Friday, July 12, 2024

The Bangalore Detective Club - Harini Nagendra

 Harini is a well-known, published ecologist with books on ecology to her credit. In her foray into crime thrillers Harini brings to life Bangalore of the 1920s, with a female protagonist Kaveri, a liberal, supportive husband in a traditional and conservative society and some murders.



It is set in Bangalore with horse carts, long walks, gardens, Britishers and such. Kaveri's husband is a doctor and they are present when a murder takes place at the club. Kaveri sees certain things and certain people who are involved and pursues her leads. More murders, more intrigue, a relentless and intrepid investigator in Kaveri and the murders are solved.

Harini touches upon several issues of the day - religion, traditional beliefs, gender bias, caste bias, the British approach to Indians while also keeping a running commentary of the independence movement going on. Not to forget the ecological references to plants, shrubs, flowers.  She fully succeeds in bringing to life a Bangalore of the 1920s. I was quite thrilled to learn that the Bull Temple was constructed to appease a bull that was running amok.       

Beach Read - Emily Henry

 Picked it up from A's collection which is now my favorite hunting ground for light an easy reads and found this. Into the first 60 pages I had mu doubts but I slugged on.


 

January Andrews is a romance writer who has lost faith in love after she found out that her father had had an affair when her mother was suffering with cancer meets childhood crush and a literary fiction writer Augustus Everett who is living next door to her father's love nest. They end up challenging each other to write the other genre and I am not sure what happened to that challenge. Things hot up after the initial trouble and they both find that they complete one another - after finding some truths about each other.


The Unforgiveable - Movie

 Intense. Sandra Bullock is released after a twenty year prison sentence for the murder of a sheriff and wants to meet her only living relative - her young sister who was five when she was arrested. The turn of events unfold a deadly truth. Ends beautifully.

Sandra Bullock is compelling.




Saturday, July 6, 2024

Where'd You Go, Bernadette - Movie

 2019.

Fun, with lots of interesting twists. Bernadette, an award-winning architect, withdraws and goes into a mental downslide when one of her major projects is bought by a real estate dealer and converted into a vacant parking lot or something. Her behavior goes from strange to worse and includes causing damage to the neighbour's house by letting the hillside from her residence slide over, dealing with some weird virtual assistant for all her needs (turns out to be a  Russian mafia), taking some prescription drugs etc. Anyway, pushed to a corner by her husband who insists that she check into a hospital for her mental health she runs away - to the South Pole. I liked it.


     

Black Dahlia - Movie

 It's based on a novel based on a real incident circa 1947 - Elizabeth Short a small time actor was gruesomely murdered - the killer has never been caught. The press somehow called it the 'Black Dahlia' case based on a film called called Blue Dahlia or something.



The film is based on the murder but takes off into a convoluted plot around it and its no surprise that the film didn't do well and de Palma suffered a bit. But it got nominated for some award and that's why I saw it. Wish I hadn't.

Man, Woman and Child - Erich Segal

 One page into it and I realised 'Masoom' was adapted from it. But still reading the original story was wonderful. Erich Segal tells the story well of a family that is suddenly confronted with an uncomfortable secret.



The Beckwith's are considered the perfect family - both Robert and Sheila are academics and they have the perfect life with their two school going daughters. Until Bob gets a call from France saying that Nicole died and left behind a son fathered by Bob when they met briefly. Bob is urged to meet the boy and despite his initial reluctance agrees to meet him. He confesses his affair to Sheila who gets mad initially but then agrees to let the boy stay with them for  month. How the polite, sad ten year old Jean Claude's arrival throws up a bunch of emotions unknown to the Beckwiths and how they make peace with it, is the rest of the story.

'Masoom' was a brilliant adaptation of the novel. Haven't seen the English version though. Ticked off! 

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Here Today - Movie

 Billy Crystal stars in this story he wrote about a comedy writer dealing with steadily oncoming dementia, the pain of having lost a wife he loved so much, a difficult relationship with his kids and some people at work he cannot stand. But then he finds a young singer, a feisty woman who brings a lot of love, the present moment and fun into his otherwise falling apart life. Ends up  coming to a good place. Nice music.

Enjoyed it.


 

Normal People - Sally Rooney

 Sally Rooney is considered one of the top 100 influential people in the world according to Time (one wonders how they figure that out) and is considered one of the brightest literary talents in the world right now. I found 'Normal People' in Anjali's shelf and started reading it.



It starts off with two characters Connell and Marianne who study in the same school. Connell's single mom works as a cleaner in Marianne's mansion. Marianne is considered to be a social misfit, ugly, but she has a special charm for Connell. The two have a relationship based on Connell's trust that Marianne would not go and tell everyone about it - in school he is popular as an all rounder who plays football and also studies well and is good looking. Marianne keeps the secret which means that Connell completely acts like he does not know her outside of their relationship. They break up when he decides to ask a popular girl out for the school gala without asking Marianne because he is too embarrassed to be seen with a loser like her. 

They go to college where the roles reverse. Rich Marianne gets popular because of he money and social status while Connell is lagging behind as a poor boy. They continue to have their secret affair/friendship going while dating others. It continues throughout the book - the bond these two share is deeper than any other they experiment with but they never come out with it until the end - she with her deep insecurities which make her put up with severe abuse in all her relationships, almost craving it, and he stops trying to look good for others and listens to what he wants. He ends up writing, she ends up going back to him as she is. They remain friends, always coming back to one another, somehow finding a space to be themselves, to be ok with their insecurities and fears and not be judged for it.

Its told very nicely and brings out the vulnerabilities and frailties of both the characters, subtly showing the honesty and the dishonesty they share. Definitely a book one will not forget - you may forget the characters but that feeling remains, something we all may have experienced, and that is what Sally Rooney achieved through 'Normal People'. It is for all the times when you were sure but something made you hold back.     

Tumse Na Ho Payega - Movie

 2023. Hindi.

Bored with his monotonous IT job, young Gaurav shoots his mouth off about how bored he is and God listens to him - his boss fires him. Back at home he finds a moment of epiphany and starts a startup called 'Maa's Magic' or something to that effect where he delivers mom-cooked food to bachelor boys working in the big city. Startup succeeds, grows big enough to control him, he fires the moms and hires machines, loses business friends and girl, and then comes back with moms blessings. Those friends of his were good fun.

Nice and warm though predictable. But then we have seen so much that it is difficult not to predict. Or whatever. Overall, nice like the mom's dabbas.


    

Monday, July 1, 2024

To Olivia - Movie

 2021. The movie is based on the marriage and the troubles faced by author Roald Dahl with his film star wife Patricia Neal. Olivia is their first daughter (named Olivia Twenty because when she was born Dahl had twenty dollars in his pocket.



