25 November, 2010

Ek Nayi Subah

एक नयी सुबह हुई है और ऐसा प्रतीत होता है की जो इतने सालों से सोया हुआ ठा जाग उठा है . यह एक नयी बिहार की शुरुआत है . नए मंजिलें हैं और नए चुनौतियां. पर हम तैयार हैं . हमें यकीन है अपने आप पर. यकीन है उन लोगों का जिसने नितीश जी पर विश्वास किया और उनके काम की प्रशंशा की और चुनाव में स्पष्ट बहुमत दिलाया. हमें पूरा यकीन है की हम एक नया बिहार का निर्माण करेंगे और अपना खोया हुआ सुनहरे पल  वापिस लायेंगे.  
And as the whole world awaited with anticipation, Nitish the new Vikas Purush, has done what no one in their wildest dreams thought of. Winning 206 out of 243 seats up for grabs is no small feat.

Yes people did say that he would win, but the margin would be so great, no one thought so. Now that it is done, and Nitish is going to take the oath as the Chief Minister for another 5 years, we all wish him the best.With this win comes a lot of responsibility and the hope for millions in the state and as well outside the state.

May he succeed in his endeavors to see Bihar a developed state by 2015. The roads are definitely tough, but not impossible.

23 November, 2010

A wave of change

The more I travel around Bihar, and see the development around, the more I am hopeful and praying for Nitish to return for a second term. I have been interacting with people in different places and across locations. I visit schools to see the classrooms fill with children and the common complaint form teachers being that there is a need for more classrooms. (Many schools run 2 classes in one classroom, with children of different classes facing the other ends of the room). I witness the huge queues for voting during the recently concluded elections,  and at places the queue for women being more often. I see more and more girls on streets on bicycles, riding away confidently into their bright future.

Yesterday our vehicle was cruising at 110 kmph on the highway and we crossed around 5 districts. (Saharsa, Madhepura, Purnia, Katihar, and Bhagalpur). So one cannot say that the development is limited to only Patna. Natural speed breakers in the form of Buffaloes on the roads greeted us, but come-on give them that luxury of walking on well laid roads, without the fear of spraining their ankles. :) 

My driver was at his stunt best and we had a couple close saves. I had to actually tell him, bhaiya, Bihar ka road hai .. slow down! :) He replied by saying, bhaiya chinta mat karo. I know my roads and the vehicle well. I wonder what roads, the roads he used to travel on, was non existent. However I give in to his confidence, and reach my destination on time.

I take my camera out, an expensive one that one, without fear. Just an initial inhibition, but that is natural I guess.

I agree that the work needs to be done is a lot more. Whoever wins, let the development revolution begin and peace prevail in our state. Please. This is a request from a aam Bihari. 

15 November, 2010

What does being a Bihari mean?

Loved this series on what does being a Bihari mean, on IBN Live. Just sharing one of the video from the series here.
Interesting watch.

   

Jai Bihar :)

11 November, 2010

Begaani shaadi mei Abdulla Diwana.

I guess it is the season of weddings as this wedding season (Nov-Feb) many of my friends are getting married.  Friends from my school at Darjeeling to IIT to Indiana Univeristy to langotia yaar to Business friends to photography friends . Wishing them all the best for the coming years.

Heard this song a couple days ago and fell in love with it :) Raj Kapoor looks so innocent! Total lallu :) Also love the simplicity of the video. So pure.



Over the next couple of months I will be attending / shooting at different weddings all across India, North, South, West, East. I love the fact that I have friends from all parts of the country whose weddings I can attend.

It gives me a lot of material to work on for the book I have long planned for :) One day I will share that too! Till then, enjoy the song :)

10 November, 2010

Desiderata

Just recieved this poem in a mailing list. Liked it and hence sharing it here.

DESIDERATA - by Max Ehrmann (1927)
Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Copyright Max Ehrmann

Desiderata (Latin: "desired things", plural of desideratum) is a prose
poem by Indiana, USA spiritual writer and attorney Max Ehrmann written in 1927.

08 November, 2010

And life drags on..

Do not go by the title of the post. Inspite of the drag, I think I have been having a rather interesting life of late I must say.

There are things that have happened knowingly, and some that happened unknowingly. 

Amongst the things that have happened in the recent past, some of the interesting things were that I got to exercise my voting rights and voted for the first time (the ink is still to go away from my fingers though! Wonder what it is made of!). 

One of the bad thing is that unknowingly, I had a big fight with my old landlord. I realize that the only way a landlord can harass is by blackmailing to cut from the advance amount that he has in store. I felt so helpless, to see the hard earned money being taken away in front of me, and I could not do anything. Never ever in my life have I wished so bad for a person as the old landlord. I also got to face racial discrimination for the first time in Bangalore; when I least expected it.

The good thing is that I shifted to a new house, that is bigger, better, airy, and the apartment complex comes with a gym and swimming pool. This new place is a bit far from the hustle bustle of the main city, but I guess it is just this kind of place that I need at this point of time in my life. It gives me more time to invest in productive things, without the distractions nearby.

The other bad (or good? as some friends say) thing is that I spent insane amounts for my wedding shopping. I am still to get out of the shock of it. The fact that I was doing it all through the heavy rainfall that had the entire Bangalore indoors and enjoying chill bhajji and chai, shows the extent to which I was shopping. Thanks to a dear friend and my sister for helping me out with spending so much and of course the selection of stuff. And yes .. I am still to plan for the honeymoon. Will do that when I get out of the shock of the wedding expenses I guess.

Work wise, been working on a couple interesting projects and a few more photo assignments promises to bring in the excitement further.  Amongst the wedding shoots that are planned, I have a Gujarati, Bengali, Maharashtrian, Kannadiga weddings to shoot. And then there is another Christian wedding to attend. (my friend strictly warned me NOT to shoot there as he wants me to enjoy the wedding)  I love these weddings and am always on the lookout to shoot different culture weddings. They provide such a nice opportunity to learn about the different cultures.

Travel cannot be ignored for long time in my case.. can it? So the coming few weeks require excessive travel around Bihar (yes yes there are decent roads there now, I have seen them myself, and the rallies around development are not unreal) and a trip to Mumbai around the end of this year.

Btw, I also got a verbal whacking from a client for a project we have been doing and they were not happy about it. I realized that there is absolutely NO compromise of quality that can happen if we are to survive. Really appreciate the client for the honest feedback.

Also a bit disappointed at most friends not being able to make it for the wedding, but I guess one has to get realistic. people are busy in their lives and to take out the time to attend a wedding in one remote part of the country it perhaps not a good idea for a lot :)

In the end its all about yourself. Nothing else matters.

03 November, 2010

Is Facebook taking control of your life?

Came across this advertisement in a store today and it caught my attention.

I was also laughing at the irony of things. The ad did set me thinking that there are so many of us whose life seems to be just taken over by Facebook. Many to the extent that the first thing that they do when they wake up is check their Facebook account.


Also the other day, an acquaintance on Facebook, who in Facebook's language would be a friend, pinged me, saying that we have not met, but have been Facebook friend for over a year now and that we should catch up in person, for real.

I have been making this conscious effort to avoid spending a lot of time on FB. I also detest it when people post a lot of their personal activity on FB. I mean why does the world need to know it?

I think the whole notion of friend has changed by the advent of Facebook. I seriously think that FB should have an option of acquaintance only. But perhaps people will take offense. :)

29 October, 2010

Are you doing the things you love?

Was discussing generally with a friend today, when this question came up. Are you doing the things you love?

I thought about it for a short while, and I realized (to my shock and disbelief) that NO, I was not. This put me in a really uncomfortable situation for a while.

I realize that it is not that I waste the time doing nothing, but its just that other things have been taking precedence. I also know that the moment requires that I spent time on those things only.


So here's what I think I should do to come out of that situation.

