Friday, October 22, 2010

Adi as a Hunter

I was so thrilled when I found this old pic of Adi. He had to dress up as a hunter for a sports day cultural event in school. It took ages to get him into this costume because obviously, he wasn't too thrilled about it initially.


Then, we got him excited by describing the adventurous life of a hunter (personally, I don't endorse hunting) and we got him ready for his performance in school. 

While he was performing, my heart was beating so loudly that I feared everyonelse in school would hear it too:)

Old Pics Dug Out

In September 2010, I went to Kochi, my home town and spent some weeks there. I used that time to dig out old snaps, mostly childhood pics. As usual, I forgot to take mine from home but thankfully, I didn't forget to take my hubby's pics. I scanned many of our family pics, they are old and therefore, not very clear. However, I thought I will upload my favorite ones anyway.

Here is one of my favorite pics.
This pic is of Sanand (my hubby) and his sister Nandini. What I loved about this pic are their expressions. The sweet innocence of children cannot be hidden away because it just glows in their young faces. Loved this pic and I wanted to share it with all of you who are kind enough to spend time visiting this blog.

Exploring Possibilities and Discovering Opportunities

In Seth Godin’s Purple Cow, I liked some case studies that the author delved into. There were many interesting case studies about ideas and products that worked their way to success. In particular, there was one case study about Lionel Poilane, a French baker who came to be known as the ‘best baker in the world.’

Not content about being just another family baker, he set out doing extensive research, analysis and worked very hard to understand the baking techniques of the French. He found out a very simple method of baking bread with just flour, water, starter, sea salt and then had the bread baked in a wood fired oven. Though his work of simplicity was initially rejected, it became the ‘in’ thing to have. The result was that every restaurant worth its reputation in Paris serves Poilane bread. His company ships loaves all over the bread and according to Seth Godin, this amazing young baker-turned-innovator sold over $10 million worth of bread in 2001.

Another interesting example is of Curad, the innovator who decided to replace the Band-Aid with something else. Can we imagine any product replacing Band Aid? Well, Conrad came up with something better. He developed easy bandages that had comic characters on them. The rest became history. Every kid in school loved to sport Curad bandages at school and show off to friends. The rest, as you can guess, is history.

Often, in real life, we resist an opportunity to think and explore beyond boundaries. We think it’s risky. Like Seth Godin tells us, the real risk lies in being boring and in playing by the rules.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Why Boring is Risky But Being a Purple Cow is more Profitable and Fun

You are bound to be glued to Seth Godin’s Purple Cow, not just because of its snazzy cover with white and purple patches, but because it redefines fundamental marketing principles to make your ideas work remarkably. This is a book worth reading and revising, not just for its unconventional critique of marketing and advertising but the passion with which it delves into case studies and hard facts, without sounding over the top or dead pan boring. Best of all, Godin drills into readers one hard hitting truth: ‘BORING IS RISKY BECAUSE BORING IS FAILURE.”

Seth Godin cites Peppers and Rogers, in their book, The One to One Future, where they state that it is cheaper to keep an old customer than it is to get a new one. He is right. We know the difficulties that we face to get people interested in a product.

I liked Godin’ detailed explanation of Moore’s idea diffusion curve. What he identifies is that the curve comprises of the innovators, early adopters, early & late majority and laggards. Innovators are those who buy products that are launched not because they need it but because they like having the product first. Following them, there are the early adopters, who like to benefit from the experience of using a new product and maintain a distinct edge over others. Trailing after them, the early and late majority consist of those who buy products because their peers are using it or recommending it. Countless products sink because of the indifference of this group. Then, you have the laggards, who don’t use a new product till it becomes obsolete, impractical and perhaps not even available any longer.

If you take any given product or service, Godin’s detailed explanations of these groups are relevant and that is why it makes sense to read this book.

Here are some thought provoking suggestions from Godin that I found useful and interesting:

·        Instead of making a better product for your users’ standard behavior, try to come up with something that invites users to change their behavior so that the product works dramatically better.
·        You must design a product that is remarkable enough to attract the early adopters but is flexible and attractive enough for these adopters to spread the word to the rest of the curve. i.e. digital cameras.
·        Target a niche instead of the mainstream. The advantage is that you can segment off a huge chunk of the mainstream and create an idea virus (an idea that spreads, according to Godin, works wonders!) so focused that it overwhelms the small slice of the market that truly will respond to what you sell.

