Sunday, April 17, 2011

King of the skies

Today evening, I decided to give work a break and went to the terrace to watch paper kites that some kids were flying in the neighborhood. Today, there was a lot of breeze and guess it was an ideal evening for this sport. There was some intense fighting in the skies and it was a joy to watch 20 kites of all colors. 

It was even more fun to watch kids on the streets running around to catch the kites that were coming down one by one. The kids did not care where they ran. Their heads were just focused on the kite and I can see that they wanted it so much that they kept running all around, scaling compound walls when required, not caring about what others may say, and jumping into houses in an effort to be the first one to lay hands on the falling kite.

It reminded me of my own childhood, when I was so crazy about flying kites. My mother used to take me to the kite shop and get me the kites that were available for 25 paise, and if she was very happy with me, she may rarely get me the bigger one for 50 paise. I very badly wanted to fly the "bana" kite that sold for Rs 2, but I never asked my parents and hence I never got one. My friends and me used to hunt for broken glass, tube lights, white thread and many other agents to prepare the deadly "manja thread" and fly the kites with it. 

It was super fun those days. With nothing much to do other than school studies, and with all the free time in the world, we could fly the kites and feel we were the kings of the skies for the moment. Winning in whatever small ways is always such an amazing feeling, and I guess it has been long since I experienced a big win. I'll try, I'll try very hard for the next big win.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Sea Biscuit

SeaBiscuit is one of my all-time favourite movies and I have put in some excellent conversations from the movie. If you like them, you should watch the movie!

Why are you fixing the horse?
Every horse is good for something. You know, you dont throw a whole life away just because he banged up a little.

Narrator: Seabiscuit was a small horse, barely 15 hands. He was hurting too. There was a limp in his walk, a wheezing in his breath. Smith did not pay attention to that. He was looking at the horse in the eye.

What exactly did you like in that horse? He's got spirit. Hell, he is so beat up he is hard to tell what he's like. I think they got him so screwed up making him run in a circle that he is forgotten what he was born to do.

"Though he be little, he is fierce." - Shakespeare

All the time in the world, boy.
That's it Pops.
Nice lead.
Just like that, boy.
Just like that.
what do you think, boy?
You ready to go?
You and me. Let's go boy. Let's go. Ha! Ha!

Well, I just think this horse has a lot of heart.
He may have been down, but he wasn't out.
He may have lost a few, but he didn't let it get to him.

By the way, he does not know he's little. He thinks he is the biggest horse out there. See, sometimes, when a little guy, he doesn't know he's a little guy, he can do great big things. See, this is not the finish line. The future is the finish line. And Biscuit is the horse to get us there!

A good quote from Mark Twain:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

Monday, February 28, 2011

Collection of Wisdom

Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Alva Edison, Lao Tzu have been some of my biggest teachers who have helped me stay inspired, and work very hard with the right spirit. I was feeling a little down and was hungry to hear them again and I found this remarkable collection of quotes. The blogger has neatly organized it into different qualities and I recommend this post a lot.

I have also always believed that good reading gives a great start to know what is the right thing to do, but it is always the right actions at the right time that finally counts.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Favourite Quotes

My growing collection of favourite quotations:

Let each man exercise the art he knows.

Judge each day not by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant.
Robert Louis Stevenson

In a gentle way, you can shake the world.
Mohandas Gandhi

Ideas shape the course of history.
John Maynard Keynes

Change your thoughts and you change your world.
Norman Vincent Peale

Great hopes make great men.
Thomas Fuller

You have to dream before your dreams can come true.
Abdul Kalam

Wherever you are - be all there.
Jim Elliot

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.
Abraham Lincoln

Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.
Abraham Lincoln

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.
Abraham Lincoln

I do the very best I know how - the very best I can; and I mean to keep on doing so until the end.
Abraham Lincoln

I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.
Abraham Lincoln

I will prepare and some day my chance will come.
Abraham Lincoln

I'm a slow walker, but I never walk back.
Abraham Lincoln

If there is anything that a man can do well, I say let him do it. Give him a chance.
Abraham Lincoln

That some achieve great success, is proof to all that others can achieve it as well.
Abraham Lincoln

The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is the man who'll get me a book I ain't read.
Abraham Lincoln

To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.
Abraham Lincoln

Whatever you are, be a good one.
Abraham Lincoln

When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That's my religion.
Abraham Lincoln

You cannot build character and courage by taking away a man's initiative and independence.
Abraham Lincoln

You have to do your own growing no matter how tall your grandfather was.
Abraham Lincoln

The truest wisdom is a resolute determination.
Napoleon Bonaparte

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Chapter Notes (for current TIME students)

Dear Students,

As mentioned in my classes, I will be posting teaching notes for few chapters in this post. This would essentially have the crux of the basics of the maths classes I take. It can be useful as a supplement to the theory classes.

