Monday, February 27, 2023

And Akela Wins Her Love

 It has been a long and arduous battle for Akela who would not only pine for the love of her life - an alpha dog called Shiva in the colony - but also had to bear the humiliation of having to deal with Shiva living in with a female queen dog. Both those dogs were much bigger than Akela. When Shiva was by himself, he would be nice to her and she would frolic around him but when Shiva and his queen came for a stroll Akela would get agitated and bark and on many occasions that huge dog would attack Akela. Sadly, torn between his queen and his love, Shiva would attack Akela too. Many times she got badly injured but like I mentioned in an earlier post  - her emotional pain was more than her physical pain. But she never gave up on her love.

Akela and Shiva

And then, a couple of months ago, the queen got injured - some vehicles hit her perhaps and she would limp a bit. 

Akela sensed an opportunity and increased her overtures to Shiva. The pendulum slowly shifted and Shiva would come alone and give Akela attention, leaving his queen alone. In a while the queen was sent off and I found that she had moved from Shiva's house to some other house much further down the street. Now Akela got bolder. She would go for a walk with Shiva and attack the queen who was sitting quietly. 

And this time, Shiva also attacked the queen. 

Checking out some art

It was a complete fall from grace for her. Akela though would not leave her and attacked her at every opportunity, getting back at all she had to put up in the past. Akela was relentless is claiming and maintaining her newly acquired space.

And then one day - the queen disappeared. I have not seen her since.

Happy Together!

Now its just Akela and Shiva playing with one another, running about together. Its such a joy to see her happiness when Shiva comes to her. And Shiva, in his gruff ways gives in to her and humours her playful ways.

If you love someone...fight for it. Don't give up on them, seems to be Akela's motto. Served her well.   

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Notes to Myself 3 - Leadership Principles

 Leadership tenets

  • The leader is wholly responsible for the team’s performance (All blame is taken by the leader, all praise goes to the team)
  • Leaders completely believe in the team (if there is no belief then there is no point having that team)

  • The leader’s only job is to get the best out of each member so the team achieves its goals
  • Leaders know member’s strengths in and out and uses them accordingly
  • Good leaders realize that there are no special category members (No stars), they empower fringe players which makes a huge difference to the final score
  • Invest belief in all
  • They give each member the space to approach, to get a fair hearing, to be heard, to feel supported
  • The key is to realize that everyone loves to excel, they must be given the space and environment to do that (a good visual is that they must flow into their tasks as smoothly as water flows into a lake, not like a person climbing a hill)
  • Good leaders go by the member’s potential, they do not judge them based on their achievements
  • They listen

Notes to Myself 2 - Team Building

 Team Building Principles

Part I

  • All teams are made for a particular purpose, to achieve a certain goal.
  • The best resources to achieve the given goal are taken to form the team.
  • The team’s cause is always before the individual’s. Each individual grows as part of a winning team
  • Each member fulfills his role as a team member completely
  • Each member fulfills his role as an individual as a consequence to the above
  • There is one clear line of leadership
  • There are no stars, all are equal. In successful teams care is taken to empower the members who are likely to feel that they are playing a minor part. There are no minor or major parts, each role is crucial.
  • Teams comprise of everyone including support staff

Part II

  • Everyone in the team must know and own the team’s goal (energises them), they love seeing their team win
  • There are clear processes laid out to achieve the team’s goal in a smooth manner and everyone subscribes to that implicitly
  • Everyone is allowed to make their individual plans within their roles definition so they contribute their best for the team’s success. This is completely in alignment with the team’s goal and the team’s processes
  • There is mutual respect, compassion and the spirit to help one another
  • There is space to express suggestions, dissent among all members to further the team’s progress
  • Everyone follows the team' chosen values (behave in accordance with the values) - or else find another team which resonates with their values

Part III

What makes champion teams

(The visual that I always like to suggest here is that of a fist, champion teams are like a fist)

  • They enjoy the process
  • They are fully prepared (geared to next level of achievement)
  • Play to win
  • Believe in self
  • Believe in team
  • They use all resources fully
  • They do not give up till goal is achieved (till last ball is bowled)
  • They play honestly, within rules
  • Team is always before self
  • Know strengths, of the team, of each other
  • Know their roles
  • They are alert to opportunity always

Notes to Myself 1 - Principles of Coaching

Coaching Principles 

· Everything that happened and is happening is for our own highest good. Even if we cannot see it as it happens now. Believe in this.

· We have the intelligence to find solutions within us, by seeking help. There are always answers to everything. we just have to ask the right questions and look for results – not excuses.

· We are always learning lessons. If we learn the lesson we move forward, else we repeat the lesson until we learn.

· The outer world reflects our inner world. What we see outside, reflects what’s inside. To change the outer world we must change our inner world – our thoughts, feelings, energy. When things go wrong look within, take responsibility.

· What we focus on grows. If we focus on what we have, what we have grows. If we focus on what we ‘don’t have’, what we ‘don’t have’ grows.

· What we give, we get.

· We can always change things starting now. The present moment is the moment of power.

· Focus on what you can control and do your best within that. Don’t worry about what you cannot control.

· Mind set – Learning Mindset takes the pressure off to prove and instead, learn. Everything can be learned.

· Being secure as a person opens you up to learning, asking questions, growing and enjoying the journey. To be secure, be ok with what you know and what you don’t know. An insecure Person is insecure about things he is trying to hide, about being found out, about losing something he does not have. A secure person has nothing to hide, ready to learn what he doesn’t know, and is not afraid of losing.

· You are the creator of your destiny, the source. No one else. Take back that power. All creation starts with that thought.

· It is all about energy. Change energy on the inside with gratitude and forgiveness and the things on the outside change miraculously. The frequency of your energy attracts like energy from others.

· Never believe anything that does not empower you.

· Go with your vision of reality – hold on to that vision and believe in it.

· Your growth comes through questions, not answers. Question s grow, answers stagnate. Stay in the “question”, and it opens up tremendous potential for growth.