The family has a good life until their son has an accident when he is four and suffers brain damage. Then Olivia dies of measles which devastates Dahl who dotes on her. He shuts off the world, his wife, his children and retreats into a lonely world. His loss of Olivia distances him from his second child Tessa. When Patricia leaves him seeking space from his behavior and wanting to restart her career with a film with Paul Newman, she comes after her to America. Neal ends up winning an Oscar for her part in that film 'Hud'. The couple see happier times for a while after that.

Much of Dahl's personality comes out in the film - his writing in his secluded room, sharpening his pencils,  his muse a little boy who appears and seems to guide him, his penchant to eat chocolates and makes balls of the silver foil, scotch at hand, his extreme sensitivity to criticism. The walks to the local chocolate shop with his children, their suggestions for his book including a river of chocolate etc are endearing. Neal fell sick and was nurtured to good health by Dahl and a band of associates. Both Dahl and Neal supported vaccination for measles heavily.    

Watch.

Tess of the d'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

 Written in 1891, the byline for Tess of the d'Urbervilles is 'A Pure Woman'. One can guess how Thomas Hardy must have approached this subject in times of extreme sexual repression and gender bias. Tess obviously goes through the stigma of being impure which brings up the question of what is pure and impure.



The story begins with a bang when Tess's father who does not do much for a living except drink, finds out from the local parson that they are not the Durbeyfields as they mistakenly call themselves but are related to the noble d'Urberville family. This does not bring any great fortune to the family except a sense of grandeur. Tess, the oldest of their daughters, somehow manages to kill the only horse they have in an accident and is forced to seek employment to help the family finances. Her mother asks her to go to a well off family who go under the name of d'Urberville to seek employment. Turns out that this family has appropriated the title to elevate themselves socially. Anyway the young man from the family pursues Tess relentlessly and makes her pregnant against her will (rapes her in other words) and leaves her. The girl loses the child, picks up a bad reputation and goes to work in a faraway farm where another young man falls in love with her and she with him. When he proposes marriage she tries to tell him the truth but he refuses to hear and soon after the marriage confesses to her that he has had an affair with an older woman sometime in the past. She confesses to her affair upon which he takes umbrage and tells her that he cannot be married to her and leaves her. Tess is all alone, her father dies and the family is turned out of their house, when the first  chap who fathered a child with her, arrives to make amends by asking her to marry him. The husband who went away to Brazil also returns to make amends by which time Tess, the eternally confused, marries the  first guy. When the second guy (the husband meets her) she says she hates the first guy and can only love her husband who deserted her, and kills the first guy. The husband and wife run away for five days and spend a great honeymoon before the law catches up with her. Before she is hanged she tells her husband to marry her younger sister who is a pure woman. Thus ends Tess's story.

It's incredible how these guys think and behave, how she easily reduces herself to be their servant, how she is judged and how she judges herself. But those were the times and I am certain that it must have been a controversial one because the woman takes revenge on her perpetrator even though he tries to make amends by giving their family shelter and offering to marry her. Complicated lot if you ask me.           

Saturday, June 29, 2024

Larry Crowne - Movie

 2011. Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts.

A nice breezy feel good romantic comedy about a divorced retail store clerk who gets fired because he has no college education and his English Professor at the college he joins. Add in a friendly neighbour, some fun loving students who help him redefine his life in a scooter gang, an old navy link who runs a restaurant, and you  can see that the movie leaves you warm and fuzzy. Just what the doctor ordered on a cold, rainy day.

Julia Roberts is brilliant. Tom Hanks his usual self.

Loved it.


 

Happy Go Lucky - Movie

 2008. British.

Set in London, it is about Poppy, a happy go lucky school teacher played by Sally Hawkins. You have to see it to believe how happy go lucky Poppy is. Nothing seems to dim her happy attitude to life - her being 30, unmarried, not in a relationship, rude strangers, her bike being stolen (her only regret being that she did not get to say bye to the bike), her judgmental sister, a crazy driving instructor who falls in love with her in his crazy manner and so on. Poppy goes about being happy, adding a smile to the world, and somehow considers it is her mission or a gift given her disposition. Got to see a bit of London thanks to this film.

The judgments her driving instructor Scoot makes about her - her attitude, her smiling, her clothes, her shoes, lead him to think that she is interested in him and he begins stalking her. When confronted he denies it and lies outright to her. Poppy can see how she can be misunderstood by people but continues to be herself. In fact the poster of the film shows her on the back of man - her brother-in-law, who develops a back ache because she jumped on to him from behind. Obviously he is not as upset about it as his judgmental wife is! 

Eminently watchable 



Capernaum - Movie

 2018. Lebanese.

The story is about a 12 year old boy Zain who is in jail for stabbing a man who married his 13 year old sister who dies in pregnancy complications. Zain sues his parents for having him, for having been born. Through Zain's short life we see the struggles of those who live in the slums of Beirut, refugees who come from Africa with no papers and who are at the mercy of the law. Zain runs away after having failed to protect his sister from marriage and finds a young Ethiopian woman who has a small child out of wedlock, living on forged papers. The best parts of the movie are about Zain taking care of the one year old baby while the mother goes out to work. It's a hard look at life. 

Zain is brilliant. The film is directed by Nadine Lebaki and has won much critical acclaim, including a 15 minute standing ovation at Cannes!

    


Nocturnal Animals - Movie

 2016. Disturbing.

A writer sends his newly written manuscript to his ex-wife who left him to marry a rich and unfaithful husband. She reads the disturbing novel about a man who is stopped on the road while driving with his wife and daughter by three hoodlums. The hoodlums rape and kill his wife and daughter and try to kill him as well but he escapes. He returns after an year and with the help of a cop who is dying of cancer kills them all, and dies in the process. In real world, the ex-wife plans a meeting with him but he does not show up. The novel seems eerily similar to his life because he loses his daughter (aborted), wife, and himself.

Disturbing is all I can say. Mike Shannon as the cop is very convincing.


 

Belly Dancing - Gouri Dange

 Gouri is one of those free spirits doing many things and living life like she wants to on her own terms (I think, from what I have known of her). She writes brilliantly, edits, conducts workshops, counsels, cooks and does many other things with far greater passion than most people do. And she does it all with ease.



I've read her fiction which is brilliant, her parenting books which have sound, practical advice, her book on her dog and now her book about food - Belly Dancing is A Romp Through the World of Food. And so it is.

