Saturday, 26 October 2013

Keep Learning, Keep Growing, Keep Sharing

The past few months have been especially rich in terms of knowledge and wisdom gained. It all started with my friend, Dharmendra Rai's fantastic initiative: The TRAINERS EXPO.

Malti Bhojwani, Professional Life Coach and Tj Coulagi were both speakers there and as a follow up, I signed up for their Intensive Workshop. Am glad I did so!


To begin with, Malti's meticulous preparation and interaction with us before the event showed how committed she was in ensuring that the Coaching benefited each one of us to the maximum extent possible.

The whole proceedings came alive with her vibrancy, sense of joyfulness and being in the moment. The informal, joyous atmosphere made absorbing knowledge easier.

Rather than discussing the content of the day, let me share what I took with me... My belief system formed due to conditioning of my mind while growing up had a huge impact on my perceptions- a vital realisation.

I agree with her contention that 'one cannot just not think of something' without replacing it with something else. We hate vacuums, don't we. This is also a theme from the Book she has authored, 'Don't Think of a Blue Ball'.



The prime purpose I had attended the event was to sharpen my focus. An outsider's gentle nudge and prompting does wonders even as we fail to pinpoint something that should have been obvious. I had begun writing my first Book however hadn't been able to devote as much time or energy to it as I would have liked to. Yes Malti, good intentions mean noting unless backed by a 100% commitment to them!

A Coach to be effective has to be a leader by example: Malti both you and Tj fit the bill perfectly! I just couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the projected image of an obese teenager - who has now now metamorphosed into a stunning, slim beauty! Malti's story about the sacrifices made, fitness routine speak volumes about her commitment to get to the goal (ideal body weight), come what may. Leadership stuff!


Tj Coulagi, the Poet, as he calls himself, is an incredible man! His story of survival and fightback from an almost fatal car accident makes him a role model for people like me who need inspiration and motivation to fight the odds. His self discipline to keep himself fit is an exemplary pointer to the less challenged ones who hide behind excuses. His enthusiasm to change people's lives, which is his mission now, does not fail to affect the participant.

Tj's Time management tools and iHour were just what the Doctor ordered for me. Removing the clutter of activities that suck my energy and focusing just on my central goal has become easier now.
Magically have found the ways to juggle around my various activities that keep me busy yet make headway towards the central goal-my Book.

All in all a rewarding experience, topped up by an invaluable gift:

All of us received an assessment of our innate qualities, strengths and potential weak-links in various key areas. I found the comprehensive assessments to be so accurate that it appeared as if I were looking at my mirror image! 
It was as if she had an uncanny ability to read my mind! Moreover, the assessment is also a tool to understand myself better,work more on my strengths and iron out shortcomings.

Coming to the question, can a Workshop change you? My commitment to Malti: the book will be out in August 2014 and I'll attribute my new found discipline to her and Tj's coaching for that confidence! There's the answer for you.  


Thank you Malti and Tj!!

Keep learning, keep growing, keep sharing.





Saturday, 12 October 2013

'Cricket is our Religion, Sachin is our God'

'God retires' screamed the headlines of all the news papers yesterday and today. There are three full pages in tribute to this legend in The Times of India, the leading publication. Is the hype being overdone?

'I have seen God. He bats at No. 4 for India'
- Mathew Hayden, the Aussie great.

Undoubtedly, if there has been one unifying force in a country of so much diversity as India, it has to be cricket. Short of war, nothing brings its people together in celebration and despair as cricket does. Unfair for the other sports? Possibly a reflection of our lack of eminence in other team sports. We are a pale shadow of the world beating Hockey team of yore.
There surely are individual world champs like Leander Paes in Tennis, the emerging Saina Nehwal in Badminton..Does the country ever idolise them? The masses have not even heard of them.

Indian Cricket has been replete with legends such as Sunil Gavaskar, the Spin quartet and later Kapil Dev, who captured the imagination of all of us including me.

The Indian team, though, had an erratic run in world cricket, always known as 'poor travelers' due to our batsmen's inability to play on deadly fast, bouncy pitches overseas (read Australia, West Indies and South Africa). 


In a country starved of genuine, world champion sporting heroes came Sachin Tendulkar.
His fresh, fearless approach to the game percolated to his team. What separates the greats from a true all time legend of the game is not just the contribution he makes to the team in terms of runs, wickets or fielding. Sachin with his fiercely competitive attitude, the willingness to face challenges and above all unquenchable desire to win gradually saw team India elevate from survivors to competitors and finally to world Champs in all versions of the game.

Is this an exaggeration? Hardly. Even today, when he is well past his prime, all his team-mates swear by his contribution to their personal growth and his helping nature.

I have been an avid follower of the game and have almost idolised Sachin over the decades. True class is rare, sheer genius is so rare that it has to be cherished when on display. The word genius itself is used very loosely nowadays.

'He had the astonishing ability to play three shots to the same delivery to different parts of the ground. He played all the shots in the game plus invented a few of his own. A sense of the team situation and the ability to quickly adapt- he was an opposition captain's nightmare.'
Former India Coach and Aussie great, Greg Chappell

What is the one defining factor that marks out the all time greats of any sport?
Dom Moraes, the late columnist and cricket fan, described it beautifully.
'These players have an aura about them. When they walk onto a Cricket ground or leave it, you can sense it'

Sachin goes beyond that.
'The atmosphere at the Wankhede when he walks in to bat is nothing short of scary. I wonder how this man has carried the burden of the hopes of a billion fans on his shoulders, that itself makes him the God of cricket'
-Mark Waugh, one of the most elegant batsmen to have played the game.

'Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, what they conceal is vital'
Are all the practically insurmountable pile of batting records that he has set, notably the only one to have scored 100 international hundreds, the only proof his greatness?

Sir Geoffery Boycott, at one time the scorer of most Test runs was regarded as a boring batsman. Legend has it that Ian Botham intentionally ran him out once!
He was never considered a genius, just a technically correct opener.
Sachin's greatness lies in the joy his batting has brought to all of us- whether experts, admiring rivals or his legion of fans around the world.

'I'd pay to watch Sachin bat'
This is perhaps the greatest accolade, coming from a batsman I consider superior to even Sachin.
-The great Sir Vivian Richards, who himself thinks 'Sachin is the best ever!'

Another facet that separates the greats from the highly talented is consistency in all conditions, against all types of bowling attacks whether spin or extreme pace. Now if one has been delivering exactly this for 24 years, under the unbearable burden of massive expectations, he is an all time great. From Waqar, Wasim, McGrath, Lee, Donald, Pollock to Warne, Murali and Saqlain- he has faced them all with aplomb and tamed them.

His ability to adapt overseas is supported by stats- he has a better average abroad than at home! Possibly lesser pressure from the home crowds must have been a relief..

In his prime, his attacking stroke-play in virtually any match situation against any attack made him so special.
The full range of shots came out..the straight drive, on drive, paddle sweep, short arm pull and cover drive piercing the field, driving the bowlers to desperation!

Coming to fond memories, which shall never fade, I agree with Steve Waugh's selection of his finest innings. The Aussie captain was at the receiving end of his swashbuckling performances more than once.

Sharjah, Semi-Finals of a Triangular One-day tournament. India had to either beat the Aussies or score at a frantic pace to qualify. Sachin delivered and how! Half the side gone, he fought on valiantly. Midway, a desert storm interrupted the match. The reset target got stiffer. In the forced break, I got to see over television what defined Sachin. He neither took his pads off nor his helmet. There was a steely look in his eyes.
India made it to Finals on the back of his magnificent hundred when the other stars flopped.

The Finals, on his 25th Birthday, was an action replay: another magnificent ton! India won the Cup. Steve Waugh said 'We lost to Sachin'
Much later, when the Cronje Match-Fixing scandal broke out, I read the then Coach, Anshuman Gaekwad's statement.
'A few players, apparently involved in the ugly match fixing fracas, had agreed to flop in the match. On suspecting this, Sachin said  "I'll win the Cup for you, Coach."

There are so many other gems from his career, but his ton at Perth early in his career, on a really fast pitch where his team mates fell like nine pins is widely regarded as his best.

His fighting ton against Saqlain and company on a breaking wicket when he all but took India to victory is my favourite. He was playing in great pain due to a back problem.

And yet the thankless handful will say..'He's never been a team man, he doesn't win matches. 
You can't please everyone. On the other hand, if you are revered by a billion, then the critics are a drop in the ocean.

Barack Obama, once asked his team in jest-
'Who is this small man? Every time he is nearing a century the productivity in the my country goes down?'
( a reflection of the dominance of Indians in the Infotech and allied industries in the US).

Without Dravid and Lakshman  Indian cricket will never be the same again.

With Sachin's calling it a day, world cricket will be poorer- for he was a fantastic ambassador of the game he lived and breathed for so long.
Legends are not born everyday.

When a stars fades out, among the billions in the sky 
it is one star less..
When the Sun fades and calls it a day, it makes us sit up and take notice.

Well played Sachin.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

The Butterfly That Refused To Fly!

With a Pinch of Salt 

Diti, our 9 year old adorable daughter is going through one of the most arduous examinations of her life: her standard Four Mid-terminals. As her parents, we are burning the proverbial midnight oil to help her in hour of need. The titles of her School Books bring a wry smile on my face.

'The Joy of Mathematics' goes one (I dare say, the author is either a MENSA level scholar or he doesn't particularly like children). Let him explain to me how figuring out those brain-churners is a source of Joy to anybody, leave alone a child! 'Write 652317788331' in figures and words as per American system (100 thousand..) and Indian system (lakhs and crores).
Great, at least they are teaching downright practical aspects of life to my child. The future value of onions considering our tame inflation, for instance.
There are, of course, countless gems like this one.


The winner of course is, 'Grammar Magic'- hands down! A Chapter goes like this "Words Confused and Misused". For sure, I began doubting my language skills each time Diti ran across to defuse her confused mind!

On the eve of the Arts and Crafts examination, my joy knew no bounds! I preened to Khyati, 
(my better half, in terms of knowledge too: after all, she's an ex-teacher) 'not to worry. See, am a creative guy, this craft stuff is my kind of thing.'

I regretted having said that. It was well past eleven in the night. We had cut and pasted dozens of marble paper, no sign of the butterfly. Didn't it seem ridiculously easy in the 'step by step guide' (for dummies like me)? Try as we might, neither did the contraption we conjured up look anywhere close to being a butterfly nor were he heading in that direction.
I forgot to mention, creative people are impatient and irritable too.
My daughter brightly came up with a life saver. 'Why don't we try making the Chinese lantern instead? I think it was easier.'
Viola! We had a Chinese lantern made by two Indians. Diti comforted me, now I know how to make it at School tomorrow.

I can imagine the Author of Crafts book, cock a snook at us. 'If Maths and Grammar didn't get you, I will!'

P.S.:


The Picture of the glorious Butterfly is the one made by Diti last Sunday, under the tutelage of a truly Creative (ahem) girl, Bhagyashree. Thanks, Bhagyashree, at last we had smiles on our faces!

This Butterfly can certainly take off! 

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