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Archive for June, 2016

VACATIONSAh….the unbearable pangs of separation from Blogsville!

ashokbhatia

Dear Fellow Bloggers, Followers, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The high and low tides of life are finally about to take their toll,

For some time I am likely to be off the Blogsville radar, sorely missing you all.

Continue with your voracious readings, have fun, enjoy your time,

Yours truly would soon be back on board with prose and verse that rhyme.

I shall be sorely missing the inner joy of writing and its associated pleasure,

Rewards of your valuable feedback I shall relish on return at my leisure.

AWOL I do not aspire to be, hence this request,

Do please grant me a short leave of absence in right earnest!

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LEADERSThere is something unique about managers from India. Apparently, they have a Western mind and an Eastern heart. In other words, a unique combination of analytical prowess and intuitive faculties.

Here is a thought-provoking guest post from Mr K V Rao, Resident Director – ASEAN, Tata Sons Ltd , Singapore.

“I was born and raised in India in small towns, and started reflecting how is it that so many of my compatriots make it to global leadership positions ?

Many of our ilk have left the shores, for distant foreign lands. Have studied and imbued the best of cultures, but retained some of some of that inner rusticity, and native eclectic personalities. They have made it to the top jobs of Google, Microsoft, Mastercard, or a Pepsi, and the list is endless and still more to surface. All have been exceptional fighters, who seem to compete fiercely but fairly, often guided by their simple inner compass. All have had their roots in Middle Class India. What is the magic that’s at work ?

Typically, in a middle class family, that typifies some common basics – a high dose of personal values with low resources, what in a South Indian phrase is termed as “high thinking and simple living” hard work, education, discipline are the key mantras drilled into young minds, to help them break through the glass ceiling. Exceptionally strong personal family bonds, and a natural willingness to put oneself down for the other, compassion and care seem to naturally flower

What are those simple things that make them such effective leaders. Here are some reflections:

  1. There was never enough ….’   If one grew up in my generation in middle class India, life was always on the edge. Just about balancing ends with limited means. That meant, living happily and contented with what you have, than to aspire for what you don’t. Realism, practicality. But, also have the uncanny ability to stretch the buck – unbelievable value engineers, we are naturally. No wonder, hard to beat an Indian at cost cutting. !. Defining needs vs wants was deeply embedded in the frontal lobe of the mind, filtering away desires 🙂
  2. “We always ate together….” . Families would wait for each other to eat together. (Also the fact that there were hardly fridges then, and you ate hot and fresh !). There was sharing and caring. The bonds built were deep that lasted a life time, and giving and serving each other, imprinted that quality of care for a lifetime for another member of the family.
  3. “We celebrated together, we mourned together …” Families, lived as communities, extended with relatives, friends and neighbours. Much to the chagrin of modern nuclear families, there was little private and personal space  ! … All celebrations were shared, and so were the strains of illness or misfortune. Jumping in to help, give someone a shoulder was so very natural. That was the normal thing to do, not an act of valor or sacrifice. Your loss was mine, your success too was mine. Empathy a natural flow.
  4. Maths and English, are important…. “. Our fathers simply emphasized on 2 subjects, Maths and English, particularly in South India, as if they were meant to train the left and right brains, and eventually spur some whole brain activity. In hindsight, they seem to make sense. English opened the doors to global opportunities, the computational abilities pushed forward analytical thinking.
  5. “ We laughed a lot, joked, and pulled each others leg…Families, neighbors, and community living provided the best of entertainment, and a source of immense comedy. Radio and cinema were the only companions, and Black & White TV just came in with one or two long running serials. Sense of humour was valued, and we learnt to laugh, when nothing else could be done. Being sportive and getting the rough edge, is so normal, no big deal. It built great resilience and forbearance, for there were many things we could not change but had to live with.
  6. “ We prayed together….. “ . There was always a routine of prayer, whether you liked it or not. Before you start the day, go to college, go to exam, go to an interview. All of which, reinforced the positive belief, that no matter what, there is something more powerful and higher that resides above you, and cares for you should you make the effort to reach out. It ingrained the simple truth of focusing on the effort and leaving the ultimate result to the forces that be. It also made one more prepared to take risks, and face failure – a trait that today people struggle with, to fail, and yet to rise and be innovative.
  7. “ There is always a fix ….”  Last but not the least, there was never a “no” to be taken. There is always a fix, a ‘Jugaad’ if you may, or a work around. Hard to accept and give up. Persistence, thinking upside down, creativity or sheer street-smart tactical reflexes. Or the ability to bow, and accept failure honestly and humbly. It’s a potent combination of inner strength and outer smartness, to craft a strategy that works in the face of adversity.
  8.  “ You are not the smartest .. “. When you grew up, you always had someone much smarter than you, much better than you. You often wonder you were blessed or damn lucky to be where you are. There is a common streak of simplicity and most importantly humility. Go back to point 6, above – there was also someone “above” there who wished you well. Humility reinforced. !

