Friday, April 28, 2023

Arts Management 2023 - 'Let's Meet' - Meeting our Professors

 One of the initiatives we did in the early years was to invite the experts from within the department - the wealth of knowledge we have in the department itself - and meet them as experts and not as faculty restricted to their subject. The students were to invite the Professors as artists and experts in their areas and have a freewheeling chat about their experiences etc. Harideeptha said she would take the responsibility for organising these sessions and Aiswarya, Ketharani, Sreelakshmi and others joined her.

Standing L to R: Nayana, Sreelakshmi, Abhirami, Poojitha, Harideeptha, Sharmila, Srividya, Vaishnavi, Devamanohari, Sreelakshmi, Aishwarya
Sitting: Dr Sivaraju and yours truly

We started off with  Professor Sivaraju who shared his lifestory. How he was fascinated by dance, how he went to Chennai as a young boy all by himself, roamed around and finally found his way back home. How his desire to not be satisfied led him to pursue dance, pursue his PhD and land up in the field of academics. Multi faceted and highly talented, Professor Sivaraju spoke of how he would question everything and worked hard to understand every aspect. It was an inspirational talk and showed the students the way forward was to question, to work hard and to never settle for the easy option.

Lto R: Srividya, Shresta, Sannidha, Poojitha, Nayana, Vaishnavi, Sharmila, Prof Aruna Bhikshu, me, Aishwarya, Ketharani, Harideeptha, Sofia, Sreelakshmi, Devamanohari

Sannidha, Srividya, Shreshta, Poojitha, Vaishnavi, Abhirami, Nayana, Sharmila, Prof. Aruna Bhikshu, me, Aishwarya, Ketharani, Harideeptha, Sofia, Sreelakshmi, Devamanohari 

Next we had Professor Aruna Bhikshu who spoke of her journey in the field of dance. How she started dancing at a young age, how she studied at the Department of Dance and did her PhD. She spoke of the techniques and certain insights and lessons she had learned and held the audience captivated with her informal, easy, humorous way of speaking. It was again an inspirational and knowledgeable session with several takeaways for the students.

Sannidha, Sridevi, Ketharani, Nayana, Sreelakshmi, Prof. Anuradha, me, Shrestha, Vaishnavi, Harideeptha

Last week we had Professor Anuradha Jonnalagadda who spoke of her journey, the passion, the joy of dancing. She spoke of the effort that was required, the patience one must have to succeed. I asked her to share any of her personal insights and she said something very interesting - she said that there was a key to each movement which made it beautiful and added grace. She demonstrated one movement and said how it was not about the hands or the torso but about the core. Again an inspirational talk with lots of insights and takeaways for the audience.

I liked the way Harideeptha kept adding new elements - a flower arrangements with bougainvilleas, the session heading on the board, coffee and water for the guests, introduction and a vote of thanks. She even asked me each time if there were any suggestions and she implemented every suggestion I gave. Good work Harideeptha and class. It is when we have these conversations that we realise how much knowledge and wisdom there is around us and how we do not tap into it.       

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Thought for the Day - Don't React, Wait Until You're In a Space of Love

 Something happened the other day. I was hoping to do something which I believed was good for my client but I was rather upset at the way they decided to do something else. I was upset and shot off a message that I would like to relook at the whole engagement. In fact my thought process went as far off as wanting to end it.

After a while I realised it was a very reactive action. I guess my ego got in the way, or even the idea that my method was right. Even though it probably was, it is quite alright for others to think or behave differently. Since the decision was already made, there was no need for me to react. I could have looked at how to take it forward from the current situation instead of blaming them. 

Instead of reacting if I had responded from a place of love my response would have been very different. I would have looked at the longer, greater good and thought of all the ways I could help the client instead of hinging everything on one action.

It was then that I decided - never react from this place of ego. Don't message, don't say anything, don't reply. Wait for the ego to settle. Look instead for the place of love. What would you do from a place of love. Then we see so many wonderful possibilities.

Love offers possibilities. Ego closes them.

Always wait until you are in a place of love.     

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Annie Hall - Movie

 And then we watched Annie Hall where Woody Allen just lets go and shows us a film on a relationship of a neurotic man that breaks eventually - obviously everyone on the planet will identify with it. Brilliant, witty and intelligent, it breaks so many paradigms. 'The funniest ever screenplay'

Dr Strangelove - Movie

 Next in our classics was Dr Strangelove, Stanley Kubrick's 1953 film with Peter Sellers in three roles. Once again I was awestruck by how they made this crazy film about the people who seem to control our lives - all shown in a span of a few hours when a commie-hating army man issues a command to warplanes to attack Russia which unknown to them had built a Doomsday machine!


Cinema Paradiso - Movie

 As part of watching some classics with Anjali this summer we began with this classic! Realised that I had not really understood the story though I watched it twice before. Fully appreciated the story this time - how did I miss the love story angle fully I wonder.


Reinventing Organisations - Frederic Laloux

 The book is about how organisations in the future will evolve as humans have evolved. The old patterns of running organisations will not work in the new consciousness. The organisations are classified into Red, Amber, Orange, Green and evolving to Teal! 

Red organisations are the older style where the chief holds all the power and the organisation is fear-driven. It runs on division of labour and command authority. A symbol that explains it is that of a wolf pack.

Amber organisations are the next stage of evolution where people have formal roles and there is a hierarchical pyramid which is driven top down. The idea is to control and keep it stable. The breakthroughs at this stage are of formal roles and processes. The metaphor is of an army.

Orange organisations are those which look to beat competition and have focus on profit and growth. They use Management by Objectives, control the what and how. The breakthroughs here are about Innovation, accountability and meritocracy. The metaphor is of a machine.

Green organasitions are those which form a culture within the pyramid and focus on empowerment to achieve employee motivation. Breakthrough themes are empowerment, is value driven and is stakeholder focused. Metaphor is family.