Download here: Contains notes for Inequalities, Time and Distance, Simple Interest and Compound Interest, Ratio Proportion and variation, Simple Equations.

Feedback and suggestions are welcome! If you have suggestions for improvement, send them in to my email address.

Best Regards,

Friday, November 13, 2009

Revisiting my all-time favourite poem

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
' Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

Friday, January 02, 2009

Lyrics from Rocky Balboa (2006) - "It ain't over 'til it's over."

Rocky (1-5) had always been a treat to watch. Recently, I saw Rocky Balboa, the last part of this series and a dialogue from Rocky to his son from a particular scene truly inspired me. I quote that here:

"You let people stick a finger on your face and tell you you are no good, and when things get out of hand, you started looking for sth to blame. Like a big shadow. Let me tell you something you already know. The world aint all sunshine and rainbows. Its a very mean and nasty place. It wont care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep it permanently if you let it. It aint about hard you hit, its about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. Thats how its done. Now if you know what's your worth, then go out and get what you are worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hits and not pointing fingers saying you werent what you want to be because of him, her or anybody. Cowards do that and that aint you. You better than that."

Well, wish you a very happy 2009!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Training in Malgudi - Part II

(Contd. from previous post, Part-I)

05-06 May, 2007
I was told that carpenting work by Achari's father doesnt support the family much as modern tools are easily available and rare orders come their way. Balakrishna, Shyam Sundar Achari's younger brother was learning the carpenting skills from his father and I thought that Balakrishna should support the family as much as Achari and looked for possible options.

That's when it occured to me that Balakrishna could actually sell my company products in this small village. As I reflected more on this subject, I felt he could in fact try and sell the entire range of consumer good products right from soaps to shampoos of any company.

I slowly started talking to Achari about this when he came and he got very excited about it. We then felt it would be a great task to convince the family about the project and the risks in putting down the initial investment in the project. I then told myself that I will not disclose the amount (Rs 2000) the company will offer to the family as compensation. I decided to tell them that the company will give Rs 1500 and with the rest Rs 500, we will go and buy products from the nearby town, Kurnool. That settles the investment.

I spent the entire night in explaining to the family about the new Kirana business that I said I will fund with Rs 500. I have learnt in school about the importance of change management, but have seldom had experience in changing attitudes of the family members. The family had great trust in me and they thought that I was intelligent and greatly educated and this could actually be an opportunity of prosperity. They even repeatedly mentioned that god must have sent me to their house to accomplish a mission.

I reasoned that Balakrishna could easily do much better and since he does not have a paying job at hand, he could take up the project. He will take the Rs 500 worth of products and sell them at MRP to the houses nearby his house and in nearby villages. His modus operandi would be to carry the goods in his cycle from house and house and showing the products like bathing soap, talc, shampoo etc. He can organise himself by visiting one village once a week. Once he is out of stock, he can go and buy from town with the help of his brother, Achari and then get back. The profits from the intial seed of Rs 500 will be ploughed back into the business by buying some new categories like mosquito coils, balms etc. Till he has stock of the good range of products including food items like oil, rice etc, he will not take money from the business. During the discussion, Achari's father suggested he can prepare a shop using wood in about 3 months and they can have a store in addition to the home delivery. We all slept hopeful of a bright future in our own ways.

May 07, 2007 (Sunday)
Since I have visited the Kurnool market many a time and knew where the wholesalers are located, I took them straight to Nehru Road and we located a shop open on a Sunday and we bought stocks for Rs 350. Items bought included Rs 5 Ponds Talc, Rs 5 Santoor soap, Rs 2 Amrutanjan Balm, Rs 2 Jet Mosquito Coil, some locally popular detergent etc. From my company distributor, I had arranged stocks worth Rs 150, mainly comprising Chik, Fairever and Chinnis Vermicili. I explained to Achari that he can get products from company distributors much more cheaply and hence the Acharis can make a handsome profit. He assured me that he will locate all company distributors in Kurnool and from the next purchase, he will buy from them.

