Sunday, July 31, 2022

Thought for the Day - Whatever Happens, Never Lose the Connection With Yourself

 When something external upsets us we lose connection with ourselves. In fact, each time we get upset, it is because we lose connection with ourselves for some reason or the other. It could be blame (ourself), self-hatred, guilt or whatever, but we lose our connection with our self.

The other person or situation may not even be aware that you are likely to perceive things in your own way and they behave normally. It is us, who find a reason to lose connection with ourselves because when we lose connection with ourselves, we punish ourselves. The internal world is shaken even if the external world is normal. In normal cases, people get shaken when the external is shaken. But we could very well get shaken even if our external is calm. 

We just hit ourselves by losing our connection.

Hold on to it. This connection of love for yourself. In whatever circumstance. Then, whatever happens on the outside, the internal is calm. You are loved by yourself. You are connected to yourself.

Friday, July 29, 2022

Mix Tape - Vrinda Baliga

 Mix Tape completes my reading of all of Vrinda's three books. I enjoyed reading this as much as I did the others though I noticed a change in texture and structure. 

Mix Tape is the first story about a young kid who makes mix tapes for the engineering college students and how he forges a friendship with one fresher which leads to a happy ending later. 'The Stories We Tell' is about two daughters trying to come to terms with the fact that their father has found another person to live with in his old age. 'Girls and Boys' is about the difference between boys and girls - and a rather unpleasant memory - and how they deal with unpleasantness. 'Heavenly Abode' is about a resort owned by this couple, that specialises in aromatic pillows, and she uses one such to get back at her husband. 'Broken' is about an artist who discovers that his best work comes only when he loses something he cherishes the most - and when he is losing his touch - realises that the one he cherishes is his wife. 'The Beached Whale's is about a whale that is out of water and a man who is out of his depth in the city. 'Kings and Sons' is about a queensmaid who talks about how her son is now the king. 'The City' is about a city that left a harsh impression on the narrator. 'Roots' is about a civilization envisaged on trees. 'Forgotten' is so heavy on science I gave up.

As always, well researched, well structured, characters that are so real you can pinch them, and a variety of emotional width that astounds you. I loved the cover, the title. Well done Vrinda. Looking out for your next collection.  

Dubliners - James Joyce

 It's a bunch of short stories set in Dublin. James Joyce has this way of leaving the story on a slightly different thread from what the original narration was about, pretty subtle, but nice.

I try to judge the book by the stories I remember, the characters I remember and when I look at the contents I find little - maybe I am getting old. The Sisters, An Encounter, Araby, Eveline, After the Race, Two Gallants, The Boarding House. A Little Cloud, Counterparts, Clay, A Painful Case, Ivy Day in the Committee Room, A Mother,Grace and The Dead. 

'The Sisters' was about a priest who dies and its aftermath.An Encounter is about two friends - one who despises the others gumption.  'Two Gallants' is about two friends - one of whom is trying to con a girl into giving him money - or so they believe. 'The Boarding House' is about a young man who impregnates the daughter of the boarding house - but the daughter does not seem to much care whether he marries her or not. 

'A Little Cloud' is the best - I remember it from a collection and it stayed - about this friend who has travelled the world and how he influences this mousy chap into doing things with more flair and adventure - until he realises he cannot do it. In 'The Counterparts' the guy at work has a tough day and takes it out on his kid at home. Or rather, everyone is taking it out on someone else. 

'A Painful Case' is one - an elderly couple meet and when they become close enough to visit each other at home she holds his hand. he withdraws and reproaches her and in a few years she dies, by suicide. He wonders if he did right, if he could have been different, if he could have been more sympathetic. Anyway now he is alone.  'A Mother' is about a mother who wants to get her daughter her due. 'After the Race' was about a bunch of young gentlemen of different classes who go for a race and how they end up after the race - their differences showing.    

Makes his point very subtly. Thanks Abhinay. Glad to have read this book.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Mishan Impossible - Movie

 Three over-smart school kids from Vadamalpeta near Tirupathi named Raghupati (aspiring film director), Raghava (aspiring winner of KBC) and Rajaram (aspiring fast bowler), set off on a mission to capture Dawood Ibrahimand end up busting a child trafficking racket. Good fun!

Thought for the Day - How to Measure Love

 In smiles.

Whether you love another person or you love yourself, the measure is a smile. Need not always be on your lips. In your eyes. In your heart. But smile.

Both ways. 

If you're not feeling smiley, check where you are withholding love, where you are looking to hurt yourself and release love.

And its smiley again.

Thought for the Day - When Upset, Flood Yourself with Love

 When upset, first realise there is a lack of love.

Then, direct a lot of love energy at yourself. Until then we are looking at the world to love us and give us stuff that will make us feel better. But the best way really (and the most foolproof way because we do not know what others will do really) is to give ourselves the job of giving us love. Lots of love. Love that pampers us. Love that makes us feel good irrespective of others.

Then (as always) we realise that others are also being nice to us! Which does not matter anyway. By now, we are full of love, we are smiling and we do not need anyone else to make us feel better.

Some manifestations of loving yourself

A good sleep. A good hot bath. Feet soaked in warm water. Wearing our best clothes, Buying a new perfume. Bringing leisure into my life. Watching a program you always wanted to but never did. Hey, a love letter to yourself!

A gift. A nice meal. A drive. A walk. 

Expressions of love. Can easily be done.

One way of another, give yourself love. Lots of it.

Thought for the Day - Undeservability is Lack of Love

 I feel I don't deserve a good life, a nice piece of cake, a vacation, a good time, good clothes! I have to think so much before I give myself anything good.

We have had issues with undeservability. Clearly what it means is that we do not love ourselves enough to think we deserve anything good. When we love ourselves, we know we deserve the best. Undeservability stems from lack of love towards ourselves.

Love yourself and you will feel you deserve - not in a reaction kind of a way but as a matter of choice. 

Thought for the Day - Living is Giving. Loving is Giving

 It does look pretty simple. The universal law of what you give you get can simply become - give love ad you get love. Give money and get money etc.

Discarded stuff - Must have served their masters well in their time though!

