Sunday, June 07, 2020


In our daily life, we find volunteers everywhere. Perhaps we would have missed identifying or just observing them. To recollect some real-life examples: the youngster who helps to carry the grocery bags or the one who assists to climb the stairs. The one who got out the vehicle to untangle traffic or stops behind the car to provide road-side assistance, in banks helping to fill out a form or just simply lending a pen at the post-office? These are moments wherein individuals momentarily rise to occasions, just to help. On the other hand, we also find volunteers who regularly put in their time and effort towards causes they support, ones that are close to their hearts, their beliefs. Tree plantation drives, public places cleaning, directing the queues in places of worship, the folks who cook or serve in old-age homes…..and there are many more such examples.

So, what is the idea behind volunteering? Why should one do it? And what are the qualities one ought to possess to volunteer? Here are some thoughts centred around it. 

Generally accepted and a simple definition of volunteerism is the practice of working for a social cause without having any monetary expectations whatsoever. But for many of those who volunteer regularly, it is also about the cause. More often, a volunteer’s journey begins with a cause for which one is truly committed. It’s a deep-seated conviction, strung from the heart. It is also a view that occasionally an inner urge to transform initiates the idea to volunteer. Mahatma Gandhi had put it beautifully. He said, ‘The best way to find yourself is to loose yourself in the service of others’. Isn’t it the case that something which is self-initiated and self-propelled is bound to last beyond the lure of immediate incentives and the novelty of doing something new? Shri Aurobindo has said ‘The joy of service and the joy of inner growth through work is the sufficient recompense of the selfless worker’. It is important here to underline the idea of selflessness. In his writings on the Bagavad Gita (The Song of the Lord), Shri Vinobha Bhave provides us with the idea of feelings in the heart behind every action stating that otherwise even nursing the sick can be a dreary affair. 

As a part-time volunteer myself, some of the learnings and thoughts for my fellow partners. The list below isn’t comprehensive, neither does it carry any chronological significance. 
  • A volunteer commits to work with an intent to learn and transform oneself. Attitudes, prejudices could be overcome during the process of volunteering.
  • Volunteers would get tested under different circumstances. In all cases, service should always get precedence, so much so that one would be expected to rise above their personal inconveniences.
  • Serving all with love, favoring none, confront none and acceptance of deficiencies is a part of the learning process of a volunteer.
  • Volunteers would go the extra mile when in service. Empathy and respect for others are ideals cherished by a volunteer.
  • ‘Anonymity in service’ an idea provided by *Daaji is the foundation of a volunteer’s character. No medals, no recognition – just the intent to serve ad serve heartily.

Would it be much in asking?

We often hear, there is joy in giving. I can tell you, there exists a possibility to bring about inner-change through volunteering. And what would the change be? Evenness in temperament, being calm & composed in adverse circumstances and development of large-heartedness are some of the changes one can experience in a short span of time. In the Bagavad Gita (The Song of the Lord), Lord Krishna says; ‘Work is the means for purification of the mind’. And service rendered in devotion and without expectations has the ability to soar the spirits. To all our fellow volunteers, may we work harder and work heartfully. And to all who are considering to volunteer, well, it is always good to start. It is worth a try.

* Teacher of meditation, Shri Kamlesh D. Patel, affectionately known as Daaji, is the Global guide of the Heartfulness Institute. Heartfulness is a simple practice of meditation that connects each of us with the light and love in our hearts. To know more visit or

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Master Shifu's Inner Peace

For those of us who watched and perhaps loved the movie Kung Fu Panda* Master Shifus character represents the quintessential seriously skilled teacher. His portrayal is akin to that of a middle-aged, skilled and yet perhaps a brooding set of managers, coaches, experts and heads who are trying in their own way means to find perfection, weathering upheavals and storms along the way. For Master Shifu achieving perfection is to find that elusive thing called inner peace and subsequently immerse oneself into it. 

But today; does this idea of peace seem utopian? In a world fraught with conflicts, acrimonies, bitterness and top it with our own ideas of rights and wrongs, prejudices….the set of merry go round thoughts…all in the head! Shutting eyes tightly does not seem to find peace. Repeated attempts may yet not yield.  