After our stocks purchase, we bought a long note book and a pen to keep account of the daily sale that is to happen from the next day. I also bought a lot of pens, rulers, note books, pencils and sharpeners to give to the students of Bade Basha. I then went to a browsing centre and helped Achari prepare his resume and posted it in many job sites in a hope that he will someday land in a better job.

May 08, 2007
It was the last day in the villlage that I had planned for myself and decided to leave post lunch and catch the afternoon train to Hyderabad. Achari, Balakrishna and me woke up early next day and were startled to find a lot of activity going on inside the house. Usha Rani was helping Achari's father and grandfather to clean the front part of the house so that the new stocks could be displayed there for sale.

Me and Balakrishna meanwhile went to Bade Basha's house to meet the students and give them the gifts. The tuition was in the terrace and I was pleasantly shocked to hear the chorus "Good morning, Sir" when I arrived. It has been quite sometime that I passed of elementary school and it momentarily carried me back to those old days. Bade Basha introduced me saying I was highly educated and paid and that the students can become like me if they studied well. I asked some general knowledge questions and gave the gifts to whoever answered them correctly. I also asked each of them to tell me what they wished to become. It was heartening to hear many say teachers. They said they will come back and teach to students in their village so that more will study and they can also earn good respect as school teachers. Some wanted to become lawyers, some girls wanted to become Police Officers and it was heartening to hear their ambitions. I told them I wished to read in papers that the state toppers are from Rudravanam village and if it happens, I will travel to Rudravanam again to congratulate them.

When I returned back to the Achari's house, I saw that the products were all out hanging and the entire family looked at them with great expectations. We couldnt believe our luck when a young girl passing by the house noted that Chik is hanging inside for sale and quickly bought 2 sachets for 50ps each. I too made a purchase of few products and gifted them to the family.

It was getting late for me and I left the family wishing them great luck. The Achari family had got me a lot of freshly plucked drumsticks to carry home and expressed their sincere gratitude in many ways. They suggested that the new shop will be named after me and I strongly opposed saying that the shop should not only bring money, but also respect from the village people. 'Achari Stores' could thus be apt and also easily recognized by the villagers. They said they will never forget me in their lifetime and I too told them the same, for their hospitality amidst constraints was way too good to be described in just words.

The Achari brothers and their grandfather accompanied me to the railway station. We travelled on top of an auto and I truly enjoyed the journey and the scenery breaking through the beautiful countryside. On way, we visited a photo studio and got ourselves a photo. I soon boarded the train to Hyderabad and proceeded back to my home in Hyderabad. I got a call from the Achari brothers that night and I felt I should be the most happiest person around when I heard that they sold for about Rs 150 on the first day !

The next day I almost couldnt believe what I was hearing when the Achari brothers told me their sales touched Rs 500 on the second day. The third day was almost as delightful when I heard that they have confidently put the entire Rs 1500 I paid them as company's compensation in buying goods that they are going to sell.

Even to this day, I am hearing from them now and then and I am only too happy to hear of the Acharis' progress. I told my parents and close friends this experience of mine and I am too glad that I got such an opportunity in my lifetime. Hope my company wouldnt mind when I tell them that at end of the training stint, I havent learnt as much on how we could do business through them as on how they can do their own business through us !!!

Training in Malgudi - Part I

It finally was time to proceed to P Rudravanam for my rural family visit for a week. The purpose was to understand consumer behavior, the attitudes of our people living in rural areas. My company thought that management trainees like myself would have had our life spent in affluent parts of the country and a stint like this should broaden our understanding. In my view the stint has more than served its purpose.

Getting a glimpse of how 75% of our population live was in more ways than one, an eye-opener to what constitutes the real India. Rudravanam Village is in Kurnool District of Andhra Pradesh, a village of around 1500 people in about 300 families. I stayed with the family of Shyam Sundar Achari, son of K. Bramhiah Achari, a carpenter in this village.

03-May: Kurnool

After buying a kilo of mangoes for the family I am to visit, I waited with Achari to proceed to the village. To my dismay, I found that I need to wait for about two hours to get a share-auto to go to the village. I suggested that we hire an auto by ourselves and save the time. Achari was greatly surprised that I am ready to shell out a princely sum of Rs 50 just to save a couple of hours. He joined me and en route, we visited a welding shop where Balakrishna Achari, Shyam's brother was preparing a metal ring. It was to be fit over a wooden wheel his father had made which in turn would find use in a bullock cart.

