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.

_MG_6864_CS
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….)

 

 

Sabarmati Ashram

IMG-20170806-WA0015.jpg

Sabarmati Ashram, the place resonates with Mahatma Gandhi. I never noticed the word ashram and during the second trip i was little mindful as to why it is called an Ashram.

During my first visit i just looked at the houses, place and people around. I really did not look at it carefully.

So yesterday when i visited it, i started with Map and also a WiFi Digital Ashram Tour on Mobile. The WiFi tour did not open well on mobile and allowed me to be mindful during the walk around the ashram.

Reading carefully each word on the display, i realized the story is clearly written on the walls. I allowed myself to read the words carefully about the history of the Ashram and freedom struggle.

Look at the display written below.

IMG-20170806-WA0040.jpg

The written text tell so much about the story on relationship.

I would highly recommend you to spend quality time here at this place. And yes there is a hotel called Hotel Toran opposite the Ashram where you get a Gujarati Thali for Lunch.

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.

IMG-20170803-WA0003.jpg

(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.

Most Memorable Travel Journey

In this age of sophisticated planning, GPS and Mobile, we travel for the sake of uploading pictures on Facebook and pushing tweets on twitter. At least i do it now.

However, my most memorable travel journey was in the pre- technology dominated days when we (5 friends) decided to travel at the snap of fingers. The nearest hill station was Pachmarhi and there was no google in those days. We just heard that it’s a tourist place.

In my earlier Facebook post “The Dark Train and a Bottle of Rum” , i just gave a glimpse of the journey to Pachmarhi.

Little did i mention in this post about the freedom given to us by our parents for adventure. In teenage years and as youth we even don’t count the pocket money and moral support given to us by our parents in these growing years.

Looking at the current generation, such trips are business ideas being en-cashed as travel and tourism grows up by various entrepreneurs.  For us it was a natural process. Now it’s a school or a company customized travel trip which allows an access to natural places such as hill stations or a hike in the valley.

To explore some awesome travel journeys which are unplanned and at the snap of finger, please follow this link to join my WhatsApp group: https://chat.whatsapp.com/58FI6ZChSDACLaPEyAOdNO

Age group for this above group is 25-50 and you must be an active contributor to website and WhatsApp group to be invited for such trips. So please do participate proactively.
I look forward to your comments about your childhood experiences and especially the current generation facing a gap of such adventure activities.  Ciao and Enjoy your weekend!!

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.

And I wrote the Ocean

And I wrote the ocean
January 02,2017

During the train journey yesterday (Jabalpur-Somnath Express), I met Mr. Roopak P., Regional Manager of Navdeep Publications. We chitchatted a bit and had the same interest in school publications due to our previous career paths. I shared him one incident which leapfrogged me into writing and I never hesitate to write. Here is the old collection of experience.

My father sent me to a Hindi medium school because of the nature of transferable job and possible rural postings. I studied till 7th grade in pure Hindi medium schools. Then as chance would have it my father got deputed to New Delhi and I got admission in another Hindi medium school called MBDAV Sr Sec School in Yusuf Sarai. As luck would have it CBSE gave us a choice to study science subjects in English medium from 9th grade, I opted for this. So 9th and 10th grades were in English medium and I enjoyed reading dictionary from word to word.

In 1988 I scored good marks and stood 3rd in the class/school for 10th exams. My father again got posted back to Jabalpur and we decided to take transfer from School. All we remember was a inland letter from school offering me 100 Rs. per month in scholarship. But I was finding it good to go back to small hometown.

We returned back to Jabalpur and somehow I was head-bent to go to Kendriya Vidyalaya (Central School) as it was co-ed. I had never studied in a co-ed school. There were four KV schools in Jabalpur and we tried seeking admission in all but were duly rejected as my father was not in central services but state.

My father asked me to go back to old Hindi medium school as the other two convent schools had closed their admission procedures. I was not in favour of it and totally rejected the idea as I wanted to be that upper league of English education. I didn’t want to let go of the Delhi chance as a waste.

Few days later my father took me to buy a bicycle to The Central India Machine Company. The owner Mr. Basant Nigam was chewing pan (a famous mouth freshener in India) and offered us a cup of tea. He then asked me to look around to select a Bicycle, I had one glance and selected “Street Hawk”. He remarked thats the best one in the store. I still remember the Street Hawk’s price was 1300 INR in 1988. He then inquired about my school and understood my story.

He then suggested us to meet Mr. Brij Bihari Singh of Christ Church Boy’s Higher Sec School. His son was studying in the same school and was admitted in ICSE Board. The school had recently introduced this new curriculum from 1988.

My father told me to go and inquire as he had a working day on Monday. I was feeling fresh on the new bicycle and in the rain rode to the CCBHSS. The assembly had just dispersed and classes were about to start. I went to the school office and inquired for Mr. B.B. Singh. He came out of the office after 10 minutes or so and heard my story and enquiry. He saw me drenched in rain and asked me to come the next day with my father.

The next day I was accompanied by my father and the teacher had a discussion with my father. They both came out and Mr. Singh was carrying a paper with him. He then asked me to write an essay in an empty classroom for 30 minutes odd and gave me a topic “Ocean”. Write an essay on this topic, he said.
I was ready for the experiment. I splurged the ink on the paper as if I was a fish in the ocean, seeing all the world under the water and sharing my experience on the paper. I wish I could have saved a copy of that essay I had written. I enjoyed writing for the first time in my life as this essay was a bit different from the ones given in the classrooms. One it had an abstract topic, two purpose of writing it was different. I wanted to get into an English medium school that too the best one in the town as I was told.

My Singh took the paper, went inside with a promise that he will come back shortly. He did come back with the paper and I could see read circles around words, some underlines on sentences and the colour blue was equally mixed with colour red.

It seemed for a while that I will have to go back to the old Hindi medium school, Pt. Lajjashankar Jha (called model school) but I never wanted to go to the classrooms with water dripping from the roof during raining season and we students sitting on the floor.

Alright then,so here are the conditions, Mr. Singh spoke. For ICSE you have to compulsorily pass in English subject for promotion to next grade. That’s the rule of ICSE, Will you be able to cope up with the challenge? I immediately said yes. Fine then please take the admission rules from office and join the school from tomorrow. Mr. Singh took me by surprise as I was concerned about the red circles on the paper.

Years later somehow I recalled that incident and narrated it to Mr. Roopak. I realized one thing that Mr. Singh might not have been able to force down Macbeth in my limited understanding of English literature, he gave me a chance risking his reputation. I am still wondering why he did that as a teacher.

I wish the records in schools were digitized so that future generations are able to reflect on their learnings. Street Hawk gave me physical agility to ride the roads of Jabalpur for many years but red circles on ocean became a lifetime lesson and that lesson is “Red Circle on papers do not matter,as for the fish there is always an ocean to explore”.

Is it Mobile or Docile?

Is it Mobile or Docile?
Part 2

As an adult I keep looking at my pocket now and then, to check if that precious thing called Mobile is there or not.

‘All my classmates have mobile except 2 of us. It is so useful when we are out of home’.

My daughter actually asked to possess a Mobile. ‘We exchange class notes on WhatsApp’.

Well this argument is true. She actually uses her mother’s Mobile during exams or leaves.  As a father I am all in to gift mobile to 12 year old.

‘No, She will spend time and will get distracted.’ My wife advised.

When I look from her perspective, yes even we as adult get distracted with gadgets.

So what is the right age for a Mobile?

Many a times there are no right or wrong answers but experiences to sail through.

——–+——

29.09.2016
08:27 am