Showing posts from 2012

We are not like Ants.. that’s sad

While waiting for a friend who was running late, I started doing something I haven’t done in a very long time. Not since childhood, when we all enjoy leisure & patience. Tired of waiting in the living room I decided to soak up the sun in my balcony. As I sat down on the arm chair, my feet resting by the balcony railing, I noticed a file of ants marching on the wall. They were careful enough to avoid me, though at the time my intention was just to observe. I started following the file. It originated from the area next to the kitchen sink that had recently received a pesticide treatment. This could’ve been the reason for their relocation. The file went over the washing machine, then to the window, then to the side of the railing and disappeared below the apartment wall. With nothing better to do, I decided to disturb this carefully chosen route. I blocked the washing machine route with an old newspaper. They soon corrected their course & started going over my juvenile obstructio

A Letter - A Lost Perspective

I was re-watching "Saving Private Ryan" yesterday. Abraham Lincoln's letter to Mrs. Bixby shook me a bit. Before I explain why, read it: Executive Mansion, Washington, November 21, 1864. Mrs. Bixby, Boston, Massachusetts: Dear Madam:  I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant-General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save. I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom. Yours very sincerely and respectfully, Abrah

Tortoise & Hare - A new perspective

Have fond memories of reading this at least a decade back in Times' speaking tree; back when it used to be original.  It all came back last week when i was recounting it to my nephew. Once upon a time a tortoise and a hare had an argument about who was faster. They decided to settle the argument with a race. They agreed on a route and started off the race. The hare shot ahead and ran briskly for some time. Then seeing that he was far ahead of the tortoise, he thought he’d sit under a tree for some time and relax before continuing the race. He sat under the tree and soon fell asleep. The tortoise plodding on overtook him and soon finished the race, emerging as the undisputed champ. The hare woke up and realized that he’d lost the race. The moral-  “Slow and steady wins the race ”. This is the version of the story that we’ve all grown up with.” THE STORY DOESN’T END HERE There are few more interesting things… continues as follows…… The hare was disappointed at losin

The Final Man

Vast barren peaks brought magnificence to the arid landscape. A stream still flowed somewhere close, but nature's patience had carved out a different path for it; a path no longer visible, even from this height. The Parrot flew over this landscape, assimilating its grandeur. It was spring but winter's remnants could still be seen on the peaks. The Parrot had never flown at this height, he had never seen nature stretching its arms so freely.  As the Parrot flew over the snow capped mountains he noticed a strange set of peaks; lower than the rest, not even a hint of vegetation on them. As he flew closer to the peaks he noticed a crevice. On closer inspection the crevice turned out to be an opening to a cave. The Parrot hadn't seen a cave earlier, elders told stories about them, he knew he should stay away from them. But then he hadn't flown at this height either. The wind made it tough to stay in balance, but the view from this height more than compensated for the eff


And a Man sat alone, drenched deep in sadness. And all the animals drew near to him and said, "We do not like to see you so sad. Ask us for whatever you wish and you shall have it." The Man said, "I want to have good sight." The vulture replied, "You shall have mine."  The Man said, "I want to be strong." The jaguar said, "You shall be strong like me."  Then the Man said, "I long to know the secrets of the earth." The serpent replied, "I will show them to you."  And so it went with all the animals.  And when the Man had all the gifts that they could give, he left. Then the owl said to the other animals, "Now the Man knows much, he'll be able to do many things. Suddenly I am afraid." The deer said, "The Man has all that he needs. Now his sadness will stop."  But the owl replied, "No. I saw a hole in the Man, deep like a hunger he will never fill. It is what makes him sad and what

WE the people

It was an interesting Saturday afternoon. Two of my friends joined in to shower mercy on our overheated souls. Outside, the afternoon Sun was baking everything unsheltered. I wondered - is this Bangalore? This used to be a garden city. This used to be a pub city as well - the trees are gone now and so have the dance floors, the powers to be want us to sip our drinks quietly till 11PM without shaking a leg & then rush back home to savor the night alone. Or with air conditioners. The original inhabitants of this overflowing cosmo tell me that even fans were a rarity in mid 90s & people were a lot more patient. There were afternoon picnics in parks, there were lakes as well. Now the only constant in this city is the giant traffic monster; growling, snarling & controlling all the educated, cosmopolitan , well travelled & supposedly intelligent assembly line workers - whose only challenge is to resist honking & save their new overpriced cars from getting dents. Patienc

The Last Bus

The bright orange streetlight showered on the bus stop. It was a very cold night. The last bus was at 10:30. Arjun waited at the bus stop staring at his watch, then at the halo the streetlight made, then towards the left side of the main road then to the right at the fading twinkling lights of the vehicles. Right across him was an ATM the only light on the other side of the road. Behind him was an IT park - brightly illuminated. Then he looked at the sky, the stars were dimmer than usual. He wondered why, as today was a clear night. The fog makes it difficult to see things clearly. His watch showed 10:00. Only half an hour more, Arjun thought. He was early today. Usually he just makes it in time for the last bus. He knew he worked very hard.  Last few months had been especially tiring. There was a major project delivery. You know how it is in the service industry. Arjun was at his desk at 9 AM and took only two small breaks in between. One for lunch, other for a stroll around th