03-May: Rudravaram

For about a half-hour on my travel, I neither saw people nor homes. A windy road took me and the Achari brothers to their village and we finally aboarded near a small mud-house of about 200 sq feet size outside which a lot of carpenting action was on. Achari had a younger sister Usharani who was helping the family with the daily chores. The house had a 5*3 feet bathroom on the outside covered partially by stone walls. The house did not have a toilet and I figured most people use the farms nearby. The family owned a cycle, and did not have a TV, radio or a fan. These luxuries wouldnt have been much use anyway as the village doesnt get power during the daytime. The house was lit by two bulbs and they used wood to make fire for cooking.

Immediately after the introductions with Achari's parents and sister, I requested Achari to take me around the village. To my surprise, I saw more cows, buffalos, goats, monkeys in that order than men during my visit. I heard stories of dried up wells, unfinished canals sanctioned to be completed during the chief minister NT Rama Rao period, and vast areas of arable land. On my way back to the village, I saw huge crowds of people appearing from nowhere and all proceeding towards a particular direction. My enquiries revealed that people are going to attend the wedding reception cum inauguration of a residential school built by one Raghava Reddy. The entire village was invited for the function and I too joined them accompanied by Balakrishna Acharya and Usharani. After 1 km of a leisurely walk, I reached the school and I was entirely taken aback seeing the arrangements for the wedding recception. I can honestly say that I have never seen a grander arrangement all my life. It was truly a food exhibition, about 100 people employed to serve the 5000 people invited for the function. Varities of Rotis, Parathas, Dosas, Biryanis, Vegetable and Non-vegetable dishes, sweets, fruits and so much more I didnt see all found its way into the menu served.

Here I am, just a 1 km away from a poor village, witnessing massive spends of money for food, orchestra and performances by famed movie stars to entertain the audience. Not much was required to prove the existence of the divide between the rich and the poor. Only one question was racing through my mind: “Who's Raghava Reddy and where did so much money come from?“ I found he hails from Rudravaram and had started a chain of residential schools in nearby towns like Kurnool and Nandyal. On inspecting the school that was inaugurated, I was impressed that the facilities match that of a average private school in a metro. Education has not just become exclusive and expensive but has become extremely profitable too.

The film and TV show stars were in full flow entertaining the audience. It started pouring down and still the audience did not budge from their seats. The craze for film stars and stage shows was too high for the mighty shower to interrupt. I suggested to Balakrishna that it probably is time for us to leave. He got so saddened by the idea of leaving half-way. He started looking for umbrellas and he finally managed to pull me under one, shared by 4 already. He pleaded to me “Please sir, 15 minutes“. His 15 minutes never got over even after 2 hours. When finally the stars called it a day, I silently let out a sigh of relief. It gave Balakrishna great happiness that he was able to shake hands with some stars when they descended the stage. It was already 11.10pm and I, Balakrishna and one more went back to the village through an unlit passage. I didnt let out a word as I was slightly scared and kept looking all around me for any signs of strange people.

I reached the village around 11.30pm and immediately had a bath and got prepared to sleep. The family suggested that me and the Achari brothers sleep in the mandapam outside a nearby temple. The mandapam was a simple shelter under an old neem tree and Achari explained that the four-way open ventilation made it one of the best places to sleep in the village. I got phone calls from Kedar, Shubham and Animesh during midnight. The Achari brothers got curious and asked me why phone calls were coming at that time and I replied that it was my birthday and my friends were wishing me.

04-May: Rudravanam

Birthday celebrations in rudravanam were under way without my knowledge. Achari had made some arrangements for someone in the family to go to town to buy Semiya (Vermicilli). I was pleasantly surprised to see Semiya Payasam served during lunch. I can see that more than me, it was them who were happy that they could do something special for my birthday. Usharani had told few girls staying in nearby households too about their new guest and word about me quickly spread around the village. Often there would be somebody coming to the house to enquire about who I was and the family members proudly introduced me that I was a friend of Achari and that I get paid a high salary as chik shampoo company manager. Most of them were dissapointed that they couldnt speak to me in the only language they knew, Telugu. I soon got acquainted with Bade Basha, a close friend of the Acharis. He is a voluntary teacher in the village govt school and speaks Urdu, Tulukam, and Hindi. His father rears goats in the nearby jungle and sells them to meat shops in Kurnool town. Basha takes private tuitons in his house and thus makes a living for his family. He soon became my communication link with the village people. He translated my Hindi to Telugu and told Acharis and others what I am here for.