Nevertheless, it is also true that there is an innate, a latent idea which exists in all of us, an idea around perfection. And we the humankind get these bouts of inner calling….those tidings, ruminations of an idle mind….as one might put. These tidings exist, almost in every individual.

What can we do about it?

Closing eyes is like opening a can of thoughts in my head! The mind is the thought maker. And goes about his duty of generating thoughts! So does peace mean thoughtlessness?

For thought activity to rest what one can do well is to let the mind to relax. Relaxing eases the nerves, calms down the agitated molecules and provides the ‘clarity’ in an otherwise disturbed pond of water. Still water in the pond aka the mind is a gift for seekers.  It provides an opportunity to go deeper.

There are simple and effective relaxation techniques today made available, wherein much of the process is executed by the practitioner, using self-suggestions. Periodic practice assists in relaxing better. One offered by the Heartfulness Institute offers a refreshing perspective on relaxation and meditation. For more details refer to

A relaxed mind is the initiatory step towards inner wellness and wellbeing.

*‘Kung Fu Panda’ the movie is produced by the company Dreamworks Animation.
** is the initiative of Sahaj Marg Spirituality Foundation. 

Monday, August 04, 2014

Support Whom - Mr. Tebbit?

The Tebbit test, was a controversial phrase conceived by the British conservative politician Norman Tebbit in reference to the seemingly lack of loyalty of immigrants to the England cricket team. Mr. Tebbit suggested that those immigrants who support their native countries rather than England at cricket are not significantly conformed to the United Kingdom. Caribbean and Asian origin folks living in Britain supporting their respective native country teams is a known fact. Yet a question remains with regards to the relevance of Mr. Tebbit’s hypothesis in today’s world.

Is the country of birth or the country of work (simply put) deterministic of one’s allegiance to a country?

In response, let us look at a different perspective. Some of India’s young futbol friends were deep in mourning with Brazil’s defeat to Germany in the world cup, perhaps as intense as what most Brazilians experienced in their home country. So here’s a corollary to Mr. Tebbit’s hypothesis: people across the world are significantly integrated despite their nationalities when supporting their favorite teams – no matter which country their favorite team belongs to. My young friend in Mumbai, India is a Manchester United fan and I am certain that he has a split verdict as to who is to lead the team; Rooney – the Brit or Van Persie – the Dutch. He perhaps knows ManU’s schedule better than his school timetables! And there is no dearth of more examples supporting this corollary from the world of sports.

The world we know today with much trade and exchange; migration of people and professionals seeking opportunities has ensured buildup of new groups and cultures in countries, not seen, perhaps, a couple of decades back. But as much as there is convergence of distinct cultures, countries too strengthened distinct micro-cosmic identities with the intent to preserve perhaps what’s ancient or historic past. Some microcosmic cultures transcended Mr. Tebbit’s test centered on nationalism. And then you have large cities in all continents which serve as a potpourri, some mash-up collection of distinct cultures, giving rise to a new sub-culture altogether.  

In conclusion, if we the human race, are indeed a progressive group as some of the anthropologists would argue; the idea of sharing and learning could perhaps see a greater acceptance of the smaller group in face of a larger culture. Sadly contemporary history says otherwise. The Tebbit test was proposed in April 1990. It still makes news. To end my monologue, I quote a few lines from an article published in the New York Times on July 24th this year, 'On Britishness and Belonging', by Kenan Malik.

