I am scared!

Dear friends,DSC01363

I am a mute spectator for the last few days to a cacophony of arguments and counter-arguments about MY fate.  And as usual, I keep quiet to leave myself to the mercy of you mankind to decide what should be done to me.  You have chosen to chop my limbs to fulfil your needs, uproot me whenever it suited you, and many of my ilk have given way to satisfy your needs of food, clothing, and shelter.

However, I must admit that in the last few days, I am indebted to you for being there for me and fighting tooth and nail to save my existence.  And seeing all this support for me, I just cannot be quiet any more.

In case you are still wondering who am I and what is my name, so here goes.  I am one of those nameless entities who along with 2701 of my other brothers and sisters in this beautiful Aarey Forest are waiting for a painful death in a few days from now.  And today, I decide to share with you all what do I feel.

I feel scared!  Yes, I am scared of the first blow of the axe that will inflict agonising pain on my body, and blow after blow will bleed me of strength and resolve to stand there anymore and drop dead in a heap of small pieces of my once beautiful and sturdy body.

I feel pained! Yes, it pains me a lot to think that I will no longer wake up to the melodious sounds of my bird friends who have made my branches their abode and enthral me with their beautiful early morning songs

I feel sad! Yes, I am sad that I will no longer be able to provide shade to a tired traveller who would wait under my shade to take a breather or a motorcyclist who saves himself from the lashing rains by taking cover under my strong arms.

I feel heartbroken!  Yes, I am heartbroken that I will no more be a witness to those romantic whisperings of a cosy couple hiding behind my broad trunk to catch a few moments of love and bliss in each other’s arms.

I feel miserable! Yes, I am depressed to know that I will not be a witness to any more sounds of the thumping feet of many runners and walkers who have enjoyed their daily exercise routines in my the company.

Yes friends, I feel all this and much more, but most of all I feel scared!

I feel scared that by killing me and my siblings, you may face difficulty in breathing fresh air!

I feel scared that by chopping me and my brothers and sisters, you may face floods!

I feel scared that by slaughtering us, you may face extreme heat and global warming!

I feel scared that by uprooting us, you may also take away homes from many animals and birds!

I am scared that in a few days from now, my body will bleed and cut into pieces, but most of all,

I am scared, for YOU my dear friend that by killing us today, you are preparing yourself for an early death!

Your nameless friend



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Life is a Dance!

Sitting on a katta in my 10th floor flat, I was watching employees of a nearby mall getting all set for Ganpati visarjan.  There was excitement in the air and the crowd looked all set to have a gala time.

With a cue from the leader, a motley band of six drummers and a banjo player, started belting out loud music extolling the crowd to come on the ‘dance floor’.  It was not even a few seconds that a couple of guys were in full form and displaying their dance moves in a combination of Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Govinda and Bhagwan Dada!

Slowly and steadily, others joined in and the next 45 minutes were one helluva performance. While I was enjoying myself watching them, a thought struck me. Life is a Dance! And we all are dancers!! Yes, a dance that we all take part in our own ways and enjoy (or miss out enjoying). While some make the most of it, others miss out on opportunities to have a great time.  So, here is a look at different kinds of people through the dance eyeglass.

The Initiator: This dancer jumps on to the dance floor the moment the music begins.  In fact, at times, he is seen pushing the band to start. He enjoys being the first on the dance floor, has no inhibitions and loves to lead the pack. In life too, many want to move things rather than being moved.  They love being first and take initiative.  Their primary drivers are initiative, visibility, and leading.

The Carefree Entertainer: This dancer is all over the place.  He is also one of the first ones to join the dance floor and loves moving from one person to another. He may or may not know to dance, but loves the atmosphere and lives in the moment.  In life, there are many happy-go-lucky people for whom today matters the most.  They live in ‘here and now’ and do not stress about much in life.

The In and out Dancer: There were quite a few dancers who were on the sidelines for most of the time and once in a while get on the ‘dance floor’, enjoy a few steps and move out. They seemed to have a burst of energy, but also looked tired after a few steps.  Like these ‘In and out’ dancers, many people in life lack consistency.  Their aspirations and motivation are for short periods of time and they are ‘at their best’ only for a few moments to go back to their ‘normal’ lives time and again.

The Cautious Worrier:  Suddenly I spotted a young boy dancing without much energy.  He did not seem to enjoy his dance but seemed more occupied with observing others and checking if he is being observed.  Unlike the carefree entertainer, he definitely was not in the moment.  In life, there are many of us who do things not for ourselves but to get approval.  These people scrutinise their behaviour very critically and prefer not to take chances for the fear of doing wrong. They always strive to make others accept them and their actions stem from the feeling of ‘being accepted by the group’.