It's not your regular cook book thought she throws in a few recipes here and there. Its mostly a collection of articles she wrote over the years for various publications. Its a 250 page book which takes you on a culinary journey from traditional food to fusion food, Irani cafes to Fexting affairs, the rise of cook books and chefs in India, people she met like the Azmi's house, what to do with food stuff that did not come out exactly right and so on.There's a story about how she was making some dish that needed lots of milk for her kojagiri purnima and the milk went bad or something and she called the dairy and the owner landed up with fresh milk at her doorstep and saved the day. There are stories about the new equipment overtaking the kitchen. She mulls over the jhoota business and how chefs sometimes eat off the ladle and put it back, praises poori bhaji, jackfruit yams, vada pav, missal and so on. She dwells on how no one can make a chicken sandwich simply like they do in Marzorin (one other place I find that type of sandwich is at Secunderabad Club) and all we get now are heavy duty club sandwiches.  

Get the drift. Its all about her experiences with food and since she is well researched it all reads so good. I learned many things, got an insight into many cultures, people, sellers, cooks, consumers and so on. As with all her books this is just her and her spirit talking - light, breezy, stuffed with delicious content, witty and immensely readable. Well done Gouri.

Thursday, June 27, 2024

King Richard - Movie

 2021. Produced by Will Smith among others, it had six nominations and won the Oscar for Will Smith as best actor. It's the story of a 'man with a plan' - Richard Williams who decides that his two daughters Venus and Serena will be tennis stars after he finds that a tennis pro made 40k in one tournament. As a security guard he was making 50k so he figured that's the way to go. Richard sticks to his plan stubbornly, meeting people, coaching his kids, laying down ground rules like staying humble, not slacking off on effort, pushing hard, keeping education important, not getting satisfied or greedy and most importantly to have fun while doing it - and thanks to his and his wife's and step daughters help and assistance they end up making the plan come true.

Cannot have a better example for what happen when one plans properly and executes the plan on priority basis. Smith is brilliant. The movie is riveting and does not let up for a moment. If you want to make your kids into champions - watch the movie and learn.



Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Malice - Movie

 1993. 

The life of a happily married (but broke) college teacher (Bill Pullman) and his wife (Nicole Kidman) gets thrown into a turmoil when an old school friend of his, a doctor (Alec Baldwin), comes into their life. What happens after the good doctor enters their lives is a tale of intrigue, passion, betrayal and malice.

However I must submit that despite being entertaining I find it difficult to believe the complex route the two lovers take to make the money - they could have found easier ways. Too many holes in the plot.

But like I said, entertaining, so forget about that. 



Charlie Wilson's War - Movie

 2007.It's surprising how I never heard of this film. Tam Hanks plays Texas senator Charlie Wilson who loves a good life until he meets a friend Joanne Herring (Julia Roberts) who gets him to take some interest in the Afghan situation where the Russians were taking control. Charlie goes to Pakistan and Afghanistan to humour her but ends up being fully committed to the cause. Together with his new found associate Gust Avrakotos (Phillips Hoffman)who is an expert on the Afghan war, he manages to raise US intervention in Afghanistan from 5 million to billions of dollars in running the covert war named Operation Cyclone which finally drove the Russians back.

Incredibly, its a true story. Wonderful viewing.


 

Ground - Movie

 2024. Very unique. The film starts in a ground by a railway track with some rundown buildings next to it and ends there.  bunch of college kids gather there to play some tennis ball cricket. The captain's girlfriend comes there (she's the narrator) with the sister of the second best player (she's quite a live wire and should have had more to do) and another friend. One of the guys in the team has a bat which he lets no one else touch - it was a gift from his father who dies in COVID soon after. They soon have a tiff with a bunch of older guys and end up playing a bet match which changes all their lives.

Loved it.



Monday, June 24, 2024

Thought for the Day - It's Not as Bad When You're Present

 Many times we get overwhelmed and the brain ceases to work. We just freeze. Work stops, stress builds, we seek ways to tackle stress and end up in a bigger mess most times. I was thinking of a recent situation when a huge task needed to be done, many things needed to be addressed and i was feeling burdened and overwhelmed.



My body gave up and I fell sick.

At that time I got this thought that instead of worrying about a situation where I will not be able to handle the job, I better take it moment by moment and take care to do what's in my control. So I got in touch with my doctors, took medicines, rested - did all i had to - and stayed in the moment. Let's see.

Turned out that my initial approach of being tentative soon became more confident and I could do more than I thought I could. Everyone pitched in and helped and things went smoothly. 

My big takeaway - things are not as bad as they appear if you take them moment by moment. instead of worrying, stay present and things work out better than you thought. It's also the best stress buster - staying present in the moment (which means not thinking about the scary scenarios of the future). 

Gotya - Movie

 2018

A small town kid who loves playing marbles aims high - to take the village school to an international level - and actually gets the school on the international map with a marbles gold! It's a cute movie.



Inside Out 2- Movie

 2024. 

We join Riley's world when she is 13. Her now stable emotions of joy, sadness, anger and disgust have created a sense of self and she is happily going along when puberty strikes and a host of new and complex emotions land up - anxiety, envy, disgust and ennui - and they make Riley do things she normally would not. Well, until she gets a grip on herself.



So much is stuff that teenagers go through that at many times we were laughing at how similar the circumstances are - clearing up rooms, mobile usage, apathetic answers, belligerence at being questioned. Anjali said she could not stop crying when she saw what Riley was going through - perhaps identified with herself. It ends with the thought that yes, we all have these complex emotions that make us behave less than perfect but that's ok - we love our kids just as they are.

Brilliant as always.


        

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

A Year in Provence - Peter Mayle

 Peter  Mayle has written about England, France and America and his works have been translated into twenty two languages! Now I had not known this but I did like the cover and the title and wondered many times how this book got into my book shelf and why i had not read it. Many times it made it to my discard list and suddenly last week I got this mood to read just this kind of book, picked it off the discard pile and read it. It was well worth it.



Peter writes about a year in Provence in France. Apparently most Britishers dream of going to France which seems to be a touristy destination and own a house there. Peter and his wife did actually buy a house in Provence and lived there. Its an old house with stone masonry and none of the new age fittings do they really spend a lot of time sprucing it up. There are incidents with neighbours who also double as service providers as they till their land, build boilers, redo the house, etc. In their delightful interactions we get a sense of the French from an insider's point of view - warm and hostile(ready to shoot if needed), friendly and stubborn (won't  make way on the road), hospitable and yet suspicious. Peter and his wife wade through delightful foods and wines and stuff in their year at Provence.

Written in a witty manner and from January to December (which is a first for me), A Year in Provence really slowed down things for me as I enjoyed the French countryside along with the Mayles. Now it can go back to that pile and hopefully will regale some lost soul like me. 

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Nee Dhaare Nee Katha - Movie

 After a long time I got to watch a heart warming, feel good Telugu movie which keeps it simple but stays true to its heart. The eternal confusion of should-I-follow-my-passion or do what-the-world-is -telling-me-to-do and stick to the safe path is explored deeply and makes a clear point perhaps as strongly or better than most films - go for it. Its one life after all.



