Thursday, August 31, 2017

Mindset and Preparation for 1st year MBAs - Workshop at School of Management Studies, University of Hyderabad

We did the Growth Lab in the University of Hyderabad, School of Management Studies again this year. I was associated with it from 2010 to 2014 . This year again I was fortunate to be invited to do the workshop thanks to Prof Jyothi who firmly believes in this 2 day intervention. I believe it has immense value because it is done before the students form their mindsets, form patterns and gives them enough time to use their two years on the campus well.

The workshop typically comprises of - looking at the student as a product, setting clear goals, knowing the the process of achieving goals, preparation and sustaining the effort.
The class strength was 60.
30 of the 60 - The survivors

Questionnaire - And Results 
A questionnaire was administered on Day 1 and Day 2 seeking a 1-10 rating on clarity on a) career path b) strengths c) goals d) process e) how secure one is as a person and f) how much responsibility will one take to fulfill their expectations from the course. There were 25 completed questionnaires out of the possible 60.

The analysis revealed an improvement of - Career path clarity - 39.69%, Strengths and how to use them - 26.76 %, Goal clarity 35.34%, Process to achieve goals - 38.78%, Security as a person - 39.14% and 10% increase in responsibility to achieve their expectations.

Expectations of students from the 2 year course ranged from -
To gain more knowledge to live the right way, to learn how to manage people and resources, get a government job, learn to be a better person, to learn, gain clarity on career goals, get a good placements,  open up as a person, opportunities, self confidence, mental stability for professional life, help fulfill vision and mission, to help contribute to society, develop skills, knowledge of corporate life, management skills, improve strengths and gain clarity on path ahead, gain different perspectives and friends, explore myself, develop skills, gain clarity on professional life, all fundamental and technical knowledge to excel, how to be professional, exposure to various fields and to improve inter personal skills.  

The Program August 28 - 29, 2017 
Being secure people
We started with relieving the students of the burden of 'knowing' more than they do. We agreed it was ok to not know everything and that it was ok to say 'I don't know' when we don't know. We also agreed that we feel secure when we have nothing to hide - so an attitude of saying 'I know' to what I know and 'I don't know' to what I do not know, helps to be secure as a person. Having identified what one does not know, one can make efforts to learn and fill those gaps.

The Mindset - Fixed and Learning
We discussed the highlights of the book 'The Mindset' by Dr. Carol Dweck and called two groups of three students each to represent the two mindsets - Fixed and Growth. I gave them three scenarios where both mindsets had to face tests with increasing difficulty and how each mindset reacts. With the help of the students we built some important characteristics of both mindsets. We agreed that the learning and growth mindset was a better approach to adopt. It is the one that can make the one who is last in the class beat a topper. (Reading material given)

The Student - The Product
To build a champion product one must know what its strengths are and the value it brings. The students looked at themselves as a product and tried to find answers . It's a tough one. They looked at their strengths and their unevolved strengths or areas of improvement as one aspect (They were made to call 3 people who knew them well to give them a list of 5 strengths including one call to a parent). The formula of working 80% of really strengthening their strengths and 20% on their weak areas was stressed. First get really good at your strengths and then address the other areas. (Typically we approach it the other way)

We saw the powerful TED talk by Simon Sinek 'Start with why' and his golden circle of Why, What and How and why it makes sense to start with the purpose in mind.

The students were asked to build their profile around their 'why' or their cause, purpose, their 'how' (values, beliefs, ethics, ownership) which is ways of adding value to their 'what', and then the 'what' or their features (qualifications, strengths, history, past achievements etc) The idea is that the what pertains to the features, the how is the application of the features and the why is the guiding philosophy that holds it all together and drives it.
My interpretation of the why, how and what as applicable to the student
The students were asked to refine the idea of their product and come with a 30 word statement. Some did.

The Goals - Where the product can go
The students were asked to list 50 things they want in their life - without any limitations. The goals could be short, medium and long term, material, personal, professional, spiritual. Then we applied filters - Belief, Desire, Effort, Responsibility and Time to see which goals stand the test of these filters. Then we arranged the goals into Enabling goals (the one goal that enables the others to come true) and Aligned them so they could focus on that goal and it would lead to the others and not end up in a mess. (If you want to become a millionaire and also own a Lamborghini - it seems to make sense that if you put your effort into becoming a millionaire first, you could own a Lamborghini, whereas if you put your effort into buying a Lamborghini with no money in the pocket, it might stress you out). Then we chose two goals each in short, medium and long term.

We focused on the immediate, short term goals - what to achieve in the two years at college and what kind of a job or career we are considering after that.

We applied SMART goals (reading material given) to that and tried to get as much clarity on where we should put our efforts so our shorter term goals are achieved - in line with our longer term goals. For eg. A student who wishes to do skill training in Shillong could consider joining a company employed in skill training to know the way they go about it, even get a franchise, and then starting off. No point joining a company that deals with retailing or some other unconnected product or service just because it pays more.

A Plan
We discussed the importance of detailed planning as a way to address gaps in information, as good information leads to better decisions. We picked the first goal and wrote six steps to achieve that. For example if a student looked at securing a gold medal and a job in Google by the end of the course - she would have to write down six steps towards achieving that goal. The sub goal desired to be achieved (being best in class in 1st semester to start with), number of hours to work at to be first in class, desired help required in which subjects and milestones achieved every week to see if she is on track. Similarly for the job, to research about how one gets into Google, plan to meet any employee already working in Google, developing those skill sets or attributes required on a milestone basis etc.

End of Day 1 I asked them to work at their self-image with all the information they had with them.

Day 2
The Way to Achieve Goals
Since the way we achieve goals by design is the same process, we shared our success stories. Everyone in class shared three success stories of theirs and it was wonderful to hear of their academic excellence, the way they broke through emotional barriers and achieved excellence, team achievements, prizes and accolades, baking even. Fabulous stories and I think everyone felt nice to share. It also gave the others an opportunity to know their mates. I shared my stories too and then we figured the process on how we did it. We decided the outcome, big or small, had a clear goal, planned to eliminate all all obstacles, acted on it with great care and persistence, handled difficulties even when we felt like giving up and then - we found light. After that, we picked another challenge and went after it.

The Link Between Preparation and Performance
Our performance is equal to the preparation we put in, knowingly or unknowingly. Ideally if we know the process of preparing, we can prepare well and perform well. Preparation is on three fronts - skill (must), physical (must) and mental. The mental component is about 80% of the champion mindset and involves knowing the context, knowing process and understanding beliefs.

