Monday, December 28, 2009

Joy of Affliction

I borrowed the book "Daily Afflictions" very recently from a friend of mine, and I must say, I'd recommend it to anyone who is sick and tired of all the usual stuff in the self help genre (you know- visualizing success, positive affirmations and the like)

This book is awesome because it doesn't mollycoddle you. Instead, reading this book made me feel extremely free and yet connected to everyone and everything in a deep, different way. I especially loved the chapter around the inner psychopath that all of us have but don't express.

It is a weird thing, but I've noticed that books written from a place of truth have a different power to them. But maybe that is just me distorting my own reality.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

All is Well

I watched 3 idiots with trepidition, but I must say- All is well. All is well, indeed, in the hearts and souls of people like Aamir Khan and Raju Hirani. These are the guys who can make a difference, and with films like these, they are.

I'd read these reviews- written by critics who know how to cut through screenplays, acting, directing, editing, dubbing- and really wondered whether a trip to the theater was worth the three hours. I'm glad I didn't listen to my doubting head.

Sure, each film has flaws, but after reading some of the reviews, it felt that this was going to be a complete waste of time. But sometimes, you have to trust your gut and go for the experience. And not listen to critics who understand many things and yet miss out on the most important one: What is the film communicating? Will it make a difference in my life?

And more importantly, does the film communicate in a non- boring, non preachy manner? It's easy to find out a million things that are wrong. But eventually, if the film does the main thing right- it succeeds.

All is well indeed.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Flawed Superhero

Isn't it nice to catch a movie that you have missed on the big screen on HBO? Especially if that movie is one which you have heard of vaguely? I watched Hancock last night and boy, what a nice movie it was.

Sure, it is a regular guy flick with lots of fighting and slick scenes, but the reason why the movie stood out for me was that I saw a superhero who didn't wear his underpants on the outside. The superhero who was an alcoholic. The superhero who was a real jerk at times and who needed PR to make people like him. The superhero who lost his powers when he came closer to love.

I also liked the way the movie ended (wont spoil it for you in case you haven't seen it). And Mr.Will Smith rocks.

Charity begins at home

Doing something nice brings its own reward. I have always been confused about how to treat beggar kids. My logical mind tells me that this is a racket run by a ring that doesn't give the beggar kid any money in any case. But then I look into the beggar kid's eyes, and my heart melts mostly. I remember my kids and how desperately unlucky these beggar kids are, in comparison.

So I decided to do three things. One, I'm soon going to keep a bunch of bananas/peanuts with me in the car and give them the next time instead of money to the kids. Second, I've contributed to UNICEF today for sponsoring some children activity.

Third, I've decided to use the 100th blog post on this blog this year to leave these thoughts with you. After all, I consider all those reading this blog family members indulging me when they read. And charity begins at home, doesn't it?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Are You Synchronized?

I've read a lot of self help- new thought books in my life. Then I got an insight that made me ditch all of them. Then I wrote a book around this insight I had and called the book " The Map that Matters" ( Feel free to buy/ promote it for me if you can :)

Anyway- now that the 10 second commercial for my own book is over in this post, let me get back to the point. For someone who has written a self help book, I still use two books every now and then at important times in life. One of them is very famous: "The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle; but not many have heard of the second one.

It is called "Synchrodestiny" by Deepak Chopra. I especially like the way coincidences are explained in this book and a practical approach towards using what we understand as coincidental. It is a great book as a year end read; something that helps you plan the next year in an unconventional manner. I especially like it when an author takes the trouble to make simple something that is usually considered mystic. More power to such books.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Look Into My Eyes....

I have no idea how Derren Brown does it, but I am a big fan of his show nevertheless. That guy is amazing- the way he gets people to do weird things like mind reading and card reading and many more crazy- ass things. It is on BBC Entertainment, and I suggest you look up their programme schedule and just watch him in action.

I love watching magic.When rationality is questioned. When logic is no longer king. Derren Brown, I think, is more than just parlour tricks and sleight of hand. He bases his stuff on hypnosis or something like that and does it so casually that you never see what is coming next.

I think the coolest thing about his show is when he gets things "just wrong"- unlike normal magic tricks. It just shows mind bending is inexact but awesome. A little scary, but fun.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Small Kid In You

This is a bit of a crazy one, but just go along with me a little bit here. Close your eyes, and just remember a happy time in your childhood. Now, remember a particular "stupid" childhood ditty/song/noise you used to make when you were happy. Real happiness, mind you- maybe accompanied by peals of laughter.

At breakfast this morning, my brother and I remembered a crazy childhood "laugh" that we used to irritate almost everybody who crossed our path in that kind of mood. You know, it went kind of like: dihi doho daha (Try saying it once to know how funny that can be when uttered).

Just sent me back to that time, and was laughing all the way to office today. Try this one out- may sound crazy, but it is a wonderful small joy to be reconnected to the small kid in you once again.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Genuine Article

It is a corporate world, isn't it- you meet people who say the same things, dress the same way, eat the same kind of foods and pretend to listen to you in the same manner. Therefore, it is always interesting to meet people who are remarkably different- not in the way their image is, but in the way they have charted their lives so far.

I'm really lucky to have my life full of people who are in this rare second category. I got introduced to someone yesterday who has led a similar offbeat life: was out of IIM, joined Infosys, then started his own company, then sold out and became financially independant and now wants to do exciting new things!

His thoughts and experience were very refreshing, and I loved his unique take on process development in organisations. Spending half an hour with him, just talking about stuff made me younger by half a decade.

Cheers to genuine, offbeat, nice people.

Monday, December 7, 2009

As Good as it Gets

Now that is a thought provoking line. I was seeing this movie yesterday. What chemistry between the lead pair- Nicholson and Hunt. I loved some of the gems in this movie:

She: How can you be a writer when you dont understand the first thing about a woman?
He: I think of a man. And I take away all reason and understanding....

She: Pay me a compliment. Right now.
He (after much hemming and hawing): You make me want to be a better man.
She: That's the biggest compliment anyone has ever paid me.

Its a great film, and I got a great message from it: Enjoy this life in all of its glory, right now. This is "As Good as it Gets".

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Digital Dhamaka

I must confess, I am always a bit wary of new technology and whether it will make a real impact on my life in a positive, evolutionary way. Yeah, you can call me the last luddite who goes protesting all the way to the brave new world.

But I got something yesterday which was quite neat. It is a gift to my famille from le brother in law, who is in Pune for a quick visit from l'Europe. It is a digital photo album, and while all those of you who live in the western world must be familiar with it, I certainly wasn't. It is a genuinely cool idea which can rest on your mantelpiece, and can have a self- running option that flicks photo after photo on unsuspecting guests if that is your thing...

But jokes aside, I think this time, with this gadget, technology did speak to me in a happy, connected way. Cheers.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Two and a half Men

Bachelors of the world, rejoice when you see this serial re-run on Star world. I like Charlie Sheen's life in this one. Plenty of gorgeous women who don't really bother about the fact that he is, indeed, the world's biggest jerk. And what's more, the world's biggest jerk is also rich and reasonably famous. Never seems to work. Unfair!

But it makes for some real funny moments. Sometimes, something completely politically incorrect is great fun if we can stop being offended and high brow. Two and half men falls into this category for me. (even the way the kid is treated- hilarious stuff)

And I'm personally jealous of what Charlie seems to wear. Cool looking half shirts and shorts. All the time. How lucky can a man be. Sigh.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Inward Eye

For the past three years, I've been using the month of December to really understand how I want to spend the next year. Instead of trying to focus only on outward things, or long term wishes, I've tried to make any resolution as "inward" and "small" as possible.

I don't mean this in a spiritual sense. What I'm really saying is that all of us have grand dreams and visions for our futures and while that is fantastic and needed, very few of us really try to enjoy the smaller things and the feelings that the journey of life brings. It just brings a different dimension to the whole world of goal setting and planning( for e.g.: how can I have more fun with my kids this year?)

It's that time of the year again, then. I'm choosing the path that gives me small joys, and big ones too from time to time. I think it is totally worth the investment. I recommend it to all.