There are lots of very insightful suggestions that Godin emphasizes in this book but this one that is my all-time favorite because it resonates with my values:

“Remarkable isn’t always about changing the biggest machine in your factory. It can be the way you answer the phone, launch a new brand, or price a revision to your software. Getting in the habit of doing the “unsafe” thing every time you have the opportunity is the best way to learn to project – you get practice at seeing what’s working and what’s not.”

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Promises to Keep After the Trip to Puttaparthi

This is a very personal post. Read this at your own risk but please don't ridicule my beliefs. I am trusting you to honor what I am writing here as you would if I were a part of your family. On this understanding, I seek your permission to begin.

Close your eyes and imagine a place on earth where thousands and thousands of human beings radiate bliss, love and peace. Actually, it is hard to imagine such a place even with your eyes closed. For me, it isn't that difficult. From the year 1987, I have lived in such an atmosphere and been nourished by the tremendous power of divine love and energy, not of a miracle man alone but of every human being out there. Believe it or not, when thousands and thousands of people gather together in a spirit of unconditional love, the energy and radiance all around such a place can make impossible things happen just by the volume of it.

Maybe I am not talking sense because you need to visit Puttaparthi to believe that this place is for real. People as ordinary as you and me come here to experience this love that transforms everything into sheer positive energy that makes it possible for you to transform yourself into someone irrevocably divine. People as extraordinary as Sachin Tendulkar, Sunil Gavaskar, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, Rajnikanth etc pray at  Puttaparthi for the same reason.

In December 2008, I spent Christmas and New Year at Puttaparthi with my parents, my husband and my son. It was a magical time for us, not just because of the physical presence of Swami (called as Sri Sathya Sai Baba) but the tremendous energy of pure love that seemed to emanate from thousands and thousands of devotees. What made this journey truly amazing and out of the world was that world famous musicians performed their best, artistic pieces (vocal and instrumental) and dedicated it Sri Sathya Sai Baba because He inspired their compositions. I can relate to this because some of the best things I have done in my life are because of His directions.

Anyway, after December 2008, I made an unexpected trip to Puttaparthi this October 2010, that too on the very same evening when the whole country was under frightening communal tension due to the much awaited verdict on the Ayodhya issue. The railway station was almost empty, except for many policemen and staff. News about communal tensions in Bangalore had circulated like crazy. There was talk about attacks on trains too. Placing our faith in Swami, we undertook the journey as planned.  We reached safely. 

Staying in Puttaparthi is an experience that is difficult to narrate to those who have not visited the place. The spirit of discipline and service is evident in every little thing that is done here. Right conduct and simple living are a part of one's daily life and not relegated to dusty books on Mahatma Gandhi. This trip took me back to many beautiful memories, particularly of the Sai teachings, that I had got a little rusty about.

Most importantly, after seeing and praying in Puttaparthi, I felt inspired by divine will to practice some of Swami's most profound teachings and have started taking baby steps :

1. Share your knowledge with others for the benefit of the society and expect nothing in return. Pay your debt to God by right conduct and service to the society. Dedicate your thoughts and actions to God.

2.  Learn to be sympathetic to situations involving others. First understand, then make adjustments, decide the course of action based on discrimination and enquiry.

3.  Do not judge others critically. Find an opportunity to love those who hurt you. Let go of the past. Live in the present. Be happy for your own sake.


4. Do not waste food, time, money, electricity, water and other resources.

This is just a start but once I started working on these simple things, I realized that they are not simple at all. Without knowing, I realize I waste a lot of things because I am not aware of having wasted at all. The teachings I am working on now sound easy but they are tough things to work on because they clutter up a big chunk of my daily routine in a way that makes me feel more stressed, tensed and angry by the end of the day.

I am a selfish person but I want to be better as a human being. I believe there is always some scope for improvement in life by making one's conduct better. But to work on conduct, one has to work on the quality of thoughts too. When your thoughts take you in one direction, your actions follow the same direction too. Needless to say, action gives rise to implications and reactions. So, if our actions are not harmonious, the rest is history, isn't it?

If I don't start becoming the change that I want to be now, I will waste a lifetime not doing the things I want to or working on the beliefs I claim to revere. After all, devotion is not a part time job, something that you do only when you are praying and then when you finish prayers, you do the exact opposite. As a person, I don't want to be that anymore.

You don't have to agree with my beliefs but you can encourage me to continue my sincere efforts. I wish and pray that He will smile with a little bit of pride that the time-wasting, workaholic plus shopaholic (thats me!) is finally undergoing a gradual but real change.

