Saturday, December 19, 2009

Books books... those which created stories..

Since long time I thought that I would write about the books that I have read, some books that have inspired me, books which after reading them created some stories in my life..

Treasure Island:

This was probably one of the first books that I read, as a twelve year old I think. Before that only comics, chandamama and champak. At that time I found this book really fascinating, on the ship in search of treasures, the pirates and lot of adventure. I played numerous games based on this books with friends, searching for imaginary treasure and what not. I used to imagine and hope that someday in our school picnic we all should get lost and land up in isolated island. I had even made a map of that island, and I had written small notes as to how it would all happen, and how should I emerge as a hero in discovering the way back, and ofcourse in the isolated place we would find the treasure. I had even thought that I wouldl make the tele-serial out of it, because I felt that I had to tell this story to whole lot of people.

Treasure Island is like a fairy tale, with lot of adventure, and imagination. I think every one should read this book.

Gone with the Wind:

Just before I had entered college, I had this urge to watch English movies, because I felt without watching these I would be ill-equipped to face other students who would have watched hundreds of them. One of the movies that I happened to see was "Gone with the Wind". I could not see it fully, but it looked grand. When I went to hostel and saw the book by this name, I knew that I had to read it. I liked the character of "scarlet". I loved the never say die spirit, and that little sentence which said, "I would think about it tomorrow, after all tomorrow is a new day". This lines still continue to inspire me. Also I loved the title "Gone with the Wind" and I think in our fast changing lives that we should enjoy the things when they are, because you dont know when things will change, and old ways would dissappear.


I rate this as one of the best books that I have ever read. It is just so wonderful and amazing story. I love the transformation from the guide to the saint, and it seems to happen so effortlessly, nothing looks artificial or fake. I love RK Narayan style of writing, he writes so simply and so well. I have read most of his books by now, but nothing can beat Guide. In many ways this book inspired me to write. Also inspired me to read books from Indian authors, because there are so many things that you can connect to so easily when you read this books.

Daddy Long Legs:

Chotu book. Am not sure if many have heard about this book, but it is a collection of letters written by one small orphan girl to a friend who sponsers her education. Letters are full of innocense and the experience of a girl in a school who earlier was inside the for walls of orphanage. I like the drawings and again the simplicity. I want to write more after reading that book, write in the sense, write more letters, write with hand instead of type writer.

Read it if you can, you can finish this book in about one hour.

The age of Kali:

Another addition to my books about India. The book inspires me to travel and write more. Love the way in which William, explores the history of each place and also the small anecdotes from each place and people. I learned so many things about India after reading that book, things which I did not know. I also feel that history books should be written in this way, which connect you to people rather than just the facts.
In this books I specially loved the essays on the Sati system and also on Lucknow

If you are reading this, and if you have a blog, do also post something about your favourite books, this is the best way to know and discover new books.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Meeting up with Naga Sadhu

That was the first day of the trip, and we were traveling from Mumbai to Adilabad. On the morning when brushing my teeth in the train I noticed this guy, sitting on the window seat. I was wondering if I should talk to him or not, because sadhus always invoke a feeling of fear and disconnect. But I decided to talk to him and he turned out quite friendly.

His name was Vinod, and he was from Amarkantak, where he stayed in the aashram. Aparently he was given as a “Gurudaan” to this ashram and now as a part of ashram he had done various tapas and yogas and now was a naga sadhu. He was a bal brahmachari and intended to remain so for the rest of his life. His knowledge about plants was amazing, he was looking out of the window, and pointing me to various plants and things and was telling me about the medicinal properties about them. Dont know if they were true or not, but he was telling with so much of confidence.

He told me lot of things about this educational system about this life, about what he does during the day and I dont think I can pen down everything here. He even showed me the photo album of his sadhu friends and mostly which had pictures of Gods and naked sadhus. He knew sanskrit and hindi, but was uneducated if we considered with todays terms of educaiton. He had never given any board examinations and that did not matter. But am sure with the knowledge he had, he could easily make a living and was more capable to finding his way around and surviving as compared to most of us who are highly educated.

His language was so pure hindi. He told me lot of stories about God specially shiva and Bashmeshwar. He was so surprised at my lack of knowledge about his guru and about any of the stuff that he knew of. I just felt as if we were seperated out in time, and also totally seperated out in the way we live as well. Hopefully I shall go to amarkanthak and meet him again sometime.

After coming back to Bangalore I read up little bit about the aashram he belonged to. And I found this story about "Tapasvi Baba" who had started this aashram. He left home at age of 12 and wandered and became a Naga Sadhu. He walked and walked around India for so many years before founding this aashram in Amarkantak. I also found his story amazing.

I always knew and heard about these Sadhus, but I always thought they were kind of fake, but meeting Vinod I did feel that there is so much these people know, the knowledge that has come from generation and most of us just disregard.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Taking a Stand

I am back after a long holiday and back to blogging. It was a hectic travel and net access was difficult and even you did not feel like sitting in front of the computer. Lots of travel blogs to write but before that just wanted to write this small story which I read somewhere. Am sure you are gonna like it.
Once upon a time, during the time of Mahabharata, there was this great warrior who wanted to be part of war between Kauravas and Pandavas. So he set out to Kurukshetra battlefield. On his way he met Krishna.
"I want to participate in great Mahabharata" he told Krishna.
"What can you do?" Krishna asked him
"With one arrow I can kill all Pandavas, with another arrow I can kill all Kauravas, and with one arrow I can kill Krishna" he said (he did not know that the man he met was Krishna)
"Prove yourself?" Krishna said.
"Ok, look at that tree, with one arrow I can pierce all the leaves of this tree"
Krisha asked him to do it, secretly plucking five leaves of the tree and putting under the five fingers of his feet.
The warrior shot the arrow and it after piercing each and every leaf, it came and pierced each of Krishna fingers one by one.
Krishna was very impressed and he realized that the warrior was of the highest class.
"On which side would you like to fight the war?" He asked,
"I always fight on the side of losers" the warrior said.