We looked at how experts are made and discussed Anders Ericsson's 10000 hour rule and deliberate practice. Since the 10000 hour rule was for world class performers we also looked at the other end, a more viable end, where one can be competent at skills and above average, by being good in 20 hours. We saw a wonderful TED talk by Josh Kaufman on 'How to learn anything in 20 hours'.


Deconstruct the skill (cannot do it by yourself so get a good teacher), learn enough to self correct, remove barriers to practice and practice 20 hours. By putting in 20 hours of practice the students could well be more than competent in 20 skills if they chose to be.

Then we looked at their current level of preparation various skills - knowledge, inter personal, problem solving, self motivation, efficiency, detail orientation, ability to prioritise, leadership, communication, team play,  reliability, public speaking, presentation etc. They rated themselves on a scale of 10, visualised the ideal scenario and wrote down steps to get better at that skill (join class, put more effort etc).

Price, Value and Self-Worth
We looked at another P, Price. What is your price? What is the value you bring? How do you know your value? How much do you think you are worth? These were the questions that were raised. Much of it had to do with our self-esteem, self-worth so it was decided to add more value by adding skill, by bettering performances, by gaining confidence by doing things out of one's comfort zone. By pushing our limits in small ways every day, confidence and self worth increases and that will enhance value. Students were also asked to look at the Product again - their own why, what and how and fine tune aspects that will increase value. A skilled person who can tell the employer that she can bring in x value, can command that price. Also students were asked to look for their ideal placements and not merely wait for the college to place them which could be a limited range. There are bigger and better companies too. And one can choose the company and prepare accordingly since one has time and process.

Inter-personal skills
On the inter-personal skills we decided to work on the AAA model - Appreciation, Asking for help and Acknowledging. By appreciating others and the self for the good we do we shift our focus to the positive, by asking for help we make life easier for us, lower our ego and by acknowledging we see how much good we already have.

We saw the powerful talk on 'The Anatomy of Trust' by Brene Brown.

BRAVING - Boundaries, Reliability, Accountability, Vault, Integrity, Non judgmental and Generosity.

Vision and Mission
The students were asked to write a vision for their life. Out of all the possibilities that are possible for their life, the many paths that are open to them, what would they like to see it become. What would they like to see their world be like and how would they contribute to make the planet better through their work. For some reason we could not get enough vision, somehow got stuck at individual level. A Mission statement was also asked - a five year plan that was somehow in line with the vision. We did get a few pointers - a world full of peace, a world free of child beggars etc. The idea is that if there is an issue bothering us, if we have a vision of a world free of that issue, we would do something towards that whichever work we do.
Hopefully the students will refine their vision and their mission.

Feedback and Good bye
The students wrote their feedback. I asked them to come up and say a few words. Some left the class quietly at the prospect of speaking in front of their colleagues and lost a valuable chance to speak on a friendly stage and find out how to get better at it. The others, about half the class strength, spoke and gave their feedback, some good and some iffy. I collected the questionnaires and since it was raining, the students said, they would not mind watching my TEDx talk on 'Cricket, Creativity and Writing'. the essence of the talk was that 1) to create anything we need to work really hard and cover all possibilities 2) add purpose to hard work so we are working at the best possible result and 3) to learn to work with love which makes things easier. After watching Simon Sinek and Brene Brown and Josh Kaufman mine was pretty lame but for me the content reminded me and put me back on track in certain areas where I was slipping.

We took a group pic and then it was time to go.

It was physically quite taxing. But the prospect of making some impact on 60 potential leaders and managers who could become secure leaders and create a secure world was too much to let go. There was some feedback about being more activity based etc but this is not stuff that I believe can be done through fun activities. I like the hard questions - in class and at work no one is going to make work fun and interactive. That's something you must find out for yourself. But the discomfort - you need to go deeper into it and understand it to banish the discomfort. A few students braved the discomfort and sat through every single session with equal intensity and participation and that gives me a lot of hope.

As always I hope, even if it makes a difference to a few, my effort has been worth it. To some the impact may be now, to some next day, to some next month and to some years down the line. But all those who attended will certainly carry some impact of it. They would not have been there otherwise. Good luck students and thank you Prof. Jyothi for the opportunity once again to interact and share some insights with young minds.


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

This Way is Easier Dad - Deccan Herald's Review

Deccan Herald feels that the book has great potential as a Vlog! (Or more precisely that the book should have actually been written and perhaps would have worked as a vlog and saved the reviewer from reviewing it!).
http://www.deccanherald.com/content/628908/vlog-material.html

Monday, August 28, 2017

Sunday Cricket Lessons - The Kids

The young fellows landed up on Sunday. Daksh, all serious and polite as usual, Anish, intelligent and shy, Aarav full of mischief now, Hardik, serious and brave and Satwik, who looks a lot fitter and much more bolder now. Of course Aarav was missing on Saturday so I asked him where he was. 'Arre, yesterday baad (flood) came sir. My shop had water till here. Activa was in water till here...'. I calmed him down and made him take catches.
A Happy Lot - Anish, Hardik, Aarav, Daksh and Satwik
These days they are told to do drills and the able young man who comes every Saturday and Sunday in all seriousness helps me with them. They do batting drills and then do some knocking. I made them take 50 catches apiece and got them used to metric driven routines.

Aarav finishing his shot while others are in their backlift
Luckily the other boys don't come on the weekends so I allow them to play in the nets and get a feel of it. They wear their pads and gloves and helmets (most cannot wear them on their own and need help) and they struggle to walk to the wicket but they somehow manage it and enjoy their time in the nets. Anish has picked up surprisingly quickly, Daksh steady as always and pretty good as a bowler, Satwik shows great courage and is learning to concentrate, Aarav is showing a talent to hit the ball and is not scared and Hardik is developing fine too.
Aarav monkeying around while others are listening
They get hit with the cricket ball once in a while but not a squeak. I ask them if they are ok and they say - Yessir, we are fine.
All in sync - pretty good

After their time in the nets I let them play a match and they love it. The make up their own rules and have a ball playing in the nets. Last Sunday I got them to pose for a few pics. 'Why sir?' they asked. 'So I can show everyone this is a picture of the most useless cricketers I know,' I said. 'Siiir,' they said and laughed. Aarav said 'I can throw like this sir.' I told him to focus on his work and he made a face.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Vikram Vedha - Tamil Movie

This one is a lovely movie that keeps you on the edge of the seat all through. An honest police cop who prides himself of being on the right side of the law and has little regard for those on the wrong side of the law is in a situation where he s part of a squad out to eliminate a notorious gangster Vedha. The squad eliminates many gang members, including one unknown member with no record. Turns out he is the gangster's brother.