Which translates into - living is giving. I guess it also means loving is giving.

But I do like this living is giving - because the focus shifts from wanting or being needy to wanting to give.

In many ways this has the advantage. Living then, is giving.

Give without thinking, without condition, without limit.

Thought for the Day - We Hurt Ourselves When we Withhold Love

 Next time you feel hurt, upset, some discomfort please check where you are withholding love.

A random gully in Kothrud, Pune

You are withholding love from yourself or from someone else. The only healing for hurt is love and all you have to do is open your heart and lot out love. For you. For the other.

When you withhold love, you are hurting yourself. Don't. Love and love freely and easily. Yourself and others. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Thought for the Day - You Have Enough Love in Your Heart to Heal the World

 I think I read this somewhere where they say - you have enough love in your heart to heal the whole world.

And you wonder why you cannot love yourself, people around you.

Give and the love in your heart grows bigger and heals you and then it heals the others around you and then it heals the whole world.

Open your heart and give love freely. See how wonderful it feels. Suffuse the world with your love.

Open your heart. Heal the world.

Thought for the Day - No One is Indifferent, You Only Withhold Love

 When you sense discomfort, it is a sign that you are withholding love from yourself and the other person.

Grow bigger. Open your heart and send love to the other person. When you give so freely,you also tend to give love to yourself.

Everything falls into context. You become yourself, you see the other as being themselves. It's easy to feel, to give love. And then you feel the connect come back - like electricity. 

And all's well between you all. You and yourself. You and the other. You and the world.

Thought for the Day - Being Responsible is Being on My Terms

 To live fully is to live on my terms.

To live responsibly is to be responsible for myself. So living responsibly and living fully are pretty much the same - my terms, my life,

Monday, July 25, 2022

Gharonda - Movie

 For years I have been humming songs like 'Do Deewane Sheher Mein..', 'Ek Akela Is Sheher mein...' and 'Tujhe ho na ho mujhko to...' depending on the mood. I knew this was a hit movie with Amol Palekar and Zarina Wahab and I finally saw it in instalments. Just watching Bombay of the 1970s was so uplifting!

Two young, clerical employees in a small firm fall in love and decide to buy a small house. They raise money and pay an advance and get cheated - dashing all their dreams. The boss of the firm offers to marry the girl meanwhile because she reminds him of his dead wife. In a fit of frustration Amol Palekar tells Zarina  Wahab to marry the old boss. Zarina does that. Amol Palekar is heartbroken and is all set to leave the city that has broken his heart. In the last scene they meet at the  Railway Station and he asks her. 'Why did you leave me?

She says 'Tum toot gaye the.' You were broken.

He asks. 'If I was broken was it not your responsibility to support me?'

And he walks away, tearing off the train tickets vowing to rewrite his script again. Nice ending.  

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Remembering TV Gautham - My Passionate, Affectionate, Ever-Smiling Friend Who Loved Life

Gautham and I went way back. It was probably in our 5th or 6th lass at St Gabriel's High School in Kazipet that we first met circa 1975. He was as he always remained later - earnest, simple and full of energy and ideas. Then I moved to Hyderabad in 1977 perhaps and joined All Saints, and so did he. We lost touch during our Intermediate years when he went to Little Flower Junior College along with our mutual friend Choudary. He was academically oriented, his father being a Chemistry Professor at Nizam College, and so was Choudary. I veered off into cricket meanwhile. I remember however that Gautham loved playing cricket and other sports - for a brief while he and Choudary went to the Asif Tennis Club at Nampally to play the elite sport while we normal mortals played cricket!


Choudary tells me yesterday a secret that he never shared with anyone - that he and Gautham were fortunately placed next to one another in the EAMCET exam and they helped each other - Gautham was strong in Chemistry and Choudary in Math so they helped one another with a few questions which Choudary feels made a dfference! Anyway we all landed up at the Osmania campus - me and Choudary in Civil, while Gautham joined Chemical Engineering - in 1984. His classmates were Ramaraju, who was also my classmate at St Alphonso Junior College and Nagesh Kukunoor who needs no intros (maybe even Satish Reddy of Reddy Labs). Gautham was keen as ever on his cricket and I remember he would play with all seriousness in the Osmania B team.  I was by then playing first class cricket and he was always genuinely happy to see my progress - it would show in his eyes, his smile. Whenever we met he would meet with the same affection 'Enti ra Hari?' he would ask, with that familiarity that only a few assume and which is so nice to hear when it comes tinged with genuine affection. He would tell me about the politics in his team and laugh it off - he always had this ability to laugh off stuff in the end and move on philosophically - whether the issues are made of his own imagination or not. But move on, was his credo in life and he continued to do that cheerfully, his big toothy smile, the unmistakable glint in his eyes. 

But before this Engineering saga was a period when he would meet Choudary and Vardha and the academic types and it was in that period that he would visit us at home. Here's an incident I will always remember in my life. After Intermediate in 1984,  I lost my father suddenly due to a road accident. Being an 18 year old I was coping with the suddenness when Gautham came with the others to visit me. And then true to his self, Gautham sat on the bed and started crying, emotional that he was, not knowing how to help me or make me feel better. In the end I ended up consoling him. But then that was Gautham, all soul and emotion. 

Post our college days we would bump into each other here and there - he being in Vengal Rao Nagar close to my house created many such opportunities. He worked in Bakelite Hylam and as usual racked up many stories there with his bosses and colleagues. He went into some gifting business at one stage which he told me about. Another thing he told me was how his tenant gave him a short lift from home and they had an accident and that guy died - Gautham held that bleeding body and endured a traumatic incident pretty early in life. I remember that incident vaguely and how honestly Gautham spoke about his state of mind. But then he put that incident behind him and as always, looked on positively at life and went ahead bashing on with great optimism and confidence. Now that was never short in him - confidence.

A few years further on and he and Ramaraju started Gap Miners and they both trusted me enough to train and coach their staff. We all met with great hopes and dreams in a coffee shop when they began their venture. I would meet them both very often in their office and we'd share our thoughts on many things. Gautham was the Marketing Director and he ran the marketing effort in his own way - getting his team together, taking them out for bonding sessions (which included a bit of a drink), travelling and all that. And then he and Ramaraju fell apart and he left. We met many times after that where we spoke of having sessions together with me coaching him but that never happened. 

