Friday, January 6, 2017

Freedom

For those who defend it, Freedom has a taste that the protected will never know!

- Seen on a car sticker

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Jerry Garcia / Roadrunner

Live the life you love.
Love the life you live.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Mohammed Shami's story

Wow - this story is unimaginable! The father sending the son away to play cricket, the boy practicing hard, someone seeing him and taking him home and then releasing him to a better club...and then the boy succeeding in his very first match [Wiki: "He had a dream debut, taking 9 wickets for 118 runs - the most by an Indian pacer on debut"]!!

For the Indian ladies.....

...here comes a BIG relief!!! Welcome home, the "Romantic" Rotimatic!!
Truly applaud the founder to take it from conception to completion!!

Sachin Tendulkar

Do I need to say anything more??

Miracle In The Andes

This is as inspiring as it can get. 
Read all about Nando at his own URL.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Alexander Kumar

Wow, what a man, what spirit!!

Lived life to his fullest and not yet 30. Stayed in Arctic, Antarctic and not to mention 60 odd countries. At gun-point in Cambodia, teaching in Nepal, Adventure in Amazon - the list goes on.

Check him out at his website - http://www.alexanderkumar.com/

I got to know about him through this link.

Amazing!!

Greenway Stove

Neha Juneja came up with the idea of developing the Greenway stove after a visit to a village in Wardha, Maharashtra, where she saw a small home with a television, refrigerator, mobile phones, and motorbike. Yet the lady of the house was cooking on a mud stove.

http://www.rediff.com/getahead/slide-show/slide-show-1-achievers-indian-entrepreneurs-win-intel-global-challenge/20121128.htm

Vineet Devaiah

"I started a company when I was 15, and I sold it for a million dollars."

http://venturebeat.com/2012/10/09/vineet-devaiah/

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sunil Tolani

Extract


When Sunil Tolani arrived in the United States in July 1993, he was earning a mere four dollars per hour as a cashier at an ARCO gas station and a delivery driver for a small warehouse at Canara Technologies. In his mid-twenties, the Mumbai native arrived in Southern California with the same aspirations as many immigrants before him: he wanted to live the American Dream.

Nearly 19 years later, Tolani, now 44, is indeed living his American Dream. The Indian American entrepreneur now owns and operates 14 major hotel franchises in several states and retains a minority ownership stake in a semiconductor company. Based on his hotels alone, Tolani told India-West that he anticipates generating revenues of $35 million in 2012 — a far cry from the near minimum wage salary he earned almost 19 years ago.


http://indiawest.com/news/4818-hotelier-sunil-tolani-racing-to-the-top-with-his-multi-million-dollar-empire.html 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Change


So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more dangerous to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.
— Chris McCandless

Subject: Excerpt from Into the wild

Ron, I really enjoy all the help you have given me and the times we spent together. I hope that you will not be too depressed by our parting. It may be a very long time before we see each other again. But providing that I get through this Alaskan Deal in one piece you will be hearing form me again in the future. I’d like to repeat the advice I gave you before, in that I think you really should make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing or been to hesitant to attempt. So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. If you want to get more out of life, Ron, you must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life that will at first appear to you to be crazy. But once you become accustomed to such a life you will see its full meaning and its incredible beauty. And so, Ron, in short, get out of Salton City and hit the Road. I guarantee you will be very glad you did. But I fear that you will ignore my advice. You think I am stubborn, but you are even more stubborn than me. You had a wonderful chance on your drive back to see one of the greatest sights on earth, the Grand Canyon, something every American should see at least once in his life. But for some reason incomprehensible to me you wanted nothing but to bolt for home as quickly as possible, right back to the same situation which you see day after day after day. I fear you will follow this same inclination in the future and thus fail to discover all the wonderful things that God has placed around us to discover. Don’t settle down and sit in one place. Move around, be nomadic, make each day a new horizon. You are still going to live a long time, Ron, and it would be a shame if you did not take the opportunity to revolutionize your life and move into an entirely new realm of experience.
You are wrong if you think Joy emanates only or principally from human relationships. God has placed it all around us. It is in everything and anything we might experience. We just have to have the courage to turn against our habitual lifestyle and engage in unconventional living.
My point is that you do not need me or anyone else around to bring this kind of light in your life. It is simply waiting out there for you to grasp it, and all you have to do is reach for it. The only person you are fighting is yourself and your stubbornness to engage in new circumstances.
Ron, I really hope that as soon as you can you will get out of Salton City, put a little camper on the back of your pickup, and start seeing some of the great work that God has done here in the American West. you will see things and meet people and there is much to learn from them. And you must do it economy style, no motels, do your own cooking, as a general rule spend as little as possible and you will enjoy it much more immensely. I hope that the next time I see you, you will be a new man with a vast array of new adventures and experiences behind you. Don’t hesitate or allow yourself to make excuses. Just get out and do it. Just get out and do it. You will be very, very glad that you did.
Take care Ron,
Alex

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Death is the end

One of the most stimulating songs I have ever heard. This is from Guru Raghavendra Vaibhava episode. It is in Kannada depicting Death is the end for one and all:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j47n5ikau2g&feature=related

Monday, January 23, 2012

This too shall pass

I remember reading this some time ago (Tinkle perhaps?), and its etched in memory forever.

A King asked his chieftains to bring him something that makes him happy when he is sad and makes him sad when he is happy. After much deliberation, the cchieftains got the king a ring that said "This too shall pass".

More details on wiki: This too shall pass.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Commencement Address by Steve Jobs

"When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it," Jobs said in an interview. "You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through."

Today, Steve Jobs died. I went and re-read his commencement speech. It moved me just as ever.

May his soul rest in peace...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The violin player

Snip

Its India's Independence day... A few Indians are roaming and checking out the place (Times Square)... They are visiting NY from India and are enjoying the place when a street side violin player asks them to stop... He says -- Today is your Independence Day right, this is my tribute... And he plays the Indian National Anthem on his violin...


I am not kidding, he plays Jana Gana Mana perfectly on his Violin... The Indian family stands upright in respect for the national anthem, that too played by a non-Indian, on India's Independence day... It is a matter of such pride...

Snip

http://nikhilraikar.blogspot.com/2010/08/its-not-worth-it.html

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Putturaju

Extract:

Putturaju’s family had nothing when his father passed way. He had eight siblings. His very first job was that of a butcher in a stall. After working as a milkman, dealing with soaps and getting into the catering business he finally landed in the hotel business and struck gold

Full Story:

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Blind man and Infosys

Source: Forward

It wasn’t that great morning today but became one after I rushed to get INFOSYS bus to EC. I stay at BTM 2nd stage, where traffic is peak between 7.00am to 10.00am (thanks to all company buses). As usual I was eager to cross the road to catch the bus and then I saw visually challenged person who also wanted to cross the road. Anyway, even I wanted to cross so I thought of giving him company.

The moment, I held him and said “let’s cross”; he asked whether I am a infosion. I was wonderstruck and my cluster of grey cells starting buzzing up (why he didn’t ask my name or where I work, why directly asked whether a infosion I am). I literally interrogated him for asking me this question. He smiled and replied,

“Everyday I stand here waiting for somebody to help me cross this road. I know that this place is a stop for many company buses, but each day only a infosion help me reach the other side.”

That very moment made me flash 1000w smile (I wonder what people must have thought :-)). But these beautiful words changed my perception. I realized that we do “act with sensitivity” in our day-to-day lifestyle. Everyday morning unwritten agenda of mine was to blame INFOSYS for making me away from Mumbai but today the feeling of proud has sunk in so much that still I am keeping my head high and those goose bumps haven’t settled down yet.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Monday, March 29, 2010

KISS

Source: A fwd / Shobhaa's blog post

I was in Bhubaneswar for the second time in the last 12 months. Back, to visit an extraordinary school for 10,000 tribal kids from 63 tribes of the region. This could possibly be the most deprived section of our society, where, in this day, starvation deaths still take place. It is a region so abysmally neglected, its disenfranchised people continue to live in the dark ages, literally and metaphorically.

Under such primitive conditions, one man’s vision has transformed the lives of tribal kids by creating the only such facility for tribals in Asia. It is called the Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS, for short), and is located on a neat and scrupulously clean campus just a short distance from the airport. I felt privileged to be welcomed there by these remarkable kids who live in well-maintained hostels and receive quality education—all for free! The first time I’d visited them, they were enjoying a hearty, well-balanced lunch and preparing for the second half of the day. They appeared confident, well integrated and happy. What a contrast to the lives of their forefathers who have lived pathetically marginalised lives for centuries, unaware of anything outside their forests.

Even today, there are people among them who, believe it or not, have not heard of a word called ‘India’. Women’s Reservation Bill? Sonia Gandhi? You must be joking! They lead an existence of total isolation in abject poverty, cut off from the rest of the world. It is in the context of such a shameful sub-human existence that when I was introduced to a teenager wearing a smart blazer and told she was the captain of the school’s rugby team, I did a double take! Rugby? Being played here by tribal girls? Can it get more bizarre than that?

