but EVEN MORE IMPORTANT to ‘put them down’

Throughout last week, I was out on vacation along with my family. What a blessing it was. I say this because it gave me an opportunity to spend time with my mother; my spiritual guide & mentor. On our way from Srinagar to Gulmarg, we were having a discussion on the quality of life that I am living. She was concerned about the amount of stress that I take on daily basis. I was giving her reasons, reasons that I know were genuine& issues that are simply non-avoidable.

She was listening with patience, nodding in agreement. Her only argument was, “Do you think we did not have these issues when we were of your age ?” and then in her own unique style she told us a story, a story about why it is important to put our day-to-day challenges down at the end of every day before going to sleep. I hereby share it with you all.

Once, a Guru began his class by holding up a glass with some water in it. He held it up for all to see and asked the students, ‘How much do you think this glass weighs?’ ‘1 liter!’ ….’2 liter!’ …..’3 liter!’ ……the students answered.

‘I really don’t know unless I weigh it,’ said the Guru, ‘but, my question is: What would happen if I held it up like this for a few minutes?’

‘Nothing’ the students said.

‘OK what would happen if I held it up like this for an hour?’ the Guru asked.

‘Your arm would begin to ache’ said one of the students.

‘You’re right, now what would happen if I held it for a day?’

‘Your arm could go numb” said the student.

‘Very good, But during all this, did the weight of the glass change?’ asked the Guru.

‘No,’ replied the students.’

‘Then what caused the arm ache; the muscle stress? Instead, what should I do?’

The students were puzzled. ‘Put the glass down’ said one of the students.

‘Exactly!’ said the Guru. ‘Life’s problems are something like this. Hold them for a few minutes in your head; they seem OK. Think of them for a long time; they begin to ache. Hold them even longer; they begin to paralyze you. You will not be able to do anything.’
It is important to think of the challenges in your life, but EVEN MORE IMPORTANT to ‘put them down’ at the end of every day before you go to sleep. That way, you are not stressed, you wake up every day fresh, strong, can handle any issue, any challenge that comes your way!

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A profound Business lesson

One of my all time favorite characters is Mullah Nasrudin. He is one character that besides being witty is the most practical; always means business, provided solutions in ever so subtle manner. This guy is definitely the best among equals in the same genre; namely Birbal, Tanali Ramam & many more.

Over the years I have learnt so much by reading Mullah’s stories. Let me share with you an interesting anecdote.

Long ago, one day Mullah Nasrudin was looking for something next to a lamp post in the street. A friend saw him and asked what he was doing. The Mullah said, “I’m looking for my key which I lost.” The friend decided to help and started searching for it under the lamp post along with Mullah.

Half an hour later the friend asked, “Are you sure you dropped your key here?”

Nasrudin replied, “Oh no! I lost it inside my house in my bedroom.”

The friend screamed, “Why in hell then, are you searching it here?”

Nasrudin smiled and said, “There’s much more light here than in my bedroom.”

Well at the surface this is just a witty story. But scratch a little & you will find a profound business lesson. ‘Lost key’ in the story is the ‘Problem statement’, ‘a business problem’. Mullah’s effort to find the lost key is nothing but a manager’s attempt to “Solve a problem statement”.

And then Mullah by searching lost key at a lamp post though he lost it in his bedroom points to umpteen failed attempts that so many managers make just because they tend to find solutions in territories which are not even remotely related to problem statement. How many times does it happen that mangers continue to work on trivial many while vital few remain hidden in zones of darkness?

And if this is not all, Nasrudin also talks about the importance of visibility which is nothing but importance of data driven decision making.

What a lesson!!!…. your thoughts pls

Importance of sharpening your Axe daily

About a fortnight back I read a blog by Chetan Khosla, (for his blog please visit http://chetankhosla.wordpress.com) which I found overwhelmingly important for young professionals. The title of the blog was “Everyday learning” (http://chetankhosla.wordpress.com/2012/05/20/everyday-learning-10/).

Chetan talked about the importance of continuous learning, if possible learning one new thing daily before one ends his/her day.

& yesterday I read a story to my daughter from her “Bedtime story book” which gave similar message in ever so subtle manner. I just can’t resist myself to share it with all of you.