Unthinking, irrational support for one team over another is an essential part of the experience of sports. Patriots wish us to be equally unthinking in our attachment to the nation in every arena, from culture to war. The myth of nationalism is comes as a single package. But identity does not work like that.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Cuckoo’s Song by Bharati

This poignant piece appeared in the Hindus’ Sunday newsletter on 8th September 2013. Thanking Indira Parthasarathy for bringing it to the masses. Cuckoo’s Song is the translation of Bharati’s Kuyil Pattu. It is an intriguing piece of story within a story and in a way shows us the ‘personal’ Bharati not known through our text books and as commonly taught in classrooms. These lines as provided in the article.
The cuckoo sings its love for the monkey
Oh! My divine Monkey-Lover!
Can any woman resist your love?
Man thinks he is the Lord Of the Earth!
Maybe he is for such mundane matters
As institutionalizing things!
But look! Your incomparable hairy chest
And gentle speech 
And your bewitching hunch
That adds a gait to your walk and stature
Of no less charm
Can man be equal to you?
True, he competes with you
Covers his body with umpteen clothes
To match your silken charm from head to foot
Apes his face and chin with hairy growth
In poor imitation calling it beard and moustache!
Leaps and jumps as you do
But he does in a drunken state,
But, yet, tell me
Where will he go for a God-given tail?

If the learned scholars are able to find a philosophical meaning for this poem let them tell me – So said Bharati. Thanking Indira Parthasarathy and The Hindu Sunday Magazine edition.   

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Seamus Heaney's Pen

Found these lines by Seamus Heaney - a literary figure and poet in his obituary in TIME, September 16th 2013 edition

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests
Snug as a gun

Friday, June 21, 2013

Love story

Came across these words from Mark Kurlansky's book titled 'Salt: A world history'. Profound and hence wanted to share.

.....But while a love story is timeless, the story for a quest for wealth, given enough time, will always seem like a vain pursuit of a mirage.....

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Content or Package

It would be a case for arguments and debates. And in case of trials wherein the goal or destination is the same, often debates arise due to which is important - Is it the Packaging or is it the Content? Safe to say it's both. But I may like to ask, why so?

Content perhaps is the 'Raison d'etre' of our existence. It defines who we are and in a way defines our thinking. And Package perhaps is equatable to the icing on the cake or the welcome mat at our doorstep or if I may extrapolate this to a lighthouse amidst high seas.

We have beneath the deepest mines or dirty waters of forgotten coasts the rarest of the rare diamonds. We can extend this analogy to the ocean pearls. All hidden from the view. The diggers and the divers continue to look beneath with a hope of getting that which is the Content. But then the question arises, are these examples of poor packaging? Can we state that the packaging in this analogy is useless? Park the thoughts now for a moment....

In my wanting to argue on behalf of Packaging, let us take another analogy of using the same examples as above. A raw, diamond, uncut and unpolished wouldn't have attracted our attention. The throngs who flock the stores. The lighthouse of the harbor with years of ocean salt fogs the light, eventually fails to serve the purpose. Wish it is cleaned. Cleanliness herein is Packaging. The diamond shop well lit with equally attractive sales personnel are inviting. My friends in Sales say shoes must shine. They say an unkempt shoe reflects unkempt merchandise. Attraction is Packaging.

On attending a conference on a technical subject, I was rather disappointed with the session. Because the speaker did not reflect the knowledge which the Content demanded. And then topics did not cover the subjects to provide due respect to the vastness of the content. So in a way depth of knowledge is Content. The vast library of references is Content. And true Content adapts. It inspires the listener. It anticipates the doubts, the stumbling blocks and in a way lets us overcome limitations.

In conclusion, the heart resides within the skeletal bones. Material appearance attracts us to the spirit confined within. Yet no amount of vanity can attract the bees if there is nothing in the flowers to give. The wandering pilgrims did not stop at the monastery for long. It could not quench their thirst within. Package and Content are inseparable in this space and time.  

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Pico Iyer's comment on Travels 

''Travel is like love, mostly because it's heightened state of awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed. 

That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end.''

Friday, January 20, 2012

'Tehzeeb': Where art thou?

Tehzeeb, literal Urdu translation refers to culture. I felt the word meant deeper though typically some words get confined within the sphere of textbook definitions.