One other time he called me when he was working with some other company and got me a content delivery job - one which was quite a big task. I managed a team of three - Miskil and Malay being part of it and we would give all sorts of content every week. Malay and Miskil were still studying then so they probably could use the extra pocket money. Gautham that way, would always keep an eye out for me, knowing that I was on an unconventional path with my writing. Of course he would read my books and give ma  lot of feedback - all positive and in the same affectionate tone.           

When Ashu, his son (daughter Arpitha was older) was about 10 or so (he must be 22 now I am guessing), Gautham brought him and another cousin to ML Jaisimha Cricket Academy for coaching under Baig sir. Ashu was a diligent and hard working student, polite and well mannered, and it was a pleasure to coach him. Gautham would it restlessly, smoke, come back and quietly coach Ashu from behind the nets (you could not keep him quiet). He made a lot of marketing plans for the academy and said we will do it in a certain way to make it profitable and a big brand. Of course he met Vidyuth and shared his vision with him too. One other time he had some other big plan for something to do with cricket and the HCA and he asked me for some help - I cannot remember what - but I don't think that went through either. Once he took me home and told me he was into arranging loans.

When Anjali was born he was very happy. I think he was very affectionate towards children that way. He had a nice relationship with Shobha on some insurance matters I think, but what I can never forget was that every time I met him after Anjali was born he would stop everything and say - 'Arrey, first cheppu, Anjali ela undi ra?'  (Tell me how Anjali is) And he would listen with a lot of love and amusement when I told him what she was up to. That was the biggest point of our conversation ever since. He would advise me how to handle her - gently and lovingly and would seem wonder struck. Of course he would tell me in return about Arpitha and Ashu and what they were up to.

Then, a decade ago or less perhaps, he suffered a heart attack and we visited him in hospital, our faces ashen. He was cheerful as usual and told us all we needed to know about heart attacks - Gautham always had a firm opinion on everything that nothing could shake. He said he was taking care of his health, drinking less, smoking less. He would call me every now and then late at night and I could sense he had a couple of drinks. He became friends with my old mate from St Alphonso's -Srinivas Reddy and in typical style would give him the phone without introducing him to me.

For Gautham the whole world was school friends or old buddies and he had no distinction among them - everyone was his close friend and he would talk to them like that. He also expected them to be like that with him. 

Six months ago I got a call from Vardha saying Gautham had kidney issues and was on dialysis. I called Gautham and asked and he told me all the details as always. I told him I will take him to my Nephrologist Dr Krishnan for a second opinion and he said he would come. The appointment was at 11 and we were to meet at 10 - he came home at 11. Typical of Gautham - smiling as usual and with a very valid story. I had offered to pick him up at home but even in his weakened state he said he would drive and come. He had slowed down physically but I saw no fear, no backward step in his psyche. We went to the doctor and Gautham listened a little and made the doctor listen to a lot of his own stuff. I told him we could go again if he wanted to and he said he would like to meet Dr Krishna with Vinoothna, his wife.

That was the last I met Gautham. Yesterday I got a call from Ramaraju saying that Gautham had moved on. We went to his house, me, Ram and Vijay. As he lay down, he looked his old cheery self, self introspective and thinking of something to do next perhaps. Still, peaceful and quiet. Been a long partnership and a most interesting journey Gautham my friend and this is where we part - I'll always remember the affection in your voice and your eyes, your almost naive ways at dealing with the world, your love for your family, for your children, your love for Anjali, for people and for life. All who know you, like Rags for example, will agree when I say - with Gautham, you can like him or dislike him, but you can never ignore him. That said, even the people he had differences with could, not dislike him - he was such a soul, simple, in a complicated way. But wherever he is, Gautham will be up to something, making the most of it.

Have a good time Gau. And cheers! I know you would never want a sad face around you. 

Here are some thoughts from his friends from college - College of Chemical Technology, Osmania University. I'll keep adding pictures and thoughts as I get them.


He treated me like his younger brother during our Coltech days. He hosted me in his hostel in Mumbai (and then Anil while working in BARC did too) while I was searching for my job. And I got my first job because of him.

I got my first offer from the Peroxides Division of Chemplast Sanmar in Cuddalore, TN. Some IIT guy there was a GM. He had asked me some tough questions in the interview. On most of them, I did not have much clue. But he gave me a good offer in the end. He gave me a week to let them know about the acceptance of the offer. Actually, I was elated with the offer I got. 

After I came back to Hyderabad, he was attending an interview in Bakelite Hylam. And that time it is one of the best companies to work for in Hyderabad. He asked me to accompany him. Which I did. After he did his interview, not sure what made him tell the GM - HR, he told him about me and asked whether he would be interested to talk to me as well.

Since I already had an offer in hand, my approach to the interview was totally different. He spoke to me and directed me to go to the factory and meet GM there. I went there the next day. And the GM happened to be the classmate of the person who had interviewed me in Cuddalore. He told me you are not joining there and you are joining me and he will tell his classmate about it. I did accept the offer as I can stay in Hyderabad.

That is how he played a role in shaping my career.

Venkat - Engineering Classmate

When I went to Bombay (now Mumbai) in 1989 for a written test for MBA, he received me and took me by local train (first time entering the Bombay local train). I had a small suitcase and when I was dragged in the train (it happens that way) in 2-3 minutes my four limbs were in different directions (jam packed train) and I was shocked by the way people travel. Gautham took my suitcase and helped me calm down and placed me in a corner and asked me stay put. Even today when I remember that day I can’t believe that it really happened. Without Gautham I would have lost my patience and would not have taken the test. So, without him maybe my career would have taken a different turn.

Also, when we were on our first job, Me, Rama Raju and Gautham used to meet on weekends and we used to party and fight over the payment (since all of us were earning and spending was less – all of us were eager to pay) – lot of meetings and memories that way. Even we had been to vacations with families when the children were small. Lot of memories were rolling when I went to Gautham’s house today. At some point I felt he let go the family and himself from the pain they were all going through. But at the same time, it was too early to leave us. Hope he finds peace wherever he is. During and after college days there was no dearth of strategies on his sleeve at any given point of time even though we liked it or not he had the enthusiasm to put it forward.

