Saturday, December 31, 2022

The Year That Was

It had been an interesting year for me, or in other words, a growing year. Maybe I broke out of something this year. To start with I got COVID in January and isolated. I read, watched movies etc and got in touch with myself, my feelings. A kind of sadness or 'huzun' took over me, and I felt people moving away from me, literally, emotionally. (On the bright side Anjali became Head Girl, published a short story, poems, wrote blogs, dealt with leadership issues and came out of them stronger.)

In February Ramu, our ever smiling dhobi next door who has been here for 24 years, moved back home - an event which saddened me considerably thanks to the low phase. A trip to Pune to help Milind shift to his new house, to Goa with Choudary and back, and we were into March. The one day workshop for the Andhra Cricket Association was a well-intentioned one by Madhu and then it fizzled off despite good reviews thanks to their own politics but I enjoyed doing it. March and April was also the time for my Arts Management class and I enjoyed teaching in person after a couple of years. Satish came in May and we went to Pune together to get some closure on the house. Jyo and Asha maushi left, Chitra left, Mythily, my sister, shifted to Mangalore to be with her could see a lot of the old falling off. I found that difficult to cope and it showed on my health as well.

On the work front I put a lot of effort into fiction, writing for screen and learned a lot (another way of saying that it did not go anywhere but we have certain ideas). Much time and fun on 'The Wedding Ring', 'Duet etc. We formed a loose writers meets - Sagar and me mainly, Taher, and occasionally Sheetal - to discuss and write these ideas, gave some narrations and it stopped at that. I at least feel it gave me some exposure to the process. Its draining but great fun. All we need is someone to pay for me for writing!

It took me till November to get my bearings on my mental state and see things and emotions in perspective. The visit to Pushkar and Ajmer helped immensely. Now I feel I am out of it mentally and much better physically though not fully at the top of my health. But things are changing and moving towards the better so I will put it down to change.

The year in numbers 

Books read - 72

Movies watched - 72 

Story ideas developed (6) - Wedding Ring, Vipul Premier League, Selector, Anthology  of four stories, Duet, Abstract photographs


- Uploaded 25 videos of Canteen Fundas on YouTube - huge thanks to Sagar

- Books - Completed 'Osmania 1990' and sent it out to publishers 

- Columns (31) - Canteen Fundas (stopped in August)

-Blogs - 450 

Travel - Pune, Goa, Mumbai, Badami, Bijapur, Nargund, Pushkar, Ajmer, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Vajeedu, Laknavaram lake, Ramappa temple

Local - Maula Ali, Chilkur Balaji temple, Salarjung Museum, Public Gardens, Amar's Pensieve, 

Talks (2) - Brightcom, Epistimo School

Workshops (1) - - Motivational workshop for Andhra Cricket Association Under 25 team at Vizianagaram

-Attended (3) - Face Your Fears, Money Matters, Talk on Parenting by Aarti Rajalingam, Talk on Career Counselling by Ramakrishna, Family Constellations 

Teaching - Art Management -University of Hyderabad

Coaching - Hari, Hussain

Fitness - Continued walking and running (say 5 kms at 150 days would be 750 kms)

People met - Prof VM Shamraj, Sanjay Mukkhedkar, Ajay, Shadab, Kanishka, Gangaraju, Anil, Subbu, Shobhana, 

Gifts - Books, Shoes, Clothes, Travel (Pushkar), folder, flower vase, Isis - thanks are owed to Abhinay, Sagar, Nalini, Shobha, Anjali, Vasu 

YouTube Videos on Canteen Fundas - Sagar helped in making YouTube videos 

Writer's Meet - We had several writer's meets and lots of fun

Initiatives - Initiated two 'Joy of Sharing Club' activities in the colony and gave away my cricket kit, books and several other items


Much happened the last year - way more than I can capture in these numbers. I'll try to capture it all in more detail. 


The Year in Thought

This has been a year that was very different from any other. I have experienced love and loss before - losing my father in 1984 and my mother in 2002 - but I found this year to be a lesson in both. I experienced intense feelings of love, loss, of loneliness, and for a while I suspect I was borderline depressed. Sleeplessness, unsteadiness, anxiety - stuff that showed and manifested in my body and my work. In my outer world it showed as people going away, not staying in touch, pushing me away, being distant - stuff I know now that is what I was doing to myself or the world. But at that moment you want someone to pull you out - and they do - but the final effort is ours alone.  

I normally look at such drastic changes as things that are changing for the better. A huge pause means that something big is coming - like the ocean recedes and the tsunami comes. I know one has to go through the pause, enjoy it even. 

A look at my state of mind is reflected in the 'thought for the day' blogs - a huge number at 72 with 32 alone in July I think when it was most intense.  Some books and thoughts helped me cope. None more powerful than the book 'Dropping ashes on the Buddha' which continually knocks your mind into a place where there is no attachment, to name or form. 