The story goes like this:-

Once upon a time a very strong woodcutter asked for a job with a timber merchant, and he got it.

The salary was really good and so were the work conditions. For that reason, the woodcutter was determined to do his best. His boss gave him an axe and showed him the area where he was supposed to work. The first day, the woodcutter brought 18 trees “Congratulations,” the boss said. “Go on that way!”

Very motivated by the boss’ words, the woodcutter tried harder the next day, but could bring 15 trees only. The third day he tried even harder, but could bring 10 trees only.

Day after day he was bringing less and less trees. “I must be losing my strength”, the woodcutter thought. He went to the boss and apologized, saying that he could not understand what was going on.
“When was the last time you sharpened your axe?” the boss asked. “Sharpen? I had no time to sharpen my axe. I have been very busy trying to cut trees…”

Over the years, following our daily routine, doing more-or-less similar stuff in office, back home etc most of us usually end up in similar state. And as the woodcutter boss said, it is important to continue to sharpen your axe if one wishes to continue to “Add Value” & “Remain Useful”

Thoughts Please!!

Luck & Timing for success

ImageI am a great fan of Hindu mythology. Every now & then I either pick a book from mother’s ever so closely guarded Library, (actually a small Godrej Almirah) or my daughter’s favourite  “Amar Chitra Katha” series. Last weekend I picked a book whose opening lines were

The same Arjuna with his arrows

Failed miserably this time,

Truly, luck and timing influence

Success in ways sublime,

This is an important lesson,

To remember at all times

The narrative then traces the story back to the day when Yadav clan played a trick on three sages, who in retaliation, cursed the clan, vowing that it would one day destroy itself. As the curse took effect, the Yadavas began to kill one another. At an advanced stage of the crisis, Lord Krishna implored the artful archer Arjuna to save the Yadava women and thus the clan. Arjuna did so with acts of great valor. As he rode away victorious, the Yadava women in his chariots, bandits attacked the entourage. Again, Arjuna fought valiantly. This time, however, several women were slain. Arjuna’s arrows did not protect them.

This is where Tulsidas, the great 16th century poet wrote about luck & timing for success. And this is where I stopped. Is it really true that while in war and business experience and skills have been greatly valued, luck and timing plays an important role? And if yes what is the precise nature of this role? How important is luck vs. Skills? How important is timing vs. experience?

And as I write this, Chennai (the team that I am almost in love with) lost an IPL final which they were not looking like even playing during the league stage. If getting through for playoff was luck, losing to Kolkata was shock.

So here is the most pertinent question for all likeminded, “is it luck and timing or skills & experience in business which plays a more decisive role?”

What a lesson!!… only if i can practice it

About four months back I was in Bangalore for an important official assignment. Over the weekend, I was watching the finals of first Grand Slam event of 2012, the Australian open. What a match it was.
Definitely, greatest that I had ever watched, 7 hr marathon, longest ever grand slam final

It was not the sublime tennis, long rallies, mental toughness but the depth of the human soul, respect for a fellow champion that touched me.  

For the record, Nadal lost a classic to Djokovic, the match went the complete five set distance and will, undoubtedly, be a manual for aspiring tennis players the world over.

But that is that. While I enjoyed the marathon 7 hr epic with fortunes tilting either ways during the course, it was the behavior of the two champions at the presentation ceremony that was most defining.

As Nadal, carrying his runner up shield, tried to control his tears, the pain on the face of Djokovic was there for all to see. Djokovic while accepting the champion’s trophy said, “I am playing against one of the greatest player ever ….. I think it’s just a matter of luck in some moments…..” It seemed that he was almost apologetic on his win, was more in pain because of opponent’s loss.

That to me was the greatness of the human spirit. Mutual recognition of the effort, the hours of training that make their routine, day after day. Nadal and Djokovic are two champions who on that stage showed their essential connectedness.

Their rivalry is already being hailed as one of the greatest ever in the game, but that did not stop Nadal from weeping openly at his loss. He was not afraid to show his wound to his rival, to tell him that all his sacrifices in preparing for the tournament had come to naught. He did not keep a brave face.  And Djokovic not only saw the wound, he felt it.