Comfort Food

1. Idli Sambar at Vaishali (experience begins with the smell of sambar from outside the restaurant)
2. Amul Vanilla Ice cream (handy pack to make a bad meal at home more tolerable).
3. Kalyan Bhel ( crunchy!)
4. Good luck Fruit funny (on a good day)
5. Home Made mutton curry/shepherd's pie (about the only time I overeat and don't regret)
6. Kothimbir wadi at Swagat (with a glassa)

If some of these words make sense to you, you know what I am talking about. Sorry hothouse dieters/health conscious eaters. Sometimes, you just need your own brand of comfort food. And the rest be damned.

This is my current list, and I plan to review this from time to time!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Surya Namaskar

When I am in a bit of a hurry, and don't have time for a workout, what I end up doing are 12 suryanamskars- only takes 10 minutes at the maximum but is a complete workout. Wikipedia has decent information (including the various asanas:

It is a complete exercise as you all must know(combines resistance, aerobic, yoga, and prayers to boot!) but what I want to emphasize is that only takes that long and it is a no-excuse exercise on the days when you don't have time for a regular workout.

Small joy to feel good and virtuous on a tough day:)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Snowball effect

No, its not snowing in Pune (but the weather's back to great after the cyclone stuff)... this is just my take on Warren Buffet's biography which I'm beginning to read. It is a big tome, and I've just begun... but I quite like what I've read so far.

I guess the subject himself is very fascinating for me- not because he is so wealthy, but because he is a combination of wealth, quirkiness and ... ordinariness in other ways.

I like the snowball example in the book- the idea of how a single snowflake(a metaphor for a decent idea) can be rolled down and down to make it an ever growing snowball that has such momentum! My take on this is you have an idea, find some momentum with people who believe in you and then never stop.

It may be the only time when going downhill is actually a good thing :)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Playing kid games

Here are three games that will ensure that you spend an enjoyable half hour with kids (or adults, but lets not get there:))

1. Hide a small thing someplace in the house and give clues: hot, warm or cold. More fun when you hide it in your pocket and move about :)

2. Draw some weird lines on a blackboard/piece of paper and ask the other person to make a specific thing out of it (How can I make a giraffe outta this one?)

3. Write the numbers 1-10 on a blackboard/piece of paper, in a sort of bunch (not too close to each other). The "denner" has to cross out the numbers with lines without crossing a line, ever. (Hint: take the most difficult route to a number every single time and you'll do well)

Good lighthearted stuff.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Protecting our small joys

I must admit, on this first year anniversary of those vile terrorist attacks in Mumbai, that at this time last year- I'd questioned whether my blog was frivolous and not worth it. As someone who had stayed in the Taj, perhaps in those very rooms that had terrorists kill all those people ruthlessly, I could visualise the horrors more. Sometimes, it isn't very nice to have a good imagination.

But over a period of time, I realised that it was one of the best things I could do: in a short and unpredictable life, sometimes full of danger, we rarely count our small joys. So I decided to continue, and write.

Without sounding completely asinine, today, I want to salute all those people (whether they were recognized for it or not, whether they lost their lives or whether they survived, and whether they wanted to or were just answering the call of duty) when they were defending all of us. Whether they knew it or not, they were protecting all of us- and allowing us to have small joys for many more days.

Thank you!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Surprise, Surprise!

I felt very special yesterday when my cousin and his wife planned a neat surprise for me at a party. Thing is, they'd bought my book off Amazon and had carried the copy with them.

In the midst of all the revelry, a very nice "mock" book signing and interview was held all for my benefit- and I must say that the surprise was managed really well. My cousin (who should have been someone like David Letterman instead of what he's currently doing) is someone who has that rare gift of making a surprise special and yet not too overwhelming.

He does this, I think, by keeping the whole thing light and very spontaneous- and yet is very sensitive to all the emotions that are in the air when something like this happens. I've seen him doing this on numerous occasions, but when the surprise happens to you, well, it feels really good!

The joy of a surprise when done just right. I still can't stop smiling.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Power of the Agency

A friend of mine is from a different profession- he's a life-coach and therapist and his work involves the mind's functioning. So of course any conversation with him is a fun and learning experience for me!

What was interesting in this conversation were some of his observations, for example, :" If you focus entirely on the outcome, it is almost a certainty that you won't get there" or " You give meaning to the picture in front of you".

Of course, these seem heavy when taken out of context. Of course, I'm sure you've heard something like these statements before. But when a trained expert, having a big bank of experience speaks, even an oft- repeated statement has a joyful deeper meaning.

I guess that's what they mean by "power of the agency"- when the message that is conveyed has a different power because of who is saying it.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The irregular joy of surrender

In our lives, we are all trying to come with some quick fix solution to work as a band aid for whatever we want to accomplish. Very rarely do we come across a situation that is indeed fixed by this kind of a solution. The problem just keeps coming back to haunt you in myriad ways.

I'm looking for one such solution right now to one of life's really difficult problems (wont bore you here about it) but needless to say, band-aid solutions have been tried and haven't worked. While I don't have a true blue solution today, I thank God for making all the other solutions fail, because I think I need to be of a different heart before I get it.

It is more than being "creative", a true solution can only be successful if all the others in the mix are also satisfied in their hearts that it will work for them- not just for you! So I have surrendered- in this moment- to God- and await an answer that will work.

And as I surrender, I feel a strange calm. I don't think it can be called a regular joy, but it is a worthy one. So I record it, and I wait.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Being stretched

Sometimes, in life, you are stretched for one reason or the other. A lot of times it is for the wrong reason. A work colleague behaving unreasonably, boss acting up, kids not being well, and so many of life's unpredicabilities that pull you out of a nice comfortable place and into something that you dont particularly relish.

I dont think you can feel "joy" when you are being stretched like this. All you can do is try and learn from the unpleasant experience to confirm what you really want from life.

However, sometimes, you are stretched in a different manner- either by your mentor, or your boss, or your colleague or anyone else really- who pushes you to use your intelligence beyond the normal humdrum.

I think you can definitely feel joy when you are challenged this way. That's the small joy I'm talking about- the joy of your intelligence being stretched. Anyone who has been in a good chess or bridge game, or any sport for that matter, knows what I am saying.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Digging a well

It is a strange time for me- for once, I am not playing catch up in my writing life, with all the writing, re-writing, and editing that is required.I am wondering about what to explore next. Then I read Paulo Coelho's line on Twitter. It said "Dig a well before you are thirsty"

Writing to me began with and has evolved me to write my second book- tentatively titled "The Gift of the Gab"( looking for the right publisher) Of course, writing this blog has been an additional theme for over a year now.

So I'm busy planning for writing something new. A bit like digging a well before you are thirsty. I feel a strange enthusiasm that also has some calmness around its edges. Some of you have already given me suggestions. Any more suggestions from anyone who hasn't advised me on this before?

Small joy, digging that well.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A joy shared

They say a sorrow shared is a sorrow halved and a joy shared is a joy doubled. While we tend to moan about our lives with our people, we don't necessarily do the same with our joys, do we?

I rediscovered this when I was looking at some comic books and laughing with the kids yesterday. There was a hidden second nature to the original fun- the joy of understanding that a moment was shared. We tend to laugh once more at the joke, and I don't know about you, but giggles are infectious aren't they- like a runaway train.

I've realized this when I write this blog as well. (I've just tripled this one!). I feel a shade of the original joy again when I write. And when I read some of my old ones- it makes me feel good all over again. Unlike photographs, this blog only communicates good times back to me!

I suggest finding a way to share your joy: today and now!

Monday, November 16, 2009

After a long time

Haven't you done something after a long time and remembered how good it feels- and wonder why it isn't on your agenda more often? In my case, a sport that I don't play often enough is what I'm yakking about. Maybe, in your case, it may be visiting your favorite restaurant or relative, or plant.

I think it is just the mechanized boring routine that we call our life that sometimes makes us lose out on simple joys. We either totally forget how we had fun when we did those things or we promise ourselves some in the future and stay in tune with the grind instead.