Restart to do the things I really loved doing in the time slots that I get as 'free time' atleast. Some of those things include writing, doing some graphic design stuff, and of course some decent amount of photography. Also this activity could act as the de-stressing activity in the middle of the other important stuff.
 

20 October, 2010

When life smiles at you

..you smile back and say Thank You.
 
Some time back, I was reading an interview of a millionaire in the US, who confessed that inspite of all the money he had, he traveled only economy class. This allowed him to not only save up a lot, but also stay in his humble self and not get an attitude and let him remain down to earth. The story had an impact on me and I realized that what he said was so true.

However at the same time, when someone gives you a chance to experience something at no cost, then why not grab the opportunity.

Recently on a flight to Patna from New Delhi, all I requested for was an aisle seat. Only to my surprise I found that I had been alloted a business class seat at the cost of an economy seat. Now this was the first time, so I checked with the air hostess if there was anything wrong. And what good had I done to get the business seat. However I guessed that it was either the flight was overbooked in the economy class, or just that they did not know what airbus would be flying in that sector when they gave the tickets.

I just confirmed whether that was the only 3D seat in the flight, and then sat. Enjoyed the seat experience and smiled all through out the flight :)

Moments like these make you say, Life Rocks. :)

15 October, 2010

Jai Mata Di

I spend another year in Bangalore, and away from home during the Durga Puja (which happens to be the festival that is most celebrated at home).  I miss home during this festival the most.

Here is a shot from the Puja celebrations in the BTM layout, (the area that I live in Bangalore). I really thank the Vaishali Puja Samiti, for organizing it and I hope they continue to do so in the future too.
Also here is a song that I really love and listen to often. Which also is a constant reminder that I need to visit Vaishno Devi soon.


Happy Durga Puja all.

14 October, 2010

Following your dream

Everytime I come across someone who has given up the luxury of a well laid out life to follow their dreams and built things from scratch, I salute them.

Recently a friend of mine, quit her job to start something she has always dreamt of and is truly passionate about. Agree that there are bound to be obstacles and hurdles that would attempt to make the journey a lot difficult, but then no one ever said that the task of fulfilling the dream is going to be an easy one.

Having been in that similar position a year ago, I can imagine what she is going through. In-spite of the areas being different, the basics of entrepreneurship remain the same and its applicable to all.

I wish her all the very best, and I know for a fact that I will always be there to support her in this venture of hers.


Cheers!

11 October, 2010

Please do not dirty my lake

On of the things I will miss about the present house when I shift to the new house is the proximity to the Madiwala Lake here in Bangalore. The closeness of the lake keeps me motivated to go there to the park along side it for my morning jog and exercise.

Some of the views I get to see every morning, include fishermen on their coracle, doing their daily rituals, migratory birds and the sun's rays dancing on the water, the people who come to feed the fist everyday and the kids who come to try their hands at fishing as i watch them experience something wow every morning. 

Needless to say, it is one of the most beautiful time in the day for me, and something that I have got to do almost daily.  It is my moment of Bliss every day. I follow up the jog with the sound of the water and the birds. The traffic noise in the yonder does play spoilsport, but I get so mesmerized with the beauty of the lake that i just ignore the traffic noises.



I really applaud the officials who have tried to clean the lake, and also maintain it. Water planktons and other plants that form a mess on the beautiful water is painstakingly removed by them and made into piles on the shores. The effort to remove them is evident just by the piles of these water plants.

However, recently I was disappointed at the incidents of two 'well-educated' people, who shamelessly went about polluting it in the name of performing a Puja. What irritated me was the fact that they were throwing polythene in the lake. When I saw this, I went up and spoke to them. Both of them from the Northern part of the country, and mentioned that the rituals require the stuff to be deposited in the lake.
I found the argument really ridiculous and said, hello I appreciate your religious sentiments, but that does not give you the right to pollute the lake. I also mentioned that as you can see, it takes a lot of effort to clean the lake. And with people like you polluting the lake, it is really difficult to keep it clean.
The authorities have placed these large dustbins in the park for you to throw the plastics, so why not use them.

Thankfully one of them went back and picked up the polythene that he had thrown. The other one had thrown it too far into the lake, and hence could not pick it up.

I just requested them to consider these things before they do the act again. I hope they understood.
:)

22 September, 2010

Enter the Super 30

Thank you all for the wishes on the birthday. It meant a lot to me.
I had a most quiet but nice birthday. I spent time with my near ones without much halla gulla.

This coming year should be exciting with the things that I have planned.
Some of them being, marriage, growth of the companies that I have started, visiting a few more colleges as faculty, setting up my own photography studio,  reaching out to people more, and finally working more on the Pick Me, Click Me, Educate Me! project, which has been on hold for the past few months.

I also foresee some more travel, as there is the remaining parts of India to be covered. I have to complete this target that I had set way back in 2005 of visiting every state in India before I turn 30.

:)

29 August, 2010

Photography and me

I often get asked this question when I am in my workshops and talks, on how did photography happen to me. Needless to say that it has been an integral part of my life for the past decade. So much so that what started as a hobby turned into a passion and now it has become a parallel career for me.

I think my love for photography was deeply influenced by this site that I would see every morning for close to 11 years, from my dormitory window, in boarding school. The mountains had cast its beauty spell on me and I was always in the mood to capture timeless beauty.

The sad part however was that till I was in Darjeeling, I never owned a camera.  

The first camera that I had was a Yashica MF2 super, point and shoot film camera, which I got when I moved to another town, Ranchi. I used that mostly to capture events, trips and class farewells.

The best part about this camera was that it was super easy to use and gave amazing results. But this was a bit bulky to carry around.Yes I was trying early morning shoots from high rise (8 storey) buildings, eating the sun photos, etc back then itself.

Following this I got a Kodak KB12, that was actually a prize that I won in college. Very handy to carry around and for the price tag that it came with,  I thought it was a great camera.


I then moved to a Vivitar 3800N with the money I managed to save out of my monthly pocket money that I got while I was at IIT Guwahati. I loved this camera a lot and this was the one that actually was responsible for most of my learnings.  Every month a considerable part of my pocket money would go in purchasing films, and then getting it developed. Even today when I go back home, I still have a cupboard full of the film negatives and the prints and flip through them every time I go home.
 
Being in a design department at IITG, where Photography was a part of a curriculum helped in my endeavors. At any time, I always had a camera body, a couple lenses, and a tripod issued out on my name and I kept experimenting. I learnt printing and developing in the dark rooms too and brushed up my knowledge on the history of photography etc.

In the third year of college (2004) I had a chance to visit Canada on a summer internship project and made a trip to the Canadian Rockies. This event was a life changing experience in my photography life. I just wanted to capture more and more of these nature beauties.

Being in a picturesque campus, surrounded by the blue mountains and the majestic Brahmaputra river (which would also later be a backdrop for my documentary Madhushaala) further helped in my cause. Trips farther into the north east got me more engrossed in this beautiful art. Till this point however I was mostly into nature and landscape photography.

I still love film cameras, but I wanted to experiment a lot more and try out a lot more without having to depend on getting prints. Moreover I was not sure if I wanted prints of all the shots. So I then got a Nikon D70s with 18-70 mm (whom many know as Netra, from my early blog posts) from the savings from my first job. A digital SLR camera in those days (early 2006) was so expensive, that I did not tell the price of the camera to my parents for a good six months.

By this time the junoon of photography had me totally in its grip. Every weekend would be spent in shooting and Monday mornings, was always photographs editing time. My circle of friends grew around Bangalore Weekend Shoots group on Flickr. Flickr and Bangalore Weekend Shoots was perhaps the two biggest factors in helping me hone my photography skills. It is in these two forums that I understood what it meant to learn from the peers and have discussions around photography. Countless discussions over tea, and in online forums made me understand photography from a very critical eye, which I would have not got to, had I been all by myself. The more I read, the more intrigued I was. The more I saw, the more I wanted to try it myself and experiment.

