Monday, September 25, 2017

Fighting the Invisible Enemy

An invisible enemy rises unopposed
the feeble and the mighty it has disposed.

It silently spreads its rampant oppression
D for Danger has given its weight to depression.

"It's not real", they say,"this abomination"
only a figment of corrupted imagination

"Be grateful, say a prayer, or grab a beer,
It's a phase, it will go, do not fear!"

"Hide it!", they say, if its proven real,
"in the layers of make up, cover your ordeal,
Be a man, don't spoil your appeal."

Lock it in the closet, next to LGBT,
if it comes up, just snuffle it with something half witty

First let's accept this monster is a nuisance,
we need to unite to bid it good riddance.

Let it out, let your dear ones know of your pain,
cast aside thoughts of an image stain.

Coz one does not think how many people will frown,
calling out for help when you're about to drown.

If a suffering soul shares with you their tale,
don't forward them Whatsapp gyaan so stale.

some times all one needs is your august presence,
your time, your ears or even a hug may be the essence

A sister of mine was diagnosed clinically depressed
a vivacious beauty, with intellect blessed.

At first I looked at her through eyes of pity,
confused, cos I've always known her to be so gritty.

But I heard her tale of gradual recovery,
and it led me to a gradual self-discovery

That I always mask any piling insecurity
at the time of reckoning it leads to anxiety

but now I confess to friend or paper
time eventually reduces it to a vapour

But that time itself can mess your wires
leave you punctured on all four tires

So you needn't be an Oprah with a cure,
You needn't even be a goofball of humour

Just personify the 'time' to be with those who need it

Coz just like one needs a thorn to remove another,
Your time can prise out the painful time of the other.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Year Ender

"Please don't vent out so much on politics Ani" said a tearful Abanti Mashi as she hugged me, "I don't want you to fall in to any kind of trouble." If you think she was being emotional, then you haven't met the part of me which agreed with her and soon put an end to it.
This year, continuing from the last, has kicked up a lot of political debates. You would have spotted me venting my ire on many trivial/mega issues where logic was left out of the public debate.
I won't be entirely off commenting on politics; shall be back with a redefined role in public debate, closely aligned to the sarcastic and neutral posts of the past.
What I do want to reflect on, are a few events/people who left a mark on me this year and resulted in some positive changes. I wish to express my gratitude.

Perfect Start - Started the year in my favourite spot on this planet, Sridham Mayapur, with my favourite activity - kirtan - at midnight and then the pre-dawn arati and chanting. It couldn't get more emphatic for me, having just gotten back from Sikkim - a trip to savour for life. So grateful to our host Samuel (check my last blog post) and Bharat with whom it was the third year end trip for making this happen.

Inititation- Our Guru H.H. Radhanath Swami, accepted more than 65 of us in the official guru disciple succession of the Gaudiya Vaishnava lineage. All of us, incidentally arranged, were born into and brought up in Krsna Consciousness. And as much as he is our Guru, Radhanath Swami has been more of a father and friend with so many loving exchanges for us to happily recount.
I presumed with Inititation, I'd get some spiritual surcharge (honestly superpowers) to excel and be a model disciple. However, it has been more of a test and a continous attempt to improve on the vows of Inititation.

Professional twists - The first half of the year was exhausting, with sparse time at home. A lot of it was locked into a relentless turmoil. There was a 'Donkey Kong' or 'he who must not be named' (simply because the said person  was too disgusting to be named, not out of fear - RIP Voldemort there aren't many classy villains left like you) who decided to shower me with all his unethical and unprofessional glory.
Long story short, we fought tooth and nail, proxy wars, cold wars; with no winners. But I am grateful to him, as it expedited the review of my future plans, which resulted in some good decisions. Also, the said person drew out the best of my sarcastic humour. (*wink* *wink* Anushree)

MBA- I honestly wasn't paying attention to the impending MBA part time entrance test, with long tours pinned to my list of excuses.
Everything changed when I entered the tube lift of the new building in NMIMS. And life has changed since then. I've got the most lovely batch of co-students, whom I now proudly call friends. It's hectic to balance work and college and lose out on vacations and weekends. But it has churned the best out of me and shall hope it continues to do so. And even if it doesn't, I know I'm gonna have a kick ass time with the folks here.