It is not the top management schools that honed the skills alone, but the middle class homes of India that gave many of our generation, that inner compass and embedded CPU that makes one see life with a set of different lenses.

Leadership today, hinges on the ability to inspire, share, care, lead with empathy. Inflect clarity, sharpness, and fight the forces of competition with courage and tenacious persistence, never to give up. The ability to remain cheerful, spread laughter and joy around the work place. The training school of which is located in middle class Indian homes, that have often produced top class international business leaders.”

 

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ashokbhatia

On the occasion of the upcoming International Yoga Day, managers of all sizes and shapes are all of a twitter, shuddering at the prospect of being called upon to celebrate the day by performing some complicated asanas, that too at the crack of dawn, on a day which, unfortunately, happens to be a Sunday.

It is not that people who pride themselves to be managers are any less patriotic. Nor are they any less health conscious. Those who believe that managers are forever thinking only of evading taxes while leading a sedentary life full of fun and frolic at star rated joints could not be more wrong.

The reason managers need not earmark a particular day for practicing yoga is rather simple. This hapless overworked breed is already devoting much of its time and energy to following yogic pursuits. This alone helps them to retain their sanity while riding…

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Mehboob_Ki_MehndiBollywood often showcases Muslim culture with much elan. Here is an analysis of this genre and a look at some of the movies which fall in the category of ‘Muslim Socials’.

Dustedoff

Including some recommendations, and some warnings.

This post was sparked off by a comment, by blog reader and fellow blogger Ava, on my review of the Sunil Dutt-Meena Kumari starrer, Ghazal. Like me, Ava ‘adores’ Muslim socials, and in her comment, suggested that I make a list of ten of my favourite Muslim socials. A great suggestion, I thought. And then thought some more. Were there ten Muslim socials I loved to bits? Were there some which were fabulous when it came to certain aspects, and horrendous on other counts? Were there some, perhaps, that I wouldn’t watch again (except possibly at gunpoint)?

All that thinking, I decided, had to be shared. Also in the hope that it might elicit some responses from those reading this blog post—please do comment, share your thoughts, and feel free to disagree. With the tameez and tehzeeb one would expect in a Muslim…

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seagullHere are some gems of wisdom which can help you soar in your career:

  1. The more you analyse, the higher the state of inaction attained. Use intuition more often.
  2. Be unreasonable and deliver extraordinary business results.
  3. Always meet the boss halfway through.
  4. Call back yourself and be in for a surprise.
  5. Cultivate the art of Creative Dissatisfaction.
  6. Delegation without benchmarking and monitoring of targets amounts to abdication.
  7. Ethics and Values are important. Be smart. Steer your business using not only a Business Compass but also a Moral Compass.
  8. It always pays to have a credit balance in your interpersonal relationships.
  9. The only fire in the belly to be avoided is the one generated by ulcers and cysts.
  10. ‘Yes-men’ could be harmful to your career progression in the long run.
  11. Keep your learning batteries always charged up.
  12. Kiss frequently. The term ‘Kiss’ here stands for ‘Keep It Simple, Stupid’!
  13. Encourage dissenters to speak up; be a smart leader.
  14. While taking decisions, use your heart as well as your mind.
  15. Every five years, retire yourself. This would ensure you never get chucked out of a job.
  16. CEOs who succeed in the future would be the ones having a Western mind and an Eastern heart.
  17. Packages have a short shelf-life. Keep reinventing them.
  18. People are not spares of a machine, to be replaced once their utility is exhausted. Groom them for higher responsibilities, or out-place them.
  19. Always praise in public but reprimand in private.
  20. Keep your Propensity to Procrastinate under check.
  21. Being a ‘yes-man’ is a risky proposition. The higher you are in the pecking order, the higher the responsibility you carry on your shoulders – that of registering dissent.
  22. Keep your hormones under check. Love blossoming within the confines of office space can also turn into litigation and expensive lawsuits.
  23. A good way to kill an otherwise brilliant idea is to first convey it over mail.
  24. Pressure is an external stimulus. Stress is what we experience.
  25. Stress is inversely proportional to your inner resilience, which can be built up by forgiveness, a dash of humour, and meditation.
  26. Create a culture of observing, judging, and unleashing talent.
  27. Cultivate your underground cable connections. Things get done better when the informal organization gets going.
  28. Plan your vacations well. The absence of a good manager is never felt.
  29. It pays to build up and protect your own brand value.
  30. Strike the right balance between the following three: Concern for Production (read Results), Concern for People and Concern for Ethics.