Anil - Engineering Classmate 

Gautham was a live wire. During college I knew him as a highly energetic sportsman. In only one cricket match I played, he was the captain or the proxy captain, I only got a chance to field. He made fun of my fielding style by imitating me.. after college and back from US we had a small group in Hyd and we all got close...we even had many a booze parties with my school friends in my house...Gautham was very friendly and caring during that period till the end...during my marriage he made sure there was all arrangement for booze during baraat and after... He wouldn't let the baraat pass and held it for 1.5 hr, while people danced under the influence of booze, and delayed the proceedings.  In the recent times, he helped me with all the information for my son's college admission process. During my wife's cancer treatment, when I put a message for info regarding certain medicine, he personally went to a dozen shops and got me vital information on the medicine availability...that was really nice of him...He was very proud of his children's achievements...he had the memory of an elephant...overall he was a great in peace Gautham

Vidya - Engineering Classmate

Gautham is probably one of the most UNiQUE characters any one can come across,  I think.  His enthusiasm for Life,  his eagerness to help any body,  his wealth of Knowledge about people and/or situations of life past and present,  his interests in politics,  his eagerness to strategize about anything is second to none.

The proud way he talks about his kids and wife is most precious.  

God knows we all have weaknesses but he let his vices get the better of him.  He let some of his demons overcome him.

God bless his soul.  He was good man at Heart.

Satish - Engineering Classmate

Well said. Gautham was certainly one of kind. The thing that sticks out for me about him is he knows people, from the local municipality to the PM office or even outside the country. Always amazed me his reach. 

Back in the time us too got caught up in the real estate euphoria and bought bunch of properties. I was completely lost with information overload so I turned to the man who knew everything. Gautham and I spent a lot time together running from place to place lookin g at lands in tiny cars in bumpy roads. Gautham was all the way holding my hand as I was trying to make a decision. Good times we had drinking beer and eating junk food at roadside cafes along the way!!                         

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Thought for the Day - Typically the People We Know Abuse us More Than Those We Don't

 This is a paradox. But it is true.

Those we know seem to abuse us more than those we don't. In rare cases we find some deranged criminal abusing people but most times, the abuse and trauma we suffer from those we know is more.

In fact, that's why they are our best teachers. That's why god puts them close to us!

Vaashi - Movie

 2022. Tovino Thomas and Keerti Suresh. Courtroom drama with a husband as public prosecutor and the wife defending a rape accused. The duo are newly married and the case seeps into their home. How they deal with a sensitive case and their own fragile marriage is the story. Quite nice.  

Thought for the Day - Get Bigger Than the Discomfort

 When you're upset, or in discomfort, and feel less than that, simply become bigger than the upset, pain or discomfort.

Become bigger than the people involved, the pettiness, the anger, the stupidity. When you contract, all these appear. 

When you expand and become bigger, all these petty things do not appear. Just become bigger.

And everything is handleable and small. Its when you become smaller that things look much bigger than you and control you.

Thought for the Day - When You See Pain. Go Into It

 One strategy is to avoid pain. But another strategy, the growth one seems to be to go into pain.

That's the area of growth. Deal with it. 

And then you'll learn.

Thought for the Day - The Inside Should Be Strong

 The inside should be strong enough not to get disturbed by anything that changes in the outside.

That seems to be the idea behind Buddhism. Sound idea. When the inside gets shaken up by anything that happens outside, there's much work to be done.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Green Murder - A Tree is Cut Down!

 I remember a few years ago when I was getting this unruly tree in front of my house trimmed, the entire colony committee landed up at my door step yelling green murder. I explained that I was only trimming a few branches and hey went away.

Today I noticed a huge tree cut down - for apparently no reason. I wonder what the committee is doing.


A School Reunion

 Azhar and Afroze were in town and the group galvanised into action. The venue was Nizam Club. The day Sunday. I went early as usual. I found Charles (has his own business of some sanitary fittings) and Archie (now in real estate but with yatra for long) waiting. Muneem (jeweller and precious stone merchant who is passionate about stones) was the host.

Slowly but surely everyone trickled in. Arif (optician), Joel (man of many hats), Shashidhar (IBM), Suresh(insurance), Raghu (real estate), Nayeem (English Prof), Ashok (business - jewels and farms), Sanjay Saxena (advertising), Nirmal Bagga (wines), Satpal Singh (textile), Ammar (finance, education), Afroze (telecom, US), Azhar (KSA), Vinay Gopal (Pest Control). Farrukh Ali Khan (Interiors), Ehtesham (cricket administration and business), Baig, Mohammed Ali, Mirza, Shyam, Ram (leather goods business), Maqbool (KSA and retired), Farees, Viquar (KSA and retired), Haji. I think I got them all. 

Was fun catching up. I did not recall some and caught up with those I did not know.

Thought for the Day - When You're Upset, You're Building Your Story

 There's a trigger. And then the story.  And then continued suffering.

After the trigger, when we get upset, is the sign that we are building the story.

If we can cut off building the story the moment we catch ourselves being upset, we have saved ourselves some suffering.  

Dropping Ashes on the Buddha - Stephen Mitchell

This is by far the most fascinating book I have read. It is a compilation of 100 short conversations, discussions with Korean Zen master Seung Sahn. The conversations make no sense to the thinking and organised mind but you know intuitively that there's something very interesting going on. The Zen practice of not being attached to name or form, situation or circumstance, and to actually stay in a clear, before-thinking mind, leads to highly amusing yet powerful conversations. And to cap it all, to cut off thinking the Zen master poses a touch question and says he will hit you thirty times if you say 'yes' and thirty times if you say 'no'. Or will hit the floor, or will shout loudly KATZ! Or say - Put it all down.

And you're back in a state where your inside and the outside are one.

Buddha is ashes and the ashes are Buddha. Nothing is right or wrong, holy or unholy. Detach from name, form, opinion, condition. That said be aware that you can be attached to emptiness and to form.   

