The world this week [sic]

Turned 30. Too many things to do and too little a time left.

Neil Armstrong dies at 82. This was the first man to walk on the moon. In a couple of decades, Dragon X [and many others] will commercialize cheap [sic] flights to the stars and beyond … but until then this was the first man to walk on the moon. Something to think about. Beyond all the conspiracy theories of the man on the moon and movies (Scorpion One), the amazing work that Ron Garan is doing engaging with the civilians directly, kids sending balloons and cheaper cameras, its a wonder unfolding right within the very eyes. But until then think about it, the man on the moon who was.

The other living Armstrong, Lance decided to not fight anymore. When I see the media reports streaming in, it looks as though he has been convicted – the facts and the procedure presents otherwise. Reminds of the elections in UP the other day where it was said that Dimple Yadav won unanimously while the whole truth was she was selected on basis on no other contestants. Media – it is a disservice if you are looking for a story and not telling the facts.

Apple won in the ‘Apple vs Samsung lawsuit’ with Samsung being ordered to pay in excess of $1B. What that means for the rest of the Android devices, for Google, for Nokia and Microsoft, Bada OS only time will tell.

man in the mould of god or vice-versa ?

All the texts of origins of different religions talk about a beginning. A beginning that was begot by a single all knowing all powerful being. And humans who were moulded in his / her shape. If it looks fine, if it feels fine and if it smells fine… then it must be fine. However when I was at the Birla Science Museum a small thought stuck with me.

On the geographic timeline, Earth was born 4.6 bya (billion years ago). Earth did not cool down and the first rock forms did not appear until 3.95 bya.  The first sign of life (single celled organisms, etc) up until 537 mya. The mighty dinosaurs not until 249 mya. They ruled and utterly dominated earth for about 160 my and suddenly inexplicably go extinct around 63 mya. The baap to the current humans the homo-sapiens came in at around 190,000 years ago. On a geographic time scale of 24 hours, the dinos ruled the earth for a fill 1 hour and we have been here only for the last 8 minutes. We are already talking about devastating dangers to our existence. (Hat-tip : NatGeo)

And I yet cannot understand for the love of it, that none of the texts of god even talk about a past filled with dinosaurs. The stories never even talk of mighty beasts and yet they seem to be a commandment of higher all knowing beings. Were the all knowing beings ignorant or just plain absent-minded and forgot to tell about the dinos. Anyways, the question will keep raging for a few more decades anyways. I for one have to seem to have found my own small cubic millimeter of peace. I for one have found my answer. An answer that just talks about the limits of human imagination, the power of social media and society, the complete power held by beliefs rather than of rationality.

How to work with me

The first time I read it here (Hat-tip @derblub) , I saved it in a text file for my reference and to internalize it. However for the sake of posterity and my own predisposition towards spring cleaning I’ve decided to save it here.

This is something I am going to send out to my minions and their minions to work with one another. Tee hee!

  • I prefer to work fast, minimize bullshit, get to the point.
  • You will sometimes have bad news for me. I want it immediately. I can usually show you how to fix it. And I never blame the messenger.
  • Bring pen and paper to every meeting with me. Pay attention to what I say; I’ll try to speak with care. If I frequently must repeat instructions, or remind you of something I’ve already told you, you will not work with me again.
  • If I’ve scheduled a weekly meeting with you, don’t assume that this meeting is the only time to raise issues with me; Interrupt me for time critical issues.
  • If you have a meeting with me at an assigned time, and I am in another meeting with my door closed, interrupt me. I stack meetings, and each meeting leads into the next.
  • I like “micro-meetings”. Get in quick, bring only the necessary parties to the table, make a decision, get out. Five minutes or less. Make these effective by knowing what decision needs to be made before you start, and presenting the decision criteria ahead of time to all participants.
  • Stand during micro-meetings.
  • I don’t like email, particularly for discussing complex topics. If a decision needs to be made, do a micro-meeting. If a problem needs to be discussed, ask the person with the most depth to prepare something, an agenda, have a whiteboard, and work through it quickly.
  • One exception to the above: I like “micro-updates”: Quick emails confirming time critical commitments and mutual understanding. These are especially useful after we hold a meeting and I give you a set of directives: I always like to hear our agreed-upon commitments echoed back to me. I may not respond, but I will read it. Keep these emails short: Spare me the greetings, thank yous, regards.
  • Be consistent in your communication. Use words consistently. Use email headers consistently. Strive to make your work immediately comprehensible.
  • If you disagree with me, voice your differences. I welcome and invite dissent. If this makes you uncomfortable, feel free to prepare your thoughts after the meeting and then later return to make your case.
  • Ego-driven debates annoy me. Check your ego at the door: I’m only interested in reaching the best, most elegant solution —I don’t care if it’s your idea or mine.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you’re not clear. I have more patience for explaining and clarifying my position before you start than I do patience for fixing a wasteful, incorrect approach after the fact.
  • Don’t tell me something is in the process of being done without telling me when it will be done. I’m more interested in the time commitment than the fact that an effort exists.
  • Always give me options, informed by an economic analysis where possible (if there are dollars involved, an analysis is mandatory), and then make your recommendation. Don’t tell me there’s a problem without offering a solution. Don’t offer me multiple solutions without giving me your best and final recommendation.
  • If you must prepare reports for me, review spreadsheets I’ve created. Copy the style and format.
  • Don’t send me long documents. I like precision and concision. Say it on one page (or less).