As organisations evolve to Teal organisations, ego becomes more of a variable. One starts taming the fears of the ego. They strive for wholeness. Organisations are seen as living systems that evolve on their own.

We see three breakthroughs in Teal Organisations
1) Self management
2) Wholeness
3) Evolutionary Purpose

The author has studied organisations across various sectors to drive home the point about where organisations are headed. Companies such as AES, BSO, Buurtzorg, FAVI, Morning Star, Being True and others have been studied extensively.

Self Management

In these organisations there are no bosses, no middle management. The group of 12 decides what to do. Any external help comes in the form of coaching and not managing. The principle is that the team will struggle and learn - and the management supports them. Coaches let the team make their own choices. The meetings are conducted where coaches ask insightful questions, mirror what they see. For self management one looks for enthusiasm, strengths and existing capabilities.

The organisation has bare minimum staff functions - team members sign up for staff functions. There is no organisation chart, no job description, no job title.

Decision making is a process where there is no need for consensus. 

These organisations believe that 1) people are good 2) they do not perform without happiness 3) value is created on the shop floor

Roles - members write out a personalised mission statement where they spell out the roles they commit to (25-30 roles). They specify whats to be done, outline what they need, performance indicators, improvements they hope to make.

When people have the decision making power and the resources to work towards a meaningful purpose they don't need pep talks or stretch targets. They do a round of self-evaluation and seek feedback. Concepts such as peer based processes and self-set salaries are not uncommon.

Striving for Wholeness

Showing up whole feels risky. We need spaces where we feel safe if we are to shares with others our deeper self, our gifts, our longings and our concerns.

Ideas and practices such as creation of Safe work places, reflective spaces (individual and group), Team supervision (external coaches), Peer coaching, Story telling are used to bring wholeness into these organisations.

A lovely line 

" A bad hire is someone who is a chronic complainer, who is not happy, who blames others, who doesn't take responsibility, who's not honest and who doesn't trust other people. Someone who needs specific direction and waits until he is told what to do. Someone who is not flexible and says 'it's not my job."

Onboarding employees to such cultures need a long induction, training which includes training on personal responsibility common training programs for all. Many times employees become trainers.

Feedback and Performance Management

What has gone well this year that we might celebrate?
What has been learned?
What didn't go well?
What was exciting for you?
What concerns you most?
What changes would you suggest in your function?
How can we help?
What specific goals will guide you?

Appraisal - 4 step process

State one admirable feature about the employee
Ask what contributions they made
Ask what contributions they would like to make
How can we help

Purposeful Mood Management - all organisations are about energy and this can be controlled purposefully. Some initiatives are 
1) Start every meeting with a story of someone's achievement
2) Day off - person is given some money to spend
3) Praise meetings - where people come to praise one another

Cultural Traits of Teal Organisations

Self Management - Trust (freedom and accountability), Information and decision making, Responsibility and accountability

Wholeness - equal worth, safe and caring work place, overcoming separation, learning focus, relationships and conflict

Purpose - collective purpose, individual purpose, planning for the future

Teal practices -
Organisation structure - self organising teams, no boss, coaches when needed
Staff functions - performed by teams themselves
Coordination - ad hoc team meetings on need-basis
Projects - radically simplified project management, organic prioritisation
Job titles, JDs - fluid and granular roles
Decision making - fully decentralised based on advise process
Crisis management - transparent information sharing, collective intelligence
Purchasing and investments - anyone can spend any amount provided advise process is respected, peers can challenge
Information flow - all information available in real - time to all, including about company financials and compensation
Role allocation - no promotions, fluid rearrangement of roles based on peer agreement, responsbility to speak up about issues outside of one's scope of authority
Compensation - self-set salaries with peer calibration, equal profit sharing
Dismissal - last step     


I found many wonderful pointers in this book and am happy to know that I am on the right track with my thinking. Such cultures of ownership can create wonders. One of the most important things in this book is that description of a bad hire - most companies probably need to define that.

The classification of organisations and their characteristics and breakthroughs are shown clearly. It's written in a slightly clunky way which is a put off in the beginning but it does have a point and makes sense. Definitely recommended.                      

Images that Stuck

 I was talking about the power of images on our early minds with a friend and thought I should make a list of the most powerful images that stayed with me.

1) This picture of a school boy playing cricket in a lush green village ground in England. Full whites, pads, gloves, even a belt, a sweater and a cap, a turf wicket, green grass, beautiful buildings at some distance, feet together, the by is attempting a flick in what I now know in a very English way. For years my dream was to play cricket like that school boy (white and blond) and I must have seen that image a hundred times.

Perhaps that was what made me want to play for my school team which was the height of my ambition then.

2) A picture of Dennis Lillee after he had just completed his action - his arm fully following through, head following the ball, the ball captured on its way to the batsman - I cut it out of whatever magazine I found it because it epitomised the perfect delivery and follow through - or rather, finish. For years it remained under my bed and I would bring it up and look at it almost as if I wanted that skill to be transferred to me by osmosis.

It was a great tragedy when I lost it. Let me search the net for that image now.

3) Wills Made for Each Other - an image that epitomised romance to me. This one in this series was of a man and a woman walking along a beach, she slim, dressed in a skirt and a top, graceful, he in a shirt and trousers, not particularly handsome or anything but rugged. But man, did I want my romance to be like that. I cut this out too and sent it to my secret hideout under my bed.

I found that ad and wrote a blog about it too!

More as I think of them.   

Saturday, April 22, 2023

When Chicken Soup is Not Enough -Ralph E. Retherford M.D.

 It is an interesting title that draws you in but also the kind of title that rides on a successful concept. Dr Retherford is a medical doctor who over time has figured out the mind-body connection and gives many examples of how seemingly physical issues were cured by dealing with the damaging emotions that lay underneath.