The groups also introduced me to interacting and clicking photographs of people. I had slowly started to interact with more and more people and realized that I was genuinely happy when I saw a smile on a person's face when they saw their images after I had shot it. Somehow language never was a barrier in the relationship I shared with my subjects which ranged from children to senior citizens, from people on the streets to people in posh office locations.
 
I got a 50mm f1.8 lens and shot portraits only for a while. The best part about a fixed focus lens is that it strengthens your composition skills like nothing else. You do not have the flexibility of a zoom and hence you are forced to compose by moving around. What it also does at times, is give you a totally different point of view to things that you may not have earlier fathomed. The 50mm also allowed you to go closer to people and take their pictures. What it also meant was that you could not hide and take pictures.

When I moved to the US for my masters, another change happened. Here it was just the reverse of what I was used to shooting. Anyone would be offended if you pointed a camera directly at them and try to take a picture. So I got back to my kit lens of 18-70mm and shot extensively with it.

It is here that I fell in love with wide angles. The fact that in a wide angle shot the number of elements in the frame increase, allows for a story to build up. So my focus then shifted to composing shots in a way that it told a story. I would often wait for long minutes; for my subject to come into the frame, so that I could take the story that I had in mind.

The constraints and limitations with the camera and lenses allowed me to understand composition, light better.

It was only after I was planning to go professional in Photography sometime in 2009 that I decided to get another professional camera. A Nikon D300 joined my kit in May with the Tax refund that I got in the US.

I have been shooting assignments, taking workshops and giving talks on photography. I like to share the little knowledge I have, as I know that I will learn further in the discussions that would follow.

Photography has been an integral part of me. It has helped me, cheered me, and motivated me at all times. I only hope that this goes on for a lot more years to come.  

04 August, 2010

And so I got engaged

Been a while since I wrote here. Thanks to the ever increasing to-do list and a few happening events. A lot happened in this period. I traveled to Jaipur, to attend a friend's wedding, where I was also the event photographer. I got tied up with a client project, that I am still struggling to wrap up. However the most important of all has to be the fact that I got Engaged.

Another milestone in this beautiful journey called life.

Now mine is a cent percent arranged marriage. I am sure many would think that in this age of open minded nature of people and my exposure to different parts of the world, why did I select this route.
I have my reasons and I must say it was a very well thought about one. There are basic things that I was looking for, and I found it in the girl.

A long time ago when I was discussing with a friend, I had mentioned that I hope that my better half would be a person who is into writing and traveling. I was least expecting this to be fulfilled, especially if I was going the arranged marriage route, but I was still hopeful. I am glad that my parents were able to find one that fit the bill. For me it was (and still is) that the respect to the parents should be the most.

She is an English Literature graduate, likes to travel and has been to places where I want to go. (So I have an English speaking guide for those places also). The one thing that is common is that we both like to shoot. The difference being that I do with a camera and she with a rifle as shooting is both our hobbies.

Just before the engagement at a family gathering over another case, we were having a heated discussion on love marriages versus arranged marriages. My stance was that the freedom should be given to the child to decide which one. In my case I decided the arranged route and stuck to it. That also meant turning down couple proposals, but that is ok. I can only say sorry to them and move on with the wish for them to find their better halves soon.

I believe that in the end its all upto the couple to see where to take their journey. It's their actions that decide whom to interact with, whom to respect and whom to expect respect from. Its a journey whose reins are in the individuals hands. One has to ensure that for the chariot on the journey of life to go and in a controlled manner, there is a proper resonance in the way the couple handles things.
 
Here's a photograph from the engagement, if you have not seen it on Facebook already.

A lot of people asked me, why was I smiling so much in the images. Well aren't we taught to do what we preach? Being a wedding photographer to a few of the weddings that I have shot, I have strived to capture such candid moments, that bring a smile to the viewer a long after the event is over. So it was but natural that I did the same.

As I step into this new phase of life, I am sure there are going to be a lot more obstacles and challenges. But I am glad to have Vatsala by my side in whatever I aim for and strive to achieve.

24 June, 2010

People are People

This post is a way to find a reason for the internal conflicts that I am having, and hence there are chances that there might be statements and points that contradict each other. The post is about me trying to understand that people are people and not business contacts. At least that's the way I see it or better put, have so far been seeing it. 

Over the past few months, I have been involved in running my own design startup. Now I do not need to reiterate that, that is a challenging job. However I do need to re-iterate that its a monumental task when you try to run a business by comprising on values that define you as a person. 
Perhaps this is the situation that I am in and is becoming a part of my biggest internal conflict. When I interact with people, I deal with them as people. Over time, when I tried to develop the acumen towards business, I guess I started to compromise on that value that defined me. There are numerous outcomes of this. One of the prime things being that I started to see business in everything.

Any small favor that was earlier done in the goodwill of things, was now viewed upon as a business interaction. (I do not mean to contradict this with one of my earlier posts regarding charging for an effort spend on a task. That still holds true.)

In this process, I lost a few very good friends. Friends with whom I had shared a lot of great moments and they were there always in a position to help me out when I needed help. The interesting part is that these friends were the ones who got us the initial few projects.

The other day, I was talking to another college senior of mine, whom I have admired for what he is. One of the things that he mentioned is that there are two ways of running a company. One is a boutique style and the other is the corporate style.

Presently we are in the boutique style (let us call this a) of running the company, and have dreams to become a corporate style (let us call this b). Now this transition from a to b would require us to compromise on a few things. And one of those things is that having to deal with people only as business contacts. And as another entrepreneur friend of mine would say, in business there is no value for a person. It's all about the money. Somehow I do not buy that and I refuse to believe it. I have read and heard about a lot of entrepreneurs who build a team of people they value and not of businessmen. Only when I have a team of people I trust and have full confidence in, I can strive towards building the business.

Coming to the internal conflict, I feel that this is the whole tussle that is happening within me. The other partners see people as a business contact. For me however, the way I interact with people, I first try to understand them as people, or better put, as Humans. This understanding I owe to my graduate school education in Human Computer Interaction Design, wherein the most emphasis was put on the Human part. I think that was one of the most valuable things that I learnt there.

I cannot see people as business contacts first and then as people. For me business comes only later on. I cannot sacrifice so many friends and acquaintances on the pretext of getting business.  It's just not me. I think the basic premise on which people should lead their lives is with the notion of help. Even if you are working with a client, you are actually helping him/her solve a problem. We strive towards making them smile. Towards making their lives easy and hence help out in bringing about some more happiness. Isn't that how things should be?

Money will flow. That is not a concern for me ever. If I was after money, I would be leading a totally different life. I have always believed in that, however sometimes (like now) I have to rewrite that. 

Conflicts are not uncommon. It's something that everyone has at some point of time. However how we get out of that conflict is important. And one has to come out of it, no matter what. If not, then things get hampered. A lot of the things that you had planned to do appear a far fetched dream.

I am struggling to come out of the conflict. I hope I do.

18 June, 2010

Fear - from Life of Pi

I read this a few years back, and it has stuck to me ever since. Chapter 56.

I must say a word about fear. It is life's only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know. It has no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy. It goes for your weakest spot, which it finds with unerring ease. It begins in your mind, always. One moment you are feeling calm, self-possessed, happy. Then fear, disguised in the garb of mild-mannered doubt, slips into your mind like a spy. Doubt meets disbelief and disbelief tries to push it out. But disbelief is a poorly armed foot soldier. Doubt does away with it with little trouble. You become anxious. Reason comes to do battle for you. You are reassured. Reason is fully equipped with the latest weapons technology. But, to your amazement, despite superior tactics and a number of undeniable victories, reason is laid low. You feel yourself weakening, wavering. Your anxiety becomes dread.