Rise of the Phoenix - The reader in me died earlier this year, consumed primarily by the smartphone and American TV series deluge. After years of Capt. Purvesh coaxing me to join him at Tata Lit, I finally broke the hodoo and this time pulled him into it. Totally cherished hearing from a distinguished set of authors, a workshop on writing Scifi and what not. I also pinched my friends' PG Wodehouse. And thus the began the rebirth of the Reader. Currently I'm on two books a day with a third to be added asap. And then suddenly realise my to-read lost is LONG!

Aniyore - For the record I've scored 8 out of 200 in SUPW + Arts in the 8th standard. (Luckily that had no consequence on the overall result) and to think I was part of a festival that was centered around Art, Beats and Creativity!
My prostrated obeisance to Aishwarya and Surabhi for pulling off an event from scratch. So many dream of doing big things, they nailed it! with a robust team of friends. For my involvement, I only wished to be a consultant and help around but soon got drawn in. However, I backed out towards the last laps, for certain reasons now regret could have been managed with some jugaad.
But Aniyore churned out some dormant layers of creativity hidden deep in the heart. Didn't put it to much effect in the festival, but changed a few things in life otherwise. Also on dwelling on the many mistakes I made in this period, there are a few deadly habits and mannerisms I've managed to weed out. And it has inspired a trickle of creative pursuits, which should hopefully see the light of the day in 2016. For this, I am forever indebted to Aniyore and commit to more action than promises next time round.

Sudi gets married - My dearest sister finally got married to her dearest dear. It was so emphatic, having witnessed the romance from its earliest days as the third wheel. And watched it mature as it grew through the distances of many cities and even internationally. Sudi is a rock, is a lion. Her beauty is combination of the ravishing grace of a model, packed with fiestyness of a Leo and courage and determination to which I find any comparison unfulfilling. It was just my happiest moment to see her reach her Happy moment.

Ikigai - In most of the events above, you might have noted the repeated effect of the word churned. And I'm grateful to 2015 for letting them happen. Through everything, what I noticed changing in me, is the will to rejoice change rather than dwell in the comfort zone. And the reason I'm writing this open diary, is to challenge myself into letting this continue. I wish my life to be more rewarding with experiences of seeing the world, reaching out to more lives and making a difference and reaching beautiful souls and swap stories of our lives.
There are a few key people who I want to mention (Hey Vikas) but I'd rather share with you in person. And there are many more people who helped through the lows and worst times of the year. You know who you are and you know I owe you for life.
What's the plan for 2016? Resolutions always have lost their steam. I only wish for the above experiences to roll out into a juggernaut of activities next year.
Thank You for your patience and wish you a Happy 2016!! And do write/call back to let me know how your year went by!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

TravLAromancing Sikkim!

"Let's go to Sikkim Darjeeling next year" said Bharat. We were in Mussorie then and I nodded my usual half-committed'yeah'. After hazy planning uncertainties and multiple cancellation certainties we finally made it to Sikkim - the border land state has plenty to offer in cultural and scenic beauty.

View from Samuel's terrace
We are indebted with gratitude to Samuel for being the best host ever. He opened his sprawling, cosy,
MG Road, Gangtok
comfortable home to us which had a scenic valley as not the only added bonus. Samuel met Bharat on Instagram, of all places, and their friendship resulted in being a well planned vacation. All of 16, he smiled through patiently as we Bombay laggards tried to match his excitement to show us as much of Sikkim as time permitted. He rec
kons we need at least ten days to get the full deal of Sikkim.

Bharat was little let down that it wasn't as cold as we anticipated. We did bulk up on sweaters and layered winter clothing which we used only at one place.

Baker's Cafe

We covered the Bombay - Bagdogra flight (via Guwahati) by noon and reached Gangtok by 5.30. After keeping our luggage we walked around the Gandhi road, the main market of the city. Hungry after the long journey we stopped over at Baker's Cafe - beautiful inside, scenic outside & our regular hangout - before window shopping around town.