· You are limited by your capacity to receive – money, happiness etc so if you want more, work on increasing your capacity to receive. Use your imagination.

· You only get what you are ready for. So when things come up don’t doubt your ability.

· We all have mentally fixed upper limits - Upper Limit Problem (ULP). When we reach our own pre-set limit we sometimes self-sabotage. Be aware and gently push past the ceiling.

· You are unique and you bring a unique perspective and value to the world. Most of the people struggle with the idea – “Maybe we are not good enough”. Believe you are unique.

· Accept yourself as you are – good and bad - fully. You, as a whole. The moment you accept all parts of you as you are, no one can touch you. And, there are no good and bad. They are only our judgments.

· Stockdale paradox –Never confuse “faith that you will prevail in the end” – which you can never afford to lose – with the “discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality”.

· Judgment is the filter through which life flows through you. Keep the filter clean and life flows easily.

· Focus on flow – giving and receiving – keep the flow going. Do not be stagnant. Do not let things stagnate.

· Be open to all possibilities. Be willing to accept. Let go and surrender to something bigger.


· When dealing with others, keep them and their needs in focus. Understand them and where they are coming from.

· The key to people management is energy management.

· You cannot change people. You can only change yourself. (To change equations with people, change your energy through gratitude and forgiveness.)

· Always separate the action from the person

· People are good and well-intentioned. If we have bad experiences, it is because we have lessons to learn from them. So instead of getting angry with people and experiences, learn, thank them for teaching you. You are only angry with people who help you.

· Understand that people are not perfect; we all have limitations. We are all trying our best.

· In all relationships, drop “judgment”. Approach with an open mind. Stop feeling like a “victim”. Think like a “leader”.

· You come first, take care of yourself first. And then take care of others. Don’t make your story about them or their story about you, or you will mess both stories. Balance commitment to others by doing self-care as well. Treat yourself as the first one in the line.

· While mentoring, coaching and parenting - use tough love – be compassionate with your ward’s dreams and be tough on their practices and routines.

Productivity/ Efficiency / Time management

· Do what is important first. First things first. Recognise the distinction between Important vs Urgent.

· Always finish on a high. Never leave anything on a low.

· Follow the four agreements for an easier life – 1) Never make assumptions. 2) Always give your best. 3) Be impeccable with your word. 4) Don’t take anything personally.

· Feedback is the breakfast of champions. Give and receive feedback. Feedback should have a positive impact, for the good of the person. If it’s disruptive, it is as good as not giving it.

· If the results are not what you want, look at the process.

· Beginning and the ending of anything has to be good for it to leave a lasting impression on the audience / reader.

· If you do not get something after putting in your best efforts, then there is probably something bigger that is destined and waiting to happen.

· If something did not turn out as expected, don’t shut it out. Question as to ‘what else is possible?’

· The trophy is in the lion’s den. In order to own it, you need to go into the den and take it. It won’t come by waiting.

· As long as outside factors are controlling you, you will feel helpless. Once you move this to within, you will have more control and feel that you are the driver of your destiny. It’s never about others, the pwer is always with you.

· Do not fear a loss. The chances of winning come down when you play not to lose due to the element of fear. Once you turn this around and play to win, the chances of success increase exponentially.

· Life is full of paradoxes – Give money to earn money – To gain control, let go.

Individual Specific

· Vision Statement – Create a vision statement. Let it be high and lofty. This is a declaration of intent on how to invest one’s energy.

· When purpose is clear, your source of energy moves from negative to positive – from outside to inside

· 3 big lessons to follow

o CANI – Constant and never ending improvement

o Self-care – Do not let other people effect you. Be the best version of yourself.

o Invest in key relationships

· It is critical to identify the core values – and how one’s actions reflect them. If the actions are not in line with the values, course correct.


· Gratitude journal everyday

· Forgiveness using the RF sheet whenever something upsets you

· Practice non-judgment. Terming something “interesting” takes judgment out of it.

· Always be open to all possibilities - ”What else is possible?

· Always look for something better – “How can it get better than this?”

· Always be early. If you are early, you are on time. If you are on time, you are late. If you are late, do not even bother showing up.

· Practice the 3 As of Leadership everyday



Asking for help

· While interacting with people take the leadership position. Listen to them, give them space, allow them to vent out. Don’t confront. Make them feel heard first. Be on the same side, not opposite sides. Make them feel secure!

· Best way to control things is not to control at all. David Eisenhower – If you want to get the best out of people, tell them what to do – and not how to do. By saying how to do, you put people into a frame and limit their potential.

· Use transformational, compassionate, powerful, energetic vocabulary. Words become labels – Labels becomes beliefs. Belief leaves an indelible impression on the sub-conscience.

· Hold the belief that the best will happen. Whatever happens, just accept it and handle it.

· Constantly ask 2 questions: i) What else is possible? ii) How can it get better? And be open to all possibilities.

· Be proactive. Be the creator.

· Use creative visualization to think of the desired end result and then work backward.

· Practice the art of giving and receiving feedback for better results. The ABCs of performance are Activator, Behaviour and Consequence. A – is the goal, B is the behavior and C – is feedback. Feedback is the breakfast of champions.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Baig Sir's Coaching Basics - A Gist

This comes from an interview I did with Baig sir a long, long time ago. I asked him about how he approached the fundamentals of cricket coaching. He has organised it all well.

Baig sir - all concentration

Baig sir spoke of the three aspects to cricket coaching -  physical, skill and mental.

1) Speed
2) Flexibility
3) Strength
4) Stamina

There are 15 lessons in batting.

1) Grip
2) Stance
3) Backlift

Front foot
4) Front foot defence
5) Front foot straight drive
6) Front foot on Drive
7) Front foot Off Drive

Back foot
8) Back foot Defence,
9) Back foot Straight Drive
10) Back foot Off Drive
11) Back foot On Drive

12) Cut - front foot 
13) Cut - back foot
14) Pull - front foot 
15) Pull - back foot

These are the 15 basics that any good batsman must know well.