The machine inside us wins and the poet inside all of us goes for a longish sulk. Till we do something, yet again, that gives us that fun, in spite of the machine wanting us to be dull, through a small crack somewhere that life opens out for us.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The shock of random kindness

I did something totally crazy today. On my way to office, stuck in a traffic jam, with people really irritated and wet around me, honking like mad. A bust traffic signal- no electricity.

People cursing at the crossroads. Wanting to get ahead. One such gentleman on a motorcycle came screeching towards me in a desperate bid to cross my car before I block his path. Both he and I could see he was not going to win here. In my mind's eye, I could see an unnecessary curse on his lips.

I stopped. Gestured for him to go ahead. Smiled and gave him a thumbs up. He looked at me disbelievingly. I think he was figuring out whether I was being sarcastic or just plain dumb. I think he probably figured I was the former. Because I let him pass, of course I had to wait till a whole stream of vehicles went by. I waited.

It took me a minute more to cross the signal -I counted- a minute more than it would have if I hadn't let the guy go. A minute that brought a smile to my face for a couple of reasons. One- I wondered what that guy was thinking, must be all confused and hating me even more I think. Second- I wondered whether people know that a random act of kindness like this only costs them a minute or so more.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Feedback as Signs

This joy is a weird one, cause it can sometimes cause a lot of pain for you if it's given at a wrong moment. I'm talking about the times when we give and receive feedback from fellow human beings.

At the wrong time, when you/the other person isn't really in a listening sort of mood, it can become a very painful experience indeed. But sometimes, like it has happened to me with a lot of people just recently, when you are in a listening frame of mind, you can isolate a spectacular grain of truth in the midst of all the "stuff".

It is the joy of being able to understand a facet of yourself and have an "aha!" kind of moment. Life rarely remains the same after this kind of well- received feedback.

Now let's place the shoe on the other foot: our own, when we give feedback. When its taken well by the recipient. What I've noticed in such rare occasions is the immutable fact that when your feedback is well received, you have learnt how to communicate better as well. And sometimes, you have received some feedback about yourself that you may never have as well because of the nature of such meetings.

I consider such feedback a sign from the universe!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

November Rain

It has been real weird weather lately- Thunderstorms- blustery winds, windchill, and bucketfuls of rain throughout the day and night. Quite a departure from the usual cool, sunny climes and azure skies just a few days back. Over 75 mm of rain in just one day.

I started off being really resentful that the normal winter days have been stolen away from me --and I couldn't sue anyone for it.

Then slowly,I became fascinated by the spectacle. Sure, I've had rainy Novembers in my life but never have I seen such sustained fury before. Pune has become Mahabaleshwar, and if I just make believe I am in that hill station, what a difference it makes to my outlook!

Guns and Roses time folks. Time to also curl up with a creepy mystery or a Sherlock Holmes classic while this dismal but strangely attractive spectacle lasts.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


I know I promised not to write anything about cricket on this blog, but maybe its not cricket that I'm talking about here. Well, ok. Maybe it is cricket. Sorry for sounding muddled. I haven't got too much sleep last night after that heartbreaking loss to Australia. That bit was bitter, especially the end of the innings, after Sachin went.

And what an innings he played. 175 while chasing. That's the sweet part. I'm struggling to remember only that. Not the way he got out. Not the way in which everyone else folded up. I'm guessing his time in this game is limited, but an innings like this one means the man is truly ageless.

Now about the non- cricket part. I wonder how much joy you feel in the journey when the outcome is bitter. That is the struggle of a bittersweet small joy.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Philosophy at Pune Cafe's

I was with a friend of mine at Raviraj, that old haunt of mine where you can complete a deep conversation with someone before a reluctant waiter comes to take an order (I'd actually finished an entire interview with a candidate and walked out without ordering anything- ain't that funny).

I dont mind that very much, because the atmosphere in such a place just makes you all introspective and in learning mode. Even if you are a type A non listener, something about places like Raviraj, Rupali and the rest ensure that you chill enough to let the other guy speak as well.

I also like the fact that in such a place, you can get away with a lot of philosophical spouting as well- the other guy doesn't bite your head off- he's too mellow for that- and lets you prattle on...

Just wondering: is that why Jean Paul Sartre held all those philosophical discourses in French cafe's? Hmmmm.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Sun Bathing

Birds do it. Bees do it. So why shouldn't you and me do it? Before you get thoughts unworthy of this squeaky clean blog, I mean the simple joy of a sun bath on a winter morning. Keep your shirt on though- it takes a little while to warm up that ol' skin.

If you have a small terrace, and this needs to be done either around 8 in the morning or 5 in the evening- it feels lovely to have the sun on your back. You feel relaxed and massaged all over. Close your eyes, breathe a few deep ones and let the sun god do his magic on ya.

And when you do close them eyes, think of all the vitamin d and good rays (not ultra V) you are getting. Nothing like feeling good and feeling virtuous at the same time!

A hundred places to see

..... before you die. That's my favorite programme and Travel and Living is my favorite channel nowadays. Haven't seen it yet? wow- check Globetrotter out (loved the NZ show), as well as Anthony Bourdain's kick ass cooking and eating programme (see the Texas special). And for shopping freaks- you should see their special on flea markets.

I so prefer seeing beautiful landscapes and interesting customs and people that I may never see in reality than someone else's "Sadesati"(read soap opera for non marathi speakers). Sometimes, in my mind's eye, I get inspired to make some bookings soon based on what I've seen. Sometimes, I actually cancel my mind's plan based on what I see as well!

I also love the cool sayings they have in between shows like: "A man travels the world in search of himself... and finds that when he returns home".


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Facebook Hermit

I've been trying to understand this social networking phenomenon- you know- twitter, orkut, Facebook.. and understanding how and why it works. This, of course, is not idle curiosity- I'm applying whatever I learn for clients in some way or the other.

Of course, it means different things to different people, but the reason why I may be liking Facebook is because it allows me to be a hermit and still stay connected. What I've noticed about all of my friendships is I'm really lousy at keeping them when I move into a different situation or context. It isn't as if I don't want to stay in touch, but the busyness of life and my short term memory usually screws things up. Like people's birthday's for example.

Now, I am connecting with a lot of my erstwhile friends, made from different times- school, college, different jobs- and just looking at posted photos and stuff helps me stay in touch and reminded of all the good times had with people.

A small technological joy even for the biggest luddite.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The promise of drowsy mornings

It means your melatonin level has kicked up to its winter standards! It is funny how your body knows it is winter much earlier than your mind recognises it as such. Perhaps we are all too busy in our grind to recognize the passing of seasons.

Pune's last week of October promises a good winter, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed since my wish has been foiled before by persistent rains in recent times. It has become very pleasant and clouds have kept away- so far.

I love winter mornings. Especially if you can drowsily sleep in. Steaming tea to follow, and perhaps a latish walk down to Vaishali for some Idli- Sambar and conversation.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

All The Best

I saw a film that was such a blood-pressure reducer on the weekend. No semblance of any logic, just a madcap story with some very funny moments. No highbrow pretensions for All the Best then: starring Sanjay Dutt and Ajay Devgan. Great chemistry between these two, and a solid support cast ensures you rolling in your seat once every five minutes. A lot of slapstick, some industry insider jokes and some god awful but fun puns.

Of course, and I repeat this- the film is not a classic- Fardeen Khan and Mugdha Godse need acting lessons, the songs are wasteful and the action is a tad overdone.

But who cares as long as when you walk out of the movie hall, you do so with a smile on your face and your blood pressure reduced by a notch or two.

Go check it out!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Learning from a new discipline

I find it extremely rewarding to learn a new thing in my area of work from some totally unrelated profession.

Yesterday, my surgeon dad was explaining to a friend of mine about how most surgeons focus on doing the best possible surgery only and not post operative treatment. It is as if most of them consider that as not "part of the job". I realized that this aspect is so true even in all the sectors I've worked in- Media, Telecom, Entertainment, Software- and one of the biggest problems I have seen is people don't really know all the factors that constitute their jobs.

