Sunday, March 29, 2015

#AAP-Ki-Crisis: Management and Leadership Disasters in Expulsion of Yadav, Bhushan, Kumar & Jha

May I assume that you have read or heard news about or viewed live coverage of the ongoing crisis in Aap (Aam Aadmi Party; a newly launched political party in India which grabbed power in the state of Delhi recently.)? If you have not, here are some refreshing links: OneIndia; Rediff; MControl.

Let us analyze this event purely from management and leadership perspectives:

(1) First thing which struck me was that the meeting was happening at a private 'Resort' where entry was restricted to a few while 'aam aadmi' did not know what was happening inside. Bhushan's demand to video-tape the proceedings was met with great scorn and heart-burns. Then some of Yadav's supporters were denied entry. When Kejriwal had said that he would take oath as Delhi CM in a stadium, it meant something. A stadium symbolized "openness" and "equality" while a "closed door resort" symbolized "non-transparency" and "inequality".

(2) A leader is built by taking leadership during crisis. This is why Rahul Gandhi never got respect as he went absconding during every crisis. Kejriwal was the same leader who used to challenge his opponents into "open debate" in front of live cameras. He was always ready to clarify his positions. Portions of Kejriwal's speech or conversations which we have listened to recently sound like a fuming Sonia Gandhi. Kejriwal's group have hardly displayed any inspiring leadership during this crisis.

(3) A good leader has to remain 'accessible'. This is why managers who advertise "open door policy" appear so happy about it. During yesterday's meeting, we never saw Kejriwal or his select group outside the venue interacting with the party's "volunteers". We never saw Kejriwal even talking to the media, clearing his position on the scandals or about yesterday's ruckus. When leaders are inaccessible, they run the risk of adversaries taking their pole positions. We saw this happening yesterday when anti-Kejriwal Yogendra Yadav sat on Dharna in front of the "volunteers" - dharna being the most branded IP of Kejriwal. Party members may fall in love with other leaders for doing what they were earlier used to seeing Kejriwal doing.

(4) When AAP had established an 'internal Lokpal', it had sent a strong message to all. That the party was ready to walk the talk; the party stood for all the values it wanted other parties and govts to possess. But when Kejiwal's team asked their internal Lokpal Admiral Ramdas not to come to the meeting, it was as if they wanted "righteousness" and "truth" to turn a "blind eye". This decision made Kejiwal and his party appear like "hypocrites".

(5) People expect "continuity" as much from a leader as they expect "vision". This crisis and the manner in which it was handled gave a clear message how much the party had changed after gaining absolute power in a state (of Delhi). That was people's worst fear - that this party and its leaders were appearing honest until they were out of power and would also change after gaining power. The party has been successful in letting its members' worst fears come true. It has been a PR disaster. It has been a crisis mismanaged. It has been an anti-climax.

- Rahul

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Book: Missionaries in India : Continuities, Changes, Dilemmas By Arun Shourie

Finished reading my third Arun Shourie book - "Missionaries in India". It was published first in year 1996 and I read its fourth reprint in year 2010 by Rupa & Co. (ISBN: 81-291-0573-X). In this book the author shares extensive research and review of the work done by Christian missionaries in India from the British days onward; with resource as Gandhiji's writing, Vivekananda's speeches and official literature from Church and missionaries speeches. The book serves as a reappraisal and critique of the role of Christian Missionaries and their religious “conversion” techniques and methods in India.

Arun Shourie said about his book: "To celebrate the 50th anniversary of its establishment the C.B.C.I. convened a meeting in January 1994 to review the work of the Church in India. For some reason the organizers were so kind to ask me to give the Hindu perception of the work of Christian missionaries in India. That lecture and the discussion which followed form the scaffolding of this book.”

Since the missionaries found hard to "convert" caste-Hindus, they started "converting" the Tribal, Dalits, Harijans etc in large numbers, and Gandhiji was fuming at this design. Gandhiji said, "When a Christian preacher goes and says to a Harijan that Jesus was the only begotten Son of God, he will give him a blank stare. Then he holds out all kinds of inducements which debase Christianity". Gandhiji challenged missionaries to convert him, rather than convert uneducated poor people by promising them money and support, and in fact they tried to convert him too! Of course they failed.