Angry at someone? Scared of something? Cannot say No to someone? Feel trapped? Feel suffocated? Do not like the move? Feel unloved? Do not want a situation? - your body has a way of dealing with things you deeply do not ant but outwardly cannot handle because you are conflicted. Do not worry because your subconscious steps in and hands you an illness which serves as an excuse not to do that. The idea is not to fall sick every time but to recognise that there could be a deeper reason and not just a physical one - one that is rooted in your deep belief systems.

The good doctor proves time and again in many situations how patients have come to him with seemingly physical problems. Like the man who had this crazy back pain which stopped him from going to work. When nothing worked, the doctor delved deeper and found that this patient had been the butt of ridicule at his work place after he had been bitten by a cat (which he rescued by the way). Or the lasy who had this severe infection on the nose that would not go away come what may - she had a speech to give in some event and was trying her best to avoid it. 

Dr Retherford prescribes a more open manner of healing oneself other than merely taking medicines. Many illnesses are manifestations of our deepest beliefs, fears and apprehensions.By seeing a therapist and identifying those issues, you can easily lead a far healthier and wholesome life.   

Friday, April 21, 2023

Breakfast at Isha Life

 Quiet place. No one at 11 in the morning. I read my book, ate my pesarttu (heavy) and left.

Isha Life, Jubilee Hills

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Au Revoir Abdul Azeem

Abdul Azeem was senior to us at All Saints High School - a few years perhaps. His family was full of cricketers - Abdul Jabbar, Azeem (and a couple more I hear). He was a destructive opening batsman and an amazing fielder who, many felt, should have played for India. But above all Azeem was a wonderful human being who did not have a single dishonest bone in his body. No wonder he remains someone who is widely respected, loved and perhaps, even feared.

Hyderabad Ranji Team - 1986, Tellicherry, Azeem (standing far right)

The first time I saw Azeem was back in 1983 when I was playing for MCC as a 17 year old against a star studded SBI at HPS, Begumpet (the ground in front). We were led by ML Jaisimha (Uncle Jai) and had a motley bunch - Arvind Rao, Raghuram, Fazal, Santosh Reddy, Sanjay, Vidyuth, Chakkar, Lachi perhaps. I had no clue who these stalwarts from SBI were but fared decently - got two wickets - including that of Arun Paul. But what we could never forget was being hit by Azeem's batting - he scored a hundred that day - hitting the most audacious shots (I was left clapping at one shot he hit over my head when Sanjay came to me from mid on and advised me not to egg him on with my fan boy behavior. It made no difference to Azeem however as he tore our bowling to shreds and I have not felt as helpless as a bowler as I did that time. Even as a fielder at long off I remember being awestruck by the power with which he hit the ball (it was scary to field those shots even on the fence). So this is the big league I thought. 

Our school had a few swashbucklers from those years - Azeem, Azhar, Shahid. In fact Azeem and Shahid would open for SBI and we would go to watch these two explosive batsmen bat. I got Shahid out a couple of times but my all time regret remains dropping Azeem off my second ball on a return catch in a game at Osmania University. Would have been nice to get his wicket.

What I remember most about Azeem was that he always treated me with respect - never one to have that senior - junior stuff. And he was very helpful too. I clearly remember him telling me when I dropped a catch (we were both playing for some team that Imtiaz put together for a tournament in Machilipatnam) - 'don't think too much. Just tell yourself  you'll take the catch and got for it. What's the worst that can happen -you'll drop it.' Gold. I can never forget that piece of advice ever. Nor his kindness and generosity in sharing his knowledge and experience. One of the few who was always willing to share his knowledge.

HCA Felicitation for Ranji Trophy Winners -25th Anniversary (Azeem second from left in white shirt)

Over those years we bumped into one another many times in league matches, while playing for the Hyderabad team In Buchi Babu, Subbiah Pillai or Ranji Trophy. I remember how clear headed he was - he once walked out of the nets in a Ranji Trophy session because the wicket was bad - Coach Aibara suspended him from the nets for a few days if I remember right - but Azeem would do what he felt was right. Not that he was rebellious or disruptive - just that he felt he had a point and stuck to it.

We had good times during the two Ranji seasons I played. He took a couple of catches off my bowling - I remember  one very difficult one he picked up diving forward in slips against Goa. My last Ranji game next year was also the game when he made a triple hundred against Tamil Nadu is super quick time - against a very good bowling attack comprising of Robin Singh, Raj Kumar, L Sivaramkrishnan, WV Raman. He threaded the field repeatedly in that innings with stunning shots and I was fortunate to watch it all from the dressing room. That same year he scored another typically brave innings in the Ranji trophy final scoring a hundred when Hyderabad was in trouble in the first innings against a Delhi attack that had Atul Wassan, Sanjeev Sharma and Jaspal Singh. Hyderabad won the game and the Ranji Trophy - it has been our only win post Independence. 

Then he went his way and I went mine and our meetings grew less frequent. But when we did meet it was always warm and affectionate. We met again when HCA felicitated us for winning the Ranji Trophy in 2008 or so - all of us met that time.

Azeem did stints as a coach and as a selector. He was straightforward and honest and I am sure he must have been a difficult  nut to crack for some - and true to his nature resigned when he was perhaps asked to do things he did not agree with. When I was brought in as Chairman of Selectors for the HCA in 2012, I took over from Azeem if I remember right and we had a long conversation at the Uppal stadium, sitting in the chairs by ourselves, watching some game. He told me what to expect and how to go about it. I asked him to give me names to look out for because I fully trusted his judgment (in later years I heard that Md Siraj was his find). He did not sound too happy about the way he as being treated but knowing Azeem, it would not have bothered him much.

A while ago I heard he was having health issues - kidney trouble they said. I met him at Anand's son Milind's wedding and we had a long, long chat. He told me how he was averse to receiving a kidney from his daughter who was willing to donate her kidney - he was very clear on that. I told him to be open, to look at all possibilities and see what happens. He sounded optimistic and we decided to catch up.