The Waiting One: While there were a few ‘In and out’ dancers, some anxious looking people were standing close to the ‘dance floor’, willing to join in, but hesitant.  Their eyes were constantly on the dancers hoping one to them to spot the waiting ones and drag them on to the dance floor.  There are many people who play the ‘waiting’ game throughout their lives.  They want to do a lot, get involved but are not confident of their abilities. They will not take initiative, but wait for others to invite them to join in.  If they are lucky, they get spotted and involved or they remain on the side-lines for ever.

The Onlookers:  A little far from the ‘dance floor’ was a small group of people standing and chatting.  They seemed to be pretty fine just watching the dancers.  In fact, it felt as if they were at the distance because they did not want to be spotted and ‘dragged in’.  A good number of people in life are like that.  They are happy and content seeing things happening around them and have no inclination to be a part of any of it.  For them, ‘just watching’ is more important than ‘doing’.

The Commentator: I suddenly spotted two people talking animatedly with each other.  These seemed to be pointing at every dancer and passing comments on them.  When someone from the dance floor approached them to join in, they refused and continued their commentary.  Well, a good number of people in real life too, just comment on what others are doing.  When they are asked to do something, they refuse but would not desist from passing judgements and comments.

The Troublemaker: While I was focussed on all the above, I also saw a young dancer who will go on to the dance floor time and again and dance vigorously and ‘out of tune’ with some dancer or a group of dancers. His only intention seemed to be to disturb the other person’s rhythm.  He seemed to be enjoying the ‘power’ of disturbing others.  In life too, there are a few whose only objective is to be a trouble-maker.  These people get involved only to bring in chaos and enjoy disturbing the flow.

Shakespeare once said ‘Life is a Stage and we all are actors’. Well, from now onwards, you can also say, ‘Life is a Dance floor and we all are dancers’! 

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Management lessons from the Asian Games

Sport is the biggest teacher of it all!  The first lessons in one’s life generally come from sports in the form of games and activities in one’s childhood.  The learning continues with our growth and I can say with confidence that some of our best lessons in life come from having played some sport or the other.

The corporate world is no stranger to learning from games and sports.  There have been numerous management lessons from sporting events, be it Cricket, Football, Chess or Badminton.

There has been a huge sporting action in the last three months and one of the major events was the Asian Games 2018.  This multi-sport event not only reaped the rich medal haul for India, but also have given us many lessons from Indian sportspersons that can be well applied in management and business.  In the following few paragraphs, I share with you a few of these lessons.

Hit the ground running – Early bird gets the worm!  In today’s competitive and fast-paced business world, being first and fast yields tremendous results.   The javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra proved this point well.  While he was the favourite to win the event, he was expected to face a challenge from Chinese and Iranian throwers.  But, he put all the doubts to rest by starting with a bang.  His first throw was upwards of 83 meters and put a lot of pressure on other sportspersons.  This also gave him a huge confidence and boost to go beyond and he managed more than 88 meters in his third throw to seal the first spot and the gold medal. So, when you start your career or any enterprise, go full throttle and hit the ground running.

The Final Thrust – While hitting the ground running gives you an edge initially, accelerating at the right time surprises your competitors.  Manjit Singh proved this well in the 800 meter run.  He had the 8th fastest time in the heats, while another Indian Johnson Jinson (favourite to win the event) had the best timing.  When the race started, all eyes were on Johnson, the Qatari and the Iranian runner, who were leading till 500 mtrs.  Suddenly Manjit came from nowhere like a bolt of lightning and left all others behind to finish first.  So, know when to accelerate and push yourself to capture the final frontiers.

Bouncing back – Setbacks push us back and demoralise.  Many a times they demotivate us so much that it becomes difficult to get up and get going.  But the ability to bounce back is what separates the brave from the also-ran.  Johnson Jinson was a living picture of this in the 1500 meter run. Having been left in the second place by fellow Indian Manjit Singh, Johnson was more determined to prove a point. He ran a superb heat to have the second fastest time of 3:46:50 in qualifying and in the finals, ran a race of his life to win in 3:44:72.  Remember, one setback is not the end of the road, but can be a push that you need to come back stronger.

Persevere to Perform – Crisis and challenges are part of the business world and persevering and not giving up helps you overcome many of them.  Both the Men’s and Women’s Archery teams showed this in an exemplary way. Having gone without a medal in the individual competitions, their confidence was at its ebb.  However, keeping persevering and keeping their calm at the right time reaped them rich dividends and Silver medal in both the team events.

