Positive Conversations


After a fairly long hiatus, Rangananda Baba side of me is back to scribbling random thoughts again.

For the last few months, I have been dabbling with the idea of having positive conversations with self and others. Positive conversations as an idea or philosophy is inspired by the book, Three Laws of Performance, introduced to me by my good friend Venky, the Madurai origin Iyer Mama from Charlotte, NC. The context is very simple. It says organizations are made up of people and people have conversations. So organizations are made up of conversations. So more positive conversations means better organizational performance indices.

I extrapolated the above idea to include my personal thoughts. On top of that, there is no doubt that the best days of life in terms of positive energy and thoughts were when I was totally immersed in love. Of course, as time goes on, actual time spent with loved ones keeps reducing. When in love, the whole world seems nice and there is a poet that comes out. The poet is naturally inclined to romanticise the surroundings. At that phase we tend to have ultra-positive conversations. The point is, I believe, we as humans have a natural tendency to slip into a negative energy zone much faster than staying positive. We love to complain and gossip that generates a lot of negative conversations. More fuel gets added easily when others join and the quicksand of infinite negativity is all too eager to devour you, marinating you in its acerbic juices slowly and surely. I am trying hard to fight this negativity with a few thoughts and ideas that I decided to share. Yes, I am giving gyan but if it helps somebody out there, the risk of writing this is worth it.

  1. Have positive conversations. Slowly you will see that the effort needed to get into a natural positive frame of mind, will start reducing. Example: There are certain individuals about whom people like to make negative comments. The moment you discourage these individuals and explain that the negative conversation will lead to nothing, that the cribs are not even important in a larger context, you will start to build a positive layer around you
  2. Love: Bring out the poet and the romantic in you. People feel shy or embarrassed about being in love with life and other things around them. On the contrary we should love what we do or not do it at least 80% of the time. I say 80% from a pragmatic angle because there is a 20% in my life that is unavoidable, especially transactions that I hate doing. But we must go through the rigmarole of implementing them without cribbing. It is a faster way to deal with the shit that life throws at you. Also, when in love, positive conversations are abundant and you are a much easier person for people to associate with. You smile, you have a sense of humour and people notice your positivity and respond to it well.
  3. Design Thinking: I have thought of Design Execution, a notch above Design Thinking. It is about upgrading within constraints. Constraints will always be there but Execution need not stop. When we get others to support, I see that after all, we are not all alone in this big bad world to face its challenges. My project of coming out with the next book and to restart focus on my venture to support disabled painters is getting a lot of positive encouragement thanks to Design Execution / Thinking. More on that later.
  4. Clarity, Comparison and Comfort: Get clear on what you want to do and stop comparisons with others. Then you will be more comfortable with yourself. Example, If you don’t want to be filthy rich, its ok …

I am convinced that thoughts are also investments and thoughts are conversations with self. Return on Investment is high when you have positive conversations and I wish you all the best to reap huge benefits of positive thoughts, conversations and energy!

Movie Review of Dhoom 3 and why is it a mega hit?


The success of Dhoom 3 continues to baffle critics. Purists are embarrassed to explain the logic of making such ‘meaningless’ films. Ha Ha, in more ways than one I find this situation very similar to AAP’s success. But more on that in another post another day, maybe!
If we look at the success of Chetan Bhagat’s books, for example, I know many people who were even frustrated that somebody with such pathetic writing skills could write. Blasphemy, huh? Of course you have many writers and some of them are successful too. Why? Varun Agarwal starts his book saying he tried hard to find Hemingway in him but didn’t, so he wrote without bothering about language! Hmm … let us go back to Dhoom-3.
The fact is that there has been a paradigm shift in the demand and supply of what the viewer wants and what he gets. Sometimes, when he gets unexpected bonuses, the viewer is thrilled. Just like how a child is thrilled when he / she gets a surprise candy as a gift. Critics are still stuck on the story aspect and that is where they are unable to look at Dhoom – 3 favourably. Where is the logic, they keep asking?
My view:
A MOVIE was the short form of ‘Movement of Videos Inciting Entertainment’. You could replace Entertainment with Excitement or any other term. But in today’s world where the viewer wants more bang for the buck (the viewers always wanted bang for the buck but the demand for more is continuously increasing). So, what is most important is to prioritise on EXPERIENCE. That is the new definition of a MOVIE … Movement of Videos to Incite EXPERIENCE
If we look at corporate businesses, everybody talks about Customer Experience Management and how for example, banks are gearing up to offer personalized services across multiple channels! All the talk about SMAC, Cloud, Mobility, Analytics, Big Data etc is around customer experience! Phenomenal! The same customer who is wooed by credit card companies, telecom players and one who is increasingly spoilt for choices wants unique experiences when it comes to movie watching or book reading too. Dhoom 3 is one movie where the visuals and sound effects are certainly appealing. Yes, there are several illogical aspects in the film! However, there are enough efforts on chases, foreign locales, songs, dances, fights, Amir and Kat! The overall package stamped out the need for a powerful logic-driven script built on intense relationships or comedy etc. This is not the first ‘senseless’ movie which has crossed 100 cr, there will be many more to come. Just that we need better reviewers. To get balanced view points, along with traditional critics, we need more innovative modern critics who can start reviewing films keeping Viewer Experience (VE) in mind. Break this VE down into actors, acting, direction, visual effects, scripts etc … To simplify, when the movie titles are shown, infinite names and roles appear. Each role is significant and that has to be understood before giving a great movie like Dhoom 3 a 2 out of 5 stars! I give it 3.5 and on commercial success, obviously it is 5/5!
How I wish I could become a part time movie critic.
Looking forward to Sholay 3-D next …