I turned to Dr Achyuta Samanta, the founder of KISS who is frequently referred to as the Charismatic Fakir by his countless international admirers, and asked for details, while my husband, a former rugby player, engaged the young lady in an animated conversation about the game.

According to Samanta, it all started when an English coach visited the school a few years ago and decided to train the kids to play this very boisterous, very Brit game. The kids succeeded big time, and soon were competent enough to get invited to compete internationally. Compete, they did, and came back with a trophy for under-14s! Since that early victory, they have been playing the game all over the world and now have an American coach.

The captain of the girls’ team told me she was leaving for France soon where the girls will be playing against the top teams of the world. This is a phenomenal achievement by any standards. But I was curious to know how these kids managed themselves when they travelled abroad. Said Vikramaditya, a smart and motivated person who has worked extensively with tribal communities, “It is amazing how quickly they learn. I travel with them sometimes, and watch as they rapidly teach themselves to swipe cards and negotiate their way through hotels, airports and sportsfields. They are swift learners.”

I met another young lady who had completed her law degree from a sister institute (Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology, declared a deemed university in 2004). She had just returned after a short course at the Harvard Law School, and had applied for a postgrad programme later this year. Her enthusiasm was palpable as she spoke about her dreams and aspirations.

But for me, it isn’t just about those well-designed buildings or the ambitious expansion plans chalked out by Samanta and his team. It is the light of hope in that young tribal girl’s eyes, as she looks beyond the campus and at the future. In her transformation lies India’s eventual redemption. I am sure Sonia Gandhi would be pleased to meet her. And see her in Parliament one day.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Undercover!

This one was very inspiring. Thanks, Nikhil! This is about CEOs interacting with first level employees undercover!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Money matters

An interesting article from Singapore's Youngest Millionaire....
A Blog Post by Singapore 's Youngest Millionaire

By Adam Khoo on Money, got through a fwd

Some of you may already know that I travel around the region pretty
frequently, having to visit and conduct seminars at my offices in
Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Suzhou (China). I am in the airport
almost every other week so I get to bump into many people who have
attended my seminars or have read my books.

Recently, someone came up to me on a plane to KL and looked rather

shocked. He asked, 'How come a millionaire like you is travelling
economy?' My reply was, 'That's why I am a millionaire.' He
still
looked pretty confused. This again confirms that greatest lie ever
told about wealth (which I wrote about in my latest book 'Secrets of
Self Made Millionaires'). Many people have been brainwashed to think
that millionaires have to wear Gucci, Hugo Boss, Rolex, and sit on
first class in air travel. This is why so many people never become
rich because the moment that earn more money, they think that it is
only natural that they spend more, putting them back to square one.

The truth is that most self-made millionaires are frugal and only
spend on what is necessary and of value. That is why they are able to
accumulate and multiply their wealth so much faster. Over the last 7
years, I have saved about 80% of my income while today I save only
about 60% (because I have my wife, mother in law, 2 maids, 2 kids,
etc. to support). Still, it is way above most people who save 10% of
their income (if they are lucky). I refuse to buy a first class
ticket or to buy a $300 shirt because I think that it is a complete
waste of money. However, I happily pay $1,300 to send my 2-year old
daughter to Julia Gabriel Speech and Drama without thinking twice.

When I joined the YEO (Young Entrepreneur's Organization) a few years
back (YEO is an exclusive club open to those who are under 40 and make
over $1m a year in their own business) I discovered that those who
were self-made thought like me. Many of them with net Worth well over
$5m, travelled economy class and some even drove Toyota's and Nissans
(not Audis, Mercs, BMWs).

I noticed that it was only those who never had to work hard to build
their own wealth (there were also a few ministers' and tycoons' sons
in the club) who spent like there was no tomorrow. Somehow, when you
did not have to build everything from scratch, you do not really value
money. This is precisely the reason why a family's wealth (no matter
how much) rarely lasts past the third generation. Thank God my rich
dad (oh no! I sound like Kiyosaki) foresaw this terrible possibility
and refused to give me a cent to start my business.

Then some people ask me, 'What is the point in making so much money if
you don't enjoy it?' The thing is that I don't really find
happiness
in buying branded clothes, jewellery or sitting first class. Even if
buying something makes me happy it is only for a while, it does not
last. Material happiness never lasts, it just give you a quick fix..
After a while you feel lousy again and have to buy the next thing
which you think will make you happy. I always think that if you need
material things to make you happy, then you live a pretty sad and
unfulfilled life.

Instead, what make ME happy is when I see my children laughing and
playing and learning so fast. What makes me happy is when I see by
companies and trainers reaching more and more people every year in so
many more countries. What makes me really happy is when I read all
the emails about how my books and seminars have touched and inspired
some one's life. What makes me really happy is reading all your
wonderful posts about how this BLOG is inspiring you. This happiness
makes me feel really good for a long time, much much more than what a
Rolex would do for me.

I think the point I want to put across is that happiness must come
from doing your life's work (be in teaching, building homes,
designing, trading, winning tournaments etc.) and the money that comes
is only a by-product. If you hate what you are doing and rely on the
money you earn to make you happy by buying stuff, then I think that
you are living a life of meaningless.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Non-violence in parenting

Dr. Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi and founder of the M.K.
Gandhi Institute for Non-violence, in his June 9 lecture at the
University of Puerto Rico, shared the following story as an example of
"non-violence in parenting":

"I was 16 years old and living with my parents at the institute my
grandfather had founded 18 miles outside of Durban, South Africa , in
the middle of the sugar plantations. We were deep in the country and had
no neighbors, so my two sisters and I would always look forward to going
to town to visit friends or go to the movies.

One day, my father asked me to drive him to town for an all-day
conference, and I jumped at the chance. Since I was going to town, my
mother gave me a list of groceries she needed and, since I had all day
in town, my father ask me to take care of several pending chores, such
as getting the car serviced. When I dropped my father off that morning,
he said, ' I will meet you here at 5:00 p.m., and we will go home
together. '

After hurriedly completing my chores, I went straight to the nearest
movie theatre. I got so engrossed in a John Wayne double-feature that I
forgot the time. It was 5:30 before I remembered. By the time I ran to
the garage and got the car and hurried to where my father was waiting
for me, it was almost 6:00.

He anxiously asked me, ' Why were you late? ' I was so ashamed of
telling him I was watching a John Wayne western movie that I said, ' The
car wasn't ready, so I had to wait,
not realizing that he had already called the garage. When he caught me
in the lie, he said: ' There' s something wrong in the way I brought you
up that didn' t give you the confidence to tell me the truth. In order
to figure out where I went w rong with you, I'm going to walk home 18
miles and think about it. '

So, dressed in his suit and dress shoes, he began to walk home in the
dark on mostly unpaved, unlit roads. I couldn't leave him, so for
five-and-a-half hours I drove behind him, watching my father go through
this agony for a stupid lie that I uttered. I decided then and there
that I was never going to lie again.

I often think about that episode and wonder, if he had punished me the
way we punish our children, whether I would have learned a lesson at
all. I don't think so. I would have suffered the punishment and gone on
doing the same thing. But this single non-violent action was so powerful
that it is still as if it happened yesterday.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Randy Pausch

This one took a long time in getting featured in Stimulus. But thats because I wanted to familiarize myself with it.

See this video all the way till the end: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5700431505846055184

To know more: http://download.srv.cs.cmu.edu/~pausch/ and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Randy_Pausch

Trust me, this one blows you away.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Go Kiss The World by Subroto Bagchi

I have received this forward many times and its nice to read it every time....very much inspiring!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Story of the Donkey

One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey.

He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone's amazement he quieted down. A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up.

As the farmer's neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted

MORAL :Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a steppingstone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Monday, August 17, 2009

Trees for Free

Janet has done an amazing work in planting trees in and around Bangalore. The organisation is called TreesForFree. An article about them has come in almost all major mewspapers.

Extraordinary Indians

This link is constantly updated by rediff to highlight Extraordinary Indians.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

QH

Qian Hongyan used basketball as part of her body...an inspiring story...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Malgudi Coffee Shop

Extract:

Dressed in a sunshine yellow and burgundy langa davane, the traditional costume of young south Indian girls, Gouri glides gracefully around the Green Hotel coffee shop. Poised and confident, she is one of 11 young women trained to run the Malgudi coffee shop at the Green Hotel, Mysore. The Hotel is the brainchild of Dame Hilary Blume, founder of the Charities Advisory Trust in London. But Gouri's mother could hardly have dreamed that her daughter would enter such a place

To see this full story with its related links on the guardian.co.uk site, go to http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2009/apr/06/dalit-girls-waitress-caste-taboo

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Water

One of the most stimulating videos ever....