Day 1 - Around Gangtok

Namgyal Institute of Tibetology

After breakfast at Baker's admiring the Kanchenzunga (got addicted to how Sam would call it) we started off with Namgyal institute of Tibetology. Peaceful, atop a hill, we paid our respects by rotating the chanting dials.
Banjhakhri falls

After warming up our respective SLRs we moved on to Banjhakri Falls Energy Park. The elevated garden has some depictions of the local culture and several spots for potential profile pictures.

We visited a monastery I didn't note down the name of. I loved the way several stories were depicted on every inch of the walls.

 From Tashi viewpoint, on a clear day, you get an elevated view of the Kanchenzunga & co. It was cloudy, so we trooped down for lunch.

Red Panda
The enclosures in the Himalayan Zoo are clean and has as natural a landscape plausible in a zoo. Bharat me were lagging behind as we would wait like wanna be wildlife photographers capturing different expressions on the animals. The Red Pandas, the Tibetan Wolves and the Leopards are the money winners of this park.

The city from Ganesh Tok
Ganeshtok is one of THE sunset spots. You can have a quaint look of the city, the tower, the
mountains and indulge in sunset photography. It was past sunset by the time we reached Hanuman Tok. It is much higher and has a wider horizon to look down from, but the poor lighting didn't help. You can also find samples of the Sanjivani tree, famed for being used on the wounded Lakshmana in the battle of Lanka. Back to Gandhi road we tried a new cafe, witnessed a local dance show and shut shop for the day.

Day 2 - South Sikkim

It takes the whole day to cover the sights here. But the long drive is a series of soothing wallpapers livening up in front of you. Note - never sit behind the guy with lens unless you don't mind chilly winds on & off your face. Bharat was going crazy (check out his gallery  here) with landscape beckoning you to keep the lens uncovered. We stopped at the Tea gardens. We drove past many, but this one was open to visitors and sloped downwards. Clicked an all time favorite single picture there too.

Samdruptse monastery is one of the regal ones, with a giant sculpture of one of their saints depicted on the top. Across the valley from here you can spot the giant sculpture of Lord Siva in Char Dham, out next destination.

Chardham is unlike any place I've been to. It has replica temples of the four main Hindu destinations, as well as the 12 main lingas of Lord Shiva.

Rounding of the visits to witness Giant statues we reached Ravangla by sunset, so we did not get to enter the park. But the wait outside was worth the chills the lights came on - 1 by 1- on the beautiful status of Lord Buddha. It is one of the sights to never fail your memory. On a clear sky day, they say you could even spot the Kanchenzunga, the heavenly sunset glimpses of which we enjoyed on the drive to Ravangla.

Day 3 - North Sikkim

This region is more famous for the Nathu La pass. We did not go because the roads were supposed to be strewn with ice which would make driving difficult. But we overheard many families who were headed in that direction. Lendup, or driver, added that the permission costs a little more for the trip there.

So we settled on Tsomgo Lake (pronounced Chang-huh). We expected it to be frozen. But we arrived to a clear water view painted with a reflective glow from the sunlight. There was plenty of snow along the banks to prompt a snow ball/shower fight in the group and of course the customary photo sessions. We took the rest of the day off and dinner was served by Chef Samtani.

Day 4

We woke up easy today. The guys went on a cycle ride around town (& Tashi viewpoint). My limbs were still a bit sore and I didn't reckon my fitness was good enough to cycle in the mountain air. So I stayed back and enjoyed a sun bath, while idly staring at the valley. Witnessed the para gliding, the helipad movements and the dance of the shadows on the valley from Samuel's gallery.

We visited the Rumtek monastery post noon. The Buddha deity
here caught my attention sharply. I just paused and soaked in the grandeur
of the main chamber. You just can't help but admire & feel like having time travelled a few centuries back. Samuel met up with some friends at the cafe ( also visited by Amir Khan) with whom he was having a guitar jugalbandhi. We drove through the city to the other end. There was a flower show and only Bharat, with his micro lens, was into it. We were a bit too late for the cable car ride. That would have been ultimate!