Was it something I read about him - I think it was something about his health condition - but I called him after and we had a very long conversation about everything - cricket, selection, health, healing - so many things. It almost looked like he did not want to put the phone down and after close to an hour I finally told him I would come and meet him at home. He said - you always say that but this time you must come. And I was so clear that I would meet him at his house, got some directions and said we had a date. He was warm and affectionate as always when he put the phone down. He sent me many press reports about him in international papers after that. Fabulous reading.

And then we met again at Bobby Rao's (MV Narasimha Rao) book launch. This time he was more hopeful, said he had decided to go for the transplant and sounded very optimistic. We had a small chat again and we all smiles. I was hoping to get a picture of the team of 1987 that evening but we never did - I feel bad we did not do that.

That was the last I saw. He has his transplant after that, it went well and it looked like he was well on the road to recovery. Until we heard that his condition had deteriorated and he finally ended his innings this evening. 

If your game shows your character Azeem's most certainly did. Never faltering, straight, upright, no hesitation, knew exactly what he wanted to do and did it without doubting himself, aggressive and courageous, fearless and honest. And yes, there was compassion and kindness, generosity and humour as well. I have not found someone who was as non-judgmental as he was. And these days when I am more prone to look and celebrate the life and moments we spent and less on lamenting loss, something we have no control over and something that is inevitable - I am so glad that I knew and played with Azeem and that he was a part of my life. One thing is for sure, there is much of Azeem I would like to keep with me, that old world charm, those old world values. Ah, it was such a wonderful inning - one worth truly celebrating.           

Anjali - And a New Innnings

 After close to 14 years at Daksha, a protected and trusted environment, Anjali finally joined a new school for her 11th and 12th - PORPS - or P. Obul Reddy Public School. She had decided on Humanities as her stream and had figured out that PORPS was a good school for Humanities. She figured out details about the entrance, admission etc.

While we were thinking of second option etc she was quite clear from the beginning. I will get it, why are you fretting was her stock answer. Add to this, advice from my friends who said 'It is a much sought after school - you need recommendation to get in. Better start the process.' That was when we had a discussion. No recommendation etc, we will go with what we have and take our chances. Second, we did not have a back up (though I called Silver Oaks where Ms Sudha Murthy is the Principal and she made it very difficult for me to even have a conversation with her - so that went out).

Good news is that Anjali cracked the entrance and got in the first list. We have heard wonderful things about the school. Paid up, uniforms bought etc.

And then the D day. The school began for a couple of weeks for the kids to accustom themselves I guess so she went on Day One in a new bus - they have a nice tracking system. The attendants are nice and friendly as well. 

There was an orientation class for the parents where the Principal, Vice Principal and Heads of Departments spoke and assured everyone of how the kids would get an all round exposure at school. There is a ground, indoor and outdoor facilities, sports and extra curricular focus. With pressure off the professional streams she is in a good place these two years. 

All in all, all set for a nice new innings. I am so happy for her. I am sure she will explore many new facets in these wonderful, growing up years.  

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Mango Time Again - Thank you Benevolent Tree!

 It's that time of the year when our faithful mango tree blesses us with its bounden duty and gives us hundreds of mangoes. Now these are eyed by hundreds of my neighbours, kids from the nearby slum, workers from the new apartment block coming up next door and so on and so forth. Over time we have also become more sharing and caring, less agitated over these 'thieves' and though we tell them off every now and then, the menace has gone and its more a bargaining transaction. Even when the kids threw some sticks over to knock some mangoes over I was quite composed. I am getting wiser (my new term for older).

The last few years Vasu has been my go-to man simply because he enjoys these outings - he likes climbing trees, making those sticks and bags and plucking off hundreds of mangoes from the tree. This year he has been extremely busy so we relied on Rajesh,  Ramu's grandson and he and his friend salvaged some couple of hundred mangoes. Rajesh's mother Manga offered to make some avakai pickle and she has done a great job as well.

Now the mangoes, large and juicy have gone for ripening under the newspapers and we are hoping to eat some nice juicy ones soon as we normally do every year. And once again I must thank my mother for her foresight in planting this tree some fifty years ago almost, and mostly the tree for giving us bountifully without judging us and our love and affection to it (we only show our love and affection after it gives us the mangoes - rather matlabi that way).

But when we do, we do it whole heartedly. Getting there tree, getting there. We have some distance before we get to where you are - completely non-judgmental. Thanks for the mangoes! (And sorry for cutting off your branches last year - would not have had it not been for the neighbour cribbing!)      

Save the Cat - Blake Snyder

 They say its the last book on screen writing we'll ever need and I think they are right. 'Liking the person we go on a journey with is the single most important element in drawing us into the story.' Save the cat is the scene where the hero saves the cat that defines who he is that makes us like him.

1. What's it about

We need a one line log line or a hook. It must have four components 1) Irony - emotionally involving, like an itch 2) a compelling mental picture that blooms in your mind 3) audience and the cost - tone 4) a killer title  - say what it is cleverly

So we need irony, audience and cost, a clear sense of what the movie promises and a killer title. The logline says what's it about, who its for, tone, potential, dilemma of its characters, type of characters, easy to understand and compelling

To the logline add an 1) adjective to describe the hero 2) the bad guy 3) a compelling goal we identify with as human beings

Once it is made Pitch It

2. Same Thing Only Different

Avoid cliches. Dance around the cliches but turn away - give a twist. What is it most like? Genre.