 'Do not get attached to name and form.'

Another thought that stayed with me and helped was this 

'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'


'Who you are is not your fault, but it is your responsibility.'

'What you hate most in others is what you hate most in yourself.'

'The biggest life hack is to become your own best friend. Everything gets better when you do.'

- Cory Muscara

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

'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.'

'Self-image leads to pain.'

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

'Never forget that money is the means to the world, but not the end of it.'
- Rakesh Jhunjhunwala

MoMo - A Lovely Poem By Tenzin on a Momo

 It's about a Momo - but it could be about us too! I loved it.

Friday, December 30, 2022

The Year in Books


72 books (some merely qualify as booklets or coffee table books but I will shamelessly add them to my list). Some superb ones - 'The Book thief' made me cry like I never did in my life, 'Dropping Ashes on the Buddha' taught me how to keep my sanity when I felt I was losing it, 'Stoner' will stay with me forever, 'The Passage to India' is a classic for a reason. Krishna's two books were an absolute delight to reread and appreciate his craft. 'Mantras and Meditations' taught me to meditate everyday for 5 minutes. 'Inquilab' was a fine insight into the time of independence.

Thanks is owed to Abhinay, Vinod, Krishna, Raja, Shobha, JR Jyothi saab and all others who gave me books to read. 

1) Humans of New York - Brandon Stanton
2) Essential Rumi - Coleman Barks
3) Meditations - Marcus Aurelius
4) David and Goliath - Malcolm Gladwell
5) Cat Among the Pigeons Agatha Christie
6) The Book Thief - Marcus Zusak
7) Inquilab - Khwaja Ahmed Abbas

8) The First Firangis - Jonathan Gil Harris
9) Calling Sehmat - Harinder Sikka
10) The Forest of Enchantment - Chitra Banerjee Divakurani
11) A Walk in the Woods - Bill Bryson
12) Ice Boys in Bell Bottoms - Krishna Shastri Deveulapalli
13) Tilaka - Dr Priyabala Shah
14) Jump Cut - Krishna Shastri Devulapalli
15) Please Call me By My Name - Thich Naht Hanh
16) If You Love Someone - Harimohan Paruvu
17) Story of the Legendary Holkar Team  - Dr Avinash Chitale
18) Darkness - Bharti Mukherjee
19) Stoner - John Williams
20) License to Live - Priya Kumar
21) How to Become a Cartoonist
22) An Actor's Actor - Hanif Zaveri
23) Thrukkural - Rajaram (translated by)
24) Down Under - Bill Bryson
25) Why We Sleep - Mathew Walker
26) Wrist Assured - R Kaushik
27) Think Like a Monk - Jay Shetty
28) The Wind Blows Away Our Words - Doris Lessing
29) Isa Tana Dhanaki; Kon Badhai 
30) How Come No one Told Me This Before - Prakash Iyer
31) Uh Oh - Robert Fulghum
32) The Punch Magazine Selected Stories - Selected Short Stories
33) Every Night Josephine - Jacqueline Susan
34) Art of Bitfulness - Nandan Nilekani and Tanuj Bhojwani
35) Arrivals and Departures - Vrinda Baliga
36) Name Place Animal Thing - Vrinda Baliga
37) Love and God - 
38) Notes of a School Principal - Ivan Novikov
39) Dropping Ashes on the Buddha - Stephen Mitchell
40) Dubliners - James Joyce
41) Mix Tape - Vrinda Baliga
42) Zero to One - Peter Thiel
43) Thus Spake Zarathustra - Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche
44) The Gujarat Files - Rana Ayyub
45) A Passage to India - EM Forster
46) What are you doing with your life - J Krishnamurti
47) The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
48) Making a Good Script Great - Linda Seger
49) Small Things Like These - Claire Keegan
50) Tender is the Night - F Scott Fitzgerald
51) The Communication Book - Mikael Krigerus and Roman Tschappeller
52) Bluebeard's Egg - Margaret Atwood
53) Born a Crime - Trevor Noah
54) Land Guns Caste Woman - Gita Ramawami
55) The Mystic Wisdom of Kabir - Swami Brhmeshananda
56) Those Who Can, Teach - Andria Zafirakou
57) Khuswanth Singh on Humour - Maya Dayal
58) Writing the Murder Mystery  - Barbara Norville
59) Scene and Structure - Jack M Bickham
60) The Freedom Manifesto - Karan Bajaj
61) Unveiling Jazbaa - Aayush Puthran
62) Vihangam - Gangaraju Gunnam
63) Harijan - Gopinath Mohanty
64) Anatomy of a Dacoity - VR Chaitanya
65) Quick and Easy FengShui - Anurag Mehta
66) How to Change Absolutely Anything -Damian Hughes
67) They are There - Vinjamuri Surya Prakash
68) A Journey in Ananda - V Surya Prakash
69) Footsteps in Our Journey - V Surya Prakash
70) Making Life Right When it Feels All Wrong - Herbert Fenstersheim and Jean Baer
71) The 15 Invaluable Lessons of Growth - John Maxwell
72) The Winning Mindset - Damian Hughes

The Year in Movies


That's 72 movies! Down from 201 two years ago and 104 of last year but its been that kind of an year.