Shaayari from ZNMD

1 – After the deep sea dive

पिघले नीलम सा बहता हुआ यह समा, नीली नीली सी खामोशियाँ
न कहीं है ज़मीन, न कहीं आसमान
सरसराती हुई टहनियां … पत्तियाँ
कह रही है की बस एक तुम हो यहाँ
सिर्फ मैं हूँ, मेरी सांसें है और मेरी धडकनें
ऐसी गहराईयां, ऐसी तनहाईयाँ और में , सिर्फ मैं
अपने होने पे मुझे यकीन आगया

Pighlae neelam sa behtaa hua yeh sama
Neeli neeli si khaamoshiyaan
Na kahiin hai zameen
Na kahiin aasmaan
Sar saraati hui tehniyaan… pattiyaan
Keh rahi hai ki bas ek tum ho yahaan
Sirf main hoon
Meri saansen hai aur meri dhadkanen
Aisi gehraayiyaan
Aisi tanhaayiyaan
Aur main… Sirf main
Apne honae pae mujhko yakeen aa gaya

2 – After meeting Imran’s biological dad

जब जब दर्द का बादल छाया
जब घम का साया लहराया
जब आसूं पलकों तक आया
जब यह तन्हा दिल घबराया
हमने दिल को यह समझाया
दिल आखिर क्यों रोता है
दुनिया में यूं ही होता है
यह जो गहरे सन्नाटे है
वक़्त ने सब को ही बांटे हैं
थोडा ग़म है सबका किस्सा
थोड़ी धुप है सबका हिस्सा
आँख तेरी बेकार ही नम है
हर पल एक मौसम है
क्यूँ तू ऐसे पल खोता है
दिल आखिर तू क्यूँ रोता है?

Jab jab dard ka baadal chaaya
Jab hum ka saayaan lehraaya
Jab aansoon palkon tak aayaa
Jab yeh tanha dil ghabraaya
Humne dil ko yeh samjhaaya
Dil aakhir tu kyuun rota hai
Duniya mein yuun hi hota hai
Yeh jo gehren sannaatae hain
Waqt ne sab ko hi baantae hain
Thoda gham hai sabka kissa
Thodi dhoop hai sabka hissa
Aankh teri bekaar hi nam hai
Har pal ek nayaa mausam hai
Kyun tu aisae pal khota hai
Dil aakhir tu kyuun rota hai

3 – Bull run

दिलों में तुम अपनी बेताबियाँ लेके चल रहे हो,
तो जिंदा हो तुम
नज़र में ख्वाबों की बिजिलियाँ लेके चल रहे हो,
तो जिंदा हो तुम
हवा के झोंकों के जैसे आजाद रहना सीखों
तुम एक दरियां की जैसे लहरों में बहना सीखों
हर एक लम्हे से तुम मिलो खोलें अपनी बाहें
हर एक पल एक नया समा देखे यह निगाहें
जो अपनी आँखों में हैरानियाँ लेके चल रहे हो
तो जिंदा हो तुम
दिलों में तुम अपनी बेताबियाँ लेके चल रहे हो
तो जिंदा हो तुम

Dilon mein tum apni betaabiyaan laekae chal rahe ho
toh zinda ho tum
Nazar mein khwaabon ke bijliyaan laekae chal rahe ho
toh zinda ho tum
Hawa kae jhonkon ke jaise aazaad rehnaa seekho
Tum ek dariyaa ke jaise lehron mein behna seekho
Har ek lamhe se tum milo kholae apni baahein
Har ek pal ek naya sama dekhe yeh nigaahen
Jo apni aankhon mein hairaaniyaan laekae chal rahe ho
toh zinda ho tum
Dilon mein tum apni betaabiyaan laekae chal rahe ho
toh zinda ho tum

By Javed Akhtar Saab

Slow and Steady: How we got it all wrong!