Invocation of the Muse


The Anxiety Balance sheet

I wanted to post this a while back but procrastination got me. The downside is that now i don't remember the source of this insight & am too lazy to Google for an answer. The balance sheet however is lucid enough to be easily deciphered.  All of us are faced with situations that make us anxious & worried about what's coming for us. Those of us in   responsible positions face this even more than the rest. I have been searching for a practical method that can help me sail through these situations. I tried applying serenity prayer , reading Matthew , going through the recommended verses of Bhagvad Gita, but couldn't convert either of these insights into a meaningful process that can be easily emulated whenever the beast roars.  Then i came across this anxiety balance sheet. The diagram below describes the quadrant approach : The positive sign indicates things that are in my control. The process is simple: List down items under each quadrant Find peo

Turn on, Tune in

I came to know about an interesting idea. Stories, music & other works of Art exist before they are created. Elizabeth Gilbert talks about this in her Ted talk – Nurturing creativity What does this mean for the artist? An artist then, is just a radio. Receiving & transmitting the art as per their tuning. The form in which the art is transmitted is insignificant for the art itself. As it is being transmitted at all frequencies. There are bands of frequencies. There is a band for painting, one for writing, another for music. Within each of these bands there is a range of frequencies.  In the music band, there is a range for classical, one for blues, one for rock, maybe even one for hip-hop. Every artist is set to receive a specific band. It is this tuning that makes her a musician, a writer or a painter. When she digs deeper into the band & makes an effort to match the band frequencies, she is eventually tuned in. She can now receive the signals within t


Just watched Factotum - short but insightful movie Here's what i loved the most: a poem is a city  filled with streets and sewers filled with saints, heroes, beggars, madmen, filled with banality and booze, filled with rain and thunder and periods of drought, a poem is a city at war, a poem is a city asking a clock why, a poem is a city burning, a poem is a city under guns its barbershops filled with cynical drunks, a poem is a city where God rides naked through the streets like Lady Godiva, where dogs bark at night, and chase away the flag; a poem is a city of poets, most of them quite similar and envious and bitter… Read full version of " a poem is a city" by Charles Bukowski Amazing how grimly we hold on to our misery, the energy we burn fueling our anger. Amazing how one moment, we can be snarling like a beast, then a few moments later, forgetting what or why. Not hours of this, or days, or months, or years of this...but

The Best Route

I read Bird by Bird . It helps you deal with writer's block & says that you shouldn't be overwhelmed by the task at hand, rather approach it step by step. The book is a great read, but what caught my attention is an  analogy. It goes like this: Life is like driving at night. To reach your destination you dont need to see the entire road, all you need to see is what your headlight shows. Its not the complete route, but just enough to take you to your destination.  Isn't this awesome & so true? How many times have you been asked - where do you see yourself 5 years from now? what is your goal in life? I feel that its not possible to justify an answer to these questions. All we can say is, X is what i am doing currently & based on this it is likely that i will be doing X+1 in the near future. However, this doesnt mean that we should not get insured or buy a house. These decisions are based on uncertainities & necessities. It's ok to be unce

What i learnt from Delivering Happiness

Last year i read a fantastic book - Delivering happiness . It is now in my frequent read list & adorns my desk. What makes DH different from most business books is that it deglamorizes businesses & CEOs. It’s a refreshing break from  golf playing, cigar smoking, suited Jack Welch clones. Reading DH is more like reading a travel guide where the author is recounting what he learnt on the road trying to keep his head above water. Top 3 lessons:   You don’t have to be an asshole to be successful. * *  C onsistency is better than intensity. It’s ok to move slowly towards your goal. When Tony takes up running he asks marathoners their secret; they say when you start, run slowly. You should be able to breathe easily when you are running, initially your pace will be shockingly slow but over time, it will increase.   It’s easy to overlook this lesson in our fast paced lives where delay is frowned upon and there is always another mountain to conquer.  Invest in exper

Difference between Experience & Exposure

Experience is the accumulation of knowledge or skill that results from direct participation in events or activities. The key point here is direct participation. What is direct participation? I go to my desk, follow a set of instructions on my role, and repeat the same process for 10 years. Does this make me experienced by 10 years? What am i gaining experience in - blindly following a set of instructions or actually understanding where i fit in the big picture? Direct participation should be more like a discussion or a conversation. The goal of the conversation/discussion is not only to achieve the desired result within a predefined time frame but also analyzing the process so it can be done either in a lesser time or in a better way. Direct participation means that all parties have a right to voice their opinions. A common scenario in official environments is - two team members, one senior & other mid-level, arguing over an issue that can be resolved purely by data &am

Top 5 short stories

New Year bombards us with lists. Top 10 - a concept stretched to its utmost limit by Time magazine . And they are not bad at all. In fact they give us an opportunity to reflect on what mattered most. It’s always fun to create our own top 10 list featuring emotional, professional & personal highs & lows.  In my case this was a year of rapid learning. I read a lot, practiced a lot but fiction was missing from my reading list.  I started Atlas Shrugged, but got bored of its philosophy. Maybe it’s because I’ve become used to fast content. Internet gives us information at the expense of our attention. Reading a 1000 page book is so time consuming that even if the content is engaging our fickle mind tends to levitate away from it.   So this year I will reduce the list size increase the time frame to "all time" & include only one specific genre of fiction – Short stories. Here are my Top 5: 5. An occurrence at owl Creek Bridge 4.  All you zombies  &