Fear next turns fully to your body, which is already aware that something terribly wrong is going on. Already your lungs have flown away like a bird and your guts have slithered away like a snake. Now your tongue drops dead like an opossum, while your jaw begins to gallop on the spot. Your ears go deaf. Your muscles begin to shiver as if they had malaria and your knees to shake as though they were dancing. Your heart strains too hard, while your sphincter relaxes too much. And so with the rest of your body. Every part of you, in the manner most suited to it, falls apart. Only your eyes work well. They always pay proper attention to fear.

Quickly you make rash decisions. You dismiss your last allies: hope and trust. There, you've defeated yourself. Fear, which is but an impression, has triumphed over you.

The matter is difficult to put into words. For fear, real fear, such as shakes you to your foundation, such as you feel when you are brought face to face with your mortal end, nestles in your memory like a gangrene: it seeks to rot everything, even the words with which to speak of it. So you must fight hard to express it. You must fight hard to shine the light of words upon it. Because if you don't, if your fear becomes a wordless darkness that you avoid, perhaps even manage to forget, you open yourself to further attacks of fear because you never truly fought the opponent who defeated you.

A morning with a call

A pleasant surprise early in the morning, from seven seas across. A dear friend who understands me so well, called up. Caught me in my morning yawns,  but well worth the call. A more of a eye opening call, and not just in the literal sense, but also in the philosophical sense.

In that long call, he was clearly able to point out exactly where my internal conflicts were.  I was surprised at the whole thing initially, but one good thing he mentioned was that in the morning you have a uncluttered mind. As the day progresses, we tend to clutter our minds with one tension after the other. By the end of the day, its very likely that we are unable to even think of the first thing that we started off our mornings with. How true!
Some points from the talk that I will never forget and will try to follow everyday.
  • Your passion should not become your obsession. There has to be a clear line between the two.
  • Nothing is worth it, if at the end of the day you cannot get a peaceful sleep. 
  • You are only 28 and have a lot of life left to do a lot more things. Do not burn yourself out rightaway. 
  • You have to keep working at things you really believe in. And doing such a thing takes time, a lot of patience and determination. 
  • Try to make the mind decluttered. Focus and concentration would follow. A lot of the cluttering is coming from the internet and the moment we see and read about the things around us. Try avoiding that for a while and see how much at peace you are.
  • Decide between the two sides of the coin. Are you a photographer ? Or are you Deskala?
  • You can be the way you want to be as long as you are single, but when you are married, things will be different and you have to be prepared for that. You cannot just ignore that.
I feel blessed to have a few friends who understand me so well.

Thanks for the awesome call.

I have a feeling....

For a lot of reasons 2010 seems to be a year of the most learnings!

That everything will be well.

This is post #200 on this blog. I know its nothing really a milestone, but still, small joys in life.

13 June, 2010

How do you improve your concentration?

When I started doing photography and interacting on Flickr, I did it for hours. The same applied to when I used to blog and write more regularly. The same was when I watched movies on laptop. I would watch a movie un-interrupted. I would read a good number of pages in a book before I let it down.  These things seem like a thing of the way past. So I have been looking into this phenomenon for the past couple of days, and realize that I have been short on my concentration level.

I do not recall the last time I saw a movie on the laptop and finished it in one go. I do not remember the last time I read 100 pages of a book in one sitting. I hardly spend time doing photography and it's editing. 

All the above activities used to have me so involved in them that I used to be totally immersed in that experience. And since that is not happening for the past few months, I am having an issue with that. It is been bugging me and leading to a lot of internal conflict.

I do realize that this phenomenon that I am going through is because of the zillion other things that I am involved in. Well one of the easy way of getting out of this situation could be not do those things. But as far as I know myself, I am not going to stop all of them. But I do realize that I need to prioritize. 

I tried asking a few friends on why this is happening, and why inspite of knowing the problem I am unable to find a solution to it.

Many say you owe it to the startup lifestyle, the fact that the mind is always pre-occupied with some thought or the other in relation to the business. You are always constantly at the back of the mind trying to make connections, the business ones to be precise. The personal life has taken a back seat and you are too engrossed in the promotion, sales, and what not for the business. Ok. Point taken.

Some say that you need to find ways to get your concentration level back. And that I am the only person who can find an answer to that. I agree. One of the things that came out of these discussion is that I need to write more and write about things that are going on in the mind. I do realize that I want to write. And write to the extent that I want to publish a few books. But that requires a lot of concentration, and I am making the small start towards that.

I have also been avoiding coming online much and I have been trying to go out and meet people in person to help me away from the system. I will be soon getting more back into the habit of reading more.

I would love to hear from you on what you do to improve your concentration.

09 June, 2010

The other side of Bangalore

Today I had the opportunity of visiting three engineering colleges in relation to my sister's admissions there. Two of these colleges are located totally out of the city, in Yelahanka to be precise. I got to explore the other side of Bangalore, the villages that surround it and the farms that lie along the way.

While coming back from the Sir M Visvesvaraya Instititute of Technology (MVIT) to the BMS Institute of Technology (BMSIT) , we (me and the cab driver) lost our way. I was not carrying the laptop, else I could have checked the maps there. We had to get to the colleges in time, as I was worried that the offices might close and I would not get the proper information.

We decided to ask a few people and got three different directions. One was a local person, one was a worker who was new to Bangalore, one was a policeman. We decided to follow the policeman's directions. However after a point of time we got lost again. This time we decided to just follow the road and whereever it took us. Our aim was to reach the Doddabollapur main road, that would then lead us to the BMSIT college.

At the end of the day, I feel glad we got lost and took that route. Had we not got lost, we would have not passed through the three villages, which reminded me of the villages back home. We would have not crossed the vineyards that always fascinate me. We would have not crossed the mango orchards, which continuously reminded me that at this time of the year if I am at home, I would be having mangoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner (yes you read that right ! ). We would have not crossed the farm houses, and I would have not remembered my dream of owning a farm house someday and that I need to work harder towards that goal.

The whole experience was so joyful that it did not matter that I was getting delayed to reach the college. Neither did it matter that the radio played Kannada song, of which I understood nothing. It did not matter that roads were not as good as the one that led to the airport, and that we had just left.

What only mattered was that I was enjoying the ride.

Sometimes, life just has these weird ways of making you realize the futility of worrying about things that are so silly and shows you the things that you really enjoy. And I was not carrying my camera either, so it was God's way of telling me that I just need to enjoy it. Period.

I finally did get to the colleges and got all the information that I wanted. 

08 June, 2010

What a crazy week that was!

Once in a while there are phases which are so low, that the only way to look at getting out of it is to believe that going up it is going to be from here on. 

The past week has perhaps been the most crazy week in my life so far. There have been multiple things going on in the personal as well as the professional field.


From moments of breach of trust, to people simply ignoring me, agony at the loss of a friend to moments of anxiety with admission blues for sister, to making a firm determination to not undercharge for my services. 

A few of these did lead to moments of depression, and in the middle of that there was hardly any moments to cheer up. However that is past. And one needs to bounce back.

Of all the things that the past week has taught me is its just all about - each one for one self.

So here's a cheer to good life, and good bye to the depressions :)

29 May, 2010

The most deadly ship...

I am sure most of us have heard this joke before.. that the most dangerous of ships has to be 'Friendship'. It is most misunderstood too, and very often taken for granted. And when such a situation arises, there are bound to be complications. And to make matters worse, when you are doing business in friendship, it screws up things further.

As a rule I try to avoid doing business with friends. I already do too much charity work through the NGOs that I am associated with, and if I have to work for a friend who is earning well and needs something for his/ her business, I would charge. It's as simple as that. My argument to that is, ok so you run a software company or have your regular job. So as a friend if I ask you to design and develop an entire software for me for free.. will you do it? No! So then, why expect me to do the photography and your design work for free?

