Thursday, December 23, 2010

Blue Skying

I was wondering what the new year had in store
Blue skying
Full of possibilities, and some fears to keep score
Blue skying
and then I came across this wonderful gift and clue:

as I continue blue skying. Goodbye, 2010.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

New Wine in an Old Bottle

I recently visited the Alma Mater ( I was a key note speaker at their leadership summit, and boy, was the trip was one of a kind.

On my journey back to reality, replete with the wonderful experiences, I wondered what it was that was so wonderful.

Was it nostalgia? Nah. The place has changed so much that it is unrecognizable. Was it the heady experience of the speech? Nah. More likely, I was humbled by all the other guys who were speaking alongside me. Was it meeting interesting people who I'd love to connect with more in my life? Maybe... while that's true, it ain't the complete truth.

So was it me being plain pampered then, by the alumni team? Yep. There it is. This wonderful, young, bunch of students made my stay memorable. They took really good care of me, and made me feel respected and not old (that's a fine trick, that is). From getting me a cuppa in the morning, to arranging various things with glee- and making sure that I enjoy the ride as much as them.

Thanks you guys. New People in an Old Memory. Cheers!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

It's the Song, not the Shower!

Just today, in the shower- have no idea why but I started singing an old old song without realising I'm singing.

Now we all love bathroom singing, don't we- but sometimes the choice of song is also a very good indicator of your current mood (ephemeral though it may be!). Sometimes, its a love ballad, while one pretends to be Axl Rose, sometimes it is "I wanna be a rock star".... you may be singing ghazals but you get da point, doncha.

So I was singing this nonsensical song (Hum jo hai jo do aur do paanch bana de) which was from a slapsticky Amitabh film. I hadn't sung it in years, and whoops, there it was, transporting me back to singing the same song, swinging a school bag walking back from school, sun on my back, back to play with my best friend and terrorize some pets.

Do you have a song that connects you to that happy go lucky child within? Sing it now then- don't wait for that inspiring shower.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Jerk in all of Us

All of us have a hidden jerk lurking about within. A nasty moody person who's surly and crap to be with. Unfortunately, this ba.....d is the same guy who can be more daring, creative and impact- creating than the rest of our personality.

Now I'm not for a moment advocating that we let this jerk rule who we are completely, but don't we need to find a balance between different parts of who we are and accept them? Even the jerk inside us.

That's what the "Social Network" did to me: it showed me how different personalities and value systems play out when confronted with an idea. A mind blowing film, it makes you think about so many things: loyalty, differing value systems, an inventor's mind, a supporter's mind- and what it really takes to make an impact on the world. Without really delving into the film and being spoiler, I'd like to recommend it for the absolutely absorbing watch that it is. I love the treatment: there is no right or wrong.

It just is.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Radical Residue

I have recently read, re- read and started actively using a "gem of a book" called Radical Honesty. My favourite professor recommended it, and after I read it, he told me to re-read it. He was right.

This book changes your life, and I wish I'd written it. There. Said it. Biggest compliment a writer can pay to another one. Not that the author Brad Blanton needs my compliments. In fact, he'd probably cuss me out in case he reads this blog. He's that kind of guy and yeah, this is that kind of book. You either hate him or love him. I ended up hating him and loving his book (happens!)

This book is raw. Needs polishing and editing. But I wouldn't change anything in it. Not everyone's cup of tea though- honesty is a bitter poison to begin with. So I know that most of y'all won't read it. So I thought I'd leave you with the main residue that I had when I finished the book:

Whenever there is a choice to be made in life, ditch the principle and go for the truth. Always.
(You may have a different residue if you brave the book. That's the beauty!)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Nature's Fireworks

This Diwali, I will also look towards nature to supply me the fireworks. I thought the snap above signifies just that: paying attention to our surrounds while we celebrate Diwali may be the way ahead for all of us. Don't these flowers light up your Diwali as much as the lamp in the middle does?

Maybe celebration doesn't always have to be at a cost. Both can co-exist, balance each other out. We don't need to take an extreme position.

A Happy Diwali, everyone!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Idea Worth Spreading

There are times within your day when it is kind of blah and you are just in between things. Now you could use this time to watch something really fascinating: minds and ideas of extraordinary people. These people give you a glimpse into their world, and its all free to boot. Usually of very short duration, you can typically listen to a presentation while you say have an office lunch (what I do)

I'm talking of TED talks- being a recent convert to this wonderful free content service. Eclectic, heartwarming, inspiring- I guarantee you that you will find a few speeches/presentations that will connect with you and make you wonder at life all over again. In a good way of course.

Since I'm very interested in technology, nutrition, leadership patterns, and quantum physics, those are the areas I searched for the most. You could search and find whatever you need. I can guarantee that you won't be disappointed-

Wonderful stuff.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What's your Gift?

