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2017 Reflections

30 Dec

The work of the art student is no light matter. Few have the courage and stamina to see it through. You have to make up your mind to be alone in many ways. We like sympathy and we like to be in company. It is easier than going it alone. But alone one gets acquainted with himself, grows up and on, not stopping with the crowd. It costs to do this. If you succeed somewhat you may have to pay for it as well as enjoy it all your life.”
― Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

– I walked alone  may be all of adult life.  I wish to meet people and have a conversation and understand their stories. I have started going out to meet people. Honestly prefer one on one conversations or small groups. Going out in bigger groups is not my style.

– I lost a school friend this year. I went to his house last week when another school friend came visiting to meet his family, his mother said ” He always came but could not  meet…” Yes tried meeting Rajesh but could not meet . Now will never meet him again.  I am acutely aware of mortality. I always have been.

– ” I am not so much interested in religious goals, but am interested in relaxation..” said Leonard Cohen in a NRK interview ( have posted 3 part series). I have had few moments of relaxation this year. Whenever have felt relaxation, have felt happy. Those have come from biking, reading, understanding and speaking to my dear friends. Relaxation equals happiness.

– The book have read most often in  2017  is “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryū Suzuki”. I kept revisiting it for peace and understanding.

– We have  a new friend who keeps us happy and that is my almost three year old niece . When ever she visits or we visit. All of us are happy. That is pure joy.

– I have felt more and more that all ideologies are limited by construct even if some of it’s tenets hold  true. It quickly becomes a interest group or some kind of semi cult. You need to have a core philosophy, otherwise one is rudderless but you cannot exclude the other ….am work in progress, this is my current thought.

– Started volunteering in 2017 with Ullas. That’s a positive this year. It fits into my value set and will continue to  do so.

–  Am reading Angela Duckworth’s ” Grit, the power of passion and perseverance”. It’s a good book and quite like psychology as a  academic subject.

– Good relationships and assume positive intent in others. This is my new life  goal. I wish to have good relationships. At least improve on that front and accept the past. Resolution for 2018.

– I  read and saw a  Chamath Palihapitiya interview posted by Stanford GSB. All these investor types talk like James Bond 007, wonder why would a academic institution call a guy who uses so much profanity, it beat’s me and it’s not funny…

These are 2017 reflections, so much time has passed, want to live my best life under given circumstances & challenges, you too do the same dear friends…

I want to dedicate this post to my few friends who make life livable and tolerate questions and struggles. They are  very kind and my only asset in this journey…

So here’s wishing you happy and joyful times ahead… be yourself and never stop learning…

Goodbye 2017 and Happy 2018

Wishing you a very happy and peaceful new year!

Love, Suresh

 

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Bike and reflections

25 Dec

“Like a bird on a wire,
like a drunk in a midnight choir,
I have tried in my way to be free!!”
― Leonard Cohen

” We have had a good run, we’ve always had a good run..”

A friend ironically said  on a sad occurrence. I like my friend although don’t meet much because our common friend is gone. Besides don’t talk much these days. What can i say?

I am still game for fun. I just don’t have many experiences as another dear friend said ” He was held back by many things…”  That’s true.  I still reflected on same ” Have I had a good run ?”  The answer is yes : besides women and travel, pretty much have done whatever wanted to…

I love wood, biking ( cycling), reading,  music, family, learning, volunteering..” I like going to work.  Yeah, if you negate those two where have had rotten luck, have had a good run…

So some pictures from bike ride from 24 Dec & Dec 25..

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I and bike sit nonchalantly on a pavement middle of a ride. We are at peace and my bike is 10 yrs old. I had bought a bike and a football to keep my brother engaged. I was very happy when bought it and still very happy with my bike. I am loyal. These days one sees new bikes with more functions and quite expensive ones. I like my basic bike. I think should name it, what do i call …

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25 Dec: After an hours ride, carrying little money, keys and phone, waiting for a omelette in a busy Iranian cafe….

This was my destination point today, for some reason was nervous had barely enough money, eat my food, waiter gives me a scare and says “Rs. 170 for a bread & omelette”, never carry that money while biking, look stunned and two student’s sharing my table tell me ” He has got it wrong, don’t worry, can’t be that much”. The girl in front of me has a sympathetic look… I call him again and read from menu” Rs.70 for a bun omelette”  he agrees….I pay and hit the road..