And after some years away from my home country India, it occurred to me that we as Indians in India, seem to have lost our civic sense associated culture somewhere. We all want to be the first to cross a rather tough traffic situation, unmindful of the fact that there were other cars before us. At airports, malls we all find the rush towards entries and exits, perhaps never stopped to let in or pass the odd old couple or a family with kids? Do we realize the indiscipline in airport security lines. Or have we offered our bus seat to someone in need? Think about it. Parents today goad their kids to hold on to their seats.

I stopped by on a long drive at a fast food restaurant and for the line formed for ordering - I hardly found anyone waiting for the person ahead to finish. There was an acute sense of urgency, bordering towards desperation amongst the families to pay and pack off.

It brings me back to the topic of Tehzeeb. It is not discipline. It is not the fear of law. It refers to culture. Old and Ancient. And perhaps also means 'refined'. It is time to rekindle this spirit especially in public places. Our country had internalized this spirit. We did not need external enforcement. We did not need sign-boards or auto-voices. Check with the generation before, perhaps our grand-parents. Let's get 'Tehzeeb' back in our lives. And lets make our environment, our surrounding a better place.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thats the way it goes

I happened to be digging thro' my CDs and chanced upon an album 'A tribute to George Harrison' and lyrics of this one particular song 'Thats the way it goes' seemed so relevant today.

There's a man talking on the radio
What he's saying, I dont really know
Seems he's lost some stocks and shares
Stops and stares, he's afraid I know
Thats the way it goes......

These lyrics perhaps written decades ago, nevertheless seems to somehow reflect the fear perceived in the current economy.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Change and Belongingness

For professionals serving industries in distinct capacities, this year could be, considering the previous ones - amongst the most turbulent. We have seen demise of some of the best known across industries. Banking, allied services, Manufacturing, Retail no one sector spared. In turn this affects the service providers. Such are the time that for folks with better liquidity positions, buying companies is coming rather cheap. Distress sale, 'arranged' sale is happening more rapidly. Also significant changes are happening on company operations. The pace of change is being pushed harder. There is no time to settle down, or for that matter allow folks to 'ruminate' on the past.

My thoughts are centered on an area where the 'acquirer' could do better in terms of bringing a sense of belongingness in the new structure? This is a soft aspect, I wouldn’t want to call it neglected but more often considered to be of lesser priority. You see, when an acquisition happens, presuming that business case has made its sense; acquirer obviously likes to control functions/ processes in some capacity. There is business continuity and growth at stake, synergies to be exploited and costs to be controlled. With all decisions driven with agility; here are a couple of suggestions for instilling belongingness amongst the acquired employees.

- Before embarking upon structural changes, respect the existing leadership. Invite, connect, and seek thoughts. After all no one knows the culture, nuances and dynamics of existing organization better.

- Invite and get the Tier 2 leaders too with respect to the above thoughts. Keep the sessions brief. It is not for the acquirer to opine in such sessions but to listen. Allow to mingle, but in order to jingle, structure such ‘meeting’ sessions well.

- Encourage existing employees to be in touch with their existing leadership. Interactions with the new is fine, don’t allow it to get exploited.

- Leadership changes at just the top may not necessarily help in bringing about change. Organizations are increasingly more ‘matrix’ than ‘hierarchical’.

- Communicate the values, principles of business to all.

- If structural changes call for lay-offs - create a communication plan accordingly. In the same light, it is important to communicate the ‘reasons’ clearly. If a plan is being worked out, it good not await the finer details of the plan to get ironed out. Rather, let a communication from Leadership can happen to the extent that – layoffs are coming.

- Belongingness is not a one stop get-together, series of meetings etc. It reflects through continuity of the past. Herein is the dilemma, i.e. how much of the past? Past has many aspects to it, and could include mundane trivia like keeping a coffee vending machine on or saving on mobile device bills etc.! Be sure where to go to for the savings, remembering the old adage; ‘penny wise, pound foolish’!

Finally have fact sheets and talking points awareness amongst leadership with respect to handling difficult employee situations. It is almost impossible to drive commonality in all forms of communication. But when we can agree to disagree, but why not arrive at that, what we can agree?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Rehman, Penelope and Kabir...speak

When accepting the Oscar award, for his music in the movie 'Slumdog Millionaire'A.R. Rehman said (and so well said) - ''When I was young...I had to choose between hate and love...And I chose love...And I am here...''