The story is about a young musician Arjun who dreams of making it big as a musician while making the kind of music he believes in. He faces the usual challenges from within the family which most artist's do - but sticks to his beliefs. While his mother hopes he will do the normal thing and settle down, his father supports his dreams tacitly, gently nudging him, while being silently supportive. That was beautifully nuanced I felt because there is a thin line between openly supporting the child and taking that dream away from the child and making it the parents' own - which pretty much makes the child resent the whole thing  - and/or holding that space so lightly that the child fully owns it and goes through the journey herself and feels the joy and satisfaction of having 'earned' it. Arjun's dad Suresh (played by Suresh) brings perfect balance while being that Dad. It aptly resonates in the dedication at the end - to all fathers who support silently (not the loud ones).

There is no romantic angle, just a nice professional getting together of people who share a passion. The music is beautiful and carries you through in waves, drags you in. Nothing is overplayed as in the emotions are not squeezed dry (the contrast is shown in the way the director of commercial films explains a scene to the dazed boys, so dazed that he wants to eat a family pack biryani). In fact everything is underplayed which is good which leaves you filling in the gaps, even wanting more (better this than feeling its been stretched too long). There was not a moment when I felt distracted or felt the momentum slack - conflict, humour, drama - life playing out. The characters and credible and believable - you identify and relate to their confusion and their dilemmas. The actors pulled it off very well - the protagonist Priyatham Maanthini fits the role perfectly, the female lead Anjana Balaji equally so, and so did almost every character. No one looked out of place really. I loved it.  

For debutant director Vamsi Jonnalagadda this movie must give a lot of confidence as he kept it simple (which is difficult) and perhaps lived the message he was trying to give through the movie - whatever happens, enjoy the moment, we have earned it. For him and the crew and everyone associated with the movie which shows a lot of heart, and all those with dreams and passions out there, go out and enjoy the journey. Well done Vamsi and team and may you make more such movies and express yourself fully. No one can walk the path but you, no one will understand what makes you come alive like you do. So just do it fearlessly, freely. Like the title says, write your own story. Like you all just did.


  

Old Dads - Movie

 2023. Bunch of old dads - one married to a younger woman and who becomes a dad in his late years (and has anger issues), one who is divorced and living with a young girl friend and another who is an ex playboy now fully controlled by his wife - struggle to stay relevant (or rather live up to their young macho selves) and find that they need to change because baby, the times, they are changing.So Jack finally controls his anger issues, the commitment phobic guy commits to marriage and the hen pecked guy stands up to  his overbearing wife.

Fun. Not in a classic way though.



   

Raanjhanaa - Movie

 Been on my mind to watch this movie and finally found it on Eros. It's the tale of a childhood romance that goes all the way - which means death to one or both parties. In this case the boy dies because he is the one who is in love (to love obviously is not good for health) while the girl who is merely amused with him (she slaps him 16 times for no reason and this fool suffers it all), uses him for whatever stuff she needs to get out of, rejects his marriage proposal because he is a Hindu (and more because he is an illiterate fellow), falls in love with a Hindu student leader (with big dreams of becoming PM one day) posing as a Muslim and when that fellow dies picks up his cause which is to form a national party and then realises that the fellow from Benares has taken over the leadership from her just because he wants to be near her. Benares babu also goes to die because she tells him to but he obviously does not listen to her when she says their marriage won't work. 



  Anyway Dhanush is a revelation with such nuanced acting, Sonam is pretty, Zeeshan Ayub and Swara Bhasker perfect for their roles. Abhay Deol is just  himself - never looked like he would make a CM - not with the kind of stuff he does - posing as a Muslim to get married to her. Dude, what were you thinking?

In the end everyone gets what they wanted subconsciously - Sonam Kapoor gets failed love and failed leadership and most likely ends up as a Prof in some college, Dhanush does not get love but gets a lot of drama and dies, Abhay Deol gets nothing, Swara Bhasker gets nothing. Love is a dangerous thing my friend. Especially if you fall in love with this Sonam Kapoor's character which I realised killed two good guys.

The Attacks of 26/11 - Movie

 Told from the perspective of a Joint Commissioner (Nana Patekar) the movie recounts the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai by Pakistani terrorists. From their capture of the fishermen's boats and killing them all to mindlessly shooting and killing unarmed and innocent people to the capture of Kasab and his death by  hanging it paints a realistic picture of what happened. I wondered who made it look so real and realised it was Ram Gopal Varma's film.



Extreme Ownership - Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

 It's a book that has been highly recommended by many friends - most notably R Sridhar and my nephew Abhishek. I love the word 'Ownership' and ever since I understood the meaning of that word, I try to live it a much as I can. However I am not a fan of 'extreme' as a word because it does switch to one side and we tend to lose balance which is important to  get the right result but that's nitpicking. I'll stay by this - anyone who talks 'ownership' gets my attention simply because it is a world of no excuses, no blame. Do it, or shut up.



Jocko and Leif fought in the Iraq war as part of the US Navy Seals units in the war torn Al Ramadi area. Having successfully completed what they set out to do, they returned and started a leadership firm 'Echelon Point' which spreads the idea of 'Extreme Ownership' which seems alien to most in corporate settings. Actually to most grown ups.

The book discusses 12 principles of 'Extreme Ownership' which as we discussed earlier is about a life where we fully own the role given to us and do whatever it takes to achieve the result we want. It is a space where we cannot blame or give an excuse - just deliver the results. The authors cite an example from the war where they used the principle and one example from corporate life where they have used it. Makes it very relatable. Right up front they say that if there is one single most important factor to get a team to work and produce results it is the leadership. If the leader does not know what 'ownership' means, your team will not deliver in all likelihood. 

The principles then.

I. WINNING THE WAR WITHIN

1) Extreme Ownership 

As a leader, even if your team member messes up, it is your responsibility. You have to take the fall and say I could not communicate better or lead better. In the example they share, they end up almost killing their own soldiers due to a mistake in the lower ranks. When the inquiry is set up to find accountability, they own up and say it is my fault as the leader (even though it means they could get sacked). The leader must own everything. Whatever is happening within his team is a reflection of him as a leader. Own it, accept it. Find out where you are being like that.

Whatever the situation, take responsibility to fix it,whatever it takes, and get the results you want.

2) There are no bad teams, only bad leaders

The authors cite an incident during SEAL training when the leaders of of two teams, one doing well and other other doing badly, are switched. The team that is doing badly comes second with the new leader showing clearly that a good time with a bad leader can be compromised and a bad team with a good leader can do well. 

Good leaders must enforce standards they say. It is not what you preach, its what you tolerate - hold them accountable.

3) Believe

Leaders must be true believers in their mission. They must align their thoughts and vision to the mission. Only when they start believing in the purpose, in the why, will it transfer to the front line. Not words, but belief transfers to others. In fact leaders at all levels must believe to win. They must know 'why' they are doing what they are doing.