This really bothered Krishna, because he knew this would create a loop. The warrior would first fight on Pandavas side, and when they would be about to win, he would join Kauravas, and so on. The fight would never end. So he decided to end the warrior
Krishna asked the warrior, "Would you help me to fight against a a person who is destroying the dharma that I am trying to establish on Earth?"
Warrior said, "yes I will cut his head" he said
Krishna showed him the mirror. Warrior immediately realized that Krishna wanted him to be killed, but true to his word he offered his head to Krishna.

Pleased with him, Krishna asked him for the boon, and the warrior asked to be allowed to see the battle even when he was dead. So Krishna placed his head on the tree, where in spite of being dead he could watch the battle.

Well the story ends here and I have picked it up from Professor Devdutt's site. So Devdutt says that this story teaches us to take a stand because if you don’t take a stand then you end up being nowhere and don’t allow others to reach anywhere.

He says that in our day to day corporate meetings, we see people who are so brilliant that they can see things from both sides. When someone proposes a plan, they argue in favor of it, but as soon as everyone is about to agree to the plan, they argue about the misgivings of the plan. At the end of it, everyone is confused and you don’t take any decision. Hence the meetings just remain as mere intellectual discussions without any outcome.

So many of my meetings in my company have been like this. We just talk and talk and talk and talk very intelligently without making any decisions what so ever.

Even in my personal life, for lots of things I find balance arguments in favor and against doing something. And most times in these cases I don’t decide and keep thinking it over and over again. Guess it is best to decide something and move ahead and review the decisions at some point of time later.

Also reading Devdutt site makes me believe that there is so much in our mythology stories. If you try to interpret them, there are so many things. These stories are not just some imaginations, but have deep rooted meaning. Wonder why don’t we have more of these in our textbooks rather than decoding half French poems by William Wordsworth and "thou thy" language of Shakespeare.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

On the mission to become veterinary doctor

I met Saif when I was traveling in a bus, going to a small village of Kesalaguda from Adilabad. (Adilabad is a small town located almost at mahashtra AP boarder, in central India. )

As it turned out he was going to Karimnagar to get admissions in diploma in veterinary science. He was carrying a file along with him, which he showed it to me. The file had all his certificates. It did seem little strange to me, because I thought that it was not one of the fashionable things to do for a 20 year old guy,

“Are you interested in being an animal doctor?” I asked

“No, I have to do something to get settled na. If you get settled in life then it is so good. I will get a job in government in Adilabad if I do this course, then life is so peaceful you can really enjoy life”

"So you want to do a government job?" I asked

"Yes, government job is so peaceful, you can travel you can do everything, you get fixed income, I would get settled so early in life"

"But why do you want to get settled?"
"No it is good to get settled"

All throughout our conversation which lasted for close to one hour he just kept on insisting the importance of getting settled. He was a youngest in the family of 5 brothers and four sisters. All his elder brothers were “settled” as the way he called them, one of them an auto rickshaw guy, another one a Hawalder and so on. One of them had even got separated as he had got married. So there was no guarantee how life was going to be so it was important for him to get settled.

“Is farming not a very good option?

“No generally people give their farms for rent to private companies; private companies pay about 50 thousand a year for ten acres of farm. So that is good, If you take a government job then it is so simple, you can just go for vacations no tension”

“What are your friends doing?” I asked

“Most of my friends are trying for jobs, some are continuing their father business, some have found jobs?”

"Is there someone whom you really look up to and admire"
"I had a friend, who took up a job in private goods company and he then he started taking and in less that two years he had earned about 4-5 lakhs."

"But do you want to make money like that?"
"No", he said, "I want to live a simple life"

Do you smoke and drink?

“Sometimes I smoke, when some of my friends do, I just need thirty rupees everyday for my personal expense, most is petrol, that would make me happy. If I can spare that much I would be very happy. ”

Do you vote?

Yes I vote and I vote for congress, because congress gives reservations and then I will get the job.

Do you want to do everything for the country?

“First I want to do something, for my parents, and give them a peaceful life. Then I will think of doing something for the country. That is why I want to be settled first”


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Three months trip around India

Since last twenty days I am on a three months trip around India. :). I have kind of taken a break from work and have been traveling. The primary focus of the trip is to meet NGOs/organizations/people who have been doing great work in social sector.

We have a tour blog which is can be found here.

I have to post lot of stuff here, people I have met and the places I have seen. Over last twenty days I have learned so much about things, met amazing people (the best among them were one Naga Sadhu and one guy who has done PhD on the brain of honeybees).

I will write individual posts soon on various people and places I see.


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

A Kilikili Film

I guess if you are familiar with this blog, you might already be knowing about Kilikili.

Kilikili is kannada for giggles or the laughter. This initiative was started to make public spaces esp. parks more accessible to special children. Kilikili has adopted 3 parks in Bangalore with help of the local government. An amazing concept that you can easily replicate in your neighborhood.
You can read more about Kilikili here.

So one thing that has kept us busy over last few times was this film. We shot this footage almost one year back and since that time have been trying to edit it :). This is the alpha version of the film and I am putting it here, do watch it and give any kind of constructive feedback if you have any.
The final version of the film with improved sounds and crisp editing is in the pipeline.

Related Posts
Kilikili time
Change begins with me, I can be the change.
Story of Stuff (A must watch if you have not already watched it)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Back from the Slumber

I have kind of disappeared from the blogger, now that I did not have things to write, but then somehow never really got to writing anything in last one month, not for the blog, not for NGOPost and not for anything else. But there have been so many things happening, so here is what I have been up to in recent times....

1. I went to kerala to see the boat race, someday I should write a full blog on this but it is something that you should go specially if you are staying in Bangalore. The boats are so long that they enter one frame of the photo, , as many as 100 people (that was what I counted in one boat) and the atmostphere and everything about boat race is amazing. Boat race happens once a year, and there are two three that happen, and I went to one called Nehru cup.

