Thursday, September 29, 2022

Thought for the Day - Think Within the Mind, Act Outside it

 When you think, keep your thoughts present. That's thinking within your mind and not running all over and scaring yourself or wasting your time and energy.

When you act, act outside the mind. That means act beyond your fears and worries.

Neat, huh!

Thought for the Day - Don't Give Up, Get a Vision Instead

 I like this one.

When you feel like giving up, don't.

Instead, get a new vision of what you would like to happen.

That will be empowering. And also give you something to do instead of giving up! 

Monday, September 26, 2022

The Effect of Friends on a Whole Generation

 Sometimes I don't know what Anjali or my nephews or nieces refer to because I missed watching all the famous sitcoms. Friends, Seinfeld and the lot. Then my life started seeming pretty sad and I decided to add some humour to it and started watching Friends. I am in the seventh season now thanks to dedicated watching every day.

Then I realised how much this generation must have got influenced by this bunch of Friends. They have these wildly swinging morals where a cigarette or a drink is bad but sleeping around with anyone you like is fine - as long as you are not dating someone - but its ok if you are on a break - and hey as long as she is not your friend's date - and its ok to lie and fool around but not ok to break the code. The general idea seems to be to make out or to sleep with the next thing you see who does not fit into these categories - but hey, we do that once in a while and we end the relationship pretty fast. Their idea of right and wrong is so warped that I just cannot get my head wrapped around it.     

But it makes me laugh and I like the way Joey and Rachel's relationship has developed. I also like the way Chandler says the best line in the series so far to me while he dreams of his dream house - that he would have an apartment on the garage where Joey can grow old. Lovely stuff.  They are all getting to be likeable - Chandler, Joey, Phoebe, Rachel, Ross - except Monica who is getting a bit too competitive and predictable for me.

So, getting back to the topic of kids who grew up on this stuff - its easy to be very judgmental about those who did something that the 'Friends' would not approve of. I am only hoping by the end of these ten seasons they will loosen up their morals a little and be ok with whatever instead of having rules for everything.   

Brahmastra Part One Shiva - Movie

 The tickets were priced at 280 I think - but seriously, even if someone paid me to watch this movie again I would not watch it. That said it was a lot of fun because a group of young kids came and they shouted their heads off with comments that reminded me of the good old Hyderabadi comments in the single screen days. The comments were more fun than the movie many times.

Anyway let's get down to business. There is an introduction to the sages and the astras and how the sages want to control the astras. Why these sages were such control freaks we never know but all they did was control everything and well, its not like they did a great job considering where we are today. Anyway like all secret cliques they form an exclusive clique over the years and protect the famous astras. Now for some reason three chosen ones are given three astras - a scientist who uses a desktop is given the vanarastra, an artist who looks like someone who runs a bar is given the Nandi astra and one Guru-ist (to rhyme with scientist and artist) is given some other astra (a small dagger like thing). 

Anyway a sexy villain lands up with two hunks and they beat the hell out of a cheeky scientist and perhaps take away one part of the Brahmastra that they are after. At the same time we have DJ Shiva who is an orphan with a sad story (his story gets sadder after he meets a clingy, controlling girl called Isha who begins to control his life from then on and ask him all sorts of information about himself that even he does not know). Anyway our boy gets visions when scientist goes flying off his penthouse (I am sure scientists would love houses like that) and knows who the killers are (he sees a news paper item next day). Ms Clingy (her pet line is 'who are you?' like she keeps forgetting I think) is there very conveniently and they rush to Varanasi where the artist's life is in danger from the sexy villain and he two thugs (who use all sorts of weapons but not at the right time - guns, hand fights, knives etc - but they are the type who take a knife to a gunfight). There's a terrific car chase (the only part of the movie that I liked) after the artist is killed and he falls off a cliff. But hey, fun fact - at least four people fall from heights in this movie and die - Scientist, Artist, Alia Bhatt and Tenzu (I might have missed someone). Anyway the journey now moves to Guru-ist who is AB and I so want him to retire now. He is assisted by five different youngsters who are probably interns at the Brahmansh which is otherwise filled with doddering old fellows (and one sexy old helicopter pilot in the form of Dimple). Anyway many things are discovered here and made sense of while the sexy villain (Mouni Roy, easily the best thing in the film) is trying to get the Branhamstra. The fight against the evil forces is in a small dagger that Guru-ist holds and a Chinese lighter that Ranbir holds (it does not always work).