Book Review of Ajaya: Roll of the Dice by Anand Neelakantan


We have heard and seen that there are 2 sides of a coin. When Asura was released, it was seen as the other side of the coin of Ramayana. After hearing about Ajaya I confess spending restless days waiting for the book after hearing that this was going to be another counter story. Giving us Duryodhana, I mean Suyodhana’s point of view sounded exciting. And I am not disappointed with this book at all.

Going back to the coin aspect, I wish to share a new perspective. While there are 2 sides of a coin, what happens when we toss the same coin? It undergoes a simultaneous shift in the vertical plane along with multiple 360 degree circular motions and finally comes down the same height. You can always act smart and argue that with more force the coin moves through greater height. Let us keep things simple for the moment. I believe each position in the journey of the toss gives 2 sides of the same coin. Each set of ‘2 sides’ is distinct from some other position in the coin’s upward or downward journey. Mathematical equations aside, this translates to infinite positions. With this as the base background, fact is that between truth and counter truth, there are infinite shades of truth. The infinite shades are nothing but infinite perspectives. If we take 100 people and make them watch Chennai Express, for example, each person will comment differently. Ask 100 people about Narendra Modi or Rahul Gandhi. The diversity in perspective will be enormous and each perspective or opinion is a position of the coin and from where the individual is looking at the coin. If this is clear, we can appreciate Ajaya and marvel at what Anand has done. He has managed to position himself in a co-ordinate where nobody has been to and told us a story with impressive conviction. When the story is the grandest story of them all, The Mahabharata, the enormity of his achievement gets significantly multiplied. Since childhood, I have believed that certain grey areas in Ramayana and especially, the Mahabharata will need to be explained better. And Anand has done justice to all the characters – the book surely needs to be read with an open mind because Krishna, for example is portrayed as a shrewd strategist and like in Asura, here too blasphemy has to be overlooked.

Go ahead and read the book. I found it very good but Asura had sketches that Ajaya doesn’t. That was a big negative for me. The gyan sessions sometimes get a little too long but overall I will give it 4 / 5 stars. We definitely have an amazing author here and I am looking forward to a signed copy of Part II.

Didn’t want to write a summary of the book and wondering what is next after Part II of Ajaya for Anand.

Ishant Sharma, my confessions and Vastu Shaastra


As I see a rather cruel ad by Amul, asking Ishant, Sharm hain kya?, I felt rather odd and guilty at what I had done … Let me do a brief flashback. My father and I have been cricket fans ever since I knew him and most of our discussions were around cricket. A big fan of Richards he was … the King was admired for his swagger. But my dad firmly believed that he had an important contribution to make when Kapil Dev held on to that famous catch in the 1983 final. Although my father wasn’t with me, I proudly carried on the tradition when I made my own little contribution to help India beat Sri Lanka in the 2011 WC final.
I have done it many times and am a silent fan, only too happy to let go of the credit that cannot be justified on the basis of logic. No, I am not the one who resorts to desperate prayers when India is playing – that activity used to be reserved for exam and exam result days. I am talking about how I manage the forces around me and create an energy based alignment that comes naturally to me. But alas, there is no scientific formula that can be attached to this phenomenon. When Kohli and Rohit were going hammer and tongs in the chase of 360, I stayed put at a particular spot because I could feel energy that I could magically transmit to the batsmen. Somehow, the ability to do that is strictly a function of the time and day and location. It is therefore evident that sitting in the same place at some other time during some other match will mean nothing. I keep experimenting till something is experienced … and then I know India cannot lose!! Doesn’t happen all the time but keeps happening, maybe Dad was better at controlling this hereditary gift!
Coming to this Ishant topic, I had returned from office and about 20 odd overs were left when I found a nice place to watch the TV. The sort of place that I knew would help me help Dhoni and men win. It was a given. There were 3 overs left and 44 runs to win and I hadn’t even got up to get a glass of water, shamelessly outsourcing that task to my daughter so that India could win. Patriotism of a different kind … maybe you wouldn’t even understand what I am saying! Ishant was about to start running, when mom gave me dinner. I was upset because I had to move from that Energy zone … immediately, the ball went for a six. I struggled to get the rhythm back and couldn’t feed Ishant the positive energies. Helplessly I watched him. In boxing, the referee counts 10 and announces Knock Outs but there was Ishant, knocked out, seeing stars and forced to bowl again, only to get hit for 30 runs. I felt awful, it was all because of my hunger but now that I have confessed, I am fine; confessions do make you feel better at times!!
By the way, ironically Ishant anagrams to Shanti and the only Shanti I see when he bowls nowadays is his non-violent approach that is peaceful for batsmen. So peaceful that it makes batsmen violent in order to follow the Law of Conservation of Peaceful Energies and they go ballistic while hitting his balls (no pun intended!).
Vastu consultants will now need to figure out how exactly to build stadiums so that there is enough positive energy while aligning the panchabhootas: Earth: Magnetic field of the earth; Water: Gravitational attraction of the Earth; Fire: Solar radiation; Air: Wind energy; Space: Cosmic radiation.
Until the next match, you enjoy and let this poor guy enjoy his spoon fed dose of Amul. Dhoni is really (spoon) fed up of you Ishant … take a break! Maybe you need to have a haircut or hire a good Vastu consultant!!