(Picture courtesy Pixabay)

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In a world that is inhabited by Bertie Wooster, Jeeves, Aunt Agatha, Bingo Little, 23-odd cats and many other sterling characters, can laughter ever fade away?!

Allow me the pleasure of sharing yet another juicy piece from the stable of Plumtopia.

Plumtopia

The Inimitable Jeeves 1st edition (1923) image courtesy of wikipedia The Inimitable Jeeves 1st edition (1923) image courtesy of wikipedia

I’m not much of a ladies’ man, but on this particular morning it seemed to me that what I really wanted was some charming girl to buzz up and ask me to save her from assassins or something. So that it was a bit of an anti-climax when I merely ran into young Bingo Little, looking perfectly foul in a crimson satin tie decorated with horseshoes.

The Inimitable Jeeves was one of the first Wodehouse books I ever read, and one I often  recommend  to new readers. It has been included in several serious lists of ‘classic books you must read’, but don’t let that put you off – it’s terrific! The Inimitable Jeeves is a great introduction to Wodehouse’s best known characters, Bertie Wooster and his valet (or gentleman’s gentleman) Jeeves. Although it’s not the first Jeeves story –…

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With the advent of spring, the fancy of our young ones would lightly turn to thoughts of love. Mother Nature would wholly approve. In the upper reaches, snow would have just started melting. Plants and shrubs would have started springing back to life. Green shoots would have started becoming visible. Flowers would be in full bloom. Birds and bees would be going about their daily chores. Sun would be shining through, albeit a little gently. A pleasant breeze laced with the sweet fragrance of flowers would be caressing our physical frames. Streams would be flowing with their gentle murmur. God may or not be in Heaven but a clear sky would be providing a perfect backdrop for the couples who happen to be in love.

In Ritusamhara, Kalidasa mentions that during this season, women are more enchanting. Sandal paste and other substances are often used to contain the spring fever. The earth shines like a well decked bride in a red bridal costume. Those who happen to be lonely suffer the most in this pitiless season, as they happen to be missing the company of their beloved.

Bollywood celebrates the spring season with much ado and fervour. Dashing heroes, on their way to a new destination, would be soaking in the grandeur of nature. Sprightly heroines would be becoming aware of their own flawless beauty, often comparing it to different elements of nature. 

Madhumati (1958, Bimal Roy)

Shagird (1967, Samir Ganguly) 

Elsewhere, lissome heroines would be getting wooed by ardent heroes who would be praising their charms no end. Lovers would be teasing each other, running around trees and shrubs. Couples would be busy romancing in lush green valleys and gardens.

Suraj (1966, T Prakash Rao)

Buddha Mil Gaya (1971, Hrishikesh Mukherjee)

Aap Aaye Bahaar Aayee (1971, Mohan Kumar)

Here are some couplets from the Sixth Canto of Ritusamhara, and some Bollywood songs which these remind us of.

“Oh, dear, vernal trees are full with flowers, waters filled with lotuses, breezes loaded with their fragrances blowing agreeably, thereby both the eventides and daytimes are pleasant with those fragrant breezes, whereby the women are with concupiscence, and thus everything is highly pleasing now. [6-2]

Mamta (1966, Asit Sen)

Aradhana  (1969 Shakti Samanta)

Abhinetri (1970, Subodh Mukherjee)

Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998, Karan Johar)

“The impassioned male koel, black singing bird, gladdened on savouring the invigorative essence of just grown mango flowers is now kissing his love passionately; so also this honeybee, abiding in lotuses savouring their nectar, is passionately mating with his love to her complaisance, sequestered in the petals of lotuses. [6-14]

Jewel Thief (1967, Vijay Anand)

Ghar (1978, Manik Chatterjee)

Chashme Baddoor (1981, Sai Paranjpye)

Chandni (1989, Yash Chopra)

“Passion is surging out in male kokila -s, singing birds, as they obtained jollity in this springtime on chewing mango flowers, thus they are singing inexplicably; honeybees, when drunk with the flowery nectar of those flowers, they are also droning hums murmuringly as their drinking song; with these hums and drones the hearts of new brides are flustered in a trice, even if they are in the service of their in-laws, where certain docility and prudishness are in demand.  [6-21]

Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje (1955, V Shantaram)

Guide (1965, Vijay Anand)

Chupke Chupke (1975, Hrishikesh Mukherjee)

Hum Aapke Hain Kaun…! (1994, Sooraj Barjatya)

“These days the pleasure gardens are brightened up with whitely jasmines similar to the toothy grins of sprightly brides, and hence they are heart-stealing even for saints or sages that have neutralised their materialistic indulgences long back; as such, these gardens must have stolen the hearts of youths that are already tainted with seasonal sensualities. [6-23]

Teesri Manzil (1966, Vijay Anand)

Bobby (1973, Raj Kapoor)

Mausam (1975, Gulzar)

Chitchor (1976, Basu Chatterjee)

 

“On seeing a flowered mango tree, the frame of mind of any itinerant is overly woebegone, for he is dissociated with his ladylove; thus he shuts his eyes unable to behold that ladylike mango tree with her hairdo overlaid with flowers; obstructs his nose, for the fragrance of this ladylike mango tree is akin to that of his ladylove; thus he goes into a state of woefulness, and even he bewails and shrieks loudly… thus pitiless is this season, vasanta , spring, for singletons. [6-26]

Saranga (1961, Dhirubhai Desai)

Mere Mehboob (1963, H S Rawail)

Mehbooba (1976, Shakti Samanta)

Filhaal (2002, Meghna Gulzar)

 

“Delightful is this flowery month with the racketing of lusty honeybees and kokila-s around; with flowered mango trees that fruit sweet mangos; with karniakra flowers; each of which is becoming as though an acute of arrow of Love god, that ecstasies and even cleaves the hearts of self-respectful women, who cannot explicitly explain their pangs for love, nor can suffer them, implicitly… [6-27]

Akhri Khat (1966, Chetan Anand)

Sahib Biwi Aur Ghulam (1962, Abrar Alvi)

Anand (1971, Hrishikesh Mukherjee)

Khushboo (1975, Gulzar)

 

Just before the spring season ends, Holi, the delightful festival of colours, comes about and heralds the onset of summer. Kalidasa does not speak of this, but Bollywood loses no opportunity of showcasing this festival. Here are some of the ways in which it depicts the playful splash of colours.

Mother India (1957, Mehboob Khan)

Silsila (1981, Yash Chopra)

Darr (1993, Yash Chopra)

Baghban (2003, Ravi Chopra)

 

There is no doubt as to the evocative manner in which the poet has captured the affairs of the heart across all seasons. The manner in which he has captured the beauty of nature in all of his works, let alone in Ritusamhara, is exemplary.

Our dream merchants also follow the romantic affairs of love birds with equal alacrity. However, over the past few decades, the importance attached to nature has declined. Just as the social mores have changed, our lyricists have tried to keep pace with the commercial demands placed on them. The role of poetry has regrettably declined, leading to soulless and inane songs which have limited shelf life.

Hopefully, this is part of a cyclical phenomenon, just like all our seasons happen to be. A renaissance of sorts and a meaningful evolution is what one looks forward to.

Post Script: 

Throughout this series of posts on Kalidasa, movie buffs could be excused for lamenting the overbearing presence of old songs and a relative absence of recent songs. This has possibly come about because of the manner in which the presentation techniques of our directors and cinematographers have evolved over the years.

In the older songs, the camera used to be relatively stable and the whole song presented against the backdrop of a single season. At the most, the dresses worn by the main protagonists would keep changing from one scene/stanza to the next.

In recent times, with crisper editing and a far more dynamic camera, the hero and the heroine often get captured in different seasons and at different locations in a single song, thereby making the task of identifying a song with a single season rather challenging.

[Note: Translation of ‘Ritusamhara’ courtesy Mr. Desiraju Hanumanta Rao: http://www.sanskritdocuments.org/sites/giirvaani/giirvaani/rs/rs_6.htm]

 

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/05/14/the-six-seasons-of-kalidasa-in-bollywood

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/05/15/the-six-seasons-of-kalidasa-in-bollywood-summer

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/05/20/the-six-seasons-of-kalidasa-in-bollywood-monsoon

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/05/27/the-six-seasons-of-kalidasa-in-bollywood-autumn

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/06/01/the-six-seasons-of-kalidasa-in-bollywood-pre-winter-hemanta

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/06/04/the-six-seasons-of-kalidasa-in-bollywood-winter-shishira)

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