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Heroes At The Taj

Michael Pollack 12.01.08, 7:40 PM ET

My story begins innocuously, with a dinner reservation in a world-class hotel. It ends 12 hours later after the Indian army freed us.
My point is not to sensationalize events. It is to express my gratitude and pay tribute to the staff of the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai, who sacrificed their lives so that we could survive. They, along with the Indian army, are the true heroes that emerged from this tragedy.
My wife, Anjali, and I were married in the Taj's Crystal Ballroom. Her parents were married there, too, and so were Shiv and Reshma, the couple with whom we had dinner plans. In fact, my wife and Reshma, both Bombay girls, grew up hanging out and partying the night away there and at the Oberoi Hotel, another terrorist target.
The four of us arrived at the Taj around 9:30 p.m. for dinner at the Golden Dragon, one of the better Chinese restaurants in Mumbai. We were a little early, and our table wasn't ready. So we walked next door to the Harbor Bar and had barely begun to enjoy our beers when the host told us our table was ready. We decided to stay and finish our drinks.
Thirty seconds later, we heard what sounded like a heavy tray smashing to the ground. This was followed by 20 or 30 similar sounds and then absolute silence. We crouched behind a table just feet away from what we now knew were gunmen. Terrorists had stormed the lobby and were firing indiscriminately.
We tried to break the glass window in front of us with a chair, but it wouldn't budge. The Harbour Bar's hostess, who had remained at her post, motioned to us that it was safe to make a run for the stairwell. She mentioned, in passing, that there was a dead body right outside in the corridor. We believe this courageous woman was murdered after we ran away.
(We later learned that minutes after we climbed the stairs, terrorists came into the Harbour Bar, shot everyone who was there and executed those next door at the Golden Dragon. The staff there was equally brave, locking their patrons into a basement wine cellar to protect them. But the terrorists managed to break through and lob in grenades that killed everyone in the basement.)
We took refuge in the small office of the kitchen of another restaurant, Wasabi, on the second floor. Its chef and staff served the four of us food and drink and even apologized for the inconvenience we were suffering.
Through text messaging, e-mail on BlackBerrys and a small TV in the office, we realized the full extent of the terrorist attack on Mumbai. We figured we were in a secure place for the moment. There was also no way out.
At around 11:30 p.m., the kitchen went silent. We took a massive wooden table and pushed it up against the door, turned off all the lights and hid. All of the kitchen workers remained outside; not one staff member had run.
The terrorists repeatedly slammed against our door. We heard them ask the chef in Hindi if anyone was inside the office. He responded calmly: "No one is in there. It's empty." That is the second time the Taj staff saved our lives.
After about 20 minutes, other staff members escorted us down a corridor to an area called The Chambers, a members-only area of the hotel. There were about 250 people in six rooms. Inside, the staff was serving sandwiches and alcohol. People were nervous, but cautiously optimistic. We were told The Chambers was the safest place we could be because the army was now guarding its two entrances and the streets were still dangerous. There had been attacks at a major railway station and a hospital.
But then, a member of parliament phoned into a live newscast and let the world know that hundreds of people--including CEOs, foreigners and members of parliament--were "secure and safe in The Chambers together." Adding to the escalating tension and chaos was the fact that, via text and cellphone, we knew that the dome of the Taj was on fire and that it could move downward.
At around 2 a.m., the staff attempted an evacuation. We all lined up to head down a dark fire escape exit. But after five minutes, grenade blasts and automatic weapon fire pierced the air. A mad stampede ensued to get out of the stairwell and take cover back inside The Chambers.
After that near-miss, my wife and I decided we should hide in different rooms. While we hoped to be together at the end, our primary obligation was to our children. We wanted to keep one parent alive. Because I am American and my wife is Indian, and news reports said the terrorists were targeting U.S. and U.K. nationals, I believed I would further endanger her life if we were together in a hostage situation.
So when we ran back to The Chambers I hid in a toilet stall with a floor-to-ceiling door and my wife stayed with our friends, who fled to a large room across the hall.
For the next seven hours, I lay in the fetal position, keeping in touch with Anjali via BlackBerry. I was joined in the stall by Joe, a Nigerian national with a U.S. green card. I managed to get in touch with the FBI, and several agents gave me status updates throughout the night.
I cannot even begin to explain the level of adrenaline running through my system at this point. It was this hyper-aware state where every sound, every smell, every piece of information was ultra-acute, analyzed and processed so that we could make the best decisions and maximize the odds of survival.
Was the fire above us life-threatening? What floor was it on? Were the commandos near us, or were they terrorists? Why is it so quiet? Did the commandos survive? If the terrorists come into the bathroom and to the door, when they fire in, how can I make my body as small as possible? If Joe gets killed before me in this situation, how can I throw his body on mine to barricade the door? If the Indian commandos liberate the rest in the other room, how will they know where I am? Do the terrorists have suicide vests? Will the roof stand? How can I make sure the FBI knows where Anjali and I are? When is it safe to stand up and attempt to urinate?
Meanwhile, Anjali and the others were across the corridor in a mass of people lying on the floor and clinging to each other. People barely moved for seven hours, and for the last three hours they felt it was too unsafe to even text. While I was tucked behind a couple walls of marble and granite in my toilet stall, she was feet from bullets flying back and forth. After our failed evacuation, most of the people in the fire escape stairwell and many staff members who attempted to protect the guests were shot and killed.
The 10 minutes around 2:30 a.m. were the most frightening. Rather than the back-and-forth of gunfire, we just heard single, punctuated shots. We later learned that the terrorists went along a different corridor of The Chambers, room by room, and systematically executed everyone: women, elderly, Muslims, Hindus, foreigners. A group huddled next to Anjali was devout Bori Muslims who would have been slaughtered just like everyone else, had the terrorists gone into their room. Everyone was in deep prayer and most, Anjali included, had accepted that their lives were likely over. It was terrorism in its purest form. No one was spared.
The next five hours were filled with the sounds of an intense grenade/gun battle between the Indian commandos and the terrorists. It was fought in darkness; each side was trying to outflank the other.
By the time dawn broke, the commandos had successfully secured our corridor. A young commando led out the people packed into Anjali's room. When one woman asked whether it was safe to leave, the commando replied: "Don't worry, you have nothing to fear. The first bullets have to go through me."
The corridor was laced with broken glass and bullet casings. Every table was turned over or destroyed. The ceilings and walls were littered with hundreds of bullet holes. Blood stains were everywhere, though, fortunately, there were no dead bodies to be seen.
A few minutes after Anjali had vacated, Joe and I peeked out of our stall. We saw multiple commandos and smiled widely. I had lost my right shoe while sprinting to the toilet so I grabbed a sheet from the floor, wrapped it around my foot and proceeded to walk over the debris to the hotel lobby.
Anjali and I embraced for the first time in seven hours in the Taj's ground floor entrance. I didn't know whether she was dead or injured because we hadn't been able to text for the past three hours.
I wanted to take a picture of us on my BlackBerry, but Anjali wanted us to get out of there before doing anything.
She was right--our ordeal wasn't completely over. A large bus pulled up in front of the Taj to collect us and, just about as it was fully loaded, gunfire erupted again. The terrorists were still alive and firing automatic weapons at the bus. Anjali was the last to get on the bus, and she eventually escaped in our friend's car. I ducked under some concrete barriers for cover and wound up the subject of photos that were later splashed across the media. Shortly thereafter, an ambulance came and drove a few of us to safety. An hour later, Anjali and I were again reunited at her parents' home. Our Thanksgiving had just gained a lot more meaning.
Some may say our survival was due to random luck, others might credit divine intervention. But 72 hours removed from these events, I can assure you only one thing: Far fewer people would have survived if it weren't for the extreme selflessness shown by the Taj staff, who organized us, catered to us and then, in the end, literally died for us.
They complemented the extreme bravery and courage of the Indian commandos, who, in a pitch-black setting and unfamiliar, tightly packed terrain, valiantly held the terrorists at bay.
It is also amazing that, out of our entire group, not one person screamed or panicked. There was an eerie but quiet calm that pervaded--one more thing that got us all out alive. Even people in adjacent rooms, who were being executed, kept silent.
It is much easier to destroy than to build, yet somehow humanity has managed to build far more than it has ever destroyed. Likewise, in a period of crisis, it is much easier to find faults and failings rather than to celebrate the good deeds. It is now time to commemorate our heroes.
Michael Pollack is a general partner of Glenhill Capital, a firm he co-founded in 2001.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Article by MindTree SVP

Source: Email Fwd

9.15 p.m. Bangalore Airport. Returned from Mumbai. Hired the ‘Airlift Shuttle’ to reach Cox Town. Fellow passenger. Pretty girl. Will call her Preethi (for privacy purposes).
Started to chat with her (one-hour drive, you know - how long can you look at the funny pattern on the roof of the car?)
Turns out, she was going to her call center at ITPL. Yes, to start her shift. After 11 pm. After flying all the way from Nagaland. Two hops. Ten hours of travel. Add to that bad food on the flight.
Wait. That’s not it.
She was going to her office to attend a test! At midnight, after 10 hours of travel!
Me: "What test?"
She: "Well, you know I have been leading a team of consultants for a few months now, though I am still a Subject Matter Expert. This test is to regularize and formally make me a team leader!" Wait. This is not it either.
Me: "How’s the scene in Nagaland? I have read about the Assam conflict. Are your people safe?"