In batting, judgment is important. A batsman can improve judgment by seeing where the ball is released from the bowler's hand.

Accordingly there are 7 pitches where the ball can pitch -
1) yorker
2) half volley
3) full toss 
4) good length
5) short ball
6) long hop

How to play each delivery is about how sound one's technique is (as shown in the basic lessons of batting)


The bowling action is deconstructed into -
1) Run up
2) Action
3) Follow through

Run Up - Run on toes. Use both hands and egs. Hands should move in a rhythmic action. Run in running stride. (Of the three types of running - jogging, running and sprinting - the bowler must run)
Find the ideal speed in the run up.
1) Accelerate as you go closer to delivery
2) start with a jog and go faster near action
3) From the first step when you take a start, carry the speed till action
4) If you run slowly you will end up using your shoulder - you must use your entire body when you bowl
Jump should be high
High controls the body (long jump loses balance and possibility of no ball)
Like a motorcycle

All four limbs - both hands and both legs must work together
Leading leg must rise high, short stretch
Back leg in follow through

Follow through
Follow through aggressively
For a fast bowler - the follow through should be 8 steps, for a spinner 5 steps
Follow through helps in providing direction 
length and direction

The bowler should be clear about what she wants to bowl at the top of the run up.

Should know field arrangements. Should also have some planning and tactics on getting different batsmen out.


1) Close in catches
2) Out field catches
3) Ground fielding
4) High catches
5) Flat catches
6) Throws 
7) Diving

2 hours a day is sufficient

Drills - Players must know and practice the batting, bowling and fielding drills (at home with a hanging ball and at the ground)
Players must enjoy the game
Hit the hanging ball as you like it

Net practice - After drills, players must have sufficient net practice

Match practice - Match practice is very important - 20 matches before the main season starts

As you prepare so you perform.

Lot of cricketers are talented but most are mentally weak. They lack will power and self-belief.
The 10% that believe in themselves go on to play international cricket.
Self-belief comes from knowledge of technique, practice, self-talk, feedback, match practice and preparation

When players are out of form it is a technique problem.

There should be a systematic training of coaches and gradation of coaches. There should be a Chief Coach who is coaching 365 days, conducting coaching classes and developing standard coaches. 
Coaches should know all qualities. 

Ideal age to start coaching is 8-10 years, 
2 years of training and by 10-12 years the child should be ready for Under 14 by 12 years

Here are some YouTube videos of Baig sir's classes

Plot No 36, Sundar Nagar No More

 Plot no 36 was built after we started living in our house. I remember the owner, a sharp old man coming and overseeing the house construction. Over the years many neighbours came and lived there - first Mr Venkatrama Reddy, IAS whose dog Jogi was a major source of concern for us because the ball would fly over the wall and it would not let us near it. They were a quiet lot. There were some bachelors who would study for IAS in the front rooms and they would go to St Theresa's to play TT. Then our friend Venu and his family stayed for a long time (his father did not much like us I feel). For a brief period during early 2000s when Ram was reconstructing our house we shifted there - me on the ground floor and Ram on the first until this house was redone. Then there was one MLA type guy with a gunman etc who was a bit of a pain but thankfully they left. There was one young family that stayed and would not vacate for a long time - a fighter cock wife. And then Ramana garu from Singareni who was from the owner's family who lived here for a long time. 

Until they sold off the property to a builder and the entire green plot with a lovely bungalow came down last week. It's a violent process.


There was a tree in front of the blue sheets - now - not there!

First they quietly chopped off the tree in front of the house. In Pune they take these very seriously but here the government itself chopped off some 200 trees on Necklace Road for the eFormula races so who cares. My colony secretary saw it and said they complained but nothing can be done - the GHMX people said they will penalise the builder - in Pune they shut down the site for months if they cut down a tree.
Trucks lined up for loading at night

Then went about demolishing the house. While demolishing the house they pushed some massive part which fell over our wall and broke it. It could have been a dangerous thing - luckily no one was hurt. They said they will build it by the next day, the next week and finally built it yesterday.

Shobhs, Anjali and I went away for a few days when the loading was going on. One night at Beauty Green and then one night at Mythily's. Anjali stayed with her cousins.

Coming on the back of the post by Sadhana - yes, Hyderabad is changing. Sundar Nagar is changing. And we better change with them.

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Our Hyderabad is Changing - Lovely Blog Post by Sadhana

 This is a fine blog by Sadhana, very relevant and insightful. Sadhana cares for trees, fights for them and has written lovely books and articles about trees. Read!

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Jana Gana Mana - Movie

 The movie begins with the rape and murder of a popular college lecturer and slowly becomes a courtroom drama. It captures elements of campus life as we experienced in police atrocities in JNU, caste system and how lower caste scholars are subjected to discrimination leading to suicides as seen in the Rohith Vemula death (many lines are taken from his suicide letter) and other deaths in Universities and mostly the encounter killing of four suspects of a rape of a dental student in Hyderabad bowing to popular and political pressure by cops (the cop who plays him is called Sajjan Kumar). The film connects all the incidents but makes a point on how the system is working, failing. Gripping.


Fursat - Short Film

 Vishal Bharadwaj's shot on iPhone short film was a huge disappointment for me. There's this guy who is obsessed with a doordarshak to the extent that he forgets his engagement, finds info that the bride is in danger from the DD and goes about to save her - by pulling the chain at the place where the dacoits are waiting. In all likelihood he also saw the chain of events that will happen once the train stops and thereafter so he doe snot need the DD anymore. After they are happily married (he leaves her aloe in the bedroom on their honeymoon to play with his DD) they throw the DD away and live in the present - ever after. Boring!


Monday, February 20, 2023

Dear Omana - Play by the Madras Players and Chennai Art Theatre Production

Watched Krishna's play 'Dear Omana - How to be a Literary Sensation' staged by the Madras Players and Chennai Art Theatre yesterday (I have been wanting to watch it for a long time - even planned to go to Chennai or Bangalore if they were playing there). In fact they have two shows going - yesterday and today! Krishna and Chitra came with the group - Nikhila Kesavan and Sarwesh who played the roles of Krishna as the aspiring literary sensation and Omana as the established author who is mentoring him on the way to become a lit sen. Charles and Sandhya were there to help them (and did a damn good job). Another interest I had in this play was that Taher was presenting the show.