The book contains Gandhiji's conversations and arguments with missionaries, taken from his Collected Works, and it is fascinating to read. Also, it contains letters and speeches from British high-rank officials, which tell how they thought that converting Indians into Christianity would ensure long life and success for the British Raj, since converted person changes his "loyalty"; also that they tried to use "English education" as a means for the same purpose.

I would like to reproduce two excerpts from the book with titles of my own. These will give you an idea about the rich content in this book.

Education System in India Prior to the British Rule

British Parliamentarian Keir Hardie wrote in his book 'India' that Bengal before British occupation had 80000 native schools, which meant 1 school for every 400 of the population! Ludlow, in his 'History of British India' wrote that "in every Hindu village which has retained its old form children are able to read, write and cipher, but where we (the British) have swept away the village system in Bengal, there the village school has also disappeared."

Report of A.D. Campbell, Collector of Bellary (Karnataka), dated 17 August, 1823 mentions: "Of nearly a million of souls in this district, not 7000 are now at school... In many villages where formerly there were large schools, there are now none, and in many others where there were large schools, now only a few children of the most opulent are taught, others being unable from poverty to attend..."

What is revealed is that before British occupation, Hindu kings and rulers used to grant huge "funds" to the schools, which taught in native languages and Sanskrit, and hence people were in general well educated. But the British stopped funding any of the native language schools and hence education system was gradually destroyed... Later on the British brought out Macaulay policy; setup English schools and missionary schools - with aims to mold young people's minds in favor of the British so that people, having been educated through this system would never wish to let the British go away from India!

Gandhiji in conversion with a Christian missionary

Gandhiji was angry at the missionaries for converting the tribal and harijans and the missionary begins by asking why he should not convert:

A Christian missionary: “Why may I not share with others my experience of Jesus Christ which has given me such ineffable peace?” (in a way asking why he should no convert others).

Gandhiji: “Because you cannot probably say that what is best for you is best for all… And again, is it not super-arrogance to assume that you alone possess the key to spiritual joy and peace, and that an adherent of a different faith cannot get the same in equal measure from a study of his scriptures? I enjoy a peace and equanimity of spirit which has excited the envy of many Christian friends. I have got it principally through the Gita.”

Missionary: “But what is your attitude to Jesus?”

Gandhiji: He was a great world-teacher among others. His sacrifice is an example to all. But that he was the greatest, I cannot accept. He had not for instance the compassion of the Buddha.

Missionary: “But what about his being God-incarnate, the Son of God?”

Gandhiji: I do not take the words literally. Jesus was the son of God only in the sense that we are all children of God. God has endowed us all with the capacity to attain the heights Jesus did, if only we put in the effort. The word ‘son’ can only be used in a figurative sense. If a man is spiritually miles ahead of us we may say that he is in a special sense the son of God, though we are all children of God.

Missionary: “What about the miracles?”

Gandhiji: There is no miracle in the story of the multitudes fed on a handful of loaves. A magician can create that illusion. But woe worth the day on which a magician would be hailed as the Savior of humanity. As for Jesus raising the dead to life, well, I doubt if the men he raised were really dead… The laws of nature are changeless, unchangeable, and there are no miracles in the sense of infringement or interruption of Nature’s laws.

(Portions taken from ‘Collected Works’, volumes 60, 65, 71)

I got to know many new facts after reading this book. I can’t express the feeling of having been able to read it. I highly recommend this book to all.

- Rahul 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

‘The Black Swan’: By Nassim Nicholas Taleb

‘The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable’ is an astonishing book! It makes the readers question everything they have been taking for granted all along; and puts faith back in some of the things they had been ignoring out of no reason. I had heard about the book many times but got the chance to read it recently. (I found the book in the library; started reading it; found it brilliant; then bought it for my own home-library).