She: "Actually, that is the reason I went home over the weekend. My father and mother were drugged and robbed. Left in the railway compartment to die… They were missing for two days. Almost died by the time they were discovered. They brought them home the day I landed."
Me: Stunned silence.
She: "Actually, there was another family in the same compartment - the mother and father were found dead – drugged. The son is still battling for life."
Then she called her colleagues at the office. Checked on a couple of team members who were sick. Discussed how they can recover from so many missed "intervals" (apparently the first time this has happened in the past few years).
Started planning for her interview...
I could only stare at her. Single girl. Just lived through a life-altering experience of danger and tragedy. Traveling back thousands of miles from home in the middle of the night. Checking on her sick colleagues and looking forward to her promotion interview. Moving on with life… head held high. No tears. No remorse. No anger. Just “It was a miracle, you know. We prayed a lot, giving our thanks that they are alive”.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Shriya Dinakar

Shriya has sold paintings worth Rs 77 lakhs when she was aged 13. She has manoeuvred a submarine, flown a Cessna aircraft, walked 100 ft below sea level to experience zero gravity among many other things. She is one of 12 children selected by NASA for Mars Exploration project.

Isnt there a limit to what human beings can do?!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Nature

Description of the scene of Piscine standing on the ship amidst the raging sea in Life of Pi by Yann Martel:

Nature can put on a thrilling show. The stage is vast, the lighting is dramatic, the extras are innumerable, and the budget for special effects is absolutely unlimited. What I had before me was a spectacle of wind and water, an earthquake of the senses, that even Hollywood couldnt orchestrate. But the earthquake stopped at the ground beneath my feet. The ground beneath me was solid. I was a spectator safely ensconced in his seat.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Job Satisfaction

This one just blew my mind away...

Courtesy: Times of India

Friday, August 1, 2008

Naga Naresh Karuturi

An inspiring story about a boy who lost both legs early in his life, yet never really lost in life...

Mother




Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Back to basics

Before she went to the Ecuadorean jungle to live with the Waorani tribe, Karen Morris-Lanz was a BlackBerry-toting workaholic single mother from Milton Keynes. Here she explains how life with this remote people helped teach her to relax.

With a hut, a log, water and a hammock - and no BlackBerry or teenage daughters - there was a shock phase after I arrived in the almost toy-like plane that landed on a patch of grass deep in the jungles of Ecuador. Bameno is four days down river on a dugout canoe from the nearest town and does not, as yet, have a postal address. …


Read the full story at BBC website.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Keep the Spark

Inaugural Speech by Chetan Bhagat for the new batch at the Symbiosis BBA program 2008

Good Morning everyone and thank you for giving me this chance to speak to you. This day is about you. You, who have come to this college, leaving the comfort of your homes (or in some cases discomfort), to become something in your life. I am sure you are excited. There are few days in human life when one is truly elated. The first day in college is one of them. When you were getting ready today, you felt a tingling in your stomach. What would the auditorium be like, what would the teachers be like, who are my new classmates - there is so much to be curious about. I call this excitement, the spark within you that makes you feel truly alive today. Today I am going to talk about keeping the spark shining. Or to put it another way, how to be happy most, if not all the time.

Where do these sparks start? I think we are born with them. My 3-year old twin boys have a million sparks. A little Spiderman toy can make them jump on the bed. They get thrills from creaky swings in the park. A story from daddy gets them excited. They do a daily countdown for birthday party several months in advance just for the day they will cut their own birthday cake.

I see students like you, and I still see some sparks. But when I see older people, the spark is difficult to find. That means as we age, the spark fades. People whose spark has faded too much are dull, dejected, aimless and bitter. Remember Kareena in the first half of Jab We Met vs the second half? That is what happens when the spark is lost. So how to save the spark?

Imagine the spark to be a lamp's flame. The first aspect is nurturing – to give your spark the fuel, continuously. The second is to guard against storms.

To nurture, always have goals. It is human nature to strive, improve and achieve full potential. In fact, that is success. It is what is possible for you. It isn't any external measure - a certain cost to company pay package, a particular car or house.

Most of us are from middle class families. To us, having material landmarks is success and rightly so. When you have grown up where money constraints force everyday choices, financial freedom is a big achievement.

But it isn't the purpose of life. If that was the case, Mr Ambani would not show up for work. Shah Rukh Khan would stay at home and not dance anymore. Steve Jobs won't be working hard to make a better iPhone, as he sold Pixar for billions of dollars already. Why do they do it? What makes them come to work everyday? They do it because it makes them happy. They do it because it makes them feel alive. Just getting better from current levels feels good. If you study hard, you can improve your rank. If you make an effort to interact with people, you will do better in interviews. If you practice, your cricket will get better. You may also know that you cannot become Tendulkar, yet. But you can get to the next level. Striving for that next level is important.

Nature designed with a random set of genes and circumstances in which we were born. To be happy, we have to accept it and make the most of nature's design. Are you? Goals will help you do that.

I must add, don't just have career or academic goals. Set goals to give you a balanced, successful life. I use the word balanced before successful. Balanced means ensuring your health, relationships, mental peace are all in good order.

There is no point of getting a promotion on the day of your breakup. There is no fun in driving a car if your back hurts. Shopping is not enjoyable if your mind is full of tensions.

You must have read some quotes - Life is a tough race, it is a marathon or whatever. No, from what I have seen so far, life is one of those races in nursery school. Where you have to run with a marble in a spoon kept in your mouth. If the marble falls, there is no point coming first. Same with life, where health and relationships are the marble. Your striving is only worth it if there is harmony in your life. Else, you may achieve the success, but this spark, this feeling of being excited and alive, will start to die.

One last thing about nurturing the spark - don't take life seriously. One of my yoga teachers used to make students laugh during classes. One student asked him if these jokes would take away something from the yoga practice. The teacher said - don't be serious, be sincere. This quote has defined my work ever since. Whether its my writing, my job, my relationships or any of my goals. I get thousands of opinions on my writing everyday. There is heaps of praise, there is intense criticism. If I take it all seriously, how will I write? Or rather, how will I live? Life is not to be taken seriously, as we are really temporary here. We are like a pre-paid card with limited validity. If we are lucky, we may last another 50 years. And 50 years is just 2,500 weekends. Do we really need to get so worked up? It's ok, bunk a few classes, goof up a few interviews, fall in love. We are people, not programmed devices.

I've told you three things - reasonable goals, balance and not taking it too seriously that will nurture the spark. However, there are four storms in life that will threaten to completely put out the flame. These must be guarded against. These are disappointment, frustration, unfairness and loneliness of purpose.

Disappointment will come when your effort does not give you the expected return. If things don't go as planned or if you face failure. Failure is extremely difficult to handle, but those that do come out stronger. What did this failure teach me? is the question you will need to ask. You will feel miserable. You will want to quit, like I wanted to when nine publishers rejected my first book. Some IITians kill themselves over low grades how silly is that? But that is how much failure can hurt you.

But it's life. If challenges could always be overcome, they would cease to be a challenge. And remember - if you are failing at something, that means you are at your limit or potential. And that's where you want to be.

Disappointment's cousin is frustration, the second storm. Have you ever been frustrated? It happens when things are stuck. This is especially relevant in India. From traffic jams to getting that job you deserve, sometimes things take so long that you don't know if you chose the right goal. After books, I set the goal of writing for Bollywood, as I thought they needed writers. I am called extremely lucky, but it took me five years to get close to a release.

Frustration saps excitement, and turns your initial energy into something negative, making you a bitter person. How did I deal with it? A realistic assessment of the time involved movies take a long time to make even though they are watched quickly, seeking a certain enjoyment in the process rather than the end result at least I was learning how to write scripts, having a side plan I had my third book to write and even something as simple as pleasurable distractions in your life - friends, food, travel can help you overcome it. Remember, nothing is to be taken seriously. Frustration is a sign somewhere, you took it too seriously.

Unfairness - this is hardest to deal with, but unfortunately that is how our country works. People with connections, rich dads, beautiful faces, pedigree find it easier to make it not just in Bollywood, but everywhere. And sometimes it is just plain luck. There are so few opportunities in India, so many stars need to be aligned for you to make it happen. Merit and hard work is not always linked to achievement in the short term, but the long term correlation is high, and ultimately things do work out. But realize, there will be some people luckier than you.

In fact, to have an opportunity to go to college and understand this speech in English means you are pretty darn lucky by Indian standards. Let's be grateful for what we have and get the strength to accept what we don't. I have so much love from my readers that other writers cannot even imagine it. However, I don't get literary praise. It's ok. I don't look like Aishwarya Rai, but I have two boys who think I am more beautiful than her. It's ok. Don't let unfairness kill your spark.