The example they give is that of how there is initial resistance to carry Iraqi soldiers who are untrained and not at the level the US Army was -  but once the leader realised that only if the Iraqi army is trained enough to take care of the situation will the US Army leave. Once the leader believed the need of the hour, he could translate to the others in his team.

4) Check the Ego

The enemy is not inside the wire. It's about getting the job done. Keep your egos is check and get the job done.

They cite the example of how the army and the SEALS were of different cultures but how the SEALS decided to check their ego and wear uniforms, get army regulation haircuts and follow other discipline as the army does. The idea it to work against the army outside the wire and not the ones inside.

LAWS OF COMBAT

5) Cover and Move

Cover and move means team work. Each member of the team is critical. Everyone helps each other to achieve the mission.  

The situation they faced was when they were stuck in a vulnerable building and evacuated into potential fire.  While the team used their own resources to cover and move forward, they forgot to use the services of another team's sniper who could have covered them more effectively. The team is everyone on your side.

6) Keep it simple

Keep plans simple so everyone understands the why, what and how. Simplifying is crucial to success ad it keeps everyone on the same page.

Keep plans and communication simple.

The example they give, I liked the corporate one better, is when a company draws up a complex bonus scheme that no one understands and instead of productivity going up, actually decreases. Once they simplified the plan and explained it, they got the desired results.

7) Prioritise and Execute

When in a crisis - relax, look around, make a call. Prioritise first and then execute. Senior leaders  must hep subordinate team leaders. Communication both up and down is critical. 

  • Evaluate highest priority
  • Lay out in simple terms highest priority effort for your team
  • Develop and determine a solution with other leaders/others
  • Direct execution of that solution focusing all efforts and resources towards this priority task
  • Move to next priority

In the war they find themselves caught in a vulnerable building and decide to evacuate before they are targeted. On the way out they find one soldier falling onto a concrete floor some 20 feet below lying motionless. They had to prioritise and they did 
1) Set security for full team
2) Find a way down from exposed rooftop
3) ensure full head count of all persons after exiting
4) Rescue man down       

     8) Decentralised Command

 Every team to have 4-5 members with a clearly designated leader. Even in a corporate setting they look at having no more than 7 in a team. Every tactical level team leader to understand not just what to do but why they are doing it.

Subordinates can communicate with senior leaders and recommend decisions outside their authority. 

The authors recommend that the idea team man is one who tells the seniors what they will do instead of asking them what they want them to do. (Come with your plans, don't simply follow. Own it, not just follow.)

 Decentralised command is the key to success as it makes a leader out of everyone in the team and brings 100% ownership from them.

III) SUSTAINING VICTORY

9) Plan

Planning begins with mission analysis. What's the mission? Start from the overall end state, the purpose of the mission. Know what is the Commander's Intent. Then plan using all assets.

They cite the example of a boy who is kidnapped by the opposition and how, once the commander's intent is clear, they plan in detail and swoop in and rescue the boy safely.

10) Leading up and down chain of command

This is important because it means extreme ownership - which means you have to manage your boss and the juniors and get them to do what you want them to. It is your responsibility to explain to them and see that they understand and act in favour of the mission in the most effective manner. You cannot blame them tomorrow.

One of the most important job's of a leader is to support the boss. On the mission tell your boss what you are going to do and similarly get your rubs to understand what the mission is.

11) Decisiveness and Uncertainty

A leader must decide in an uncertain environment with limited information. Make the decision based on information available. Swift decision making is often the difference between victory and defeat.

12) Discipline equals freedom

Discipline is the pathway to freedom. (Just as I believe taking responsibility is the pathway to freedom).

Discipline brings with it the necessary thought process which eliminates a lot of duplication and that itself is freeing. Discipline is the most effective use of one's time and that certainly frees up both energy and time.

In this chapter they list out the dichotomies that a leader must exhibit and live to be a good leader. Its a nicely compiled list.

...

Excellent read. I loved it.     

Manasu Oosulu - D. Satyavani

 My student Madhavi gifted me this signed copy from her mother, writer D. Satyavani, and it was such a pleasurable read in so many ways.  One, the honesty and subtlety of the thoughts and two, for what that same parts that it evoked in me. 'Manasu Oosulu' is collection of 50 articles and essays - about the musings of one's mind and heart (manasu probably is a combination of both), each one profound and honest and filled with deep insight. Many of the articles have been published in the 1990s in Andhra Prabha. Its a time I can relate to very much as a college going youngster then. I was pleasantly surprised to find that many of the thoughts are very relevant - shows that the mind and heart do not become irrelevant with time and tech.


It starts with an examination of the many things the heart holds, the many shelves we have in our heart (which is such a visual, evocative thought), one for each role, for each experience. She mulls over the pleasure of reading works of great authors, of poets, of singers and the way each one has occupied a shelf in her heart. She wonders about time and how we are constantly stuck either in the future or the past - never in the present which is where life waits for us. She wonders about the small wonders of life - roses, songs, values - and that's where they say god lies (I had thought Arundhati Roy's 'God of Small Things' would dwell on this subject but it was different). She quotes Browning who says 'Grow Old With Me' - there's much to explore in life yet..the best is yet to come. Or Harindranath Chattopadhyay who insisted that the heart is always young (he was such a delight). So many wonderful writers and books and poems she refers to and I could not help but be swept away in the romance of the times, of the thoughts.

There's stuff about sharing a coffee, small joys and then she quotes Wordsworth and his 'The Still Sad Music'. She wonders about the paradoxes of life and how they are all so necessary to make life what it is. The sweet pain of struggle is what makes the journey so much more satisfying. She enters the dark world of cockroaches which step out at night to go about their lives freely. She insists that we look up at the blue skies every now and then - and not forget to breathe when life overwhelms us. She worries about the role models we have and whether they are good enough (if it was bad then, its worse now). She talks about the pleasure of reading books - filled with stuff that they are waiting to share with us. She wonders at the loud and explicit and the whether it could be done subtly, through a natural path of self discovery - especially ideas related to sex. I loved that bit of a reference to the Beatles (I made the connection for myself as it is one of my fav songs) in her article 'From me to you' - which is about going from the me to you - or rather opening our hearts to the world so we discover an entire universe.