Somehow, to see it being confirmed in a totally unrelated field was, in a sense, a deep learning, because it helped me understand the problem from a different angle. Earlier, I used to think it was just a lazy attitude. I now recognize that there might be something more than that- something to do with what people really enjoy doing. Perhaps, the problem can be solved in a different way in my mind now.

Big lesson. Small joy.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sleeping in your own bed

Dont scoff at this one. I have been sleeping in a lot of different rooms, both within my home and at relatives, while the whole house gets done up. What I noticed was:

1. Mosquitos love fresh blood. Especially mine in new places.

2. When I get up, for a really weird second, I can't place where I am. Creepy.

3. Dust. Seems to have an attraction for my nose.

4. They don't make beds my size. And pillows the way I like them. Neck aches and body aches abound.

I could go on. But you get the point.

So the best Diwali gift I got this year was when the refurbishing was completed and I could move back to my (much nicer) room .

Happiness is the comfort of sleeping in your own bed.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

What's your Diwali Memory?

Here are my top five Diwali "boy's own" memories that remain small joys to this day:

1. Nuisance value: Waking up very early and making a nuisance of yourself to your parents, neighbors and the world in general on the first day. A loud bomb that ensures curses at 5 ish in the morning. Burning a hole through a sari with a rocket . Hitting a neighbour on the head with your chammanchidi (now banned). Add to this list Bhuichakra , Bhuinala, Sudarshan Chakra and the famous Parachute.

2. Creativity and spirit: Creating homemade crackers that do not burst well, or a bit too well. ( called apatbars). In latter years, both kinds of Daru, liberal doses. Making a Killa (fort) with tender love and care. Bombing the hell out of it on Tulshicha Lagna.

3. Gluttony: Anarse. Shankarpale. Kaju katli. Chiwda. Other sweetmeat boxes that come as surprises from your father's friends.

4. Massages: Smelly oils that feel yuck but make you drowsy.

5. Luck by Chance: Trying to play teen patti and flopping. Then telling yourself that if you have bad luck at cards your year had better luck. Hah.

Happy Diwali to everyone.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A small joy with diminishing returns

I'd say a home- cooked meal falls into this category. If you are far away from home, or if your house is in a state that your kitchen isn't functional- like mine is damn it- well, that's when you miss a warm home cooked meal- whichever part of the world you belong to. And if you are far away, the first week or two there's a thrill of eating new cuisine and experiencing new bars and restaurants.

But any longer and people start crying out for Ghar ka khana- whether your ghar is in Delhi or Dallas.

I guess confirmed bachelors and hostelites don't really experience it for long parts of their lives, but most of us do.

Very strange, but this joy is ephemeral, because all of us take the home cooked meal for granted when put in front of our faces every single day. I'm the guiltiest party when it comes to criticizing things around- or consider home food blah.

Till I don't get it on my plate, that is.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ramble to Unscramble

If you live in Pune, you have to go for a ramble up the hills. You wouldn't do worse than the ARAI- Vetal hill area. And you got to do it before say 20th of november- that's when you'll enjoy the fresh green carpet and flowers all round.

Cmon, I know there is some inertia to start with (walking up a hill on my well earned holiday!) but it is so totally worth it. Go with a companion (preferably one who doesn't yadder too much). Go to a place that is not frequented by people who work out so that you can have some solitude, and don't get weird glances from earnest fast walking people who wonder at your meandering pace.

Or go alone and sort your thoughts out- nothing like a hill ramble to do this. You get a panoramic view which helps put things into perspective. You can stop when you want, increase pace as you want- so it becomes between a wander and a trek.

Finish off with a well earned bun maska and chai at some canteen nearby. Small joys dont come better than this one.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Journey to Product

We recently launched our product's website : It was a landmark moment for all of us.

Around three and half years ago, we had brainstormed about an idea in the event management and marketing space, and created a rough and ready proof of concept. From there on began a journey from idea to product.

Today, the product (Coconnex) has its own look and feel, its own website and other marketing communications, a proven sales and delivery team and an impressive list of clients. It has graduated to being a full fledged service.

It has given many small joys along the way:product demos being appreciated by prospects, business plans being seriously whetted;smart technological decisions taken, product becoming more market ready, getting to first client, then the first overseas client, then getting client appreciation and testimonials, then our UK based sales director joining us- and now this whole new branding and launch.

The small joy I'm having right now is one of nostalgia and lessons learned. I now know what it takes for an idea to become a valued product in the marketplace.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Happiness in stressful times...

Is our responsibility, isn't it?

When this world becomes too busy for me, I tend to lose track of the fact that my happiness level completely depends upon whether I can "steal" a moment and make myself happy. Currently, my life is super busy- both at office and at home, and stress levels are high. This is where this small adjustment that I've talked about comes in. Let me explain a little more.

It's enjoying a chai at the tapri with a dear friend in between office and home. Fifteen minutes of complete relaxation.
Its enjoying a good read on the pot (tacky to some, a must for others)
It's remembering to listen to a good song at a traffic signal
It's seeing a sitcom for five minutes while your kid has gone to the loo in a commercial break in her cartoon show
Its about....

I guess the adjustment is to use ordinary time which we'd use just doing nothing (maybe waiting for something to happen, or worrying about something) and use that time to make yourself happier.

No one else will. Let's all remember that!

Champagne Weather

Today's a day like no other. Atleast not what we've seen in Pune for a longish time. After the humidity and torrential rains of last week, today was cool, crisp- white puffy clouds, azure skies and warm sunshine. Sounds like a travel brochure, doesn't it? But this brochure like day exists, and with it brings a lot of happiness for absolutely no reason.

I can see office goers go out for a post lunch stroll from my window. I could see a lot of cork trees, full of blossom, sparkling away like the snow Pune will never have when I walked in the morning. I was reminded of a Wodehouse novel, where the weather is always fantastic even though the hero's heart is heavy.

Its a day full of what I'd call Champagne Weather. Forgive me for getting all poetic on you: God gives licenses to everyone today for waxing lyrical.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Discovering TS Eliot

I'd been meaning to do this for a long time, and finally I had half a chance and read a few of TS Eliot's poems. I'm glad I did. Beautiful poems, no doubt, but his quotes enraptured me. Sample these:

" Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood. "

"Home is where one starts from. "

"I will show you fear in a handful of dust."

"It's strange that words are so inadequate. Yet, like the asthmatic struggling for breath, so the lover must struggle for words."

"If you aren't in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?"

"The last temptation is the greatest treason: to do the right deed for the wrong reason. "

I love stuff like this. I could cut and paste for a long time, but I think you get my point. Something beyond the usual pseudo- intellectual romantic longish rants that masquerade as poems. I guess they don't make them like him anymore.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Fixing things

My house is in a complete mess right now. We're re-flooring and re-painting a lot of the house, and if you've been through this, boy, you know what I mean. It takes a special effort for everyone to accept small discomforts, and cool down frayed tempers, and be patient.

Of course, there is a positive side to this as well- you can see your home getting spruced up and more like the way you visualized every day before kick-starting this. There's a small joy there- seeing something beautiful unfold in the unholy mess that surrounds you.

I read a beautiful story in Paulo Coelho's book "Like the flowing river" where a man, whose life is a mess, offers to rebuild a ruined house- for free- for a stranger. As soon as he starts doing this, his own life gets sorted out. I'm reminded of this story again when I see my own home being rebuilt- hoping that the rest of my life becomes less messy and more beautiful! Good thought huh?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

When Something Clicks

I'm currently writing my second book- called "The Gift of the Gab" which is a corporate tale exploring the theme of communication in work life. I'm on my third draft- time when you've got the basic ingredients in place and you need to make a few finishing touches.

I had been struggling with this draft in one particular area. I've discovered that unless you have had an experience of what you are writing, it becomes a difficult task. I was wondering whether the reason why I was struggling was because of this. Another thing I've noticed is that every time I write something down, it needs to have been valuable to me first. I wondered whether what I needed to write was really going to add any value, or whether I was doing it to "tie some loose ends"

Whatever the reason was, I was struggling. Then this morning, just an hour ago, a colleague came and talked to me about something that he'd experienced. I had shared my thoughts with him on this subject before- and something positive had come out for him because of this. His experience touched something inside my head and suddenly, with absolute clarity, I knew what was still missing from my book.