So what is a Black Swan? According to the author Taleb, a Black Swan has three attributes:

1. It is an outlier, as it lies outside the realm of regular expectations, because nothing in the past can convincingly point to its possibility.
2. It carries an extreme impact.
3. In spite of its outlier status, human nature makes us concoct explanations for its occurrence after the fact, making it explainable and predictable.

The book does a wonderful job to sensitize us on the subject. 

In the initial portions of the book there are more references to history; a subject I am infatuated with. To make it more interesting, the portions of history the author wants to recall had something to do with religions. And these portions have come out so well!

For example, in the initial pages, where author describes history of Lebanon, I could not avoid wondering a bit about our own country's history, complacency of our majority and where our anarchy and pseudo-secularism could lead to. Check it out:

Lebanon was incorporated after the fall of the Ottoman Empire (like India was after the British). It was a Christian majority nation with Muslims being next (like India being Hindu majority). Author writes, "In a classical case of static thinking, nobody took into account the differentials in birthrate between the communities and it was assumed that a slight Christian majority would remain permanent" (exactly like in India). Author continues, "So in addition to being called a "paradise", the place was also said to be a miraculous crossroads of what are superficially tagged "Eastern" and "Western" cultures." (exactly what we are proud of in India). Then he writes about the student protests that started happening where protesters wore 'different' clothes. In author's words, "It is one thing to be cosmetically defiant of authority by wearing unconventional clothes - what social scientists and economists call "cheap signalling"..." (the anna topi clad anarchists in India who dress to seek attention). Perhaps it was just the beginning. Next something really serious happened, in author's words, "The Lebanese "paradise" suddenly evaporated... after close to thirteen centuries of remarkable ethnic coexistence (in India we pretend as if only we had it)... a fierce civil war began between Christians and Moslems, including the Palestinian refugees who took the Moslem side." (any surprises?) "The conflict lasted more than a decade and a half". Then author tells that "exodus of Christians" accelerated; and in his words, "number of cultured people dropped below some critical level." Nassim says, "Suddenly the place became vacuum. Brain drain is hard to reverse, and some of the old refinement may be lost forever."

This is so much food for thought... If you know the history of India and the history of Jammu & Kashmir in particular, you would not remain without getting touched by the above.

In another portion, author is trying to drive in the idea that some events are so unpredictable and he gives examples of rise of some religions. It seems even the events that are happening today in front of our eyes, we don't know how serious or far-reaching those can become in future. In Taleb's words: 

"Who predicted the rise of Christianity as a dominant religion in the Mediterranean basin, and later in the Western world? The Roman chroniclers of that period did not even take note of the new religion - historians of Christianity are baffled by the absence of contemporary mentions. Apparently, few of the big guns took the ideas of a seemingly heretical Jew seriously enough to think that he would leave traces for posterity. We only have a single contemporary reference to Jesus of Nazareth—in The Jewish Wars of Josephus—which itself may have been added later by a devout copyist. How about the competing religion that emerged seven centuries later; who forecast that a collection of horsemen would spread their empire and Islamic law from the Indian subcontinent to Spain in just a few years? Even more than the rise of Christianity, it was the spread of Islam (the third edition, so to speak) that carried full unpredictability; many historians looking at the record have been taken aback by the swiftness of the change."

Reading these portions it is tempting to think that the book has more of such portions; that this book is more about history and society than about economics; but alas. The later portions are as dry as sand of the deserts and do not maintain the initial ‘tempo’ (on history).