Finally, the last point that can kill your spark is isolation. As you grow older you will realize you are unique. When you are little, all kids want Ice cream and Spiderman. As you grow older to college, you still are a lot like your friends. But ten years later and you realize you are unique. What you want, what you believe in, what makes you feel, may be different from even the people closest to you. This can create conflict as your goals may not match with others. . And you may drop some of them. Basketball captains in college invariably stop playing basketball by the time they have their second child. They give up something that meant so much to them. They do it for their family. But in doing that, the spark dies. Never, ever make that compromise. Love yourself first, and then others.

There you go. I've told you the four thunderstorms - disappointment, frustration, unfairness and isolation. You cannot avoid them, as like the monsoon they will come into your life at regular intervals. You just need to keep the raincoat handy to not let the spark die.

I welcome you again to the most wonderful years of your life. If someone gave me the choice to go back in time, I will surely choose college. But I also hope that ten years later as well, you eyes will shine the same way as they do today. That you will Keep the Spark alive, not only through college, but through the next 2,500 weekends. And I hope not just you, but my whole country will keep that spark alive, as we really need it now more than any moment in history. And there is something cool about saying – I come from the land of a billion sparks.

Thank You.

The Fallen Tomato Cart

SUBROTO BAGCHI
(Subroto Bagchi is co-founder & CEO of MindTree Consulting)

I pass through this very intersection every morning with so much ease. Today, the
pace is skewed. There is a sense of disarray as motorists try to push past each other
through the traffic light. The light here always tests their agility because if you miss
the green, you have to wait for another three minutes before it lets you go past
again. Those three minutes become eternity for an otherwise time-insensitive nation
on the move. Today, there is a sense of chaos here. People are honking, skirting
each other and rushing past. I look out of my window to seek the reason. It is not
difficult to find because it is lying strewn all over the place.

A tomato seller’s cart has overturned. There are tomatoes everywhere and the
rushing motorists are making pulp of it. The man is trying to get his cart back on its
four rickety wheels and a few passersby are picking up what they can in an attempt
to save him total loss. Though symbolic in the larger scheme of things, it is not a
substantive gesture. His business for the day is over.

The way this man’s economics works is very simple. There is a money lender who
lends him money for just one day, at an interest rate of Rs 10 per day per Rs 100
lent. With the money, he wakes up at 4 am to go to the wholesale market for
vegetables. He returns, pushing his cart a good five miles, and by 7 am when the
locality wakes up, he is ready to sell his day’s merchandise. By the end of the
morning, some of it remains unsold. This his wife sells by the afternoon and takes
home the remainder, which becomes part of his meal. With the day’s proceeds, he
returns the interest to the money lender and goes back to the routine the next day.

If he does not sell for a day, his chain breaks. Where does he go from here? He goes back to the money lender, raises capital at an even more penal interest and gets back on his feet. This is not the only time that destiny has upset his tomato cart. This happens to him at least six times every year.

Once he returned with a loaded cart of ripe tomatoes and it rained heavily for the
next three days. No one came to the market and his stock rotted in front of his own
eyes. Another time, instead of the weather, it was a political rally that snowballed
into a confrontation between two rival groups and the locality closed down. And he is
not alone in this game of extraneous factors that seize not only his business but also
his life. He sees this happen to the “gol-gappa” seller, the peanut seller and the
“vada pao” seller all the time. When their product does not sell, it just turns soggy.
Sometimes they eat some of it. But how much of that stuff can you eat by yourself?
So, they just give away some and there is always that one time when they have to
simply throw it away.

Away from the street-vendor selling perishable commodity with little or no life
support system, the corporate world is an altogether different place. Here we have
some of the most educated people in the country. We don the best garbs. We do not
have to push carts; our carts push us. We have our salary, perquisites, bonuses,
stock options, gratuities, pensions and our medical insurance and the group accident
benefit schemes. Yet, all the while, we worry about our risks and think about our
professional insecurity. We wonder, what would happen if the company shifted
offices to another city? What would happen if the department closed down? What
would happen if you were to take maternity leave and the temporary substitute
delivered better work than you did? What would happen if the product line you are
dealing with simply failed? In any of those eventualities, the worst that could happen
would still be a lot less than having to see your cartful of tomatoes getting pulped
under the screeching wheels of absolute strangers who have nothing personal
against you.

All too often we exaggerate our risks. We keep justifying our professional concerns
till they trap us in their vicious downward spiral. Devoid of education, sophisticated
reasoning and any financial safety net, the man with the cart is often able to deal
with life much better than many of us. Is it time to look out of the window, into the
eyes of that man to ask him, where does he get it from? In his simple stoicism, is
probably, our lost resilience.

Renewable Energy Island

For the past decade or so, Samsø has been the site of an unlikely social movement. When it began, in the late nineteen-nineties, the island’s forty-three hundred inhabitants had what might be described as a conventional attitude toward energy: as long as it continued to arrive, they weren’t much interested in it. Most Samsingers heated their houses with oil, which was brought in on tankers. They used electricity imported from the mainland via cable, much of which was generated by burning coal. As a result, each Samsinger put into the atmosphere, on average, nearly eleven tons of carbon dioxide annually.

Then, quite deliberately, the residents of the island set about changing this. They formed energy coöperatives and organized seminars on wind power. They removed their furnaces and replaced them with heat pumps. By 2001, fossil-fuel use on Samsø had been cut in half. By 2003, instead of importing electricity, the island was exporting it, and by 2005 it was producing from renewable sources more energy than it was using.


More here.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Life


Artist Unknown

Believing in prayers

Source: A forward

In a small town in America, a person decided to open up his bar business, which was right opposite to a Church. The Church & its congregation started a campaign to block the Bar from opening with petitions and prayed daily against his business.Work progressed.

However, when it was almost complete and was about to open a few days later, a strong lightning struck the Bar and it was Burnt to the ground. The Church folk were rather smug in their outlook after that, till the Bar owner sued the Church authorities for $2million on the grounds that the Church through its congregation & prayers was ultimately responsible for the demise of his bar shop, either through direct or indirect actions or means.

In its reply to the court, the Church vehemently denied all responsibility or any connection that their prayers were reasons to the bar shop's demise. In support of their claim they referred to the Benson study at Harvard that intercessionary prayer had no impact!!!

As the case made its way into court, the Judge looked over the paperwork at the hearing and commented:

'I don't know how I am going to decide this case, but it appears from the paperwork, we have a bar owner who believes in the power of Prayer and we have an entire Church and its devotees that doesn't.'

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The waiter who will be an IAS officer

Source: An email fwd.