1) 83
2)  Don't Look Up
3) Minnal Murali
4) Arab Blues
5) Beasts Clawing at Straws
6) Gurgaon
7) Holiday
8) Atrangi Re
9) Nomad Land
10) The Tender Bar
11) Encanto
12) Piya Ka Ghar
13) Vanilla Strawberry and Chocolate
14) Blue
15) Red
16) Stuck Together
17)  Gamanam
18) Jhimma
19) Munich - Edge of War
20) Special Correspondent
21) Yara
22)  Gehraiyaan
23) Uttarayan
24) Thnkalache Nischayam
25) Bollywood Calling
26) Hrudayam
27) A Thursday
28) No Time to Die
29) Pushpa
30) 1917
31) Jalsa
32) Green Book
33) Karkhanisaanchi Waari
34) Kaun Pravin Tambe
35) Bridge of Spies
36) Death on the Nile
37) Antakshari
38) Koshish
39) Aandhi
40) Badhai Do
41) Lunana - A Yak in the Classroom
42) Saani Kayadham
43) Toscana
44) Bhool Bhulaiyya
45) Top Gun 2
46) Anek
47) Jug Jug Jiyo
48) Forget Paris
49) Ante Sundaraniki
50) Vaashi
51) Gharonda
52) Mishan Impossible
53) Rocketry
54) Let Them all Talk
55) Darlings
56) Shyam Singha Roy
57) Agneepath
58) Cuttputli
59) Oke Oka Jeevitham
60) Brahmastra
61) PS1
62) Deewar
63) Shakini Dhakini
64) Pandugod 
65) Jogi
66) Kantara
67) See How They Run
68) Bullet Train
69) Monica Oh My Darling
70) Kaithi
71) Rorschach
72) CBI 5

The old movies that I watched were by far the most satisfying -Aandhi, Gharonda, Koshish, Deewar, Agneepath. Kantara, Pushpa were nice though I could not get myself to watch RRR. Minnal Murali, Gamanam, Oke Oka Jeevitham were nice. Lunana and Anek gave a North Eastern perspective - two well made movies. Bullet Train and Nomad Land were nice too. Top Gun 2 was a lovely throwback moment.

I have been rather indifferent about my choice of movies last year and hope to correct that this year round and watch some of the old classics.

Best movie experience - Deewaar - and watching Anjali's reactions to it!

Unveiling Jazbaa - Aayush Puthran

 Brilliant read!

Most of us from the sub-continent are much too familiar with the smirk that accompanied any mention of women’s cricket.  Women who wanted to play cricket, especially a decade or two ago, needed a lot of courage and passion, or jazbaa, as Aayush Puthran, author of ‘Unveiling Jazbaa -  A History of Pakistan Women’s Cricket’ calls it. Apart from overt societal sanction and ridicule, women cricketers had to deal with poor administration, no facilities, no money, no support from the media or the Board (or from the men cricketers) and worst of all, no support from their families. In conservative societies like Pakistan where it was considered un-Islamic for women to play in public, they faced death threats. Aayush Puthran’s book documents 25 years of Pakistani women’s cricket, from Shaiza Khan who built it from scratch to Sana Mir who led Pakistan Women’s cricket team to greater heights to today’s super star women cricketers like Bismah Maroof, Fatima Sana, Javeria Khan among others, and pays a tribute to the feisty and courageous women who would not step back despite the many obstacles and paved a path for women not just in cricket, but in so many more ways.

The fact that Pakistan had a tumultuous socio-economic and political background influenced by the fundamentalist ideologies meant that women were treated as second class citizens for most part. Though women from major cities had the freedom to pursue higher education and play cricket thanks to their social and political standing, the vast majority of women could not aspire for education beyond schooling or pursue their aspirations, least of all playing sports in public. In this background, two sisters from an affluent business family in Karachi, Shaiza and Sharmeen Khan who played cricket in England in the early 1980s as schoolgirls, fell in love with the game. When Benazir Bhutto became the Prime Minister of Pakistan in 1988, after ten years of dictatorship and conservative rule, Shaiza Khan decided that if a woman can become the Prime Minister of Pakistan, a Women’s team from Pakistan could play Test Cricket.  Shaiza returned to Pakistan, selected teams, organised matches, negotiated with religious groups that threatened to stop their games and got Pakistan Women’s Cricket an IWCC membership. In 1997 a smart, elegant and ambitious Pakistan women’s team showed up to play in the Women’s World Cup in India and thereafter played Test matches against Sri Lanka and West Indies. Record breaking performances by Kiran Baluch who scored a double hundred and Shaiza Khan whose 13 wicket haul in a test match against the West Indies in 2004 put Pakistan women’s cricket on the world map. Soon more girls wanted to play cricket. Fathers began to bring their daughters to play cricket instead of punishing them.