The reticent and normally difficult to trace Vedha comes to the police station and surrenders. He does not reveal anything but to Vikram, the cop, he tells a story with a riddle in the end, and then walks out with an anticipatory bail. The cat and mouse, cop and gangster game continues, and Vedha tells Vikram his life through many stories - often with a moral dilemma. The black and white world of Vikram suddenly turns on his head - his close aide is murdered, he realises he has killed an innocent man, he has been set up against Vedha and he needs to find out who set it all up. Thankfully he has the sharp mind of Vedha helping him and it all culminates into a climax we cannot imagine. Fabulous stuff. Madhavan as Vikram and Vijay Sethupathi as Vedha (Vikram and Vetal) are superb.

Apparently inspired by the Hollywood movie 'Street Kings'.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Anjali - A Bit of Love and Self-Love

Some notes, sketches and random thoughts!
Some self-love - Anjali practices that I think

That's deeply felt - it's beautifully made - I love you too!

Just like that!

Inside Out!



A Thousand Ganapathi Idols

The road outside the colony is normally used to stock and sell large Ganesha idols every Ganesh Chaturthi and the numbers are growing and growing each year. So when a couple of friends sent me pictures of one Ganesha with wishes, I sent them a thousand Ganeshas back. And to you too  - Happy Ganesh Chaturthi to you my friend!
And a thousand Ganeshas for you
Obscuring the entrance to the colony 



Flowers and other stuff

Threat of rain


Ganeshas big and small

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Anjali - The Clay Ganesha for the Colony

The road leading to our house is filled with thousands of Ganeshas - big ones - with Ganesh Chaturthi round the corner. Most are made of Plaster of Paris perhaps, some are clay. Anjali has got it firmly in her head that clay must be used for the idols for the Ganesha festival and artificial idols are not good for the environment (thanks to Daksha school). Every year they have a clay Ganesha making competition at school after which she brings her Ganesha home. For the past few years we have been praying to the clay Ganesha Anjali makes at school and everyone is fine with that. No more artificial idols at home.

But now the young lady is growing older and she realised that she is part of the colony and not just the house. And that the colony has a big Ganesha celebration with a big idol. She got a doubt.

'What Ganesha do they use at the colony celebrations?' she asked yesterday afternoon. 'Clay.'
'I don't know,' I said. 'But it will be a big one. May be an artificial one.'
'Then we must tell them to use a clay Ganesha,' she said resolutely.

I thought for a moment. It did not appear to be a pleasant task. The colony committee and I do not see eye to eye on some issues and they are stuck up on certain issues. If for some reason they are already in favour of an artificial Ganesha (which would have been approved after some committee meetings) they may not take kindly to this last-minute suggestion.

'Let's go and meet the committee President,' I said, with no conviction. 'Do you want to tell him?'
Anjali sensed that I was asking her to take the lead and explain her position to the elders. For a moment she faltered.
'Yes,' she said. 'Let us go and meet the President.'
(You could have thrown me off by naming someone important like the colony President.)

I hoped she would forget about this Ganesha business now that she was given the mantle of explaining the clay story to Mr. President. But she asked me this morning again.
'When shall we meet the President?'
''In the evening, after school?' I told her. Maybe she would forget.
She nodded.

In the evening, soon after she returned from school, she asked again.
'Nanna, shall we go to meet the President? Where does he live?'
I was on the phone when she asked. I told her we will go to the community hall and see if he was in the office. Soon after we headed there.

While walking to the community hall she looked a bit pensive.
'I am a bit scared,' she confessed. 'But it is an important thing and the right thing to do so we must go.'

Wow. I wish I had this courage and conviction in so many things I let go. I wish I had braved through my fear.
I nodded.

We walked into the community hall. The secretary was there with another official. They waved at us.
We walked over to them.
'She wants to know what Ganesha you are installing at the community hall,' I asked.
He was most kind.
'What do you want us to buy?' he asked her.
'Clay,' she said.
'That's what we bought,' he said, holding her hand. 'Come I will show you.'

Anjali's face lit up like a million bulbs. 'Clay?' she asked.
I could not help smiling at the look on her face. It was priceless. Nor could the two officials.
'Come,' he said and took us to the room where they kept the idol under wraps. It was a 4 feet high clay Ganesha idol.

'This is for you only,' he said. 'We must do what you want. Are you performing at the cultural programs?'
After a few more questions about her school etc we took leave.

I am still quite amazed at the whole process. At her idea to influence the colony she was part of. Her perseverance. Her coming with me despite being scared. Nothing to beat her joy when she knew that we were in fact praying to a clay Ganesha.

Ah, so her influence will grow, in areas she can influence, and I hope all of us do the same thing with the same conviction and courage. I love the environmental focus Daksha school gives and the moral courage they instilled in their students. Well done Anjali, for staying true to your thoughts and convictions and carrying the idea through. Certainly the secretary will speak to his other colleagues and surely they can pat themselves on doing the right thing by the kids.

Wonder what I am in for as she grows older. But certainly the right things, the important things. Must be done.

Lie Down With the Lions - Ken Follett

After the 'Eye of the Needle' I decided to race through another Follett which was a big folly. Follett takes us to Paris first where we meet an American (CIA, hero) Ellis posing as someone else and who uses a beautiful woman to get access to what he wants - a dangerous network of terrorists. It helps that she is oversexed. But he is in love with her and wants to marry her - only he has to tell her he is a spy, his name is not Ellis and he has used her. This good work is done by the French spy Jean Pierre, who is a spy for the Russians (bad guys, villain). All we need to do now is to create a triangle with Jane in the middle.

Since Ellis's cover is blown she falls in Jean's arms, marries him and has a quiet child by him. Shift to Afghanistan where the Russians are trying to gain control. Bring America in to interfere and guess who comes to the Valley of Five Lions, Ellis himself. Jane meanwhile has given birth and is constantly buttoning and unbuttoning her shirt to feed the child. She also finds out that Jean has also betrayed her - she somehow specialises in picking spies. Surprisingly she is no spy. Since Jean betrayed her, it is but natural that she sleeps with Ellis. Bring in the Afghan tribes, tough terrain, some land mines, some mullas, some bad Russians (who are very tough but who are worried about blisters) and well, all's well and that ends well. Jane kills Jean who is trying to prevent them from escaping. The child is either unconscious or dead - it only wakes up to feed through all this.

Absolutely trashy and fully written with a film in mind. Boring.

Fidaa - Movie Review

Shekhar Kammula has an unhurried way of making movies. His movies also flow gently, linearly with minimum conflict. Even in moments of conflict the characters are gentle with one another. 'Fidaa' goes the same way.