2. These days am making a website for NGOPost, NGOPost is turning two on 1st september and we would release the website then. :), when you can see it.

3. Went to CharMinar and the in to the lanes around it, I have been to hyderabad number of times but never really to Charminar, in all these days. People said that it is just a four minars so what is so great to see there, but then the bazaar around that is good. Not that I have not seen that kind of bazaars, but I did not know it was such a big bazaar of bangles, bangles and bangles and bangles everywhere. There were also lot of "scent" shops, though I did not get a chance to take a look at them.

Will write more later soon, lot of things to write and say.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Change begins with me, I can make a difference

Below is experience of one guy (Shabbir) with Bangalore traffic police about how you can make a difference.

Really worth reading and inspiring.

Note: This is not a spam, have emailed shabbir and he replied back also.

It was Friday 5th June, at about 3 pm I drove my Ford Ikon car into 80 feet road at Indira Nagar in Bangalore, wanting to reach on time for my 3.30 pm meeting with a client.

As I entered the wide road I saw a posse of traffic constables who stopped my car on the side and asked me to produce my car documents to the Traffic Sub Inspector (SI) who was standing on the footpath. I walked upto the SI and displayed my Driving Licence. He told me to bring my Car Insurance certificate and also my Emission Certificate for the car.

I walked back to my car and realised that I had not carried either of the documents in my car and was cursing myself for such a slip. I came back to the SI and told him that I did not have my document and what was to be done. The SI had a half smile & told me that the fine for not carrying both these documents was Rs 600/- however I could pay him Rs 300/-.

I removed my wallet and told the SI that I would pay the amount and wanted a receipt. He suddenly got stern and told me that in that case the fine was Rs 1,100. I paid the fine of Rs 1,100 and took the receipt, wondering why the fine had suddenly escalated just because I wanted a receipt instead of paying the Rs 300 bribe which the SI had asked.

After my client meeting as I was driving back, I was annoyed at myself for not carrying the documents and I was angry that at an officer at an SI level was blatantly seeking a bribe. I decided that I should do something about it and as soon as I reached my Home Office, I logged on to the net and found out that the Traffic Police of Bangalore has a website, which gives details of the fines chargeable, it also provides for logging complaints and gave the email ids of the Asst Commissioner of Police (ACP) for the traffic division.

At about 7 pm that evening I wrote an email to the email id of the ACP, narrating the incident of the afternoon and lodging a formal complaint in the email. I also found out the website of Lok Ayukta of Karnataka and marked a cc of the same email to the email id's given on the Lok Ayukta's website.

By about 7.30pm I had done the needful, and I was happy with myself that what I preach in my Leadership Workshops wrt Values, I had practised to a large extent (Paying the fine instead of paying the bribe and reporting the bribe demand to the best of my ability). I thought the chapter ended there, little realising that I would be having an indeed amazing and pleasant experience in the hours and days to come.

On Saturday 7th June (the next day) at about 2 pm, I logged into my Home Office and checked my email and lo behold, I had three emails sent to me by the ACP to who I had written the complaint email the previous day. The first one, informed me that I had done the right thing by paying the fine and not the bribe, the second email asked to give my complaint in writing and fax it to the ACP, so that action can be taken on the SI and the 3rd email asked me to give the ACP a call on his office no or his cell no, so that he could accelerate the action to be taken on the erring SI.

I promptly put my complaint in a letter and sent a scanned copy through the email to the ACP.

On Sunday, 8th June in the morning I checked my email and I had an email from the ACP stating that the erring SI had been suspended from service and that I must give the ACP a call to work out the next formalities. I called the ACP (till now I did not know the name of this ACP) who answered my call on the Sunday.

During my phone conversation he introduced himself as ACP Pravin Sood, and thanked me for doing what I did wrt not paying the bribe and also escalating the matter in writing, he explained that many Bangalore citizens escalate such cases to him but then back down when asked to give the complaint in writing. He apologised to me (yes - he said "I am sorry for what you faced with this SI who harassed you, because he did not have any business stopping your to check your documents if you had not done any traffic violation") and he invited me over to rea to his office at a time convenient to me.

After I kept the phone down, I could not believe that here was a case where within 48 hours of an incident of seeking bribe, the erring office was suspended.

I decided that I must meet in person ACP Pravin Sood, speaking with who for 10 minutes had changed a few paradigms in my mind about Public Service Officers. Since I was travelling the next few days, I sought time with him on 15th June at 4.30 pm at his office. I reached ACP Sood's office a little early (at 4.10 pm) and was pleasantly surprised when I was ushered into his office at 4..15 pm, he asked me to sit as he was completing a meeting with another delegation.

At sharp 4.30 pm he ended his previous meeting and turned to me and spent the next 20 minutes discussing with me several aspects of Traffic Policing in Bangalore and offered me a cup of tea (many corporate clients I visit, do not see me on time and do not offer me a cup of tea, so what ACP Sood was doing was indeed better than many corporate folks I have met!).

Right through the conversation, he was courteous, frank and completely articulate on his thoughts and ideas. He reiterated that there would be no repercussions on me for giving the complaint in writing, and that I may have to make one appearance in person when the internal enquiry is done, he also offered that instead of me having to come to the Police headquarters to give the statement, he could send one of his officers to my residence to take my statement if I so wish.

When I was leaving ACP Sood's office, I told him "Over the years many of my friends and cousins have urged me to migrate and settle in one of the western countries, but I have consciously chosen to stay back in India by my choice -- when I have interactions like the one I had with you ACP Sood, I am happy that I made the choice to stay back in India". It was an impromptu comment, straight from my heart to which ACP Sood just smiled and shook my hand.

When I was walking out of ACP Sood's office, I felt reassured that if we have officers like ACP Pravin Sood in our country, there is a Glimmer of Hope against corruption, provided we as citizens have the courage to say NO to bribes and have the inclination to report cases of bribe (I am no major RTI or social activist, yet I found all the info I needed on the web, sitting in my Home Office).

Change begins with me, I can make a difference!