Nose Knows .. Noses Know, Whatever!


Soap for Men Matters:
After the previous post on Aramusk that generated some interest especially among friends who had used this product before, I want to give an update now that I am the proud owner of several Aramusks!
The old Aramusk texture and feel is retained but the smell has been tampered with. This new avatar is therefore, only about 70% the original one.

Given above scenario and the fact that I have been walking around a little depressed after losing my darling Waterman fountain pen, the sadness felt amplified.

Therefore, I began to look for alternatives and the family members in the house have begun to get irritated at this habit of mine. I now have 4 types of soaps and about 20 of them hidden across the house! So many of them you may wonder?! Let me explain: Being the money savior, I mean the savings oriented man, I bought in packs of 3 or 6 or 8 bars of Cinthol (several types like Lemon, Deo, Cool), Aramusk and some similar fragrances of Park Avenue soaps. Not that they are bad but what is life without a little variety? All along though, I ached for the original Aramusk. And finally I saw light at the end of the tunnel.

I think I found the original Aramusk in Wild Stone Musk. The other 2 varieties in Wild Stone did not seem good enough but try Musk if you are the Aramusk Man.

Now that I found the Wild Stone soap, I am wondering if the ad and my buying behavior are related in any way at all. These deo and soap ads seem to be obsessed with hot women and the forces of attraction but maybe I am not even considered in their target group. Fools! Or is it me who should not think that probability of such events is zilch! Maybe I am supposed to run around in search of a football field, build a 6 pack and wait for a bevy of girls bribing a small boy with candy …. Hmm … easier to just enjoy the bath, the ad and continue to laugh at the one track minds of the ad creators who like those commercial masala movie makers do not want to deviate from the set formula … my point of view: it sure is time for some fresh thinking.

Deo for Men, BRUTal reality Matters:
If you have been a Brut fan (the original dark green and black one, not the different avatars that are sold today in the name a Brut Deo), then I have a solid piece of advice for you. If you are in India and spot this bottle, DO NOT buy as it is bound to be a fake. I have been cheated several times and being the optimist that I am, still buy the damned thing! Like the soap collection activity, I now unfortunately have a few bottles of the fake BRUT. They were bought from different stores: Nilgiris, Pharmacy stores etc but they all smell different because there is only gas and very little amount of some cheap deo or the other in it.

That’s all for now, can’t describe how proud I am feeling at writing men’s fashion related posts …
Keep Smelling err… Smiling!



Book Review of Dhandha: How Gujaratis do business by Shobha Bondre


To tell you what the book is about, I shall borrow the next paragraph from Goodreads ..

Shobha Bondre’s Dhandha is the story of a few Gujaratis: Jaydev Patel—the New York Life Insurance agent credited with having sold policies worth $2.5 billion so far; Bhimjibhai Patel—one of the country’s biggest diamond merchants and co-founder of the ambitious ‘Diamond Nagar’ in Surat; Dalpatbhai Patel—the motelier who went on to become the mayor of Mansfield County; Mohanbhai Patel—a former Sheriff of Mumbai and the leading manufacturer of aluminium collapsible tubes; and Hersha and Hasu Shah—owners of over a hundred hotels in the US. Travelling across continents—from Mumbai to the United States—in search of their story and the common values that bond them, Dhandha showcases the powerful ambition, incredible capacity for hard work, and the inherent business sense of the Gujaratis.