I may be naive, but I believe everyone has a gift that they are born with. This is the main theme around my second book which has just been launched (The Gift of the Gab: Success has a Language)

I feel that once you get your gift, you get a whole new world at your doorstep. And I don't think you have to be super lucky to understand what it is- but you do need a method to reach this place consistently.

I'm hoping that everyone reading this blog likes reading my book as well. Likes it as much as I liked writing it, to quote a well worn cliche.

Book Details:
Price: Rs. 150
Publisher: Leadstart Publishing, FrogBooks
Should be available soon across cities and stores. You can also buy it off Ebay, Amazon and a host of other sites as well.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Roald Dahl's Book Factory

I was recently gifted a wonderful set of Roald Dahl's children's books. You know- Charlie and the Chocolate factory, Matilda, Fantastic Mr. Fox and many more delights. I read these out to the brats at night, ensuring both sweet dreams and nightmares in equal measure.

I'd never thought that he was such a wonderful children's storyteller- he always was macabre in his adult version short stories. What is awesome is the immediate impact it has on kids when you read the stories out. I think kids understand that it is all bizarre but are able to suspend their judgement on reality far better than us morose adults. They know there ain't no such thing as hair toffee, or that magic fingers don't really exist, or.... but they are willing to listen and be entranced.

I find myself getting as wide eyed as them with every book in this wonderful author's book factory. A must read.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A funny kind of hero

What a nail- biter India won. And while India's fickle public will praise Lax to the skies and ask his head to be chopped off when he has an off day, all those who remember his contributions over the years, especially against Oz, will know that we are very very lucky to have him around.

He is a funny kind of hero. He isn't too much of an athlete; can't run and looks like Dev Anand when he bowls. He always looks as if someone has scolded him a lot and he's suffering from the aftermath of that shouting. He doesn't look smart at the wicket either and he looks like he is sleepwalking some of the time. No one asks him to endorse their products.

But give him his wand and watch him bat. Just watch him bat. Nothing else. He destroys you- while looking totally inept between deliveries. As the opposition, you are taken for a ride. This can't be the guy who's walloping us.

But he is, Ricky, he is.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

What's Your Sweet Spot?

I've noticed that all of us have a certain "sweet spot" - a place where you can just let all worries melt away and rejuvenate yourself. Even if you picture them in your mind's eye- you feel both- the rush and the peace. My first sweet spot: the view from my terrace. My second : Kashid beach. My third: The quarry off Vetal hill, Pune. My fourth: University Garden, Pune. So many more, but these come to mind right now. And when they do, I feel light and happy.

What's your sweet spot?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Judging my Book from the Cover

This is the almost- final cover of my new book! Some elements like the final price and ISBN number need to be ironed out, of course, but this is basically it.

They say don't judge a book by the cover- but I'd like all of my friends to see this fab cover ( super retro styling and design by Mishta Roy/Leadstart Publishing), click on the image to enlarge it and read the back copy. Tell me what you think the book will be about.

It's going to be out in stores very soon and I hope that all of you pick up a copy and spread the word as well... will keep you posted!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

It's In The Atmosphere

I've recently completed a gem of a book by Isaac Asimov (Tales of the Black Widowers). Asimov's known as a science fiction writer, but boy, does he know how to create a wonderful atmosphere for short, cerebral mysteries!

Without giving any tale away, I'd like to draw your attention to the construct of the book: A group of men meet up, once a month, away from their prying wives, and one of them invites a guest -a guest who needs a mystery to be solved by this group. They have to rely on their brains to solve it within this party's time. Of course, they have a lot of fun- they call themselves the Black Widowers- and are served some delish food and drink by an unobtrusive waiter ( a pathologically honest guy called Henry) while they try to solve this problem. Their personalities often clash during this "grilling session" ; something that adds more spice to proceedings.

The twist to each tale is that Henry, the waiter, manages to solve every mystery after this stag group has tried and failed. All the stories are nice and uniquely gripping, but the atmosphere and the construct remains the same. There's also a connect between stories, but its never burdensome. And the author notes at the end of each story are a delight.

I conclude: Sometimes, it's not the story. It's in the atmosphere. Ask Wodehouse, or Arthur Conan Doyle. Or ask my rumbling stomach yearning for a food fix when a master writer creates a mood.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Guide's Alchemy

Got a freshly minted mind courtesy the Konkan coast, where I'm back from. The rains kept away for two days; it was enough for me to try and see the Janjira fort. It looked like a battleship from afar -see the photo above- you literally see no sign of an island till you are inside the fort. From outside, it looks like the fort's walls have risen ominously from the sea to quell any misguided opportunist. You feel like an intruder yourself when you endure seedy-looking surrounds and a rocky boat ride, all the way till the hidden gate. But when you enter, it's a different world. Or is it?