I met Krishna and Chitra at their hotel in Hitech at 5ish and we drove down to Rangabhoomi. Now Google takes you to the backside of the venue so one is better off searching for Hyderama Cafe which is the entrance to Rangabhoomi now. I parked and met the actors and chatted with K and C. Krishna's English teacher Mrs Chatterjee came to watch the play with her family. I stepped out to explore the area, met Vinod Pavarala and Aparna, Sadhana, Taher. Shobha, Anjali and Sagar came. We all caught up over tea and samosas and then went in to find ourselves some good seats - and parked ourselves in the front row.

Nikhila and Sarwesh

The play was hilarious - haven't laughed so much in years. Sarwesh begins with a letter or email he sends to well-established author Omana whose works are bestsellers and have been translated into many languages. He asks her for guidance and she gives him tips - on how to become a lit sensation by shifting from fiction to non-fiction - and how to get big advances, how to get books translated (from English back to English), how to deal with absent editors, with the watchmen at the publishing house, the 20 something marketing exec on facebook, how to patao the editor by doing the son's homework and sweeping her house, how to do the book launch, how to get nominated for awards (Padma awards), how to handle royalties, who to blame for not being a success (wife and kids) and so on. It was so funny that I had to tone down my laughter for my own health - really!

Krishna and Chitra (to the right)


Eshwar, Taher and Sagar

Nikhila and Sarwesh were exceptionally good. The moves, the steps, Nikhila jumping up on to the stool (will her shoe get stuck in that) - everything was perfect. Such a lovely performance! Anjali, Shobha and Sagar thoroughly enjoyed it and so did everyone else by the laughter I heard. Outside I met Sheel and her friend Vidya - and then we shifted to the cafe for a bite. Krishna and Chitra were going out to dinner with the others but it would get too late for us so we excused ourselves in favour of a quick snack. Taher joined us.

After play

An evening well spent. Superb stuff. I wish it were on YouTube so I could watch it whenever I feel like a laugh - it guarantees a laugh every two minutes. Will i watch it again next time? Surely will. It's like 'Adrak ke Panje' in English with many dialogues and scenarios that pop into your head every now and then.       

Bobby - M V Narasimha Rao with Conor Sharkey

Bobby aka Bobby Rao aka M V Narasimha Rao was my skipper when Hyderabad won the Ranji Trophy in 1986-87. I played two matches that season when Bobby got a mix of seniors and juniors together to win the Ranji Trophy in 1986-87, the only time Hyderabad won after Independence and only the second time ever in Hyderabad's history (the first was in 1935 or so). By then, Bobby had already played Test cricket (1978-79) and was leading Hyderabad regularly, playing in Ireland, leading Andhra Bank and was one of the cricket heavyweights of Hyderabad. We grew up looking up to him and he was always nice to us, treating us as equals and not intimidating us. 

After he left Hyderabad, Bobby had an eventful second innings in Ireland as a cricket player and coach and then doing community service - mostly using cricket to bring a simmering society together which earned him an MBE (the only Indian Test cricketer to have that honor). Bobby teamed up with Irish journalist Conor Sharkey (who makes his debut with this book) to bring out 'Bobby - India and Ireland - A Love Story' - an engaging read not just because of the people and places and events that are familiar to me but because it really is an interesting story of human spirit in the face of adversity.  There is so much about Bobby that I know now. 

The book begins with a mention of May 11, 2018, the day when Ireland played its first Test against Pakistan, a culmination of the dream that began 20 years ago when Head Coach Mike Hendricks and Assistant Coach Bobby Rao coached the Ireland cricket team in a bid to make it a Test playing nation. Nine players in the Ireland team that played the Test had at some point been coached by Bobby. Having shown Bobby's work in Ireland in context, Conor begins the story where it should - in 1953  when Bobby was born in Walker Town, Secunderabad, in a large family of seven. Bobby was the youngest and one would think he was pampered. His older brother Ranganath remained a huge influence on Bobby, the one who encouraged him and gave him direction. Conor made an interesting connection of Bobby's with Ireland - when Bobby joined St Ann's School, his teacher was Sister Arianne, an Irish nun.  

Bobby moved from playing cricket with his friends in the neighbourhood to attending coaching camps with Coach Aibara at Gymkhana. His big break came when as a schoolboy he was assigned the job of scoring for his brother's league team. When one player did not show up Bobby got an opportunity to play and voila - he performed enough to turn heads. To pursue his career as a cricketer, Bobby moved from St Patricks School to Mahboob College. A deep desire for Bobby and his mates from Walker Town was to play for Lancashire (I think all cricketers have that fantasy - I wanted to play for Yorkshire) - which came true for Bobby.

Conor showcases an interesting piece of history. Ireland played a friendly game against the West Indies at Sion Mills in 1969 (Bobby worked there later in the 1990s) and pulled off a stunning victory. Ireland bowled out WI for a measly 25 (interestingly Ireland beat WI in 1928 as well by 60 runs!). Conor makes another interesting connection - that when India beat WI in 71, a team that had 5 players from Hyderabad (ML Jaisimha, Abid Ali, P Krishnamurthy, Govind Raj, Jayantilal I think). The West Indies team seemed to show chinks of a weakened team (softened by the Irish defeat perhaps).

After school Bobby joined the Railway Junior College and played for Hyderabad Blues in the Hyderabad league. His mother's warning that he can't eat his bat (a not-so-subtle nudge that he might have to think about earning money as well) got him to join Andhra bank, a bank that he served creditably and won many tournaments (including five Grand Slams - all the major tournaments in Hyderabad league in a year). Andhra Bank was a strong side those days with Chandran, Ravi Kumar, Manohar, Vijay Paul, Bobby, Inder Raj, Jyothi Prasad, Prasanna Kumar, Ramnarayan, Khurshid, Kanwaljit Singh, Meher Baba, Dilip Reddy, John Manoj and such. There was this player called Nihal Puri in that side I remember - someone who never played many games but for some reason I remember him.  