A Sanskrit shloka says, “Just as the fruit laden tree bows low, so does the accomplished person in humility.” Before this, I had never heard of a champion apologizing to the defeated rival for his win. Djokvic did just that. He said sorry to Nadal at the post-match press conference and immediately after collecting the championship trophy. Nadal had done that two years back when he won against Federer.

Nadal & Djokovic both are in their mid 20’s. But they have the humility of the truly wise.

At such a tender age, how can one be so humble, so touched with other’s defeat instead of being overjoyed with his own success?  May be, and at the risk of repeating myself I say, “Just as the fruit laden tree bows low, so does the accomplished person in humility”

What a lesson!! Only if I can practice it, only if I can mould my personality basis this

The Slow & Steady

So once again, and this has happened umpteen number of time with me now, I failed to honour my own commitment. I commit and then I fail & this is now a regularity; a norm than an exception. & this is not about failing on commitments that I made to others but more so about what I promised to myself. And that’s more painful… really!

And I think it is only this reason; failure to meet my own commitments; that differentiates b/w me & the greats. If we look at the lives of saints and gurus we find one quality that was critical to their success. The quality that sets them apart was diligent commitment to their life’s goal. The secret to their success was that they stuck to their goals through rain or shine, through smooth or rough waters.

We know so many people who attained goals in the fields of sports, the sciences or the arts have accomplished wonders through their commitment. I read somewhere that Sachin Tendulkar, even today practices daily. In the same connection, allow me to narrate an anecdote from the life of Rabindranath Tagore that I read about a week back. He established Shantiniketan and would work hard there every day. Once, Mahatma Gandhi was visiting him. They both spent time together, discussing topics of interest to them both. Following lunch, Gandhi went to take rest when some of the ashram workers; actually followers of Tagore approached him.

“Can you help us Gandhiji?” they asked. “What is it?” asked the Mahatma. “We are worried about the health of Rabindranath Tagore” they explained. “He is not keeping good health. The doctors advised him to take rest, but he refuses. After lunch, he immediately goes back to work and does not take a moment’s rest. We do not want his health to fail” Gandhi asked, “Why do you want me to tell him to rest?” they replied, “we know he will not go against your advise”

After Gandhi had rested awhile, he went to Tagore’s residence and saw that he was deeply immersed in his work. When Tagore looked up and saw Gandhi standing there he asked him, “Are you not comfortable that you have come out from your rest so soon?”

Gandhi replied, “I have come to ask you to take rest after your lunch so your health does not fail. You are not keeping fit these days.”

Tagore replied, “How can I do that? I must tell you the truth so that you will understand. When I was 12 I took a vow never to rest at any time during the day for any reason. Up to now I have kept to that vow. How many more years do I have to live? Why should I break that vow now?”

Tagore’s firm determination and commitment to his promise moved Gandhi. For 67 years Tagore had never rested during the day. Gandhi was impressed by his commitment to his goal and told him: “Now I know the secret of your success!”

So the moot question is why I usually end up making, at best, half hearted attempts? & because I believe that there are many like me, I seek answers on behalf of all my friends! Oblige!!!

Sushma Swaraj & Sheila Dikshit: Ban Assembly Elections in Delhi (India) b/w September – December


“Desh mera rangrez re babu, ghaat ghaat yahan ghata jadu”, Trust you have heard this song earlier. Well! If not just click http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3fG9LH8uLkA & enjoy. Trust will help in context setting.

But the post is not about this song. Post is actually about why S Sq (That’s Shiela & Sushma) + Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, all three chief ministers of Indian States don’t want any election in  India b/w September to December. Understandable, only if one can appreciate the ordeal/trauma that all three have gone through.

& well some would say Election Commission should alter its time table, considering that there seems to be some merit in S Square’s (Shushma & Sheila) + BSS’s argument. The first “S” lost her right to chief minister’s office in 1998 owing to Onion Price rise & obviously onion price rise was a major factor in second “S’s” loss as well. BSS lost his seat in 1998 again owing to Onion price rise. Besides Onion what’s common in all three cases is that all contested their respective assembly elections b/w Sep – Dec.

Now let’s discuss the merit in the argument, “No elections b/w September to December”. For those who are not aware India happens to be the second largest producer of Onion with approx. 26% of world’s produce from Indian farmland (www. cci.gov.in). Indians need Onions as part of daily food.