Having made a beginning against tremendous odds within and without, the story continued. Under Sana Mir’s leadership the new look Pakistan’s Women’s team tasted success; they won the Asian Games gold medal twice and beat India twice at the World Cup. Girls like Saba Nazir from Muridke and Nahida Khan from Balochistan who had to play in secrecy for years, found their passion paying off with social recognition, money and fame. Today Pakistan women’s cricket has the Pakistan Cricket Board’s support with central contracts and women cricketer-friendly policies. The women cricketers are role models in society – skipper Bismah Maroof who returned to international cricket after marriage and childbirth, Nida Dar, Batul Fatima Sidra Ameen and so many others have inspired more and more girls to play - from Balochistan, Gujranwala, Rawalpindi, Gilgit and Abbotabad.

‘Unveiling Jazbaa’ is a fascinating, inspiring tale of how a game can change society. With little recorded material at his disposal and the baggage of history on his shoulders, a cricket journalist from Mumbai, Aayush Puthran, sensitively, diligently, researched and compiled a gripping analysis of how Pakistan women’s cricket rose, survived and blossomed, taking care to put it into the context of the socio-politico economic situations in Pakistan. In addition to the 86 women who represented Pakistan during this period and all those who carried them on their shoulders, parents, coaches, officials, fans and other cricketers, Aayush’s book unveils and celebrates the jazbaa of women in Pakistan and the world, who aspire for more. I hope someone makes a documentary of this book so more and more girls can see where they came from and where they can go.

The Winning Mindset - Damian Hughes

 Damian Hughes has explored the winning mindset through sports extensively. He cites hundreds of examples from football, rugby, boxing, cricket to tell us how one can make a champion team or rather how one can cultivate a winning mindset or a winning culture. This is exactly what my fiend Ram and I were discussing regarding his team so I was thrilled to pick up this book.

Damian puts his entire learning into five STEPS - Simplicity, Thinking, Emotions, Practical and Stories. Consider this - Coach Bill Shankly tells his team that Chelsea had printed a leaflet which assumed they had already beaten Liverpool and shows them the leaflet.There's nothing much to say. The players play for their pride and win. Shankly had made that leaflet - one copy of that. 


Marco Lippi asking his penalty shooters -  what is your clear intention? Chip off all that is not the core - communicate as you would tweet. John Wooden would not sppeak for no longer than twenty seconds - clear, short instructions -simple messages that stuck. (Seek improvement one day at a time, not quick, big improvement)

Five seconds s the right length- boil your message to a succinct headline and you'll have people noticing your ideas. - Ad professional

Just say as few words as needed to get the message across - "Lads, its Tottenham' were one of his famous motivating words. - Alex Ferguson (don't confuse with too much detail)

Pitch documents for movies - learn to BLUF - Bottom Line Up First. "High concept pitches' (An adventure 65 million years in the making. James Bond with a hat and a whip.)

Grobler and his rowing team - will it make the boat go faster?


I cannot teach anyone anything. I can only make them think - Socrates

How do coaches get players to think for themselves? - Have big chunks of time during the day when all you're doing is thinking - Obama to Cameron. The difference between your best and worst day was at least 50% mental.

Train the player's brains and not their legs -Rinus Michels

Commander's Intent - 

If we do nothing else during tomorrow's mission, we must....

The single most thing we must do tomorrow is...

(the three most important behaviors we must do tomorrow are - sensible hard work, resilience, remaining united)   

CORE - Commitment, Ownership, Responsibility, Personal Excellence - British Cycling

The entire system is to help the riders. As a player ask for what you want. Be accountable. We'll give all the tools but you take responsibility. - Dave Brailsford

Think like a king maker - flip training sessions

Use tripwires to evoke surprise. Create gaps in information that make others think. Challenge the brains. (Achrekar and his coins on stumps)

Van Halen and the M&Ms 

 I guarantee quality work with which you will improve both individually and collectively. - Jose Mourinho

FIFO - Fit In or F Off. Rule two - ou will hear everything from him

Look at the Initiators, Blockers, Adapters and Detached Observers

The Mistakes Club - Mistakes are good. Struggle makes you smarter. Judge mistakes on a scale of 1-10, a prize given to the one who made the most mistakes. Everyone learns.

Sign contracts that mistakes happen, to deliver praise during the struggle,legislate risk


Cus D'Amato and Mike Tyson

The Elephant and the Rider - unless we emotionally believe something to be true, we do not fully believe it.