Profound thought. Expressed with simplicity. I couldn't help but recollect this doha, (brief couplets) from Kabir. Translated from Hindi, it says:

..Such is the story of Love, that it cannot be expressed in words.
Like the dumb eating sweets can only smile, he cannot express that..

Art is an expression of love. And isn't this a great unifier, so said Penelope in her acceptance speech. Spanish actor, Indian musician, British director, American actor all got an Oscar, watched my millions around the world. Cheers...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Turgenev's Poem: The Threshold

I was reading an Obituary for a young journalist in the Economist. The author ends his note with this Turgenev's poem. With a simple yet powerful contrast - these few lines immediately sets one thinking.

A young women stands behind a door

A voice asks whether she is prepared to endure
Cold, hunger, mockery, prison and death
All of which await her on the other side

She says Yes to everything and steps over

'A fool' cries a voice from behind her. 'A Saint' suggests another.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Invictus: Latin for Unconquered

I was reading an interview of David Murdock, owner of the Dole Food Company and Castle & Cook. He is 85 years of age and was recently featured in one of Costco's periodic magazine to its members. The interview ends with uplifting lines narrated by Mr. Murdock. This is amongst his favorite poems - Invictus - Latin for 'unconquered' - by 19th century British Poet William Ernest.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Group Communication: Thoughts on the 'How' part

Communication is a powerful tool in the managers arsenal - a tool which is effective for intervention, dispute settlement, motivation and goal-setting. In an economy which is getting worrisome by the day, with disillusionment setting in faster - more time needs to spent in communicating to groups, individuals - across levels. Communicating becomes more important for middle management - since top needs 'Real' facts to decide and set agenda - and the bottom wants to secure the future, looks for stability and belongingness.

Communication is not just verbose. Forms and formats vary. Here are some key aspects when communicating to a group of subordinates.

- Plan contents well. Arrange thoughts and flow. Rehearse and be convinced.

- Pick a good time. Which ideally could be when team is relaxed, yet attentive.

- As much as it is important to communicate the body of message well - it is important to intersperse it with an happening or an event unrelated to the body. In other words - the border form can be of a different color than the color of the main content! Contrast help.

- For setting a course, to infuse discipline - being subtle could be perceived as Leadership weakness. Be strong, stick to the message, reiterate the point - but keep smiling.

- Occasionally individuals in a group could pose questions - which could take you away from the main body. Let them know that you will address later since there is an agenda you would like to proceed with.

It is important to time each group address well. If there exists possibilities for certain news to spread; rather than allowing dissemination of unsolicited rumor, be swift to engage.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Why distance; Distances Organizations?

Do we see such Disconnects in Organizations? A leading Management thinker C K Prahlad in one of his recent thoughts, mentions about how companies talk about 'growing' in emerging economies - but their structure, processes and people all are seemingly HQ centric! So the talk continues but the real investments continue to happen at HQ. When questioned, organizations seemingly come out with more rationalization and justification.

It is so often we see in corporate functions; typically to deal with Emerging markets, organizations would send its leaders from its headquarters to India or China or Brazil? Nowadays its usually the expats who are sent back. How I wish I can un-learn my decade long absence.

How about the other way round? Are leaders appointed in India, China or Brazil - and then the MNC's call on them to decide on their strategy for emerging markets?

We keep hearing many thoughts on ‘decentralized’ leadership, the ‘local CEO’ models. For me it all bogs down to the following:

a) Can the local take a call on investing?

b) Can the local run his or her own budget?

c) Can the local appoint a ‘local’ vendor?

Needs additional thoughts…

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Love of Music

Time magazine recently featured an interview with a Piano Maestro: Lang Lang. Wherein when asked about what other musical genre did he like other than classical; He said, he also loved Hip-Hop! I have liked Hip-Hop too from a musical standpoint. When its said, Music has no boundaries, it is true to the essence.