Don't I put in an effort to the work? I know it why. You do not respect the work and the effort that goes in to that.  And it is for that very reason you will never be able to understand why a photographer or a designer charges so much for what they do. I am also not trying to tell you to try and understand it. So please do not get me wrong.

Having said that, unfortunately the sad part is that I might still go ahead and do it for free. I will tell you why. It's because I am an emotional person and I believe more in human connections than business connections. I know a lot of friends take advantage of this thing and I get caught in trying to help them out.  They play with you as pawns in a chess. "Kaam de do .. It they get something good, if not then also ok. Big deal.. He is a friend after all." This is what they may think, and that they can exploit the way they want it. Excuse me. I absolutely detest that.



As friend I know that there is a line to be drawn in this situation and both friends should understand this clearly. There should be no confusion in what's expected for the work at hand and why this is being done. I recently read a comment, where in a designer was asked a question, what is the best time for u to work. And she replied, that time is everytime I get paid. If things are being done for free for friends and family, i tend to not have the same commitment in the work.

Anyway business with friends is something totally different and not the essence of this post.

I am more concerned and worried about the relationships and the human values that I associate with friendship. Talking things out and explaining things the way they ought to be is the prime-essential factor. Work and renumeration for a work comes later. If you do not like the work, then tell it. As a friend I would understand. The nature of my job is such that the deliverables are subjective. What I design or photograph need not be liked by you and that is perfectly fine. I am willing to accept it. But not liking the deliverable does not give you a right / authority to question the ability of me. If you had a doubt, then why come to me in the first place? You were taking a chance, weren't you? Damn it! I should have known. But poor me, I again got caught in the emotional atyachaar.

The above might not be the best way business is done. But then I am not a businessman either. When I need to be professional, I do it and have my client testimonials to reaffirm that. Similarly, when I am dealing with friends, I have  a certain way of working.
 
These small incidents make me rethink of my decisions on trusting a friend after having experienced a similar situation before with the same person. It makes one look sad that the first time that I had forgiven the friend was a mistake. I feel disheartened.

I fail to go by business standards with friends. If I act professional, they have a problem with that, if I do not be professional they take advantage of me. Maybe because as friends I am trying to help them. I am connected with them on a personal level. Business takes a backseat there. I am not saying that this is the right way of doing it, its just the way I do it. Just the way I felt it.

If I felt bad about something and felt hurt, in all probability I would tell it out, as I think its pointless to just keep it at heart and sulk over it. I tried doing that and got fired back at instead. Had to bear a lot of harsh words, and when I replied back in acceptance with a smile, the friend had a problem with that too! Ridiculous!

I understand that the friend is a highly successful entrepreneur with a flourishing business and I always wish him the very best, and his way of working are fine for him. But that does not mean that I should follow suit. People are different, they have different ways of working. One needs to at-least acknowledge and appreciate that.

26 May, 2010

Taking joy in small accomplishments

I was having a discussion with a friend the other day, and he mentioned that he liked the fact that I sought for happines in the small pleasures in life.

Amongst the few things, that make up the list is sharing moments with children and people on the streets during my photography, having chai at a roadside tea stall, a quiet moment under the starlit night from atop a hill, traveling in the Indian Rail etc.

I also love surprises, and it was a pleasant surprise when I was featured in the May 22 issue of the Bangalore Citizen matters magazine as a Pick of the fortnight.

Small pleasures again, but totally worth living for it !
Cheers!

22 May, 2010

A year...

...of travel.
...of meeting new people.
...of experiencing life to its core.

Today is exactly one year since I got back to India after my studies in the US. I do not know whether I will be back there, but one thing is for sure. I have never missed it, as I have been so much more in love with India that I have not had the time for anything else.  
  • I Traveled extensively Across India - Delhi, Brindavan, Gurgaon, Patna, Saharsa, Native Village, Kolkata, Pune, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Indore, Bhopal, Chennai, Kochin, Bhagalpur, Baroda, Surat, Goa, Mangalore, Manipal, Surathkal, Hyderabad to name a few places that I was and experienced. This puts me back on track of covering the entire India before I turn 30 - a thing I had planned way back in 2005.

    Of other things here are the things I have done and experienced in this past one year. 
  • Witnessed a bomb blast in front of my eyes.
  • Felt the panic caused when a bird hit the plane.
  • Met an astronaut at a conference and got awed by his stories on space. 
  • Shared the stage with the man behind the Sixth Sense (Pranav Mistry), and wildlife documentary maker whom I admire.
  • Spoke at TEDx BITS Goa and met some really wonderful people, who inspire me even today.
  • Invited to colleges all across India for my photography and design workshops.
  • Interacted with a lot of children for the child education project of mine. 
  • Watched the god of cricket Sachin bat and play in front of my eyes in a stadium, not once but twice. 
  • Taught photography as a visiting faculty in different colleges. 
  • Got totally drunk (finally :P) and experienced what sleeping on the footpath feels like.
  • Started my own companies Deskala and Happy Horizon Studios. 
  • Shot at weddings and at different shows.
  • Did a documentary shoot on a theme I had planned almost 2 years ago.
  • Got closer to parents and immediate family. 
  • Helped grandma paint her house, which had never been painted before and was almost 20 years since it was built. 
  • Had a marriage arranged for and then later called off. 
  • Met some amazing people like Director of ISRO, CEOs of companies, and got inspired by them. 
  • Felt humbled when participants mentioned that the only thing they came to attend in a college festival from hundreds of kilometers, was my photography workshop. 
  • Met a lot of friends from school days, after a gap of almost 10 years. 
  • Almost had my friend's bike snatched from me in broad daylight.
  • Traveled in Indian railways and had loads of chai on stations. 
  • Realized what it means to be living your dream.
  • Spread a lot of smiles.
I am glad that this one year has been very close to being as I had imagined it to be the day I left US. I can only be thankful for it and hope to continue doing the things I have loved doing.

Thank you God.

20 May, 2010

How beautiful....

Over the past couple of days (including today) I got to know two friends who are going to become mothers over the next few months.

How sweet.

Congrats to the couples.

17 May, 2010

Peace with myself


From time to time, I do crazy things. It helps my adrenaline rush flowing and keeps me maintain my self belief.

Recently went to Sinhagad fort, some 30 kms from Pune. The easy part was to reach there on time. The difficult part was to wake up at 3:30 in the morning to leave home by 4.

As if that was not enough, I took up a trek along the fort premises, with a problematic pair of knees in which I have been told not to trek. Now if you have not been here you may not understand the height of the hill. But I know that it was risky. Especially with the loose mud beneath my feet, I know anything could have happened.

But here is a sight that I wanted to now just see, but experience it. I had to experience the first rays hitting the hills and the night making way for the day.  For silence to make way for the chaos. 


In the end all is well.

10 May, 2010

Dream On

In conversation with a few friends, I often get to hear that dreams are something remains as dreams and cannot come into reality. Maybe I have a (good/bad) habit of dreaming only realistic things. Things which I know that by hard work can be fulfilled.

A lot of them have been fulfilled, but, unfortunately, not all dreams comes true. There are incidents moments and obstacles that come in the way of the fulfilling of the dream. The question that arises in my mind is whether to put an end to that dream, or postpone it.

More often than not, the way I do it is I postpone it. That way I know that I will get back to it soon. The reason one dreamt about something is because one had an interest in the same. I think its too shallow to just dream of something and let it go just because of one failure at making it succeed.

Dream on.

08 May, 2010

....and so the gear changes.

The thing about life is that it changes it's pace so soon that one does not even have the time to think.
Today here.. there tomorrow...

This state today .. that state tomorrow..

In the end its enjoyable to the core I must say!

Cheers and a toast to the rocking and happening life!

04 May, 2010

A life with (out) passion

One of the things I live my life by is Passion. I am a totally passion driven person. The moment I lose my passion in something, I stop doing it. However, sometimes I do go to the extent of re-igniting the passion through some means. And that re-igniting the passion which I am talking about here.