I'm not going to bore you more about the architectural marvel that this fort is; nor am I going to ramble on about its Abyssinian history. I'll skip every detail about this fort so that you are as pleasantly surprised as I was. By the stories your guide shares with you.

If we hadn't hired the guide, all I would have seen was a ruined, uncared- for fort. With his alchemy, I could see the courts being called to order, a special prayer place, the queen's multi -colored bathing chambers, a secret passage that led you out of the island, and so many other magical things.

Ruins transformed into a different world by an alchemist.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Bara Gavche Paani

I didn't really know what to expect.

I could guess what my old school mate Vikram Sathaye will make me do: laugh out loud uncontrollably. I've met Sunandan Lele, the veteran journalist, before, and knew that he has a rare sense of humor- he could get me and the others in Balgandharva Rangamandir to smile at his memories as well.

But what I didn't expect was for Harsha Bhogle to speak so well, in Marathi, and with a lovely Hyderabadi lilt that made the most khadoos Punekar warm up to him. There was so much to learn from what he said. Like how Sachin Tendulkar believes that bats talk to him. Like how Geoff Boycott doesn't spare his fellow commentators. Like...

These guys have made a career out of something that requires so much of ego bashing- and have had so much fun! I'd recommend you to catch this show if they ever do this again.

Their wonderful journeys still remain with me- with pit stops at Sir Viv's house, exclusive coverage of India winning (not seen on TV) and Frank Worrell's epitaph.
And just when things got a bit mushy, Vikram's imitation of Karunanidhi ensured a stitch in the side and made the old blood pressure go down a notch.

Hope you cover more places, guys, have more fun if possible- and keep us in the loop!

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Minute before Inception

As you can guess, I'd gone to see this film on the weekend at E-square. I have mixed feelings about the film itself, but not about the minute before the film started. It was a beautiful rendition of our national anthem.

It was a film showing the Indian Army raising our flag in obviously tough conditions (blizzard- like; bleak and windy). Some people had groaned when they saw the notice "please stand up for the national anthem" but I dare say that they felt a little bad about that reaction the moment they saw the visuals.

I think doing the national anthem before a film is a good idea (although bad possibly for popcorn carriers- all that juggling- and you can't really look solemn carrying popcorn, can you) . Having a film that gives goosebumps accompanying it is one step better.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Bill Bryson's World

If you ever need to get yourself out of a rut, get hold of a Bill Bryson book. He writes about the places he visits. He covers them, warts and all, and has a delicious sense of humor to boot. He effortlessly takes you through the geography, history and charm of each eclectic place as he rips it apart. The good thing about his writing is that it is very real- he talks of the tedium of traveling as well as the joys, and I could certainly connect with that.

And your benefit is that you get that holiday, in your mind at least. And you don't get the blisters and insect bites that he does!

My favourite books are "Notes from a small island"(Great Britain) ; "A walk in the woods" (covering the Appalachian trail) ; and the last one I finished- "The lost continent" (covering small town USA)

And when he writes about having a "steamy, lavish bath" after a day out chasing some monuments, his infectiousness gets you to have one as well. No kidding.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Different Points of View

I teach every Saturday at Symbiosis, Lavale. As I drive up, I get to see some spectacular views. The first image that you see below is on the way up the ghat. The second one is a fantastic view of the valley after I get out of my car. The third photo is when I step inside the good looking institute. These beautiful images form my point of view. Scroll down and see the fourth photo as well to get a different point of view as well.

My students probably feel different. I imagine this depicts things from their perspective: Prison!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Once Upon a Time There was a Story

I'd seen my fill of disappointing films for the year. Shrek 3 and Iron Man2 disappointed. I didn't dare watch Kites or I Hate Luv stories.

Then I saw some posters I was really intrigued with, for a movie with a rather long title (Once upon a Time in Mumbaai). I tried my luck once again. Glad I did.

The film was a surprise and a delight. A very good script makes for powerful viewing. Yes, everyone's acted well, and the 70's era in Mumbai looks well shot; but the heart of the film is a wonderfully written script and dialogues(sure, some were corny, but I thought that was a nice touch within the film)

A good script prevents hamming and allows integrity to remain in a film. Watch the film and I'm sure you'll agree with me.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Worth a Thousand Words

Well, these little beauties opened up in all their glory on the terrace last night. The pictures don't do justice- but words would fail more. Brahmakamal - what a brave, mad flower!