By the end of it there are a lot of VFX which did not enthrall me or anything. If you see the poster above, its a bit like that. I was glad it was over. Unfortunately they killed Tenzu who has the power to hold up two full grown people in mid-air including a full grown sexy villain like Mouni Roy but cannot save himself from falling down a cliff - but hey, he must have decided not to work in the movie anymore and voluntarily committed suicide. Wise chaps these Tibetans. And hey, there's a Harry Potter interning with Amitabh Guru-ist who says nothing so guessing he will have a lot of work in the sequel. Anyway, I loved the kids in the hall and I feel my money got fully vasool thanks to them. Ranbir and Alia had zero chemistry which is also interesting. I'll leave no recommendation because by now its kinda clear but for those who are not sure, you deserve it.  

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Launch of South First - A Website Narrating the Other Side of the Story

 South First, a website dedicated to narrating the other half of the India story, the South story', was launched on September 17, 2022 at ITC Kakatiya, Hyderabad. It's CEO, Vasu Gandikota, my friend and the Chief Editor of The New Indian Express till recently, gave the inaugural speech and set the context as to why South First was launched. He said that South First aims to provide accurate and non-partisan news from southern states, and create a platform for informed analysis or politics and polity in the region.


Asaduddin Owaisi, Prof Madana Gopal, George Isaac, Justice Chalameshwar

The entire day was filled with panel discussions on federalism with speakers such as KTR, PTR, Shashi Tharoor, Asaduddin Owaisi, Justice Chalameshwar and others.

I met a few friends there apart from Vasu - AP Srinivas was around and so were a couple of others. I met Asad on the way out and he wished me warmly, something he always does since our days of playing cricket for the University and enquired about my writing. 

KTR, Shashi Tharoor, PTR

I wished I could have attended the discussions all day but I had other commitments so I headed out.

Hon'ble Governor of Telangana Dr Tamilsai Soundararajan 

Wishing the team at South First the best of luck and I am sure they will certainly fulfill all their aims and ambitions. Wishing you luck Vasu!  

Monday, September 19, 2022

A Beautiful Thought - Thanks Hari

Hari sends me some really nice stuff. This is one of the best. I am going to keep it somewhere so i can always see it. 

"For Awakening 

These are the timeless meditation instructions, be-aware, they are deceptively simple. 

Anyone might be able to maintain the advice for a minute or so, but the practice is to maintain ongoing recognition….

Have a mind that is open to everything and attached to nothing...

“Don't recall...let go of what has passed

Don't imagine...let go of what may come

Don't think...let go of what is happening now

Don't examine..don't try and figure anything out

Don't control..don't try and make anything happen

Relax right now....and rest".

Gazing intently into the empty sky - vision ceases; likewise when mind gazes into mind itself the train of discursive and conceptual thought ends and supreme enlightenment is gained.

The nature of light cannot be affected by shadows…

For if the mind when filled with some desire should seek a goal, it will only hide the Light.”

~ Tilopa

May these words bring you peace, encourage you to relax the striving, and may your true non-dual nature, Mahamudra, be realized in this very life.🙏

In Loving Kindness 



Thanks a ton Hari. 

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Thought for the Day - The Danger of Feeling Your Feelings Too Much!

 Everything in moderation they say. So it is with feelings. 

Many are accused of not having any feelings. I have some friends like that who are like stone and who do not seem to feel for anyone or anything. Some have feelings but they are excessively towards themselves and they exclude everyone else. And some have excessive feelings towards others to the exclusion of themselves. 

I guess all are bad because they are seem rather excessively imbalanced. I personally learned the art of feeling and expressing my feeling when I started writing I guess. I am putting myself out there and slowly it became easier to do that, be ok with telling what I felt, feel vulnerable. This enabled others to feel vulnerable and perhaps led to more authentic spaces. But the downside is that I began feeling way too much for the others at my cost. And this is a killer.