I know a few friends of mine who had some sort of passion, and have stopped believing in that. The moment I get to hear of such stories, I am disappointed. More often than not, the culprit is 'time' and thats sad. 

The passion gives a moment to be true to yourself, and do what the soul really loves doing.

23 April, 2010

The time to take off

A lovely video on TED, by designer Stefan Sagmeister on deciding to take the time off between work to rejuvinate and re-look at the creative outlook.


 
Often I have a similar feeling and I am sure that I would do that soon!
Enjoy the video!

20 April, 2010

Cherishing the moments.. one at a time...

I wanted to cherish the things today. So, did the rain feel beautiful. Yes it did. Also did the smile on the faces of the children at the local market and the cranes flying over the lake, against a background of the dark rainy clouds.



Had another round of you-need-to-slow-down moments today, when I took the risk of parking a vehicle in a no parking area and it was towed away. :) Thankfully had a friend who dropped me the PS and then I got the bike back after paying the fine.

I smiled and winked at Mr Murphy and asked him what he is upto. Seemed he was upset, but had not yet finished. While I was returning, he blessed me with the longest traffic jams I have experienced in a long time here in Bangalore. Reminded me of the Hosur Road days, when I used to travel to the Infosys campus and would spend literally hours commuting. But Mr Murphy you see, did not stop just at the traffic jams. He added some spice to the drama, in the form of drizzling rain. And yes, I did have my laptop bag behind me. So you get the situation.  As much as I would have loved to speed and get out of the situation, the traffic would not allow me to do so.

Now as if these were not enough, I interact with someone who aims to question every action of yours in a demeaning manner, and make you feel that the way you are doing things is wrong. Another of those sign, that I need to stay away from such people. So I am going to do just that.  I think as a person one can gain much more by staying around the positive energy than vice versa.

I need to continue doing the things I believe in and not worry too much about people who think that it is wrong just because they do not do it. Spoke it out with a friend and am glad she had the same thought as me and I can henceforth not worry about the ones with whom the thoughts do not match.

Another friend pointed out to the fact that a lot of the blogs she reads is just the negative vibes ones. I think she raised a really valid point. There is so much negativity around the news, the media already. Do we really have to gloomify ourselves by reading up more negative and sad stuff? I guess not and hence one should aim to look for the positive energies around and share that.

To sum it up, I think I liked the rain. Each drop to such an extent, that for an instance, I forgot that I was carrying my laptop and phones along with me. I also did not realize that I was in the drizzle for close to an hour.

How time flies when you cherish the things around you one at a time, is totally inexplicable.

18 April, 2010

The day when life tells you to slow down

I agree. My life was on the fast track. There has been just one direction and that is forward. Leaving things that do not need much of an attention, I just kept trying to move things faster and faster and that too in the forward direction.

But that was till today. And today was one of those days, when you are hit a hard slap on your face, and told that you need to slow down. What happened today? What was so special about the day?

I witnessed a bomb blast in front of my eyes. The low intensity blast (thankfully) happened barely 10 meters away from me and right in front of my eyes. Boom! Temporary Deafness for a few seconds. The debris from the blast flew to a few meters radius. The policemen guarding the stadium gates which were an entry to the IPL match between RCB and MI, were hit. The condition of one is heard to be critical.

For a while there was mayhem all around. A man in front me was bleeding on his arms. The Sanjeevni ambulances made their way across the rather busy traffic on Infantry Road. 

I was on the phone talking to a friend giving him directions, and before I could realize a small bomb goes off, and there is panic all around, with people fleeing the place.

I guess it is a day I will never forget. No matter how small the intensity of the blast is, if you see it in front of your eyes, and a gory sight to follow it, it shocks you to the core. It leaves you amazed and often thoughtless, without an inkling of what has happened.

Personally, it is a sign to slow down and not stress myself on the zillion things.

16 April, 2010

Where does the time fly?

I am just zapped at the way the time is flying. I am surprised at the busyness that I have got myself into. Did I ask for it? Yes. Did I foresee it? Absolutely no. Have I been in this situation before? guiltily yes. 

I keep asking myself that question everyday? To some extent, I do know that it is not good. But this has gone to a really bad limit. Mornings start at seven and the sleep comes around 2 in the night. And in between all that there is work, travel to client locations, meetings, phone calls and what not.

Social Media Marketing,  offline marketing, conducting workshops, writing design blogs and Search Engine Optimizations are the few things that are on my mind these days most, and looking to apply that in the context of Deskala. 

What the above has done is put a work-life balance for a toss. And that is not good. The sadder part is that I know it and I accept it. I got a realization to it in a strong way, when I forgot a friend's birthday. Not that he would have minded it, but still. Connecting with people online is on a low. It's become more of a case when people ping me and then I connect with them. Earlier it used to be mostly the other way around.

In the end I am hoping that it is all a part of the larger agenda, and the hope that things will fall into place. The hope that one day after a few months, I will have that time to actually sit and enjoy the sunsets without a thought about work in my head. Without the tension that I need to do this and that tomorrow. With the hope that I can go to sleep early without having to fall over my laptop keyboard.

Anyway I am trying my best to redo the things to keep the work and play life balanced.

Wish me luck.

01 April, 2010

Six months....

...of living a dream.
...of living on the edge.
...of uncertainty.
...of passion and compassion.
...of pride.
...of agony.

...of Deskala.

What an AMAZING journey so far!

23 March, 2010

Fulfilling small dreams

Gives you some happiness that is sufficient to ensure that you dream further and go after it.

One of the dreams of watching Sachin bat the way he does in a stadium, was fulfilled today. Thanks to a friend who got the tickets for me.

Life is good.

07 March, 2010

In search of the Pathans...

I was recently invited to the MSU University at Baroda, to conduct one of my photography workshops. The workshops were well received and went off smoothly. When I first thought of visiting Baroda, there were certain things that I had wanted to do. Meeting the Pathan brothers (Irfan and Yusuf), having a taste of sweetened dals, overdose of dhoklas and theplas, and exploring the city in its architectural beauty,  being a few of them. With these in mind,  I set out to explore Baroda, which happens to be a very old city as was evident from the buildings that one got to see in the city. 


The one thing that did adore the skies were the smoke from the various industrial plants. You get a feeling that the industrial growth stories that you hear, that puts Gujarat so high in terms of development is indeed true. However I was not interested in exploring them, as I would not get to experience the actual Gujarati Culture. And in my opinion, the true culture of a city (place) can only be explored on the streets.


So, tagging Netra along with me, I set out to explore the area behind my hotel (which by the way was frequently also visited by a zillion mosquitoes), which also happened to be the near the railway station. The sheer thought of exploring the areas around the railway stations in India brings a smile to my face. There is always a deluge of activities that is going on and hence, I am always thrilled at the photographic opportunities that the time is going to provide me with. Baroda was not any disappointment either.

It also surprised me (or rather helped I got to know)  that the Baroda Railway Station is celebrating 150 years of its existence.On hindsight, when you come to think of it, this station must have been one of the oldest stations in India, and needless to say is a very important junction in the ever expanding network of Indian Railways. This itself gives you an idea on the oldness of the city. The building architecture of the station is not as you would expect, as its not as grandeur as the Bombay or Chennai Stations, but it still had a huge hoarding that explained its existence for such a long time. 

Often the case with shooting on the streets is that there is no destination as such. It is often the journey that is the more enjoyable experience. The photo-ops are huge, and stopping at a road side stall for chai is just a part of the wholesome experience.
I spot an old clinic, which perhaps has been lying dilapilated for a few years now, or it could be just the dust cover that made it look old. The rusted scooter parked outside does not add any newness to it, except that there was someone here recently.The presence of the painted and unpainted bricks creates an interesting pattern.