Does a higher power arrange for such coincidences? I wonder how many of you have had this kind of experience in your own fields. The small joy when something clicks and falls into place.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


I tried this in the morning. I was having a restless night(too much thinking about work!)and I needed an energy boost.

It was about 5.30 in the morning- the time when you desperately try to fall back to sleep but you cant if your brain is in overdrive. Then I remembered this guy's podcast. I'd listened to this before- but I did it when it counted. .

If you can't hear the podcast, well, what you do is breathe in while counting to four. Hold your breath while counting to four again. Then, count to four as you release your breath. Hold (dont inhale) for another four counts.

Instead of trying to go back to sleep, I did this simple breathing exercise (somewhat like pranayam) and it helped me relax and rest. When I got out of bed, it was as if I'd had a normal night's sleep. Worth it!

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Spirit of Adventure

Have you read "The Old Man and the Sea" and somehow, somehow, wished that there was an ounce of happiness in a gritty tale like that- you know- a crumb of hope that you can take ahead after keeping the book down?

Well, the answer is Up. Or rather- an animation movie called Up, which I found completely charming and version 1.1 of "The Old Man...". Loved the old guy. Loved the treatment (especially when they show his whole life unfold in a very short span of time but with complete emotional content). I loved how he rebels and flies his house out (what an idea- completely unbelievable but totally cool)

The story is all about the spirit of adventure- how it keeps all of us alive and kicking. Its about postponed dreams(sometimes the journey takes you to a different path but postponing the dream may be worth it) and flawed heroes (how protecting your ego can turn the superhero in yourself into a complete villian)

As they say- its got layers. Watch the film. Precious is what I'd call it.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

100 not out

Wow. This is my hundredth small joy. My word has been my weapon and my shield- against doom and gloom. I'm glad its near Dassehra.

Dassehra allows me to imagine that days of hardship are behind us- the fact that it has been a hard fight for all of us in this year due to some reason or the other. Recession, swine flu, and the daily grime of living.

Its time to allow ourselves a little luxury of feeling proud of all of the effort put in by us hard working joes and janes throughout these tough times- and feel good that we are still standing. Like I did today when I wrote this and completed a century. The small joy of the good fight.

More small joys on their way. Whether you like it or not :)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Managing your Wishes

My elder daughter- she's about eight- came up with a good one the other day. She said she makes all her wishes for the next day when she goes to sleep, not when she wakes up.

I was more than a little intrigued given my passion in these matters( for proof: ) and asked her why she does this. She said that at night you are not so greedy. In the morning, you think about your wishes too much and make it too complicated.

At night, you can be more pure, and even if you cant, she said- you are kinda tired and don't push it that much. She said she falls asleep like this nowadays, and like a grandma, said that I should try it too.

From the mouth of babes.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Rain Sleep

What a downpour last night. I think its called "elephant rain" (hatti paus) that comes at the end of the monsoon, and it creates a real racket.

Surprisingly, nature's racket is quite soothing and sleep inducing. I dont know about you- but you feel very snug when it is raining outside. Probably it is the noise- or the fact that it becomes cooler all of a sudden, but the quality of your sleep definately goes northward.

Awoke bright eyed and bushy tailed (not good news for anyone around me since I've got ADHD to begin with). Maybe they should create nature sounds like these in a relaxing CD that you could listen to before you sleep everyday. But would it be the same?

Monday, September 21, 2009

The small joy of routine

You know what, we take our daily routine a lot for granted. Sometimes, we don't wake up right, or don't have the usual conversation with our loved one.

Its only when the routine gets disrupted that you miss the small joy there was in the routine. You take so much for granted, and you end up being miserable and cranky without even knowing why you are being so.

For me, the routines are two: Walking. and Talking. If I miss walking,I feel pickled. If I miss talking, I become restless. And when I know that the person you want to talk to isn't really available, then it is agony.

Here's to the small joy of routine things that are much bigger than they seem.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Professor Dumbledore

Every Harry Potter needs a Professor Dumbledore, and in my case, that is a position represented by a select few people who have taught me over the years.

One such Professor Dumbledore is AY Joshi, who has taught a lot of my family the subject of economics (amongst other unaccountable things). He was over for a meal yesterday, and it was great catching up with him and learning some new stuff from him as usual.

I think he missed his calling- should have taught Philosophy instead. When he spoke yesterday, I was transported into Nietzsche's fundamentally unsound mind, into Jean Paul Sartre's existential cafe, and met Ayn Rand's Howard Roark all over again. (He's THE man, we agreed). We spoke of the philosophy of music and survived an occasional western civilisation rant as well :)

What a wonderful way to refresh your mind. More such small joys, and on the double, please!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Good Thali

I recently had a so-so experience going to a puneri thali place. Not that the food was bad- it was just blah. Why this rant on this kind of blog? Because I remembered what its like to have a real good thali.

I personally like Durvankur for a basic thali and Panchawati Gaurav for a premium one. I know its not completely Maharastrian but boy, both places are real good. I know that there are more famous places than the ones I have listed, but the food, service and overall "feel" of these places is unique to me.

What I love about a good thali is the different kinds of Indian bread on offer, all at one go. And I'm a dessert fan as well. And the buttermilk. As you can see, I could go on.

Its a big meal, and a small joy. Skip breakfast, though.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Blood, sweat, tears.... we go live!

Hey, I'm so happy that my company's website has a spanking new look. : It is so difficult taking your own medicine and ensuring that your website has the same standards like you recommend.

As someone who has been completely immersed in this project of late, I do know the special kind of effort that is required to make this happen over and above all the work you do for your clients. Physician, heal thyself was our rallying cry, and we finally managed to do this.

Do take a look, let me have some kind words... it was a special joy to get a "we are live" sms at two in the morning from my team. Bravo.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Here's looking at you, grandpa!

My granddad died a couple of days ago. He died living a full life, with his dignity intact, and with minimal pain. He was near his loved ones when he passed away.

I feel extremely sad at seeing him go- he was a real funster who didnt have a single bad bone in his body. But I do feel happy that he didnt suffer much, and the end came before it got very bad.
I'll always remember the Frank Sinatra song that he used to sing/hum when he didnt know the words:

...It was on the isle of Capri
That he first saw her
underneath that old walnut tree..

I'll like to imagine he's singing some ditty like this up there. Here's looking at you, Grandpa!

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Small Joys are Life's toys

Giving pleasure even in pain

When I get a small joy

I become childlike again.

Small joys are butterflies

everywhere yet out of hand

When I get a small joy

I've found Neverland.

Small Joys Unlimited

Access your soul and see

when you get even one

Life is momentarily free.

Indian Butter

Ok, Mr.Cholesterol Watcher, you aren't really going to like this one. Maybe I won't either soon enough. So here's a small joy beyond compare, while it lasts: Indian butter. I've never had better. Either the white variety, or "Amul". I miss my current fix- there's some kind of shortage in Pune- and any healthy substitute doesn't cut it. Sorry.

Nobody really talks about it much in India- we take the taste so much for granted. But anyone who's headed out or has just come back from a foreign land will definately know what I'm talking about. The salty, rich taste that is so peculiarly Indian. The way it works on toast, waffles, parathas, naans, and anywhere else- like butter chicken.

I like the white butter too- Loni- though this has fewer takers nowadays. It's a little sour but has an amazing, home-made taste. Try the Loni on hot toast, and dip it into a masala chai, when its raining outside. Yum.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Rear Classic

I saw Rear Window on DVD recently. What a wonderful movie, even after all these years. James Stewart leads the absolute idyll life(except of course that his leg is in a cast and someone tries to actively murder him during the movie).

He's got a rear window in his studio and can spy at real interesting neighbours with abandon. He gets regular massages from his nurse. He gets treated to fine wine and food by Grace Kelly (who looks picture perfect in cocktail dresses). He swills cognac and has a swell time.