Every country, region has some form of music or another. Instrumental to vocal to classical styles to modern - music lives on.There are classical lovers. There is choir music. There is rock to Hip-Hop. But if you are lover, hate for modern need not be. Not loving is fine.

Classical artists migrating to more popular genres is common. But are all successful? In world of music - not going the beaten path is appreciated. How about two distinct genre of artists coming together and collaborating. We would have heard in concerts etc. wherein regional instruments have played together with western instruments. And then there is another aspect about an artist redefining oneself. How often do you find the second album sounding similar to the one first one?

So here's what I like:

Rock most forms, Hip-Hop, Rap, Occasional Country.

Ghazals, Hindi film music, Carnatic, Bhajans & Abhangs, Occasional Hindustani, Qawalli.

Not knowing a genre is fine, Love for Music is what it is.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Ubuntu: African term

I came across this term in Africa, 'Ubuntu', from an article on Leadership. It was a conversation with Linda A Hill, professor with Harvard, and who has extensively researched on the subject of leadership.

In brief this is summed up by the saying 'I am because we are'.

It opened up a thought. Leadership is:

- Ownership

- Instill Belongingness

- Lead but from behind

it may seem contradictory, but Linda Hill in the same conversation refers to the Shepherd who directs the flock from behind. All sheep seemingly move towards one direction. They do spread out, when it is time to spread out. They all head out when it is time to head out. There could occasions when some sway, but a nudge, a call does the job.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Few thoughts in managing Customer Relationships

Managing customer relationships

- To be Available, To be attentive to requirements, To be Responsible.

- To invite to your house events includes webinars, seminars, appreciation meets etc. To share information about external events which would be of interest.

- To showcase new additions, includes service offerings, new leaders, competency activities, alliances and infrastructure addition.

- To remind yourself - that you are here to serve and serve with intelligence

- Broaden the touchpoints, let more know you

The Flower

A Flower which blooms in adversity is rare and most beautiful.

- From 'Mulan' the movie

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Collective Mandate

Opinion of the masses, we tell what you like us to tell

This is an old Russian joke. Stalin decided to see if he was as beloved a figure as his 'well-wishers' seem to insist. So he went to a Moscow cinema incognito. As the newsreels began, the cinema hall turned dark, Stalin was moved to tears when the audience stood up, seemingly on their own, with gusto applauded his image when it appeared on the screen. Stalin was struck by such a public display of affection, but it was cut short when his neighbour leaned down and whispered - ''comrade, we all hate him too. But its safe to stand up and clap''

Friday, February 22, 2008

Leaf, Branch, Tree - analogy

Turbulence in the corporate world, putting it simply using analogies

Leaf, Branch, Tree - analogy.

When the wind blows, the tree trunk is the least which gets affected, in terms of the movement.
The branches do move, the most to get affected are leaves. Yet not many fall. Sometimes the weak branches do give away, all leaves attached go down with it.

When an organization faces turbulence, offices other than HQ often get affected. But HQ maintains its steady state like the trunk. Layoffs, shutdowns happen.

Understanding the tree, branch analogy can help provide better insight to turbulence's encountered.

The Wheel analogy.

The center of the wheel being the HQ, the rim of the wheel is where the maximum velocity is. Everyone on the rim are moving, but the center seems to remain constant.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Kerala Fishermen & Mobile phones

I recently read an article in the Economist June 2007 - wherein a case was presented on the influence of Mobile phones w.r.t economic development.

What was highlighted - Fishermen -post fishing -were selling their fishes to 'one' particular warehouse - so in case of days when the fisherman's catch were good - due to oversupply in that market - prices realised weren't good - supply exceeding demand situation.

Now when mobile phones came in - telephonic coverage developed to cover several miles beyond the shores. Fishermen -post fishing - but before hitting land - checked with several markets w.r.t the supply situation. So if in a particular market - supply position was weak - fishermen could hit the apt shores - sell the fishes - realise good prices.

The study was conducted over a period of time by economists. It caught my attention - very simply because - a technological advancement is seen in action; empowering the lowest rung in the supply chain and thus leading to their economic development.