The hard work has just begun. Worse, it's just a tip of the iceberg. Time's running out. My vows shouldn't.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Big Chill Cafe, Khan Market, New Delhi

Isn't she a sexy lady? That is the menu I am referring to, of course. What did you guys imagine I meant?

Well, if you are visiting Delhi, don't miss eating some of the delectable cheesecakes and yummy stuff at Khan Market's Big Chill Cafe. There is always a huge rush but it's worth it, folks.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Malayalis and Guruvayur Temple: Isn't it Time to Change Ridiculous Norms?

For me, a visit to Kerala is never complete without a visit to its most popular and revered temple, the Guruvayur Temple. Right from the time I was a kid, my parents visited this temple at least twice a year. So many legends continue to sweeten the experience of devotional ecstasy that one feels at this holy place, where the little Lord Krishna is worshipped and pampered as the deity named "Guruvayoorappan."

The famous playback singer Dr. K.J.Yeshudas is an ardent believer of Guruvayoorappan but the temple has stringent rules about permitting only Hindus to enter. That reminds me of the famous devotional song that Yeshudas sang because it resonates in the hearts of every Malayali,:

"Guruvayoor ambala nadayil oru divasam njaan pokum, gopura vaathil thurakam, njaan gopakumaraney kaanum."

Sorry for the poor translation but this means, "One day, I will go to the Guruvayoor Temple, the door leading to the sanctum sanctorum shall open someday and I will see the young cow herd prince."

Sadly, many famous people were prohibited from offering their prayers at the temple because they were not "pure Hindus." I see this as a ridiculous and narrowed interpretation of what Hinduism stands for. 

It had been reported that Rajiv Gandhi and later, Sonia Gandhi were not allowed to enter the temple because they were not considered 'pure Hindus.' The famous and now the late Mrs. Mercy Ravi (wife of top Congress Party leader, Vayalar Ravi) had to undergo considerabe discrimination because she attended her son's marriage conducted inside the temple and the authorities realized that she is a Christian by birth much later and they wanted her to pay for the 'punyaaham' or the 'purification' rites to cleanse the whole temple that she had polluted with her presence.

The funny thing is that I personally know of people from different religions who visit and pray at this temple but they are not 'caught' because they are not famous people. However, they say they can't openly let others in their community know that they worship at this temple because they would be ridiculed and isolated for doing so. We have such ridiculous social norms in the name of faith and I wish this could be changed. 

I believe temples such as the one at Guruvayur should be open to all those who want to have a darshan of the presiding deity there.

What's your take on this?

♥♥  I thank you with all my heart for reading my post. I dedicate this post with love and gratitude to all those who believe in changing outdated norms for a better, happier society. REQUEST: Please SHARE this article on your favorite social networks. Every share, like or tweet makes me reach out to more people who love reading books by Indian writers. I am grateful and I appreciate you for doing so. ♥♥

Monday, October 4, 2010

Robin Hood Review of Malayalam Movie Directed by Joshey

When I was a kid, I had heard so much about the heroism of Robinhood - The Prince of Thieves, the robber who stole from the rich so that he could share it with the poor. However, when I opted to watch Joshey's movie, Robinhood - The Prince of Thieves - I had mixed feelings about the way the protagonists were depicted.

The story revolves around Ventakesh (starring Prithviraj) who is a Physics professor but that is just his disguise because after midnight, he is a professional criminal who robs huge sums of money from a bank's ATM. The Assistant Commissioner of Police (starring Jayasurya) is baffled about the increasing number of incidents, following which the bank appoints a private detective called Felix (starring Naren) who happens to be the ACP's enemy number one. The private detective has a great time, flirting with his lady assistant (starring Bhavna) and becoming a great friend to the neighbor, yes, the Physics Professor.

The plot is so obvious and amateurish that it doesn't take a genius to figure out what happens next. The predictability of the protagonists fail to impress. The supporting characters speak and behave artificially. There is no quality or in depth feel to their characterizations. The overall script and plot lacks originality. It seems like a rehash of several movies and that too, a very bad mishmash.

As a viewer, the saddest part about watching this movie is that so much talent has been wasted and that is just not justifiable. The raw talent of young actors like Prithviraj, Jayasurya, Narein, Bhavna and Samvrutha remained underutilized from start to finish, but yes, if you want to admire these young icons through the well choreographed peppy song sequences, its worth wasting two or more hours on this movie.

Otherwise, spend your time, wisely.

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