Later parts of the book discuss world of economics, finance and politics, mostly brushed with author’s skepticism. I would say that the later parts are also brilliant but too over stretched, exaggerated and reflect author’s excessive infatuations with his own ideas which he drives and drills into readers’ minds just too much. It would rather be better if he just wrote his ideas than trying to drill those repeatedly as if he gets sadistic pleasures out of the experiences. I am particularly troubled by the disdain and insults he hurls at fellow authors, famous economists and scientists who are respected for their work. The author takes each of the selected scientists' and the economists' works in isolation, as if those were meant to be sufficient and exclusive; and misses the point that individually and separately even though their ideas and discoveries could be refuted; as a “collection” and in their own “positions” those were invaluable contributions towards historical evolution of science and scientific discoveries. For example, can we laugh at the person who invented the 'wheel' first because of the fact that the wheel in itself is rather useless; since no one can sit over it forget about travelling on it. Wheel’s purpose is served, as a means of transportation, only if it is fixed in a bicycle, motorbike or a car, all the three happened subsequently and consequently by building upon their past ideas and knowledge. But if the inventor of bicycle tried to avoid using a wheel just in order to be thoroughly novel, creative and ‘original’, would we get the bicycle at all? But the brilliant author Taleb, as if drunk in the fame he got and the potential fame he expected to get, ignores sensibilities and does not try to put things in right perspective in order to appreciate their values. And hence, he goes after one scientist to another; one economist to another; trying to shoot everyone down by finding faults or incompleteness in their ideas or contributions, and a reader like me feels exasperated and exhausted. Therefore, by the time I reached the “forth quadrant” of the book, I was a tired man.

I wanted to pick up some of the portions where the author has become too caustic and un-enjoyable, but having gone through those once while reading the pages, I think it is not a good idea. But I think I should pick at least a few to elaborate my point:

Let us take the portion where the author says the following under the heading “Redundancy as Insurance”:

Look at the human body. We have two eyes, two lungs, two kidneys, even two brains (with the possible exception of corporate executives) – and each has more capacity than needed in ordinary circumstances. So redundancy equals insurance, and the apparent inefficiencies are associated with the costs of maintaining these spare parts and the energy needed to keep them around in spite of their idleness.

Using the above “observation from nature” as a “proof”, the author recommends “keeping some money under the carpet”, i.e. idle, which essentially means to recommend the “safety stock” mindset. So the author would like manufacturing companies to keep lots of inventories – because who knows what happens in future? Now use the same logic to the present date Crude Oil prices fluctuations – what would have happened if you had bought crude oil at the rate of 150 USD per barrel, when the prices crashed to 50 USD per barrel in no time? Won’t such a company go “bankrupt” too? But it seems the author is so infatuated with his ideas which he sees preventing potential bankruptcies that he does not consider the ‘180 degree problem’ (my term).

At another place, Taleb says that government should ban complex financial schemes because no one actually understands those. I think it is a very simplistic view. Even though it is true that most small investors don’t understand all the terms and conditions and don’t read scheme related documents; but the regulators normally do; or large institutional investors do; and if both of these don't then the 'competitors' definitely do; and if the schemes are too complex, people are worldly wise enough anyway not to fell prey to the sales pitch. But to devoid this world of creativity and new ideas; and force everyone to make a Hobson’s choice to choose investing between either a Fixed Deposit and Recurring Deposit, just because these two are “simple enough for all to understand” is a naive position.

Similarly, the author stretches the Fractal Geometry of Nature too much; in the below portion:

Consider that the great Galileo, otherwise a debunker of falsehoods, wrote the following:

The great book of Nature lies ever open before our eyes and the true philosophy is written in it. . . . But we cannot read it unless we have first learned the language and the characters in which it is written. . . . It is written in mathematical language and the characters are triangles, circles and other geometric figures.

Was Galileo legally blind? Even the great Galileo, with all his alleged independence of mind, was not capable of taking a clean look at Mother Nature. I am confident that he had windows in his house and that he ventured outside from time to time: he should have known that triangles are not easily found in nature. We are so easily brainwashed. We are either blind, or illiterate, or both. That nature's geometry is not Euclid's was so obvious, and nobody, almost nobody, saw it.

Then the author goes on to explain “Fractality” which means in author’s words, “The veins in leaves look like branches; branches look like trees; rocks look like small mountains. There is no qualitative change when an object changes size.

To doubt Galileo’s eye sight is easy but if we use some brain to evaluate the above 'Fractality' concept, what conclusion we come at? I think it is too simplistic to say that “leaves look like branches” and “rocks look like small mountains”.

There are plenty of plants and trees in which leaves don't look like branches at all. 

The author at one place while rejecting Gauss says, "You need one single observation to reject the Gaussian, but millions of observations will not fully confirm the validity of its application." Then why can't we apply the same principle to "reject" this 'Fractality concept' too? 