India needs many such cases - as the divide continues to grow.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Pat me please....

In this age of instant gratification, I would like to point out one aspect in our work/ professional life - more seen today. There is a tendency amongst all of us to seek appreciation/ a pat in the back for almost everything we do. So things we ought to do as a routine is sought to be patted. During our normal day to day work; the planners who plan, the engineer who builds, the inspectors who inspects, the leader who leads - all 'expect' this pat.

A pat, an appreciation isn't is it for something more special, something we do out of our way?

Ain't anything wrong with an expectation. Just that to consider oneself for appreciation just for routine encourages mediocrity. An organization which routinely appreciates mediocrity would slip to mediocrity. So for all the true aspirants, when mediocrity gets encouraged, there is nothing further to aspire.

Pat - when it deserves it. Appreciate when performance is exemplary. Say wow! when the show is so. If it is routine - to say thank you is good enough.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Gulzar: work translation by Rina Singh

Friends, this book is worth it. It is called 'Silences'. - Selected poems of Gulzar, released years back.

What it reveals is the core of this amazing artist. We have seen his works in the movies, songs he has scripted. The subtle voices which we cherish, and which Gulzar ensures to rekindle through his work, is bought out very well through this book. Though long time ago, I never blogged then..I chanced upon this book one more time, and it bought refreshment in an otherwise parched land.

One poem from the book, Fragile Dreams, pay attention to the imagery please.

...Step carefully, please,
see that your feet makes no sound.

The glass of my dreams
will shatter
and wake me up.

Rina Singh did a yeomen service, bringing these verses to the masses. I wish the Hindi/ Urdu version was available too - along with each translated page. In this way, the original scent could have been felt too, amongst those who understood the language.

Nevertheless I had to talk about Gulzar - Saheb. Also thank you Rina Singh.

Saturday, September 23, 2006


Detroit city - desolate

Unkempt, badly maintained public infrastructure marks this once the poster boy of industrialized economy.

The old hath to give away to the new. If the old economy Auto industry is going over the curve, what is spawning new for the city?

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Omar Kayyam's Rubaiyat

Original literal work from
© Shahriar Shahriari 1998, Vancouver Canada, 1999 - 2003, Los Angeles, CA

I resolve daily that at dusk I shall repent
For a night with a cup full of wine spent
In the presence of flowers, my resolve simply went
In such company, I only regret that I ever resolved to repent

My Understanding
The cyclic nature of error and repentence is bought out. If the intent is to get out of the cycle, one has to go beyond repentence
Wouldnt it be nice if we learnt to treat places of historical, cultural importance with a degree of respect?

I was recently at the Niagara falls, the US side, staying around was a dissapointing experience.

I will add more on this.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Swades: The Movie

In appreciation of the scene; Mohans return journey, after meeting Hariram. The director has managed to convey the profundity of India's problems related to poverty. At the same time the age old tradition of respect and care of fellow human beings, very much rooted in Indian culture, is nicely bought out. Hariram continues to endure shame for his inability to keep the lights on for his family. The situation has become hopeless with no alternative sources of income in sight. Hariram is born in the family of potter's and in the same tradition becomes a potter. With income levels depleting, Hariram turns to farming but the community ostracizes him. The village is not willing to accept potters becoming farmers. This is the community expression of fear from, breaking away from tradition and change. Hariram looks to coming to cities, there is his wife's brother who migrated to cities took up jobs around manual labor. But the middle-men exploitation drives many of the folks back. So in a situation like this Hariram is in no position to repay his debts. And Mohan the US based scientist is embarrassed, overwhelmed by the situation. Hariram offers shelter and food to Mohan, for his journey has been long. It is during that late night, sleeping on the open air make-shift jute bed, thatched roof on top with the moon still managing to sneak through the hay, that reality dawns upon Mohan. The sheer desperation of the external environment and the hospitable, warm heartedness of Hariram; surges forth an emotion not experienced by Mohan before. On his way back, Mohan is reflective on the events. His journey back is again through the vast Indian heartland. Shoulder to shoulder with people, the population, he perches himself on different vehicles. The last leg in the train, there is a stop which is just to arrive when Mohan spots a kid in an oversized short with a kettle of water and mud-glasses selling water for couple of cents to the passengers. 'Water...take water for ...cents' shouts the kid to passengers at the window. Poverty is stark. What can one do to extricate from the situation? Is there hope? With the train set to leave the station, Mohan buys the mud glass of water. The train moves and the kid is in the station, watching out from the window, the heart is heavy, emotions crack up. There is a surge.......This is after all the land we were born. The land is calling its son's of soil. Help this land out brother! This is our land.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The incentive