A family of three brothers of varying age groups live together in the US. One is busy working, one is studying for his medicine (Varun - hero) and one is in primary school. The parents are dead (I think) - so the older ones bring the younger one up. The time has come to marry the first fellow off so they find an ad in a matrimonial site of a girl who lives in a small town near Nizamabad. He comes, likes her, needs his young brother's approval, gets it and wants to marry her within a week. The girl has a younger sister who has a sharp tongue and a mind of her own (Sai Pallavi - heroine). The younger siblings get attracted to one another, has a couple of disagreements and in the end get together and live happily ever after. The father of the girls', who perpetually looks like he is waiting to die, survives the movie and well, except for one boy who may have felt let down, all's well and that ends well.

Not the greatest of love stories though it has its moments. If an attempt has been made to showcase Telangana culture, it succeeds partly. They talk the language, show a few customs but I did not get a feel of it beyond that. Sai Pallavi has nice energy and shines above the rest. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A Lovely "To Sir With Love" Moment

Abanti Banerji, my student from the University of Hyderabad, Dept of Dance, called me last week. 'Sir I got the Erasmus Mundus Scholarship-Choreomundus 2017,' she said. Abanti was one of the more energetic and proactive students, and I remember she had asked me to help with her SoP. I am impressed with those who ask for help which I am realising is something I do not do and which I am also finding out is a good virtue to have in your bag. And Abanti has a way of doing it very gently and politely so I had absolutely no problem spending some time on it. We did a bit of work and then the course happened and we all left. But she always took initiative, practiced what we discussed and well, seemed to be making progress.
Abanti - Some serious growth mindset here!
She called me (after 8 months since) to say she got admission into this course (an International dance diploma course that gives her exposure to four countries in a two year course) and wanted to come and thank me. She had many nice things to say and what really amazed me was how she got the full scholarship and even a hefty monthly stipend (and tickets). And she is the only Indian to get admission in the course this year. Like Shobha said to her - "obviously you are ready for it". She is leaving next week.

But to think of a visiting faculty who taught them but eight sessions perhaps, and travel across the town to meet for a short while, with a sweet packet, is stuff that some people are made of. Most would have forgotten and moved on but for someone so young to be so grateful and do it so well speaks well of her. (I don't think I would have when I was her age - or come to think of it, even now!) In fact I told her that the ability to ask for help will take her a long way. Certainly this habit of showing gratitude will help a lot too.

Good luck Abanti and I know you will do well in your chosen path. I am thrilled for you and know you will do extremely well in whatever you choose to do. And like we agreed, do keep in touch!

More about Abanti here
http://uohherald.commuoh.in/erasmus-mundus-scholarship-choreomundus-2017/

A Nice Gift - The Perfect Bookshelf

For many years I have been dreaming of this perfect book shelf that can take some of the books we are cramming all over the place. We never got down to doing it. The other day my sister Mythily (whose husband Harsha is a voracious reader and who had this fine book shelf made for his home) asked me if I wanted their huge 7 feet by 5 feet book shelf since they were moving and did not have place for it. Did I want it? Of course.

Cherished gift!
I got it home and it looks so lovely to have all the books sitting on it, regally, comfortably and not in some stuffed away corner. Now they can breathe, and I can look at them properly. Thanks Mythily and Harsha. This will be one of my most cherished gifts!

TWIED - Just So Nice to See

Parind shared this picture - his 10 year old daughter Ishwa gifted 'This Way is Easier Dad' to him. The picture says everything. Thanks Parind, thanks Ishwa. Like we are proudly saying all over town - daughters are the best. (Somehow cannot imagine a son giving a gift like this!)






Nice Link - Business books to Read!

Nice Link - Abhinav Bindra on how to win 30-40 Medals

Monday, August 21, 2017

Premam - Movie Review

Watched the highly acclaimed 'Premam' - the Malayalee movie. It takes us along the loves and travails of young George David who lives in some small town in Kerala and who is propped by his close pals Koya and Shambhu who one feels, are the chief cause for grief in his love life with their expert advise.

George's love starts in school when he loses his heart to Mary. After a lot of trouble which comes to nothing, George finds that Mary already has a boy friend named George and she in fact asks him to help her George call her from his house. George agrees though he cries out loudly like that kid in Little Manhattan does.

George becomes a young man and acquires a violent and physical edge. He is constantly suspended for bad behavior from college. One day he meets a temporary teacher at his college, Malar, and falls in love with her. Its the same thing once again. Malar seems to like him but in the end has a cousin who takes her away. Malar has an accident and loses her memory and George cannot tell anyone else that he thought she loved him. Malar marries cousin and George cries once again.

Some more years and George is a thirty year old owner of a lovely cafe. A cute girl comes and they get talking. George is once again drawn to her and falls in love and she tells him she is in love with her cousin and is scheduled to marry him. Well things change a bit this time round and it ends happily.

It's shot with a lot of love and care and one gets the feeling that the director probably is telling his own experiences. The actors did a fine job - Nivin Pauly stands out as George. But it does leave a bit of itself inside you and that is more than a movie can ask for. Enjoyed it.

Are You Experienced - William Sutcliffe

Very, very funny says The Times and they are not joking. It really is. It has been a long while since a new author has made me laugh out loud. William Sutcliffe is gifted and I enjoyed reading this book for more reasons than one. It is funny in that endearingly British way, it is about a trip to India and he writes about his escapades with such honesty and such insight into human nature that you cannot help but laugh.
Penguin, 233 p. Rs. 510
Dave is a young nineteen year old who had some time to kill before he joins University. He is from London by the way. He meets his friend who has a girl friend Liz and it turns out that the friend is going off some place in Asia on some serious travel. Liz has her eyes set on going to India for a spiritual experience. Dave, once he finds his friend gone out of sight, sets his sights on Liz who encourages him amply and they end up progressing from back rubs to making love. 'There's nothing between us,' says Liz and Dave plays along. And when Liz proposes that Dave join her on the India trip he jumps at the offer thinking that it would enhance his sexual opportunities with her.

India is a whole different ball game and Dave is frightened out of his wits. He cannot enjoy the weather, the people, the crowds, the traffic, the driving, the beggars and would rather be holed up in bed reading Wilbur Smith. They meet Jeremy who has a good idea of India, Ranj a British Indian who is out to lay as many white women as possible before his imminent engagement and then they meet Fee and Caz. By then Liz is thoroughly disgusted with Dave and his crude ways and his disinterest in anything Indian and the three girls ditch him. Dave is scared to go out and explore India alone but  he does and after a bad case of running stomach in Bangalore, finds his feet and even some love. He bumps into Caz and Fee in the end and ends up making love to one of them so its not a total loss for him. He also meets Liz in the flight back home.

It made me laugh so much many times that Sutcliffe now ranks high on my list of authors to read. The way he describes the reactions between the women and Dave is absolutely hilarious. Fabulous characters, superb situations and a lovely understanding of the main character Dave. Highly recommended for anyone who has a funny bone. Loved it. Now want to read his other books.