My dad and I were having a discussion while we working out today and something just popped up during our discussion. He was ruing about the huge difference in his physical form since his young days, but my point was that he would have the form if he would stick to a regimen regularly. Only if he could dedicate an hour daily working out doing some basic workout he would definitely get back to better physical levels.

And just then I had my Eureka moment! How much as a society do we underrate consistency!!! I can only hark back to the roots in ‘slow and steady wins the race’ proverb, from that fable of the hare and the tortoise. Sadly, then and now the lesson has been lost on all of us – even the teachers that taught us I guess. I don’t think as young students we ever considered that the tortoise won the race because it had a steady pace towards reaching its destination; it was always the fact that the hare slept in the middle and that is why it lost the race. Had the loser hare not slept it would definitely have won the race. And this is precisely where the whole of our life got screwed up splendidly. The significance of the tortoise winning the race because of its slow and steady pace always lost out in the grand scheme of things.

It just doesn’t make sense – that such a significant lesson was never repeated over and over again to us during our years. The fact that we would be much better students, persons and even physical bodies because of this simple fact screws all of us even now. We could have been so much better had this been drilled into us more rigorously.

Our exams would not have consisted of having to study in the last one day prior to the exam. Bills paid in the last minute. Tax planning would not have consisted of losing almost all of the last month’s salary.

Warren Buffet isn’t him because he had one big hit all his life and then just slept through it. It was just a measly 20% year on year for the last few decades. Had this been the case of 1 hit wonders all this wealth would never have been made. The significance of compound interest is just lost. In fact, the point of regimen is about compound interest. The skills, work and all benefits are just amassed on top of the assets already made. Its about working through inch by inch.

This just means that to achieve all the goals that we ever wanted to achieve – it all boils down to a single mantra – Inch by Inch, Day by Day – that is all it takes – a simple disciplined regimen. And the biggest lesson of all it just works. The grand canyons or the valleys – never happened over our lifetime – so that lesson never existed in the first place. But the other lessons need not be lost on us – smoking and nicotine accumulating in lungs over the years – systematically – that’s how rust happens; systematically, slow and steady, precisely what we as humans with limited memory and power of recall should be very worried about.

My last 1 week of experimenting on my ‘Do nothing’ vacation has yielded significant results for me personally. That a simple regimen of working out daily, reading for an hour, having an hour of silence, indulging in conversations with all I hold dear – all this seem to make significant impact in the quality of my everyday life. Every day is a lesson in understanding the impact of Regimen.

Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours really seems to be true.

teenmaar

The movie is mostly a copy of the much better made Hindi movie ‘Love Aaj Kal’.

Teenmaar opens with a very powerful and of course completely irrelevant premise – that it being the story of 2 senadhipatis and about ‘Art of War’. Positively flummoxed it was a very interesting start to an already known love story which was supposed to have zero talk about politics, battles or even arguments.

Generally remakes are very easy bets. All that the director has to do is understand the spirit of the movie. Understand what made it click with the audience and that’s it. The screenplay, the settings, dialogues are all tailor made and available as raw material for the new one. ‘Love Aaj Kal’ had a very simple premise – the way youth from 2 generations looked at love. They had 2 different and probably even valid view points – it was left to the audience – the director only had a story to narrate. And here sadly the director never ‘gets’ it.

Here it becomes a war of old vs new – how the new never appreciates the old. A long winding sermon of a movie showing everything the new does as childish or even immature. That a whole generation gets labelled as selfish and not without a vision or a heart.

Nevertheless, the moment the hero Pavan Kalyan started mouthing Italiano much to the immense pleasure of the heroine – all hell broke lose. If that was Italiano no doubt James Bond never needed them skills to seduce his women. At the top of his game (implying that Pavan Kalyan has already peaked) he was a romantic fast talking enigmatic young warrior, all his movies then were genuine runaway hits. But in this one – the Italian is crap (Im yet to hear a Italian accent that as indecipherable as his), the dialogues so pedestrian, the movie so twisted out of shape – its a shame. Only 2 songs were worth listening and neither of them had any meaningful lyrics to think back upon.

The older one is dressed in kurtas and jeans all the time – I am still having a hard time figuring which part of India he was from – for all I know this might be intentional to keep us guessing about the time period and place he was from. Telugu film directors were never very good at period movies anyways – a british autocrat who would appear in sunglasses in one movie and here the protagonist appears in jeans. Sometimes I wonder if the Indians think of developing countries as lagging the developed countries by 20 – 30 years – so its only a matter of time – we would reach them in couple of years time ‘anyways’.