The Zen mind is when the outside and the inside are one. Nature has no opposites. To the don't know mind, all opposites are the same. Name and form are made by thinking. If you detach all substances are the same. Substance has no form. Thinking is suffering. Without thinking all things are exactly as they are. Man's discriminating thoughts build up a great thought-mass in his mind and this is what he mistakenly regards as his real self. Zen dissolves this. His teachings are about curing words and speech with word-and-speech medicine. Which is why its so complex - so simple.

When you detach your mind before thinking, it's just 'like this'. Form is emptiness, emptiness is form. But in the end form is form and emptiness is emptiness.   

For example he asks - this stick, its sound and the mind, are they all the same?

KATZ, he says in reply, spring comes and the grows grows by itself.

Zen as a circle

He explains Zen as a circle - from 0 degrees to 90 degrees you are thinking and attached to thinking, all things are separated into opposites. Thinking is desire and desire is suffering

At 90 the mind is one of consciousness and karma
at 180 there is not thinking, true emptiness, but you are  attached to emptiness
at 270 you can achieve magic and miracles with no hindrance of space and time, but you are attached to freedom
at 360 you have attained the Big I, there's no attachment to thinking (when you drive, just drive)

Thinking is OK, don't worry about it.If you're not upset by your thinking mind, then its not difficult to keep don't know mind. 

If you keep Great Faith, Great Courage and Great Questions, you will become enlightened. Great faith i when you experience true emptiness - you will attain your true situation, your true condition and true opinions. Great courage is bringing all your energy to one part. Great questioning is one mind.

Zen mind means always and everywhere believing in myself, Vow to become Buddha and save all people. If you keep the mind big, the whole universe fits in your mind. The Bodhisattva is yourself. Your true self is big. 

Keep your mind as if you're already dead. Craziness is good. Crazy people are happy.

Some kong-ans

If all things are one, where does he one return?

The spring geese are flying north.

Where was I before I was born and where will I be after I die?

Who is the master of this body and where does he reside?

Originally everything was empty so where does spring come from?

The real Buddha has no name and form. How can Buddha be smiling?

Buddha is three pounds of flax.

The mouse eats cat-food but the cat bowl is broken.

A kong-an is like a finger pointing to the moon. If you get attached to your finger, you cannot see the moon.

True freedom is not rebelling. Its is freedom from thinking, from attachment, from life and death.

Why are you running away from yourself and seeking things from the outside? What is important is one moment of clear mind.

The 5 types of Zen

Zen is meditation.
1) Outer Path Zen includes many types of meditation (Transcendental Meditation, Divine Light etc)
2) Common People's Zen is concentration meditation, dharma play meditation, sports, tea ceremony meditation, ritual meditation
3) Hinayana meditation is insight into impermanence, imurity and non-self
4) Mahayana meditation is insight into existence and non-existence of the nature of the dharmas, true aspect of all phenomena, middle way etc
5) Utmost Vehicle Zen - Theoretical Zen (intellectual understanding of Zen), Tathagata Zen (attainment of emptiness and unity of mind) and Patriarchal Zen ('like this' Zen, a relaxed mind, infinite time and space)

A baby is not attached to the question, we are.

Three things are important while chanting the mantra
1) your reason for doing the mantra
2) strong faith that the mantra works
3) constant practice

When you think death, you make death. When you think life, you make life. When you are not thinking there is no life and death.

Everything is good (drugs, sex) but getting attached to them is no good.

Use your life, your natural style or business style, to teach people the true way. Your disciple should not be dependent on the teacher.

Samadhi is one mind. Enlightenment is only like this 

 Small love is opposite love, attachment love, desire love. Big love is absolute love, freedom. True freedom means true love. 

In true nature all things neither appear nor disappear. All things that appear are transient. If you are attached to name and form, all things appear and disappear.

Good and bad are both your teachers. Kill your small I, kill yourself. And then thee will be no hindrance. Your mind is very strong but your 'self'is attached to it. Cut off the strong mind,the strong I.

The Big I is when the outside and the inside become one. You don't lose yourself when outside conditions change.. There are three stages - losing your mind, keeping your mind and clear mind. First enlightenment, Original enlightenment and Final enlightenment.

There is a wonderful piece - a conversation between a Swami and the Zen Master. The Swami talks of purpose, knowledge, of teaching and the Zen Master actually practices his no mind living.Its a fascinating dialogue. Funny and profound. They part happily.

And in the end there is this when a student asks 'what is love?'

The Master asks in return - I ask you. What is love?

There is silence.

This is love he says. You ask me. I ask you. This is love.


Absolutely fascinating to read. I used the practice a bit and found it eased my mind in a 'thinking storm'. More practice would surely help. Less said the better now. Practice. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Thought for the Day - To Flow, Remove Restrictions

 To flow, remove restrictions.

Kodak Croma - Reel, 1994-95

Where there is difficulty in flow, it means there are many restrictions. Remove them and you are back in flow.

Restrictions are self-imposed. They are our way of punishing ourselves. Of stopping our natural flow. It can actually lead to illnesses.

Easier to flow. Easier to live minus restrictions.

Restrictions also come from over-thinking. Stop thinking.

What are your restrictions? 

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Thought for the Day - When We Move On, We Move Into the Present

 When we say move on - we are saying, move into the present!

Pune University

Let go of the past.

Come here to the present. And move with the now - into the future without the shackles of the past. Freely.

Friday, July 15, 2022

Ante Sundaraniki - Movie

 2022. Telugu. I watched it over two days. I like Vivek Athreya's work. He keeps your interested, engaged, his commitment to his work shows in every moment. It's packed with stuff, audio visually, emotionally, and he can take something very simple and make it highly entertaining. I never got bored for a minute. And to make things better, I saw our Professor at the Dance Department Ms Aruna Bhikshu in a substantial role which she carried off with aplomb. Nani and the rest, absolutely right. I am now keen on watching Vivek's first film 'Mental Madhilo'. I watched the other one.


Thought for the Day - Seriousness Comes from Attachment, Laughter With Detachment


When we are attached, we get serious.