Samuel Beckett, Descartes, Raja Rao, Chalam, Devulapalli ...Satyavani garu refers to many great people and their thoughts that influenced her. Reading the book took me back to a time when I was young and growing up in Eluru and Telugu books were being read at home - I read them too tucked away in the corner room away from prying eyes, or under the huge dining table or on the rooftop in the shade of the mango tree glancing at the blue skies every now and then. It was a time that was secure, optimistic, open, compassionate, dreamy. And it's a special shelf in my heart that opens when I read good Telugu literature. I am so glad that I read this book. Thank you Satyavani garu and thanks Madhavi for the thoughtful and wonderful gift. I really cherish it. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Hit Man - Movie

 Watched this on Netflix. I didn't know there were fake hitmen posing as real hitmen and getting people who wanted to hie hitmen behind bars. Some way of preventing the crime I suppose. Anyway we have this bachelor Professor of Philosophy and another such subject who moonlights as a fake hitman. Naturally he falls in love with a client and things turn interesting.

 


What's more interesting is that the story is based on a real life hit character - a Vietnam veteran who also donned several hats on whose life a novel was written. Th movie is produced by Richard Linklater. 

Sunday, June 9, 2024

Thought for the Day - It's Not the Inflow, It's what You Do wIth It

 While writing the journal I suddenly came across this thought - we ask for becoming rich, for increasing the inflow and stuff like that but actually the inflow is only an enabler. It's not what I should be asking for.



I should actually be asking for what I want to do once I get the inflow. I get money and do nothing with it is pretty dumb. Or I don't know what to do with it or how to use it. Why am I asking for money or wealth then? I think that is the case with most people, they want an abundance of stuff with no idea why - that's just greed!

I would like to flip it over now and ask for the experience that I want - like if I want to enjoy a nice place to live in I can ask for that dream house, a vacation, a car, an outing, a loving relationship, a lovely life by myself, a great meal, good friends whatever. I will probably get them without having to buy them - I could get a house on rent or inherit one (I did), somebody could sponsor a vacation (yes, all the time), can gift a car (my brother did), an outing (many), loving relationships (so many) - if you are getting all these you are rich. Definitely richer than someone who has all the money but no idea what to do with it - as in really enjoying the experience as opposed to buying the experience to show off. 

Yes, having a great inflow is brilliant but like Socrates says in 'The Way of the Peaceful Warrior' bring rich only means that you have enough to take care of what you need. To know what you need is wisdom. And knowing that you get what you need from the Universe, from whoever is providing you, is true abundance. True receptivity.

So then, focus on the experience and not the means to get that experience. Leave that to the Universe and just accept the experience when it comes your way.

 

Thought for the Day - Hold Easy, But Don't Let Up Intensity

 This is a follow up to the earlier post on recalibrating in the middle of heated stuff. Now that's a big relief for the intense types who only know how to be intense to also know that they need not be intense all the time and can be quite chill and casual and even downright irresponsible at times. The downside is that they can go the other side and let go of effort altogether.

These intense types I tell you.



So one can go right back and say -

1) Recalibrate your feelings from 10 to 2. Take it easy. Relax. Don't get too attached. Have a good time.

2) Maintain effort at 10. (Only to the extent required - because most intense types think that effort means taking care of the whole world. It's only taking care of your aspect and keeping that going.)

Now that the aspect of recalibrating feelings which lead to attachment has come up we are in familiar territory of Mahabharata and the Bhagavad Gita - do your action (and don'toverthink about your relatives and stuff, just do your stuff dude) and forget about the feelings and attachments.

The mantra to a good life. At work, at relationships, at life.   

Thought for the Day - Calibrate, Calibrate, Calibrate

 I realised recently that there is a danger in taking everything so seriously. At times when we are involved in doing something well we take it too seriously and get too tight and uppity about it. In games people get very serious and tight and that affects their game. I remember how Sachin Tendulkar once spoke about how he would concentrate so hard on the ball 100% of the time that he would get drained out. Then he figured how to switch on and off. Focus hard only when the ball is delivered and it comes to you, and then relax. Don't have to focus all the time.



This is what I realised yesterday.

There are things that I like to own and do in a certain way - be it my work, or how I am with people, or how I do things. I aim to do it right, to add value, to make it better. But then its a lot of pressure and it has negative effects. People don't like serious, school master like people around them telling them what is right and what is wrong. In the middle of a conversation where I was feeling a lot of stress I could see this dial in my head - 'due, you are at a 9 in terms of your involvement here' dial it down to 2.' And that's it. Once I recalibrated my approach to that conversation, I found it was quite easy to be able to laugh about it and not get too serious about it.

That's it. Just recalibrate.

I do the same thing with my work. I take it very seriously and that perhaps affects the rest of my team as well. Yes, I need to take it seriously but not all the time. I can hold it easy and crank up seriousness when I need to. I know that my style is to get fully involved and perhaps it needs practice to make this change, but I will get there.

Right now the recalibration dial is a great tool. I am fine with being at 2. I do not need to hold the world up. I can do it when I need to.

What a relief to live at 2. So the next time you are in an intense place, recalibrate, let go and shrug the burden off.

Chill. Laugh.    

Thursday, June 6, 2024

Thought for the Day - Expectations Come From Your Self Image

 Or more likely from what you think is the right thing to do. I find myself caught up in a tangle of expectations followed by disappointment and stuff like that. I realised that my expectations are high in places where I believe I am behaving a particular way - and expect others to reciprocate.



Chances are they won't. Simply because they do not know about my self-image or my self-imposed rules.They will just be themselves.

So how do I free myself of my expectations?

Simple. The oldest trick in the book. Break that image, burn that book of self-imposed rules and just be whatever you want. When there is no giving, there is no expecting or receiving.

From 'I am like this' which means 'they should be like this' you go to 'I am like nothing and I'll be whatever' and they can do what they want! See!

In fact it can really free you, free your space, free your energy.

Stop holding on tight to these old ideas. Let go. Be whatever. There's no expectations when there's nothing you are being. It's all fun.

Let go of old baggage. Begin a new story. Cut the self image. 

Free yourself. My guess - life will be more enjoyable this way.

Off to Battle!

 Saw these three warriors this morning on their way to school perhaps. Or maybe a ground. Animated conversations they were having.

Hope the young lads fare well in their lives.



Thought for the Day - Draw All Your Energies Back

 Sometimes in meditations I hear these words ' now withdraw all your energies back to you. I never thought of it as much but when I think of it, all my energy is stuck with people and things outside of me. Very little of my energy is with me.



Consequently I am only reacting to others, worrying about them, thinking about them etc. If I draw that energy back i realise I have enough to have a good time, to stay in the present, to not get offended when people do things in their life (which has nothing to do with you - or even if it does, it does not matter). I can act on my own instead of reacting.

I can have a good time in my life feeling full and content. I guess I will also feel like laughing more. I will also check my phone less.

Ok then, draw all my energies back. Feels peaceful. I can go to sleep.  

Thought for the Day - Others Value Us Only as Much as we Value Ourselves

 I often wonder if people take me and my time for granted. If they value me as much as I value them. If they value me at all.



Then the old thought comes up. People will only value you and your time and stuff only as much as you value yourself. Focus on yourself, value yourself, your time, your energy, your thoughts, your uniqueness, your qualities, your splendid self.