I have had similar experiences but I have never gone that far to meet ACP and all, but I guess we should start doing that, at least start questioning and try to find answers.

Similar stories:
Did you see Rang De Basanti?

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Look at the Horizon

"Look at the Horizon",
that is what one of the characters in one of the Paulo Coelho's book keeps telling (I dont remember which book, neither do I remember the name of the character).

He says that most of us limit our vision just to the things within two feet of our vicinity, we keep getting tensed about them, worrying about them, getting caught in them, and overlooking everything else which is beyond that boundary line. But then we so easily forget to look beyond, there are so many things in life other than the current problem at hand, so many possibilities, so many people who love us, so many opportunities which still exists.

Lot of times when I am getting late for meeting I just get caught and lost thinking about those only. I stop looking at trees, people walking on foot path, the sky, the rain, children and everything, and all the energies are spent in figuring out if I will reach five minutes late or ten, and if I have enough reasons for either of the case. But then when you think about it two days later, how stupidly inconsequential it all seems.

So I keep telling myself, "Look at the Horizon", because there are endless possibilities, opportunities and people who are waiting for you to become friends.

PS: Have been away from blogs and also on commenting on blogs, but would be back soon.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Another 10K in Bangalore

Marathon, Marathon, Marathon (Actually it was not a marathon, it was just a 10K run, but I guess marathon for most of us) another one got over in Bangalore. While running yesterday I was getting bugged about this thought about the history of marathon and here I found it on google.
According to which,
The modern Athens Marathon commemorates the run of the soldier Pheidippides from a battlefield at the site of the town of Marathon, Greece, to Athens in 490 B.C. Legend has it that Pheidippides delivered the momentous message "Niki!" ("victory"), then collapsed and died.

I was just talking about marathon to my friend in office today morning and he said,

"Why would you want to run marathon? It blocks the roads and create chaos. Have you ever thought what happens to the ambulances during the marathon time?"

He had a valid point but then I guess such kind of events are very important for the city, because it kind of gives you a break from normal work, day to day life and just sometime to think. I specially loved all the people who had come down on streets to cheer the runners. Also it is so nice to see so many old people running, and so many people running for some cause that they support.

But then the ambulance points was very valid, and I tried calling some hospitals to see if there has been any problem yesterday because of marathon, but then I did not get any response, and I also thought it was not a good idea to ask because, they were more bothered to handle any emergency cases if any rather than answering some queries, which would be used to write the blog, probably some of the doctors reading the blog can comment on this.

So I guess instead of stopping these events we just have to take up steps to improve and organize these events with least amount of discomfort to other people.

Like last time around there were lot of bottles thrown everywhere,
this time an organization called Saahas made lot of effort to try different alternatives to plastic bottles and also
to put the bins at different places so that bottles are not thrown every where. Well the alternative part did not go well, but this time around they managed to put the bins, which did result in much cleaner roads. Really appreciate their effort and am sure next run we would do better to try some alternatives to plastic bottles as well.

Do run a marathon when it happens next, it is really fun, it will make you exercise your limit and you get so high when you just cross the finish line. As someone had rightly put the banner,

"Pain is temporary but the pride is permanent"

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Snake and a holy man


There was a certain village, where one snake used to live. Now this snake used to keep biting people and all the people in the village were very scared of him. So the people of the village never used to venture out of the house much because of the snake, even children did not used to play outside their houses.


One day one holy man was passing through the village and he was surprised to see the village so quiet, and on enquiring he got to know about the snake. So this holy man went to talk to the snake, in general you cannot talk to snakes, but holy men have special powers and they can talk to them.


Holy man gave all the gyan to snake, and explained him that it was not a good idea to be biting people around and harassing other living beings. It was against the scriptures and he might suffer in his next birth. The snake was very impressed with the holy man and he promised that he is going to change himself and become a really good good snake.


Now fast forward, one year ahead.


The holy man is again passing through the same village, and he sees the village full of activity. He feels very proud of himself. As he goes forward he sees a group of children crowded around something, jumping and playing. When he went near he saw that these children had surrounded the same snake, and they were hitting him with stones and catching its tail and the snake looked completely tortured. Snake was looking very sorry looking and meek.


The holy man drives all the kids away, and feels very sorry for the snake. He asks the snake, what happened. Snake says that as people started realizing that snake had stopped biting, they started making fun of him, and harassing him.


Then the holy man tells the snake, “I had only asked you to stop biting, but not to stop hissing, you have to be nice but still stand up your ground.”


“Be nice to people, but don’t get walked over”, I guess this is the moral of the story.


Guess this is little stupid story, but I really found it very relevant and really liked it.


 You may also like to read the following:

How umbrella and slippers came in to existence

A small story

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A blog after a long time

I have been off blogger for a long time, not that I did not want to write and also not that I have been lazy, but somehow it has been slipping lower and lower in my priority list with so many things struggling to find place in my To-Do list. 

here are some of the recent things that I have been up to..


1. Just came back from a week long US trip, I really love this short trips because they kind of rewind you up and you come back with so much of enthusiasm and new ideas.  I saw Stanford campus for the first time, and I really liked it. Sometimes feels that I should go back to school again. 


2. Mayank and I have been busy making a short film for Kilikili, it is almost done and we are going to put this up on youtube shortly. 


3. Am reading this book called "Blue Sweater" from Jacqueline Novagratz. The author is a founder of Acumen Fund, a non profit venture that invests in various sustainable social enterprises around the world. It is a nice book about experiences of author, as a 25 year old trying to setup micro finance institutes in Africa (Rwanda). Apparently Jacqueline had a blue sweater when she was young which she donated, and when she went to Africa (Rwanda) she found one guy wearing her sweater. Her sweater had traveled all the way from US to Africa and probably had gone from hand to hand before finally landing up with this guy. :)


4. Finished reading "Age of Kali" by William Dalrymple and I would suggest you can read it, I really love his books. 


5. Went to attend this talk on environment, where the guy opened his lecture with this joke, which I liked,


Year 1995, two seven year olds are having conversation,


First guy: Hey I saw a condom in the verandah?