Sunday Cricket Lessons - Personality Development and Cricket

I coach on weekends at the ML Jaisimha Cricket Academy these days mainly as a stand in for Baig sir who is away in Canada on vacation. The regulars have stopped coming and we have the young kids who are in the age group of 8-14 who come - mostly towards 8. There are about 6-7 of them and I did not want to take this weekend activity away from them just because Baig sir was not coming, so decided to step in.

Aarav is easily the most visible. Small, withdrawn, glasses, rarely smiling, constantly having some small health issue or another - eyes watering something or the other. Satwick who is new and low on attention, Daksh who is stoic and steady and well mannered and good fun, Hardik who is brave and intelligent and kind, Anish who has little ball sense but is an eager learner and a few more like Smaran, Aarav and so on.

Since there is less crowd we try and give them some time with the cricket ball in the nets and they are thrilled. In fact in the past few weeks, I have seen Aarav fully transform into someone else. He has become mischievous, aggressive, fun, challenges others as big as Satwik and beats them. He bought himself a kit after one session in the net and now badgers me to allow him to play with his pads (he can hardly walk in them) in the nets. He shows the drills properly and also tells me that he knows more because Baig sir taught him the pull and the cut. I am amazed at his transformation. I can see Satwik not afraid to get hit by the ball and actually hitting the ball, Hardik picking up the basics really fast and so on and on.

If I ever needed proof of how much good a game can do to a person, I just have to think of these five-six boys. Or Aarav's cheeky smile these days. And in a few weeks. Wow! I am more and more inspired now to work with kids like them. Let me get a picture of the lot next week.

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Paradoxes of Life - Truth is the Best Deception

It is true - to deceive, most often all you have to do is tell the truth. People find it hard to believe the truth.

If you can tell the truth as it is - you can be a master deceiver. You will keep people guessing.

Nice Link - Lessons from the Art of War

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

About Elly - Movie Review

Watched this Irani movie and as always with Irani movies, got completely sucked into the drama of human life, of what lies beneath the seemingly tranquil surface. A small, weekend picnic involving a few young families also serves as the perfect opportunity for one of the wives to set up a meeting between a divorced man in the group and her child's school teacher. Into this seemingly innocuous setting comes a flood of drama that pushes everyone to the limit.

What if there was more to the school teacher's history than is known? What if her secret life makes it easy for the others to judge her in her absence? What if there is no way to explain her absence to her near and dear? What if the worst comes true?

The way each of the characters show their true character under stress is sown very well. Judgmental, blaming, justifying, escaping, lying and finally the group coercing one person to go with the majority and hide the one single truth that could save the absent person's honour. Some parts were stretched for dramatic effect surely and some actions did not make sense fully, but human actions rarely make sense anyway.

Disturbing. Beautiful. Directed by Asghar Farhadi. The beautiful and talented Golshifteh Farahani stars. The Iranis make movies like no other.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Anjali - I Wouldn't Do That For A Lot of Money

We were listening to a song that went like 'ding dang ding dang...' and a few other words thrown in on the radio and I made a face.

'Do they get paid to write those lyrics?' I asked.

Anjali laughed.
Yes,' she said. 'It goes "meri wali ding dang karta hai" like that for a long time."

After a moment she said.
"I would not write stuff like that if they paid me a crore of rupees.'

'Why?'
'What about my reputation?' she said. indignant 'I would not write stuff like that ever.'

Hmm. Glad.

Anatomy of Trust - Brene Brown

Fabulous stuff!
Trust is built in really small moments.
BRAVING - Her acronym for trust!
B - Boundaries - are we respecting boundaries of our own and others
R - Reliability - are we delivering what we promise repeatedly, are we doing the thing we say we are goign to do over and over again
A - Accountability - Are we being accountable, can you own a mistake you can apologise and make amends, and allow me to own my mistakes and make amends
V - Vault - are we keeping our confidences, ours and others
I - Integrity - are we
N - Non judgmental - about self and others, can we ask and give help, reciprocate, if we cannot ask we are not good enough to give
G - Generosity


And in combination with what Google's team has researched and 'found', it makes profound sense - this is what psychological safety is all about!

5 Keys to a successful Team - 200+ interviews, 250 attributes of 180 teams
Who is on the team matters less than how team members interact, structure their work and view their contributions.

Impact - team thinks that work matters and will create change
Meaning - Work is personally important to members
Structure and Clarity - Team members have clear, roles, plans and goals
Dependability - Members get things done on time and reach Google's high bar of excellence
Psychological Safety - Team members feel safe to take risks and be vulnerable in front of one another

https://rework.withgoogle.com/blog/five-keys-to-a-successful-google-team/

Monday, August 14, 2017

When Breath Becomes Air - Paul Kalanithi

Much acclaimed book written by Dr. Paul Kalanithi, a bright young doctor, a neurosurgeon by training and a writer at heart (and training), a seeker by instinct, who succumbed to stage IV lung cancer at the age of 37. He died in 2015. Paul's book gives an account of how his life was, his growing up years, his love for literature and then his love for questions that dealt with life and death, and illness and then, as he rises to take off  into a hard earned career in neurosurgery, the discovery of stage IV lung cancer and how he and his family dealt with it.
Bodley Head, 228 p, 

Paul writes about his feelings - his shift from doctor to patient (in the same hospital) and his wondering about the small things they overlook as doctors without knowing exactly how patients feel. His world comes crashing - his plans of a family with his wife Lucy now have to be hurried as he can foresee his death. They have a daughter who gives him some of his most cherished moments before his eventual death. Lucy and Paul's family stand by him throughout. Paul goes back to surgery after chemo treatment and gives up only when he feels he cannot handle it anymore.

Paul writes in a voice that says everything but yet not everything which is why Lucy's epilogue completed the book in the way it should have. The two also complement each other so well that it is perhaps fitting that Lucy provides the missing pieces, the angles, that Paul could not complete.

The book was written in the last stages - when Paul had to make up his mind between surgery and writing - chose surgery first and then wrote. He wanted to finish this book and he did (almost, from what I could make of it) and it was completed by Lucy and the editorial team at Random House. It's a moving account of a bright life who for some reason also wanted to experience the suffering and the pain of death, and who found himself facing a situation he wanted to alleviate for so many more.

The book is about death and life. How inadequate we are to deal with something as inevitable as death. Paul talks of how he felt that the cadavers were treated casually in the anatomy labs and how he understood why many people did not donate their bodies for science. Somewhere Lucy talks about why death is not celebrated still and there is mourning and sadness around it.

