Sunday, September 11, 2011

Little Barding in the Morning

O Lord. As I start my day, let me remember that every breath I take is a precious gift from you to me. Help me realize the eternal power that today again, after millions of years, the sun is shining warm and bright, birds are chirping as usual and people are going about the world as they should. It is your order in things around that is making the world happen. Help me realize the subtle and powerful order of things, without getting affected.
Please help me realize that I have my limbs in order and my family around me that is caring and sharing the joys and pains with me. Please help me to realize that the pains my parents took to bring me up and save from the vices of the world till I became an adult. Help me to remember them and pray for unity, wellbeing and spiritual calm in all those who have touched my life so far.
As I begin my day and get busy with the chores, I am sure to overlook a few things, hurt a few tiny living organisms, insects or animals. Please help me protect them and let them live as much as I can. During the course of the day, I tend to get angry at the very people who are around me, who work with me, who play with me, who provide me warmth, knowledge and sustenance. O lord, let me step back and pause for a while before reacting instantly in all such situations. Please help me to go around cheerfully amongst my co-workers, friends, family and all the incidental interactions that take place during the day.
Help me understand that to have a work to do is a great bliss. Help me realize the bliss of having a work that I chose for myself and I am doing it with joy and passion. Let this work become my prayer to you as the day passes.
I know that life is not so linear. As I go about zestfully doing my duty, I may come across sudden information or things that are not so pleasant. I may encounter events that are really not pleasant. Please give me strength to face them stoically. Please help me remember that universe is unfolding as it should and help me preserve my internal calm.
Help me to be aware and caring. Help me to be present in the current, rather than worrying about things that have not yet taken place. Please help me remember all the small acts of kindness towards me and be grateful. Please help me to treat all the people with respect and humility. When I am out in a situation to judge, let me be just and gentle; not biased, indecisive or cruel.
O Lord. As the day progresses, help me remember my dreams and passionately strive towards them. It is going to be a long journey. Let me strive to make best of every moment that I am living without being fretful or bitter. As things unfold, I know that all the efforts I put, are adding to some greater goal. I am your tiny soldier, a tiny speck of life in this universe with millions of planets, stars, galaxies and probably more universe than my mind can even think of. Please be benign and kind to this speck of life in your vast plan of things. May I lead my day, as to the end of it, I should say, I added some more spark in your ever radiating flame of life.

Monday, September 05, 2011


As the life zooms past, new ways of looking at the innovation on the path of life become clearer to me. Why should the strategies of innovation be devoid of direct life-learning? One learns every moment and every moment of learning is quite humbling.Here are some trajectory-changers in my life so far. I thank them for affecting me positively, as I remember them on Teacher’s Day 2011.
Remembering Immanuel Suresh, my teacher at NID, an extraordinary observer of nature, human behaviour and more importantly an extraordinary human being, gave me the understanding to connect the seemingly unconnected. Prof. B. D. Mishra who taught me at IIT Mumbai (the multi-faceted talented man who represented India in Asiad in athletics, trekked with Tenzing Norgay to Mount Everest and represented India in UN on Population and Development) who exposed me to a whole new world of Futurology. I still remember the book reading sessions discussing Future Shock, Small is Beautiful and One Straw Revolution at Nescafe Stall at IIT Mumbai during the course. Together these two gentlemen fired the spark in me of diligent inquiry into the future. Current practice of Trends, Design Research and Strategy at Onio actually emanated here.
I also feel grateful to my first alma mater, IIT Mumbai for exposing me to wider learning through humanities courses during the study. Indian Philosophy, Psychology, English Literature and Futurology were some of my favourite courses. I felt enriched. I gained more from these and the side learning of guitar classes, reading books on grandmasters of art and science in the giant library, and by conversing with talented peers, than what I learnt in the structured courses of mechanical engineering.

