Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Final One - 2009

I was checking up with a friend of mine as to what was up on New Year’s eve. ‘I am to myself’, replied my friend. ‘Alone? ’ was my query. The friend replied ‘not alone, but with myself.’

The friend continued ‘I will go home, watch a movie, have a good dinner, eat Baskin Robbins ice cream and go to bed. I have to report for work tomorrow and I need to start the New Year with a lot of vitality and energy.’. This was amazing and a new way of looking at things. I was generally joking saying that one had already reached the highest level in the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs - ‘Self Actualisation’ or the stage of ‘Nirvana.’

Later on, I was thinking that being with oneself and reflecting on what happened and what needs to be done was an amazing way to ring out the old and ring in the new. Being at peace with oneself and enjoying the moments alone is really powerful and invigorating. Of course, people have their own ways of calling in the new year and each to his own. Enjoyment and happiness can be got alone and need not be necessarily with someone else being present . That’s amazing and a very different perspective.

I like to sign off with TS Eliot’s quote:
‘For last year's words belong to last year's language.
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.’ Wishing all of you A Very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Festive Spirit Beckons

I have always liked the second fortnight of December. I guess it’s the festive spirit, chill in the air, and the conversations of people. Over the years, my yearning for these have only multiplied exponentially, and how I look forward to these every year.

The festive spirit, Oh gosh! gets into your bones. From candles to chocolates to plum cakes to festive cheer, Christmas is all about peace, joy, fun and celebrations. The Santa Claus, the beautifully decorated X’Mas tree, the lovely gifts, the shop discounts and not to miss the sparkling wine, say it all. The midnight mass with ladies in perfumed gowns and dresses, the men folk in their suits and the sound of children blowing horns all add to the cheer that takes Jesus Christ from Bethlehem to various parts of the world.
Its fun and I love it. Now the chill in the air. Especially for a Mumbaite who is subject to torrid humidity throughout the year. Its funny to see some folks in their best of woolens trying to ward off the Mumbai winter. Such folk will wear woolens in equator too. The nip in the air gets you and for once one feels refreshed in Mumbai. This, I guess, is the small mercy that nature offers to Mumbaites.

And finally the conversations. These centre around “How fast has this year passed? It’s already the end of the year”. “This year again, some resolutions kept, but most broken.” , “What promises one would keep in the New Year?”, and “ About Christmas and New Year eve parties.” These have never changed for several decades. Added to these, we have the fifty best ‘actors, top of charts films, songs and events - a never ending list.’ , News about actress Bipasha Basu dancing for fifteen minutes at Hotel Sahara and making(sic) a clean sum of two point four crores. That leaves me with my internal conversations that dancing is lucrative and whether I should become a professional dancer. I am woken up from my reverie when my missus tells me that there are other endowments required to make this fat sum, and my priority now should be to bend my knee.

Merry Christmas and a Prosperous 2010.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Chale Chalo

In the last few weeks I have been lucky to receive interesting gifts, some to read and some to watch. A book on ‘Mad,’ and one on ‘An Autobiography of an Yogi’, and several DVDs which are worth viewing.

One such DVD that was inspirational and made an impact was ‘Chale Chalo’ - The Lunacy of Film Making. This two hour documentary depicts the trials and tribulations the film unit drawn from the far corners of the globe went through while making of the film ‘Lagaan.’ Most of us just see the outcome and are not privy to the inputs and efforts that finally make the end product. Though it has to be seen to be believed, I am making a mention of some of the pieces that made profound impact.
The film director Ashutosh Gowariker suffers a slip disc during the making of the film in the desert of Kutch and continues to shoot the film for an entire month lying on a stretcher. He chooses not to disturb the continuity and the flow of the film, and submerges himself into the film. So much for leadership. Veteran film actor, AK Hangal suffers an acute back pain and finds it impossible to stand on his feet or even sit on his own. He refuses to budge or leave the sets even though one can hear his cries due to unbearable pain. He is brought into the sets in an ambulance and nonchalantly with a lot of grit and determination effectively delivers his monologue with the entire unit in raptures. At the end he is heard saying ‘the show must go on.’

Shooting of the cricket match shown in Lagaan required about ten thousand spectators. Believe me, ten thousand villagers were brought in two hundred trucks and assembled at the venue. Villagers when informed that they were to assemble for a shooting, had decked themselves in the best of their clothing whereas the film required them to be dressed in dhotis and turbans. It was mind boggling to see that ten thousand such dhotis and turbans were distributed to make it look a real village setting. It was interesting to see the meticulous arrangement for breakfast and food for such a crowd, and one could only exclaim ‘God is in the details.’

Finally, kudos to actor Aamir Khan, his wife Reena and the entire unit for producing the film despite several constraints like housing, the desert heat, facilities, and managing costs within budgets. One scene that vividly stands out is the conversations that Aamir has with the crowd to film the crowd of ten thousand cheering, raising their hands and come running and rejoicing at the Indian team’s victory.

What stupendous efforts and clocklike precision in making it happen. An excellent lesson in team work.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


I was planning a trip to Thailand with my family on 23rd November, 2009 and the booking for the same was done two months in advance. As providence would have it, my knee surgery was fixed on 23rd November, 2009. The trip was cancelled. Man proposes,God disposes.