The last view - Sam's spot
But we winded up at one of Samuel's favorite spots of Gangtok, which ended up being one of my favorites as well. He regaled us with some local stories and I also caught sight of my first satellite!(I thought it was a plane.) Was too reluctant to move from there. We observed the sunset and the lights coming on in the city below. We then walked down to the main market, some of us shopping while I clicked and chomped on some snacks on the go. We signed off on Baker's Cafe yet again for the night. We honestly felt heavy and were reluctantly going through our last walk and talks around Gangtok. Sikkim won our hearts, to say the least.

If you aren't just into the winter feeling and the sights then you can even try trekking, paragliding, river-rafting and jamming into the local music scene -some of the other activities you can enjoy there. A second trip is due in the future. And Mr. Tshering has already planned the itinerary for it! Those are into cultural studies you are bound to meet a steady mix of people. Though a predominantly Christian population, most of the spots you visit are influenced by Tibetan Buddhist culture. The interiors and decors used by them are pleasing, not just the serene settings they are surrounded by.

Check out the entire album here - Kissing the clouds in Sikkim. Or follow me on Instagram - Ananda_Kishore where I will keep posting some of my memories from the trip.

How... reach Gangtok - Flying Indigo we reached Bagdogra by noon and the cab reached Gangtok by 5.30 PM. A cab ride should be Rs. 2500 for an Indigo / Rs.3500 by Innova. Or take the helicopter ride Rs. 3500 per person.

..are the road trips.. not the best of roads, but not the worst of roads(compared to Ladakh). The "Aami Nepali" was a clear favorite.
Don't fall of to sleep during the road trips
Border roads organization have done a good job. But be prepared for dust ups, frequent curves and of course shifts in altitude. What makes the rides fun is some good music, and you should check out the local rock bands..

..the weather in December.. they say Jan is when it gets colder with snowfall. We enjoyed the sunshine in the day which took the temp up would generally be in 3 layers adding 2 more for Tsomgo lake.

.. the food.. shouldn't be an issue. Considering most of us were pure veg. with a half-jain diet, we ate quite well. Others may also enjoy the local cuisine.

..are the travel arrangements.. I have been suggesting to people to travel in groups of 5-6. Works out convenient. If you have to go to North Sikkim you are only allowed 6+driver max in a car. Innova suits the best. Hiring charges vary as per season.

..plan for the trip.. You can connect with Samuel (again, not a guide, just a guy happy to help) on Twitter - @meophiscated and _notsamuel on Instagram.

Well - kuch din to guzariye Sikkim mein!!

Friday, October 3, 2014

3 lessons from Dusshera

Today is the occasion  of Dusshera. Not the anniversary of beating Sri Lanka dry in the World Cup final, but that of the annihilation of one of the worst tyrants this world had seen. One who could make the dictators and terrorists of the modern world look like C grade spoofs. Seriously, who else could make a city entirely of Gold and sustain it from pollution and cheap thefts? Or maybe Sri Lankans are not the types who even steal the waste paper baskets installed by their municipality.

Why is this occasion celebrated with such pomp and burning of a helpless effigy? I'll leave that for you to ponder. Meanwhile here are the 3 reasons my not misleading headline prompted -

1) Teamwork can beat paper analysis - If you ever look at your team at work and think "huff.. all I got is a bunch of monkeys to work with. Boss will eat us for breakfast, lunch and dinner in the next review", think again. Ravana thought that of his opposition too. The only positive to come out for him was his opposition were not cannibals and instead accorded him a decent funeral. Ram's biggest strength and credit as a leader was that he directed an army to believe in themselves. On paper it would seem unlikely they could defeat the monsters who destroyed even the heavenly planets. History tells us otherwise.

2) Help can look like your enemy - The prejudice of Rama's strategy team can be forgiven for dismissing the help of Vibhishana, brother of Ravana. No, Vibhishana was not the Fair & Handsome model of the Rakshasha dynasty as many movies/serials/ cartoons would have you believe. One could perhaps credit Rama's royal genes for his tactful selection of allies. But the prime factor behind Ram's decision was that he was ready to accept anyone as a friend. He was even ready to accept Ravana, should he have chosen to surrender. This is the reason Rama was the beloved of those times and even to a few now. Some would wish those who claim to be his followers retain that same grace. But rarity of that nature is why Rama still is revered so much.

