My favorite books on Writing

Some of my favorite books on Writing are:

The Tao of Writing by Ralph L. Wahlstrom

On Writing – A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

The right to write: an invitation and initiation into the writing life by Julia Cameron

Bird by bird: some instructions on writing and life By Anne Lamott

Writing down the bones: freeing the writer within  By Natalie Goldberg

The right to write: an invitation and initiation into the writing life By Julia Cameron

The true secret of writing: connecting life with language By Natalie Goldberg

The Psychology of Creative Writing

 

 

 

 

Jabalpur, A town known as cultural capital

I was born in Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh) in India. The town is famous for various personalities who made it big in spiritual circuits. Maharshi Mahesh Yogi, Mahant Swami Maharaj & Osho (Rajneesh).

The small town has some disadvantages when one charts a career for the want of resources and connections.

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River Narmada at Bhedaghat, Jabalpur (M.P.) India Image Courtesy www.pratikpatki.com

Just two days back i joined a “Books and Beyond” group in WhatsApp on an invite by a young friend and well wisher. I was excited, curious and wanted to know more about books.  I felt a bit perplexed. One because the group had 99% ladies whom i hardly knew. Secondly the books being discussed were not read by me earlier and i felt same low self esteem as i did when i was studying in Hindi Medium School till class 8th.

Studying in Hindi Medium School strengthened my Hindi vocabulary and vernacular first language but in career it was English which i knew was going to help me speak a global language and help in clearing competitive exams in career.

I took some early lessons by a English Teacher in my colony who was catholic christian and help me get on with Wren & Martin in class 6th and 7th.  I am still learning the language and vocabulary but it caught me on with the language.

As luck would have it my job in IT Industry started with Indian Languages on Computers i.e. with Multilingual Computing and we did killing business till Unicode came into picture and global software giants also adopted it.

The point about small town syndrome is that being in a place and studying in a college where local politics and mindset were not so nurturing, i personally haven’t gone back to my Alma Mater since 1995.  But recently when i wanted to share memories of the place and town Jabalpur, I got enthusiastic responses and collaboration proposals for writing and curating blogs on Jabalpur.

The images shared are by Pratik Patki from Pune & we hope to bring more blogs on this topic soon.

Till then, Enjoy your weekend.

(To be continued….)

 

 

Why are you pursuing this course?

When i told my colleague Vivek Bhattacharya (24×7 Learning) that i was enrolling for Advanced Program in Strategic Management, he asked me this question “Why”?

For me learning has been a passion. Most of the jobs i take up are for learning something new. The course was one of the three which i had applied at IIM-Calcutta why sending the application but i was shortlisted for this program.

For me fee in 2008 was hefty for an upcoming online course like this one. But what did i get?

Apart from the learning on a subject like Strategic Management, Case Study Method and Online Learning through NIIT Imperia, what i  got was amazing list of peers in the program.

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(Tejas Lagad, Baldev Ghanshani, Deepak Motiramani)

As three of us met in 2017 at Ahmedabad, we realized that networking with old peers and pals teaches a lot of life and profession as a whole. All three of us were part of technology industry and could learn a lot over a small conversation over breakfast.

An program/ course gives you a great set of people whom one connects with. The connections and contacts are important to carry forward in life, learn and also share the learning with peers).

I am sure the college graduates shall take note of this and keep connecting beyond the online world of Facebook and LinkedIn.

(To be continued….)

WhatsApp has become boring?

Same revolving messages & images from one group to another. Friends who just forward you messages and think they are connected and in touch. But frankly, I am bored with WhatsApp.

Yes it is a great tool to exchange information. But it is great so long as it is a useful information. Notice the unwanted messages you get every morning.

One has an option to spend unnecessary time reading those messages or finally delete and stop using WhatsApp.

Since past few days I have thinking of deleting and doing away with WhatsApp. What holds me that sometimes (May be 1% we get useful messages).

If this trend continues, I may switch to instil a habit of opening my data once a day to discipline myself but it looks difficult as the temptation to do something is always there.

Do you resonate with the same feeling as I have? Please do write back before I delete WhatsApp.

Daily Newspaper

I was having a conversation with a friend about newspaper reading habit. What’s your style? Do take part in this poll for more discussion on the topic.

Cafe Toffee Day

Cafe Toffee Day
January 15,2017
Mumbai Airport

It’s amazing day when I started from Pune to find cars blocking express highway for the England- India Cricket Match. The roads were blocked and filled with cars of all varieties. Rich and poor all flocking to see a mania called cricket.