Onion crop has a discrete seasonal (i.e. inter year variation) pattern which follows remarkable regularity, i.e every January, September & October produce dips to lowest & every November, March , June produce is at its highest. Another interesting point is that every fourth year produce is the lowest in a five year period. To make matter worse the lean season also happen to be coincided with start of major festivals and ceremonies like marriages, Dasera, Dipawali, Eid, Chrismas.

So here’s a quick linkage: Delhi assembly elections held around October in 1998; was the 4th year of the 5 year cycle that we talked about & to make matter worse month was October. Lowest produce month in the lowest produce year coinciding with highest consumption period primarily on account of festivities resulting in steep price rise. Late 2013 early 2014 assembly elections were no different; Same trend. Media created a “ho-hallah”, arguably that’s what they do best, and opposition used the opportunity and rest we all know.

PS: not to mention Onion robbery:  December 23 of 2010 in The Times of India, a leading Indian newspaper daily ran an article titled “The Great Indian Onion Robbery”. The starting paragraph of the article stated speculative traders are making super-profits by fixing prices in the onion trade while the government is playing around with ad hoc fixes. But that’s for some other time.

So there is merit in the argument “No elections b/w September to December” 

मेरी प्रिय कहानियाँ अमृतलाल नागर

Amritlal Nagar

जन्म : 17 अगस्त 1916, गोकुलपुरा, आगरा, उत्तर प्रदेश

भाषा : हिंदी

सीधे किताब से 

प्रायश्चित: अमृतलाल नागर जी की यह कहानी उस समय के भारतीय जनमानस के पिछड़ी सोच पर एक प्रहार करती है और आने वाले समय में युवा सोच की नयी विचारधारा को उजागर करती है। साथ ही साथ समाज में हो रहे स्त्रिओ पर हो रहे अत्याचारों पर भी प्रकाश डालने का प्रयास करती है।

शकीला की मां : केले और अमरूद के तीन-चार पेड़ों से घिरा कच्चा आँगन। नवाबी युग की याद में मर्सिया पढ़ती हुई तीन-चार कोठरियाँ। एक में जमीलन, दूसरी में जमलिया, तीसरी में शकीला, शहजादी, मुहम्मदी। वह ‘उजड़े पर वालों’ के ठहरने की सराय थी।
एक दिन जमीलन की लड़की शकीला, दो घण्टे में अपनी मौसी के यहाँ से लौट आने की बात कह, किसी के साथ कहीं चल दी। इस पर घर में चख-चख और तोबा-तोबा मचा, उसे देखने में लोगों को बड़ा मजा आया। दिन-भर बाजार के मनचले दुकानदारों की जबान पर शकीला की ही चर्चा रही और, तीसरे दिन सबेरे, आश्चर्य-सी वह लौट भी आई।

लोगों ने देखा-कानों में लाल-हरे रंग नग-जड़े सोने के झुमके, ‘धनुशबानी’ रंग की चुनरी, गोटा टंका रेशमी कुरता और लहंगा।
घर की चौखट पर पैर रखते ही पहले-पहल, मुहम्मदी ने थोड़ा मुस्कराकर, उसकी ठोड़ी को अपनी उँगलियों की चुटकी से दबाते हुए पूछा, ‘‘ओ-हो-री झंको बीबी, दो दिन कहाँ रही ?’’

शकीला केवल मुस्कराकर आगे बढ़ गई।

झब्बन मियां की दाढ़ी में कितने बाल हैं, अथवा उनकी नुमायशी तोंद का वज़न कितना है, यह तो आपको शहज़ादी ही बता सकेगी। हां, उनका सिन इस समय पचास-पचपन के करीब होगा, यह आसानी से जाना जा सकता है। एक दिन जब आप खुदा के नूर में खिजाब लगाकर शकीला से हंस-हंसकर कुछ फरमा रहे थे, तब शहज़ादी ने उनके जवान दिल पर कितनी बार थूका था, मुहम्मदी उसकी गवाह है।

फणीश्वरनाथ रेणु की श्रेष्ठ कहानियाँ

fanishwar nath

जन्म: 4 मार्च 1921, औराही हिंगना, अररिया, बिहार

सीधा किताब से ………..