3) The solution can be born from the heart of the problem -

This lesson I relate to pretty well. Many times I find a quick fix solution to certain  issues. But like Ravana's magically persistent heads, they are up again in no time, giving a huge problem to the solitary non-magical head of your own. "Shoot to his heart my Lord" said Vibhishana and Rama used his best arrow (no, it was not laden with firecrackers) to pierce Ravana's heart way before he could say "Et  tu  Vibhishana". Or maybe one his heads did?

So quick fixes may assure you a series of small victories. But by getting to the root of issues even a complex monster can be made a helpless kitten.

So who inspires you? Rama, the monkeys or demon whose death anniversary is still celebrated today?

If you are keen to learn more management/inspirational lessons from Ramayana and Mahabharata in small doses every other day follow this blog -

Monday, September 16, 2013

"If life gives you lemons.." quotes from Poonam Pandey and others..

Tired of the lemonade answer, I reached out to some movers and shakers for alternative answers. I return much more disappointed and now it's your turn. 

"If life gives you lemons, make a lemon scam.." - statement from Scam cell, Tihar.

"If life gives you lemons, find 555 benefits of it.." - Phunsuk Waingdu

"If life gives you lemons, just laugh and admit lemons don't exist" - Sushil K Shinde.

"If life gives you lemons, sell them and buy out life as well and sell more lemons.." - Reliance

"If life gives you lemons, let them go missing and let BJP waste time on it... Theek hai?" - PMO

"If life gives you lemons, it means Sonia Gandhi wants a Bill passed.." - Maya & Mulayam

"If life gives you lemons, get a panel to throw all the lemon at each other.." - Arnab Goswami.

"If life gives you lemons, buy out all the shizzy hardware to make a lemonade.." - Microsoft

"If life gives you lemons, ask Sachin to retire.." - A media source who didn't want to be named.

"If life gives you lemons, you can invest it in Gujarat.." - Narendra Modi

"If life gives you lemons, let us know.." - Twitter

"If life gives others lemons, let us know.." - Twitter.

"If life gives you lemons, setup a committee to resolve the matter" - BCCI

"If life gives you lemons, your state of mind wants Nimbu Paani.. " - Rahul Gandhi

"If life gives you lemons, that means we can bring poverty line down to Rs. 25 a day." - Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

"If life gives you lemons, pray you get worth Rs. 12." - Raj Babbar

"If life gives you lemons, it's because the oranges were taken by RSS.." - Digvijaya Singh

"If life gives you lemons, save it for hangovers" - Vijay Mallya

"If life gives you lemons, promise a show of melons..ha ha.. ppl will love you even if you dont have them.." - Poonam Pandey

"If life gives you lemons, let the 'hand' do the talking" - (h)MMS.

"If life gives you lemons, Roadies is your haven.. " - MTV

"If life gives you lemons, and you follow any of those quotes, we get ready material.." - Stand up comedians on Twitter.

"If life gives you lemons, write bizzare posts to let the world know about it." - Yours truly

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Capital for Change.

Stress and fatigue. It has been a strong  undercurrent in my life for a year. Personal stress varies and you find a way to deal with it. But I can't help cringing on every headline which will inadvertently will create ripple enough to toss my life.

Take for example the increase in the gas prices from April 2014. Nobody released a whimper, except Kumaramangalam Birla, about the reversals caused by that development.
1) A bigger subsidy bill for the govt. subsidising fertilizers.
2) Rise in raw material prices for many industries.
3) CNG rickshaws will go on strike for higher fares.

These are the headlines of April 2014. But it will be over-shadowed by media coverage of the general elections, unless if NaMo uses it in his campaign.

Controversies rise every day but the only change effected is the news doled out to you. No one bothers on a follow up. And thus we have a cycle of corruption, terrorism, natural disasters, religious politics, comments on the economy, protests, Naxal fights, political gaffe, sports and Bollywood gossip.

The solution cycle goes through media policing, controlled police, slow judiciary, callous governments, toothless activists, pointless murmur from the voters and priority shift to the next controversy.

If any of these solution machinery stand up and give a solution, it only serves as good as a botox shot. Pretty, but does not cover the underlying decay.