Rs. 70 is still expensive for a omelette, learnt my lesson, need to carry more money, may be Rs 200 while biking..

I pass by old college and reflect if only was in grace would have made full use of the opportunity, am much better and may be my time is now. We teach student’s to have a plan and perseverance in our school  programs (Ullas). I released that me need to improve on “Planning”..

I ride on, change  routes, yes have a ” dream apartment” my only material goal, may be three years from now…

I am grateful for achieved goals. I spoke to a friend who said ” Nobody is screwed up, you win some, you lose some..”

Yes have had a good run! I still have family conditions to deal with and takes lot of my energy. It’s my destiny.

So have wood ( furniture), music ( George Michael, Leonard Cohen, Abida Parveen, Eagles) Books to read , Bike ( cycle), job, volunteering (Ullas)..

I want to study and need to plan. As for women and travel……god’s plans guess..

Yes have had a good run! Although have  had setbacks and met  horrible people, but it’s a good run..

This for today dear friends!

Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

Love, Suresh

 

Ullas Trust – Another school

23 Dec

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
― Nelson Mandela

I have decided to volunteer as much as possible for children’s programs. Robert Frost said ” “I am not a teacher, but an awakener.”  I would love to play that role.  Ullas gives a platform to reach out to children who needs to be awakened most, am humbled at this access, something which was always seeking since my student years. I had studied for civil services examination primarily to change the world. It was not to be. I used to present papers to Industry bodies in the same spirit. Somewhere in the rat race and unexpected happenings (outcomes), me and my self  ( I & I) were not the same. I am back to what always wanted to do for community development. My friends are most encouraging and my precious assets. Some pictures for you dear friends …

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Me sharing Ullas ” Dare to dream ” presentation -Summit Workshop on 16 Dec and girl next to me is a 9th standard child, who loves “English” subject, involving her in reading & deciphering English text to instill confidence and faith in herself, she giggles and reads, reads and giggles, then reads with faith…

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I love this audience, try to engage each one, our job is to awaken and instill a sense of belief that ” Yes,I can. Yes, We can” . We do it  in a series through a structure, imagery, examples and a formula. It’s huge for children from deprived sections to” believe.” This is no Pollyanna but a real shot at life.

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We basically steer children to think ” If you plan & work hard anything is possible” . I repeatedly infuse my pet messages ” There is no difference between a girl and a boy” , ” You should always complete and finish what ever you started” and ” Work hard”. I keep injecting these at the regular intervals. Especially for the poor girl children, then my great satisfaction is ” when see a bright spark in their eyes, awe and smile”. I just  hope some one is ignited…and yes one more ” We have to be good human beings.”

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c’est moi trying to emphasize messages of presentation, children are good learners, they also help me to learn local language, being interactive is real fun, it takes a while for children to open up, of course most of the energy is spent in making them concentrate for two hours, but it’s worth it…

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When you don’t have basic needs met and your aspirations are stunted by inhuman circumstances. In a desperately poor and adversarial set up it’s only ignited hearts and minds that can overcome such debilitating circumstances. Education is the only hope for poor children. I am very committed to children’s education and causes. I am doing my bit supporting CRY & Save the children foundation. Now am volunteering for ULLAS….

The other day while going for  morning walk near my home, a beautiful young woman maybe  of twenty with a child in tow asks me ” Bhaaiya thoda madad karo uttane mein ( Brother help me to pick up this thing) . I help her pick up a big sack and place it on her head. The child smiles and gives me a high five.  I walk on heartbroken…

I know the reality. I don’t want to waste time. The only hope is education and healthcare.

“She calls out to the man on the street
‘Sir, can you help me?
It’s cold and I’ve nowhere to sleep,
Is there somewhere you can tell me?’
He walks on, doesn’t look back
He pretends he can’t hear her
Starts to whistle as he crosses the street
Seems embarrassed to be there
Oh think twice, it’s another day for you and me in paradise
Oh think twice, ’cause it’s just another day for you,
You and me in paradise, think about it”
(Phil Collins, Another day in  Paradise)
Think about it…
All pictures are taken by my young  generous colleague and who cordinates the sessions with great enthusiasm.
I would reiterate the most important thing for children is  that they  grow up to be good human beings…
Have a good day dear friends!
Love, Suresh