It's a wonderful life (wasn't that the name of his other movie? hm. perhaps he specialises in this sort of thing). Watch the technicolor version, the mood, ambience and dialogue on a dark night . Savor this "Rear Classic". Couldn't resist the pun.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

All you need is imagination

My kids tend to use me to prolong their time not nodding off to sleep through stories that I concoct. It is a lot of fun, even if you are dog tired, something about a goofy story ensures a child's giggle. Very infective.

One particular fun thing we end up doing is to "complete the story" with everyone pitching in one sentence before the baton goes to some other place. So a typical prince and princess story ends up at a mad scientist's lab with super heroes thrown in. Sometimes it gets so crazy that we cant continue.

I guess that's what they do in some cartoons, judging by the storylines that you see. As Spongebob Squarepants said, "All you need is imagination". Amen.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Atlas Atlast

I've been trying to get hold of a world atlas for a long time, a real good, updated one and stick it into the kid's room. Finally, I managed to nail one in and have been having a lot of fun poring over it. Doing so immediately makes me a kid, trying to know what the world is all about (like: where is Ougadougou and which country's capital is it- and where the Azores islands are).

World Maps are a curious fascination- in my mind's eye, I take a ship cruise that moves off from Mumbai, into the Red Sea, through Suez and into the Med- what a trip that must be.

I look at Tasmania and wonder whether its the same size as SriLanka, or whether the scale distorts size. I look at Chile and am fascinated by the way it looks.

I know I'm never going to visit all these places. But hey, I have visited them already, from my own home.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Bathroom singing in the hall

Had a party last weekend at my place. One of my friends had brought a guitar, my brother plays the sax well, and we ended up humming a few songs instead of the usual desultory conversations that take place when people talk about jobs, kids, holidays and stuff.

Not that its bad, it is just mundane. This served as a good hour for everyone to get into the act(helps if you are a little high) and nobody cared if they couldn't sing well. Nobody cared if they forgot a few words. Heck, nobody cared if new lyrics were invented- lyrics that may be making a few of the original singers turn in their grave(if they are dead of course. If they aren't, their lawyers would sue if they heard these renditions)

Good way to enliven the party. As you can see, I'm still in a good mood.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bhope Bhau

Hey, I saw a cool film yesterday: Kaminey. While I have serious issues with the film's storyline(I dont see it working if it wasnt stylised), and the rationale behind the speech impaired twins- I loved everyone's performance , especially Amole Gupte and Priyanka Chopra.

Amole Gupte takes the cake. I never thought he could do a quietly menacing Bhope Bhau. This guy had conceived Taare Zameen Par for chrissakes. You would look at his media pictures and think cuddly Santa Claus.

See this film and you'll think that no more. I loved one scene in particular: where Bhope Bhau and his victim play a "Bang Bang" kiddy game with real pistols. Its his quietness that works.

Wont say anything more. Check the film out. And do watch out for the stylish way in which things aren't explained to us as if we were schoolkids as well. Good fun

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Time flies when you have small joys

It has been a year that I've written this blog, and share as many peculiar small joys with you as possible. It hasn't always been easy. I have sometimes not found anything to be joyful about for months. But I did a check. I've written 85 blogposts in a year, which means that I've seen a small joy and shared it every fourth day or so.

That's a very good feeling to have- the ability to identify joy atleast twice a week and share it with you guys. A bonus: remembering some when you are feeling low.

I'm also experimenting with the style of the blog- trying to keep it pithy, focus more on the joy rather than me, and I think my blog writing is evolving.

Thank you for following this blog with me so far. I'll surely keep those small joys flowing.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Black humour at the Airport

I was at the Airport last night, waiting to pick someone up. I noticed that the whole airport was full of people looking like they came from a sci-fi movie with their swine flu masks. I dont wear one personally, but I dont have anything against anyone wearing them either. Its just that if you see a huge conglomeration of people dressed up funny around their face, doomsday pictures start floating in your head. So I decided to see the lighter side of things here.

I noticed two: one is people wearing masks lower their masks to talk to each other. That doesn't make any sense at all to me. And then one guy actually lowered his mask and sneezed. I didnt know whether to laugh, cry, feel scared, or sneeze myself :)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Naturally August

Everyone is wearing a mask nowadays- swine flu in the air in Pune! So it's time not to go to malls, multiplexes, crowded places.... but how about going to one of the nearby hills or the University of Pune, or some nice garden like Empress Gardens or Kamala Nehru Park? Or if your office is closed, why not go a li'l outside to Panshet, Mulshi, and the like?
And hey, even if you are in some other city- the small joy still holds good as long as the weather does... go visit nature... this is the time, folks, and perhaps better than doing the usual - swine flu or not!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Weekend Epicure

Nice place, this new Trikaya fine dining restaurant near Bavdhan. Overlooking some pretty green hills, this big and tastefully done up place serves up some nice south east asian food and the drinks arent too bad either. It's well laid out, and some has some interesting sub themes. The service is nice, and the atmosphere relaxed.
Probably only two flies in the ointment: it is a little pricey, and I wish they'd opened out the curtains and let patrons have the view. But since I was going out after a very very long time to a fancy place like this, it was epicurean delight to say the least. I recommend you try it out once.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Using the Map at the workplace

It has been a few years now that I have been trying to use the Map that Matters as a tool to help people help themselves, especially in tough situations at office. I must say, it is a challenge every single time because the dynamics for any situation are so different, and it is a learning experience for me every single time to not solve things, remain true to being a guide, and other things.
But it is cleansing every single time, and it helps me as much as it helps the other person. That's because I learn so many things!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Help a Reporter Out

Or HARO for short. It is a unique service that Peter Shankman has started, and what I like about it is the spirit in which it functions. What does it do? Well, you become a HARO family member and get email alerts for reporters on the lookout for a specific kind of news. If you think you fit the bill, you respond to the reporter and take it ahead. It is a free service for reporters, and it allows people their 15 seconds of fame or even salesy types to put a legitimate plug in. The way Peter Shankman earns money is through an advertising model- though you can barely smell the advertising, it is that engaging.

Do read the 5 rules of HARO before you respond to any query. What I find nice about this service , as I said before, is that it is such a cool, giving sort of idea that actually works. Enough said.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Sharpe Child

Tom Sharpe and Lee Child: two authors I read for the first time in the last few days. (Wilt, The Visitor). Sharpe is over the top funny, a little too sexual, but genuinely hold your sides funny still. Child has created a really interesting hero: Jack Reacher. His mystery is a bit stretched, but its fun in a "Criminal Minds" way.
Small joys, highly recommended!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Amazon? Amazing!

Boy, yesterday, I got a neat surprise: saw my book on Amazon, Borders, Tesco(!) and other sites! I searched for " The Map that Matters+ Siddharth Deshmukh" and I got a bunch of results that I never thought I'd see. (Hint- you could try that out as well:))

It's a great feeling to be part of something actively where I was a spectator/browser/at best buyer before. I'll keep you guys posted on my story- you'all have been part of the journey, and thank you very much for it.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Touch of Flu

It aint anything to laugh about, but if you have a touch of flu- very common in this season in Pune- then you'd really do well to have someone fix you up. You know what I mean. It's either a mom, a life partner, or someone loving ( normally a woman )who just takes charge of pampering you. A bowl of chicken soup here, a warm blanket there- and various small other ways of making you feel special when you are sick.