Feelings are either genuine or they are built upon. If we have a narrative that adds to the feelings they become much bigger than they are. If we can cut out the narrative, then the feelings are under control.

But then life is lived in that space between control and no control. So when I have to choose now between feeling my feelings or not, I guess I'll still go with feeling them. Perhaps the one difference is is whether one expresses them or not.

One can feel them and keep them within. They are still as authentic and as beautiful, uncorrupted by words and images.

Oke Oka Jeevitham - Movie

 Three young men, not doing so great in life - one is a real estate broker, one is unemployed perhaps but his bigger concern is finding a life partner and one is a singer who has stage fright (but has a girl friend). His stage fright is related to some incident in his childhood and losing his mother who he loved a lot.

Enter a time machine and the prospect of revisiting their childhood and hopefully making some corrections to their current life and they go back in time. What happens after that is what the movie is about but in the end everyone is happy to get back to where they are with all their limbs intact!

I enjoyed it. Funny in parts, emotional at others.   

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Meeting Professor V M Shamraj After Many Years

Professor VM Shamraj was our sports Professor at Osmania Engineering College - our go to for all sportsmen at college. He taught in the Mechanical Engineering department (which was replete with cricketing talent in its faculty - with Professor Rammurthy also being part of that department). Prof Shamraj played football at state level, won All India football Universities in 1959  for Osmania (not replicated again since then), played cricket and tennis for the University. Professor Rammurthy played cricket for Andhra and Orissa in his time. Professor Shamraj was very active and most helpful all through those years. 

He was the one who I first met, thanks to Chakkar, who took me to him after my father passed away, saying he will tell you how to apply in sports quota. Prof Shamraj was very helpful, he told me to get my certificates changed to not just about representation but about my strong point - being on winning teams. That always stayed with me. He was on the committee that interviewed me for the engineering seat and he was the only one who asked me questions on cricket. Later he became my mentor and guide for all sports and academic related issue sin college. When we launched '50 Not Out' in Hyderabad, I made sure that Pavan went and picked him up and got him to the launch. He was frail but he enjoyed the outing!

Sunil, Shamraj saab and Me

While writing my new novel based on my years at the University I realised the part Professor Shamraj had played in my growth and tried to call him on the number I had. It didn't work so I got his number from his daughter Sharmila who was my senior at the MBA college and rang him up. He was happy to hear from me and invited me over when I told him he featured in my book. I could not meet him then and he was not well so it took almost a month to finally meet him.

I took Sunil Jyoti along, another sportsman whom Professor Shamraj knew, and we met him. He was lying in bed and recollected a lot of our old memories - he commented on my bowling, what Uncle Jai would say about me, some trips we had made and matches we played together for MCC. We spent a good part of the hour with him, took a few pics and returned.

Prof Shamraj and Me

It was good to see the twinkle in his eye, hear the warmth in his voice as he said 'How are you re' just as he would all those years ago. I'll add to this post as I go by because there is much to write about him but suffice to say now that it was so nice to catch up with him and laugh at the old days and rue the fact that 'those days will never come again'.

Get well soon Shamraj saab. We need you at the book launch!       

J R Jyoti Saab Keeps Supporting and Inspiring My Writing Even Now!

 Mr JR Jyoti was a most fascinating person simply because he loved life. When I first knew him in the early 80s he was the strict father of my friend Sunil Jyoti, and we'd try to slip past him into Sunil's room. One thing I would notice with awe and think to myself that if one day I had a book collection (or rather a Wodehouse collection like the one Uncle had, I would consider my life a success!).  Uncle had tons of books in steel shelves, well kept away from prying hands. 

Then many years passed - Sunil and I passed, he got a job and I got one, he married and then I did, Uncle retired. We kept in touch and would meet up every now and then and that was when I found that Uncle had a whole new side to him. He was a writer and a serious one at that. And to improve his craft he would go to great lengths - buy books, attend courses and so on.

