get what I want? I’ll be tense right?’

‘Rahul,’ said Rakesh. ‘Passions are not goals. Passions are about How to live your life while goals are things you choose to create in your life. Passions are the process, the way you’ve chosen to live your life while goals are outcomes. Goals can stress you out, but living a passionate life makes life fun, fulfilling, rewarding and exciting.’

‘This is amazing,’ said Rinku. ‘I love my top 5 passions and the funda of Intention, Attention and No Tension will help me live a passionate life. Thanks, bhaiyya.’

Pro Tip: Take the Passion Test to see how you’d like to live your ideal life. Identify your top 5 passions and use the mantra Intention, Attention and No Tension to enjoy living a passionate life. For more info visit

A Breath of Fresh Air - Old World Niceties!

 Of the many proposals I send for my books and stuff I get very few responses. It's almost like they don't even acknowledge that someone took the trouble of sending a mail, professionally (I am not seeking donations), and you can simply say - "hey, got your mail. we don't do that kind of stuff." Or even "sorry mate, we don't do people like you.'

At least say something!

But over years I have got used to these cold shoulders and I still send my proposals numbly. This year also I sent a proposal out to many stalwarts (hope is a funny thing - it keeps your illusions and delusions alive). As always no one responded. I didn't expect any better. 

But hey!

Teesta Guha Sarkar of Pan Macmillan replied immediately. Simple and sweet. Nice and polite. 'We received your mail and we'll get back to you".

Ah, there's hope. I loved it.

I wrote back saying I really appreciated her response. And she replied again.

My faith in the future of humanity is now reinforced. Thanks Teesta. That was a huge mail you sent.  

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

The World We Live In - Me, Me, Me

 I find it interesting when people stop in the middle of the road, block everyone else and continue their conversations or other activities completely oblivious to the discomfort they are subjecting others to. Overall the world is largely low on thoughtfulness one finds and when I find a car driver stopping to let me go because it would ease the traffic (instead of rushing in and messing it up) I know there's hope. But by and large we have people who rush in, mess up the traffic and everyone is stuck.

The Classic Squeeze - Love Expressed in Different Ways

This picture is taken a few weeks ago. I had stopped outside the vets and when I parked my car (the brown one in the middle) was the only one on the road. In a short while the car in front of me, came and parked in a hurry, close enough for me to have to back up because there's not enough space, when he could have parked a little distance away - the entire place was empty and surely a foot here and there would not have helped. But the thought - I parked, now let that guy figure what he wants to do rules. They rushed off with their precious dog.

And then comes the car behind me - and this is even wore. He parks right across the gate of the vet clinic, half into the driveway, and walks in with his dog. The only consideration for him seems to be - I have to be closest to the gate and the door so there's least mount of walking to do. I checked to see if there was some emergency of some kind but no - he sauntered in and out - left the car right there and walked in with his dog. By the time I could catch him  he disappeared into the clinic. I hoped for some sense - maybe he had a two minute job and he would come back I thought. But no - fifteen minutes later Shobhs and Anjali came and I had to maneuver with inches to spare - front and back, front and back - and squeezed out.

I had to take the picture. I have one such of two bikes who parked like that another time - even worse. Maybe these two are the same bike guys - grown up into cars - but not having changed a bit. Its amusing to think about it, about their hurry - but I do hope we get to a place where we have more thoughtfulness for the others around - and sometimes think about them too.     

Thought for the Day - Life's Getting Too Serious

 I was reading a book and read this line that a yogi when asked for an autograph wrote one word in the paper instead - Enjoy!

Laugh it off!

The idea was that we take life too seriously when it is meant to be enjoyed. Somewhere along the way we start thinking that we must do this and that and have a purpose and stuff when the actual purpose is to merely enjoy life. Now what does it mean to enjoy life?

To me its putting our full attention into whatever we are doing, enjoy the process as they say, and laugh as we do it. Laugh it off like we would say in our college days.

Don't get too serious about life. Money, relationships, career, health, life and death - everything is to be laughed off. Take it easy.  

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Canteen Fundas - Why Sleep Is the Magic Pill For Us!

 The many benefits of sleep - from Mathew Walker's 'Why We Sleep'


E-Canteen Fundas: Why losing out on sleep during exams might actually be counter-productive to learning

Get your 8 hours of sleep to get the full benefits of the restorative, healing and learning effects of sleep. A good night’s sleep aids learning, helps in healing and recharging the body, mind and sou

Zzzzs are important | (Pic: EdexLive)

‘I’m so sleepy,’ said Rahul. ‘I stayed up all night to study for today’s test.’

‘Same here,’ said Rinku. ‘I slept for a couple of hours and now I’m good to do an all-nighter again.’

‘I’ve read this book called Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker who’s researched sleep extensively,’ said Rakesh. ‘There could be certain pointers for you two. More so since Rahul enjoys his sleep a lot.’

‘Oh no, bhaiyya,’ said Rahul. ‘I’m sure the book will say I’m sleeping too much.’