Ullas Trust – Day with children

9 Dec

“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.”
― John Lennon

The little girl has been asking me for two  years ” Sir would you come with us for our workshop’s and speak to children”. I would politely refuse saying ” This saturday have a doctor’s appointment for mother. I am sorry.” or ” Is this initiative still run by the company.” She would go back smiling and understanding more than her years. I always felt ashamed. I wanted to speak to children. May be the little girl believed that had something to offer. She never gave up and finally she asked last Friday. I said ” Yes and will come to school tomorrow morning and speak to children.”  I  committed for first time and yes mother complained that have go to temple for sister’s birthday. I decided to go to school. I asked ” How many school children will be there.” She said ” From two schools about 250 children”. I was both nervous and excited about the opportunity. But wanted to reach each one of them. I informed my friend who has always encouraged me with ”  Fabulous go and inspire them.” I was ready and had some ideas. Some pictures..

Mostly girls and there were some boys…

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These are children from poor and impoverished municipal schools, was surprised by number of outreach programs run in municipal schools – skill development, quiz etc. The teacher’s were very receptive & refreshingly open to initiatives, something which was a revelation..

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The children are shy, curious, some stoic, but wonderful and eager to listen, imbibe and learn…

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I will remember each one of their faces…

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More pictures of children, can’t have enough of them…

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My young colleagues gave me a memento on behalf of Ullas trust as was the guest..

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Greetings my very first felicitations as a Guest..

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The children sang a welcome song which touched my heart and it had lines ” Thank you for taking time to speak to us..”

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That’s me interacting with a child who said she wants to be a cricketer, installing a sense of belief and a structure to her aspirations. She told me she wants to be a fast bowler, how wonderful….

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Children really listen and try to soak everything, speaking to a child….

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Me again and trying to connect with with all of heart, head and hands….

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Me and class room  for the day and tried to instill a sense of certainty of dreams, that education can change life, work hard and keep learning. Most importantly to be a good person..

We interacted with as many children as possible and their aspirations ranged from being a teacher, cricketer, engineer, reporter,  medical practitioner, police officer, joining the army, air hostess and singer…

Once the children believe in you and can see your intent they really open up and are curious ” How long does it require to study for being an engineer” , ” How do I become a reporter”. ” How do i learn English” , ” What subjects should i do well to become a doctor” ” How do I become a scientist”…

The answer was always ” You will hundred percent become if you work hard. ” The children seemed happy and smiled….

My favorite session was ” What did you learn today” ….One by one they went ” The dream will come true”, ” Work hard” ” Keep learning” ” Never give up”…

I was really happy.  The children shyly asked my name, surname, waved good bye..

I don’t know if they will remember me, but me will remember them, even if one girl is inspired to go for her goals and come out of poverty, will be very happy…

I spoke in Hindi and young colleagues Shruti, Jyoti, Dhanashree made it a happy event. We distributed cheques to meritorious students, chocolates and pen for all..

I really enjoyed the day and thankful to little girl from office who kept persistently inviting me…

I have a plan to volunteer as much as possible for my twin passions – primary health care and primary education. I will continue to volunteer for Ullas Trust, a polaris|intellect CSR initiative.

My day job continues, my weekend someday’s a new meaning…

Someday will do something more …

Till then a day from my life dear friends. Hope you have a lovely time ahead.

Remember most important thing for children  is” They should grow up as good human beings …” everything else is secondary..

Love and light, Suresh

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Mindset ― Dr. Carol S. Dweck, Book Review

29 Nov

” Benjamin Barber, an eminent political theorist, once said ” I don’t divide the world into the weak and strong, or the successes and the failures…I divide the world into the learners and nonlearners.”

― Carol S. Dweck, Mindset

This is not a new idea but a timeless and a refreshing outlook to life. Dr. Carol Dweck’s ideas have gained currency for for early education pre -schoolers and as well as CEO’s of large corporations. To see the world in terms of Fixed mindset and Growth mindset binary as it sounds may not be a bad one..