T-CUP - thinking correctly under pressure (knowing how the brain works helps - reptilian brain) 

Stimulus-Peception-Response - Fight-Flight-Freeze

Contain - Entertain - Explain (Wifim)

Power of ritual - - draw a line and ask them to step over the line as a sign of their commitment, eating together

Know your people - Timpson test (details, personal, home, parents, children etc)

Smile - (helps memory, pencil technique and what you remember from the article)

Relationships and 'turning towards bids'. A ratio of 5:1  works magic.

To solve bigger, ambiguous problems, we need to encourage open minds, creativity and hope

Make learning fun - children laugh 400 times a day vs adults who laugh 15 times

Rookie players and AIDS - people they hooked up with,

Th four principles 1) create belonging by establishing a clear, vivid identity 2) create an environment of safety and trust by talking openly about emotions 3) give value and connect in ways beyond business and lead the whole person, not just the player 4) strengthen relationship by sharing control of results through honesty and trust


Gary Neville - look at the person next to you whether thay are simply happy to be here. If you don't believe that they want to win as much as you, get up and sit next to a person who does. Playing was not enough, winning for my country was.'

The power of 'yet' - Mindset ad focus on effort

Values Behaviors of great teams -Trust (look at it in detail -c can you point out who you trust the least and then tell them why)  

Change the language - share our experiences, learn

What commitment means - touch the cone, dont stop short because then you will lose discipline, lose penalties, lose points, games, finals.

Self talk- keep it short and chunky, make it vivid, keep it positive

Van Gaal -Work on a player's strong suits and every player is different and warrants a different approach


Pep Guardiola- continuous learner, penalty story about the water polo expert 1)  Make up your mind about where to put the ball and do not change the decision 2) keep telling yourself you will score, repeat it a thousand times

Event simulation helped more than Outcome simulation in coping with the problem

Moses story and the waking stick - leading people to the promised land

Mohammed Ali - I am fighting for the disadvantaged

Challenge Plot (David and Goliath, Ali vs Liston), Connection Plot (dedicating this fight to all those who were told you could not do it) and Creativity Plot (how Ali sold his Norton fight to the studio)

Pixar story - One upon a time.....and every day....and because of that.....because of that....until finally

Excellent material for me for my workshop that's coming up next week!        

Lessons Learnt While On a Writing Experiment

Most of this year has gone into trying to see if we can collaborate and come with good scripts. The idea took off last year when I decided to invite a few like minded writers and artists to chat. The idea was to share information and discuss the craft. What started as an informal group over chai and samosa - AP, Sagar, Pallavi, Sheetal and me to begin with, later expanded to include Taher and through him, Shadab and Kanishka. For a while we worked on a pitch document for 'If You Love Someone...' which Taher was hoping to direct. Then Taher got a producer who sold the idea of a short story written by Kanishka 'The Wedding Ring' to an OTT platform and he wanted to get some ideas going. These are the learnings of mine through the process - more than six months.

1) Put your bottom line first. Put your most powerful stuff upfront.

Celebrating a hard day's work at Noodle King

2) Know what your most powerful stuff - don't hide it, don't be shy. 

3) Don't waste time with anything that does not move, astonish you.

Sagar and Taher

4) Be clear what the protagonist wants and will fight for, what the stakes are, and put him/her in danger. 

5) Be clear about what the major conflict is and intensify it. Let the protagonist and the antagonist fight over it.

6) Create pauses when intensity is too high. Not the other way around.


7) Be explicit. Say it. Make them do it. Don't be subtle and expect others to get it.

8) Look at value changes by the end of scenes

Anjali and Sagar

9) In short stories - let the main character be mischievous, have flaws, say something but does something else for whatever reason. Then the others who he is cheating find themselves in circumstances helping them to get poetic justice done in a fashion that the main character gets exactly what he said he wanted (but does not want)

10) Have a clear arc    

Me and Shadab

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Lessons to Practice to Get Out of My Victim-Hood

 I am aware that parts of my life have been compromised by my propensity to fall into victim-hood. I have become aware of the same and would like to come of it this coming year which should add tremendously to my life.

1) Not to perceive slights and turn myself off. Turning off is not participating, shutting myself off, not putting my thoughts forward. (Letting others control the situation and being the victim.)

2) Turning myself off does not help me nor the other person or even the relationship. It only affects my mood and creates a stupid false narrative. (By not turning off I can keep the narrative right)

3) Not expecting others to understand me without my saying it. Say it. Do it. (Like getting mad at the tree because I am expecting the fruit to fall - I can go pluck it)

4) Understand others limitations and get on. Explain where needed. (Catch myself saying 'I expected you to do this' etc and instead say what I want)

5) Stop feeling like I have given more than I should have and the others are not reciprocating. Need to give and receive unconditionally. Don't compare giving to receiving.