It must be the pure Indian hypocrisy at play – that Indians have no problem working with or under Americans – they even make their fortunes there – but anytime an Indian decides to deride them in his own mother language – the movie ends up in loud cheers. And sadly that was a biggest saving grace for the film – the only decent bits of comedy.

And I understand its going to be a massive hit.

Kayaking and 2nd chances

Sunday. January 30th.

Another check on the Bucket List. A chance to kayak in the hinterlands on Hyderabad. In a lake in the arid land of Vikarabad – a huge surprise that – let alone finding a pond, there was a frigging lake in the middle of it. An enterprising gentleman, Ram Bhamidipati organized the Adventure sports meet for ‘Meetup.com’ers to row and kayak in the Nagasamudram Lake in Vikarabad.

It was an amazing trip. A small motley team of 13 started off to Vikarabad. We were hoping that we would have at least 6 kayaks to row around – Ram made it clear that there were only 2. We were disappointed but Ram clearly assured us if we could manage 15 minutes of rowing, it would be an achievement. And oh! and how wrong we proved him and ourselves. You see… kayaking is a physically extracting sport – seeing and doing are two very very different things. Sweaty bodies, bruised arms, aching legs, screaming muscles – lots of water around, its one of those few sports where quitting midway is equally tiring. As that old ancient mariner would say … water water all around but not a drop to drink.

Rowing a kayak inspite of lack of friction is no mean task. Pushing your own body through water is an apparent exercise in serendipitous path finding algorithm. The oars have to be held tight pushing against the water left, right and left in tandem with your rowmate 😛 and thats when the kayak gives in and starts ahead. And bull headed men can try push all they want, coax and scream at the kayak to go hence, but then if your physics are wrong the kayak is a merry go round. But then reconcile with the fact that your kayak is your worst physics teacher come alive and adhere to his command, and he would listen to yours.

Emotions can run high too. Screaming at the erring boatsmen to come back – them lost in their own world taking in the pleasure of the world it can quickly become a bit tiring for the onlookers goading them to come back – 2 kayaks are not enough for a 1st time experience.

Somewhere in all of this, I decided to help my own brother and his friend to row right. And how do you give face to face advice to the kids in the middle of the lake? Well obviously you swim to them and swim I did. But then the delicious irony of this sport is that coaches and students all need to put in the same effort to stay afloat – no discounts. So when I decided to stand straight look them eye to eye and give my 7 seconds of speech, obviously the lack of land under the feet did not give my chance for oration. All that I could realize was that I felt a few feet short, a shortcoming that never manifested in the off-water world – but here that came to show itself in simple brutality. And my obvious panic helped no one – the onlookers on the shore only watching me in amusement mistaking it for a new style of freestyle. My brother who was much more near and much closer and much aware of my abhorrence for any stunts understood as it was – a simple damn rescue. He jumped in to rescue forgetting the fact that he was not better swimmer equal at best. And so did jump his friend too. So there I was obviously sinking like a rock with hands, him reaching out to me only with a lack of skill to complete the rescue mission and the fact we were world class swimming pool swimmers only helped that much. Only later did he realize with his jacket that was virtually unsinkable. Inspite of my gurgling screams, one of my colleagues got the better of his senses decided to come to rescue. In the meantime, yours truly was able to touch land and swim a bit forth by the time which the colleague caught me and pulled me in. That was it. I was in. A huge hug later or more thankfully a lack of a punch and a slap later, all went fine. It was a stupid act that only got right in the end – to first swim and then panic incessantly and then to arrive at the conclusion that rescue would come but I might be unconscious at the max when pulled ashore. A hundred things could have gone wrong, only they didn’t. Thankful for that. Only the confidence the worst would not happen at all. Crazy yet true.

A brief collection of energies, thoughts and courage later all were back in the water – rowing and getting the muscles torn. Finally we did decide to return home. And then a huge set of memories. Pagadala, Saki, Keerthi and Venu, and that stranger from Wipro – thanks. I would not be here if it were not for you.

  • Cost of meetup – 350/-
  • Driving 200 kms in your car – 1000/-
  • Cost of each kayak – 15000/-
  • A small memento from the Siddhi School for Autistic Children – 100/-
  • Blowing a kayak and getting in the water – 15 mins
  • Rowing the kayak, swimming in the lake, getting almost killed and living to tell the tale over a bottle of beer – priceless

Links to the trip:

Murali n Me

The 1st trip into the lake

Murali n Me

The obligatory wide screen shot

Murali n Me

Brother's friend and him

Murali n Me

The instigator, The organizer and the Sea Swimmer