A very common site you spot in India is people urinating on the streets, and it infuriates me to the core. And moreover when the subject, or the wall actually possesses an interesting grafiti, you know that it is a photographic moment worth capturing. Take this guys for example. Pain is temporary, Pride is  Forever. Now I leave it to the viewers to decide which one of these is actually felt and which should the person opt for. It is all the more ridiculous when inspite of instructions and signs, people still do it.

I notice that there was this motif of hearts that were visible on almost all the autos that plied in the city.
Wonder if it had any hidden meaning behind it, or whether it was a conscious decision to choose the hearts. Most of the autos in other parts of the country have religious motifs, and the presence of hearts here was a welcoming sight.

I savour myself with local vadas and some extra sweet Jalebis that are being freshly prepared. One interesting thing to notice was that a lot of people were stopping by and having their breakfast here and the fresh dal-vadas did taste lovely.  




I come across a shop that has a daily routine of feeding pigeons throughout the day. The owner said that on an average he feeds food weighing at least two kilograms everyday.

Overall a wonderful city to explore, but too sad that I did not have much time to roam the city. I am sure there are a lot of things remaining, like the gardens, and the palaces, which people say are "the" things to see in Baroda. I missed it. In the hope that I will come back to the city to explore it in more details some other time and hopefully find the Pathans too.

25 February, 2010

Oh Captain! Oh Captain!

An interesting thing I read today. Death is certain. One day or the other, every one has to die. The day you are born, there is one thing that gets certain. And that thing is that no matter how much you try, you cannot avoid death. It's like that path wherein you know the final destination. And this path is the biggest path of all that one takes during their lifetime. One should not worry about the certain things in life.

So why am I mentioning a thing as death, which is often feared and not spoken about. Well it so happens that there have been a few instances where I think was real close to it, and escaped. Whether, it is falling from the cliff while doing rappelling, almost setting foot on a venomous cobra, sky diving from the plane without knowing what's going to happen, white water rafting inspite of fearing water and not knowing how to swim etc etc. Needless to say, I am thankful for it, every time I look back at it.

But more than that, I have always had this queer thought in mind. The thought is that when I do come to the end of the life, and am on the verge of this dreaded thing, I should be smiling. Smiling at the things I have done, and a life well lived so far. Of having done things that I am passionate about, and living each day with immense happiness.

The latest of these near end moments was when a bird hit our plane on my way back from Ahmedabad to Bangalore. And smiling I was, when others in the flight were panicking and asking the flight crew to take the plan back to Ahmedabad and make an emergency landing.

The foul smell in the cabin was noticed by many and people immediately started to feel that something was wrong. A few started to take precautionary measures by holding their seats firmly. By the time the smell went off, we learnt that the air conditioning unit in one of the engines was switched off. A few mistook that for the engines being shut off, and hence started to panic more. The guy in front of me, started communicating with the cabin crew in sign language, signaling her to request the captain for an emergency landing. Numerous episodes of National Geographic series came rushing into my mind. Nevertheless, I thought the whole scenario unfolding in front of me was... well .... interesting. And that's when I smiled more :)

Another guy kept pointing to the flashing red light in the cabin, indicating to others that something was terribly wrong and that we compel the captain to fly back. One asked the air hostess if she had experienced such a situation before, to which she replies, oh yes. And bird hits are a common thing. Really? 

I was smiling as the air hostess was calm and was smilingly assuring us that nothing was wrong. Even if she mentioned that to keep us away from worrying, and the truth was something else, I still believed her. I thank her for taking care of the situation calmly and explaining with a beautiful smile to every passenger who asked her what happened. To one she replied, "Poor bird.. It got roasted!" I literally burst out laughing on hearing her! :D

Finally the flight did land without any hitches, and on my way out, I smiled again at the air hostess and said her "Thank you for that eventful flight :) "

She smiled back.

17 February, 2010

Of travels across India

One of the many things that inspired me to move back from the US to India is been my love for travel. [The other of course being my love for road side chai :) ]

So the days that I have been here, I have tried to do that and am super glad
It started with me landing in Delhi in May and since then I have been on a non stop mode.

From there in June I was in Vrindavan (UP), followed  Bihar (home), Pune (Maharashtra),  and then to Bangalore (to start my company here). July was spent in Bangalore. August mid I was back in Patna and home for a while., August end to September first week, I was in Guwahati (my beloved North east) for a series of workshops. October went to the west coast of India. Explored Udupi, Surathkal, Manipal (Karnataka). December was in Bhopal, Indore (Madhya Pradesh, for a pre-study of a documentary) and then via Mumbai back to Bangalore.  December I went to Kerela (friend's wedding in Cochin) spent almost a week in Chennai thriving on authentic Tamil food (sans the curd rice :P ) after the wedding. Spent the new years in Chennai. January was Bangalore. February was in Goa for another series of talks and workshops.

Scheduled to travel to Gujarat (workshops), Bihar (non profit project and the trip home), Delhi (Meetings), Kolkata (Workshop) and Bombay (seminar) before I settle back here in Bangalore!

I am loving it!

11 February, 2010

TEDx Experience

This had to be the most interesting experience I have had in my life in terms of attending conferences. Visionaries, people with a dream, the desire to do something different and make their marks in their own field.

And another thing that i thought I should mention is that this is not the TED talk, as many of my friends have misunderstood. I think I have a long way even before I can think of even attending TED, forget being an invited speaker. TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share ideas worth spreading. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks videos and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x=independently organized event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized. (Read more about it here)

Having said that, I still am glad that I was sharing the stage with the kind of people who had gathered there. All the talks were truly inspiring. There were young entrepreneurs to well established CEOs. Someone with some ideas, and a few with more dreams. The underlying thing amongst all definitely was the Passion with which they did their works.


Amongst the most inspiring talks were the rubric cube whiz kid Bernett Orlando, who also is the running champ in India for 6 years straight. Just a kid of 13, but his ideas on national integration, demonstrated with the skills on the cube was absolutely worth of a standing ovation.


Then there was Himanshu Parikh, who had a vision of eradicating Slums through his works on slum networks. One of the things he did mention that one need not worry about not earning. His works involve primarily in improving the sanitation and drainage systems in the slums in India without having to relocate them. No matter what others think, i think that it is a very novel idea. There is definitely a pride associated in the work that one is passionate about. If one goes about doing it, the returns would follow. His works has impacted over half a million people living in slums. Truly inspiring.



And my favorite talk of the lot was Professor Arvind Gupta (www.arvindguptatoys.com) (IIT Kanpur alumnus, product of the 70s) . Here was one man, who gave up his corporate life to explore something that really he was passionate about. But since he did not know what that was, he went and stayed in a village exploring it. And came up with this idea of making toys. So for the past 30 years now, he has been making toys! And the best part is that he is now using those toys to explore concepts of maths, physics to students. And you know what, the toys are made from junk and things that we generally discard! We talked about working together on creating some workshops together and seeing how we can. I am actually thinking of using his toys and the ideas of making toys to design a workshop to be a part of my child education project. Super Super thrilled about the possibilities.



Then there was Khurshid Batliwala, an IIT Bombay alumnus, who is been instrumental in getting more youth to be a part of the Art of Living foundation. He had a really interesting interpretation of the AUM and most definitely the best I have ever heard. I will be writing a separate blog post about it as I think it is worth sharing and a thing that makes me super proud as an Indian.



Karn Malhotra had somethings to say which we have been trying to do at my Design firm, Deskala. He talked about the need for Design studios in the industry to adopt a design school. I think its a novel concept, and it will only result in getting better designers in the already starved for excellence industry.



I did get a chance to speak to the Ad Guru Prahlad Kakkar himself and was really suprised to know that he was a certified Scuba Diving Instructor too!