Now all this means only one thing - that you are seeking validation from others which is why you have no time to know and value yourself. Shun the validation and get to know yourself.

You'll find you are priceless. Of unmatched value. You need no validation from any other but yourself.

Once we know how valuable we are, others see it too.

That's the way of the world. 

Come back to yourself.

Thought for the Day - Let Life Come to You

 I catch myself in a tizzy, in action, in preempting, in doing - hoping that it would help the gods see my worry and reward me. In doing so I forget that while I am caught up in all this needless activity, I am not allowing life's grand design to come to me. I busied myself so much that life's gifts (rather life itself) pass by on the outside.



Perhaps this is what they call an illusion or drama we have built for ourselves. We build our own narratives based on what we want to believe and live that life, fighting imaginary ghosts and windmills, while real life is waiting for us outside.

At times I wonder. What if I just sat quietly and watched life. What if I waited for life to show itself, to come to me, and then I act on it instead of preempting life and crying out in advance. What if all I have to do is wait and receive all that life brings to me.

I might suddenly find the greatest gift of all - what's best for me, for my life with what Life presents me. I can watch and be amazed, can act on what I want to. Can directly interact with life itself.

Can't wait to do that.

The Women - Kristin Hannah

 Kristin Hannah has a long list of bestselling books and I am glad i finally got this copy. 'The Women' is the story of women who fought in the Vietnam war as nurses and how the world treated them before and after. Its a story about patriarchy, about gender, about people in general.



The heroine of the story of Frankie Mcgrath, a young girl from a wealthy family in California. The time is about 1966 in the middle of the Vietnam war (1955-75). Frankie's brother Fin is going to Vietnam and his father throws a party. There's a huge wall of fame at home for war heroes from the family and Fin has just joined the wall. As Frankie is staring at the wall, a friend of her brother, Rye, steps up and tells her she could get on the wall too - as a war hero. That's news to her, she thought only men enlisted for war. he tells her that the war needs nurses. Frankie is surprised.

Fin dies soon after in combat and a distressed Frankie gets into the army as a nurse. The reception at home is cold - they do not think of women as war heroes and do not want to lose both children to the war. Frankie drops right into the middle of action - in neurosurgery where patients are screaming with half their heads blown off and then into surgical theatre where soldiers with fresh and gory wounds show up at every raid. Frankie's two friends Ethel and Barb take her under their wing and she soon shapes up into a fabulous combat nurse. In the middle of the war she falls in love with all the wrong men, experiences trauma but somehow survives.

On her return home she finds people who are anti-war calling her a baby killer and murderer and stuff like that. She is not seen as a war veteran because she was not in combat. Her father rejects her, mother cannot understand her. She cannot cope with her PTSD and does all sorts of things from attempting suicide to taking prescription drugs to alcohol. But she survives it all thanks to the friends she has and finally makes peace with her family who recognises her effort and with society which finally recognises them as war heroes. The last scene where a soldier holds her hands and says 'thank you' says it all. All the times she spoke softly to dying soldiers, held their hands when they were shivering in fear of death, took pictures for their mothers. offered to write letters knowing they will die without seeing their loved ones, worked through grievous wounds until she dropped because she could not bear to see them dying unattended, losing loved ones come rushing back.  

Its simply written and flows nicely. If I had not read this book I would not have understood this perspective. Never thought how nurses (and blacks) were treated during those times despite their immense contribution. Several times during the book when she keeps repeating patterns with her lovers I was tempted to say - girl you need therapy. And the one therapist she meets and has a fling with - she ditches. People really don't know what is good for them.        

Monday, June 3, 2024

Thought for the Day - Don't Complicate, Simplify

 There is a tendency to complicate our lives which increases the drama quotient in our lives. This helps in one phase of our life when the drama keeps us busy and away from real work and from achieving our real potential. But then we reach a stage when the drama weighs heavy on us and we realise we have to get on with the real stuff and drop the unnecessary stuff. Its a matter of survival, of course correction to at least achieve some part of our potential we had covered up.

The challenge is that the drama appears too real. Its addictive also. We also may have bought into it and find ways to justify it, to intellectualise it.

But when push comes to shove - money is dwindling, health is troubling, relationships are breaking, peace of mind is going - its time to wake up and take responsibility. Instead of going deeper into philosophy and intellectual discussions with abstract stuff, its best to do the work. First, to drop the drama i.e. drop the victim story - stop using words that paint you as the victim, stop berating others or finding fault outside. Second, take responsibility and figure a course of action. Third, act from a space of ownership. Fourth, use all resources, your own (mental, emotional, physical, skill) and those around you to make concrete, small steps forward.

Move forward. Baby steps. Get out of the quicksand.

Cut out the drama. Simplify.

Simplify 

May December - Movie

 2023 awards contender. The movie is based (loosely inspired) on a real life incident of 36 year old Mary Kay Letourneau who seduced a 12 year old Vili Fualaau in 1996, was imprisoned for child rape, had children with the boy and married him. The film explores their life through an actress who is playing Mary in a yet to be shot film and whose questions to the couple throw up some disturbing areas they had never addressed.

The scene where the now-grown husband asks his much older wife (Julianne Moore- brilliant) if perhaps he was too young to have made those decisions at 12 after a conversation with the actress (Natalie Portman),begets the reply from the offended wife - 'who seduced me? who was the boss?' Apparently the question 'who was the boss?' was asked by the 36 year old of the 12 year old putting the entire responsibility on the 12 year old.

Interesting.    

Shaakahaari - Movie

 2024. Kannada.

Nice small town. Lovely little dosai serving mom and pop store (now only pop since there's no mom). There's a chap in jail on charges of killing his wife who he suspects of infidelity. There's the infidel himself who has lured the young wife into an affair. There's a cop (Gopal Deshpande) who wants to get out of the town and join his haranguing wife but cannot until he solves the murder. There's the dosai joint owner (Rangayana Raghu) who loves his little life, his drama practice in the evening until he gets an unexpected visitor one evening and things change drastically for him and puts a spanner into his evolving love story with a widowed lady.

Nicely done. Gory. Nice touch in the end about his letter to the lady.

Its all about these endings and little touches.  

The Mexican - Movie

 It showed up in the award winning category and had Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts in a dark comedy road action thriller or something like that. So took a shot. Its essentially about a pistol which has to be recovered by a bumbling young man whose job is to bumble everything he gets into - his relationship with a controlling young lady, jobs etc.



Anyway after a lot of twists and turns the movie ends.  

Saturday, June 1, 2024

Thought for the Day - When We Are Stuck Badly, the Way Forward is Surrender

 We often come to those times when we are stuck badly and don't know what to do. The only way forward then is to surrender.

Now what does surrender look like? 