Monday, June 28, 2010

How to be when you are old

I'd hate it if people avoid me when I'm really old and craving for company(And yeah, wise guys, I'd hate it if people avoid me now as well. And no, I'm not really that old to begin worrying about this). But now I know that in order to get this wish of mine, when I get that old, I need to be an interesting person to younger guys. But how? Now I know - got to see a couple of role models a few days back.

These role models are 75+, have questionable health, and have lived long enough to repeat stories about pre-independance times and the like. Over dinner, I saw this couple swap such stories, quibble with each other endearingly, and chill out in general.

But most impressively, they saw the present moment as much better than their past. And there in I felt was the difference. They saw hope for a future that they may never get to see; I loved that about them.

We bear old people, shut out a few things that they say, because we don't want to get into needless arguments about how things were different and better then and in how golden everything was.

We want to learn from old people. We don't want condescension. I'm hoping this lesson I learnt from them does not fade away.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Bitter Sweet Breeze

I woke up to a breeze today. It was flowing in from Sinhagad, and as I turned the old noggin to the sky, I could see an early invasion of pre-monsoon clouds advancing from the southwest.

This is such a bittersweet breeze. The promise of better weather. The agony of school starting again (I still get a weird feeling in my stomach when school starts- do ya?). The sadness of Alphonso mangoes changing their taste to "overripe". The yummy taste of Jambhul and later, cherries.

Soon, this advance guard of fluffy white clouds will be replaced by their meaner, darker brothers. The landscape will change and be touched by green magic. The Gulmohor will look forlorn, beautiful and out of place when it finally does tip.

Bring it on, I say.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

What's the big deal in this?

I met up with my neighbor for a drink at the good ol' watering hole yesterday. We had a great laugh and interesting conversation. So what's the big deal about this?

Well, I wasn't out with the guys I normally hang out with- this was someone I was catching up after quite some time. Someone who had such a remarkably different life from mine that it was utterly refreshing. The conversations were nice and offbeat and fun. I guess I was lucky as well, since my neighbor is an intelligent, self effacing person who doesn't blow his horn all the time.

But that's not really my point. I've noticed that as we grow older we tend to (unnecessarily) have less fun- we revisit the same patterns even when trying to have a good time. Meeting someone new also has its dangers- because you might end up completely hating the guy.

But how about meeting someone again, someone you've always liked, but doesn't fit into your current routine? It's no big deal, and you can have a great time instead of an ordinary one.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Castles in the Air

I wonder how many of y'all are watching "Castle". If you haven't- worth a watch: StarWorld, Mon-Thu, at 10 pm.

A TV serial of good premise- and good promise, too. A spoilt rotten author worms his way into NYPD to study his muse( a hot looking detective) and create his new bestseller. He ends up solving mysteries along the way.

I do hope it doesn't go the "Heroes" way, though- that serial had started out interesting but just got tedious. (a bit like Mandrake gesturing hypnotically and making the villain's gun a banana or something every single time- kind of loses its cool quotient after a while.)

Anyhow- back to Castle- I like the lead pair chemistry, I like the sub plots, and I like the whole muse thing because I'm an author as well, and I know how hard it is to get inspired to get over the whole "writer's block" thing at times.

You need to have a good dose of reality to build "Castles in the Air".

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Decoding Mumbo Jumbo

When I'd heard the term "Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP)", I'd instantly started yawning. It seemed to me one of those new agey- fad-like- mumbo- jumbo things that no one really understands. Although people still kept throwing it in as a buzzword in a conversation as if they knew what they were saying. It also put me off because I thought it mainly consisted of "how to brainwash and manipulate others" kinda thing.

Talk about forming an opinion before really understanding a subject! In my defence, NLP is such a poor name for something so strength-giving.

I changed my mind when I read (and subsequently re-read) a wonderful book by Sue Knight called "NLP at work". The book explains terms like hypnosis, changing your mental scripts, using NLP for work-life, coaching, mentoring and life in general.

While I don't agree with all of the concepts presented- I still think there's a lot there that can make your life better.Written in a very easy to read, non- mystical and non- arrogant way, its for anyone who wants to change their life's script for the better.

Mumbo- Jumbo decoded. Worth a read.

The Second Chance

Something really nice happened the other day. I was with my daughters, watching them converse with each other. (One's 8 and the other 6)

One of 'em was recounting some story about what happened to her to the other one. It was a "tall" story. I could see that it had some embellishments to it.

First kid: "and then I was skipped for 15 minutes straight!"

The other kid started a countdown: " 10- 9- 8-7...."

First kid: "Ok- Ok. Maybe it was only for 5 minutes....."

So the first kid had taken back her white lie when the second kid began her countdown. When I asked them about this, the explanation was that the countdown was a second chance to the white lier. Apparently,if you change your story back to the truth before the countdown was through, a wolf doesn't come and bite your bum.

