Monday, February 28, 2011

Fly fly fly

I see them fly
I feel them fly
I love them fly
I sing them fly
I smile them fly
I fly I fly I fly
Pelicans flight 
Spoon billed Stork

Spoon billed Stork

Spoon billed Stork

Spoon billed Stork

Spoon billed Stork

Spoon billed Stork

Spoon billed Stork
Spot bellied Pelican

Spot bellied Pelican

Open billed Stork

Open billed Stork

Open billed Stork

Painted Stork

Painted Stork

Painted Stork

Egret flight

Egret flight

Egret about to fly

Crested Serpant Eagle in flight

Pond Heron's flying

and so many birds flying 
they flew away over the greens

(C) Srikanth Amalladinna

Thursday, February 24, 2011

India Calling by Anand Giridharadas

They happened to the world than the world happened to them’. And they are Indians. This is what the author chanted during his book launch session in Bengaluru for which I made sure of my attendance. Anand Giridharadas– A young, Indian looking with American accent, US born to the parents of Indian origin, a columnist in New York Times and the India Herald Tribune, with his debut book on the most fascinating topic as usual – India. ‘India Called me’ as the author says when he was questioned on Why and Why Not’s about the book. India Calling is his brilliant attempt to rediscover his journey backwards from the land where he was born to the land where his origin was. In rediscovering his own past, he encounters with some of the brilliant Indians who assure him that this is not the India that he had heard from his parents or from his grandparents or what he had seen holidaying in his childhood. In the end, Anand summarizes the changes he has observed through different frames of mind. India calling is one of the beautifully written books to understand the psychology of Indian minds.

 An intimate portrait of a Nation’s remaking – is the signature statement of the book and Anand conveys the meaning beautifully throughout the book. Each chapter comes as a surprise in some way or the other. His writing style is seductive enough for one to keep it going and once you start reading the book, it is un-put-down-able.  There is humor, there is anger, there is romance, and there is joy in his stories that takes us to a totally new world of – oh! Is this so? And being Indian, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book and happened to agree to most of the underlying points the author tried to convey. Here is a short excerpt from his book. Click here to read.

When we see people moving out of India for better career and prospects, and when Giridharadas’s parents themselves had opted to move out of India, this 21 year young (I think in 2003) American born gentleman decides to return to India. Not because of the unlikely economic boom, but for the Cultural upheaval, as a new generation has sought to reconcile old traditions and customs with new ambitions and dreams. And once he started his enriched living in India, Indianness got into him and apparently came out of him in the form of this book.

As soon as we talk about change, here in India (and I think even elsewhere), we relate it to some of the key economic indicators like, Poverty, Unemployment, Infrastructure, GDP and the like. But Anand in his book, does not talk about them, instead, his brave explorations are in the different frames of minds. Change in different states of mind; in the form of Dreams, Ambitions, Pride, Anger, Love and Freedom. All the characters appear in the book portrays these forms brilliantly and gives us hope that the change is for real. As he conveys in his last epilogue, Midnight, in 1947 the freedom fighters fought for the freedom for the nation, but now, these young Indians are fighting for freedom for the soul. It reinforced the thought that constantly lingers in our mind ‘Although we received Independence in 1947, we are not really independent; we are not free yet’.

When the author was questioned about the real change he has seen in Indians, Anand instantly answered saying, it’s the positive change in the thought process of decision making, for instance, decision to take up an engineering job when the family occupation was of Blacksmith or a maid servant enrolling her child to a school. That’s when he said – they happened to the world than the world happened to them.

Almost all the chapters are excellent and structured very well. All the examples chosen to convey the messages in the chapters are thoroughly thought considering both the extreme ends of any issue dealt with.  Be it the story of his own family; his parents and grandparents and the dreams that they had for themselves before choosing the land that supported their lives to the land now that was erupting in dreams for many young people like Deepak Kumar who live in a village, dreams to witness the Mumbai life; the ambition of a confident self-help-entrepreneur kind of a person Ravindra from the village Umerd near to the Nagpur city and his successful self-help-ambitious journey that reflects the ‘Change-we can’ type of mindset; Pride of those once who lived like Englishmen even during the tough times of India and the pride associated with Mukesh Ambani and their set of values in comparison with that of other examined lives; Anger of a simple village boy who dreamt of becoming something and ended up becoming something else to the anger of the Naxal leaders in India to their outraging stories of the past and their oscillating mindset of doing both good and bad coming out of Anand’s interview with both the Naxal leader poets Varavara Raju and his brother; Love, marriage, relationships and hatred starting with the story of a maid and her love story to the stories of sophisticated women like Mallika and Chitra who expect their lives to be independent in choosing men taking independent decisions on their weddings and divorces; Freedom one expects from their own peers and family relationships in terms of breaking out from a large joint families to nuclear families, freedom from the chaotic happenings around in terms of being spiritualistic and submitting themselves to Sai Baba and the like, to the freedom from eating only vegetarian to the whiskychickenmutton kind of a setting and many more. All these examples quoted in the above mentioned chapters reflect nothing but the change and that change is happening in the thought process of Indians.