These are times when we often hear about corporate scandals, greedy founders and C level corruption. Guess this is what caused this piece.

From time immemorial incentive techniques have been applied on all living creation. Parents offer the extra goodies to kids not wanting the unpalatable stuff, corporations offer extra monetary benefits for higher sales, animals trained and prodded to behave by morsel offers on every step taken etc. What does incentive really do? And why do we need them in the first place? Classic definition calls incentive a reward for the extra bit performance. With time things change. In the present day context, I guess we are put on incentives through hidden processes too. I call it hidden ‘cause, we do not necessarily use the products or services in lure of incentives. The airlines frequent flyer program’s, cell phone companies encourages us to talk more through innovative schemes, extra sleaze content through cable network encourages viewers towards extra airtime usage, buy one and get another pack free! And there is the routinely more overt and institutionalized forms. There are prizes for class toppers, and additional thousands for super sales achievers. Which leads me to wonder which part of our life is free from incentive? Religion? I guess not. All religious formats tempt practitioners using the fruit or the better life or the peace theory. This is not casting an aspersion in anyway or doubting their intent, but the continuous mushrooming of alternative practices to an extent suggests that these are also the days of instant gratification and there is a price which one is willing to pay for heaven. Now where does this lead to? An old Indian saying goes 'An excess of anything causes the opposite of the desired effect'. Incentives I guess keeps switch gears more often, step up the tempo. And as the pace increases compromises with one own value systems and processes is bound to happen. The lure to go after the forbidden fruit offered as an incentive still tempted Adam. Wisdom will get blurred. The Chicago public school data analyzed and wonderfully put forth by Levitt proves that the gurus too succumb to pressures of incentives! Today there is hardly an organization worth its repute not come across white collar crimes in its premises. To circumvent the ‘right’ practices in many cases, these crimes are also committed in a collaborative mode, which includes parties within and outside from whom product or services are purchased. In turn figures have been forged, quality of products compromised and vouched for. How much has incentives caused this effect is debatable. But it could be one amongst the influencing factors. Now there are theories which defend incentives. If there is no incentive, where do performers go? And in an undifferentiated world when excellence does not get rewarded, stagnation sets in. This speak is from the corporation standpoint. Extending this logic further, we could probably touch upon the origins of a company and perhaps touch the roots of capitalism itself! But I guess this will be separate conversation. No doubt that the internal pressure one puts on oneself due to incentive in an organizational environment is significant.

Perhaps it is time for companies for rediscover the mission of their existence. It may sound too altruistic to imbibe the spirit of those statements in every action undertaken by the employee on behalf of the company. But why not create reward scheme which gives the social objectives a degree of importance? ‘Be leader in infrastructural projects’, or a ‘number # 1 detergent brand’ to ‘leading truck manufacturer’ or ‘be a world class IT services provider’ can be trickled down to a socially relevant and yet individual cause for employees and partners to take up or strive for. This thought needs further exploration.

Monday, May 09, 2005


How much I yearn for change,
That when it cometh

I let it go for future gain.
when the future proves in vain,
In search I begin for change.

A rigmarole it seems this is.

Beginner's weeds

As days progress,
Weeds from gaps spurts out stark.

Try to progress as much as I might,
They succeed in holding me back.

Folks cajole me to swim downstream,
How else can I avoid their flak,

All I seek from thee is breaking up this heart,
I know there still exists some crack.