I have never been a cricket fan except when one umpire used to say “Earrings” on television and the camera used to focus on faces with Earrings. Somehow television and cricket used to be attractive in those days. I have lost touch after Dicky Bird stopped coming on screen.

The express highway was an out let for exchanging the Rs. 2000 note while paying for the toll. The journey was smooth as it was a lazy Sunday afternoon.

When I arrived at airport I was checked by the security to frisk of any risk before the car entered the airport. My face probably caught his attention while sitting on the front seat. (I had shaved today yaar)…

As I entered the Airport, it was 3 hours before the flight take off which is usually my standard time. I need some 2 hours odd to enjoy Masala Chai and Scrivener to keep typing as I am doing it now.

Mumbai Airport (Domestic) Terminal 1 is quite crampy but has a Cafe Coffee Day Lounge. I entered with a hope of getting a Masala Chai in a Cup and Saucer but to my surprise it was in a paper cup and dip tea as they call it.

Fortunately I could get a space next to the glass for a better view and sipped my tea with delight. As I finished the tea, I took a chance to spend some more time there but the captain was watchful and asked the cleaner to clean up table F-1. Well thats how I knew that I was a F-1 participant.

The hint to give the place to next customer was good enough to get up. I smiled at the captain and got up. He was caught in his act and apologized. I said, no you are just doing your duty. He asked me to wait for a minute, went away and got a chocolate for me. That’s why I call it “Cafe Toffee Day”.

I again recall my Indigo line, “Flying is a serious profession, please leave your worries beyond this point”.

As I boarded 6E446 to Lucknow I was a bit cozy in warm clothes for getting down at ease in Lucknow. It was expected to be lot cooler than Mumbai. Today again I was the first one to board and got the emergency exit at 13C. More leg space always is welcome for me. I was seated then next to me two young guys, one who had a difficult time locating his seat and the other on the window carrying Chetan Bhagat’s book “One Indian Girl”.

The books that come across in your life are also omens. It is upto you how you read them. As I was looking at the book and wondering Air Hostess Sana came and saw that 7 seats on emergency exit were filled in. She took the chance to brief the passengers on emergency safety procedures.

“Are you comfortable in Hindi”? She asked the guys in front row and got a cold response. “Sir emergency procedure hai, main hindi mein bolun ki english mein?” Two of the guys asked for explanation in Hindi. I was on 13C Aisle and 13D there was a Punjabi fellow traveler Mr. Khosla. On seeing Sana a bit confused about multiple languages, we both uttered “You can explain in Hindi to all”. She wondered as she was not expecting probably an explanation in Hindi and seemed to have a difficulty in language. I somehow felt that she was a new recruit. She excused herself and came back after a moment.

“Ok Sir Main Hindi mein batati hun”, She described in detail in Hindi. I guess that was a better explanation than most briefings of emergency safety procedures in English. Or was it me who could comprehend it better?

As passengers were filling up the seats, I noticed that the other two seats also got occupied near emergency exits. One was a lady near the window and other a seemingly looking politician just ahead of me on Aisle. Sana had to come again to brief them about emergency exit procedures.

“Sir, Ma’am I shall be briefing you about emergency exit procedures. Are you comfortable in English?” The lady said she was comfortable with English in second questioning. The politician just nodded. As time was running out Sana was in hurry as captain had started the announcement. Juggling between captains voice and her explanation, she noticed that the politician was instead busy in his mobile rather than listening to her. She hold up and requested him to listen carefully as it was important part of her duty. She had to sharpen up her tone to grab his attention. Ultimately the chap gave in.

With fast explanation Sana gave I was relieved of the confrontation which I was expecting. The taxiing had started and my eyes went on lighted up “One Indian Girl” under the reader’s light.

I took up the 6E in-flight magazine and lighted the B/W cover with the overhead lights. It was the most attractive cover I had seen. B/W has its own charisma. I wondered if the magazines will ever have more reading content than promotional contents.

During the flight I realized that people get up for washrooms more often when the crew serves with catering trolleys. May be they have a habit of loosening up before an intake.

“What would you like to have it Sir?” Sana asked the tall guy with tatoos reading “One Indian Girl”. “I know why you are smiling, it was a poor explanation in Hindi”. She felt guilty of her own explanation which in my view was rather detailed one.