Second guy: What is a condom?


Go Forward, Year 2009, two seven year olds are having conversation

First guy: Hey I saw a condom in verandah?

Second guy: What is a verandah?


I guess am going to be more regular to the blog now, I like to pen my thoughts down once in a while and there are so many things to write about.




Monday, April 13, 2009

Soil-less Garden...

On saturday, Parul and I set off. It was a long weekend and we wanted to do something and go and visit some place, or go and talk to someone. After looking for some alternatives and not being able to decide on anything, in morning we decided that we are going to go and take a look at "hydroponics" garden that has been recently setup.

So "Hydroponics" is soil less cultivation. Under this system you grow plants, in small plastic containers or wooden frames, and use water and nutrients and NO soil. These apparently are very easy to cultivate, and since they don’t require soil, you could put this tubs on your terrace, balcony and everywhere. Since it is more controlled environment they don’t need pesticides and give better yields (as claimed) and many people think this could be solution to world hunger.

Wooden frames made to cultivate vegetables.
(Note the above picture is from pet bharo website, not from the school we visited)

We had got to know about hydroponics through one story on NGOPost, which was about "Pet Bharo" initiative, run by Indian institute of simplified hydroponics in Bangalore. So when we called them Saturday morning they asked us to visit this school, Sandra Rickett public school on Hennur road, which hae successfully implemented this technique and they were using the vegetables grown from there for the school consumption.

And when we reached there the garden did look very impressive. There were plants and plants every where, in plastic tubs, small plastic buckets, wooden frames and everywhere except in soil. Tomatoes, brinjals, cauliflower, chillies, Bhindis and everything. Tomatoes were specially thriving, with so many of them. The lady was running the school said that she did this training course on hydroponics. So in simplified terms, the way it works is that, you put some fiber (coconut outer) along with Perlite (which you get in market, and is kind of volcanic rock), and then you grow plants in them. Use the same seeds that are used for soil. You use nutrient (which again you get in market) dissolved water to water these plants. And then plants would grow.

Tomatoes and tomatoes thriving in these small wooden frames.
(The above picture is from school we visited, did not have camera and it is from my Nokia Phone)

It all looked good, but to me it kind of gave me a feeling of concentration camp for plants. Just like chicken farm, here there were plants and plants all put it small space, they had even put some plastic bags hanging from the wall, in which they had this perlite and fiber and plants coming out of it. Did not give such comfortable feeling, and kind of felt sorry for the plants.

Also I was wondering if there are any health hazards of consuming such vegetables. So then went to google, but then did not find any people who were complaining about the health hazards. People believe that these vegetables are much better than the ones grown with pesticides. There were one or two articles which said, that there was some concern about the long term effects on immunity system, as plants growing in soil, do absorb some fungi and other nutrients which do increase our immune system, but still no detail study reports that I could locate as of now for any issues related to health.

Probably over the coming days, would try to figure out if are there any regulations from Indian government for the same.

As of now I will try to do this course when this happens in Bangalore next, May they had said, and then at least would start of growing flowers and small vegetables on my terrace.

Have a great week ahead.. :)

Related write ups..
Pet Bharo on NGOPost. Solving poverty and Hunger in India.

You may also like to read.
Changing the mindset.
Cola Life: Using coca cola distribution network to distribute medicines.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Remembering my first election...

That was long time back. But I do still remember it very clearly. Everyday we used to go to school in a bus, not a school bus but the public transport. Me and my sister, I was in third class I think. Things were very different at that time, small town, good busses, less crowded, and we used to have almost the same crowd going in that bus everyday, and most people kind of knew each other, not personally but as a fellow bus mates. 

It was election time then, and there was this guy who used to travel with us, much older, he was in college at that time. And just like that he asked me,

"Whom would you vote for if you have been given a chance to vote?"

"Congress", I said, without sligthest hesitation

"Why would you want to vote for Congress?"

"I will vote for congress because Sarojni Naidu was from Congress", I said,

We had just done one lesson in English about Sarojni Naidu and I was very impressed with her and she was from congress, some first minister or something and I don’t even remember now and that seemed logical enough to vote for Congress because she worked for congress.

But then this guy burst out laughing, and he even told one fellow old passenger who was absorbed in reading the newspaper, that we would vote for congress because Sarojni naidu was from congress. I did not quite realize then that why would he want to laugh at us for this.


"No you should vote for BJP, because they are building temples" he said,

Till then probably I had never heard of BJP, or probably had never paid any attention to it, but this was first time. And at that time all of sudden this awe of BJP was generated, because of course building temples at that time did seem a very noble deed. As kids we used to love going to temples. Whenever we used to go for cycle rides or just play, if we ever passed any temple we would make it a point to go, and try to remember and do all kinds of things in temple that we had seen mom and elders do when they went to temple, and ofcourse taking "prasad" back home. It was also a great thrill for us to discover new temples, small small ones, and then come back and report to mom, as if discovered gold.

 Anyways, but this thing about, BJP as a party who were noble and build temples stayed with me for a long long time, until much later when I grew up and started realizing that how bad and ugly these temple building business is. And I just feel sad for that college guy in the bus and for others who vote just because some party seems to be doing some outwardly noble deed like this. 

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Age of Kali

These days I am reading this book called "The age of Kali" from William Dalrymple.  I have always loved his books, because there is so many things about history that I am not even aware of.  I also like the way he intervenes personal stories with historical facts making it very interesting read.

There are so many things that we lost due to partition of India, and we hardly know anything except that there were roits and thousands of people were killed. But also so much of culture and so many cities were lost and overnight were turned in to refugee camps.  He writes about this particular story about this guy from Lucknow, who owns a haveli in Lucknow, which is right now in ruins and his story in his words goes as follows, 

"We belonged to one of the rich families in Lucknow and at that time it was a very prosperous city. It was full of havelis and magnificent buildings, markets smelled of "scents" and delicious kababs. It was a city of poets, art  and even poor people spoke such good urdu. Lucknow'is were known for their etiquettes and manners. But overnight during the partition everything changed, havelis were burnt down, known faces disappeared, refugees appeared. Nothing remained same as before. 