‘Not at all,’ said Rakesh. ‘In fact, the author advocates a full 8-hour sleep to reap the many benefits of sleep. He says those who get less than six to seven hours of sleep, could invite health issues like a weakened immune system, obesity, cancer, Alzheimer's, cardiovascular disease, stroke and so on. So much so that World Health Organization has declared a sleep loss epidemic in industrialised nations highlighting the effects on health from lack of sleep.’

‘Whoa,’ said Rahul. ‘But we relate working hard to late, sleepless nights. Are you saying that’s not good?’

‘Absolutely,’ said Rakesh. ‘The 8-hour sleep cycle has inherent benefits built into it. The 8-hour cycle is broken down into Non-Rapid Eye Movement Sleep (NREM), Deep NREM Sleep and Rapid Eye Movement (REM) Sleep. Every individual needs all these components in the right quantity to gain the full benefits of sleep. While NREM sleep clears the mind, that is, weeds out unnecessary neural connections, fosters information transfer and distils information, REM sleep strengthens those connections. Also, since we have more NREM sleep during the early part of the 8-hour sleep and more REM sleep during the latter part of sleep — we need our full 8 hours to enjoy the complete benefit of sleep and get greater neural efficacy.’

‘Wow,’ said Rinku. ‘So, what are the benefits of getting a full night’s sleep, bhaiyya?’

‘A good 8-hour sleep enriches our ability to learn, memorise, helps with creativity, helps make logical decisions, calibrates brain circuits, helps us heal through dreams, brings greater emotional stability, restores our immune system and helps fight malignancy and infection. So you see, you get all that and more, while doing something you enjoy.’

‘Can I get my 8 hours at any time?’ asked Rahul. ‘My parents say I should get up early but I prefer staying up late.’

‘Yes, of course,’ said Rakesh. ‘We have different rhythms — like morning larks and night owls. About 40% of us are morning types, 30% are evening types and the rest fall in between.’

‘And bhaiyya,’ said Rinku. ‘Sleep helps with learning too?’

‘Yes, according to the author, there is a 40% learning difference between a sleep-deprived person and a person who got a full night’s sleep,’ said Rakesh. ‘Even a 90-minute nap ‘before learning’ prepares the brain to soak up new information, causing a 20% learning advantage over those who did not nap. Similarly, sleeping ‘after learning’, helps 'save' newly created files. By sleeping less than 6 hours we shortchange the brain of this learning restoration benefit. Sleep selectively boosts words tagged to 'remember' and avoids memories tagged to 'forget'. Furthermore, it is proven that the practice of a game or a music piece followed by a night of sleep led to improved performance. As for you two, staying up all night before exams has no great benefit because you tend to forget what you learned soon after. On the other hand, if you study and sleep after learning, it consolidates your learning.’

‘Bhaiyya you said sleep deprivation has many harmful effects,’ asked Rahul. ‘But we see many people going without sleep, including our leaders who claim to work without sleeping. How do we explain this?’

‘Lack of awareness of the harmful effects of sleep deprivation,’ said Rakesh. ‘Did you know that the 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 are related to sleep deprivation including Alzheimer's, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, suicide, stroke, cancer, diabetes, heart attack, infertility, weight loss, obesity and immune deficiency. Sleep deprivation causes emotional instability, aggressiveness and loss of concentration. We fall into micro sleep which causes accidents. While at it, for those who have no option power naps of 30-60 minutes could be a solution because they momentarily increase concentration.’

‘Wow,’ said Rinku. ‘That’s a strong case for a good sleep. Any tips on how to improve our sleep, bhaiyya?’

‘The website of the National Sleep Foundation,, gives a lot of information on sleep including tips to sleep. The most important tip is to stick to a sleep schedule — go to bed and wake up at the same time. Other tips include exercising for 30 minutes but not later than two to three hours before bedtime. Avoid caffeine, nicotine, chocolate, alcohol and large meals before bed. Avoid medicines that disrupt sleep and naps after 3 pm. Make your room gadget-free, with no noises or bright lights. Don't use LED lighting on mobile, laptops or TV screens. Relax before bed — read or listen to light music. It helps to make the room dark and cool, wash your face before bed and get good mattresses plus a good pillow. Interestingly, sunlight exposure is good for sleep so get 30 minutes of sunlight exposure every day. And if you still cannot sleep, don’t simply lie in bed. Get up and do something until you fall asleep.’

‘Wow,’ said Rinku. ‘That’s certainly very useful, bhaiyya. Tonight I will get my full 8 hours of sleep and I feel good about it already.’

Pro Tip: Get your 8 hours of sleep to get the full benefits of the restorative, healing and learning effects of sleep. A good night’s sleep aids learning, helps in healing and recharging the body, mind and soul.


Canteen Fundas - The Joy of Sharing - Of Giving and Receiving

 The Joy of Sharing - Giving and Receiving!