By Shobha Warrier in Chennai

Inspired by the spider, the Scottish king Robert the Bruce told his men, 'If you don't succeed the first time, try, try and try again'
K Jayaganesh's story is similar. He failed the civil service examination six times but never lost heart. The seventh time -- his last chance -- he passed with a rank of 156 and has been selected for the Indian Administrative Service.
Jayaganesh's story is inspiring not because he did not lose heart but also because he comes from a very poor background in a village in Tamil Nadu, and though he studied to be an engineer, he worked at odd jobs, even as a waiter for a short while, to realise his dream of becoming an IAS officer.
Read on for Jayaganesh's inspiring achievement in his own words:
Childhood in a remote village:
I was born and brought up in a small village called Vinavamangalam in Vellore district. My father Krishnan, who had studied up to the tenth standard, worked as a supervisor in a leather factory. My mother was a housewife. I am the eldest in the family and have two sisters and a brother. I studied up to the 8th standard in the village school and completed my schooling in a nearby town.
I was quite good at studies and always stood first. Coming from a poor family, I had only one ambition in life -- to get a job as fast as I could and help my father in running the family. My father got Rs 4,500 as salary and he had to take care of the education of four children and run the family, which you know is very difficult.
So, after my 10th standard, I joined a polytechnic college because I was told I would get a job the moment I passed out from there. When I passed out with 91 per cent, there was a chance for me to get entry to a government engineering college on merit. So I decided to join the Thanthai Periyar Government Engineering College to study mechanical engineering. My father supported my desire to study further.
Even while doing engineering, my ambition was still to get a job. If you look at my background, you will understand why I didn't have any big ambitions. Most of my friends in the village had studied only up to the 10th standard, and many did not even complete school. They worked as auto drivers or coolies or masons. I was the only one among my friends who went to college.
I understood the importance of education because of my parents. My father was the only one in his family to have completed school, so he knew the value of education. My parents saw to it that we children studied well.
In search of a job
Four days after I completed my engineering in 2000, I went to Bangalore in search of a job and I one without much difficulty. My salary was Rs 2,500 at a company that reconditioned tools.
It was in Bangalore that I started thinking about my village and my friends. I wondered sadly why none of them studied and worked in good companies. Because they had no education, they always remained poor. There was not enough money to buy even proper food. There was no opportunity there; the only place they could work was the tannery in the nearby town. If they didn't get work at the tannery, they worked as auto drivers or coolies. In short, there was no one in my village to guide the young generation.
I thought would I be able to help my villagers in any way?
Getting interested in the civil service examination
Till then, I had not even heard of something called the civil services examination. It was only after I went to Bangalore and saw the world that I was exposed to many things. I came to know that a collector in a small place could do a lot. At that moment, I decided that I wanted to be an IAS officer.
I resigned and went home to prepare for the examination. I never thought resigning was risky because I had the confidence and knew I would do well.
My father also supported me wholeheartedly. He had just got a bonus of Rs 6,500 and he gave me that money to buy study material. I sat in my village and studied from the notes I received by post from Chennai.
Failed attempts
In my first two attempts, I could not even clear the preliminary examination. I had no idea how to prepare for the exam, what subjects to opt for and how to study. There was nobody to guide me.
I had taken mechanical engineering as my main subject. That's when I met Uma Surya in Vellore. He was also preparing for the examination. He told me that if I took sociology as an option, it would be easy.
Even with sociology as the main subject, I failed in the third attempt. But I was not disappointed. I knew why I was failing. I didn't have proper guidance. I started reading newspapers only after I started preparing for the examination! So you can imagine from what kind of background I came from.
To Chennai for coaching
When I came to know about the government coaching centre (external link) in Chennai, I wrote the entrance examination and was selected. We were given accommodation and training.
Because I got tips from those who passed out, I passed the preliminary in my fourth attempt. We were given free accommodation and food only till we wrote the main examination. After that, we had to move out. I didn't want to go back to the village but staying in Chennai also was expensive.
I tried to get a job as an engineer but my efforts turned futile. I then decided to look for a part time job so that I would have time to study.
Working as a waiter in Chennai
I got a job as a billing clerk for computer billing in the canteen at Sathyam Cinemas. I also worked as the server during the interval. It never bothered me that I, a mechanical engineer, preparing for the civil services, had to work as a server. I had only one aim -- to stay on in Chennai to pass the examination.
Attending the interview in Delhi
After I got the job at the Sathyam Cinemas, I was called for the interview. As counselling was my hobby, a lot of questions were asked about counselling. I was not very fluent in English but I managed to convey whatever I wanted to. Perhaps I did not articulate well. I failed in the interview.
Preliminary again, the 5th time
Once again, I started from the beginning. Surprisingly, I failed in the preliminary itself. On analysis, I felt I did not concentrate on studies as I was working at Sathyam Cinemas.
I quit the job and joined a private firm to teach sociology to those preparing for the UPSC examinations. While I learnt the other subjects there, I taught sociology. Many friends of mine in Chennai helped me both financially and otherwise while I prepared for the examination.
Sixth attempt
I passed both the preliminary and the main in the sixth attempt but failed at the interview stage.
While preparing for the interview, I had written an examination to be an officer with the Intelligence Bureau and I was selected. I was in a dilemma whether to accept the job. I felt if I joined the IB, once again, my preparation to be an IAS officer would get affected. So, I decided not to join and started preparing for one last time.
Last attempt
I had to give the last preliminary just a few days after the previous interview. I was confused and scared. Finally, I decided to take the last chance and write the examination. Like I had hoped, I passed both the preliminary and the main.
The interview was in April, 2008 at Delhi. I was asked about Tamil Nadu, Kamaraj, Periyar, Tamil as a classical language, the link between politics and Tamil cinema etc. I was upset since I did not wish the interviewers at the start and they did not respond when I said thanks at the end. Both the incidents went on playing in my mind. I just prayed to God and walked back.
The day the results were out
I was extremely tense that day. I would know whether my dreams would be realised or not. I used to tell God, please let me pass if you feel I am worthy of it.
I went to a playground and sat there meditating for a while. Then, I started thinking what I should do if I passed and what I should do if I didn't.
I had only one dream for the last seven years and that was to be an IAS officer.
156th rank
Finally when the results came, I couldn't believe myself. I had secured the 156th rank out of more than 700 selected candidates. It's a top rank and I am sure to get into the IAS.
I felt like I had a won a war that had been going on for many years. I felt free and relieved.
The first thing I did was call my friends in Chennai and then my parents to convey the good news.
Warm welcome in the village
The reception I got in my village was unbelievable. All my friends, and the entire village, were waiting for me when I alighted from the bus. They garlanded me, burst crackers, played music and took me around the village on their shoulders. The entire village came to my house to wish me. That was when I saw unity among my villagers. It was a defining moment for me.
What I want to do
I worked really hard without losing faith in myself to realise my dream. My real work starts now. I want to try hard to eradicate poverty and spread the message of education to all people. Education is the best tool to eradicate poverty. I want Tamil Nadu also to be a literate state like Kerala [Images].
Just take my example. I could come out of a poor background to this level only because of education. I didn't get any guidance when I was young. So I want to give proper guidance to the youth in the villages. They have the ability to go up but there is nobody to guide them. I want to be a guiding force to such youngsters. As I come from that background, I understand them best.
Reservations
I strongly feel that reservations are needed to uplift the section of society that is at the bottom. Unless you lift them up, they can't come up. As they had been at the bottom for thousands of years, they are not equipped to compete with the higher sections of society.
Now that I am going to be an IAS officer, I will move to the creamy layer in reservations. My children would be from a background that is totally different from what mine was. If I continue taking the benefits of reservation, I would be doing injustice to society. So, I will not take the benefits again.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

1000 years to 3 months

Whizkid makes plastic biodegradable in 3 months instead of 1000 years, which is the time plastic is known to decompose.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Project Better Place's Electric Car project.

Project Better Place CEO Agassi's 25 min presentation on electric car.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Linguistic Kids

Kids who have learnt how to speak in different languages fluently just so that they could sell peacock feathers on the pavement to foreign tourists...

Very touching videos...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-URtZfIgKAU&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6PrleqeCAPw&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spAXdMxsB1I&feature=related

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Sarathbabu

Passed out of IIM. Rejected MNCs. Lives in hut. Started Foodking. Slept on Railway platform once and got shoved by policeman. Huge losses in the first year. Now Rs 32 lakh profit a month.

Read on.

Monday, April 21, 2008

A management lesson

India Knowledge@Wharton: Could you give an example, from your own experience, of how leaders should manage failure?


Abdul Kalam: Let me tell you about my experience. In 1973 I became the project director of India's satellite launch vehicle program, commonly called the SLV-3. Our goal was to put India's "Rohini" satellite into orbit by 1980. I was given funds and human resources -- but was told clearly that by 1980 we had to launch the satellite into space. Thousands of people worked together in scientific and technical teams towards that goal.

By 1979 -- I think the month was August -- we thought we were ready. As the project director, I went to the control center for the launch. At four minutes before the satellite launch, the computer began to go through the checklist of items that needed to be checked. One minute later, the computer program put the launch on hold; the display showed that some control components were not in order. My experts -- I had four or five of them with me -- told me not to worry; they had done their calculations and there was enough reserve fuel. So I bypassed the computer, switched to manual mode, and launched the rocket. In the first stage, everything worked fine. In the second stage, a problem developed. Instead of the satellite going into orbit, the whole rocket system plunged into the Bay of Bengal. It was a big failure.

That day, the chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization, Prof. Satish Dhawan, had called a press conference. The launch was at 7:00 am, and the press conference -- where journalists from around the world were present -- was at 7:45 am at ISRO's satellite launch range in Sriharikota [in Andhra Pradesh in southern India]. Prof. Dhawan, the leader of the organization, conducted the press conference himself. He took responsibility for the failure -- he said that the team had worked very hard, but that it needed more technological support. He assured the media that in another year, the team would definitely succeed. Now, I was the project director, and it was my failure, but instead, he took responsibility for the failure as chairman of the organization.

The next year, in July 1980, we tried again to launch the satellite -- and this time we succeeded. The whole nation was jubilant. Again, there was a press conference. Prof. Dhawan called me aside and told me, "You conduct the press conference today."

I learned a very important lesson that day. When failure occurred, the leader of the organization owned that failure. When success came, he gave it to his team. The best management lesson I have learned did not come to me from reading a book; it came from that experience.

Source: A forward

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Monty Hall Problem

Suppose you're on a game show, and you're given the choice of three doors: Behind one door is a car; behind the others, goats. You pick a door, say No. 1, and the host, who knows what's behind the doors, opens another door, say No. 3, which has a goat. He then says to you, "Do you want to pick door No. 2?" Is it to your advantage to switch your choice?

The player has an equal chance of initially selecting the car, Goat A, or Goat B. Switching results in a win 2/3 of the time because 2/3 of the time, the player's initial pick was a goat.

Read on...

They still have our records!!

As most know, many buildings in India especially the ones which are now judicial buildings like High Court, etc were constructed by the British. But something that most are not aware of is that the Brit are still tracking those records!