When we are not attached, we can laugh easily.

Thought for the Day - Luxury Is Being Fully There so Time Stops

 So this question came up the other day? How can we live our lives luxuriously? Can we make the very lives we have luxurious? No fancy cars, no fancy hotels, no silks etc.

My beautiful salt lamp!

I realised that luxury is nothing but knocking out time. Or rather stretching time. Let's say we have a bath as opposed to a luxurious bath that the royals may have had. Or a meal as opposed to a luxurious meal. What's the difference? 

The difference is just our involvement in it. Our not being worried about time. I take my own time with my bath, or with my meal, and I enjoy it like any king. That's luxury. Nothing else. On the other hand we can have golden baths and showers, a five star meal, but we hurry through it mindlessly - it is not luxurious at all.

So I tried it.

A luxurious bath with no time, no future thought. Just me and my bath. And then I did it with my meal. And then with my book. With my walk. With my conversations. With everything.

I can spend a minute with a person but luxuriate in the feeling. Stretch it. Feel it. Be there fully. Enjoy the moment.

Luxury is when time stops. 

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Karan Bajaj Walks the 800 km Carmino de Santiago

 I first met Karan when he came to Hyderabad to launch his first book 'Keep off the grass' just a couple of years after graduating from IIM'B. He was extremely polite and nice and we spoke for a while at the launch at Crossword, Banjara Hills. We kept in touch as he wrote more books. moved to the US, got into high profile corporate jobs, promoted White Hat Junior and sold it off. Through it all he remains the same - I get the sense from his writing. Also, I loved the fact that he made it a point to come and attend my small book event in Mumbai when we launched 'This Way is Easier Dad' - he was  a big shot executive in Discovery Asia if I remember - but he came all alone just to 'encourage me' he said. (He was one of the few who would ask me with concern - but writing does not pay you enough - how do you get by?). I did ask him to join us for a drink and dinner but he refused and walked away - having given me one more reason to stay on my path.

Now when i see his post on his walk I am reminded of a book he had written if I remember right - Seeker. That he is. And a bit of a guru as well.

More on his blog. And Karan, well done man. Read all about his walk here.

Rainy Days - Persis Tea, Old friends, Warm lamps

 That pretty much sums up a nice rainy day - old friends for company, a hot meal, tea at Persis and a warm lamp back home.

 Don aka Vardha came home yesterday for a meal. He surprised me by carrying a copy of 'The Men Within' - he bought it on Amazon and wanted me to sign it for a friend of his who was going to run the Chicago Marathon, Sundar. It was a lovely gesture and it always makes me feel glad when they happen. Makes the effort seem worth it.

After a nice, easy afternoon when Ranjan also joined us, Don and I went to Persis to have a cup of tea. It was lovely. Then I dropped him and came home and found the salt lamp providing this wonderful glow.


Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Thought for the Day - And How to Stop Expecting

 This one is simpler. To stop expecting focus on yourself.

Expectations come when you focus on others. Instead focus on yourself and what you need to do and what gives you happiness and joy and stuff like that. There are a million things there - so get going.

The busier you are with your life, the less expectations you will have from others.

Also makes a good case for more laughter and joy in your life (and less long faces and sad stories).

Have fun then, living your life instead of wanting others to make it nice for you.

You can make it nice for yourself to start with.  

Thought for the Day - How to Catch an Expectation

I have been pondering over the relationship between expectation and laughter. Why am I not able to laugh was the question? That thought led to this.

What's proved is that expectations lead to disappointments. And we build expectations primarily to make things seem special - only for you, only you, only us kind of stuff. So to get out of expectations is one way to save ourselves some pain. Unnecessary pain, I may add, because we have enough to do in our lives apart from sitting there waiting.

Awareness that we have expectations helps. Which brings us to the all important point of - how do I know I am in expectation? 

It's pretty simple. We cannot laugh easily when we are in a state of expectation. We can only laugh when we have no expectations.Which is why it is easier to laugh with strangers than to laugh at home.

My method to catch an expectation and then to work on it would be to check if I am able to laugh easily. If I am not able  to, I can check where I am holding an expectation. Once I identify the expectation, I can drop it, or do something about it. It will save me time, energy and pain.

And also bring more laughter into my life which I suspect is a good thing.  

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Such Beautiful Weather!

 It's been raining continuously for the past few days. It's cold but its beautiful. I am just so thrilled with it. I do not know why but I just am. 

I am loving everything I do and feel - the cold, the cosy feeling, the warmth of the house, the warmth of the salt lamp, the work that I am able to do so comfortably, the walk and run in the drizzle, the hot water or chai, a hot meal, sitting down to read, to play music, to have a drink, to talk to a friend over the phone, to write, to clean the books shelves, to organise my stuff, to drive out for a  bit - I don't know why but it just feels so nice.

I cannot remember feeling this way over a long time. Wonder if its the rain or if its me. But whatever it is, it is lovely! I'll get a picture of it tomorrow. Wonder how I missed one all these days.

And one of my favorite rain songs ever. For you, my reader. Madonna's 'Rain' First heard it in Nerul in the mid 90s when I was working in Mumbai and it would rain exactly like this then!


Monday, July 11, 2022

Notes of a School Principal - Ivan Novikov

 Another classic that I found in Pune, this one is a booklet written by a school principal from Moscow about his observations as a teacher. As someone who was a product of the Great October Socialist Revolution, he believed that the sole purpose of education of their time was to prepare young men and women to serve the cause of the communist state.

Clearly the state provided a large amount of funds for schooling then and it was pretty standardised and students had to join schools. He writes about the way education was in America and Britain and does not think highly of their methods and the reach, the class system and how the poor there cannot get education. He has many pertinent points as  Principal though about how children must be treated, how to mould them properly despite their errant ways, how to expose them to independent and critical thinking, the role of punishment (again he laughs at English methods of physically punishing children or making them write impositions). The role of parents, of teachers, of the state, of alumni, of the institution. He seems to have involved many experts from the outside world - writers, scientist, entrepreneurs, leaders - to talk to the students, encouraged the students to form clubs and societies. He laments the dearth of Russian literature for children.