Similarly not all rocks look like mountains; only a few do?

I shall repeat author's argument: "You need one single observation to reject XYZ, but millions of observations will not fully confirm the validity of its application."

And what is wrong in calling the elevation of these mountains as being “triangular”; as Galileo would have?

What is wrong in calling the sun's 2-D shape “circular”; as Galileo would have?

Another portion where the author seems to be adamant at trying to prove apparently wrong things right is when he tries to justify or “scientify”  the Islamic tradition of “fasting and feasting” during some religious occasions. He justifies erratic over-eating and extreme fasting cycles and says it leads to low blood pressure and better health. Of course he says that the general notion that regular and moderate eating is good does not have empirical evidence. I don’t know why he says that because I have read so many research-based articles where experts advise not to do fasting followed by over-stuffing which has very logically severe repercussions on the health. Some fasting is good for health but not feasting just after fasting for long - as the author claims. As I said before, it seems the author gets too much self-infatuated and thinks that he could justify anything and everything as per his whims or wishes. 

The book has many portions which author has marked with warnings such as “this chapter is too technical, can be avoided by…” But having thirst for more, I went through all such chapters also; and later on I realized that I should have listened to the author. When it comes to economics and debunking common business wisdom, Taleb is brilliant.

Overall, this has been a fascinating read and I recommend this book to all.

© Rahul

Saturday, March 7, 2015

About Jayant Sinha and Punita Kumar-Sinha

For some time I was getting highly impressed with Jayant Sinha, MOS Finance, while watching him talk on TV. Not only he appeared extremely knowledgeable in finance and economics but his 'positive' attitude attracted most. I was curious to know more about him, so I searched on the net and here is what I find: 

Jayant Sinha is an MBA with distinction from the Harvard Business School; an M.S. in Energy Management & Policy from the University of Pennsylvania; and a B.Tech. with distinction from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi. Sinha has over 25 years of experience as an investor and strategy consultant; including 12 years with McKinsey & Company as a partner in the Boston and Delhi offices. At McKinsey, Sinha co-led the global Software and IT Services practice. He was earlier Managing Director at Courage Capital, a global special situations hedge fund. 

Jayant Sinha is married to Punita Sinha, an investment manager and former Senior Managing Director at The Blackstone Group. You may find Jayant Sinha as an atypical Bihari. I think we should credit PM Narendra Modi for finding out a gem in him and giving us an atypical Politician and atypical Minister!

Some more about Punita Kumar-Sinha; Jayant Sinha's wife - who herself is one of the high-flying achievers from India. She was born in a Delhi based joint family and was competitive athlete in high school. Punita and Jayant met each other in college as both were classmates at IIT Delhi. 

After Punita completed BTech in Chemical Engg from IIT, she did not get a job in the field since not many chemical companies took women in the hazardous industry. She joined Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania and completed Masters in Finance and PhD from there. She is also a CFA Charter holder. She ran $2 billion-plus India fund for private equity giant Blackstone Group and posted 27% annualized return over 10 years. As of now Punita Kumar-Sinha is the Founder and Managing Partner of Pacific Paradigm Advisors and member of Board of multiple companies; prior to that she was Senior Managing Director of Blackstone Group and Chief Investment Officer of Blackstone Asia Advisors. 

She is a popular face on TV and finance channels. She loves to swim, dance, and do yoga; and is spiritually inclined. She recites Hanuman Chalisa and Devi mantras and also follows rituals like observing Navratri and Karva Chauth. Punita and Jayant Sinha have two children. She has been breaking stereotypes all through her life. At IIT, she was among just 4 girls in a batch of 250! When she went to do PhD in Finance after MBA, she was the only woman in her class!

- Rahul

Friday, March 6, 2015


Happy Holi to All!

 [Picture Credit: URL embedded]

Reading Robert H. Schuller.

[Picture: Aztec Ruins in Palenque, Mexico]

The author tells the story of Ramona Banuelos, a poor woman of 22 who emigrated from Mexico to US with two children to take care of all alone. She got a job of making tacos (a Mexican dish) from midnight till 6 AM. She earned little but saved most of it and in 3 years she owned a small taco shop. She worked hard and in 15 years she owned the largest business of Mexican products in America. She went on to become the treasurer of the United States!