As far as my personal life goes, it also changed a lot. My father was a close friend, helper and subordinate of people working in Muslim league. But he never visualized what partition could bring about. And after partition he could never forgive himself, and he went off and stayed in London, he did not have the heart of returning to either place because he thought that in some ways he was responsible for bringing suffering in so many people lives. My mother stayed here in lucknow in this haveli, but then during 1965, this haveli was seized by government, because my father no longer being an Indian citizen this haveli was seen as enemy property. This was occupied by various government offices and they plundered and looted it. My mother did not give up, and stayed here outside in the veranda for two years. Finally the haveli was handed over to her in the ruined state and that is how it is right now"

Now when I went to Lucknow during the Jagriti yatra, I could see it as full of cycle rickshaws and dirty and in middle of all this old buildings that perhaps some day were beautiful.

I wonder why wont they put such stories in school books, they give such a nice picture of what happened and probably it would make everyone realize that all this narrow minded ness about religion, languages can take us nowhere and we would end up losing so much. Sometimes I wonder with all this ram sena and shiv sena and all kinds of mujahideens, if we are going forward or going back wards.

PS: Read the book if you can get hold of it. 

Monday, March 09, 2009

Of Tree walk and Battle of Plassey

Yesterday I went to this Tree walk which was organized by Bangalore walks, they do it every weekend.  So me, lekha and raghu landed up there 7 am in the morning on a sunday. 


Vijay was going to be our tour guide, you can find his entire series of articles on the Banglaore walks website. And I was expecting more of botanical kind of walk, where he would give information about each and every tree, but then it was much more than that. What was very impressive was that he told us lot of stories about each and every tree, stories related to its origin or how it came about being in lalbaug abd his individual experiences and observations with the trees. 


For example he was explaining us this tree called Palash, I have seen this tree before but never paid much attention to it. It has a tree which has bright orange flowers, and it is also called the flame of the forest. Traditionally Gulal was made from the flowers of this tree (until all the synthetic gulal came into being), and it was used as dye for clothes. 


But well one of another interesting things that he told was that, apparently, battle of Plassey was fought in Palash groove and hence the name battle of Plassey. I googled little bit and found this in one of the NCERT text books.  (I don’t remember studying this, but isnt this good way to teach associated trees with history, it would be so easy to remember) 


From NCERT ,


"Did you know how Plassey got its name? Plassey is an anglicised pronunciation of Palashi and the place derived its name from the palash tree known for its beautiful red flowers that yield gulal, the powder used in the festival of Holi."


Photos of Palash tree,

Flowers of Palash tree

Palash tree in bloom



Like these there were other numerous stories which Vijay told, and it was fun.

 One another thing which I found particularly interesting was about Bamboo flowering.

It seems that Bamboo trees flower once in about 40-50 years, and during that they produce large quantities of seeds. After this bamboo dies and regenerates from these seeds. But this is not the end of story, apparently this large quantities of seeds result in substantial increase in rodent population in that year since rodents thrive on the seeds. And after consuming the seeds rodents move to fields and granaries and which results in large amount of crops getting destroyed. Apparently most of famines of Mizoram (which has substantial Bamboo forests) have been a result of this Bamboo flowering.  Hence Bamboo is also called "Flower of Famine".

From India Today,

 The flowering of Bamboo sends Mizoram into terrifying spiral crop devastation and food shortages. The last time bamboo bloomed 48 years ago, it led to famine and two decades of violent insurgency.

Related Hindu article here,

Researched article on Bamboo Flowering here

Related Stories: 

Story of Robert Clive

How Bangalore came in to existence


Monday, March 02, 2009


Recently one of my friends,  anupreet introduced me to this song, Sunscreen,

It does not have a catch tune, or great music in background, but I really love the lyrics of this song,

The song is called Sunscreen, by Baz Luhrmann, YouTube link. Do listen to it if you have not...

Sicne the time I have got this new phone, I listen to music when I am on way to office, and it is a great way to being the day, I love biking and with some of the best music on, it really sets up the day for me.

"Start your day with best music" they say, and it really helps.

Below is the sunscreen lyrics..

Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of '99
Wear sunscreen
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be
it. The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by
scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable
than my own meandering
experience…I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth; oh nevermind; you will not
understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded.
But trust me, in 20 years you'll look back at photos of yourself and
recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before
you and how fabulous you really looked….You're not as fat as you

Don't worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as
effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing
bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that
never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm
on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing everyday that scares you


Don't be reckless with other people's hearts, don't put up with
people who are reckless with yours.


Don't waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you're ahead, sometimes
you're behind…the race is long, and in the end, it's only with

Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults; if you
succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements.


Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your
life…the most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they
wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year
olds I know still don't.

Get plenty of calcium.

Be kind to your knees, you'll miss them when they're gone.

Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't, maybe you'll have children,maybe
you won't, maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance the funky
chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary…what ever you do, don't
congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either – your
choices are half chance, so are everybody else's. Enjoy your body,
use it every way you can…don't be afraid of it, or what other people
think of it, it's the greatest instrument you'll ever

Dance…even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room.

Read the directions, even if you don't follow them.

Do NOT read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly.

(Brother and sister together we'll make it through
Someday your spirit will take you and guide you there
I know you've been hurting, and I know I've been waiting to be there
for you. And I'll be there, just tell me now, whenever I can.
Everybody's free.)

Get to know your parents, you never know when they'll be gone for

Be nice to your siblings; they are the best link to your past and the
people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go,but for the precious few you
should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and
lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you
knew when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard; live
in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.


Accept certain inalienable truths, prices will rise, politicians will
philander, you too will get old, and when you do you'll fantasize
that when you were young prices were reasonable, politicians were
noble and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don't expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund,
maybe you have a wealthy spouse; but you never know when either one
might run out.