These are thoughts I have thought about too. That my death should cause the least trouble to those around me, to the world in general. I would be quite happy if my organs were donated to others if they were found fit, my body donated to a medical college, and the pain of the rituals which have never made sense to me anyway, be spared to those around me. What I would insist however is that my friends and family celebrate the time I spent with them, think of a few fun moments and go home after playing a few songs I enjoyed, crack a few jokes, share a few anecdotes and down a couple of drinks so they go home with a smile. Now that  is something I would insist on - a celebration of my life - and the theme would be fun, happiness, bon homie and smiles. 

The Butcher of Amritsar - Nigel Collett

Sagar bought this book with some difficulty to research the life and times of Gen Reginald Dyer aka The Butcher of Amritsar who earned great infamy by his act of firing upon an unarmed and peaceful crowd at Jallianwala Bagh on flimsy reasons and killed over 379 people (at conservative estimates - other estimates are over a 1000). The book is written with great detail and traces Dyer's family history and his childhood and sets up the grand climax in a way that we understand why he did what he did.
Rupa, 574 p, Rs. 296
Dyer's family came to India when the British Raj was finding its feet in these parts. His grandfather John Dyer was an officer with the Calcutta Residency and was involved in fighting off pirate ships. His father settled down near Simla and set up a beer manufacturing company which was successful. Reginald Dyer was born in India and spent the early years here. For some reason his father sent him and his older brother to distant Ireland, a journey they made all alone. In the strife torn Ireland where the boys were exposed to frequent violence between Protestants and Catholics, Reginald or Rex Dyer found himself being picked upon by others. He however fought back and established that he was not a person to be trifled with. Quiet, shy, reserved and rather a loner, he was also brave and a fighter, with a quick temper. After his studies he went  to military college and secured admission into the military afterwards.

Posted in India he found a girl Annie from a family which was well-to-do but which for some reason did not approve of him. In the early years he was shunted off to vague postings, training in distant colleges in Chakrata or on the western Frontier. His career slid back and he found little action or opportunity to prove his mettle. The scientifically oriented Dyer spent much time inventing a range finder for the military and improvised it many times with a fair amount of success. He missed many opportunities of growth by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. But he was hugely popular with his junior officers and the local soldiers. He could speak their languages and supported them fully. Perhaps he understood their predicament which was what he was going through.

Dyer's regiment went to Hong Kong to counter the Chinese uprising. There was little to show there except for guarding the prison inmates. Then to Persia where he makes a series of uncalled for moves which do not show him in great light. He does not reveal his true intentions and does things he is not asked to do. Dyer takes risks and is a bit of a maverick. It is clear that Dyer has his own understanding of the situation and his own solutions and once he has them, does not listen to any other opinion. The Persian campaign ends without too much glory for him. However one thing stands out - Dyer has incredible tenacity and once he sets his sight one anything, no hardship could deter him. Blessed with enormous energy he could also motivate his troops to follow him in the harshest conditions and give him all they had. He also led from the front, bravely and courageously and never took a step back. He was a strategist and enjoyed his time in action. As a leader of men, Dyer was good.

As the Commander in Charge of Jullundur Dyer was not directly involved with the riots of Amritsar that took place on April 10, 1919. The local administration did not handle the rising discontent in Amritsar well by spiriting away two leaders, Satya Pal and Kichlew, cancelling Gandhi's speech and firing upon protestors resulting in deaths. This led to a violent reaction from the crowds which resulted in burning down of three banks, several English offices and deaths of bank managers and other Englishmen. One British citizen Miss Sherwood got badly assaulted and was left to die but was rescued by locals. Fearing the uprising to become more violent the local administration called for help. No further violence is reported - though telegraph and railway lines etc were being cut. For some reason, without any direct orders, Dyer decides to come to Amritsar and take charge of the city with his regiment. He assumes complete control from the existing weak administration. Dyer comes to the city on the 11th April, one day after the violence of 10th April.

A quick tour of the city and a march. Then he makes a proclamation that no meetings are allowed and force would be used if orders were broken. The proclamations are however not done effectively enough and certainly not in areas where it should have been made. It is also the time of the Baisakhi festival where many out of towners come to Amristar for shopping or trade. At 4 pm the local meeting takes place in Jallianwala Bagh. Some 20000 people are inside the bagh they say. Dyer comes with fifty of his men and orders them to fire with no warning given to the crowd who are peacefully listening to a speaker. The soldiers fired 1650 rounds into a mass of men, women and children and were egged on by Dyer to shoot into the thickest part of the crowd many times. People died in piles of twelve high - women and children included - as they tried to escape the relentless fire, jumped into and drowned in a well that was in the bagh. Blood, flesh and bodies lay all around. The firing continued unabated for 15 minutes, stopping only to reload, and Dyer ordered them to stop only after they have almost exhausted their supply, saving just enough ammunition to cope with any resistance on the way back. No help was offered to the dying and the dead. The fact that he had also put the town under curfew from 8 in the evening made it difficult to people to rescue the wounded. People lay wounded overnight, some over two days, and died in the bagh with no help from the authorities. None made any effort to help or offer medical help. The authorities did not even bother to visit the bagh after the incident. The numbers varied between 200 and 1500 and have been agreed at about 379 by the commission. In short, the crowd, peaceful and unarmed, were fired on relentlessly and killed like animals. That this person evaded jail and lived a free life with minimum punishment and even was hailed as a hero by the British shows the injustice of it all.

Not satisfied that this was enough, Dyer also enforced a crawling order in the street where Miss Sherwood was assaulted. Anyone who had to walk on the street had to crawl the length on their bellies. which meant that those who lived in the street also could not come out for the whole week - or they had to crawl. This inhuman and degrading rule meant that the police wuld beat anyone crawling if they found any sign of the body rising above the ground. Dyer also made a rule that everyone should salaam him as his car passed them in the town and if they did not they would be summoned to the Ranbagh camp and made to learn how to salaam over the length of the day in the hot sun. Six young men were caught ad publicly flogged until they repeatedly lost their consciousness on charges of having assaulted Miss Sherwood - with no proof at all. Clearly Dyer wanted to show who was the boss. He had no regard for civilian life. The press was cut off so the otuside world did not know of the incident until much later.

After the firing incident there was no remorse nor any sign of helping the innocent locals. Dyer said that the injured could have gone and applied  for help in hospitals if they wanted - fully knowing their condition and knowing that a curfew was on. Dyer was seen as the saviour of Punjab by the British and the suppressor or a second mutiny. Terse messages giving incomplete information were sent by Dyer and the other authorities in Amritsar to their superiors. No information on why he chose to fire, what the provocation was, whether a clear proclamation was made, whether any warming was given before firing, why the firing continued for so long on an unarmed crowd, and why no relief was provided after the firing - all critical aspects. For days and months Dyer got away with the thought that he was the saviour of Punjab and many complimented him on his good work as well.