Monster in the house - a confined area, a sin that creates a monster

Golden fleece - internal growth, hero's growth

Out of the bottle - a genre summoned out of the bottle, hero is a put me down

Dude with a problem - ordinary guy in extraordinary circumstances  

Rites of passage - growing pains, everybody;s in on the joke except the person going through it, end point is acceptance

Buddy love - hate each other, incomplete halves, all is lost

Why done it - audience discovers something about human nature that they did not think was possible before the crime was committed

Fool triumphant - idiot gets the society, underdog - institution

Institutionalised - groups, newcomers

Superhero - extraordinary person in an ordinary world

3. It's about a guy who...

The 'who' is our way in. Who's represent us

4. Let's beat it up

Structure - 15 beats

Project title/Genre/Date

1. Opening image (1) - set tone, type, style, the before shot, what's it about

2. Theme stated (5) - the question or statement, thematic premise, character tics

3. Set up (1-10) - introduce all main characters , things to fix

4. Catalyst (12) - knock the world down

5. Debate (12-15) - chance for hero to say its crazy, ask a question

6. Break in 2 (25) - Act break, distinct shift, choice made

7. B Story (30) - love story, new characters 

8. Fun and games (30-55) - promise f the premise, core of the poster

9. Midpoint (55) - either high or low, stakes raised, false victory

10. Bad guys close in (55-75) - reverse the midpoint

11. All is lost (75) - whiff of death, stick in death visual

12. Dark night of the soul (75-85) - hope lost

13. Break into 3 (85) - B+A = Solution

14. Finale (85-110) - wrap it up, all bad guys done, new society, emotionally satisfying

15. Final image (110) opposite of opening image

5. Building perfect beats

The Board

Four parts - Act one (1-25 pages), Act 2 (25-55 pages), Act 3 (55-85 pages), Act 4 (85 -110 pages)

40 cards

Each card describing the place, what the scene is about, conflict between,

Important parts are - Break in 2 must come in page 25 and midpoint at page 55, break in 3 at page 85

9 cards in each row

So far we ave 1) a killer logline 2) test marketed it 3) genre 4) hero found (one who offers most conflict and the longest way in an emotionally pleasing way) 5) primal goal + a bad guy who wants him to stop

6. Laws of Screenplay physics

1. Save the cat - the hero has to do something when we meet him so that we like him and want him to win (be mindful of getting the audience in sync with the plight of the hero to start with)

2. Pope in the pool - to bury exposition put Pope in the pool while you're expositing

3. Double mumbo jumbo - one piece of magic per movie

4. Laying pipe - audience can stand only so much pipe

5. Black vet aka marzipan - here's a veteran and a veterinarian (don't overdo)

6. Watch out for the glacier - bad guys come on too slowly

Covenant of the Arc - every single character in your movie must change in the course of your story (except the bad guys)

7. Keep the press out - no media in the script

7. What's wrong with the picture...

1. The hero leads - proactive, motivated, clearly stated goal, seeks out clues on what to do next, he tells others what to do

2. Talking the plot- show don't tell, dialogue to be natural (we must learn about characters by what they do)

3. Make the bad guy badder

4. Turn, turn, turn - plot must spin, intensity as it goes forward, plot must go forward faster, more complicated. More must be revealed along every step of the plot about your characters and what all this action means - flaws, treacheries, fears

5. Emotional Colour Wheel - laughter, scared - drained, wring out all the emotions of the audience 

6. Hi, how are you, i am fine - flat dialogue, engaging characters talk differently from us, all characters should not speak the same

10) take a break

We know when the hero ends up but we do not want to give them the pain of growing up. Step back to all characters, take them to starting point

11) a limp and an eye patch 

- too many minor characters - give them a limp and an eye patch

12) Is it primal - survival, hunger, sex, death, danger


It has enough stuff to make me want to visit every story I have written to improve it. Brilliant book and a must read for all story tellers.  

Saturday, April 15, 2023

Walking - Henry David Thoreau

This book was written shortly before Thoreau's death in May 1862. Considered a naturalist, essayist, poet and philosopher he is best known for his 'Walden' and 'Civil Disobedience'. Thoreau talks about the joys of walking, prescribes at least four hours of walking, urges us to saunter and not huff and puff for sheer exercise and miss the joy of walking in the process. It is evident that he loves the process of walking, that he has benefited much from it, from being in solitude, for letting his thoughts stray and find a moment of genius.

Somewhere he mentions how in the far East (did he mention Varanasi I wonder) people who stray outside their village and carried away and eaten by wild animals whereas in America they have no such fear and one can walk in the woods at night and watch the stars int eh blue sky. He also abhors the idea of walking on roads and prefers walking off into woods and nature. He also advocates walking without any preset plan and to just walk in any direction the body pleases. Somewhere he mentions the Vishnu Purana 'the man who takes the liberty to live is superior to all laws. It is our active duty. He quotes the tortoise and the elephant and how the Hindus perceive the world and he is quite open to the idea as well. he quips that man's ignorance is beautiful while his knowledge is rather painful. He talks of the pleasures of hugging the earth, of climbing a tree. He ends with a sunset that seemed to have stayed in his mind as an abiding image.

There are moments in this essay when he transports you to another land which is what great literature does. Thanks Harshavardhan for lending em this book.          

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Meeting Ramesh Eligeti - Doughty Ex-MCC Cricketer and Writer of 'Balagam'

Ramesh was a student at the Osmania University Engineering College in 2004 when I first met him. We were then playing our league matches for MCC at the OUCE ground and part of our deal was that we would pay a few college cricketers. Ramesh was one of them. A good batsman, medium pacer and a useful fielder, he was an asset to our side. Our team then was the usual suspects - Pavan, Suri, Subbu, Ram and a motley crew of others. 

Ramesh, yours truly, Sridhar and Sagar

One game remains with me from those years which starred Ramesh. We were losing quite a few games and I had no clue what to do. 10 runs to win, three wickets in hand and we would lose. I realised somehow that it  was my desperation to win that was putting pressure on the boys. That game was at the Railway Degree College and we were 9 down and 70 runs to get. Ramesh was at the wicket and a new recruit Srikant (Ramesh's friend who played only one game for us) was to join him. My usual advice would have been to take singles and this and that but suddenly something snapped in my head. I told Srikant to go and enjoy himself and there were no instructions for him. He went in to bat.

Pavan and i started walked around the boundary, talking, clapping at the occassional boundary but completely detached from the outcome. We went out and had tea and came back and they were still batting. We kept walking and before we realised it the last wicket pair had added 70 runs and we won the game. I realised how important it was for me to cut the chord with the team to get them to perform on their own.