What a neat way to stick as close to the truth as possible! And to think that they've come up with this themselves. A second chance.

Wonder if it will work with grown ups?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Spice Cream

A blazing hot day. On Fergusson Road, around lunchtime. I see an interesting sign: Zaika Spicecream. As an Icecream aficionado, needless to say- I'm tempted to go inside and see what it's about.

I see strange icecream flavors. Lavang. Star Anise. Spicy and strangely, Indian. I order a scoop, taste tentatively- and - love it!

Cheesy, heady, rich, cold and fun. And for a change, what I like about this whole icecream experience is that they aren't aping anything western. An Indian product, innovative and unique.

I don't think I can eat packs of the stuff, though- will be too much. But this icecream is worth trying, guys: let's encourage good taste and originality that is Indian!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April's Fool

Mother Nature has a sense of humor if today's weather is to be believed. Blue sky, bright sunshine, not too hot, and wonderful summer smells everywhere- like mogra and chapha in the terrace, if you know what I mean. Fools you into thinking everyday is gonna be like this one, but nope it ain't, be rest assured on that one. So enjoy this one while it lasts, guys!

As a FaceBook friend says (just to show you guys that I've not gone bonkers and there is atleast one more soul who agrees with me):

"Bright summer sunshine tempered by a cool breeze that gusts every now and then... Oh - to be lying on a chatai in the cool shade of a mango tree, reading Wodehouse, eating kairee slices with tikhat/meeth and washing it down with ice-cold panha! Yes, I can confirm that summer is here in all its glory! :)"

This is as good as summer gets. I couldn't have said it better. Beware though, and April Fool!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Summer Storms

It really tipped a few days back. I was immediately transported to childhood- getting wet, eating the raw mangoes that obligingly fall down, putting hailstones in your mouth, and paradoxically, eating ice-cream. (sometimes pot ice-cream- that's heaven)

Before air-conditioning became the norm, it was the night when you could sleep really well. Also, when it really becomes dark and monsoon-like, you get a glimpse of the beautiful season that awaits you after the mangoes get finally over.

Of course, these rains had to be in April or May, unlike the downpour we had yesterday. As a school going child, I would have been grumpy to miss all the fun. Which parent is going to send the kid out when - I still get a shudder- exams beckon?

The next day, you are always a bit let down- the summer sun reminds you who the boss is. But at least when you wake up, the dust has settled down a bit, and your memory has sharpened up about the really small and delicious things in life.

I'm waiting for the next summer storm.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

About Turn

I heard this little nugget from an old friend I caught up with yesterday. The story is about the Goddess of Wealth, Laxmi. It's a Marathi story, I hope the essence ain't lost with my translation. Here goes:

A devotee of Laxmi's prays long and hard for wealth, success and pots of it in front of a Laxmi statuette in his little home-temple. And lo and behold, Laxmi appears in his dream and tells him to forge ahead in whatever he's doing and she'll be behind his efforts all the way (mi tuzhya pathishi ahe!)

So the devotee wakes up, thanks her, and every single day prays even longer and harder in front of the statuette from then on. However, six months downstream, nothing much has changed in his life, and the guy gets frustrated. So he asks Laxmi again: why is she not fulfilling her promise?

He has a dream again that night, as Laxmi answers him: "I'd said that I'd be right behind you, my son. Why aren't you forging ahead, instead of facing me all the time with your prayers? See what happens when you turn your back on me- I'll follow you all the way!" (tu path tar dakhav mala; bagh ma kay hote!)

I loved the story. To make your dream real, you need to roll up your sleeves and turn your back on the Goddess of Wealth. She recommends it as well.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Virtual Chemistry

I love watching "Bones". It isn't the most intelligent police-detective serial ever (in fact, it can get quite gross at times). However, what I like viewing is the amazing chemistry between the lead pair of Brennan and Booth. You know, the man's man cop and the unemotional lady scientist are quite a packet on screen.

You never know whether there is anything more than a deep platonic friendship between them. In fact, there are times when I've found myself wishing they'd get together, and times when I'm quite happy that they aren't.

This kind of chemistry is often the thing that saves many a film, serial or book becoming very blah. It need not be the opposite sex all the time- I thought Jude Law and Robert Downey Junior's wisecracks between themselves were the high point of "Holmes". I still love the old Erle Stanley Gardner books, where Della Street and Perry Mason flirt lightly with each other without things evolving.

I guess, in real life, relationships evolve, and people behave differently with each other as life changes. That's why "virtual chemistry" works in serials like Bones. I'm not complaining at all.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Attention to Detail

Over the weekend, I was treated to a superb meal at Zafran (courtesy my brother). Highlights: New Zealand Lamb Chops, and Blueberry Cheesecake.