If we see a school graduation photograph of a fifteen or a fourteen year old children, no can make a educated guess what X,Y, Z children would end up as, a writer, nurse, teacher, medical practitioner, sportsman, entrepreneur, college drop out or Charlie Manson. May be it’s about choices or may be it’s effort in a thoughtful or not so considerate direction. Children have desires and they don’t have metrics to evaluate their course of direction. Some have mentors or coaches. Mostly well meaning parents. So you never know…

I liked the fundamental idea espoused in the book ” You can accomplish lot more than you think with right effort and strategies..” Outcomes thus have more to do with character. It’s a very good idea. I also feel the notion of parenting of lavishing praises on children in an effort to bolster their self esteem leads to over grown kids with semi outcomes. My mother’s idea of parenting was to criticize and then make up with lots of food. My friend’s father’s famous retort to any inquiry about son ” That rascal’s address is that play ground..” . They are all harmless and some bad for child’s esteem. Parent’s never knew the right way guess. Dr. Carol S Dweck say’s ” Praise learning process and tie it with an outcome.” That way children can see how they derived at outcomes. This is embedded learning. That is very a good idea.

I have struggled with learning outcomes in most of adolescence and early adult years. I failed in three public examinations that studied towards in various age groups. It was never because of lack of effort or ability to understand material. I gave up at twenty five. I learnt that effort or desire or praises handed out by teachers do not lead to outcomes. Success is a direct derivation of efforts, strategies and resources. You should never be afraid of asking for help or soliciting feedback. I read about highly acclaimed and sought-after American attorney David Boies saying ” Life is not about timed tests “. I agree. From a “The Yale center for Dyslexia & Creativity” article…

“The way Boies processes written information is by first skimming a text to pick out the salient points. Then, by slowing down and focusing exclusively on these, he is able to analyze them critically and grasp the essence of the text. It is this unique ability that enables Boies to handle the large volume of reading required for his work, and that helped him excel in college and law school, despite his poor performance on timed tests.”

I have since adopted above approach. It has never let me down at work. More from Carol S Dweck..

” One seventh- grade girl summed it up ” I think intelligence is something you have to work for………it isn’t just given to you…….Most kids if they’re not sure of answer, will not raise their hand to answer the question. But what I usually do is raise my hand, because if I’m wrong, then my mistake will be corrected. Or I will raise my hand and say,’ How would this be solved? or I don’t get this. Can you help me? Just by doing that I’m increasing my intelligence.”

Be a learner. I would recommend ” Mindset” by Dr. Carol S Dweck to students, parent’s, teacher’s, counselor’s, human resource professionals, every one…

Though the book doesn’t hand out learning strategies but gives a great deal of context and examples, worth a read and highly recommended.

Thank you!

I wrote this as a LinkedIn post. Hope it’s of use.

Love, Suresh

Mumbai -14 Nov -15 Nov 2017

18 Nov

“An identity card is not a man, a credit rating is not a country…”

― Leonard Cohen

Any illusions that have had about reaching the world with blog have been right sized,  my place here is more of a chronicler of life, a journal, what else do know really..

Some pictures from a trip to neighboring city, have been  constrained to travel for long time, but am happy where am…

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I take a comfortable early morning bus journey. It’s always the same, brother drops me at bus depot and take a 6am bus. I love it. I watch a hindi movie ” Secret superstar”. I liked the movie and a for a moment remember ” my dreams”.. . I go  straight to office. After a full day , my colleague drops me at service apartment.  It has two beds. I don’t watch television. I speak to my mother and go out and get my preferred soap and shampoo. I drink a mashed fruit juice of Carrot, Indian gooseberry and some thing else. I feel peaceful. I no longer have friends in city. I find my apartment functional, a come down from earlier five star hotels. I have changed too. It doesn’t matter..

I read a book ( Mindset) , sleep well and take a cab  next day and wait at one of the shopping malls for my colleague, we have to go for a business meeting together…

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I take a picture as keep waiting, don’t mind being my myself,  after all of life have been alone..

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One more picture as watch people park their cars, get down in a auto rickshaw,  the city has done well….

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We have a good business meeting. Let’s leave business out of this blog, but feel good, am back in game, after a long time…

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We are hungry and need food. My young colleague Raj checks online ratings of all neighboring food joints, we settle for Punjabi street food, we catch up on each other’s lives and have food….

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One more picture, the food rich and quite good, am not used to heavy food, decide to skip dinner…

We drove back and me got down at a point and we parted. I have to take back late evening bus ride.  Standing for almost hour and half  on a busy road, nothing to do, no one to call in this city, realized ” how much life has changed” . It’s okay and always remember my friend Venu’s advise three years back ” Remember work each day, have to recover every lost day….”  . I recover every day…unfailingly…

I am on my way back, may be this city is my future, don’t know, it’s always been city of dreams. The late night bus ride has hiccups, the Volvo breaks down few times, reach mid night, brother comes and picks me and home. Next day back in office, can’t miss a day…..