People often pull my leg when I get down to asking my team Chalo bataa, kitna aa rahaa hain, kitna ja rahaa hain dhandhaa mein? I had heard about this simple concept from a Baniya friend when he saw me completely baffled during my B-school days during the time that I had to ‘study’ subjects in Finance. But it took me several years to internalize that statement and definitely wish I had understood it earlier. My thought was that this book would be reinforcing the concepts but actually turned out to be a different read altogether.

We have grown up hearing about the importance of hard work, but the extent of hard work that the chosen examples in the book manage is absolutely unimaginable. At times, you feel the exaggerated number of hours of slog is simply nothing more than just that, exaggeration just for the sake of it! But if we start to look at the drawbacks in this book, then there may be many such instances.

 So, why you should read this book?

  •  Inspirational to say the least, the background of the characters and their ambition levels is phenomenal. ‘Think scale and think without boundaries’ is easier said than done. Throughout the case studies / stories we do see a significant reinforcement of this statement. They do effortlessly think scale and without boundaries that you are left admiring them in awe. Especially in the case of a simple boy from a village, who goes on to work as a labourer and becomes a huge success story in the diamond business, it is not the step by step upgrade but the sheer force of passion driven by fiery ambition that is unbelievable. The willingness to go the extra mile for the sake of passion is moving. And story after story, the message is to train your eyes to define the end goal. Vision is important for the journey to fall in place! As with many other things in the book, it doesn’t tell you a way to reach there, but shares how some others reached the dizzying heights of success.
  •  Another common trait was the sense of collaboration. Again the extent of collaboration between the Gujjus, their families and how, for example, several people staying in a small apartment stay focused and come together as an integrated support system was good to see. It is common in many communities, but given that I am mostly a-social in the real world, I wouldn’t comment on the other communities. But my learning was that when in doubt, ask people. There is somebody out there who might be able to help you because they have walked the path years ago. A mentor and a mentee are both important. And there is really no need to try and do everything yourself.
  •  As far as the cliché that goes, ‘behind every man there is a woman’, the book takes that concept and shreds it into pieces. There is no woman ‘behind’ every man, here the woman characters are equally enterprising and stand ‘with’ the man at every step. Strong bonds exist despite several adverse situations that could have easily given rise to cracks and made the relationships crumble. That way the relationship between man and wife, with siblings, extended family… giving back to their home town or village, these were all inspiring and something that others should learn from.

The writer has not just taken the perspective of the main star(s) of each case study but weaved together the perspectives of different family members and other important stakeholders who contributed to the success of not just themselves but ‘entrepreneurship’ in general.

 Definitely worth a read and focus on the positives, lots to learn and if you are tired and thinking of a break in your Journey, this might just be the lemonade that will rejuvenate you and fill you with some renewed energy to try harder till your next milestone. You might question if the milestone and goal itself needs calibration: but one thing for sure is that if you haven’t read the book, go ahead and read it. Your interpretations might vary but am sure you will get something out of it and will only become a better individual. Giving back to the society was also a common trait but as I said, to each his own … just read it and it is only 100 rupees or so and can be finished very quickly.    

Will give it 3.5 to 4 stars / 5


My dear Waterman … I promise I will never lose you again!


It is over now.

It was absolutely fantastic while it lasted. Cant stop asking the cliched question, ‘Why must every great thing come to an end’? Sad that our wonderful relationship too had to come down to this. I am depressed and distracted. I don’t like attending meetings without you, I hate going to office without you and all I can do is blame this entire mess on one person, MYSELF and no one else! #@!%#^@&!!

Now you must be with somebody else. I only hope you have a great life ahead because you truly deserve the very best. You are the greatest, my dear Waterman! And I managed to do the unthinkable: I lost you somewhere. How could I after all these years? You had attended my marriage and come with me wherever I have gone. Remember the important meetings? The places we have been to in the last 9-10 years, you have been with me on every one of my trips across the world. So many people commented that they know very few people who use a fountain pen. I always smiled with pride and looked at you, my silver beauty! You were so efficient, so graceful and what can I say about your magical properties! Such was your magic that you could encourage me to write and succeeded in making even my horrible handwriting look good. I would write on paper only because it gave me an excuse to use you, the pleasure of writing while you flowed smoothly, was beyond description. It was like the dance of a ballerina … sorry if I am going overboard🙂 I have not loved some thing more than you and am in two minds if I should buy another. The Pelikan doesn’t come close nor the Sheaffer. You, the Waterman (not the desi one) but you, my silver coloured companion for so many years, I am so helpless without you.

Maybe this post will help me to move on.

Hope whoever has found you will know your true worth. Hope he / she uses black ink and not blue.

One day, I pray I find you again. If that happens, I promise I will never lose you again.


Feels really strange that I am writing this letter to my lost fountain pen: totally senti😦😦 … sob sob!

I had even named her Silver … it is now time to swipe the credit card. William Penn, here I come … err, wait …