I'm not talking of the really unwell times here- just that "sick enough not to go to school/work" type of illness. Its good enough to prolong your illness by a few hours for that kind of attention!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Brahma's flower

This is a rare joy indeed. Apparently, one heck of a brave/foolish plant decides to flower- get this- once a year, between 8 at night till about midnight. The logistics for it to achieve any sort of reproduction seem mind boggling.
Having said that, we saw this flower last night, and it was Awesome. Its bigger than a lotus, similar in look and feel and totally white. My brother's got some snaps of this, and he's going to send em to me soon- will put them up here as soon as that happens.
Its got a sharp, pleasant smell, and its quite intricate really, and just awfully brave but totally gorgeous.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Have Dreams but no Illusions

I woke up with a nice but weird thought today, a poem of sorts that I'd like to share with everybody:
Have dreams but no illusions
Have flights but not of fancy
Connect the dots and get the big picture
Include the world in your dancin'

Hmm. must be the lack of sleep that gets weird ass poetry outta me. People, pray that I sleep well , or you'll be subject to more strange thoughts like these :)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Information Architecture

One of the things I relish about my current job is to do a lot of information architecture for my clients and company. All right, it is probably a glorified librarian posing as a nuclear strategist and getting his moment in the sun. It is still a nascent field, and most people misunderstand it as "design" - only its not just creating pretty interfaces. Its more about customer motivations, business goals, and a librarian's zeal to "clean house".
You can see I like doing this, dont you? The joy of work when you love what you do.

A good fight

Sometimes, what is required is just have a nice big fight with someone. Think that's crazy? Well, think again: a good long argument with a loved one, a relative, or an office colleague- where there are no holds barred, but at the end of it each party sees the other person's point of view- is cleansing.
Of course, if things are carried forward after the event, and bitterness remains, then of course it ain't worth it. But if things actually are thrashed out, there's nothing like a good fight.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Reading the same book

as if it's a new one! I do that often- with both fiction and non fiction. If its fiction, its fun to observe the way in which the writer has written rather than the plot itself (Sherlock Holmes comes to mind). If its non-fiction, it is fascinating to read some concept and understand a completely different angle to it.

I do know a lot of people see funny movies again and again, but have seen a lesser number of loons try this out. I recommend it fully.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Remy Martin

This drink is a real treat. Its not too sweet, not too dry, and just perfect as a post dinner thing (apparently with a Cigar dipped in the glass and lit. But I didn't try that).

I dont know about you, but just reading the exotic description on the bottle of something fine transports you into a fine haze. Especially if its in French and you dont understand a damn word.
I think the marketing communication for most of these drinks really works well, and draws up images of long forgotten lands from where these spirits have come from.

I'd be cynical not to call this a small joy.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


I didnt know what the big deal was about this total solar eclipse. So the moon was obscuring the sun from our view. So it had some superstition and myth around it. So it was probably not going to be seen anywhere except TV. So it was the last time that we'd see it in our lifetime. Ho Hum.

But then I realised how much we have come ahead as human beings. In earlier times, when man couldnt fathom what the heck was going on, he created myths and prayed like hell that things became brighter. Then science prevailed, and we understood what really did take place.

Now, when we see a solar eclipse, total, diamond ring, or partial, and only on TV, we only see a beautiful, rare sight. Superstition has been "eclipsed".

Monday, July 20, 2009

Ashes alight

What a day for England and Freddie, huh? Where the Aussies, everyone's favorite hateables lost due to inspired fast bowling by Freddie Flintoff. To all smalljoyunlimited patrons, who like cricket - I've started a fresh blog called the with a couple of fellow cricket-mads. So do take a look.

And to all smalljoyunlimited patrons, who hate cricket- I'll keep this blog completely free of cricket so you can breathe a sigh of relief :) aint that a joy then- double dhamaka of sorts.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Big fat Saturday night party

I did this one after a long time. Perhaps was just a stressful time at work and home, or just not had the opportunity to have a blast for a longish time. This Saturday, however, it was the full monty- complete with the necessary hangover the next day.
So I was hungover but happy on sunday: sometimes, a big fat saturday night party gets all the kinks out of the system. Sure, it ain't highbrow - but hell it works for me!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Happiness is the last of...

the icecream left in the fridge. The final lick of jam in the pot. The supreme joy you have when you get up thinking you are late, and realise that you have an hour more to sleep. The last hour that comes as a bonus, and you extract the maximum juice out of it.
Sure, when you are reaching the end of it, like the Harry Potter series, or any other good book or movie, or when the alarm rings, there's a tinge of remorse, but all in all you are still happy for the last taste of heaven.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Hurrah for hand me downs

I live in a joint family, where one of the pleasures of living with my dad and brother under the same roof is to steal clothes. Yeah, you heard that right. Currently, I'm enjoying the youngish style that my bro's clothes have and happy with the fact that he has lost a lot of weight, become fit, and handed me his (relatively) new clothes that suit me just fine.
One thing I've noticed- how come, sometimes, clothes that you would never pick up yourself end up looking better on you than your old ones? I hope I'm not the only one saying this, and many others feel the same way, otherwise put it down to a lack of fashion sense :)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

One of them days

When you walk your pet dog in the pouring rain, in the early hours of the morning, so that it can do its stuff while you watch it do so is when you feel horrible. That feeling of yuckiness and general persecution (why me?)continues as you give yourself a wash when you get back home.
As you settle down for breakfast, you realise that your egg is a bit too salty. Perhaps a loved one is sick, or acting crabby to add to it all.

Then you get to work and the power's been cut off. Hm! And when you are about to rave and rant at the next unfortunate person that comes your way, along comes a nice mail from a friend, a mail that has beautiful photos maybe, of nature, or northern lights, or of fire rainbows.

And inspite of your rotten day, you marvel at the photo. That is one heck of a small joy.

Monday, July 13, 2009

A Cup of tea and a good book

Is what I'm dreaming of right now. It's been raining peacocks and elephants, and on days like these there's no greater small joy than this. Add a blanket to this mix and some spicy snack and boy, you have it made.

And as I say it, some kind soul has brought me a good bowl of Pohe. And Tea.Yum. Gotta stop writing this and start feeding my face.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Ice is Nice

I saw Ice age 3 on the weekend with the kids. I've heard the earlier ones were better, but haven't really seen them to make any comments. What I did notice was the quality of animation is truly fantastic, and even though the story is puerile and predictable, the animation is breathtaking and makes you forget you are watching a cartoon.

Become a kid again- check this one out :)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Unintentionally funny

Some may think it's a little cruel, but I think sometimes you can have a quiet laugh when you experience something that's unintentionally funny. You want an example? Well, how about that relative who thinks she's good at Kathak dancing or singing or poetry and just isn't? In such times, you really hold your sides when you catch some other sufferer's eye. It takes a huge effort not to burst out, and I think that's part of the whole appeal.

I dont know whether its the reality gap that exists or its just the egoistic nature of such people (you know, they get all puffed up, have an important face of sorts before making asses of themselves) that makes it pure fun for me.

Hmm. Wait. Do some people laugh at my writing? Nah... can't be... hmm?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Ya learn somethin' new every day

And it's always an exciting thing! Provided you are in the mood, of course.
I'm trying to learn about new online media and related stuff- you know, google alerts, twitter, etc- it's part of the grand plan in my professional life at the moment. But what I'd like to say is that a day when you've learnt something new, and it can be really a small thing, is still a day that makes you feel good about yourself. Whatever it may be, maybe its just tying a shoelace a different way (ok maybe not that mundane) its all for the good. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Music to the ear

As someone recently said to me- music's the only solace. In times like ours, listening to a good song does make you feel good without realising it. I was just listening to songs from the film "New York" and I'm pleasantly surprised by the feel good factor in them. Especially the first three songs- perfect for a rainy afternoon.
One of the things I regularly do nowadays is to listen to some good numbers on Utube, while I'm working. Wonder why I didn't earlier- it is an instant stress-buster!

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Right Attitude to Rain

My CEO told me that London is experiencing a heat wave recently, and apparently, its actually hotter than Pune! I think both Punekars and Brits like to talk about the weather. While some consider it banal... I say why not? Its a neutral, safe topic, allows you to air a grievance (and everybody has a grievance about the weather) and connect to strangers, bosses and other exotic birds. Alexander Mcall- Smith calls it the right attitude to rain, and I agree. Welcome, weather-talkers! The monsoon's getting better, but nowhere close to what it should be.... what say?