Bobby was drafted into the Moin Ud Dowla tournament and then made his Ranji Trophy debut under ML Jaisimha's captaincy - clearly MLJ thought Bobby had the stuff. One of Bobby's early memories of the Ranji experience was doing well against Mumbai and getting three Test cricketers out - Sardesai, Gavaskar (who hit him for twenty runs in an over in Moin Ud Dowla) and Wadekar. Even as skipper of the Andhra Bank team (something he got rather early) he was a purposeful captain, tough, disciplined. He insisted on practice, and in developing a winning culture - a wisdom that is sadly missing from so many teams. He had a fitness focus as early as 1977.

When Bobby played against England for South Zone, it was Henry Blofeld who reported about his talent and Bobby got a call to play for a Lancashire club, Uppermill. Upon his brother Ranganath's suggestion he went to England in 1978. On his return he was awarded the Ranji captaincy, something he was now ready for. His leadership style was to put more responsibility on the players, have more purposeful practice sessions, have strategies for different conditions. To add to that Bobby could extract the best from his players and was a good reader of wickets. 

On the back of his Ranji performances Bobby finally got a call to play Test Cricket - against Kallicharran's B side since the big cats were with Packer then. Roger Binny recalls what a prankster Bobby had been then. Bobby got Kallicharan out as his first victim,  took catches at short leg and silly point, was dropped. Then he got dropped, and was picked up again for another couple of Tests against Australia after a break, in the last of which he scored a match saving 20 not out, was dropped again and never played Tests after. Bobby picked up eight catches though standing at silly point and short leg in his four Tests. It must have been rather frustrating.

That was when he got a coaching assignment in Ireland and left for Strabane in North Ireland without knowing anything about it. Conor gives some history of this town which lies on the banks of River Mourne, once the most bombed place in the UK, a small town which is home to astronomer Annie Maunder, singer Paul  Brady and writer Flynn O'Brien. When Bobby went Strabane was in the midst of 'The Troubles' with serious fighting going on between the British Army and the IRA - shootings, bombings were common. In fact the hotel where Bobby was to stay, Fir Trees was bombed, so he was put up with the Kellys, with whom he stayed on for many years forming a wonderful bond, a second family. His teammates remember him as someone who loved the disco, wore wacky clothes, had rock star hair and when he came to Hyderabad, drove around in a yellow car.

Bobby took his work ethic to Ireland, insisting on training three times a day, which made an impact on the quality of cricket in Strabane. He did not shy away from approaching the tough places to convince schools to play cricket, convincing them that that it was a good way to ensure peace and to keep youth from being misled. Over time his hard work paid off and Bobby made cricket popular. More kids took to the game and one could see a shift in the mood. 

Sometime then Bobby met Josephine McElroy who he would eventually marry. The couple tried to live in India, spent time here, and then decided that maybe they should live in Ireland. 

Back in Hyderabad Bobby got into a controversy over wearing a Strabane track suit to practice. The HCA dropped the entire team for indiscipline (the team backed him because they felt it was unfair to drop him). Soon after Bobby was also dropped from captaincy of the Ranji Team which was given to Vivek Jaisimha. It was a move which Bobby and several senior players felt was unfair and they formed a players panel to ensure a fair administration. The players panel won the elections and as a validation of their promise (and premise), Bobby and his team won the Ranji Trophy in 1986-87 beating Delhi in the final. I was quite touched to see a line in the book where Bobby said that 'from the first match to the final it was team work, where players played for one another. We were like a family.' I played two games so that includes me (and Suresh, Chetan, Jyoti Shetty, Arun Paul, Affan)! Anyway, the preparation for the Ranji trophy was tough - he pushed everyone to work hard, to get a good diet, focused on fielding and catches, brought in yoga, physical training by an ex-military man. Ranji Trophy won, Bobby and his team also won the Irani Trophy that year which was a huge accomplishment.

The year after winning the Ranji Trophy Bobby started a coaching academy, the first private coaching academy in those times. One of his early pupils was VVS Laxman! It grew pretty fast but Bobby had to return to Ireland and he handed it over to his team mate from Andhra  Bank, John Manoj. (Unfortunately when Bobby went back to Strabane Cricket Club, they ended his term.) It was 1988 and Bobby decided to get married. The couple came to India to celebrate their honeymoon in Goa, and perhaps settle down in India, but in time it became evident that their future lay in Ireland. Bobby was offered a job as Manager of Sion Mills Recreation Club and he left Hyderabad after playing his last game for Hyderabad in 1989 against Mumbai - a match where Sachin Tendulkar played (one of his early games). I remember watching the game at Gymkhana from the main road - watching Venkatapthi getting Sachin out caught behind. 

As GM of Sion Mills RC, Bobby got kids involved in cricket and made a blueprint for a huge sports facility which somehow did not take off. One of the boys he coached was the son of the Duke of Abercorn and thanks to him, got a chance to meet Prince Charles. Bobby dove headlong into community work and his role is acknowledged in the Blackpool Illumination, the 1993 peace rally which ended a long wound strife. 

Bobby continued playing and coaching and even played against Northants for Ireland. In 1998, Mike Hendricks took over as Coach of Ireland cricket team and Bobby as his assistant. The team did well and won trophies, but Mike left in 1999, and Bobby took over. It should have remained like that but in 2000, Ken Rutherford was appointed as Coach and Bobby was sacked. Time and again, despite all his good work, Bobby did not get the reward or recognition he should have. On the brighter side, Bobby was the Coach of the Irish U 19 side which went to the World Cup and performed creditably.