Of the many issues let's pick on the Food Security Bill. The ruling govt. is more realistic about the poverty count (read Montek Singh) and after the Employment Guarantee Act success in the previous elections, FSB is touted as the next game changer.

Let's shift the debate to materialistic grounds. Why do we need this bill? Inflated prices and poverty? (to draw a macro picture.)

My question is - What happened to the PDS? Why make another system which can be riddled by middle man issues?

There is no satisfactory conclusion to the article other than I emphasise once again that we do not focus on the root of many issues. The sick middle man system, which has only been getting worse over the ages.

We have Arvind Kejriwal and Anna Hazare fighting against it since decades. (Yes, Corruption is not their only pursuit.) You hear random stories of success, but largely the middle and poor class has chosen to silently bear all the anomalies of the plagued system.

For e.g. Many of the grants given to the rural household can only be received after numerous cuts and bribes. Politicians connive with relatives to form shell companies to swallow funds allocated for projects. 

But we only prefer wailing about masala issues.

We need to be aware, educate others and adopt means to create the change we wish to see. We need to sacrifice the mirage like eye wash doles; see the micro and macro picture in every issue. Value your vote and make an informed choice. Believe that you can convince others of that value too. The current lot of politicos only know to well the cheap cost price of your choice. 

The factor that you will stand up to make a micro difference, will be the initial capital which needs to be invested, to see a macro change tomorrow.

Jai Hind.

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Shetty Life-Cricket theory

I am not claiming any patent here. Nor am I gonna give lectures on this theory. Precisely because India being a cricket centric country, I am sure there are many proponents of the said practice below, but may have not expressed this in full context.

At times when I am down on ideas and need a way out of situations, there is this brainwave - of converting the situation in context of a cricket match.

Simple examples - If there is a lot of work pending and very little time, term it as - "Thats a high Required Run rate". Then think like a batsman in a pressure situation and play it like a game. It has worked.

When there is a long drawn work, testing your mettle and patience - "Its a test match."

Converting situations thus way helps take a layer of pressure off the heart. I say heart because of tendency to bring an emotional angle into issues. Like self-blaming and self-pitying on outcomes of plausible cause analysis. For some the emotional angle takes a better turn, where one pushes oneself emotionally to take charge and manage the situation. Somehow I tend to twine myself into further knots and get impossibly tangled in a utter mess.

Making it into a game increases the scope of a clear analysis. But you do need to process your analysis quickly though. You cant waste too much time equating every factor.

The clarity comes because you keep the analysis light. In a middle of a game you have a target, you need to make a game plan/strategy. But its not some pen and paper chalked detailed analytical plan. Its an instinct driven, learn on the move plan. Your bullish on winning and grab at whatever oppurtunities that present itself(No balls & free hits, power play, extras{freebies}).

Back in 10th (ICSE Boards) drew a World League Plan format. Presuming myself to be the Indian team, I converted the subjects into different teams. Simple factors for classifaction was - Difficulty, trickiness and favouritism.

For example there may be subjects which could be easy, but you could make silly errors. E.g. Mathematics. Make that Bangladesh, if you slip - they pounce on you! Then there is History - Long and strong portion - Australia.

I dont remember the order I used then, but using the logic I designated teams to each of the 11 exams, perhaps making A teams too.

After the exams - at night when I would take a walk I would review the performance. Areas where I didnt get an answer = a wicket. Marks = Runs. By the end of the walk I was done thinking about that subject and move on to the next.

I was stuck in a rut recently.  Everything seemed to be going wrong. A series of mistakes and close to break down point. Then try to load this theory. Didn't work out.

And out of the blue I remembered Sachin Tendulkar. Grateful am I to the back of my mind. Sachin is not my god, but is definately one of the ideals. I just remembered how this man for a period of 21 years, has had his life intervened by the media. There is the media, the public which makes him God one moment and Devil the next. One bad series is enough to rouse national hatred. He is not inhumane that he can merely deflect criticism.

If he has the capacity to sustain an international colonoscopy of his life & performances, I am sure I can take little pow and wow once in a while.

And chart a comeback path staying focused at it. Absorption is the key; whatever helps you stay focused in the 'game', do it.