At one point she recalled how once her little daughter came from school and asked her, “Mama, am I Spanish or Mexican?” When she got to know “Mexican”, she said, “I wish I were Spanish because the Spanish people are very smart and Mexicans are not.”

Ramona said, “That is not true!” and took her children to Mexico where she showed them the ruins of the Aztec Temples; the wide roads and the great architecture. She said, “These were built by Mexicans not Spaniards. These were built by the Aztecs. Be proud you are a Mexican – you have good blood in you!”

The author adds to it, “No matter what your race, no matter what your color,…, you are the child of a survivor!”

That is so perfect – we are children of survivors! I can add only this much to it – while all are children of survivors; some are survivors in more ways than others! Do you know that the Spanish destroyed Aztec Temples and built Catholic Churches in their places? I doubt if the Mexicans have built any new Aztec temples today; but in India we are still worshiping gods from the Vedas and we are proud of our ancestors, history and heritage!

Men Are Creators of Women?

[Picture Credit: URL embedded]

We often ask men to respect women saying men were born out of women (mothers). So women are the "creators", right? But how many of us "know" that the Bible tells that God created the first woman (Eve) out of the first man (Adam)'s rib! So man is the creator of woman!

Genesis 2:22: Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

Let us read more:

Timothy 2:11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. 12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve.

Ephesians 5:22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body.

Do you find anything surprising here? 

Reasons :)

Saturday, February 21, 2015

कुछ मुस्कानें हिंदी में

मेरी मिड-लाइफ क्राइसिस

शायद पिछले किसी जन्म में मैं एक सुखी-सम्पन्न बूढ़ा पिता था और उसके कुछ संस्कार बाकी हैं; या फिर ये मेरी 'यूनिक' मिड-लाइफ क्राइसिस है। काफी समय से जब रनबीर कपूर को देखता था (पर्दे पर) तो वो मुझे 'बेटे' जैसा लगता। :) पर हद्द हुई जब मैंने जैकलीन को फिल्म 'रॉय' में देखा (शायद उनकी पहली फिल्म मैंने देखी), तब से वो मुझे अपनी 'बहू' नजर आने लगीं। :) ऐसे मेरे इमेजिनरी परिवार में सोनाक्षी सिन्हा मेरी बड़ी बेटी हैं और आलिआ भट्ट छोटी बेटी। :) जब भी इन दोनों को देखता हूँ, मुझे बेटी जैसी फीलिंग्स आती हैं।  :) खैर, अभी देखते हैं कि ये 'परिवार' कहाँ तक बढ़ता है :)

कौन होगा मेरा दामाद?

कन्वेंशनल विस्डम है कि कोई व्यक्ति जैसा खुद नहीं बन पाता वैसा वह बेटे को बनाना चाहता है। पर मुझे ये कहावत ठीक नहीं लगती (बिना अपनी दिमागी ट्विस्ट डाले)। जैसा कोई व्यक्ति खुद नहीं बन/कर पाया वो उसका 'डाइल्यूटेड वर्जन' कैसे बन/कर सकता है? :) मुझे लगता है कि व्यक्ति जैसा खुद नहीं बन सकता वैसा वो 'दामाद' खोजता है। :) आखिर शौक बड़ी चीज है! तो आप पूछेंगे कि मैंने अपनी काल्पनिक (फ़िल्मी) बेटियों के लिए कैसा दामाद ढूंढा है? मैंने एक तो ढूंढ लिया है - कोई और नहीं बल्कि 'रणवीर सिंह' को! अगर वो मेरा दामाद बनने को तैयार हो जाएँ तो उन्हें जैसी लड़की पसंद हो मैं वैसी लड़की को अपनी (काल्पनिक) बेटी बना लूंगा। :) अब ऐसे में वो "ना" कैसे कह पाएंगे? :)