पहलवान की ढोलक :

लुट्टन सिंह पहलवान !
यों तो वह कहा करता था-लुट्टन सिंह पहलवान को होल इंडिया भर के लोग जानते हैं, किंतु उसके ‘होल इंडिया’ की सीमा शायद एक जिले की सीमा के बराबर ही हो। जिले भर के लोग उसके नाम से अवश्य परिचित थे।
लुट्टन के माता-पिता उसे नौ वर्ष की उम्र में ही अनाथ बनाकर चल बसे थे। सौभाग्यवश शादी हो चुकी थी, वरना वह भी मां-बाप का अनुसरण करता। विधवा सास ने पाल पोस कर बड़ा किया। बचपन में वह गाय चराता, धारोष्ण दूधपीता और कसरत किया करता था। गांव के लोग उसकी सास को तरह-तरह की तकलीफ दिया करते थे, लुट्टन के सिर पर कसरत की धुन लोगों से बदला लेने के लिए ही सवार हुई थी। नियमित कसरत ने किशोरावस्था में ही उसके सीने और बांहों को सुडौल तथा मांसल बना दिया था। जवानी, में कदम रखते ही वह गांव में सबसे अच्छ पहलवान समझा जाने लगा। लोग उससे डरने लगे और वह दोनों हाथों को दोनों ओर 45 डिग्री की दूरी पर फैलाकर, पहलवानों की भांति चलने लगा। वह कुश्ती भी लड़ता था।

रसप्रिया :

‘रसपिरिया की बात किसने बताई तुमसे? …बोलो बेटा!’
दस-बारह साल का मोहना भी जानता है, पँचकौड़ी अधपगला है। …कौन इससे पार पाए! उसने दूर मैदान में चरते हुए अपने बैलों की ओर देखा।

मिरदंगिया कमलपुर के बाबू लोगों के यहाँ जा रहा था। कमलपुर के नंदूबाबू के घराने में भी मिरदंगिया को चार मीठी बातें सुनने को मिल जाती हैं। एक-दो जून भोजन तो बँधा हुआ ही है, कभी-कभी रसचरचा भी यहीं आ कर सुनता है वह। दो साल के बाद वह इस इलाके में आया है। दुनिया बहुत जल्दी-जल्दी बदल रही है। …आज सुबह शोभा मिसर के छोटे लड़के ने तो साफ-साफ कह दिया – ‘तुम जी रहे हो या थेथरई कर रहे हो मिरदंगिया?

Everybody Loves a Good Drought


“Palagummi Sainath is a bitter man.” & “Palagummi Sainath has reasons to be bitter”.

When you read these short accounts (mostly newspaper reports) of some of the poorest people of India, about their lives and livelihood, about their gullibility and superstitions, about their victimization by the corrupt and mindless policy-makers, about their misery and public apathy towards their sufferings, you will go through a series of emotions – starting from a mix of anger, amusement and pity , slowly moving to frustration and sympathy and finally succumbing to hopeless depression.

Anton Chekhov – “If you are afraid of loneliness, don’t marry”

Anton chekhov

This volume contains English translations of: Ivanov, The Seagull, Uncle Vanya, Three Sisters, and The Cherry Orchard, with a new Introduction by Ronald Hingley.

I am not a Chekhov fan because I am of the opinion that it always feels like nothing is happening and that as a reader it is very boring. और यह भी सच है की न तो मुझे अंग्रेजी आती है न ही कभी इंडिया से बहार गया हूँ… शायद इसलिए भी कम समझ आती है


सच्चिदानंद हीरानंद वात्स्यायन ‘अज्ञेय’


जन्म : ७ मार्च १९११ को उत्तर प्रदेश के देवरिया जिले के कुशीनगर नामक ऐतिहासिक स्थान में।

कहानियां बहुत कम लिखी हैं साहब ने, एक समय के बाद तो कहानियां लिखना ही बंद कर दिया… लेकिन अज्ञय सबसे मुश्किल लेखक जान पड़ते हैं मुझको

रमन्ते तत्र देवता और स्मिरिति के गलियारो से मेरी सबसे पसंदीदा कहानियां