Dyer was sent to Thal In Afghanistan to rescue some posts from German interference and he did a splendid job of it in the harshest conditions - perhaps buoyed by the Amristar incident and the good words he heard about his action. After a highly successful campaign in Thal Dyer returned - a brave and courageous son of Britain. But by then details of the Jallianwala bagh story were out and questions were now being asked about why he did what he did. In an enquiry by the Hunter Commission he pretty much said that he wanted to teach a moral lesson to all those who were conspiring against the British and he felt that it was his duty to use the force he did to teach the lesson.

As the enquiry began in the right earnest and questions were asked Dyer's health started failing. The case grew bigger and bigger and claimed his career and his reputation. He lost his rank and barely made it to England, ill as he was and so was Annie. The newspaper Morning Post and several of his supporters fought tooth an nail to make him a hero and saviour with no thought about the dead or the way they have been killed. Enough that they feared a rebellion, a repeat of the 1857 mutiny, a conspiracy that was not proven and there had been riots earlier. To link it to an imagined conspiracy and to come down on a crowd that was unarmed, uninformed and peaceful, was not discussed. Dyer however got to use his rank, though he was taken off service and sent off on half pay. He slowly lost his health and died. To his death he claimed that he had done no wrong and he would have done the same thing again and again. He somehow believed he was saving the empire. However Dyer did suffer from memories of that fateful day from the day it happened until his death.

Dyer was a complex human being - almost abandoned as a child, picked upon, neglected. He was a paradox, kind and supportive of his military juniors on one side and extremely hard on the other. He was prone to take his own decisions based on his understanding of the situation and then would manipulate his way to get what he wanted. His lack of success and recognition by his superiors for much of his career might also have made him more eager to prove himself. Somewhere on the return to Jalandher from a trip to Delhi where he and his family faced some hostile crowds, he seemed to have made up his mind that a mutiny was rising. His mind to fire he said, was made up in all of three seconds. Initially he tried to cover himself up by saying that he feared that the large crowd might attack his small posse of armed soldiers, but nothing supported his immediate call to fire and to continue to fire despite no sign of any violence or aggression from the people in the bagh. The British Parliament seemed to be unanimously behind the man as the case presented by Edward Montagu against him was shredded to pieces. To the end his wife Annie fully supported him and his actions, many Britishers and women in India felt that he had saved them by his actions. A fund was raised to help him financially by the Morning Post and it collected 25000 British Pounds.

The book is exhaustively researched and quotes from letters and official correspondence many times. Nigel Collett describes each part of Dyer's life with great detail, including incidents, people and situations. The young boy catching snakes a kid, shooting a bird and hitting a monkey (which upset him so much that he stopped shooting game), the fight in the boarding school in Ireland, the harsh terrain and opposition in Afghanistan and Persia, his obsession with the range finder, make him an interesting but rather isolated character. However it does not give much perspective from the side of the victims, nor does it delve deeper into the story of Hans Raj who supposedly was a British double agent and who supposedly called for the meeting at the bagh to set it up for the firing. It does however paint Dyer's picture well.

Nice Link - Kamal Haasan's List of 70 Favorite Movies

Kamal Haasan's List. Mine is a pathetic 19.
http://www.hindustantimes.com/interactives/kamal-hassan-70-movies/

Thought for the Day - The Connection Between Being Grateful and Happiness

If we have 60000 thoughts a day, and most of them are about why we do not have something or someone, and this lack is bothering us, it clearly shows that we are pining for things that aren't there while being oblivious to what we already have. I was doing a gratitude exercise recently and in that one moment when I wrote a list of things to be grateful for, I realised how little I valued and was grateful for what I have. I realised I was so 'in the air' about life, so up in my dreams, that my feet were miles off the ground.

As I made the gratitude list I realised how many people, thoughts, services, ideas...in fact the whole universe supports the idea of me. I have this whole universe to fall back upon, to open myself to its love. To possibilities. From being the unlucky one, I started to count my luck - from the time I was born, to the parents, to the homes, my siblings, the food, the education, the teachers, the friends, the love, the games, the movies, the books, the services, the merchandise, the smiles, the hugs, the happiness, the sharing, the feeling, the gifts, the letters, the mails, the flowers, the fragrances, the jokes, the compliments, the appreciation, the air, the health....every single moment was one which was a gift deliberately placed in my path. I enjoyed it all, in all its shades and as I stand where I am today, cannot feel more than an overwhelming feeling of love, of being the lucky one, of being given the unique opportunity. Every breath seems so precious, a miracle, every smile, every laughter.

I am more aware now and am more grateful for all that is with me, all who are around me, all that I have and get. I see that this is what life has given me and this is what I need to build from, brick by brick.

My thoughts have now changed from 'why don't I have?' to 'wow, I have all this'. It's a drastic change in my attitude - from a place of lack, want and resentment and frustration to one where I am able to appreciate what I have, able to feel happier and feel a sense of contentment. The more deeper I sink into the present, into what I have, the more grateful and happier I am. For example, if money was a concern (why don't I have as much as someone else) I focussed on what I have now and how that is helping me through life comfortably. If relationships are a concern (why are they not as good as  they could be), I focussed on what there is and I felt immensely grateful for that. I realised that when we look for what we have, we seem to have a lot more than what we thought we had.

Gratitude. Appreciation. Happiness. Groundedness. Being in the present. Treating things with love. It all opens up - not just the doorway, but the approach too. I am mentally tuned in now to feel grateful to all I experience - the keyboard, the net, my computer, my hands, the blog, the mouse and all that I see around me, waiting for my command. Wow! 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Column in HANS India - Conversation Hijackers

My piece in HANS India - August 12, 2017
"Conversation Hijackers"
http://epaper.thehansindia.com/1318497/SUNDAY-HANS/SUNDAY-HANS#page/19/1

The Emoji Movie - Movie Review

Anjali wanted to see this movie and we booked tickets for her, Mansi, Pooja and yours truly. We reached the theatre slightly late thanks to a great traffic jam for no reason at all. But we caught the emoji Gene, just when he finds out he is a malfunction.

So we enter the city Textopolis which lies in the phone of a teenager Alex. Textopolis houses many apps and several emojis - some star emojis and some flops. Gene is a young emoji born to two meh emojis (apathetic and bored emojis). However Gene has no real character and  expresses many sides to himself which is considered a malfunction by the star emojis. As a malfunctioning emoji he is set upon by bots and would have been deleted had it not been for Hifive, an old out of favour emoji. They find a hacker, Jailbreak, who helps the two. Gene falls in love with Jailbreak and Gene helps Alex fall in love with Addie and all's well that ends well.