The struggle continues, as along as there is early morning ride, my mom and brother well, opportunity to do the work want to do and dear friends…

I am lucky and well.

Goodnight dear friends! This for today…

Have a easy Sunday!

Love, Suresh

 

Rajesh Sahu

12 Nov

“All the knowledge I possess everyone else can acquire, but my heart is all my own.”
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Dear Rajesh,

Someday’s have passed, cannot forget you, although we had not met for few years, never forgot childhood, may be because was a ” Boy interrupted” directly catapulted into uncertain adulthood . I wanted to catch up and we spoke so little just some days ago. Here is what have been upto, my chronicle of things….

– You were the most influential part of my growing up years, you gave sanctuary to so many of us – myself, Anup, Prashant , Rajiv & Milind. You shaped our ethos, counter culture, music, movies we saw…You were a tour de force. Tinu was our hero and liked the girl who stayed near your house Nisha .  You would scold and then tease ” Who is that guy with good eyes” . Any way…

– We had so much fun in that park of your society and it’s almost insane. The fun translated into a dangerous living for all of us. Our teenage years could take that, although me knew it was unsustainable…

– Every day started and ended with you for five years. You wanted more. I thought you were such a naughty spirit. You just wanted fun. May be it was because you were too brilliant and too shy. You were polite with girls. You could manage studies, bunk classes and hit the road. Yet you would do well. I always admired how well all three brothers studied. I am a admirer of your parents – they were so nice and asked about me every time met them. I feel sorry for them. They were very kind.

– The lovely side of you was you were too shy, too good and humane. You were ideal child. Moment you saw friends , you were George best Part 2 without the women. Your zest for living was incredible. I think restlessness comes from intelligence. We were same too. Yes you were George Best incarnate…

– I stopped meeting every one at 19, scared of future, made too many mistakes, ”  Good guy Bad guy” moniker stuck.I wanted to do some thing to improve my lot. I took a job,  wanted to study, get  grades,  took admission in university, studied five years for civils, restless as ever, failed. I was devastated at 25. The struggle was bitter.My father saved my life.

– Stunned about hearing about our dear friend. I rushed to your house. Milind used to come to university to meet me. I knew he was sensitive and told me in tears ” Both of you ( you and me) are his dear friends and fight often” . Yes we were volatile, egotistical, restless…

– We met again at your brother Rakesh’s marriage. I had a job and you were happy. You built a building next to my home in few years and told me to invest in a apartment. I was a start up guy and couldn’t afford  and but was happy that you were doing well. But you never changed – simple naughty as hell. You kept teasing me …

– Our last meeting was serendipity and had quick tea together. We caught up with each other. I told you that had met school friend Samir in Mumbai. You smiled. I always liked your near reverential relationship with Samir. You enquired about my family. Nobody was more sensitive than you in that mad spirit. We always wondered about friend Anup who kept us happy with his superlative comic spirit and we would join the fun endlessly….may be that’s what we were good at, restless and endless fun.

– Life happens differently for different people. I was worried about you because you still lived liked that.  We were not in touch for long and you married and had a son. I thought it would change your life. May be it did.

– Perhaps you did not get the success you deserved. You were school topper and most brilliant although you underplayed it like all good people and participated in mindless fun.

– Even few days before ” D day” you called our friend Anup”  Anup kidar hai gadde ..” and me ” Kahan ho suresh..”.  The last time spoke to you and heard same wicked laughter….

– I never knew things had deteriorated so much. I tried meeting you twice and you were away. It’s destiny. We were never meant to meet again..

– I saw your child, what a handsome boy and who speaks like you, May god bless him endlessly. I know your dad so well. Your mom the nicest person ever. May god give them some peace and resolution. I met our great friend Tinu.

Your friends, your great friend Tinu, will never forget you…

Shine on you crazy diamond….

I just wish you had thrown that bottle…

Heavy heart & love, Suresh

Dear friends this was for a beloved friend who left for heavenly abode, never one for advise, but here is an urgent insight…

” Chuck that drink. Fuck that Bottle”

Good night!