Uncle's books on writing on my shelf

Suddenly I found a whole new side to Uncle - where he became my friend and equal in our writing journey. The day he heard I had just attempted writing my first novel 'The Misfit' he invited me enthusiastically to a creative writing course he was attending as part of the Open University thing - it was at Srinagar Colony and I went to talk about my writing process. Uncle gave me a rousing introduction and told everyone I had written a great novel. I shared what I could. I met some wonderful people - Vinod Ekbote (the best gift Jyoti saab gave me that day - we still meet every fortnight), Anil Ekbote, Major Kiran and BS Murthy. Uncle became a whole new person - laughing, cracking jokes, talking to all of us like an equal, treating us out for chai and stuff. He later went on to publish his book 'Day and Night' - a collection of humorous articles which he presented to me. I still have that copy.

Uncle fell ill with a illness that reduced his breathing capacity. Vinod and I visited him and while he put up a brave front, and smiled and talked, we knew he was struggling. When registering his will he asked me to come and sign as a witness - something I felt quite privileged to do. 

Then he passed away. 

While clearing up his books Sunil thoughtfully asked me and Vinod if I wanted to take a look at the books on writing that Uncle had which might be more useful to me on my writing journey. I picked up a whole lot and they are such treasures. I have been reading them ever since one by one and consider it his great gift to me, his loving word of encouragement to me on my path.

Yesterday Sunil called me again and said he found a few more writing books and would I want them? O Of course! I would not miss them for the world. So I went today and got four books - writing a novel, writing for young adults, sports writing and so on.

Uncle giving me a sign - stay on course

As I got them home and added them to my collection I realised Uncle was up there giving me a sign, to stay on course, to stay on the path and not feel disheartened, and that he will continue to support me and inspire me. 

Thanks Uncle. And Sunil. Don't know how to say it, but truly grateful. And surely it will all pay off someday, that I am sure of.    

Sunday, September 11, 2022

The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett

 I vaguely remember 'The Secret Garden' as being a classic - and when Abhinay got a bunch of books from Akshara and asked me to pick a few,I picked this one. 

It's an interesting story about a badly behaved girl Mary (no love) from India who is orphaned thanks to cholera and is sent back to her rich uncle in England. Left to her own devices she finds a secret garden, some new friends and a love for gardening. She also finds a secret cousin who is believed to be so sick that he will die but he gets better after meeting her and seeing the secret garden.

It's all nice but what I liked best was the way Frances puts the power of auto suggestion as a magic tool to cure anything. What we focus on is 'bad magic' if its the bad side of things, and what is good is 'good magic'. So the ill cousin Colin changes his context of being a sick boy who can never walk and who will soon die to a boy who will live forever. I am sure the book and this idea must have given hope to millions of kids and people who read this book. All else falls in place once the magic is discovered and we also realise how important it is to be in touch with nature etc.

I loved reading the book. I could use some magic too in my life. Thanks Abhinay. And now to read 'Tender is the Night' from the same collection.      

Rains and Bhutta and Hot Chai and Bajjis and Samosas

 The incessant rain for the past many weeks surprisingly hasn't got me down to a depressing mood like it would earlier. Now I actually like it, the hot tea and coffee, the morning bhutta, the occassional bajjis and samosas, the feel of the rain through glass.  Some pics of my rainy days.

Rainy day
Leaves stuck to the car

Our daily bhutta man

Bajjis, samosas and tea

Coffee - one done one to go

Friday, September 9, 2022

Dominate Asia - The Importance of Language in Culture

 I cringed when I saw the slogan advertising the Asia Cup. Dominate Asia! it said emphatically. There was some talk of how we have already achieved a lot and how we were number one team but now the time has come to DOMINATE!

This is the language of the present day now. It is about dominating, beating our chest, jumping over the fallen - which is a low way of being. Champions dominate, they do not talk of dominating. The West Indies of the past never said a word, they merely did.

Now if you were the champion, win and show. Win consistently and show what dominance means. But we are far from that space which means we must learn to keep our language and our behavior humble. And if we are truly champions, we will grow even more humbler as we win more and more.