And I remembered the Quote
“Every great business is built on friendship. ~ JC Penney”

Millennials, I can see them coming

Millennials, I can see them coming
January 08,2017
The Me Me Me Generation as I understand and feel about Millennials. The word is quite common these days and definitions are abound on Internet, Wikipedia and twitter.
I will just share my personal experiences in this blog.
When I visit my home town Bhopal, my father takes all the effort to receive us at railway station or airport, whatever the case may be. When parents visit my town, I am at liberty to tell them to take a cab and come home as I want to utilize time in something which I feel is productivity enhanced. So theirs is a generation more patient and caring and ours is out of time, busy on WhatsApp and Facebook, and we think we are smarter than their generation (courtesy smart phones).
Today I could see next generation of my young cousins visiting my home town. They did not even cared to meet, forget not even call. All we got was a WhatsApp message on common group with pictures telling us that they were around. Frankly me and my wife both did have an unpleasant experience. Well that’s progress of Millennials. We figured it out that actual reason for the same was that we do not drink alcohol and are somewhat outcast from social circles.
I can sense how my daughter is going to grow up. The kids at this age are demanding of all the facilities in life and parents do everything to fulfill them. The younger lot in my view has lost a chance to see challenges in life. By owning a flat and a car before they hit 30, the generation feels they have achieved everything. Everything yes, but at certain cost.
When I had a burn out at 33 I did not realize I was chasing dreams which was wanted fast and engrossed myself into work. Forgetting that time devoted to work, being an workaholic has it’s own cost. The need to mention here these points is that I can see my young cousins getting into a trap which all Millennials are going to face.
When I was young in school and college, I had friends. Friends who supported, chatted, discussed and did things unconditionally. Now this generation doesn’t talks, doesn’t discusses and is happy in their own world.
I really don’t know how they treat their parents but frankly our generation is different and so will be coming generations. Time which was supposed to be spent with family and friends is often spent on WhatsApp and Facebook.
No wonder Reliance Jio will be making money on data services as people instead of mingling with next door neighbor are busy on their small screens.
I read today in Times of India blog that French Government gave workers a New Year gift, by reversing the British novelist’s dictum and gave employees the right to disconnect from their mobile phones and computers so that office work didn’t disrupt their spare time.”
I think we need the same else the Millennials are going to need more life coaches like we saw in Dear Zindagi.
According to Simon Sinek, Millennials are typically people born after 1984, they are self interested, unfocused and difficult to manage. They get free food from office along with bean bag and they are still not happy. They always show life is amazing on Facebook and Instagram but inside they are depressed. I could have explained more but I would request you to see YouTube video “Simon Sinek on Millennials at Workplace “.
Trust me you will get the genesis of my today’s blog.

My first foreign trip

My first foreign trip
January 03,2017

Nepal was the closest foreign country,thats what I learned in geography. It is a country nestled in the Himalayas. Himalayas are mountains which I always wanted to explore.

Geography was my favourite subject in school. In fact social science was the subject I always used to like. Wish they could chart a career based on school marks and subject a kid likes.

Somehow General Knowledge (GK) was a topic of my interest. I used to read Competition Success Review and Times of India which were mostly a day late in reaching Jabalpur city as they were not printed locally. I used to ride my bicycle and visit the only paper distributor in the town to read the Times of India. There was an experience of attending SSB (Service Selection Board) NDA Interview in 1990 and this was four years later, I saw the advertisement for Air Force Technical Entry.

“Benaras, thats very close to Kathmandu (Nepal)”. I tried convincing my classmates. “Lets all apply for this interview, we can visit Nepal from there”, and they were sold to the idea. That was probably my first memorable sales pitch and a deal clinched.

As it turned out, five of us were called on the same dates to visit Benaras for the interview from our batch.

On day one Sanjeev commented seeing me in T-Shirt and Shorts. “You look like a fit sports person”. I said I just had few eggs more today. Let us not fail the test on day one. “If we have come so far let us all attempt interview seriously, then we will see about going to Kathmandu via Gorakhpur,” Shridhar suggested. We all agreed to do the same.

For me it was a know process as I had already appeared for NDA at the same AFSB 4 Varanasi. But the goal was to finish it fast and visit Nepal. One of the privileges of knowing the rules of the game is that one becomes casual in approach. Somehow for me, I am successful when I am more casual.

It turned out that I was in a last batch which was of candidates who had appeared for SSB earlier. The experience of 5-6 days of selection process is unmatched. But somehow I could understand the psychometric screening and loved the way group discussions and tests were held. I had always been an observer, a keen observer. The mettle of fresh blood is tested in a week long process by looking at overall aspect of the personality.

I had been regular in sports club for badminton, table tennis, chess and billiards. They kept me sharp and agile for this particular interview process. The last part of attempts at clearing physical obstacles was better for me this time which included monkey rope, height jump and few minor obstacles. I could do some at ease, others I did not attempt.