हाय मेरा रसगुल्ला प्रेम

हाल ही में मैं अपने साले-साहब की शादी में सम्मिलित हुआ। विधि-व्यवहार के अंत में शायद "कुछ मीठा हो जाए" के बहाने वधू पक्ष की महिलाएं दूल्हे के भाइयों के मुँह में एक बहुत बड़ा सा रसगुल्ला ठूस रही थीं। मेरी बारी आई तो मैंने जल्दी से बड़ा रसगुल्ला गटकाया और मेरी ऑंखें उस ओर अपनेआप चली गयीं जिधर रसगुल्ले का डब्बा रखा था।  :) मैंने सोचा क्या पता एक और आ जाए; पर हाय निराशा! :) ये सारी दुनिया पेटुओं के टैलेंट को अंडर-एस्टीमेट क्यों करती है? 

छोटी बच्ची - बड़ा चप्पल 

सुबह की सैर पर एक छोटी बच्ची को अपने दादाजी के साथ रस्ते पर जाते देखा। उसकी कानों में चांदी की सुन्दर बालियाँ थीं और उसके ऊपर-नीचे करते छोटे पैरों में टुन-टुन की आवाज करती प्यारी सी पायल। उसके एक हाथ को दादाजी ने प्यार से थाम रखा था और दूसरे से वो शायद अपने पापा के मोटरसाइकिल की चाभियाँ लेकर चल रही थी। शायद सुबह-सुबह उसने पापा से मोटरसाइकिल पर घुमाने की जिद्द की होगी और दादाजी उसका मन रखने के लिए उसे अपने साथ सैर पर लेकर निकले होंगे। पर सबसे मजेदार बात ये नहीं - उसके चप्पल थे! उसने बहुत बड़े-बड़े चप्पल पहन रखे थे - शायद अपनी माँ के! उसके नन्हें पैर जब बड़े चप्पलों के साथ चलते तो लगता मानो प्रकृति उसकी पदचाप से गति मिलाकर अपनी साँसें ले रही हो। बच्चों को बड़े होने का बहुत शौक होता है, है ना? पर वो ये नहीं जानते कि बचपन ही उनके सबसे मजे के दिन होते हैं! पर शायद उनके न जानने में हीं दुनिया की भलाई छिपी हो - क्योंकि अगर वो ये जान जाते तो शायद कभी बड़े ना होने की जिद्द ठान लेते! फिर तो कोई दादाजी भी उन्हें मना नहीं पाते। :)

© राहुल

Monday, February 16, 2015

Mornings in Joggers' Park

Below are some scenes this morning from joggers’ park near our residence. Entry is free in the mornings and in the evenings you have option either to do check-in through the main gate by paying Re 1 or make privilege pass though a broken wall. The best part about the park is that it is scarcely occupied in the mornings. Though in the evenings it is full of children of all kinds. If you get tired walking or jogging, or pretending to be running, you can always sit on the benches and watch (other) kids having fun on a dozen rides and interesting playthings. The park also has an amphitheater where school kids gossip, a meditation center where I can't claim what happens and a running water tap for poor people to smuggle water out of it. Every weekend some RSS volunteers come and teach a group of people from all ages some fitness exercises and self-defense techniques. Disclaimer: I have not joined it (yet). Btw, they are repairing the broken wall and after that the park is expected to look more lonely. 



© Rahul​; all pictures above are taken by me today.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Random Thoughts - Life Goes On

Virat Kohli and his Nose

Some 'models' look so picture-perfect in some ads, that it seems the whole world conspired to make them be there and do that (role). Red-nosed Virat Kohli in Vicks VapoRub and Vicks Action 500 ads is one such. I think if there were a contest for longest running nose, Virat will give Delhi's CM-in-waiting a run for his muffler. I guess his fans would be going cold feet just to appear like him. And he would hit sixes and faster centuries just to be able to reach washroom to nurse his (red) nose syndrome as soon as possible :). 

Being red nosed might have come to his rescue if he was a boxer - his opponent would get distracted by looking at his (swollen) nose. I also think Virat's biggest weakness has something to do with his nose - as the proverb says, 'naak par gussa rakhna'. 