A judicial building in Guwahati recently received a letter from the British stating that the building is 100 years old and needs to be renovated!

Of course, people ignored the advice.

Source: My friend Mithu's father works in one such Guwahati judicial building.

Social Entrepreneur: Harish Hande

Snip
Sample this. The flower pickers near Ahmedabad would usually get up in the middle of the night, get hold of a kerosene lamp in one hand, and hurry to the fields to pick flowers between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m.
Their target: to bring the flowers to market by 6 a.m., in time for the dawn crowds and before the flowers start wilting. Or take the case of silk farmers of Karnataka, who would typically use candles or kerosene lamp for lighting at the time of feeding worms in the dark (harsh light hampers the growth of silk worms). But a drop of spilled kerosene would destroy the entire basket of worms.
Snip


Snip
Harish Hande was born and raised in Orissa, India. After completing his basic schooling in Orissa, he went to IIT Kharagpur for his undergraduate studies in Energy Engineering. He then went to the U.S. to do his Master’s and later PhD. in Energy Engineering at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.
Snip


Business Today.
Wiki.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Rise of India

Quote by Thomas Friedman in the New York Times....

"When we were young kids growing up in America, we were told to eat our vegetables at dinner and not leave them. Mothers said, think of the starving children in India and finish the dinner.''
And now I tell my children: ''Finish your homework. Think of the children in India who would make you starve, if you don't.'"

Monday, March 17, 2008

Story of the Stuff

Annie Leonard investigates how stuff works...

An exemplary story....

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Warren Macdonald

Today I saw an episode on Discovery Channel named 'I shouldnt be alive.' This particular episode featured Warren Macdonald's adventure on Mount Bowen where he almost died when a boulder fell over him. He lay there under the boulder for about 45 hours while his partner, Geert - whom he had met just the day before - ran all the way down to get help. Discovery Channel excellently captured behind-the-scene story of every minute detail. Like how the boulder was actually a part of molten lava millions of years ago and why it fell. Like how being under the boulder for such a long time ironically actually made the blood clot and stopped poisoning Warren. Like how the insects bit Geert on his way down. And several such details. But although Warren survived after he was finally rescued, both of his legs had to be amputated.

The killer note is that, after he was amputated, he climbed Kilimanjaro! Check this and this out.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Reduce power consumption

Wow! What an article about reducing power consumption!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Transcend

"I am going to talk about the skill I am aware of - Programming. There are some people who program for the sake of programming and the very joy they derieve out of it. I am one of those. I love to write good programs and sometimes when I am programming, I reach a stage where my awareness peaks and I write some very beautiful code. Later when I look at it, I get really surprised that it’s me who typed those lines. So what exactly happens? I think when I hit the Tipping Point of Consciousness I suddenly transcend my tool, path - programming in this case and I reach that awareness level where I inherently know what to type without any memory, effort etc."

Amen.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

An Infoscion interacts with Ilayaraja

Below is an extract of an Infoscion’s (Ravishankar V) mail about his experience when he happened to interact with the great music director Ilayaraja:

2 weeks back, One evening, I got a pleasant surprise. The music of the movie - Manikantan was being composed in Chennai by Ilaiyaraaja and my friend called to ask if I would want to be part of this as he knew my liking for music. I jumped at the invitation and requested my manager, for time off work. When she heard why I wanted to be away, she readily agreed and asked me not to lose this life-time opportunity.

So there I was at the Prasad's studio last week, spending almost two full days with the Maestro as I watched him compose the tunes for the 6 songs in the movie. These were the most unforgettable moments of my life. He would sit in a deep meditative posture for a while after listening to the brief of the song by the director. Occasionally he would open his eyes and ask a lot of questions. He would sometimes give us pros and cons and ask us to think differently about a situation. But once we gave him a sound reason about why a song needs to have a certain colour, he would accept our explanation. He would again go back into his trance-like quietness. Suddenly, he would look at us and give a child-like smile as if he had got something out of the nothingness around the room. He would then tap away at his harmonium and the melody would manifest itself. He would then explain the nuances of the melody as I sat wondering how one person could capture everything that was in the brief into one tune. Each note, beat and bar had a reason to be there.

He explained patiently hundreds of little known aspects of various forms of music. His interpretations of the bhavas (emotions) of Thiruvasagam and some of the expressions of his composition in Sanga Tamil (He has a book of his latest poems called Adiyar Adiyottri, which are truly a class above) were at such a high plane that they touched a note in my soul. He also shared his experiences briefly about recording at Budapest for Thirvasagam and the love he received from musicians there.

The way he went about doing music was by itself a great lesson in professionalism. He was there on dot and never made us wait for any of his appointments during composing. He labeled all the tapes and materials that he used so that we could take back everything that he composed for us. He had a rough and fair tape in two different systems. He sang and recorded his roughs first and once both he and the director were happy, he sang the fair version. He would also not allow visitors or take calls unnecessarily. He would speak firmly, but there was always the willingness to listen to a different point of view. He associated music with God and saw himself as a vehicle for delivering it. He had great respect for his profession and did it with great dedication. He told us that good music was beyond intelligence and no amount of smartness can replace genuine inspiration. He said he has had many great moments of inspiration which would disappear before he could capture them and would come back after many months again fleetingly. So I am not even sure, if we have had the best of Raaja yet.

Much of what he spoke came from his heart and I could see how he could be easily misunderstood by critics who could never see the world that he lives in. When the time arrived for me to leave, it was as if I was leaving a dear friend and a guru, whom I had known for many years. I am eagerly awaiting the music release in April and the movie itself in November. When I see it comes out on screen, it would also be a testimony of the culture and values at Infosys – because without its respect for the work-life balance and the constant encouragement for self-expression that I have received from various people at Infosys, my participation in the movie's making would not have been possible. I feel very lucky.

Friday, January 11, 2008

A successful life

"To laugh often and much; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a little better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived; This is the meaning of success."

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Parenting trees

Heard about Salumarada Thimmakka today. What a great, noble lady!

A whole nation, considered to be the richest in the world, does not agree to sign the Kyoto Protocol. And then, there is Thimmakka, who doesnt even have a ration card to fend for herself, and perhaps no clue as to what Kyoto Protocol is all about, went about the Bangalore-Nelamangala National Highway and planted so many trees that she didnt even bother counting! Not only has this made the Highway a beautiful picturesque tree-and-birds filled road, but also contributed significantly, in its own way, to counter the Global Warming. Such is her dedication now towards environment that, when asked, she told that she would like to be reborn as a tree!

It is people like her that make this World a better place to live...

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

True Stories Picturised

Below are some of the most stimulating true story movies that I have ever seen:

Schindler's list
Cidade De Deus (City of God)
Cinderella Man
Patch Adams
Something That Lord Made
World Trade Center
Rabbit-Proof Fence
Hotel Rwanda
Men of Honor
Open Water
Walk the line
October sky
The Straight story
Glory Road
The World's Fastest Indian

Monday, November 26, 2007

Over 1500 lives saved!

An act of bravery.
An act of desperation.
An act of thoughtfulness.

An act that saved more than 1500 lives...

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Early teen

I read this once. And it got stuck in me. It just emphasised my belief about how important it is to learn as many things as possible in early teen, which inevitably will lead to a good stead in future.

Extract:
Once upon a time, I had a very hectic schedule for the day: Get up early, 6-7 swimming. Next,music class. 9 am to 4 pm school. Come home, badminton practise, 6-7 private lessons, 7-8 homework :(. Do yoga, painting, cycling, roller skate whenever I feel like doing.
Ufff!!! It was hectic !!!

There are companies and there’s Infosys….

Source: Email Forward. Diary of an Infoscion.

Sep. 6, 2006 – London calling: I landed at the big daddy of all airports, Heathrow, with the biggest suitcase in terminal 2. I was looking forward to devouring the grandeur of London and everything that a London life could offer for the next six months.

Oct. 12, 2006 – Destruction strikes: After a hectic month packed with meetings, learning and project parties that I never wanted to end, at a moment when I least expected, I had a silent stroke early in the morning.

Oct. 12 2006 – Biding time: Hoping what I was suffering from was just a normal headache, I bided my time, waiting for the pain to subside. But with the situation getting worse by noon, I picked up the phone to make the much dreaded phone call to my boss and tell him that I was not well and would have to get back home. I knew how much it meant to execute a project to perfection, and to completion.

Oct. 12 2006 – Faith and understanding: While I was expecting my boss to be perplexed and displeased at the situation, he told me, “Geetha, I am sorry to know you are not well, I want you to come back home to India at once. I am asking the London office to provide you with all the help you need till you board the flight. Call me the minute you reach home so that I know you have reached safely.”

Oct. 13 2006 – An Angel rode with me: A good Samaritan from Infosys picked me at home and rode with me all the way to Heathrow, got my flight tickets upgraded (which I’m normally not eligible for) and instructed the attendants to ensure that I’m taken care of and provided with all the necessary in-flight medical support.