I've seen a lot of pricey, themed, fine dining restaurants crop up in the past few years, but this was the first time that I have been completely delighted with a place. I tried to figure out why this was the case, and I don't think I had that answer mapped out till the weekend got over. It was more a feeling, as if something wasn't quite right with all the restaurants that I'd tried out before that was so right in Zafran. Sure, the food in most places was alright, and of course the ambience and view was great- after all you are paying through your nose for that aren't you!

Then I figured that the only difference in this dining experience and the others was the loving attention to detail that was omnipresent- whether it was the chilled grape- white chocolate nibbles, or the waiter politely but firmly advising on which sauce would go with our selection. Mind you, it wasn't at all formulaic and running to process. It was more than that, and it seemed that the staff enjoyed what they were doing over there- whether they were waiting tables or making food, or anything else. I hope it doesn't change there!

The difference between a reasonable eating experience at an expensive restaurant and a fine dining one. God lies in the details, and you pay attention to them details when you enjoy what you do.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Let's make it more than 1411

Have you seen the "Save the Tiger" campaign? Like everyone who missed Sachin's innings yesterday, I was watching the highlights, when I saw a couple of ads in this campaign. The one with the cub waiting for the mother to come back home was heart rending.

In another one,MS Dhoni says he's not going to let the tiger become extinct. And if he says that, we'd better help him.

Through this blog, I'd really like to congratulate the sponsors for choosing a worthwhile cause, creating a wonderful campaign, and to choose celebs who show a bit of tiger in them. Normally, I've found advertising like this a bit too self conscious and navel gazing, but this one pulls my heartstrings.

I'd also urge everyone to read "Life of Pi" (Yann Martel) in case you haven't before. A tiger's majesty comes alive in this wonderful, quirky book.

It would be more than a small joy to see that tiger number move up from 1411, huh?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Other Bakery in Pune

German Bakery's coffee was always black and to die for. I'd loved my times there, looking at pseudo- gurus trying to con foreigners with some gyan. The place introduced you to Koregaon Park's theme, which was hang loose and mostly chill.

Now its mostly gone. German Bakery, that is. I do hope that humpty dumpty is put together again, but terrorism's curse would make one think twice before stepping in. Or maybe now that it has been bombed once, it is actually safe.

I hope no terrorists read this blogpost, because I am about to extol the virtues of the "other" bakery that I like in Pune. It is small, unpretentious, and is actually one (German Bakery was a cafe in disguise). It lies on the other side of town, in Deccan, and it's called Santosh Bakery.

Go there to see and smell bread being made, uncut bread (does anyone even remember what that looks like?). Creamrolls and chai beckons you, as does its famous Veg Pattice. You don't hang around at Santosh bakery though. You pick your goodies, and off you go to scoff them when no one is looking.

Which is just as well, given the way bakeries are being targeted.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Fringe Benefits of Failure

We all need a little boost now and then, especially when things are going rough for us. I got a boost exactly like this when a friend of mine gave me this link:

J.K. Rowling addresses the Harward university graduates a few years back in this amazing speech. Maybe you've read it before, or even heard it, but when you need to buck yourself up, facing challenges that life has thrown at you, just listen to this one.

Not only is it inspiring for writers like me, it is a must watch for all- filled with warmth, humor, self deprecation and is instantly believable. It has a lot of gems too- watch out for the one about the expiry date for blaming your parents. Or the way in which you can use imagination.

She has truly been there, done that, and has the Harry Potter T shirt to boot.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Tale of Two Campuses

Many moons ago, as a MICA student, life was in a campus outside Ahmedabad, just at the edge of the desert, or so it seemed like. You had to go through a village, which had a lake and a tree that was full of vultures. Hedgehogs and peacocks everywhere. The campus itself looked modern and surreal in the surroundings. (When I visited it later on, it had become a five star resort. Made the desert moon look even more weird)

Cut to today, and I'm visiting faculty at Symbiosis, Lavale, Pune. As I travelled out of the city,through a village, and into a sprawling, modern campus, the surreal feeling came back in spades. This institute is spectacularly placed on top of a mid-sized mountain, overlooking a forested area.

If anything, it is more spectacular than the MICA setting. ( MICANS- you'll have to see this one to believe me!). I finished my lecture, hopped on to the pick and drop facility, and as we rolled down the ghat, I half wondered whether I was a student or a teacher.

Life comes full circle in the most unexpected ways.

Friday, February 12, 2010


I'd been out travelling last week. My journey had a lot of the browning countryside that the summer brings on. I was also reading a book when I was making this journey (called Holes- Louis Sacchar- quite brilliant) The book described the same kind of landscape (although set in Texas, imagination can convert it into barren Sahyadri foothills).