Now before my mouth breaks my nose, it is time for me to run smile emoticon All the best Virat and Indian Cricket Team!

[Disclaimer: Stay calm and use your sense of humor]


PM Narendra Modi

Saw two news items on TV about Narendra Modi today. 

Modi invited Delhi's CM-in-waiting on tea. PM Modi rose from his chair, presented a bouquet of flowers and warmly congratulated the later for reelection; this was the same man who went till Varanasi to stop Modi at any costs from becoming PM. Gandhi ji would be proud of Modi for this.

At some other place, people had constructed a temple with Modi's idol as deity. Modi called it "shocking and appalling" and made them drop the plan before inauguration, saying we should worship only God, not living people and such a temple was not according to our country's traditions. So now there will be Bharat-Mata's idol in the same temple.

I think such little gestures and incidents tell a lot about the man's character...


Man can’t fly

It all started from water. Then some came on land. Some went inside the soil while some on the trees. Humans are said to be most evolved. But even humans remained on the land and evolution did not teach us how to fly. Why? I think it was so that we all don't just "fly away". 

Nature conspired so that we could remain grounded and be in touch with the soil. Even birds have to come down to earth to take rest every once in a while... "Bringing us down" and not letting us "fly away" seems to be a natural law of humbleness. 

But if nature only wanted us to be humble, why did not it make us like some creatures who have no other option? May be to make us learn the importance of pride and respect... 


Plucking Flowers for the Deity

I think human beings started living in multistory apartments because no one could steal flowers from balconies (except pigeons who could whitewash them). I remember how people in my childhood days used to wake up before sunrise and maintained healthy lifestyle of going on morning walks just to pretend doing something other than - stealing flowers from others' gardens and offering those to God (so that God could grant them their selfish wishes; perhaps they made a contract with God that stealing-flowers was blacklisted from the sinful activities list). Still no one wrote "dogs, salesmen and flower-pickers not allowed" on their gates - and I assume it was because they believed that flower-pickers won't be literate; and if they saw a naive notice like this on the gate, they would know for sure that they had met a perfect victim (who had seen being there and doing that in the past).

If I had to write an article on this in a Hindi newspaper, I would title it, "Who is greater: one who sows or one who reaps?" (I hope the blog shows you its translation by Bing). If we planted a flower plant, and if those flowers are reaching a deity, could God be happy only with the carrier and not the sender? But for that we would have to have the heart to allow the thieves to take away the flowers; otherwise if we chase the devotees seeking flowers with a stick; we can't claim liberation later on by virtue of failing to snatch the flowers back into our yards...


How is Weather in India?

In a conference call with client, a lady client started the call by describing weather at her location. She described it in such an interesting manner that we started feeling cold, breezy or dizzy depending on the words she chose. In India we are accustomed to listen to such voices only in airplanes by the hostesses. I don’t know if she had done some weather forecasting training for TV shows before, or if she was trying to break the glass ceiling (historically discussing weather has been a middle-to-old-aged-male forte). One of her male colleagues at some other foreign location complemented her by saying a few words about weather at his place; which we ignored quickly (no one gets fired for ignoring males). Then in the end they remembered their partners (syn. servants) sitting in India in odd hours of the day to earn bread for their families (and banks). 

A colleague from Chennai proactively took the cue and said, “It is pretty hot here”. Client said “ok!” in a bit surprised tone given the month the calendar showed. Then my dear colleague completed what he wanted to say, “It is actually hot during the day time and cold during the nights.” Client said, “ok!” I prayed to God that my colleague should not start giving us science lessons from his son’s school books about how Sun rises in the morning and sun light is the source of heat and energy on earth; and while Chanda Mama reflects some light for us during the night but we are spared from the heat. If he keeps thinking seriously, he may invent some new theories on relativity (of temperature). My other Indian colleagues were wise and they did not start describing weather at each of their locations; it could have confused our client so much that she would have to take a vow never to ask "how is weather in India?" again!

© Rahul

[Disclaimer: Views expressed are personal and do not reflect views of any organization author is associated with. Pictures used on this post are taken from multiple web sources and copyrights are with the owners. Detailed disclaimer.]