The expressions my friend, are getting a little two familiar. And the story lines. It was mildly entertaining for me. But Anjali and Mansi thoroughly enjoyed it. Not surprisingly because the only emoji I use is the smiley - all other emojis on my phone can go and take a hike.

Tickets to the movie 680 bucks, popcorn and nachos 500 bucks, parking 30 bucks. Am I inviting the tax guys home? 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Telegraph - TWIED Kolkata Launch

Telegraph - On the 'This Way Is Easier Dad' Kolkata Launch
https://www.telegraphindia.com/1170811/jsp/t2/story_166602.jsp

This Way Is Easier Dad - Pune Launch

I was heading to Pune on some personal work (Shobha's mother's 88th birthday) and I told Gouri Dange, writer and family counsellor, and a wonderful person, that I would like to meet her. I had sent a copy of 'This Way Is Easier Dad' because I thought she would be the one who would have a balanced perspective on it. I value what had to say about the book a lot. Gouri, ever-so-thoughtful, suggested that since I was in Pune we could as well do an event around the book. She suggested 'Pagdandi (which they say means a path that is created by the repeated fall of footsteps), and said it was a wonderful place with a lovely ambience. We could do an event there.
Me. Gouri and Anjali at Pagdandi
My nieces who live in Pune quickly endorsed the view. I put the idea across to Sonal, Jaico's Marketing Manager, and she was more than happy to give a go-ahead with the program. Vishal of Pagdandi was open to hosting the event. Gouri was the obvious choice for me to be in conversation with. Since we had Anjali along, we decided it would be a fun event to do. Another factor was that since a lot of relatives from Shobha's side would be in Pune for the function, they could also attend the launch event including Raja and Satish, her brothers, one from Indore and another from the USA..
A dramatic pic by Sonal - with TWIED in the foreground
Pagdandi is a lovely little books, chai cafe with books to browse through and to buy. It has a distinct character, tables and chairs outside to eat and munch and talk and a space inside that could fit 30. I was looking forward for a crowd of about 20 of which a major portion would be made up of the family. Gouri said she would bring along four people with her and we hoped Pagdandi might get a couple of their regulars interested.
Suhita, Anjali and Me
I reached the venue early with Raja and Anu. We met Meera, Vijay, Babu mama, Manik maushi walking in. Nice. Then came Shobha, Anjali, Miskil, Suhita, Gauri, Medha. Milind came with Satish, Marla, Nikhil and Aai. Gouri walked in with three of her friends and a couple of her writer friends, Swathi, who is also being published by Jaico soon.
Lovely book collection and display
Gouri's sister Mini came. Sanjay came with Neeru and a friend of theirs. Vaishali Kulkarni came from the Story Station and Neel, came from Vorbicon. Sonal came from Jaico. There were a few more who joined the event whose names I fail to recollect. After a bit of coffee (sponsored by Shobha) and a quick chat with Gouri about how we are going about the event, we were ready to get the show going.
In progress
This was as informal as it could get. Being a small place with mattresses inside, we take off our shoes before we go in. There are few chairs and we got them for the over 70s and all else sat on the floor. Gouri, Anjali and me were given chairs to sit. Sometime about 1110 am we started the program with Gouri giving a short introduction about the book and then she directly asked a question to me and Anjali - how did it start?
The audience just before the event started
Anjali remembered that a lot of this would happen in the car when I dropped her to school. I explained how it happened for me - writing a blog, looking for content for the blog, finding interesting actions and words from Anjali and then finding that the Anjali series of blogs have some followership.
Shobha, Sanjay and Sonal
This time I was in no hurry so I placed on record my thanks to all concerned - Shobha for letting it happen, the time I have, the people who helped us all through this journey - Krishna Shastri Devulapalli, Chitra Viraraghavan, Sagar Rachakonda, Chacha Surendra (whose illustrations got enormous praise from every reader), Jaico, Akash, Sandhya, Sonal and well the readers themselves. I spoke of the process, the editorial dilemmas, how I approached the format etc.
In conversation
Anjali read the first part 'I'll beat Yaswantt Someday', Gouri read the 'You're not the buying kind', I read 'Let them do their job and you do yours', then Miskil read the part about the 'Putting Smiles on Strangers content', then Marla spoke a bit about what she thought the book was.
Anjali reading a chapter
She said she felt that the book was a bit of spiritual parenting book and dwelt some about what Gouri has earlier said about the book being the action end of the book 'How to Listen so A Child Talks and How to Talk So A Child Listens'. Then she read a chapter from the book and then we asked Medha to read as well and she read very well.
An eclectic crowd - Anu, Nikhil, Manik maushi, Babu mama, Marla, Vaishali, Aai, Suhita, Milind, Vishal
After the reading there were a few questions, mostly to Anjali about how the book might have changed her. She was pretty nonchalant about it. I said I was still blogging about her and once again with no ideas of making it into a book.
Manik maushi
To whether the book had changed me I said yes, the process did change me for the better (made me more trusting and a better listener) and I figured it would show up in my writing as well. A question by Swathi about the editorial process, one by Mini about how I kept it honest.
Signing a copy for Vaishali
We hung around the place for another 45 minutes chatting. I caught up with Sonal, signed  a few copies and was pleasantly surprised to find that all 30 copies that Vishal had ordered had been sold. Wow!
Shobha's mom with Miskil
Of course it helps to have family around and everyone bought one - despite the fact that some already had a copy. Miskil picked up 5, Satish and Marla picked up five and the near and dear picked up one of two signed copies.
Signing for Medha - a talented writer, singer and a wonderful young lady
Anjali signed a couple.
Anjali signing a copy for Marla
Sanjay bought two, his friend bought one and well - 30 books sold in that little joint is a huge achievement.
Shobha, Neeru and Gauri
I teased Sonal about how they always leave me high and dry with a shortage of books on sale. I met a few new people - Vaishali, Mini,  Swathi, Neel and others.
Sonal and Me in conversation
Vishal was a great host and sought me out and offered me coffee and offered Anjali a plate of sandwiches. 'Nanna,' she came running. 'I got a plate of cheese sandwiches free with hot chocolate'.
Nikhil posing like he wants an autographed copy - just posing
A job well done and I am so glad we did the event at Pagdandi. Lovely warm vibe.
Thanks Gouri, Vishal and Sonal for making it happen.
A view of the venue - Anu, Raja, Nikhil and Marla on the left
A huge thanks to Satish for capturing the pictures on his camera and an even bigger thanks for everyone who made it. Am so glad we could do a Pune event when the family was around. Thanks all who were there in thought and spirit!