It's not feeling bad for yourself. It's not wondering how to manipulate the situation. It's not about working harder. It's not being apathetic. It's not giving up.

It's letting go of all attachment to the outcome. It's being open to all outcomes.

It's knowing you have done all you could and now its beyond you and to accept that there's something bigger at play that can bring the perfect solution.

Giving up brings you down. Makes you frown.

Surrender brings a smile to the face. 

And it opens doors better than you can dream of.

Surrender looks like a smile. Of relief. Of knowing its all taken care of.

Friday, May 31, 2024

Thought for the Day - We Don't Really Know What We Are

 This thought came up in a discussion with a fried recently - how well do we know ourselves. Most of us have a low esteem of ourselves (which is why we either lie in our resumes or underplay them). Rarely do we find someone who has a good idea of themselves without feeling apologetic. It struck me that my resumes have generally not been able to capture me fully and when I look at the resumes of my students,I feel the same.



It triggered a thought in me. Before they write their resumes out I would have them do an exercise where they list every single big moment for them, every prize, every compliment, every achievement in their eyes, every participation without missing anything. Then I will have them write down every single thing that they feel is a weakness and have them write down the other side of the weakness - how it can be a strength. Once they are done with this exercise I will ask them to write down their resume.

I think its important for all of us to know ourselves as we are - and to accept ourselves in all our glory.  Not go around like frauds or thieves.

We are special, unique, beautiful. 

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Way of the Peaceful Warrior - Dan Millman

 Mostly auto-biographical, 'Way of the Peaceful Warrior' is written by Dan Millman, a world class gymnast who, while studying at Berkeley College, meets this fascinating character that he calls Socrates in an all night gas station. Socrates takes it upon himself to lead Dan from his world of illusion to light. The book became a bestseller and was made into a movie of the same name. 



In their first meeting itself Dan realises that Socrates is no ordinary person as he suddenly moves from the ground floor to the top of the building inexplicably. Socrates, having captured Dan's attention, playfully teaches him many things, initiates him into ways of the world where one can live to their true potential without worrying about the rest of the world. His methods require Dan to give up on things he was used to - the kind of food, drink, women, sleep - and give it all up for a disciplined, monk-like life. Dan takes up the challenge and finds that he does become a better gymnast, but more importantly a better human. As always I have picked up some interesting lines.

I think Dan sums it up in his last chapter when he says - 

'There is no need to search: achievement leads to nowhere. It makes no difference at all so just be happy now! Love is the only reality of the world because it is all one you see. And the only laws are paradox, humour and change. There is no problem; never was and never will be. Release your struggle, let go of your mind, throw away your concerns and relax into the world. No need to resist life, just do your best. Open your eyes and see that you are far more than you can imagine. You are the world, you are the Universe, you are yourself and everyone else too! Its all the marvelous Play of God. Wake up. Regain your humour. Don't worry, you're already free.' 

'My name doesn't matter neither does yours. What's important is what lies beyond names and beyond questions.'

'Turn knowledge into wisdom. The lessons of experience are hidden.'

'You hold many facts and opinion, yet know little of yourself. First empty yourself. Learn how to read the wisdom of your body.'

'You understand many things but realise nothing. Understanding is the one dimensional comprehension of intellect. It leads to knowledge. Realisation is three dimensional - a simultaneous comprehension of the head, heart and intellect. It comes from direct experience.'

'Knowledge alone does not suffice, it has no heart.Life requires intense feeling and constant energy. Life demands right action if knowledge has to come alive.'

'The warrior acts. The fool reacts.'

'To get energy to survive the lessons ahead. You have to cleanse your body of tensions, free your mind of stagnant beliefs, and open your heart to loving kindness.'

''Take responsibility for your life as it is instead of blaming others, or circumstance for your predicament. As your eyes open, you'll see that your state of health, happiness and every circumstance in your life has been, in large part, arranged by you - consciously or subconsciously."

"Dis-illusion is the best gift. Dis-illusion is freeing from illusion.'

Your mind is your predicament. It wants to be free of change. But change is a law and no amount of pretending will alter that reality.'

'Life is not suffering,; its just that will suffer it than enjoy it. Until you let go of your minds attachments and just go for the ride freely, no matter what happens.

'The brain is real, the mind is not. Consciousness, awareness, attention are not the mind. There is no use for the mind.'

'When you lose your mind, you come to your senses.'

''Anger is stronger than fear, sorrow.'

'Understand where your thoughts come from. Stress happens when the mind resists what is. Your mind is like a pond into which someone has just dropped a boulder. The ripples of your mind have nothing to do with you. Stop taking your thoughts so seriously.'

'Silence is the warrior's art - and meditation is his sword.'

'Meditation consists of two simultaneous processes - one is insight, paying attention to what is arising. The other is surrender - letting go of all attachment to arising thoughts.'

'Your attention must burn. Do or die!'

'Anger is a powerful tool to transform old habits and replace them with new ones. Fear and sorrow inhibit action. Anger generates it.'

'Focus your energy into building new patterns.'

'It's better to make a mistake with the full force of your being than to timidly walk around mistakes with a trembling spirit.'

'Satori occurs then attention rests in the present moment. It's the warrior's state of being.'

'Meditate your actions. Release attachment to the outcomes. There's no 'you'. In forgetting yourself you become what you do so your action is free, spontaneous, without ambition, inhibition or fear.'

'One must be rich to be happy. You are rich if you have enough money to satisfy all your desires. Know the difference between needs and wants. Full attention to every moment is my pleasure.'

'The secret to happiness is not found is seeking more but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.'

'Just keep your attention in the present moment. It is freedom from suffering, from fear, from mind. When thoughts touch the present, they dissolve.'

'For every strength, there is a weakness. For every weakness there is a strength.'

'The peaceful warrior's way is not about invulnerability but absolute vulnerability. A warrior's life is not about perfection or victory. Its about love. Love is the warrior's sword. Wherever it cuts, it gives life, not death.'

'Embody what you teach. Teach what you embody.' 

'A warrior can only rely on the power of love, kindness, service - and the power of happiness. You cannot attain happiness; it attains you - but only after you surrender everything else.'

'A warrior is not something you become. It is something you either are, or not. The way  itself creates the warrior.'

'A warrior is happy without reason. Happiness is who you are.'

'Act happy, be happy, without a reason. Then you can love, and do what you want.'

'Feelings change -sorrow, joy. But beneath it all remember the innate perfection of your life unfolding.That's the secret of unreasonable happiness.'

'Remain ordinary and you can be useful to others.'

...

Lots of wisdom there. Thanks Vinod bhai. Another life changing book. What got me was the line about being ordinary, about giving your best without worrying about outcomes because the grand design is unfolding, about being happy for no reason, and the one about the laws being of paradox, humour and change.