6) Stop being passive aggressive. Stop doing things I don't want to and instead do things I want to. By doing things I don't want to I am not helping anyone, least of all, myself.

7) When others do not understand, I will explain in detail if needed. And give them time to understand. Sometimes I could be thinking a few steps ahead of the others and might get disappointed that they are  not getting it.

8) Recognise triggers from the past and stop reacting to them. Maybe find triggers to replace them.

9) Stop making narratives out of jokes and get caught in them. Treat a joke as a joke and let it be. Don't use it to stab myself.

10) When upset, express. Do not suppress.

11) Look at what's there in the moment, and not at what's not there. Create more good stuff and stop dwelling on the forgettable stuff.

12) Stop reacting to others. Start acting on my own.   

 I feel it should help considerably.

Meeting Gangaraju Gunnam

 Vinod and I would sit with Gangaraju Gunnam's writing team (I remember Vasu being part of it and don't know if there were any others) when they were writing for Amrutham, the famous comedy serial on TV in the 90s. We may have contributed an idea or two in those days when we were both writing funny pieces for newspapers but were too insecure, naive and vague about how to translate our talent (we were good with ideas) into something productive for both parties. We however did what we could and it remains a nice part of our writing journey.

From 2010 at the 'If You Love Someone..' launch

Gangaraju is without doubt someone who is one of the most creative persons I have met. He is always tinkering with an idea and finding ways how to make it different. He has a great sense of humour, has a huge conviction in what he does and stands up for what he believes upapologetically (and can laugh about it too later). I am always amazed at how he comes up with the most out-of-the box response every time (Congratulations on your second baby,' he said when Anjali was born referring to The Men Within as the first). And so many more like that. He always leaves you with a smile and always makes you feel warm and respected.  

Me, Swathi, Sumanth, Gangaraju and Mohan at the book launch

So when Gangaraju wrote his first novel and sent it to me and I reviewed it, we chatted about how it was time to meet. Gangaraju said we should all meet and wanted Vinod to join as well. Yesterday Vinod and me went to his office at LightBox Media and enjoyed a lovely afternoon with him. Firstly the number of brilliant books that he has around him were enough for us to talk about books on the shelf, then about his book, his homage to Ayn Rand, the book writing and publishing process (he was so meticulous). I shared some of my learning in the book publishing and marketing process with him - reviews, events, traction for the books. 

We wound up after a tea with promises that we should all catch up and work together again on a comedy. I really hope we end up doing that. I feel we can d o more justice to that now.

Thanks Gangaraju for the lunch and the lovely conversation and hope tosee you again. Wishing you the best for the book - 'Vihangam'. Unfortunately, we realised we had not taken any pictures.    

A Late Night Visit to Shadab

 For a while now Sagar, Taher and I have been planning to go to the old city. Sagar has been talking of the days when he and his friends would go to the old city and eat some palak paneer and roti and he wanted to do that again. So we decided on a day and set off rather late in the night. Taher said he would join us directly there.


Despite traffic it took us about 45 minutes to get there. I dropped Sagar and went to find a parking place - I should have parked near the High Court because all the cars were parked there but I seriously paid heed to the No Parking signs (when the rest of the world was not) and kept going right up to City College almost. I found that No Parking signs were all around the place and finally found a place to park. (With some help from a surly mango seller who was upset that my parking was affecting his business and advised me to park ahead).


Anyway after a long walk back I found the two sitting and waiting in a long line of people waiting - families and friends by the dozen there - and found a place soon after on the first floor. Roti, palak paneer and biryani and we were soon digging in. Chai at the ground floor and paan after and that was an evening well spent.

If I remember right I began the year at Grand Hotel,  recently tried Bahar and now Shadab. They are generally OK. Haven't found the perfect biryani yet - something that compares to what Mohini Restaurant used to serve up in the late 90s.       

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

And the Mango Tree is Flowering Again!

 Sitting under the mango tree I realised that it was flowering like nobody's business. Looks like another brilliant crop this year!

Anjali - And a Not So Secret Santa

 We did some Christmas shopping - secret Santa types. Found that Lifestyle was full of shoppers - its like watching a Hollywood movie on Christmas shopping. Stepped out and stopped at 10D for a bit and then found that Anjali saw this Secret Santa.

Merry Christmas!

A Christmas Gift from Abhinay

 Though it is not said, I am assuming it to be a Christmas gift from Abhinay - a lovely book made of hand made paper (or something like that). While at that started using the gift from Nalini from a couple of years ago - a purse and a pen.

Thanks Abhinay and Nalini.

Old Stuff - Inland Letters, Post Cards

 Here's some stuff that might be ancient already.

An Inland Letter

A Post Card

An application for an LPG connection

The above two are postal letters - an inland letter offered you some privacy while a post card was an open letter that could be read by anybody.

The application for a gas connection was sometime in 1970s - check out the clerk's writing. It's pure art. Calligraphy. Who can write out an application like that now?