 A very interesting book considering the times. There is a mention of Kiev - the most beautiful of Russian cities - and one wonders at what Kiev is going through now. Anyway, just shows how times have changed since then, but the true spirit of teaching remains the same. It is signed by Shobha's father who probably owned and read this book.     

Love and God - His Holiness Maharshi Mahesh Yogi

 This is a 1969 edition of this book that I found in Aai's collection at Pune. It's written by Maharshi Mahesh Yogi and is dedicated to his guiding light His Divinity Swami Brahmananda Saraswati Maharaj Jagad-guru Shankaracharya of Jyothir Math. It carries a brief of the Guru Deva - his early life as Rajaram (b Dec 20, 1868) in village Gana near Ayodhya, how he showed an inclination to the spiritual life in his childhood, how he left home, stayed in caves in the Himalayas and in Madhya Pradesh, how he was initiated into the order of Sanyas at the age of 34 and finally was called upon to be the Shankaracharya at Badarikashramam.

The later part of the book has writings on love and god, on Transcendental Meditation, on the all embracing quality of love, how it can transform humanity and how one must not diffrentiate. One line he stresses upon - that personal love is concentrated universal love.

The second part of the book is filled with poems about love and god. Very precious book, just 53 pages in all.    

Tips to Writers Taking Up Freelance Assignments

 As writers we often get assignments that are considerably large. A smaller assignment is still OK to get over but with large assignments there are a few things I realised along my journey.

1. Always be clear about the money. If you need time to get clarity on the effort and difficulty the job may involve, keep the pricing tentative or quote in a band depending on the difficulty. But never ever leave it vague. One can quote lumpsum or monthly depending on the project. 

2. Be clear about the time frame. Start date. End date. If it does not end, then what? Renegotiate terms? Extend terms? Figure that out.

3. Number of drafts. They can go on endlessly. Best is to say, two drafts and then it is final. That's what I do.

4. How much time will they give - and resources. Especially if we need to interview people, we cannot be waiting endlessly for them to give time.

5. Deadlines for each module. It's best to split up the work into modules if it works like that and set deadlines for each. If deadlines are not being met then it has to b renegotiated else the project will go on forever.

6. Sometimes projects start and do not end. In which case give a deadline and end the project and get the entire amount of money since it is their responsibility to provide material, give time and feedback. Keeping projects open for long can be very draining, so keep a very small buffer.

7. As far as possible collect money upfront. At least guard against a scenario where they pay an advance and you've done 90% of the job and they stop the project. You will end up getting paid 50% for doing 90% of the job.

The more detail you go into the better, in terms of hours, inputs, difficulty, feedback quality, turnaround time etc because it will simply keep floating otherwise. Once there's a gap in the project, it is difficult to restart the whole thing again because you would have forgotten many details.

Anyway, have fun. Charge well so you feel good about giving your time and feel like doing a good job.     

Sunday, July 10, 2022

And I Found My Missing Package - No Thanks to Amazon

 So I ordered a book on Amazon. The Amazon delivery boy called me when I was out and said the house was locked and could he leave it in the letter box. I was pretty sure someone would be home but since he was very clear that it was exactly the same plot and he described the letter box, I told him to leave it in the letter box. 

Pic Satish

I come home and there's no book.

My efforts to get Amazon's attention were exactly the same as me getting attention from any amazon - zilch. I have no way to contact them, this delivery boy and all I know is he has delivered it somewhere. I checked with neighbours and found nothing. I resigned myself to buying a new book.

As one last shot I decided to do some detective work on my own. Quite likely the lad delivered but where? I went to the adjacent colony which also has a plot with the same number  and I realised it was locked - and it had a letter box. I tried to peep in and found that though the box was open, I could see nothing in it. I checked with the neighbouring establishment - a diagnostic centre and he said no one stays there and its generally locked. Once in a while someone comes and maybe I could drop by and check.

So I went this morning and it was locked and I tried to look into the letter box and found something there - I could not reach it. A stick and some poking around and I could push it out far enough to get my hands on it. Wet, and in poor shape but thanks to the packing still fine. It was my package. If I had not salvaged it when I did today, thanks to the rains, it would have disintegrated over a period of time. Just perfect timing. 

I checked my name, grabbed it and went home happy with my detective work. All's well and that ends well. 

As for Amazon, pull up your socks guys. You just cannot dump packages in the neghbouring colony just because it has the same number and buzz off.    

Thought for the Day - The Universe Reflects Us?

 The Universe needs a sign from us. If we take a step forward it will take a step forward. If we step backward, it will step backward.

For sure it reflects us. For sure it will not step forward if we do not show our faith in it. It somehow seems to know exactly what we want and gives it to us.

The universe is us. Not different from us. It gives us exactly what we want.

Stop complaining. The Universe is you.

Thought for the Day - Abundance Gets Drawn to Our Energy

 Like animals get comfortable with us when we are comfortable with them, so does abundance or anything that we desire come to us and sits near us.

When we fear animals (or anything else), chances are they will growl at us. Not much of a chance that they will come and sit at our feet by themselves. But when we are comfortable with ourselves, and we do not harbour fear or hate against the animals or at nature itself, we find that animals find it easier to come and sit near us.

We don't have to do anything. They just sit there comfortably. You sit comfortably. 

Just like money, or abundance as they call it. Fine tune your energy, get comfortable with it, and it will sit there comfortably. Within reach.

It will not avoid you like babies do, or little children do or even animals do. It will come and sit comfortably.

Change that energy.

Saturday, July 9, 2022

Forget Paris - Movie

 1995. I missed it then! But actually nothing much to write home about. But for a nice Saturday outing to Sangeet - perfect. Billy Crystal, Debra Winger (we all fell in love with her after watching 'Officer and a Gentleman', a romance between a basketball referee and an airline executive - and some ups and downs. Like i said, watch once. It leaves you feeling nice.


Thought for the Day - When there's no Separation Between You and What You're Doing, You're One with the Universe

 The separation is the ego. The separation between us and them. The separation between us and ourselves.