Don't mess too much with your hair, or by the time you're 40, it will
look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but, be patient with those who
supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of
fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the
ugly parts and recycling it for more than
it's worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen

(Brother and sister together we'll make it through
Someday your spirit will take you and guide you there
I know you've been hurting, and I know I've been waiting to be there
for you. And I'll be there, just tell me now, whenever I can.
Everybody's free.)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

First impressions of China..

Yesterday I traveled by all forms of transportation that could possibly be, except the ship. Went till Hong Kong in flight, then from there in bus till, china Border, then a small taxi till one central place, then metro train to finally reach my hotel. 

If you are traveling in China, one thing you shold keep in mind, here people dont know English. It is so different as soon as you cross border, in HongKong where most poeple speak English and in China no one does. Even almost all the boards are in Chinese. Thankfully we had the hotel name written in Chinese, and we were showing that around to people to ask the way. 

Ofcourse everyone told me this other thing that in China even for non vegetarian people food is a problem, and trust me it is. Here yesterday we were trying to glance though the McDonalds menu, and the only thing that seemed veg there was this item which was marked Cheese Burger. Because every where it was, ham burger, fish fillet burger, chicken burger, but this was the only one which which seemed vegetarian. But then it was beef, I just realized that when anything is not written it means it has meat... so the only thing was remaining was potato fries and corn.

But then we found this great thing in China, you get amazing fruits. Water melon, guavas and strawberries. You get loads of them and quite cheap and they are much better than what we get in India.

So far it has been fun... kind of adventure. Plan to go to some street market here today, lets see how it goes.

Plan to post some pictures soon.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Ad for Kick boxing..

Saw this "kinky" Ad for kick boxing.

Interview with Taxi Driver..

Heavy traffic to airport and I thought why not get to know the taxi driver better. So the coversation that we had. 
(Intially I thought I will note it down while he speaks, but then I have seen that people get scared as soon as I get out my diary, so now I have just come to aiport and typing this in before I forget. )

Where are you from?
Not from Bangalore Sir, you know Udipi, yes I am from village close to that.

How did you get in to this taxi business?
Earlier I was in ICICI prudential as agent, then since this new airport have taken the taxi. Something you have to do na to get money.

How much do you earn?
About 10 thousand sir, and I end up spending about 3-4 thousand.

Is there no employment in your village, why you coming to Bangalore?
No Sir, all good facilities in village, just come to see, see the big city 

What your future plans, do you want to continue taxi?
we have chicken farm in village, and "supari" farm, it runs good, so I go back to village after two years.

Are you married?
No Sir, 

Will you get married here in Bangalore?
Marriage elders sir, city girl, chicken farm does not adjust, girl from my community.

Are all the facilities good in your village, school, medical and so on?
Facilities all good sir, good school, earlier no teachers now lot of teachers.

Do you have water problem in your place?
No water problem sir, lot of water, near the sea , so lot of water in borewell.

Do you have any ambition in life?
Yes sir, I want to go in to politics, My father also in gram panchayat, I was leader in college. So I want to go ahead in there, but not now, after marriage after two three years.

Do you use pesticides in your farm?
(He did not understand pesticides)

Do you use some "dawa" for the "kidas" in the farm?
DDT sir, yes sir, DDT everyone use. If we dont use DDT then lot of "kidas"

Do you stay alone in Bangalore?
No sir, with four people from my village.

Are all of them taxi drivers?
No some in restaurant, some private company, like that.

Do lot of poeple come out of village and dont go back there?
No sir, after marriage, difficult to live in bangalore, minimum expense 8 thousand, not possible sir, good job stay in Bangalore, Most go back village for marriage and stay there only.

There is a pause and then he himself starts saying,

"Three of my classmates in Army sir, two in Kashmir, one in Gujarat. Army means lot of value sir, some problem is there, but lot of value."

How did they go in army?
Got seleted from colege sir, they will come to take.

You did not get selected?
I also, but parents did not allow, only son sir, so difficulty. I wanted to go then, but then I came to Bangalore

Do you learn English at school?
Yes sir, for five years, can read and understand little bit. But in village no Hindi only for three years. that is bad, because hindi you need sir, specially if you go to north India, very few in village know hindi.

By the time I am done with this many questions, airport has come. And then he asks me, 
Where are you from?
"Baroda", I say, (I thought he would not know where baroda is)
"Irfan Pathan, Yusuf Pathan, sir... that place.." 
"Yes" I say
"Cricket lot of interst sir, Dhoni very lucky captain" he says...
And then we depart, 
Cricket truly unites India I think.. :)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Will they tell your story?

Great marketers of the future will not be measured by how well they tell stories to their audience, but rather by how well their audience tells stories about them
I got this line from this blog, and isnt it so true?

Forget about marketing, similar concept also applies to real life. It is never about how many people you know or how many friends you make, but always about how many friends who can vouch and talk ernestly about you and how many of them can stand for you. Most times I feel that "Good Will" is the greatest force that you can possess. 

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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Lessons of 2008

This post should have come earlier, but in many ways my new year has started in Feb and I am still in process of wishing people happy new year. 

These are some of the things which I learnt or I should say realized in last year... not like rocket science or anything but still felt like penning them down.

Take Decisions: Lot of times in last year I spent time delaying making decisions, worrying and wondering what if I make the in correct decisions, how it is going to affect and all, but then when you in the constant state of going hence and forth and  it drains so much of your energy. So I realized it is always good to take decisions, instead of dilly-dallying it, you may take a wrong decisions but it is ok. At least you would be clear in your mind and would be able to concentrate on other things. 

Giving 100%: It is such a simple thing right, but most times I have realized is that I dont do it. Most times in job or otherwise I just sit almost like waiting for something to happen, and then would start working. But then these days now I just keep telling myself give 100% or just get out and take a break and do something else.  Even though I dont believe that there is anything like 100% because every time I give in my best effort I always realize that I could have done better, and also I keep realizing that I could do more, and am beginning to believe that we have infinite energy to make and do things if we ever want to do it.