I think we as a society should now learn that it is not about big proclamations, self-certifications and glorifications. It is about having an aim and achieving it through a thought out process, through certain values. It is not about anyone else and what we are doing to them but only about us and what we are doing with our process. But now its all about how great we are vis-a vis that country or that person or whatever.

Champions do not behave that way. And when we try to act like champions when we are not, it really is painful to see. 

That said this team has the potential to do what it says it wants to. But it is not - which means it needs to go back and find the ways to fix itself. Egos, mindsets, clarity, humility - whatever it takes. Win first and then the world will talk about your dominance.

Until then they are empty words. That we have not even made the final must hurt and I hope they acknowledge that hurt. If they are not hurting and brushing it off, they are not learning something important.

And like I said at the very beginning, this has become the norm in society now. Leaders use this language and process, role models do this. Naturally the many kids who follow them will believe it is alright to talk big and not deliver. The only thing we are delivering is in talking big.

Time to talk less and do more. Time to fulfill potential.      

What Are You Doing With Your Life - J Krishnamurti

 This would be the first book I fully read of JK though I have a few in my shelf. It is a great collection of his thoughts from various sources and talks and give a perspective into the way he thinks. As always with such minds I just pick some lines that have really made an impression on me. The books deals with topics such as Yourself and Your Life, Self Knowledge,  Education, Work and Money, Relationships. Each covers a wide gamut of thoughts on everything from death to marriage, love and sex etc.

JK talks of the mind and the conscious and the unconscious parts of it. He says the thinking mind is the conscious one and the unconscious mind is consciousness. Consciousness is time, the result of man's endeavours.

We are conditioned by our influences.

Minds are static. Life is not static. (Our stress comes from wanting life to be static)

Self knowledge is the process. To know oneself one must be aware of oneself in action which is relationship. What you are, what the world is. Our struggle is human struggle and if we understand and change ourselves,we change human struggle that much. In our relationship with the world is our revelation, our self-discovery. When we transform ourselves, we transform the world.

Most of us are after serenity. What we want is peace. 

As long as the activity of the mind exists, there can be no love.

Happiness cannot be pursued. Happiness comes by itself.  If you seek it, it will elude you.

When we want to hold on to things, to people, there is dependence, fear.

When there is exclusion, there is no joy. Joy is the absence of me that wants.

When the mind goes beyond me, there's a possibility of happiness which is incorruptible.

We want security in our relationships through marriage. 

Thought creates the thinking and not the other way  around. (Cut the thought and not let the narrative build). Thought is the response of stored up memory. It is a reaction to the past. It is the very essence of security. Thought can only bring conflict. Can only function in relation to conflict. 

A mind caught in a net of words cannot understand truth.

Intelligence is crippled by analysis.

Fear kills creative thinking. Fear kills the heart and the mind.

Significance of life is living. Living is not copying, imitating, following.

Those who do not love ask what is the purpose of life. Love can be found in action, which is relationship.

Fear prevents psychological freedom. Thought breeds fear.

Anger can be self-importance. In dependence there is anger,

Where there is possession, there can never be love. To possess is to destroy love.

A mind that is not comparing at all, at any level, becomes extraordinarily efficient, alert, because then it is looking at what is.  

The happy man is not a lonely man.

Be alone without escapes; see what happens.

Awareness is observation without condemnation.

Freedom comes with self-knowledge. When the mind goes beyond the hindrances it has created for itself.

Work - Love what you do.

If your relationship is one of need and not of greed, then you will find the right means of livelihood.

Our relationships are built out of images we carry - they are not real relationships.

It requires great awareness to look at one another without images.

Relationships are not about dependency.

Self-image leads to pain.

Our relationships are based on dependencies, that's why this fear. When you love there is neither one nor many. There's only love. Love is not habitual, its something joyous, creative.

Only in the death of the self, is there life.

The still mind has no imagination.

Only a mind that's capable of loving will know what it is to live peacefully.


It is a book I would like to own. I think I'll pick a copy up.



Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Cuttputlli - Movie

 Akshay really looks old - he cannot play 35 anymore - 45 and above would make sense. He's a struggling screenwriter in this movie, obsessed with serial murderers and obviously cannot sell his script (which is probably a romance) to anyone. He ends up taking the job of an SI thanks to his brother in law who is a police officer probably under suspension because he does nothing. Anyway Akshay finds himself a serial killer almost immediately after he joins and wastes no time in getting on the wrong side of a lady boss who barks order and spouts bad language and probably has a secret affair with her second in command. Anyway Akshay quickly establishes how serial killers work and proves it to the SHO who dismisses it and makes him buy stationery and cigarettes.But in the small towns of Himachal (lovely places by the way) a serial killer is killing young school girls by torturing them alive, gouging out their eyes and stuff like that, almost every other day.  We also have a child molester teacher. After sometime Akshay becomes the police force and all else seem to go home. Until he finds the killer who is pretty boring by the way making for a long and boring climax. I am wondering why I am wasting so much time writing about this movie so I'll stop.


The Writer's Meet

 For close to a year now we have been meeting every now and then- me, Sagar, Pallavi, AP, Sheetal - to begin with and then Taher joined us and now we have Shadab. What started out as an informal group talking about films and stories, slowly developed into a cohesive unit. To begin with Taher worked on the pitch of 'If You Love Someone' but for the last two months we have been working on Taher's pet project, the wedding ring which seems to have caught the interest of some producers.

Sagar and Sheetal

The team (Taher calls it the Writer's Room) has been working on it and we have all realised that each of us brings something to the table. I believe writing for the screen or TV makes sense in collaboration where we have many ideas coming through instead of just one line of thought.

Me, Taher and Sagar

Akela joins us. There's always chai, coffee, samosa, egg puffs, bun maska and such stuff and the occasional meal. Or at times like last week it spilled over to a drink and some biryani. It is good fun. We hope to invite more people to the room so we can share more ideas in future. 

Until then!  

Croma Disappointing, Big C Scores

 Needed to buy a phone and Sagar and I decided to go all the way to Erramanzil to Croma to buy it. The place had no proper service, no salesmen even if we asked for them, the ones who did come to service us after a while were plainly not too keen to make any sales and were happy to let us go. A couple of them had a small tiff about who would do the sale. And everyone avoided our eyes lest they might be asked to help. Despite all this Sagar bought a set of headphones and I finalised a phone until the guy said 'we have two colours and when I chose one' said he does not have the colour. Of course no one wanted to help with any data transfer and stupid stuff like that - I still don't know why they just don't charge 500 bucks to help with the data transfer! 

Anyway I thought enough was enough and its better to get over this sentimentality of Croma and Tata and all that and left. The salesman did not even ba an eyelid.

We went to Big C in Ameerpet and found the most helpful young lad who did everything and in a jiffy and got us to see a whole lot of other stuff he as well. The sale was smooth, the kid was helpful and respectful, and he also got one of those damage protection for a really cheap price. I am now convinced that this is the place to go. 

Good bye Croma. Hello Big C.

Friday, September 2, 2022

A Nice Gesture!

 So my good friend Dr Vardha Raju came home one day with a copy of 'The Men Within'. Now I know that Vardha is a big fan of Wilbur Smith but I didn't know he read my stuff. I asked him where he got it and he said he bought it on Amazon and he wanted to gift it to a young runner in his Runners Group - Sundar Nagesh.

Zoom in to see the book - Vardha in black next to the champ with the LB Nagar Runners Group

Now Vardha is big on fitness and mentors many young runners in the Hyderabad Runners Group, LB Nagar. He got the book signed and took it back and then sent me a pic a few days later of him and his group with the book.

Apparently while he gave the book to Sundar, a few others in the group (now 21-22) said they had all watched Golconda High School (it is based on 'The Men Within') on the first show and loved it. They must have been 10-11 years old then! They had a few questions to ask me whether they were real life incidents etc and I answered them through him.

Thanks for the nice gesture Don. Sure makes one feels that the effort has been worth it. And I do hope that your runners go and scale new heights like the kids in 'The Men Within'. And Sundar, good luck with your running!