The other people who were really nice to meet and get inspired from, Nikhil Velpanur (CEO of StrangeLabs) , Siva Cotipalli (CEO and Founder of DhanaX) , Aparna S Wilder (Founder of Global Rickshaw)

A very interesting conference overall and memories to last forever!

27 January, 2010

Netra and I go to Krishnagiri

At 110 kilometers per hour on an Avenger 200cc bike on the national highway, all you can afford to do is sit still and drive with full concentration. The adrenaline rush can be felt on the skin. There is a sense of thrill associated with it, however any mistake or a lack of concentrations on your part can be fatal. And it is all the more risky when you have a loved on sitting behind you.

I had been wanting to experience the ride on the newly built expressway over Hosur Road here in Bangalore. The Republic day seemed a nice day to try it out. So I asked Netra to get ready and vrooom we went off. Now bike riding is something that interests me a lot apart from Photography. Often I try to club them together, but it just does not happen. In the end its either photography or biking. Either ways I am happy.

So finally after a long time I decided to take Netra out for a drive. The past few months have not been very pleasant. We have not spoken much. As much as I blame it on the work pressure, I know that this is not fair on my part to do so. Just because ours is an unconditional love and Netra does not say anything, I should not take advantage of it. Isn't it. In fact no one should in true love. But let's not get there into the what to do and what not to do in true love. The whole concept of true love itself is a debatable topic in the first place.

So with Netra seated behind me, on the bike, I headed out to explore the expressway. Having experienced the horror of the traffic on the Hosur Road, before a zillion times, I must confess that this new experience was divine. I was smiling all the way along. I am sure Netra was too. Before I knew the flyover came to an end. The momentum kept me going.

The sun was still hot, and there was a lot of time in the sunset to happen. We decided to keep going on NH 7 and before we knew we were in Hosur. It reminded me of the many times I had gone to Hosur, some 35 kilometers from where I live, just to have a morning tea and dosas and get back. I like the hustle bustle that goes on in Hosur and the markets are a good place to do some nice street photography. So is the Chand-Choodeshwar Temple that is up a small hill, from where you get a nice view of the city below.

For an instance I did feel like going to the temple, but something in me just wanted to enjoy the ride. I kept going on and on. I see a milestone that says: Krishnagiri 40 kms. I look up at the sky. The sun is still high, I said to myself, and it would take atleast another half hour for the sunset to happen. Could I reach Krishnagiri in that time was the question that began playing around in my mind.

I had heard from someone that the view of the sunrise and the sunset atop the rocky hills in Krishnagiri is nice. I thought it would be a perfect romantic evening, if me and Netra could reach any of these hillock and watch the sunset. Netra would be happy too and as a result I would be happy too.

The air had begun to get cold and I had to take out my jacket from the bag as only the Tshirt was doing no good and I did not want to get sick with the cold breeze whizzing past me at that high relative speed! Also with the roads starting to get more curvy, I had to be extra careful.

Netra clung to me as tightly as ever. Her presence was a motivation to complete the short distance in the time that was available, as I really wanted her to enjoy the sunset from the spots I had heard so much about. With speeds in between 80 and 100 kilometers per hour, I kept moving ahead.

As we reached closer to the city, we could spot the small rocky hills. A beautiful sight. The warmth of the evening sun made the sight even more pleasant. In the end we reached Krishnagiri, just in time for the sunset. Did not get a chance to go up the hills, but was able to watch it from a decent vantage point.

I had chai and Netra saw the scene around while I did this. There was the cops in the middle of the road, which we both wondered why, there was a statue pointing to the sky, and there was this huge rocky cliffs that surrounded the entire city of Krishnagiri.

Sensing that it gets dark very soon, we decided to get back home. Chai over, a couple of shots for memory taken, and off we started on our way back.

Little did we know that the adventure was not over yet. On our journey back the petrol indicator needle was at the extreme end of finishing. In moments like these, panic sets in and the fear tries to disturb the concentration. The high beams of the opposite way traffic does not help either. I remember seeing a lot of gas stations while coming, so logically there should be some on the return too. The only problem was that I was not sure how far back had I seen the last gas station. I start to hope for the best.

Thankfully after driving around 5 kilometers, I spot a sign that says Bharat Petroleum gas station 3 kms ahead. With a smile and some extra josh, I reached the gas station and filled more than I ever would so that I do not run out of it again.

Got back to Hosur, took another short break for the lovely Dosas and chai and reached home safe and sound.

Later in the night, I asked her, did you enjoy the evening. The adrenaline rush, the sense of urgency and adventure, the fear of getting lost and being stranded on the National Highway 7 with loads of trucks going by, and reaching home safe in the end.

Netra smiled. I thought she did.
If only someone else could see her smile just way I do.

:)

25 January, 2010

D for Discipline

I miss my boarding school days. Yes I do. As much as I hated the food, or the agonizing teases by the others for silly reasons, I still do miss the school experience.

Life at boarding school teaches you Discipline to its core. I am not saying that you do not learn it elsewhere, but it is an integral part of the Boarding School Experience. And at this point of time in my life when I am working a few things in some random order, I hate to admit that I lack that discipline. A discipline of finishing up things on time, doing things with full concentration and without diverting from the set tasks.

In my opinion a proper discipline is required in order to successfully set up a business. The business can be anything small or big, technical or non technical. Everything requires a discipline.

For a freelancer, or a person starting your own company (entrepreneur) a proper discipline is important. It is so easy to keep pushing things for the later just because you are not answerable to anyone in terms of time. It is so easy to pick on some bad habits just because there is no one watching you.

Often in the hustle bustle of activities around a startup, one fails to realize the lack of discipline. We fail to realize that things are not happening at the proper times, because all that we are thinking is that I am utilizing my time some way or the other. So things like chatting over the net takes precedence over going and taking some fresh air. Late night chats, Facebook and emailing takes precedence over early morning walks. One starts to work 24 X 7.

Now if Discipline was an easy thing, everyone would have done it easily. But trust me, it is not. It's all the more difficult when you are on your own. There are many components to this Discipline thing. I am just throwing out some of them here...

Time Management
First and foremost is Time Management. Time and again we hear from people that entrepreneurs are people who manage their times constructively. They are busy all the time doing something or the other. So managing the time in a manner that it leads to higher productivity is important. Also identify what are the activities that would result in, so that the productivity increases. Do decisions like should you choose a online game or reading up some subject matter? Watching TV or sending sales and marketing presentations. The choices are there always.

Procrastination
Then there is question of Procrastination which I think every entrepreneur should put an end to. I say 'end to' and not just improve on it. Now this is something that we as normal humans always do. But we have to strive towards that Say No to Procrastination situation. Write it in front of your table- Say No to Procrastination.

Be Answerable to Someone
The good thing is that you have no one to report to. But the bad thing is also that you do not have someone to report to. In my opinion one should have someone to be answerable too. It need not be the boss (as you are the boss of your own company), but someone else who is aware of the activities and the situation. So why not have that being answerable person be your spouse, the business partner, parents, guide or whatever. Also remember that in the end it is about being answerable to yourself.

Mind dump exercises

Do a mind dump exercise from time to time. Write down everything that is going on in the mind. Yes I mean EVERYTHING. And I re-stress.. WRITE it. Only when u do do a mind dump u realize how many things the ming is thinking about. Prioritize the tasks based on their importance and empty out the mind. Remember only when one empties whats inside, can there be room for fresher and newer exercises.


Timely Meals
Trust me. This is something that we tend to forget often. Breakfast at Night Dinner at 11. lunch at 3pm. Set a routine clock and stick to it. Morning 7 am rise means 7 am. Breakfast between 9-10 means it is done with during that time.

A time for yourself
In the end, do have sometime for yourself. Go out for a walk, relax staying away from the system. Interact with people offline, face to face.

I am no expert in the whole entrepreneurship arena, but am just sharing some experiences that I have been having in my startups.