It was surreal how the book added a dimension to the travel because it connected so deeply with the surroundings. The whole experience was bizarre, it was as if I was living the hero's character in the book while driving the car.

Of course, you must have had similar experiences- detective stories are better read in the rain or at night, for example, but this one (at least for me) was a first. Perhaps there might be many of us who have read a historical book about a place they are visiting while travelling and are able to "see" both the present and the past all at once.

And then there are books that provide a complete contrast to whatever you are experiencing at the moment. Ever read a book describing a very cold scene in the heat of summer? Nice. What I'd recommend as March beckons.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Uncommon Sense

I was introduced to this wonderful, different book that is unlike the usual claptrap that you encounter in management. More than ever, I now know that what I consider "my common sense" may not be common at all....

Your common sense is based upon your unique strengths, and therefore, unique to you. Strengths that you may not be fully aware of, and taking for granted at times.

By the way, this book is called "Now, discover your strengths" and is written by Marcus Buckhingham.It introduces yourself to the strongest part of you, the part which can allow your strengths to manifest through you and make your career and company more successful.

A key reason why I found it fascinating was the fact that I had independently reached similar conclusions through my second book. I have just completed writing it. It's a management story which runs around a parallel thought process to this one. Of course, I have a point of view that differs from some bits of this book, but in general, this book validates the story that I have written with a lot of research.

But enough about my book for now, let me give this one its due. What I loved is it preaches managing on strengths, not weaknesses. For people who prefer management as non-fiction (Hah. is this a paradox?) ,this is an excellent read that can change the way you work.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Blogs I like

Here are some blogs that bring a smile, a tear, or just plain confusion because I know so little of the world around me. All written by friends of mine, so here is some shameless promotion: the whimsical diary of a single mom bringing up an adorable kid. Aww factor: immense. Special bonus: good recipes shared. the anti- hero with a twist. Irreverent at most times. If people get too sick of all the sweetness on this blog of mine, head over to the dark side. I do so myself!

www. (Plain Chex): eclectic writing includes trips to the konkan, philosophical musings, and other things. Makes you think more than necessary- so very good!

www. (Rapid Uplift) : a green blog, makes me confused at times as to what the truth is. But it is out there. On the blog at least. : food, restaurants, pune.... written by a foodie and updated regularly.... what more do you want?

I'm sure I'll discover more, but when you are in a browsing sorta mood- read through them and I'm sure they won't disappoint.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

No Rain on this Parade

I don't feel very nationalistic on most days. (Unless we are playing a cricket match). But I did something that made me feel special as an Indian yesterday, courtesy the kids.

We were seeing the Parade on TV (which was nice, although I suspect Manmohan Singh was sleeping for a while and the South Korean premier was desperately trying to look interested). The kids led the whole family up to our terrace. We hoisted the flag and sang the anthem. I felt goosebumps as we did it.

I spied a couple of neighbors wondering what's going on- but if they were smirking at us, well, the joke is on them in this case. We celebrate so many meaningless days ( friendship day, rose day, etc etc) and don't connect to what can be truly a cause for joy. Isn't it?

I'm not letting anyone rain on my republic day parade.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Milton's Secret

It is very tough to write a philosophical, self help book that is an easy read. Any book of this kind has to be as easy at it can get to be really effective. I should know. When I read some parts of my first book, I wonder if I could have explained something better.

To write a philosophical book for kids is even tougher. Kids and philosophy don't mix well. Kids have too much energy, too little experience and a short attention span to boot. And mostly- they don't need any damn advice.

Which is why I thought "Milton's Secret" was a very good bedtime story book. It doesn't talk down to kids. It makes them curious about the principle that is being shared. It engages them to discover a way to be less fearful and think for themselves. It is as fun as it can be too.

If you have any kids- I would recommend this highly. You could get it at a decent bookshop. And while you read the story to your young one, perhaps, Milton's Secret could be useful to you as well.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Finding Candy

Candy is my sweet, idiotic Labrador who couldn't find her way home from this Friday when she'd stepped out. A big, six year dog, not much of a scalp for fortune hunters, we thought. Labradors- keen sense of smell, she'll come back, we thought. And when she didnt- needless to say, when a much loved pet goes missing, your life goes a little haywire. You try hunting, praying, cursing the dog and everyone else.

Finally, we found her- she had camped with the cows at Sane Dairy, Bhandarkar Road, of all asinine things. I hadn't slept much the night before- so when we finally got her back, after visits all over Deccan and the Blue Cross as well- I could rest my weary head on the pillow. As I did that, a few thoughts came to mind:

1. It is very difficult to find a dog who refuses to be found.
2. Everyone feels guilty about something or the other about the entire thing.
3. You only realize how much you loved the dog after you've lost it.
4. There is very little that logical deductive intelligence can do in a situation like this.
5. Praying is not very comforting at the time.
6. You see dogs all around, but not your dog.
7. The Blue Cross does a lot of good work and needs more support.