Bobby became the Rotary Club President and was involved in fund raising and doing good work as usual. In that period he faced a series of let downs - first losing out on his benefit match on the aftermath of the Hansie Cronje betting scandal, then missing out on a proposal to start a sports centre for peace keeping which was in an advanced stage. Then came the racism, and Sion Mills sacked him. Bobby fought back, took legal action, helped by the North Ireland Council for Ethic Minorities, and got a settlement for racist harassment. Bobby started the Strabane Ethnic Community Assn (SECA) to help people of other ethnic origins to settle in and integrate smoothly. He organised English classes, helped many to integrate, started Diwali celebrations. He knew people like John Hume and Martin McGuiness, and served as a member of the NICEM.  

In 2006 Bobby featured in a  Natwest Final.

In 2011- he was awarded the MBE, the first Indian Test cricketer to be given the award. (Sadly the medal is lost - he took it to a function in Hyderabad to show it and lost it)

Bobby did paid coaching stints with the Warriors, planned an Academy, did well in the Inter Provincial games and left. An offer from the HCA to head the Hyderabad Cricket Academy of Excellence was next and he did a great job - developing coaches, bringing in new practices in fitness, diet, nutrition, monitoring, process, video coaching. His approach was to go back to basics. And then, as it happened so many times in his life, the HCAE was disbanded, and he was dismissed. It made little sense because in that period, teams from Hyderabad started winning, and the Ranji team moved up from 28th to 8th position. Bobby went back to Ireland - but sadly he never got a role in Cricket Ireland, a development job, which he was best suited for. 

But despite setbacks and disappointments Bobby continued his work - helping people out during the COVID pandemic. And it was somewhere then that he embarked on this endeavour to write a book about his life. And it is a good thing that he did because it puts so much of his life and his decisions in perspective. 

It is a wonderful read. Bobby's life is one of facing adversity and how to fight it, of leadership that made a difference, of doing his best without any real reward, of always giving his best. Bobby would always do things and move on, having handled the worst part, leaving it for someone to harvest the gains. But then that's Bobby. And its a life well lived and I feel Bobby today must be really proud of what he accomplished in his journey. As I see it I am sure he has many more roles to play in future and I am looking forward to seeing what he does next. For now, great work Bobby and Conor. I hope this book becomes a bestseller soon.      

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Much Ado About Everything - Jayanthi Jaisimha

 This is a fun read, whacky and wise, embellished with some wonderful insights and told in a delightfully mischievous voice that refuses to grow old. Jayanthi Jaisimha, Junie aunty to us, Vivek and Vidyuth's mom, one of the biggest supporters on my writing journey has found her passion - writing. After two previous books, both on the love of her life, Uncle Jai, she now trains her eye on 'everything' as the title says.

For starters, thanks to the book, I now know that why she is called Junie aunty - she was born in June. Her mother was born in May and was called May (I think). In her unique voice, she embarks on her own Wotfun journey, poking at everything and having fun at every step. She writes about the houses she lived in, her father and mother, her connections to Col CK Nayudu, to Tamil Nadu, to Coorgi, her family, her grandchildren, her dogs, ponders about many things in life, the famous Jaisimha bar, her father's finger pointing, her days in school (she has friends from 1st class still), in college (when Uncle would woo her, while some others would also take a chance), her in laws, her ailments, her doctors, her A team, the help, her facial exercises, coconuts - its about anything and everything and I loved reading it. The cover is so apt and fully conveys the mood aunty was in when she approached the book.

I now know many things about her life I never knew, and I am glad she decided to write because most of this information would have been lost to her grandchildren (even her children perhaps because she discovered many things later in life). I think everyone should write about their life once they turn sixty ...and keep adding to it as life goes on. It's a wonderful effort aunty and I cannot imagine how I missed taking your signature when you gave me the book. It's a good excuse to meet soon! 


Coaching Stories No 11 - The Winning Culture Boils Down to Behaviors

 Problem - I have got the best of talent but they are not working together, too many ego issues. What do I need now? How can I make it a winning culture?

Coaching Principle - It's not what you have but how you use what you have that matters in the end. The best talent may not match up to less talented groups with the right behaviors and direction. So focus on setting the right direction, right values and inculcate the right behaviors.

Everything else can be learned.

Anjali - And an Era Ends with Daksha

 An important one at that - school! Anjali's tryst with Daksha, Anita's school, which she joined as a two year old in the pay school finally comes to an end. Classes are over, farewell party done and all that's left now is to write the final exams for which they are preparing at home. 

Farewell - all you young adults from Daksha

From early days of dropping and picking her up,to times when Shobha's cousin Chitra would pick her up and bring her home, to taking the bus, the fun and games, the annual days, sports days, Diwali melas, science exhibition, excursions, school trips, sports, quizzes, dances, skits...what not, it has been a hell of a journey for us. Harsh and Mansi remained her best friends until Harsh left for Mumbai, Mansi still remains. Other friends have left - Manha is one that I remember, helpers, drivers Jehangir, Aziz, Tirupati, Srinivas,, Kaung Fu sir, Skating sir, teachers, Rajesh uncle, Lingam uncle, the list goes on and on.

And among the teachers first and foremost comes Anita, then Radhika, Kamakshi auntu, Lakshmi Sharma aunty, Sunita aunty, Chandana aunty, Sarita aunty, Indira aunty, Shashidhar sir, Raj sir, Varun sir...oh every single one of them gave her love and affection and contributed to what she is now.

Where it all began!

So when she and Mansi prepared for their farewell party - they planned to sing a couple of songs - and I was deputed to be the one to drop them, it was a nostalgic moment.We stopped at the old Daksha school and got a picture and then went to the new school.

Class of 2023

With Anita aunty, Kamakshi aunty and Radhika aunty

The farewell party went well and they all had an after party at Comic Social. Ah, wonderful memories. When we went to college there was this fad of having autograph books where everyone would write something - such a cute idea that was. Wonder what they do nowadays.

II'll add some more to this but for now - another huge chapter comes to an end!