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Agneepath - Movie

 Watched 'Agneepath' after a decade after its release. Suhita has a role in it as Ash tai and she told me its quite watchable. I think the length deterred me all these years but on Ganpathi Chaturthi day yesterrday I watched it because I love that 'Deva Sree Ganesh' song by Ajay-Atul.

It was quite engaging, very violent and rather jerky at times with leaps of fantasy and more focus on drama and visual appeal than any logic sometimes. However revenge has been achieved and all is well and we can all go home feeling we have achieved justice.


A Passage to India - E.M. Forster

 I have always wanted to read this book and somehow the title and the name of the author remained imprinted in my mind and when Abhinay got a bunch of books from Akshara and offered me a pick I chose this along with a few others. It was a wise choice.

The story is set in a small town in North India when India was under colonial rule. The locals and unhappy at the discriminatory treatment they get from the British. Each one finds his way of dealing with it - some rebel, some accept it. Of the lot we follow Dr Aziz, a young doctor, whose wife had left him and who has certain ideals. He is a good man, rather pompous, and borders on the rebellious when it comes to the British. Aziz has one encounter with an old lady Mrs Moore, the local British Officer's mother, where they both end up becoming friends. Here is where Forster scores because he explains the subtle nuances in their character so beautifully, they doubts, fears, aspirations and actions.

Mrs Moore's prospective daughter-in-law Adela comes to visit India and perhaps get engaged to her son and in a strange set of circumstances finds herself and Mrs Moore on a visit to the famous Marabar caves near the town. At the caves an incident happens and Aziz is arrested for having molested Adela. The lines between the British and the Indians are drawn - with only Mr Fielding, the Principal of the Government College asking for a fair trial to Aziz who he feels has been wrongly accused. It so happens that Adela withdraws her complaint in court saying she is not sure but by then much damage has been done. Anyway the engagement is off, Azis leaves town, relationships break up. 

It's a brilliant story of the times, of the way society was then and more importantly of human nature. Loved reading it. Thanks Abhinay.      

Meeting Shobhana after a Decade

We had a surprise visitor recently - Shobhana from  my IDBI, Hyderabad days dropped in to see us all the way from the US with her three year old Eva. Shobhana has come a long way from being the Assistant Manager she first came to IDBI, Hyderabad, sometime in the early 2000s. She then went from strength to strength - joined TCS, JP Morgan and is now Senior VP at Citibank, New York. If anyone needs a lesson on how to fulfill potential and all their dreams with the resources one has (and a learning mindset), Shobhana is a perfect case study. She always had clear ideas of how she wanted her career to be, the kind of a life she wanted, the kind of a partner she wanted (she and Sankar make a great pair) and has ticked off all boxes. 

Shobhana, me, Eva, Shobhs and Anjali

It's been over ten years, maybe closer to fifteen since we worked together but the work we did in the Resource Mobilisation Department of the Hyderabad Branch Office was perhaps some of the best and something I am extremely proud of. There is much we learned during that period and what we all (from that team) share today is the pride of being part of a winning team. There was this desperate need to raise deposits for the bank, most of us were new to the department, our boss Smitha had just left. The rest of the team - Shrikanth Mulaokar, Damodar, Purnima, RK, Shobhana and me - were left wondering if we should just do the standard stuff and hope for the best or - do something serious about it. 

Being new we were driven and wanted to do something different. I remember we got an earful when the last issue went badly for no fault of ours. So I used some Marketing fundas I remembered from my MBA days and we first studied and segmented the markets - wholesale, retail, HNIs, short term borrowers, long term borrowers.  - and devised a different strategy for each. Now this needed a lot of background work - like getting all the past data of 14 issues, sorting the same, analysing it, segmenting it, reaching out to each segment, making separate lists and mailers for communication etc. And while I could strategise and plan, I needed hands who could execute. I found a more than willing associate in Shobhana who was willing to put in the hours, coordinate with Mumbai, use all her resources to get the information, sort information out etc. Damodar handled wholesale, Shrikant handled retail and our entire team worked like crazy, activating agents, contacting new ones, old clients etc. Everyone pitched in - Murli, caretaker Srinivas, Gangaram, Gajanand, Ahmed the electrician.  Our day would begin at 8 and end at 8, still discussing the strategy for the next day. It was great creative energy at play. 