I was sharing this uncanny coincidence and my experience to Ramu, a good friend of mine. He narrated a story which says it all. A king took along his able minister and the retinue for hunting. Accidentally, the king lost the phalanx of his first finger and was very unhappy. His able minister consoled the king saying that things happen for the good. The king flew into rage and sent him to jail.

Some time later, the king again ventured into the deep jungle for hunting and lost his way. He wandered alone and, as cruel fate would have it, was captured by tribals who were making preparations for human sacrifice. The tribals were happy and they decided to propiate their God by offering the body of the king as ‘human sacrifice’. The king was readied and on examination was found to have lost a part of his finger. The chieftain of the tribe was unhappy since a full and complete offering, (Poorna Ahuti) without any part of the body missing, was to be made to the Jungle God . The king was thus released and his life was saved.

On returning to his kingdom, remembering what his able minister had said, the king immediately ordered his release. The king narrated the incident to his minister and profusely thanked him for saving his life and also apologized for sending him to jail. The minister thanked the king for sending him to jail and said ‘ if your Honour had not sent me to jail, I would have accompanied your Honour to the jungle and I would have been the full and complete offering to the Jungle God’.

My life experience has always shown that things happen for a reason and always happen for the good. This may be true of the cancellation of my Thailand trip too.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

“Look to the horizon, spread your wings, and fly...”

I came across this piece and thought I should share this. The questions also reminded me of the coaching that I undertake with my coachees.

The nest of young eagles hung on every word as the Master Eagle described his exploits. This was an important day for the eaglets. They were preparing for their first solo flight from the nest. It was the confidence builder many of them needed to fulfil their destiny.

"How far can I travel?" asked one of the eaglets.
"How far can you see?" responded the Master Eagle.
"How high can I fly?" quizzed the young eaglet
"How far can you stretch your wings?" asked the old eagle.
"How long can I fly?" the eaglet persisted.
"How far is the horizon?" the mentor rebounded.
"How much should I dream?" asked the eaglet.
"How much can you dream?" smiled the older, wiser eagle.
"How much can I achieve?" the young eagle continued.
"How much can you believe?" the old eagle challenged.
Frustrated by the banter, the young eagle demanded, "Why don't you answer my questions?"
"I did." said the wise eagle
"Yes. But you answered them with questions."
"I answered them the best I could."
"But you're the Master Eagle. You're supposed to know everything. If you can't answer these questions, who can?"
"You." The old wise eagle reassured.
"Me? How?" the young eagle was confused.
"No one can tell you how high to fly or how much to dream. It's different for each eagle. Only God and you know how far you'll go. No one on this earth knows your potential or what's in your heart. You alone will answer that. The only thing that limits you is the edge of your imagination."
The young eagle puzzled by this asked, "What should I do?"
"Look to the horizon, spread your wings, and fly."

Saturday, December 5, 2009

My Aussie friend

Sitting at home and nursing my injury, my mind wandered to my school days at Don Bosco. Those beautiful days filled with nostalgia., I never ever can forget. For posterity’s sake, I decided to pen these today.

A close friend of mine Mr.V , now in Australia, was the leader of the mischief pack. The lunch boxes of a few students would be empty before lunch time and V along with a couple of close friends like me would be the beneficiaries. Their mothers made awesome food and we were very selective in choosing such lunch boxes. He was short and had the unique advantage of moving below the benches and come with these prized boxes. He never was caught in any of his mischief.

When the teacher turned to the black board, V would throw a chalk at the teacher, or suddenly make a weird noise or at least whistle. Those of the few sitting around him in class would be aroused to laughter, and would become the target of the teacher’s wrath. V, of course, always wore a cool innocent look.

In a particular lecture, he had brought with him a box full of marbles and at an appropriate moment chose to dispense with the contents of the box. The sudden jingling sound and students leaning forward to pick the marbles had the entire class in splits. The entire class had to write a particular English chapter five times by way of punishment.

V was curious by nature and always experimented with one thing or the other. There was a particular teacher who always wore a blue shirt. V sprinkled ink on his shirt just to find out whether the teacher changed his shirt or if he had several blue shirts.

V came to my house last week to invite me for a function. I heard him talking to my daughter on various career options. He told her that while making decisions in life, there would be confusion and anxiety. He beckoned her to look closely at these since the solution lay in the confusion itself.

It was in wonderment that I listened to my once upon a time mischievous V doling out perspective and wisdom to my little daughter.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Much ado about a day

I have always been amused by ‘Friendship Day, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Brother’s Day,Sister’s Day ’ and such other nicely christened days. In the eighties, we never had such days celebrated . I thought friends, father and mother were loved everyday and no nominated daywas required to bring love to memory. These, I suppose, naturally was felt then..

Some years later, we saw days celebrated with great aplomb, and cards, flowers, sweets and flowers distributed. Talk about the number of days in the year, and you have equal number of nominated days. The question that always hankers the mind is how did this all begin? The age of commercialization had arrived with a lot of publicity for celebration on these days. Is it necessary, and is this required are questions that may throw up answers depending on the genre and the context.

My grey matter tells me that there is nothing wrong as long as these convey a meaning and purpose to all of us. I would not like to be drawn into a debate on this issue and I am no one to play God. But the thing that I saw in the newspaper the other day was probably the cherry on the ice cream.

So much for commercialization sweeping the world today.