Although I felt some of the stories are very gripping, like, Ambitious Ravindra and the Angry Naxal Leaders, I also feel a sense of oscillation back and forth; in terms of both positive and negative end results. Are we there yet? Or are we there really is the question that has remained in me since I read this book. But the most important fact is that the change is happening and is very real. In our thought process and in the decisions we make.   We are in the process of really becoming independent from our own past and that midnight is not too far.

A must read book for everyone.

My rating: 9/10


replicated lives

Excerpt from the book India Calling by Anand Giridharadas

India, in my limited and impressionistic view, seemed a land of replicated lives, where most people grew up to be exactly like their parents- cracking the same jokes, bearing the same prejudices, pursuing vocations not too far afield. 

The place seemed to function on low expectations and almost otherworldly powers of acceptance. The dinner party conversations were dull and repetitive and sprinkled with awkward silences; but people accepted. There was only one television channel, beaming tinny and overacted shows that no one with broader choices would ever watch; but people accepted. The poverty - those children with puffed-out bellies and matted hair on the streets, and whose skin color and facial features were jarringly similar to my own - was bloodcurdling; but people, the poor themselves and my well off relatives, accepted. Women seemed to accept the normalcy of being told that their skin was too dark, that their weight should be increased or decreased, that they should marry this man or that one. People with vegetarian parents seemed to accept that they, too, must be vegetarian. The children of Hindu refugees from what became Pakistan accepted that it was their duty to carry forward their parents' hatred of Muslims. History was heavy. The old went unquestioned. Resignation chocked dreams. 


Seriously, this is a right way to say that we inherit serious legacies from the past. Which otherwise, if well thought, questioned, would've given us enough and more freedom than we expect. We are trying to replicate the lives lived in the past and we religiously follow them like the-way-we-follow-them. 


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Morning in Pondy

It was a long while
since I hit the shores
and here I was 
standing on the bay
walking, talking 
all alone 
in the serene 
auro beach one morning
I was there before the sun
I woke up before him
to welcome him to the world
of 'not enoughs'
with not enough light
and to lit 
fishermen seemed very busy
in their own routine 
of catching not-the-fish
but their food 
by loading their boats 
with again not-enoughs
of desires and demands
of those on the luxury land
becoming sel(f)ish
with life on control
a walk towards the serenity
perhaps, untied the best
to feel, to joy
to more

that it takes me to the new
breaking the barriers 
of self and the imagined
with an open mind
to see  

they waited for the light
and for their stuff
to make it a deal
not to lose hope 
and the sun peeked out
to see those fishermen
and the world
to protect 
and gift them good 
making it colorful
like gold
like afresh, anew
spreading through the day
of many million lives
a richness to live 
waves carry light
all the times
oscillating like life
back and forth
till the edge 
until it is absorbed 
by the world 
people often get enlightened
going by its phenomenon
perhaps the only reason
why they crave for it
every day, every life 
a time comes
for us to return to our world
out of the trance
enjoyed enough
without knowing 'not enoughs' 
in the other world
and we tend to leave 
no indications
of where we were
and what we did
and why 
we often look back
and try to recall
those moments
of trance and gold
to be sure of
going back 
one more time 
visioning what it is
on a long walk on a long beach
here I am 
back to my own 
journey of life!


Monday, February 14, 2011


Never mind the sun or the moon
that are close enough, am told,
and who on earth can see
what they do and what they dont?
what they are in real
but mind you, there they are
who aren't scientists,
or the gods
they see it beyond everyone,
the real, I suppose
and its all in the past
time tested beliefs,
for anything good, really?
the compatibility
of those two lives
even before they relate
think, understand better
they connect in between
out of no where
without thinking the 
world they are in
they talk of stars
and show them saturn!