Life's small opportunities

We all hate being taken for granted, isnt it? But I had the exact opposite experience this morning. I met a dear friend of mine, my neighbour, whom I yelled out and said good morning to, and asked whether he wanted a cup of tea. This was quite early in the morning, and he'd just come back from the US- so I thought he would be busy with something else, or would be plain tired. I figured that he would decline the offer and catch with me later.

But to my pleasant surprise, he said he was coming right up. We had a nice chat and the tea wasn't too horrible. I learnt something from him today. He took the offer up and spent that time with me there and then, not pushing out something for later. It wasnt more than 15 minutes, but it was full of life and that's how it should be- but we keep forgetting that...

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Needle in the Haystack

We'd lost quite a precious piece of jewellery in the house quite recently. After much heartbreak that we couldnt find it, we wondered whether it was stolen or misplaced. Then over a period of time, everyone forgot about it and went about their daily lives.
And then, months later, today, my young'un found the damn thing. By sheer luck, or coincidence. It takes a child's eyes to find that needle in the haystack. The sheer joy of it all.

A Rare Thrill

For the uninitiated, I've written a book called " The Map that Matters" which is being published by Strategic Publishing Group, NY. It's a self help book, and I think it's based on a pretty unique insight, but that's just me selling it to you I guess :).

Writing it has been a very demanding and enriching journey for me.

Just a few days ago, I got the Galley Proof - which is a copy sent to the author for approval before it moves towards publication. As soon as I got it in my hands, I became a little child who wanted to show it off to all my close friends and family. It was such a rare thrill that it counts as a special small joy for this blog. I'll keep you guys posted on further progress!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Remember the time

Got into nostalgia mode with MJ leaving us. Got a CD playing some of his best songs. The man may have been troubled at many levels, but boy, did he have melody running in his veins. Listening to "Remember the time"; "Man in the mirror" and "Billie Jean" in the car ... brought back teenage memories of trying to look cool when doing(or attempting) the moonwalk.
What an entertainer. Michael, may you have more peace wherever you may be.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Dont lose this one

Rujuta Diwekar's book- Dont lose your mind, lose your weight- simply rocks. I like her ability to keep things real, and for the first time, I've read a book concentrating on nutrition rather than dieting, and when you read it you'll know the difference. A book that definately compels you to take some action- however fit or unfit you maybe. Don't like her Bejan Daruwala type pontification, but apart from that, its all good. Highly recommended for everybody.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

An Ode to Wode

Have been reading old favorite PG Wodehouse lately. I still find them hilarious and completely relaxing. I'd say Wodehouse possibly is an inspiration to a show like Cheers or Frasier- a nice, benign kind of atmosphere, no real concerns for the hero, who has money or a regular job, is lazy but has good taste and manners. He gets into sticky situations and you can routinely expect genuinely funny moments where you hold your sides, doubling up with laughter. I know, I know- all too predictable, but I'd like some predictable humor in today's warped world, where you have to enroll into a laughter club to laugh.
I'd prefer an Ode to Wode any day.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Park that car!

I have to record a small, but really rare joy today. I dont care what books say about visualising results like getting the right parking space, but boy, when you find one, it is heaven, isnt it? Especially if you are driving a car to someplace like MG Road, in Deccan somewhere, or just trying to get to office at the earliest.

I've noticed that they've started pay and park on most roads.... but dont get me started on that or I'll lose that small joy feelin'...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Its the experience, stupid!

Pune has a lot of lovely eating places. Have you tried the Khichadi at Appa's canteen? Its a joy: standing up, eating messily, in dingy surroundings, looking at people seriously enjoy their food as well. Limited items on the menu everyday.

Also- never pack things and take them home from such a place. Wont taste the same. Now is a good time to read the title of this blog again - to know why :)

Which end of the rainbow?

I saw a beautiful rainbow after a long time. The Pune rains have finally arrived. As soon as I saw the rainbow, I observed a lot of people getting their phone-cameras out trying to click the sight, get the best lighting and angle, etc. I was half tempted to do so.

But then I wondered. Which end of the rainbow has the metaphoric pot of gold? Should I capture the rainbow and risk missing the moment, or shall I miss the moment but capture the picture?

It got all too philosophical for me. What would you do?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Help at Hand

At a traffic signal, today, I was helped out by a couple of good samaritans, who told me that my car's boot was open, and needed to be closed- and then closed it for me! One guy told me, and the other guy(who was watching the guy who was telling me) kindly closed it down for me. Both guys were extremely polite- and they didnt even know each other, let alone me. It was also a hot time of the day- snarling traffic, shimmering heat, and pollution. It was all done very quickly and efficiently.

I felt damn good about this whole incident. It was kindness, awareness and plain good intentions at work. I wish I inculcate some of these qualities, especially when I'm stressed out and feeling that I have a lot to achieve for the day.

I remembered the old chestnut- its very nice to be important, but its more important to be nice. Truer words weren't spoken.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

God's pallette

I wish I could show you what I saw in the sky when I'd gone to Mahabaleshwar for a holiday. Two kinds of views. The first one was a rush of colours that only a hillstation can provide at sunset. The second one was the night sky, unpolluted by city lights, awesome and beautiful.

God, I guess, is an artist. These creations of His were within the space of a couple of hours, and the transformation was so complete, that both pictures seemed like they were drawn by different hands. I'm going to upload some photos soon to show you what I mean. Mere words can only take you so far.

It made me feel insignificant and significant at the same time!

Monday, January 12, 2009

True Professional

If I have been writing lesser on this blog of mine, you have to blame my writing coach Bonnie Granat for it. As far as I am concerned, she is the single biggest reason why the book that I have written is seeing the light of day and has been accepted for publication. So let me tell you a little bit about my experience with her.

Bonnie came into my life and my book when I desperately needed someone to coach me and help critique my work. She has given me insights that not only helped me make my understanding of my own book better, but also helped me write the book in such a fashion that will connect with readers in the most compelling fashion. Bonnie calls it restructuring and redesign, I call it my saving grace!

Not only did she work her magic on my book, she has also been a very fair person when she was going to charge me. I think that she understood my situation( I earn in rupees and have to spend on her services in dollars) and she tried her level best to help me get maximum value from her services. I really appreciated that, as well as her general bonhomie and sense of humor. She has been a true pleasure to work with. As a well wisher and friend, I did wish she got some sleep at times, but her response time was fantastic. I'd like to think that it was due to pure passion for her work.

She does all kinds of writing and editing work, by the way. You can know more about her at . I recommend her to anyone who is serious about writing, be it books or website content.

Bonnie, it has been a pleasure. May you never lose your passion and may your tribe increase!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Beautiful story

Here is a wonderful story that's doing the email rounds. I'm sharing this because this is what my blog is all about. So here it is:

An ear to the ground ?

A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and startedto play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He playedsix Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time,since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousand ofpeople went through the station, most of them on their wayto work.Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed therewas musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for afew seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule.A minute later, the violinist received his first dollartip: a woman threw the money in the till and withoutstopping continued to walk.A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall tolisten to him, but the man looked at his watch and startedto walk again. Clearly he was late for work.The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy.His mother tagged him along, hurried but the kid stopped tolook at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard andthe child continued to walk turning his head all the time.This action was repeated by several other children. All theparents, without exception, forced them to move on.In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 peoplestopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money butcontinued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. Whenhe finished playing and silence took over, no one noticedit. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one ofthe best musicians in the world. He played one of the mostintricate pieces ever written with a violin worth 3.5million dollars.Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell soldout at a theatre in Boston and the seats average $100.This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty?Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent inan unexpected context?One of the possible conclusions from this experience couldbe:If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of thebest musicians in the world playing the best music everwritten, how many other things are we missing?

Friday, January 2, 2009

A new ear

Here's an interesting resolution I have for the new year: have a new ear for 2009! A new ear that listens more. A new ear that is not deaf to things that I need to hear but don't want to. A new ear that does filter away things that sap my energy and soul. A new ear that can understand the difference between the things that I should be listening to and the things I shouldnt be!

Well, enough talking in riddles- I just thought I'd share this resolution with you. I hope it leads me to discovering a lot of small joys and big love and share them all with you!