In the women’s semi-final, the team was trailing by three points (a huge lead in Archery) at the start of the fourth and the final set, but a trio of young archers scored 58 points (including two Bull’s eye) to win 225-222.  In the final against the world champions Korea, they came close to upsetting the Koreans only to falter at the last minute.

In the Men’s event semi-finals, the team kept its calm and hit the bull’s eye thrice to beat Chinese Taipei 231-227.  In the finals, they were up against the mighty Koreans and no one had given them a chance.  However, their perseverance and composure brought them on the brink of glory and they lost out in a shootout after being tied at 229-229.

So, do not give up when you have had a failure, but look ahead, persevere and the victory is yours.

Taking a Step back for long term benefits – While moving forward is the key to success, at times, the situation demands taking a step back. And especially if taking a step back is for a long-term benefit, it must be done.  Boxer Vikas Krishnan was India’s sure shot at the Gold Medal in the 75 kg boxing.  However, an injury to his eye in preliminary rounds forced him to miss his Semi-final match and give up on his hope of adding one more gold medal to his tally of medals.  He had to settle for Bronze. While the decision to not play the semi-final must have been very difficult, it was prudent to do so not to aggravate the injury and cut short his career.  A small step back at times helps you bounce back stronger.  So, do not hesitate and do so if required to achieve your long term goals.

Never-say-Die-attitude – This one skill can make a difference in anyone’s life.  The Women’s squash team amply demonstrated that.  In the individual event, both Joshna Chinappa and Deepika Pallikal lost their Semi-final matches to the Malaysian players (The world champion Nicol David being one of them). While talking to the press after the match, Joshna mentioned that Nicol is a world-beater and a tough opponent, but not unbeatable.  And Voila! In the semi-final of the team event, both Joshna and Deepika defeated the same women that they had lost to in the individual event.  Moral of the story is do not give up and never-say-die and you can win against all odds.

Optimism – It is a mental attitude reflecting a belief or hope that the outcome of some specific endeavour will be positive. The Table Tennis teams had performed very well at the Commonwealth games and had returned with a huge medal haul.  However, Asian Games are different as you have the top players from China, Hong King, Korea, Taiwan, Japan competing in the event.  Before the games started, no one gave Indians a chance to even reach the quarterfinals stage, however, the Men’s team made it to the quarterfinals and went on to beat Japan to reach Semi-final and win its first-ever Asian games medal in the Table tennis event.  The same optimism also gave Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra their first individual bronze Medal at the games. Never lose hope and believe in your capability to achieve what others think is impossible.

Complacency kills – While we had many positives in the Asian games, there were a few setbacks as well. And the biggest of these was in the Men’s Kabaddi. The seven-time champions were touted as favourites and the Indian media had crowned them as the world-beaters before the games began.  The team started well, however was becoming over-confident and complacent and the result was a crashing loss to Iran in the semi-final.  Complacency is the worst enemy of performance and effectiveness and can bring one down with a thud.

And last but not the least,

Old habits (skills) die hard! – The Indian Men’s pair went on to win the Bridge gold medal.  This proves the point that old skills never die and right from the Mahabharata times, we have not lost our edge at the game of cards!!



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My Encounter with ‘Shera’

It was sometime in May 1977 when during my visit to a relative in a small town of Amalner (near Jalgaon), I watched Khoon Pasina – a movie starring Amitabh Bachchcan and Vinod Khanna.

As a 10-year old and with limited exposure to movie-watching, while Amitabh was a well-known name and face (thanks to my parents allowing me to watch Zanjeer and Sholay), not many other actors were a known commodity.

So, while sitting on a bakda (wooden benches) in dilapidated theatre in Amalner watching Khoon Pasina, it was my first meeting with a man called Vinod Khanna in a character called Shera. And it was adulation at first sight. That well-built Punjabi look, the intense eyes and dialogue-delivery in a bit of a drawl etched the character of Shera permanently in my heart.

And so began my affair with the legend called Vinod Khanna!!

The relationship that started with ‘Khoon Pasina’ in Amalner continued with the handsome policeman in Amar Akbar Anthony, the gangster in Qurbani, the lawyer in Mukaddar ka Sikandar, and the engineer in The Burning Train.  And then came Dayavan, where he outperformed himself to play the role of a don based on the life of Vardarajan Mudaliar.

However, some of his better work was much before he became a star.  In the 1973 movie ‘Achanak’, he portrayed the role of a man on the run with amazing intensity.  Years later, I still recall the scene, where after killing his wife, he had kept her head in his lap and was waiting for the police to arrive.  The look in his eyes was just unforgettable.

Shera, we will miss you! Rest in peace!!

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