In the middle of all this Shobhana broke her hand, but she continued gamely which was amazing commitment from her. I remember her roommate Seema yelling at me for making her work with a broken hand! Anyway it was a classic marketing case and we ended up mobilising a whopping 16 crore as opposed to the 2 crore we had in the previous issue.  

Encouraged, we kept up the good work in the issues that followed and explored new avenues in advertising, public relations, tie ups with big agents. We mobilised even more in each subsequent issue- 18 crores, 22 crores and 24 crores etc. By the end of the next issue we had set all the systems and nothing much had to be done really. I learned much about how Marketing fundas could work so well during that period and am sure a learner like Shobhana certainly did.  

The DRD team after the agent's meet (standing l to r) - Purnima, Ahmed, Srikanth, Murli, Srinivasa Rao, Shrikanth, Shobhana
sitting l to r - Me, Sunil, Srinivasan, Ramachandran and Damodar

As a team we were thrilled at the results and the turnaround - Damodar, Shrikanth, Shobhana and I - and we would celebrate our small victories with a biryani at Mohini or something. Somewhere along the way the team named me Thakur, Damodar became Jai and Shrikanth became Veeru and Shobhana became Basanti. It was all fun but more importantly we ended up on the winning side. Nothing can beat the satisfaction of being part of a winning team and today we all share those memories forever, like cricket teams that win a championship. To top it all we did one of the best agent meets at Taj Krishna, an event I assigned entirely to  Shobhana who ran the entire show, dealing with the Taj Krishna people. menu, arrangements etc, compered it beautifully and brought in the biggest attendance ever on a day when it rained cats and dogs. 

Shortly after, I resigned from IDBI to pursue a career in writing and soul searching. She continued with the IDBI. The gang would call me up once in a while and update me on stuff and we'd meet for lunch a few times as well. Shobhana would still insist on learning new things whenever we spoke  - from stuff about joints and places to see in Hyderabad, to ways to develop herself as an individual and her career. I remember she would do many workshops and courses over the years for self-development- Landmark and so on. She would also have a lot of fun alongside, and I remember dancing was  a passion for her and continues to be I am sure. Shobhana got transferred to Mumbai soon after and when IDBI became IDBI Bank she became a Branch Manager. 

Then she joined TCS and went abroad and her career sky rocketed. And when she said she finally met the man of her dreams Sankar in New York and got married to him, it was just perfect how she had manifested her life the way she wanted it. We were in Mumbai when they had a wedding function and were glad to be part of it - Jai and Veeru were there as well.

Now, her wish list seems complete with the arrival of Eva, now three. She has recently got a promotion as a Senior VP, Citibank which, in retrospect is brilliant in how she has grown her career. And after all these years, the family was on a trip to India, and she said they were planning to visit Hyderabad. I said they should definitely drop by for lunch. A last minute fever to Sankar and he had to drop out but Shobhana and Eva made it despite a hectic schedule. I spoke to Sankar though over a video call.

It was wonderful catching up with Shobhana and reliving some of the old stories. We called Jai and Veeru who are in Mumbai and Pune now and with some advance planning could have met surely. Eva was a big bundle of mischief and very adorable - Hari Uncle, this or that - and she literally painted the home red. Shobhana was thoughtful and got us all gifts and I gave her a couple of my books. Though a decade had passed it was pretty much like we met yesterday.  And as always, meeting Shobhana once again reinforced the importance of being part of a winning team - it's a feeling of pride we carry forever. 

Thanks Shobhana for dropping in and making the effort despite a very very hectic schedule and despite being unsure about the trip until the last minute. I am so glad you could make it and we could catch up. Next time, we should try and get Jai and Veeru to join us as well. And meanwhile, wishing you, Sankar, Eva, a wonderful life ahead and especially waiting to see you scale greater heights in your career.