I must remember Professor Ram Jaiswal at Ajmer, who was generous enough to give me water-colour and portrait painting training with no obligation. It was truly a wonder to see a master at work. I still remember the pleasure of pencil gliding and seeing the face of the person sitting in front appearing on the paper. Sketching is meditation. Sketching is a renaissance art that I cherish. While I was never a good student of Engineering Drawing at IIT, I think I was a good student at NID when it came to perspective sketching.
Prof. J. A. Panchal, who taught simple things at NID- model-making- “If you know three things perfectly- How to cut, How to join and How to distort- you can make anything”- were his famous words, stuck in my mind. He was a perfectionist and taught me to be diligent.

NID, my second alma-mater, taught me to respect the work I do. Every piece of paper I scribble on, every sketchy drawing I make, every word I say is ‘mine’ and it is no less than a ‘piece of art’. By building love and care in our own work, we slowly move towards perfection.
My schoolmate Chaman Singh Verma had beautiful handwriting. I always ended up trying to copy his way of handling the pen and did manage to move up a few notches.

Some teachers are so busy in everyday teaching that they have no time to reflect that they have transformed the lives of hundreds of students and students are indebted to them. Mr. A.K. Rehman, my maths teacher at St. Paul’s School at Ajmer, was one such man. In those times when IIT was not even heard of, in smaller towns like Ajmer, he was one man who prodded us to think higher and aspire for entering the portals of IIT (Indian Institute of Technology). Once I was at IIT(Mumbai), my life and perspective changed forever.
Valentin Manolov, a physicist from Moscow University, whom I met in a train from Ajmer to Mumbai, transformed the way I looked at spirituality. Super qualified ISKCON volunteers (some of them were PhDs in various areas) who were a regular feature at IIT that time, discussing teachings of Gita, did fuel the fire that Valentin Manolov started. Osho, whose writings articulated some more hidden areas of human life and para-knowledge, in contemporary terms. I still read the anecdotes, poems and stories spread across the Osho literature.

Renaissance master, Leonardo Da Vinci, whose sketchbook, I copied end-to-end a few times. Michael Angelo, whose biography –‘The Agony and Ecstasy’ taught me that you don’t need to live an‘extraordinary life’ to be the man that he was.
Sunil Handa, professor at IIM-A and erstwhile MD of Core Emballage when I interned at his company, was a real hard task-master and stickler for details. He did teach me that how a person who works passionately at the task at hand, ‘never falls ill’. Famous words –“50 percent of the time of your life must be spent in arranging it carefully, so that rest of the 50 percent can be enjoyed”.

Arup Dutta and Deepak Kamath, my wing-mates at Hostel-7 in IIT, were two walking encyclopaediae of knowledge from history to movies. From correcting my English accent to telling me the story plot of ‘The Good, The Bad, The Ugly’, these two gentlemen surely helped me evolve as I am today.
Vinayak Kini, my ‘weirdo’ classmate at IIT, who successfully runs a big business in USA today, who could write much better poems than I did, who freaked out ten times more than I did and still managed better marks than I did.

Genevieve Flaven, my collaborator on Trends Research and head of Style Vision, France- a magnificent trend researcher and power thinker, I did learn a great deal from her- from trend thinking to event organisation. Chinmay, my colleague at Onio, a great observer of human psyche did help me hone my ‘insight’ skill.
Prakash, my business partner, who has been a good friend all this while,taught me to have more faith in people, to accommodate more ‘greys’ while dealing with tough situations and to have‘leader leaves the last’ virtues.

My father- who still goes out for the morning walk at 5a.m. since the time I have come into this world. Be it any weather, guests at home or a return from a tiring journey- his morning walk has never stopped. I have never seen a more steadfast man than him. I have seen that how he retained the same persistence in publishing a journal ‘Economic Challenger’ for last ten years, despite several ‘challenging’ situations where it almost closed down.
Finally, Sonali, my wife, who helped me stretch my thinking from ‘timely’ to ‘perfect’ work and from ‘done’ to ‘the way it should be’.