A Man Called Otto - Movie

 Tom Hanks plays an old widower who is angry with and sick of life after his wife died. How he finds his zest for life again thanks to a Mexican family that comes to live in his neighbourhood is the story. It's based on a novel titled 'A Man Called Ove' by Fredrick Backman and has been made into a Swedish film by the same name earlier. Hanks son Truman Hanks plays young Otto.

It's a simple story, told well. What else do you want? 

Pathaan - Movie

 It's as good as a Bond movie - at times looks like a hangover of a Bond movie (ski races and all) but its very slick. Of course you leave your logic and such senses back home and enjoy - the stunt sequences, the fights, SRK's abs, DP's legs and return home.

Couple of times Deepika makes a helpless, cry baby face and SRK has to say 'Nothing will happen to you, this is a Pathaan's word of honour'. She's ISI, as good as him or better since she fools him once but she still has to be a helpless naari. John Abraham is good - a good natured villain with a back story. Salman drops into the movie from the sky and we just love seeing these people on screen that we can put all logic away of course.

But hey, its all about entertainment, entertainment, entertainment! And that it does. Would I watch it again - no.


Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Points for Facebook - Brought me a Lovely Forgotten Memory

I do nothing on facebook and avoid it as much as I can. But today in my mail I saw something that said 'memories from the past' or something of that sort. It had Feb 14 on it and i thought some sweet memory might be there - which it was by the way. It was a message from Susanta Das.

It goes back to 2011.

That was the time I was writing a funny column for The New Indian Express. I had written one about auto rickshaws in Hyderabad and how they were filled up to capacity or something.(Let me see if I can find that article somewhere).

Susanta Das was a reader from Orissa who read the column and emailed me. Ah, how sweet feedback is!

"Hi! gone through your article "pregnant autos" in sunday express. marvellous and humerous one. The plight of the triffic caused by these errie autos is superbly and sarcartically presented. I am still unable to cotrol laughing. The kind of impact you create on the readers through your writing is comandable.many a congrats."

Susanta apologised for the spellos since he as using his mobile but who cares about spellos. Am I glad I made someone laugh like this. Why am I not writing funny stuff anymore?

Maybe this might just be the nudge I needed to start again.

Monday, February 13, 2023

Coaching Stories 10 - My Team is Not Behaving Right, What Do I Do

 My team is not acknowledging mails or work. What do I do to change the behaviors and make them more responsive?

Principle: People follow what you do, not what you say.

If people are not doing what you want them to do, look at yourself first and see where you are being like that - even a small bit. Do you always acknowledge all mails? Or do you selectively respond to mails? Do you acknowledge things as a practice? If you are not, then you are setting the wrong example.

Your team will always choose the easier option among your behaviors.

Be consistent with your behaviors and the team will follow that behavior.   

Coaching Stories 9 - When Should I Give Feedback?

 I see that there is a problem in the team. They are not being productive enough. When should I tell them? Next meeting?

No!! Now. Feedback is the way to grow. The breakfast of champions. 

Principle: If you notice something wrong, give feedback immediately so it can be corrected right then. The longer you wait, the more the damage.

Give feedback immediately. Point out the error, point out how it impacts, make it about the act or the process or the behavior and not the person, tell them how you feel about it, tell them the right process so they can correct themselves and leave them with a clear target so they aim for that. 

For example someone who comes late to meetings all the time give feedback like this - I want to give you some feedback in the interests of our team, as you are aware you have been coming late to the meetings, at an impact level it makes the meetings less productive, at a feeling or energy level it makes the team feel that you do not care about the team, everyone feels demotivated that you are letting the team down and we all feel bad that we are not aligning as well as we should, yes we know there must be a reason but if you can make it before time it would be a huge thing for all of us. We know you will do this for the team and be the first person in the meeting next time. Right?

That's my shot at it. Whatever you do, make sure that the feedback improves the behavior and not make the person feel singled out or alienated. 

Practice giving more and more feedback so you give it without charge, without getting personal, making it process oriented and in a way that the other person changes his/her behavior. 

And yes, sooner the better. 


Sunday, February 12, 2023

Coaching Stories No 8 - Use Values as a Tool to Solve Behavioral Problems

 Good question by Vijay that set me thinking furiously. 'What's the use of these values and culture? We need skills and talent to do good work.' 

Principle: Talent and intelligence is interior. What shows as work is through behavior. A person may have great talent or intelligence but if he/she has the wrong behaviors, the intelligence or talent will not show up in the work.  A good value system shows as behavior. Consistent behavior over time shows as culture. Culture as we know, eats strategy and intelligence and talent for breakfast.

How to Use the Principle: Let's say we have four values for our team - Ownership, Learning Mindset, Boldness and Team Work. Every time we have a problem use the values as a tool to find a solution. Someone is not responding fast enough. Which values can be used to solve this problem? Ownership, Team spirit and Being Bold. People in my team are not skilled enough? Can we hire new people? No. How can we use the values to solve this problem? Ownership from the leader. Learning Mindset from the team.

Whenever you talk to your team when addressing a problem, talk in terms of values as a tool to find solutions. That way everyone gets used to finding solutions there.

The values can become a powerful tool to address problems and improve productivity. Use them actively.  

Leadership Training at Panzer Solutions

I did a four module leadership session at Panzer Solutions over 4 weeks - two hours each Friday. The workshop 'Cracking the Leadership Code' was split into - Why, How, What and Who (of leadership) and was received quite well. 

Session 1 – January 20, 2023

The first session was about The Why of leadership. But before that we got certain common doubts out of the way. Such as - is leadership important at all? 
It is – because good leadership has an of impact of more than 50% on the team results.
Ok, in that case, can leadership be taught? – Yes, but it is normally not taught, people are just pushed into the role to figure it out by themselves.

Because of lack of leadership training leaders evolve on their own – from insecure leaders to personal leaders to secure leaders. But most remain insecure leaders. Which is very inefficient for the system.

Are we leaders? Can we train ourselves to be better leaders? Yes, was the answer.
Ok, here's my definition of leading - leading is the way we influence others by the way we are leading our life. So, how many people are we influencing now?