E-Canteen Fundas: This is why receiving is a tad more difficult than giving

To improve bonding within the group and to change people as individuals and as a community, facilitate the joy of sharing and build trust

Check it out | (Pic: Edexlive)

'Bhaiyya, I want to facilitate some change in our community where we help one another and optimise resource utilisation,’ said Rahul. ‘Since we’re talking about leadership, is there some way to make some change here?’

‘You’re right, Rahul,’ said Rinku. ‘Even I feel we need more bonding in our community. Right now we’re existing as individuals or small groups instead of a close-knit community. Any ideas, bhaiyya?’


‘Hmm,’ said Rakesh. ‘How about a Joy of Sharing activity in your community to promote bonding? You could start a Joy of Sharing club.’

‘What’s that?’ asked Rinku. ‘How does it work?’

‘Simple,’ said Rakesh. ‘Ask everyone in your community to share any items they may not be using which may be of some use to others. Things like books, clothes, shoes, electronics, sports goods, stationery, music, toys, furniture…whatever. Anything of use.’

‘Hmm, I do have many old books and comics that I am not reading anymore,’ said Rahul.

‘And I have some sporting stuff and music to share,’ said Rinku.

‘Awesome,’ said Rakesh. ‘First, get everyone who has something to share and pool everything together. Display everything in a commonplace and have people in the community come and take what they want. As simple as that.’

‘Anyone can take anything?’ asked Rahul. ‘For free? Even people who don’t give anything in exchange?’

‘Yes,’ said Rakesh. ‘The idea is to share unconditionally. Sharing is an activity that goes deeper than merely giving and taking. Sharing requires us to give up something we value, to let go of the old with gratitude, with grace. But giving does not come easily to most of us. We are used to holding on, to hoarding things. We fear if we give it away we may not get them again — though we may never use them again. So you see, we need to be secure as people even to give a small toy or a trinket, which could provide immense joy to a child. Just the act of giving changes us as people. And by providing a platform that allows people to give and share you will be doing others a great service. They will feel much lighter and better for having shared, knowing that their prized possession will be put to better use. What do you say, Rahul?’

‘True, bhaiyya,’ said Rahul. ‘Giving is a great thing.’

‘It is,’ said Rakesh. ‘But this activity is about something even bigger than giving. If anything this sharing exercise is about the second part — receiving. If we as people are bad at giving, we are doubly bad at receiving. In the Tao philosophy, receiving is considered greater than giving. Because by receiving, you are actually giving a chance for others to give. And while giving can be tinged with some sense of superiority, receiving requires complete humility.’

‘But bhaiyya, what’s the big deal about receiving?’ asked Rahul.‘Anyone can receive.’

‘It’s not as easy, Rahul,’ said Rakesh. ‘Our judgment, fears and our limited capacity to receive limit abundant inflows into our lives. For example if someone gives you something expensive and good for free, something you always wanted, will you take it? No. We are suspicious, fearful. We are not used to receive without conditions, without transactions. There is no simple receiving with love, trust. We think — what’s the catch? What will they ask later? Is it a trap? Will they think I am greedy? There are so many thoughts that go on in our minds. It just shows how messed up we have become, how averse we are to the act of sharing and receiving.’

‘True, bhaiyya,’ said Rinku. ‘Wonder why.’

‘Good question,’ asked Rakesh. ‘Children are good at receiving. They receive easily, joyfully and unconditionally. If we put an adult and a child in a shop and ask them to take what they want without any conditions, the child will comfortably take what she wants while the adult will not. It is this mistrust that comes in the way of free flow between people. Sharing builds trust in relationships. When people are transparent, child-like and open, it creates a fun and trusting environment in the community and benefits everyone.’

‘But won’t people take advantage?’ asked Rahul. ‘Should we not control things or have some basic rules? What if someone takes everything away?’

‘I think not,’ laughed Rakesh. ‘We are talking about trust here right. So trust. Remove all control. We have so many rules already which make us behave suspiciously. Let people give unconditionally without expecting anything in return and take what they want without conditions and rules. Let us as people get over our fears and apprehensions first, understand that there’s enough if we all share and receive.’

‘What about those who have nothing to give?’ asked Rahul. ‘Won’t they feel bad about taking?’

‘There’s no such thing as nothing to give,’ said Rakesh. ‘Sharing is not about how much or how big — anything that brings joy to the other is sharing. If there’s nothing material to share one can always share time, energy, smiles and happiness. After a few such activities you can see the energy in your community changing. People will start talking, bonding with one another. You can do it in a small community or a big one. Size is no bar for the joy of sharing. And it will have a ripple effect on society as well.’

‘I get it, bhaiyya,’ said Rinku. ‘It seems like such a simple idea but it can have a huge impact. It can change us deeply as individuals and as a community. Let’s start a Joy of Sharing club right away, Rahul’

Pro Tip: To improve bonding within the group and to change people as individuals and as a community, facilitate the joy of sharing and build trust. It helps individuals and the community to better utilise resources, be more giving and receiving and be more secure as people. It helps in establishing deeper connections with themselves and others.