8. When you do find the damn dog, you start cursing it in joyful relief.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Celestial Irony

Right. So the moon obscures the sun from our vision during broad daylight- something that geography teachers and school kids will tell ya. Some won't travel, eat or even(fill in the blanks here) during this solar eclipse.

I was wondering what the big fuss was, when a friend posted something about it being a celestial spectacle on FB. That's when I lumbered from my desk to the nearest window and saw the thing. It was the sun looking like a crescent moon through some clouds (thank god for that, since I forgot about the sunglasses factor).

The sight was truly like a Zen joke. On all of us. The sun looking like the moon makes you wonder what the heck its all about. Suddenly you don't trust your senses so much- and the geography lesson about space, time and the rest of the thing comes alive in a scary but funny fashion.

You also get a philosophical lesson, as another friend put it. She said that it just makes you realize how small you really are, and how important you really are. Celestial irony: I don't need to protect my vision only when there's a solar eclipse. :)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Make Your Journey Sweet

My new year's day was especially unique. Woke up and saw a lazy beach. Went for a swim, had some breakfast by the sea. Then ditched a really bad hotel that we'd spent the night in and headed out.

Drove to some high mountains in Mahabaleswar to have some great Parsi-style lunch in venerable old Dina Hotel. Came back home in the evening to sleep in my own bed, weary but happy.That's part of the Pune charm I guess- lots of beautiful, offbeat places at a car's hurl.

And while I was nodding off,wondering about it all, I asked myself what the best part was. It was the journey, of course.If anyone has done this, you'll know. Its lush green all around when you start and you keep staring at the calm blue and palms as you whizz by. You dont even realize when the green of the palm becomes the green of the oak. The moist sea air has become cool dew. Wild.

Life can be an awful, continued, hotel experience or a wonderful, unplanned journey to make something out of nothing. Happy Makar Sankrant to all: make your journey sweet.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

It Ain't Over Till It's Over

My neighbor- friend is a guy who cares a lot about animals in general and strays in particular. He'd posted some snaps of a stray bitch who was involved in an accident and had injured her paw badly. This was a dog- mom; she was also nursing a couple of real cute looking pups at that time.

(On a side note: why do mongrel pups look fat and cute and then become all lean and mean when they grow up? Maybe the answer is evolutionary: a dumb human might take them up for pets when they look so cute. On the other hand, if there's no such luck, then its back to an aerodynamic, street smart body!)

Back to the injured dog- mom, then. My friend had gotten her operated, and was kind of nursing her back to health. The situation looked iffy at best at that time, at least to me. I didn't dare to ask him what happened anytime I bumped into him.

Today- I saw him feed the dog-mom, now on her way to recovery and playing with her pups. It was a real nice moment. It ain't over till its over, when you've got some fight in you.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Counting Murders

I've discovered a new way to fall asleep, which I must share with you. The method is to go to a bookstore and buy yourself a slim volume of short suspense stories. I think it works really well. I did so recently(Alfred Hitchcock's collection) and I'm ever so grateful. Sherlock Holmes classics work well too.

I don't know about you, but any sort of suspense writing allows me to hang my disbelief, knife my logic and slow poison any loop in the story. To generate sleep,of course, it can't be a novel. It has to be short stories, other wise it doesn't work. Suspense set in Americana, Europe, or quaint other places, where people wear "overcoats" and go to the "lavatory" perhaps and smoke bitter cigars. And then find bodies in the library.

The moment you have relaxed into the charm of the book and feel like nodding off- you can! Of course, as soon you find out who did it, which isn't too long.

The story count was two before I nodded off. Much better than millions of sheep.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Unleash Your Inner Wangdu!

A happy new year to everyone! Anyone who has seen 3 idiots will concur: Wangdu is the man to be. (For those who haven't seen it yet- start the year well, see the film and I won't spoil the surprise)

Ever since I saw the flick, I thought: all of us, potentially, have a guy like Wangdu within us: a person who strives for excellence, goes with his heart, loves what he does, and enjoys the journey as much as the outcome. He doesn't play politics, is least affected by comparisons and still very human and not holier than thou :)

Somewhere down the road, we tend to forget this person within us and become very Chatur (or so we think). But cleverness isn't always intelligence, and it definitely won't give you peaceful sleep at night.

So to all who read my blog, and especially this blog post, I wish that you unleash your inner Wangdu on the world.

This year. Now.

May this tribe increase!