A Visit to Public Gardens

 We have passed by the Public Gardens at Nampally a million times but never went in. On one of my artists dates last year I tried to but there was some Assembly session going on and they would not let me in. I have been meaning to visit the museum in the Public Gardens for a while and asked Vasu if he wanted to join me and he was game. So last Sunday we made a dash for it. It was good fun.

The museum

The road to pergola

Vasu near a dangerous bridge

The pergola

For starters the museum was shut because it was Christmas so we just walked around. There was a little water body, a nicely designed pergola, families playing and enjoying a picnic. There was a nice horticulture department which was well maintained.

Water body

The Agri Horticultural Society

A model terrace garden

We walked past the Jawahar Bal Bhavan and the Jubilee Hall where we received certificates and a prize money of Rs. 1011 from the then Chief Minister Shri NT Rama Rao for winning the Ranji Trophy. We walked towards the Assembly and then slowly walked back to the car park after an hour of walking about.

The Jawahar Bal Bhavan

Great fun. I will be back to visit the museum soon.   

The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth - John C Maxwell

 John was a preacher in a church who wanted the biggest church and then life led him into areas where he worked with human potential, leadership. He is a bestselling author who has sold over 21 million copies of his books, the founder of EQUIP and the John Maxwell Company. He speaks and develops leaders across the globe.

The 15 laws are

1. The Law of Intentionality - Growth doesn't just happen. Set a clear intention.

2. The Law of Awareness - You must know yourself to grow yourself. Know your strengths and weaknesses and work on yourself.

3. The Law of the Mirror - See value in yourself to add value to yourself

4. The Law of Reflection - Learning to pause allows growth to catch up with you

 5. The Law of Consistency - Motivation gets you going, discipline keeps you growing

6. The Law of Environment - Growth thrives in conducive surroundings. Check your surroundings and be ruthless about what you want and what you do not.

7.The Law of Design - To maximise growth, develop strategies

8. The Law of Pain - Good management of bad experiences leads to great growth

9. The Law of the Ladder - Character growth determines the height of your personal growth

10. The Law of the Rubber Band - Growth stops when you lose the tension between where you are and where you could be

11. The Law of Trade Offs - You have to give up to grow up

12. The Law of Curiosity - Growth is stimulated by asking why

13. The Law of Modeling - It's hard to imrpove when you have no one but yourself to follow

14. The Law of Expansion - Growth increases your capacity

15. The Law of Contribution - Growing yourself enables you to grow others

That's the gist. There are lovely stories and anecdotes, many quotes from famous people, lots of good stuff that is helpful for personal growth. He talks of books, personal time, delegation, people, new areas. I especially loved the 'Law of the Rubber Band' and 'The Law of Trade Offs'. Maxwell talks about his heart attack when he was 51 and thought he was going to die, about meeting many interesting people like John Wooden. Good read.  

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Making Life Feel Right When it Feels All Wrong - Herbert Fenstrsheim and Jean Baer

Victim Alert! 

This is a life changing book from the authors of 'Don't say yes when you want to say no'. Simply because it is a book about how easily we fall into victimland and screw up our lives ourselves. Firstly the authors make it clear how we are emotional victims by making us aware whether we are really victims or not (most times we try hard to be victims). They then give us behavioral therapy techniques to identify triggers and change our behaviors. 

Question. Do you feel exploited by your family and friends? Unappreciated at work? Feel the world is being unfair? Most times in these cases you are choosing to be a victim. The idea is that things happen to everyone but how we choose to respond to life is what makes us a victim or not. They give an example of two people who get cheated by their stock brokers - one does nothing and feels victimised and loses everything and  the other fights back with a lawyer and gets back his money. Which means the less of being a victim means the better it is for you. No one can control what happens to them but they can control their reaction to it by following the process of 1) Recognition 2) Rethinking 3) Retraining and 4) Reevaluation.

The four types of emotional victims are 1) the exaggerator - one who magnifies reality 2) the kick-me victim - sets self up for victimisation 3) the misperceiver - sees himself as a victim when actually he is not by misperceiving anything (the sky is blue can be misperceived as a slight) and 4) the know-not victim - doesn't even know you're a victim. Once you identify your type you can work on your behavior, blocks and then your unconscious. 

Victims are so because they have been - brought up to help others at their cost, seek love outside because they do not love themselves, encourage people to pick on you, are used to being a good loser and a bad winner, somehow get into trouble because of their naivete and take a no-win situation as a way of life.

The most common candidates to become emotional victims are - the childhood trained victim, self effacing person (feels of unworthiness), the person with the need to suffer, the victim of the Abel syndrome, the naive dependent, the person with the special victim needs. 

The key then is to gain control over your reactions. To do that you must deal with the three fears that make you a victim 1) the fear of being you 2) the fear of doing frightening things 3) the fear of being aggressive. 