Don’t think : "Thinking" not in the terms of thinking of solution to problems, but thinking as in terms of "what if". I spend so much time doing it, that it is not funny. Someone sent me in the email the other day, "Jo pata nahi hai, uske bare me sochne ka koi matlab nahi hai, aur jo pata hai, uske baare me sochne ka koi faida nahi hai."(What you dont know there is no point in thinking about it and what you know, there is no advantage in thinking about it).  And it is so true, I guess you have to constantly tell yourself to be in present and not keep dwelling in either past or future. 

Of course it is not that all these things are new to me, I have probably known them ever since, but then it is still just that I don’t apply these that much and now that am going to put little more effort in putting all these in place. :)

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Traveling Endlessly

This year for me has kind of started with a bang, I dont think there was ever a time when I had traveled so much.  Since start of this year, I have traveled to 10 different cities, I remember that I was in Banglaore on 31st night spending new year at platform (were a part of the Tata Jagriti yatra then) and even after coming from the yatra, had been for one marketing trip and then for a friends wedding at coimbatore.

The entire month was filled up with waking early in mornings, waking up late at nights, traveled by flight, train and bus,  an average of only about 5 hours of sleep everyday, almost running all the time, not having time to eat, hence eating at odd times and odd places, not having time to check, reply to emails. 

When you look back at the month, so many memories/images come back, the month passed by in a jiffy, but it kind of memories make you feel as if it was worth a lifetime. Now that feb looks little free, I plan to blog in detail. Already some of the more serious blogs are in pipeline and would be posted soon. 

Monday, January 26, 2009

Page3 Stuff

The other day one of my journalist friends wanted me to go and cover one of the page3 parties on behalf of her. She was supposed to go and write about that, but then she had some personal emergency, and she asked me if I could go and just check out.

I went there in my normal jeans and kurta, but then when I went there the place looked kind of out of world. I have never been to such parties before, and everyone was like so polished and  artificial. There was hardly any man who was not in suit, and if at all there was any guy with the jeans, then he was like majorly hep-shep, with long hair and atleast couple of pierceing somewhere on the face. Everything looked so clean from outside, and I did not even talk to anyone, did not even shake hands, wondering if dust from my hands might spoil those nice suits. And ofcourse all women were also very expensively dressed.  There was this wiping of hands with tissue with each and every bite of food that you take, the size of starters were like very small, and waiters running left and right trying to ensure that everyone had atleast something to eat or drink.

The feeling was weird, but it was fun observing people. But then twenty minutes or so I got bored, because things seemed kind of repetitive. I just left wondering if I ever go this rich will I be attending these kind of Page3?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Taking the first step

The other day I was reading Seth Godin, and one thing that he said really struck me.

He said, look at your outbox and see how many mails that you sent out were the replies to incoming mails and how many were self initiatied emails. This could give you an indications of how time do you send in "reaction" as to "action". 
Ofcourse this does  not apply to everyone, but still i found this simple analysis very powerful.

So many times we just end up in life just waiting for something to happen and reacting and not acting. How many times we wait for some other person to start conversation, go over to adjacent cube to start talking instead of letting time go, in a gathering waiting to be forced to come forward to share the experience rather than volunteering, waiting for life to happen instead of making it happen.

Now whenever I reply to email, I have become little concious, wondering if I could have initiated that or should I start some similar conversation with some other person.

Happy Monday.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Tata Jagriti Yatra comes to an end..

11Jan, 8am, as soon as the train landed up in to the Mumbai central the yatra had ended. The journey across India for 18 days, through humidit of trivendrum to chilling cold from Lucknow to Delhi came to the end.

Initially I had thought that I would blog about each and every day of the yatra, but then after the first days things got so hectic that there was no time to blog, and I did not even realize where the 19 days disappeared. 

I am going to blog about the yatra in coming days, about the things I had seen and people whom I met, things that struck me and so on. 
Now as I settle down in to my original life style, I cant seem to forget the train. Train had started looking like home,  and somehow I never wanted that thing to end. Telling good bye to everyone that day on mumbai central seemed so difficult, I just felt as if I had know these people for ages, even though 3 weeks back we were strangers. (I just knew 2 people of the 400 people who where there on train)

I learnt so many subtle things during the trip, things which I would not even realize. For one I remember first few days, everyone had their own set of things, tooth pastes, slippers, and so on, and as days went by people started sharing things like tooth pastes, soaps, lunch and dinner plates, chappels, sometimes even towels. 

I learned to sleep on the platform, well there is nothing much to learn there, but then, now I know that i can survive on the platform and use the railway waiting rooms for taking bath. I have never been fussy in life about luxurious but this trip even took things little further. 

Also more than anything, it is just a new refreshing look at life. We just get caught in office/work/gym/class kind environment and sometimes we can never get the chance to look at ourselves properly, and we just fail to appreciate certain things, and there is always a hand to hold,when I  meet different people from marketing,  people do tend to treat me in certain way, and expect certain things and behavior from me because they know I am a tech marketing corporate world.

But in train it was completely different. People from different backgrounds and it is good to talk to people and then try to figure out what kind of person different perceive you as. Like how much better you can speak Hindi and not Hinglish. And then you discover so many things about youself, things that you never noticed or seen before. There are so many things that different people can teach and things and small things that touch you and give you a entirely different perspective to things. 

I have come back all energetic and refreshed, with number of things that I want to do in my life. More importantly I have made great friends some of them I am sure will remain for a long time to come.

Now that I am typing this from my marketing conferences, strange kind of hangover is there, it seems like a very plesant dream.  It was like someone picked me up from your comfortable home/office setting and placed me in carnival with 350 different people, totally different way of life, and then dropped me back all of sudden back to my orginal life with loads of distinct memories, smells, sounds even though now they seem so distant. But then  constant scraps in facebook remind me that it was not a dream.


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