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Games Indians Play by V Raghunathan

Why we are the way we are? – No, I am not asking you this question. This is the fundamental question the author raises in his book Games Indians Play. I must say, It is a very brave effort by the author to bring in one of the best theories – Game Theory to analyze the Indianness of Indians. After all, the author was a professor at IIM for about 20 years and after that he has been working with the private corporation as the chief executive. Being a specialist in Game theory and the behavioral economics, Raghunathan’s efforts in analyzing the ‘sorry state of affairs’ that all of us are so very well aware of is absolutely commendable. For me to put it in a single statement – this book is written by a frustrated, highly educated Indian (with everything happens around), applying Game Theory to answer the question Why we are the way we are?

The most positive aspects to learn from the book for me were - the author brings in some of the brilliant concepts like Prisoners dilemma and his own creative analysis of Veerappan’s dilemma. It is a treat to read both the cases and the beauty of the Game Theory in solving those dilemmas. Some of the strategies that are borrowed in the book are outstanding; the ones like Tit-for-Tat strategy. They were absolutely delightful to read.

In the end, having done such a brilliant analysis; he doesn’t get to answer his own question thoroughly.  The reason I could think of is that the efforts in the book were much focused on consolidating the ‘already known’ information about India and its problems. It is like collecting the bad news in the news papers for 20 years and binding it together. Every problem that we encounter around us, be it the traffic signal jumping, railway coach cleanliness, corruption in the state, political scams, railway gate jumping, chaotic queues at the airports, quota in the education system and many such similar issues are beautifully complained again in the book. For every question or an issue he raises, there is a comparative analysis of the same with other foreign countries.  

Many examples quoted in the book are real life stories that author has encountered; both in India and elsewhere. Each example has been analyzed and inferences are drawn based upon the payoff matrix arrangement. The same pattern repeats for all the examples quoted in the book. To end, author has given a beautiful analysis of Bhagavad Gita in relation to the Game Theory.

To stop myself complaining about the book, I do recommend this book strongly to be read only for the following reasons:
  1.  To understand the Indianness of Indians. For those who are not much aware of what is happening around and to understand how bad the system in India is.
  2.  To understand how beautifully one can apply Game theory to the everyday happenings.
  3.  To enjoy reading the Prisoners and Veerappan’s dilemma.
Other than the above said reasons, the book doesn’t give any other comfort for those readers who are interested in knowing the solutions for the known problems. If I get a chance to ask a question to the author, I would ask (forgive me if I am being rude) – “Dear Sir, you have brilliantly analyzed the known problems of our country; we agree to all of it more than 100%; but the analysis doesn’t lead us anywhere. What if someone says - writing such books will again fall under your definition of ‘Indianness’?. Why didn’t you choose some other useful topic to analyze which could help improve the current situation? To give you some idea, in your epilogue, you have mentioned that if we bash ourselves hard enough on the things that we end up doing, we would be more action-oriented. Dear Sir, there are many people out there who are struggling to make some difference to bring in change in the current system. Give them support. Appreciate what they are doing. Help them by giving them good ideas and strategies to get a good pay off. Your game theory may be more applicable and useful there but not here in analyzing known problems and wasting time and energy. I am sure you will come out with brilliant ideas to fix the system. Thank you.”

My rating: 6/10

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Excerpt from the book - Games Indians Play by V Raghunathan

A reporter once asked a farmer to divulge the secret behind his corn which won the state agricultural contest year after year. The farmer confessed it was because he shared his seed with his neighbours. 'Why do you share your seed when you'll be competing with them in the contest every year?' asked the reporter.
'Why sir,' said the farmer, 'don't you know? The wind picks up pollen from the ripening corn and swirls it from field to field. If my neighbours grew inferior corn, cross-pollination would steadily degrade the quality of my corn. If I am to grow good corn, I must help my neighbours do the same.' 

I was thrilled to read the above story. It is more a Gandhian philosophy to me. However, it reflects the deep problem we are facing as a country. If one has to succeed, the other has to support and the vice-versa. One has to create the win-win game to move forward. If one happens to be too rational and focuses on his or her own selfish reasons, it will be self destructive for sure. 


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

giant enough?

that to reach the base camp
before the summit
after a long tough path
into the thin air
to see it at a longer sight
with just enough energy left
to reach
when the luck smiles
and the sky gets clear
into the blue,
is that small step
giant enough!?