To get out of victim land set realistic but not self-defeating goals. Other ways are - don't be part of a punishing pair (punishing each other), learn to identify a victimiser and understand the effect of the unfairness factor.  

Primarily 'do what you want to do.' Unfairness serves as the core of victim feeling. Victims carry the cross and romanticise it until they get to a state when they say - to hell with it and change it.

Families are a great place to learn. In each family there are roles - the responsible one (the doer), the star (favorite), the forgotten one (no one notices), the clown, the manipulator, the critic (finds fault) and the scapegoat (the real victim). Each of us can carry these roles into our lives.

Here's a small family quiz.

1) Was your family authoritarian, laissez faire, democratic?
2) How is the atmosphere today - in your  family, with your spouse and children?
3) Who had the most power? Who actually wielded the power?
4) When did you feel victimised?

Adult children can turn their parents into victims.

Other tips - Ask yourself - will I respect myself if I say YES or NO?

- Set limitations for yourself and others
- Be direct
- Practice independent thought and action

Behavioral Therapy
Make a victim problem inventory - all the things that make you feel like a victim. (Mine are - can't say no, don't clearly say what I want and expect others to understand, become passive aggressive, perceive greater slight than there is or sometimes perceive a slight when none exists, exaggerate small things and choose to hurt myself, find meanings in things that are not said or meant and hurt myself instead o looking at facts and reality, use a perceived unfairness in another place and get back at it in another manner. I need to watch out for that.)

Analyse yourself in your interactions with impersonal relationships (sales people, service people, doormen, taxi drivers, strangers), at work (superiors, peers, subs), social (same sex, opposite sex, acquaintances, friends), personal (spouse, lover, children, family). In all these interactions ask yourself - How often do you feel like a victim, what kind of a victim are you, does it impact you majorly, your mood, does it influence your self image. Which is your area of greatest difficulty? Which is the easiest?

Now make a childhood history sheet for each decade. Write your victim stories - who made you the victim, what did you feel, any fantasy related to it, did it have a lasting effect. Do you feel good, superior, safe by being the victim.

The Dangerous Niceness Factor

The wrong concepts in the 'being nice' victims are that - they expect quid pro quo (it can come back but differently), they do something they want for someone else, have no niceness limitations, buy friendship by doing little favors.

Effective niceness tactics are 

- let people be nice to you, do something for them from a sense of self pride and expect nothing, know that people pay back in their own ways, there are niceness limitations, always being nice  can interfere, don't spend too much time doing favours for others that you don't have time for yourself.

Realise that you can be assertive, there is something called acceptable aggression and that you can develop the right attitude.

Psych yourself up 1) reorganise your winning feeling 2) find a trigger word for feeling 3) do lastminute psych up. Find ways to increase your psych up.

Stop thinking like a victim - get rid of your 'shoulds', your paranoid thinking (spot it, do a reality check, seek alternate explanations, don't anticipate disaster).

When dealing with victims  - pay attention to warning signs, be aware when one is likely to become a victim, see how you collaborate to make yourself a victim, put victimisation in context

Translate self-smarts into action.


The authors give friendship fundamentals. Differentiate between - friendly connections, acquaintances, friends and close friends. Can you trust your friends with - money, minor practical problems  trivial emotional problems, business secrets, family problems, sexual problems, promises.

Behavior guidelines

Respect is mandatory. Understand that sometimes people do wrong things with the right intent. Accept little slights.

On the job 

Being a victim does not pay at work. You have to assert yourself and recognise victim signs. Its not difficult and its not fait to be unfair to yourself. 

Good inter personal relationships help on the job. Differentiate between job relations and close ones.   


Our victimhood plays out most in relationships and it can mess up good relationships. The time you could have had having a good time you spend in victim land. To become aware of this the authors ask us to rank ourselves on - intimacy, passion, decision making, commitment.

Ask how much of each? Is it increasing or decreasing? Concentrate on the pluses. Know that you care. Accept tenderness, remember that partners wants may differ.

To understand them try role reversal.

Super Sex

Being a victim in sex is not going to get you great sex. Once again the authors ask us to recognise our victim patterns and address them in order to have super sex. Use dirty language, sex talk, handle sexual put downs. I found this most interesting - know that sex is not just intercourse. 


There's a lot of places where we can end up being the victim and wasting our energy. This book tells you how to recognise when you become one and get out of that. I have been in victim land in many areas of my life and realise that its a waste of time and energy.Its just drama and nothing else. For starters I am hoping to recognise my victim patterns and start acting on them. Very timely. 

Monday, December 26, 2022

Sagar Made This Lovely Pic

 Sagar designed this - maybe for a website we had thought about. Lovely.

And this, for This Way is Easier Dad!

Old Hyderabadi Pics

 Some stuff I got on WhatsApp. Hyderabad of yesteryear