Ramesh finished his engineering and joined TCS. We stopped playing league cricket. Then Ram was about to launch 'Golconda High School' when Ramesh expressed his desire to join the movie. Ram knew Ramesh and knew of his capacity as a cricketer and otherwise and hired him as an AD. Ramesh did a great job as an AD and we all had a lot of fun on the sets then with the kids and all. Sagar was the linchpin around which all activity was centred. Ramesh worked with Ram in other movies too - Uyyala Jampala, Pitta goda, Tanu Nenu etc. Then Ram stopped making movies. Ramesh kept writing stories. And then I heard from Sagar that he had written a movie called 'Balagam' and we should watch it. I was keen to watch it in the theatre but ended up watching it on OTT and what a movie it was.

I messaged Ramesh and told him we should meet. At that same time my friend from OUCE and MBA, Sridhar posted in our MBA group about this movie, recommending it. I asked Sridhar if he wanted to meet Ramesh as well. I knew Sridhar had a huge interest in movies too. He said he would like to and we fixed up to meet at Sailing Club. Sagar came with me and Ramesh joined us directly from the train.

It was great fun discussing the process. Ramesh told us how he had been writing since 2018 and how he and Venu (who directed the film) had the same idea and worked on it - a funeral and its aftermath in Telangana. Venu was to act as the protagonist and Ramesh would direct it. And then more layers got added to the story - the grandson, the family angle, the crow. Ramesh said that it was at half way stage that they had to make up their mind about who the hero was (the grandfather!)

When Ramesh said that he was unsure if this theme would work because it was so commonplace I asked him what worked then - and he said 'honesty'. I will go with that. Nothing like honesty to connect to people. It comes across in the way Ramesh talks, the way he speaks in public functions etc - he truly believes in what he is trying to convey. It was a great evening discussing movies etc and we owe Sridhar a big thanks for hosting us.

On the way back we stopped at Red Rose and had a chai - and then headed home. 

An interesting aside was that there was a party inside with people playing loud local music and dancing. It was worse than a bar - they won't let you dance like that in a bar. Sridhar was livid and gave the managers a piece of his mind. All they had to say in reply was - they are permanent members sir.

Now I have seen everything!         

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Coaching Stories No 22 - What Am I Being Measured On

 Question - what can be my vision for my team? How can it be measured?

A good way to set one's vision for their team is to think of the biggest possibility they feel they can achieve. While a vision can be overarching and abstract, it must finally translate into work done.

So a vision that says - "to grow my team to full potential so they all become great leaders' is good. But then it must be backed up by (who comprises the team, what is full potential, what does good leadership mean). 

All this should translate to resulting work - by empowering and growing my team I will deliver 1) delivery 1 2) delivery 2 and 3) delivery 3 - the three key things I will be measured on.

I find that most people are not good at finding what their role is and how it will be measured. Get some clarity on where you stand with your measure/performance (on a scale of 10) and try to improve on the same by working on key areas.

Least you should know as a leader - what are you being measured on.  

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Session on Integrating into Corporate Teams - School of Management Studies, University of Hyderabad

 It was good to go back to the School of Management Studies, University of Hyderabad after several years, some due to the pandemic. We were planning a Growth Lab as Prof Jyothi called it but due to paucity of time, she had me do a 2 hour talk to the MBA, HR stream students. About 20 of them showed up.

I started with Simon Sinek's Golden Circle as usual - (WHY, HOW, WHAT) which would give them a new way to look at life and at work. When you begin with why you bring your own vision (WHY) into the work and normally it gives a sense of ownership as well. I made them do the common purpose exercise with everyone looking in different directions and said that if they all had a common vision two years ago to double their job pay, they could have done that.

After that we touched upon the importance of values (HOW) and how they must understand what their  values are and how to practice them in alignment with the team. We discussed the Mahindra Holiday story about values. Vales show as behaviors and behaviors show as culture.

Then we looked at the goals (WHAT) and I asked them to write down their goals for 20 years, 10 years, 5 years, 2 years and 1 year on all the important aspects of their life. We looked at money, material wealth, career goals etc and tried to get some examples.

Then we looked at roles and how they must have clarity of roles. They must check with their managers about the expectations and from there try to exceed the expectations. The typical cycle for a high performer is to 1) know and fulfill role fully 2) expand role and impact team positively 3) helping others in team with expertise 4) owning up leadership positions when opportunities arise and 5) being promoted to leadership positions. To give an example of how one expands their role I told them the story of my 158 not out and of my IDBI stories.

Then we looked at HR and what it means. To find the immense potential of humans and to realise it is their job. We realised that we give our best in the right environment and we tried to figure how to bring about the right environment. On one hand we felt that people respond well when they are 'seen' and 'heard'. We discussed the practice of the 3As (acknowledge, appreciate, ask for help) and did some role play (Junaid and Tulsi were game enough). Then we did an exercise on feedback management which we realised was most important to growth. 

I shared my experience with the learning mindset in my cricket career and how they should get the right mindset and grow to their full potential with it.

I would have liked to discuss more on Psychological Safety and done an exercise on Communication (Chinese Whisper) but due to paucity of time, ended what was a nice interactive session.  All of them shared their takeaways from the session and we ended a rather  hot, afternoon session, well.

Prof Jyothi and I planned to have sessions on leadership for the next batch in August. Good to be back.          

What Rinku Yadav Taught Me

 I watched the game till the 19th over. I loved the way Venkatesh Iyer got them into the game, the way Pandit goes about coaching his teams. And when it was all set up for an easy win, the big three went one after another to Rashid Khan. And I saw no hope and gave up as Rinku hung about with Umesh, looking at Umesh to go big. And while I sat outside I could hear one six, and another, a third, a fourth and an incredible sixth.

I was ashamed of myself.

For all the talk of 'the game is not over till the last ball' and 'believe in your people whatever happens' etc I made the cardinal sin (what is a cardinal sin?) of getting disappointed that things did not go the way I wanted (Russell, Narine and Thakur would score) and gave up on Rinku.