There are companies and there’s Infosys….

This incident made me realize that it’s not the biggest perks and fat pay packs that matter, but the little acts of kindness shown in times of need that make a company worth working with. At Infosys my salary may fluctuate based on our profits, but I know that the emotional bank account never fluctuates.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Human Trafficking

The Story and The Organisation.

Source: An Email Forward

The Horseman

A long time ago, there was an Emperor who told his horseman that if he could ride on his horse and cover as much land area as he likes, then the Emperor would give him the area of land he has covered.

Sure enough, the horseman quickly jumped onto his horse and rode as fast as possible to cover as much land area as he could. He kept on riding and riding, whipping the horse to go as fast as possible. When he was hungry or tired, he did not stop because he wanted to cover as much area as possible.

Came to a point when he had covered a substantial area but he was exhausted and was dying. Then he asked himself, "Why did I push myself so hard to cover so much land area? Now I am dying and I only need a very small area to bury myself."

Source: An Email Forward

Friday, September 28, 2007

Sudha Murthy & Tata

I have read this forward n times.
If I receive it (n+1)th time, I will still read it completely.

It was probably the April of 1974. Bangalore was getting warm and gulmohars were blooming at the IISc campus. I was the only girl in my postgraduate department and was staying at the ladies' hostel. Other girls were pursuing research in different departments of Science.

I was looking forward to going abroad to complete a doctorate in computer science. I had been offered scholarships from Universities in the US . I had not thought of taking up a job in India. One day, while on the way to my hostel from our lecture-hall complex, I saw an advertisement on the notice board. It was a standard job-requirement notice from the famous automobile
company Telco (now Tata Motors). It stated that the company required young, bright engineers, hardworking and with an excellent academic background, etc.At the bottom was a small line: "Lady candidates need not apply."

I read it and was very upset. For the first time in my life I was up against gender discrimination.

Though I was not keen on taking up the job, I saw it as a challenge. I had done extremely well in academics, better than most of my male peers.

Little did I know then that in real life academic excellence is not enough to be successful.

After reading the notice I went fuming to my room. I decided to inform the topmost person in Telco's management about the injustice the company was perpetrating. I got a postcard and started to write, but there was a problem:
I did not know who headed Telco.

I thought it must be one of the Tatas. I knew JRD Tata was the head of the Tata Group; I had seen his pictures in newspapers (actually, Sumant Moolgaokar was the company's chairman then). I took the card, addressed it to JRD and started writing. To this day I remember clearly what I wrote.

"The great Tatas have always been pioneers. They are the people who started the basic infrastructure industries in India , such as iron and steel, chemicals, textiles and locomotives. They have cared for higher education in India since 1900 and they were responsible for the establishment of the Indian Institute of Science. Fortunately, I study there. But I am surprised how a company such as Telco is discriminating on the basis of gender."

I posted the letter and forgot about it. Less than 10 days later, I received a telegram stating that I had to appear for an interview at Telco's Pune facility at the company's expense. I was taken aback by the telegram. My hostel mate told me I should use the opportunity to go to Pune free of cost and buy them the famous Pune saris for cheap! I collected Rs 30 each from everyone who wanted a sari. When I look back, I feel like laughing at the reasons for my going, but back then they seemed good enough to make the trip.

It was my first visit to Pune and I immediately fell in love with the city.
To this day it remains dear to me. I feel as much at home in Pune as I do in Hubli, my hometown. The place changed my life in so many ways. As directed, I went to Telco's Pimpri office for the interview.

There were six people on the panel and I realised then that this was serious business.

"This is the girl who wrote to JRD," I heard somebody whisper as soon as I entered the room. By then I knew for sure that I would not get the job.

The realisation abolished all fear from my mind, so I was rather cool while the interview was being conducted.

Even before the interview started, I reckoned the panel was biased, so I told them, rather impolitely, "I hope this is only a technical interview."

They were taken aback by my rudeness, and even today I am ashamed about my attitude. The panel asked me technical questions and I answered all of them.

Then an elderly gentleman with an affectionate voice told me, "Do you know why we said lady candidates need not apply? The reason is that we have never employed any ladies on the shop floor. This is not a co-ed college; this is a factory. When it comes to academics, you are a first ranker throughout. We
appreciate that, but people like you should work in research laboratories."

I was a young girl from small-town Hubli. My world had been a limited place. I did not know the ways of large corporate houses and their difficulties, so I answered, "But you must start somewhere, otherwise no woman will ever be able to work in your factories."

Finally, after a long interview, I was told I had been successful. So this was what the future had in store for me. Never had I thought I would take up a job in Pune. I met a shy young man from Karnataka there, we became good friends and we got married.

It was only after joining Telco that I realized who JRD was: the uncrowned king of Indian industry. Now I was scared, but I did not get to meet him till I was transferred to Bombay . One day I had to show some reports to Mr Moolgaokar, our chairman, who we all knew as SM. I was in his office on the first floor of Bombay House (the Tata headquarters) when, suddenly JRD walked in. That was the first time I saw "appro JRD". Appro means "our" in Gujarati. This was the affectionate term by whichpeople at Bombay House called him.

I was feeling very nervous, remembering my postcard episode. SM introduced me nicely, "Jeh (that's what his close associates called him), this young woman is an engineer and that too a postgraduate.

She is the first woman to work on the Telco shop floor." JRD looked at me. I was praying he would not ask me any questions about my interview (or the postcard that preceded it).

Thankfully, he didn't. Instead, he remarked. "It is nice that girls are getting into engineering in our country. By the way, what is your name?"

"When I joined Telco I was Sudha Kulkarni, Sir," I replied. "Now I am Sudha Murthy." He smiled and kindly smile and started a discussion with SM. As for me, I almost ran out of the room.

After that I used to see JRD on and off. He was the Tata Group chairman and I was merely an engineer. There was nothing that we had in common. I was in awe of him.

One day I was waiting for Murthy, my husband, to pick me up after office hours. To my surprise I saw JRD standing next to me. I did not know how to react. Yet again I started worrying about that postcard. Looking back, I realise JRD had forgotten about it. It must have been a small incident for him, but not so for me.

"Young lady, why are you here?" he asked. "Office time is over." I said, "Sir, I'm waiting for my husband to come and pick me up." JRD said, "It is getting dark and there's no one in the corridor.

I'll wait with you till your husband comes."

I was quite used to waiting for Murthy, but having JRD waiting alongside made me extremely uncomfortable.

I was nervous. Out of the corner of my eye I looked at him. He wore a simple white pant and shirt. He was old, yet his face was glowing. There wasn't any air of superiority about him. I was thinking, "Look at this person. He is a chairman, a well-respected man in our country and he is waiting for the sake of an ordinary employee."

Then I saw Murthy and I rushed out. JRD called and said, "Young lady, tell your husband never to make his wife wait again." In 1982 I had to resign from my job at Telco. I was reluctant to go, but I really did not have a choice. I was coming down the steps of Bombay House after wrapping up my final settlement when I saw JRD coming up. He was absorbed in thought. I wanted to say goodbye to him, so I stopped. He saw me and paused.

Gently, he said, "So what are you doing, Mrs Kulkarni?" (That was the way he always addressed me.) "Sir, I am leaving Telco."

"Where are you going?" he asked. "Pune, Sir. My husband is starting a company called Infosys and I'm shifting to Pune."

"Oh! And what will you do when you are successful."

"Sir, I don't know whether we will be successful." "Never start with diffidence," he advised me. "Always start with confidence. When you are successful you must give back to society. Society gives us so much; we must reciprocate. I wish you all the best."

Then JRD continued walking up the stairs. I stood there for what seemed like a millennium. That was the last time I saw him alive. Many years later I met Ratan Tata in the same Bombay House, occupying the chair JRD once did. I told him of my many sweet memories of working with Telco.

Later, he wrote to me, "It was nice hearing about Jeh from you. The sad part is that he's not alive to see you today."

I consider JRD a great man because, despite being an extremely busy person, he valued one postcard written by a young girl seeking justice. He must have received thousands of letters everyday. He could have thrown mine away, but he didn't do that. He respected the intentions of that unknown girl, who had neither influence nor money, and gave her an opportunity in his company. He did not merely give her a job; he changed her life and mindset forever.

Close to 50 per cent of the students in today's engineering colleges are girls. And there are women on the shop floor in many industry segments. I see these changes and I think of JRD. If at all time stops and asks me what I want from life, I would say I wish JRD were alive today to see how the company we started has grown. He would have enjoyed it wholeheartedly.

My love and respect for the House of Tata remains undiminished by the passage of time. I always looked up to JRD. I saw him as a role model for his simplicity, his generosity, his kindness and the care he took of his employees. Those blue eyes always reminded me of the sky; they had the same vastness and magnificence.

*Sudha Murthy is a widely published writer and chairperson of the Infosys Foundation involved in a number of social development initiatives. Infosys chairman Narayana Murthy is her husband.