But when there is no separation between us and what we are doing, we are one with the universe. When we see no separation from anything, we are one with everything.

Thought for the Day - To be Present is to be in the Flow, Open to Everything

 To be in the flow is to be fully present.

Pic Satish

And to be fully present, we must be open to everything. We must resist nothing. No past, no future. No name, no form. No fullness, no emptiness.

Just be. 

Like Patrick said.

Thought for the Day - There's a Basic Level of the Ego Where It's Easy to Laugh

 Whatever you do - it's important to be able to laugh. And to laugh we need to let go of our attachment - to seriousness. And seriousness comes in only when  we are attached to a particular result in a particular way.

Pic SN

To laugh then is to let go of our attachment. To be able to laugh when things go wrong. And right.

To be able to laugh when things just are.

To be able to laugh we need to hit that basic level of ego - there it is easy to laugh. At ourselves. At the world.  If we are not able to laugh, there's resistance, pain. If there's resistance or pain, there's ego.

Find that level where you can laugh. Loudly. Unabashedly.

Friday, July 8, 2022

Canteen Fundas - How the Dots Connect When You Plunge In

 Inspired by Steve Jobs's speech at Stanford.

E-Canteen Fundas: Don't play it safe, pick what you're most passionate about, give it 100% and watch the dots connect

Commit to any of your choices that interest you and commit to them passionately. Give them complete attention. When you live passionately, you open the doors to your destiny

‘I wish I could commit fully to one thing and do it well,’ said Rinku. ‘There’s so much choice and I don’t know what to commit to.’

‘True,’ said Rahul. ‘We wrote down our passions but I’m finding it difficult to commit and give them enough attention. There are so many things that seem to be more important.’

‘But you identified your passions after a lot of thought and effort,’ smiled Rakesh. ‘So, why are you not able to give more attention to what you are passionate about and commit to it?’

‘Because it’s not practical, bhaiyya,’ said Rinku. ‘If I study hard and attend the right courses, it will help me get more marks and qualifications. But instead, if I follow my passion for playing the guitar, learning history or literature, what will happen to my career. I’d rather choose data sciences or surgery or whatever, which are not passions of mine today, but at least I’ll end up with a good life.’

READ ALSO : Learning loss due to school closure would've weakened fundamental knowledge of students: Parliamentary panel

‘Ah,’ said Rakesh. ‘So you’re not able to commit because the choices you’re passionate about are not smart choices, right? Your passions cannot assure a good life for you, while smart choices will.’

‘Right, bhaiyya,’ said Rahul. ‘If I commit to gaming or filmmaking, which I think I am passionate about, and find out later that I made a mistake, I’ve lost everything. For example, I’m confused about choosing between arts and sciences. I feel that my passion lies in the arts, but I have to pick sciences because it will give me a better career. How then?’

‘Excellent question,’ said Rakesh. ‘It’s a dilemma everyone has — a life of passion, or a secure life. Should we commit to what we’re passionate about or do something smarter. Clearly, there are no assurances either way. Just because you did data science or surgery or filmmaking or gaming does not mean you will be successful — especially if you’re not committed to it or passionate about it. On the other hand, work that you’re passionate about, be it food or music, can help you attain great success. Which means only one thing — whether it is data science or library science — the difference lies in your passion for whatever you are doing.’

‘But bhaiyya,’ said Rahul. ‘A career in music etc may take a long time to establish, to become successful.’

‘What you’re seeking is a secure life,’ said Rakesh. ‘Not a passionate life. In his famous commencement address at Stanford in 2005, which is on YouTube and which you must watch, Apple’s Founder Steve Jobs spoke about three things — connecting the dots, love and loss and living each day like it’s your last. All three are about choices. Jobs dropped out of college in six months, leaving his secure option, and attended a course in calligraphy which had no practical application simply because it interested him. But 10 years later, this knowledge of calligraphy helped immensely when they designed the iconic Macintosh computer which made Apple what it is. Though even he had no idea then, he said it all connected in the end, looking backwards, and that nothing went waste. When he was fired from Apple, a company he founded, he felt like running away but didn’t, because he realised he loved what he did. He started again and built two companies — Next and Pixar. Jobs said, ‘You’ve got to find what you love to do and do great work. Don’t settle. Keep looking. You’ll know when you find it.’ Similarly, as it did for Jobs, your dots will connect in the end too. Like Hari Rao Sanghi from Bengaluru who started a biryani joint because he loved cooking — and ended up discovering a world-class fuel-saving innovation while finding ways to enhance nutritious value in food. So dive into your equivalent of calligraphy or a biryani class now.’

‘Whoa!’ said Rinku. ‘So you mean we can take courses that interest us and that we love — not just the hot courses? It may not help us immediately but it will all connect back later. Right?’

‘Yes,’ said Rakesh. ‘So, let’s say you have to choose between writing or welding as opposed to career choices that offer a lot of scope and money. Pick what interests you and pursue it wholeheartedly, because in the end, it will boil down to how much you love it, and how passionate you are about it. When you do that you’ll learn how to live passionately, how to do things with love, patience and commitment. And like it did for Jobs and so many others, your true passion or destiny will come calling sooner or later. Nothing will go waste and all the dots will connect — provided you commit yourself 100% to what you love.’

‘But bhaiyya,’ said Rahul. ‘Will I become rich and successful by picking my passions over the money-making jobs?’

‘You will become exactly what you want to be,’ laughed Rakesh. ‘No more, no less. When we do great work we make a difference to the world and to ourselves. In the process of making one great rocket or one great dosa or providing a great service, we may become rich and successful as a byproduct — if we want to. But the only way you can do great work is by being passionate about it, by doing what you love.’

‘Now I get it, bhaiyya,’ said Rinku. ‘I’m going with my first intuitive choice, commit to it and give it my 100%. I’m convinced that the dots will connect in the end and nothing will be pointless. Thanks, bhaiyya.’

Pro Tip: Commit to any of your choices that interest you and commit to them passionately. Give them complete attention. When you live passionately, you open the doors to your destiny and what you’re really meant to do comes your way. The first step is to pick what you love, what you’re passionate about. The dots will connect in the end.