Never ever will I give up like this again. Never will I be too quick to bring my judgments and lose faith. Rinku showed the impossible is possible. And all he said was 'Umesh bhai said that I should play the ball on the merit'. A great lesson in being present. And it is easier to be present for 1, 2 and even 3 balls. For 4 and 5, it will be really tough. But he did. And he looked every bit as calm after - like a monk. Watch the ball and play on its merit.

I saw the way Pandit was intrigued at the change of events, the way he hugged Rinku. There's something about Pandit. I someone keeps a camera on him all the time, I would be watching him.

Monday, April 10, 2023

Day Out at Aparna Grande - Usha's Dance School

 Usha was one of the brightest, curiousest students I ever had in the Department of Dance (or anywhere else actually). She was always full of questions, doubts, answer, perspectives so much so that I remember telling her to let the others also get a word in. She enjoyed learning, had a huge appetite for learning and would analyse and make sense of what we discussed. Thanks to her energy and her questions, the entire class benefited too.

The students and their parents with their guru Usha (in front row, in white)

After Usha passed out she stayed in touch with me which is a wonderful trait to have. She would invite me to a program now and then which I could not attend unfortunately. But when she told me that she wanted me to speak to her dance school students on the birthday of her guru Late Shobha Naidu garu, I could not refuse. More so since they were shifting to the US for good next month.

The clubhouse at Aparna Grande was an excellent venue. Along with the children, several parents also joined the session. It was fun and interactive and I was quite happy with the flow and how it went - though I could not make them do the goals exercise which I hoped to do. However we discussed what hinders our growth (we do not ask enough questions), what hard work means, how to handle the confusion of making a choice (make one and give it your best - the dots will connect), how one can learn (how to learn anything in 20 hours - Josh Kaufman's TED talk, how deliberate practice works, how to avoid procrastination (the 2 minute rule, stick to timings, remove distractions), shared my 10x story (how we can get 10x results by using all resources), shared my learning example (how I failed to learn when I was dropped). It was interactive and fun - and we had a Most Foolish Question competition which opened the kids out a bit.

Overall a wonderful experience and I am so glad I went and met Usha, and her students, Hari and Keshav, and the parents. Thanks Usha for the opportunity to share some thoughts with your students.       

Friday, April 7, 2023

Ela Veezha Poonchira - Movie

 2022. Malayalam. This movie is named after a place, a hill with no trees. On top of the hill is a police communications outpost. Our hero walks up to the post to relieve an officer and waits for another officer to join him. Meanwhile it turns out that the body parts of a woman are being found at different parts of the region - including one at the outpost.

Crazy ending. Fabulous setting.


Funral - Movie

 Marathi. Loved it. A superb take on death, on the celebration of life, on looking at death and not avoiding it as something bad. I am so glad that movies like 'Balagam' and 'Funral' are bringing these discussions into the family.

Must watch.


Thursday, April 6, 2023

Akela Gets Badly Bitten!

 Akela survived the four days that we were away in Pune well and soon as we got back got into some fight with some dog. We did not notice anything until Anjali came and told me that she had a bad cut under her throat which was bleeding. I thought it was just another ordinary wound because she was quiet. Then Anjali showed me the cotton with which she dabbed the wound - it was full of blood.

Another day!

I went outside to check what might have happened and was horrified to see a trail of blood coming in from the side gate. I followed it inside - thick and frequent, and at one spot she seemed to have tried to fix herself because there was a pool of blood there - and then she walked in to the backyard.

I followed the trail outside and it led to her usual tryst with her boyfriend a couple of houses away. It looked like it started bleeding heavily when she started coming closer home. Anyway, we quickly bundled her in the car and took her to AllVet which was open at that time (unlike CanFel). Luckily the vet just dressed her, gave her some shots, medicines and told us to get her back for a few more visits since she most likely got bitten by a stray.

Anjali said - she makes such a fuss to be let out of the house and not a whimper when she has such deep wounds. Yes, Akela holds her pain well, not a peep at the vet, just her eyes going big and scared but not a word from her as if she is not supposed to make a noise in this space. I see the same way she does not touch her food until it is given to her and she is left alone, or the way she lets us into the house and lets us let her in.

Come on Akela, you own the world baby. It's nobody's. Just be yourself.

Now we are waiting for her visits to get done. Unfortunately she is grounded till then which is causing her much agony.

While at the vet I saw this guy, a menial worker from the looks of it, and his stray pet which had some infection in the eye. When the doctor suggested a collar he protested - but what about its freedom? Doc said, she might lose an eye if he does not put the collar. The man was so loving to the dog and apologised to it, kissing it, hugging it and telling her it would be ok. Such a lovely sight!       

Day Care for Delinquent Writers - Gouri Dange

 I love Gouri's writing and all her different ventures. This one is delightful. 

Daycare for Delinquent Writers ✍️

Have you been wanting to write but been struggling with creativity, structure, discipline, focus, deadlines and scheduling?

Writer-Editor Gouri Dange offers writers (budding as well as established, fiction or non-fiction) space and time to harness and channel your writing energies in this twice-weekly 'Daycare'.

A blend of ideating and writing in the real-world company of fellow-writers in quiet surroundings. 

Timings: Every Tuesday and Thursday of April starting 4 April 2023; 

11.00 to 3.00 pm 

Venue: Bavdhan, Pune.

Message on WhatsApp 9822407232, or Insta gouri_dange, or email for the structure, options and other details.

Prakash Deshmukh Awarded Lifetime Achievement Award

This is a big award. Congratulations Prakash!

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Coaching Stories No 23 - The Three Levels of Coaching

 What are the different levels of coaching? What if we do not benefit from coaching at all?

Vetal Tekdi, Pune. Pic courtesy Mansi

The three levels of coaching are

1) The student does not know she does not know

Here the student/coachee does not know what is going wrong and is clueless. The coachee cannot even figure what is going wrong. But if the coachee approaches the coach and asks what the problem is, the coach can diagnose the problem and suggest how to correct it. 