We did an exercise – 1) write how many people are you influencing positively by the way you are leading your life right now? and how many more people can you influence by your actions and words?

Another definition of leadership – someone who holds the team’s energies.

A leader must know his team intimately. Anyone who wants to influence another person can do so if he knows that much more about them. So we did an exercise - we did the Timpson's test and modified it some more. To know each other better.It was a fun activity.

I introduced my secret code to understand ‘leadership’ – why, how, what and who. If you have a fair sense of these four aspects, you have the basics in place to make a positive impact as a good leader.\ So let's get started with why.

Leadership Lesson 1 - The WHY

We watched Simon Sinek's TEDx talk 'Start with Why' on YouTube about the golden circle (Why, How, What). Then we discussed it. After which they wrote - what is your vision for yourself, for your team, your family. What is the purpose, the impact you can create. Why am I doing what I am doing - what is the biggest possibility I can create from this activity?

Looking at the WHY brings ownership, brings you into the equation. Also once you can identify a clear WHY it helps you build better strategy, team, culture

WHY sets the tone for everything to follow.

As the leader you must set the tone for the team. Give them direction, guidance, tell the story. get everyone to buy into something bigger than themselves. Look at the biggest possibility, give the team something big to aim for, a goal that makes them feel good.

If it succeeds, glory. If it fails, the leader takes the blame. The ‘why’ makes us think, makes us give our 100%, makes us find the best way to do anything. Ideally we can set your company vision as a group but lets try a draft vision. You can set it for your teams, for yourself

Why – company, team, self – professionally, personally (big, enthusiastic, present tense).

Knowing the WHY or having a vision is the first part of being a leader. In anything you do, ask - why are I doing this? 

Session 2 – January 27, 2023

This session was about the HOW.

HOW is about Values and Processes. 
We identified values that will help us achieve our goal. Values are important because they drive to behaviors. Behaviors when consistent, lead to culture. 
We defined values. Values can be used as a tool to solve all our behavioral problems. Values make decision making easy. We must build stories around them. Enforce and encourage right values to build culture. 

Culture eats strategy for breakfast. 

What are your values?

Examples - Disney had a value of making people happy. It gives them a clear strategy, tells everyone how to behave

A cricket team has a WHY of winning - values that help the team win could be discipline, honesty, communication, fearlessness, taking no backward step, celebrating each others success, supporting one another

What are the values we are practicing (as seen from our behaviors)?
What are the values that are most important to us to achieve our vision?
What is needed to bring about this change?

Capture stories, Mahindra holidays.

Our behaviors get us results, not plans or strategies. Use VALUES as a tool to fix behavioral problems i.e. for every single behavioral problem look at values for a solution. You can build a winning culture.

Processes -10x (use all resources)

I shared my 158 story and then we played the 10x Ball game. 10x is about using all our resources to achieve our priority 10x goals. About stopping doing things that get in the way of using all our resources and doing things that help us use all our resources.

10 x is not about doing WORK. It is about creating IMPACT.

As a leader you must know how to use values, how to create 10x results.

Session 3 – February 3, 2023

Session 3 was about the WHAT - the goals. 
Every goal must be SMART.

Specific: A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal. Eg: A general goal would be, “Lose weight.” But a specific goal would be, “Lose 3 kgs in 45 days.” “

Measurable – What cannot be measured cannot be improved. Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set. (Questions – What are the milestones? How will I know when it is accomplished?)

Attainable – It has to be attainable – not beyond your belief system. It must not be too easy that you are not motivated, nor too hard that you give up. It must challenge you.

Realistic- To be realistic, a goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work. A high goal is frequently easier to reach than a low one because a low goal exerts low motivational force.

Timely – A goal should be grounded within a time frame. With no time frame tied to it there’s no sense of urgency.

We did a group exercise.Teams were formed and were asked to set goals for Panzer over a 20 year period, starting with 20 years and coming back. Goals were about revenue, number of employees etc. 20 years, 10 years, 5 years, 2 years and 6 months. They did a great job. 

Each of them were also asked to set personal goals in a SMART format for critical areas such as - Career/ Relationships / Finances / Material belongings / Health / Spiritual growth

Goals should 1) enable the next level goal and 2) must be aligned to your long term goals i.e. they should not be in too diverse fields.

To do: Make a chart or a PPT with your goals with attractive visuals, numbers, names to keep you motivated. Keep looking at your chart/ppt every now and then and refine. Act on your goals consistently.

Interesting numbers - on 20 year goals revenue ranged from 300 million to 6000 million, employees were at 30000 and clients at 10000. One one year it was at 600 million revenue, 1000 employees and 150 clients.

Session 4 – February 10, 2023

The WHO is about People management.

The only job of the leader is - to bring out the best in his team. To identify and push them to achieve their potential. Sometimes they do not know what they are capable of. They nneed process orientation. Encouragement. Feedback.

Leaders will do well to practice the of 3 As- Acknowledge, Appreciate, Ask for help (4 minutes of best behavior) to hone their people skills.

We did an exercise on Feedback management – I told them a story from Whale done, and then we did a role play on how to give feedback (immediate, not about person, tell what went wrong, how you felt, how it impacts, how one can improve, encouragement), when to give negative feedback, purpose of feedback, begin and end well (example – role play), take and give feedback

We did a role play on Conflict management – how to manage the energy in the situation, how to be aware of human reactions – how to make the other person comfortable/secure, equal, to communicate with them.

We did an energy exercise to show how a leader can have good energy in the team by setting the right context.

We recapped the four sessions – A good leader should know these four -
Why – big purpose, biggest possibility, vision
How – values (tools), Processes
What – Goals, Road map
Who – People skills

Tariq coordinated the effort. Vinay, Raees, Adil, Nizam, Satya, Santosh, Ashraf, Imran, Khaled, Ahmed, Azmath, Quaiser, Azher, Abhishek.

Got some good feedback. I enjoyed myself with the boys. They are a good enthusiastic lot. Eager to learn, We forgot to click a picture at the end.