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".