2)  The student knows the problem but does not know how to correct it

Here the student can identify the problem but does not know how to correct it. Here the coachee comes to the coach with a specific issue and the coach corrects it. Clearly there is some amount of process orientation here and the coachee is thinking on what the problem is and how to solve it.

3) The coachee has learnt enough of the process to correct herself

Here the coachee has learned enough of the process to know what is going wrong and how to fix it and can fix it on the fly. The coach has taught the coachee well and the coachee has learned well. In such cases the coachee only needs to check once in a while as in a maintenance mode to check if all is well and no minor problems are showing.

The entire process of learning and improving only works when the coachee has a learning mindset. The coachee knows that there is a problem, wants to improve and asks questions which can be coached. But if the coachee feels that there is no problem and behaves like everything is fine, then no one can help her. Learning happens only when the theory is put into practice and any gaps discussed and covered.

Learning happens when there are questions.

So many people with talent and the wrong mindset waste their talents because of their mindset. But if they can get into a learning mindset, they can do justice to their talents.   

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Trip to Pune - Day 4

 Parth was right on the money - he was waiting at 645 am for a 7 am appointment. A, M and I piled on into his car with Maria and we headed off to Vetal Tekdi. 

We started the gentle climb and took pictures of the brilliant sky and the grass and the walks and spent close to two hours up there. There are many people who come to walk their dogs there. Lots of people who come mainly for the exercise. Pune that way has a healthy outdoor lifestyle for all ages. Schoolkids to old people, every age group comes.

We headed back to Kothrud for a bite at Irani Cafe. Kheema, brun, and masala omelette. Lousy service. Puts you off like crazy when we pay a premium. I love the normal Irani Cafes where the service is quick, accurate and businesslike - not this put-on stuff like this franchise. Who would get a masala omelette and forget to get toast or a bun I cannot understand.

Anyway we went back and met two crazy guys who drove us nuts at home until the magnificent Shambhavee came and rescued us from their technicalities. We begged off and went to Konkan Express to enjoy some fine sea food and headed back in the hot afternoon sun. 

The evening was more of a recovery thing after a hectic few days. The girls went off for a walk, we went for a cold coffee, and then Shambhavee came and explained certain things about way forward. We told her we were in no hurry and we will wait until things get more clearer.

Packed up for the trip.

Early morning train tomorrow. Mahesh said he would pick us up. Good trip!      

Trip to Pune - Day 3

 If all had gone right and everyone woke up on time we would have gone to Simhagad fort, Khadakvasla lake, the Zapurza Museum of Art and Culture near Khadakvasla and such stuff. But since the waking times moved from 7 am to 1230 pm, we set out to lunch. And it struck me that we could very well check out an old favorite - The Place - which was famous for its steak. Mahesh got his car to drive us around and we were happy to go with him - he was disappointed that the big plans to show us the musuem had fallen off - and made up by driving us past Shaniwarwada which offered us scope for a couple of been-there pics. There was a scary cop out there who was threatening young kids who came there for some harmless flirting - go inside the fort of go to jail was his threat!


The Place

Then we headed to The Place and found some place. Anjali smartly ordered a Kobe steak, Mansi went for a chicekn sizzler and we tried some mix chicken sizzler. The chicken stuff was bad. Kobe was good. Anyway we did it more for memories than anything else - three decades ago when we were young and wild and free, Chhaya, the connoisseur in the group, led us to these places. 


Steak ticked off, we headed out to Main Street where A and M shopped for some street clothes in Pune's version of Fashion Street. We passed the Aurora Towers building which has been a huge landmark over the years and continued shopping until we hit Marz-O-Rin which was pretty much on the list. Chiecken sandwiches were packed, drinks consumed, Budhani chips bought and we called Mahesh and headed right back home.

The Metro and the flowers

The girls went off for another walk while I napped. The evening meal was to be at Jyo's new house at Baner and we went there. They have this beautiful terrace that Kalpak designed which should look really beautiful once the plants grow. Dinner done, had a long chat with Asha maushi, fixed up with Part and Maria for a morning walk at Vetal Tekdi and headed home. I read Paulo Coelho's 'By the River..' and had started on Gouri Dange's '3 Zakia Mansion'. 

Hectic day. Off to lala land.        

Trip to Pune - Day 2

 Day 2 began quietly at Magarpatta. I was woken up by A who had found this wonderful book called 'Save the Cat' on screenplay writing and had sat up all night to read it. I guess she woke me up at 530 or 6 and we sat up chatting. Now Kalpak has a fine collection of books and so does Gauri and so does Prakash. In fact I could see a pile of books that Gauri had kept aside for the teachers in her school. There was a similar pile in Kalpak's room to give away from which I picked up three books.

My tree series

Malay's award winning design - building

Prakash was up for his morning walk and so A and I joined him on the walk around Magarpatta. Prakash explained how the Magars got together to form this wonderful initiative on their land - some 128 families got together. He showed A the five elements that were represented in Magarpatta - fire, water, air, earth and ether. He explained the landscaping - the trees that lined avenues here and there. It was a fun experience.


Back home in an hour, we were sipping tea when Kalpak joined us and chatted with A. After that he showed us his bonsai collection. Now Kalpak does some very interesting things and I loved the care and thought he puts into his bonsai collection. We spoke of books and stuff and then he had to go to work.

Kalpak and his bonsai collection

Sample 1 


Laxman came and gave me a fine massage after which I got some sleep, lunch and then we were off to Kothrud in a cab. Soon after the girls walked off to Durga Cafe for a cold coffee, something A wanted to do with Mansi (she told me they would go by themselves which made sense). They enjoyed their outing and returned just in time for dinner at Manik ajji's house.

Off to Durga Cafe

We returned home and crashed. I think the girls were up till late in the night though they made some ambitious plans for the next day. So far, so good.