“Number 304”, it was repeated again, I suddenly was reminded that my number is was called as the last selected participant. “Come fast, there are lots of forms to be filled up”. I couldn’t believe that I was selected. So were my friends with shattered dream to visit Nepal. “Let’s call the visit to Nepal off” Shridhar looked dejected. “We are going back to Jabalpur should we book your ticket as well”. Bhaskar asked. “I said Yes”.

It was an overnight journey back home and atleast I slept soundless sleep and was woken up by Shridhar at Jabalpur station. I reached home and informed that I was selected. I do not remember the reaction at home but I also never calculated in those days that it was a great achievement being selected in pre final year and there was a scholarship of Rs. 7000 per month for final year of study in college, to be received on joining Air Force.

What are you doing in the back row? Prof. Xxx asked in the class. “Sir he has been selected in Air Force”. Umesh announced. “Yahan se nikaloge to Air Force jaoge na”. “Padhai pe dhyan do”. Xxx was my favourite teacher. Not because I understood what he taught in class but because I used to see him carrying share certificates of companies. I used to see Jaiprakash Associates, BSES, Reliance, Tata Steel etc. more often that the AC/DC currents flowing in the motors.

And I really could not come out of my BE. I decided not to join air force and pursue my dream of joining IIM. But I did not put in efforts to really make it. I was just selected in IMS Indore, in a new course Master of Financial Applications. Though I had few more alternatives like TAPMI and Goa Institute of Management, I decided to join IMS as it was the only place where I had relatives.

What I haven’t told my friends is that important reason for selection in Air Force was that, “I had picked up a Bomb”. A bomb was a heavy material pseudo to be carried forward from one end of the obstacle pit to another along with the team. It was a group activity. All the members in the group were unknown to me. As we were given instructions only thing I knew was that it had to be some kind of team play.

Steps were easy and a participant who had a heavy built picked up the bomb and allowed all of us to cross the pit. He said I will come last and will carry it. I was the second last. As my previous participant was standing on a stone, I called on the last guy, “Pass me that Bomb”. He initially hesitated as he wanted the credit to carry it himself all alone. He said, “Nahi aap chalo”. I shouted back “Pass me that Bomb”. He then handed over it to me. As I took it I realized it was too heavy for me to hold for a long time. I asked the next person “Just pass it one to the next guy to you” and tried to relieve myself of the heavy object. As a team we could accomplish the task.

I think sharing that burden with team mate in time really helped me in showing officer like qualities and were decisive for selection.

“In testing times how we carry ourselves is a reflection of how we are tuned to that situation and subconscious”.

We did not travel to Nepal but I could see how mountains have a calling. Mountains are not conquered but mountains allow you to have a sense of connectedness to the earth. For that feeling of rising high, one has to climb one step at a time, into the unknown and ofcouse the descent is always easier as the way is known.

Be Indian, Feel Indian

“Be Indian, Feel Indian”
Part 1

‘They are taking us to NASA’. My daughter came back from school euphoric and ecstatic.

‘How much does it costs?’ I asked. ’ 3 Lakhs only. Here is the brochure’. ‘Hmmmm. Are your friends going?’ Yes all of them are. It is just 3 lakhs.

My 8th grader daughter didn’t know that we survive for one full year in that amount.

‘You are too young to travel to another country alone, and that to US, even I haven’t been there’. I gave in a trump card.

But this conversation disturbed my thought.
1. I can’t afford it
2. How can school allow a presentation from a private company at school for evoking a feeling of poorness in a child?

(Believe me it was the toughest communication for me till date to tell to my child that we couldn’t afford to send her to NASA).

Well but that’s just the reality. It is tough for single income, rupee dependent economy salary earner to afford such dreams. I even thought of writing a letter to principal but I didn’t.

Did my parents face similar situation? Well at least schools in those days never dreamt of sending kids to NASA. At least the one I attended.

So answer to first question. Can I afford it? Of course I can, the cost is just equivalent to my credit card limit.

To the second question: The school probably wants kids to explore the world and may be this is the need of education for a global world. But isn’t that a justification for something which I truly do not feel comfortable inside.

Why not ISRO? Why did the school not think of taking kids to ISRO? That would have allowed all the kids to see how satellites are made and know about some science.

I called up my friend who works at ISRO if such trips are possible to be made to ISRO? ‘Yes’. He answered.

My 16 years of sales and marketing experience told me, Americans are good at marketing. They could market NASA to a private company, to the school and finally to an 8th grader who was totally sold to the idea of the US trip.

So that’s when I saw the emergence of Real e-commerce (educational commerce).