Daylight slowly faded and as night approached, I took out the book I carried from home to read in case I was bored. I had chosen India Unbound by Gurcharan Das. As I randomly read some chapters “If we were once rich, why are we poor now“, Capitalism for the rich, Socialism for the poor“,“A million reformers“ I was convinced that entrepreneurs if encouraged well, could do wonders for any economy starting in as poverished a village as I am located now. Examples of Raghava Reddy's success came to my mind. If there is so much that can be done from a village, how much more can educated youth do for the entire country? My thoughts randomly drifted from one subject to another and I slowly dozed off. I woke up from my slumber to pick up a call from Nilavan in US. After he wished me on my birthday, I discused my experiences and thoughts and he told me that there is something I should be able to do to the village. He told me about the movie Swadeshi and said its a great chance for me to try and assist an Indian village. Once again I took my inspiration from Nilava's noble intentions and looked for ways to help the family.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

The Electric Franklin

Sourced from

According to many people, The Independent is the best newspaper published in England. In its issue of December 30, 1998, kindly sent to me by my friend Suzy Bittker, there appears an unsigned editorial entitled "A Search for a hero who helps us to define ourselves."

A poll, it seems, has been conducted by the program TODAY of Radio 4 for the nomination of such a person, man or woman, native of the British Isles or not. Many votes, of course, were cast for Winston Churchill. The first of the few women on the list is Queen Elizabeth I who defied imperial Spain with Britain's scanty resources. Gandhi and Mandela gathered a number of voices, as did Gutenberg, Galileo, Luther, Shakespeare, Mozart, Chekhov, Darwin, Adam Smith, Mary Wollstonecraft and many others.

"But," says the writer of the editorial, "the man who combines all that we are looking for is often overlooked. His name is Benjamin Franklin. As a scientist, he tamed lightning: the lightning conductor was his brainchild, allowing man to build unafraid of the elements. Thunder and lightning had belonged to God: now they belonged to man. Technological advance since Franklin's time, from computers to space travel, has relied on the electricity he harnessed.

"His confidence was remarkable. He became on of the most fervent of the Americans once the British connection was irretrievable. As a letter-writer, his erudition is legendary. The first of the "natural men" whose bourgeois mores were to come to dominate the globe, he declined to wear a wig while ambassador in Paris. He was self-made, a printer and publisher, the first of a new breed.

"He was a master of the modern political art of compromise, striving to avoid the breach with the mother country. He conceived the compromise between the rights of states and the popular vote, and the two-chamber Congress containing both a Senate and House of Representatives, that made the U.S. possible.

"Franklin replaced religious absolutes with what was practical, an American injunction that has since become world orthodoxy. And by happy coincidence, he was born a loyal colonist — a Briton through and through. The next millennium will probably uncover as its hero a woman born in Lagos, Sao Paulo, or Nanking. But it is Franklin we humbly submit as person of this millennium."

Benjamin Franklin was the most famous American in his day. Wherever he went, crowds formed. People worldwide pictured Franklin when anyone said, "American."
The diversity that is the Internet may be epitomized by only one person in history - Benjamin Franklin - someone commercially successful, ever concerned and involved with the public good, a great communicator, and a remarkable man of science and technology, finding practical effective solutions to real problems.
Trying to comprehend Benjamin Franklin's life and legacy is like trying to grab a shadow. Each time one tries to get a fix on the reflection, it darts away and grows even larger.

"Who and what was Benjamin Franklin?" was the question we asked at the outset of this project. By turns pamphleteer, apprentice, printer, balladeer, inventor, philosopher, politician, soldier, firefighter, ambassador, family man, sage, delegate, signer, shopkeeper, bookseller, cartoonist, grandfather, anti-slavery agitator, Mason, and deist - he was all of the above and none of the above. His great biographer Carl Van Doren called Franklin "a harmonious human multitude." As Franklin was an "electrician" also, we kept looking for a common current that defined him. From the time he was a teenager thinking about ways of education to the time he was an 83-year-old man agitating for abolition, the mainspring of the "human multitude" may well have been public service.
The remarkable Benjamin Franklin, a printer by trade, a scientist by fame, and a man of action by all accounts, continues to shape American thinking and action. The Independence Hall Association, owners of, has commissioned and assembled resources for you to explore the diversity that was Benjamin Franklin.

Each generation produces people who reshape their world. Benjamin Franklin was one such man.

For his popular quotes one of which is the legendary "Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise", visit the following link: