Saturday, 29 December 2018

-| change and yoghurt |- 

Our family is from a part of India where plain yoghurt is a key part of the diet. Yoghurt is a great counter to the heat and, thus, a staple. So, I grew up a big yoghurt fan and that continues to this day.

As a result, I “make” yoghurt 2-3 times a week. I put make in quotes because it makes itself. But, there’s still a lightweight process involved. And, that requires me to heat the milk till it almost boils over, allow it to cool down a bit, pour a bit of existing yoghurt, and leave it to do its thing over the next day or so.

This process turns out to be very instructive in driving change in ourselves –
  1. It helps to face the heat and be under a bit of pressure that pushes us to recognize the importance of change (too much heat causes other spillover effects).
  2. Next, we must give ourselves a bit of time to partially recover from the period of intensity and use that time to reflect on the kind of change we’d like to drive.
  3. Then, it helps to find a role model for that change – either a person who embodies the behavior or a book or a course that teaches us the way – and spend mental time with that role model.
  4. Finally, give it time.

Lots to learn from yoghurt! 

Friday, 16 November 2018

- | Start over |- 

Sometimes it is more helpful to start all over again..

rather than try to work back and see whats wrong..

my big learning in a design project..

Friday, 5 October 2018

-| Watches and time |- 

In the last five centuries, we’ve improved the accuracy of our watches and filled our homes and lives with them.

Of course, the irony is that we now have plenty of great watches and very little time.

Wishing you less timekeeping and more time this weekend..

Sunday, 19 August 2018

-| Observation and Evaluation |- 

“The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.”

-  J Krishnamurthi.

Our natural instincts tend to have us overdo evaluation and under-do observation. They also push us to conflate both by attempting to do both at the same time.

There’s a time to observe and a time to evaluate. And, learning to keep observation and evaluation separate in our thinking and communication is a superpower because it enables us to have consistently productive and constructive conversations.

Next step for myself: Learn how to better separate the two. :-)

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

-| understanding is hard-work |- 

Sometimes, we're so eager to have an opinion that we skip the step of working to understand. Why is it the way it is? Why do they believe what they believe?

We skip reading the whole thing, because it's easier to jump to what we assume the writer meant.

We skip engaging with customers and stakeholders because it's quicker to assert we know what they want.

We skip doing the math, examining the footnotes, recreating the experiment, because it might not turn out the way we need it to.

We better hurry, because the firstest, loudest, angriest opinion might sway the crowd.

And of course, it's so much easier now, because we all own our own media companies.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

-| Peaceful Soul |-

I want a peaceful soul.
But there is a God. Holy, to the hilt. And we have very little in common on that ground. And there is a part of me that cannot do anything but war against this God. I do not say this lightly. But truthfully.
When I am not arguing with Him I want peace with Him. That fathoms-deep peace defying understanding. I want the peace he has already declared as a reality. But only sometimes.
I want to put down my weapons that defend. And offend. I want that. So my soul can taste something of this peace. But I’m bloodthirsty.
I’ve been reading about Mahaprabhuji. He talks of this peace and I got excited, though scared. He fell in love with the peace in the hills and forests. But that is geography.
But I hear nothing of places of peace. The soul at peace with God retains it though the walls cannot. Though they fall around and upon, still. But scarred stands.
This peace is strong in a world of hard hearts. The pushing against the organ with it’s blood pumping is painful. A world’s worth in my chest. But it chisels away.
This peace is fixed under the feather of the peacock. And is the the dew sitting light on the leaves. But to nourish hard ground.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

-| Random thoughts today |-

I am lucky to stand clear a star-studded night. 

2. I need a few days off work, so if someone sick could come over and hug me and let me drink after them, I’d appreciate it.

Social media now feels like an awful job.

4. Work that cradles your conscience is a valuable thing.

5. Food is my comfort food.

6. Everything is never enough.

7. Sometimes a curse word seems appropriate because it feels as though a curse has landed square upon you.

8. I wish I could still taste the air of a 13 yr old summer night.

9. It has always been a gracious fact that the depth of my sins are not all seen at once.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

-| Second Step |-

The first step is learning how to do it. Finding and obtaining the insight and the tools and the techniques you need. Understanding how it works.

But step two is easily overlooked. Step two is turning it into a habit. Committing to the practice. Showing up and doing it again and again until you're good at it, and until it's part of who you are and what you do.

Most education, most technology purchases, most doctor visits, most textbooks are about the first step. What a shame that we don't invest just a little more to turn the work into a habit.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

-| Change ... |-

is a word for a journey with stress.

You get the journey and you get the stress. At the end, you're a different person. But both elements are part of the deal.

There are plenty of journeys that are stress-free. They take you where you expect, with little in the way of surprise or disappointment. You can call that a commute or even a familiar TV show in reruns.

And there's plenty of stress that's journey-free. What a waste!

We can grow beyond that, achieve more than that and contribute along the way. But to do so, we might need to welcome the stress and the journey too.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

-| I got it! |- 

The secret of the fly ball is that you don't shout, "you've got it."

It's not up to us to assign who will catch it. If you can catch it, you call it.

The thing about responsibility is that it's most effectively taken, not given.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

-| Long looks |-

“People without hope not only don’t write novels, but what is more to the point, they don’t read them. They don’t take long looks at anything…” – Flannery O’Connor

Having read this quote for the first time about few years ago, I am surprised it is just now getting under my skin. But the very fact it has is perhaps proof of it’s truthfulness. Though I read novels, I am prone to not take long looks at most things. Like most people, I am quick to judge. Well, I am just quick period. I am quick to decide on the goodness or badness of something. I make rash judgments on people and books and everything. I want everything done quick. Food. Stories. Conversations. Trips. Blog posts. Downloads. Uploads. Health. Answered prayer.

So, I’m part of that elite group known as “Everyone.” We don’t take long looks at anything because it requires a reigning in of ego. The long look asks us to submit ourselves to the fact we have limited knowledge. We can guess and speculate but really we are just ignoramuses.

Novels, of course are stories. And they should teach us something here. All the stories we love seem to have a crisis moment where we are forced to either have hope or dispense with it. And then as the story moves along, the characters change and the drama takes on a redemptive form. Hope emerges from the ashes of crisis. Our heart soars. Thankfully, we have looked long into the reaches of the final pages.

Our stories are similar. Not only have we as believers emerged from our worst and crossed the river on dry land into life and love with God. But we continue on into a story that never ends. We move “further up and further in” as Lewis showed us in one of his novels. The story has not yet ended. We not only want others to take the long look into our lives, we naturally fall in this direction when thinking about ourselves. The cliché rings true. God isn’t finished yet. The story is not over. That is, unless you are without hope and cannot look long into the stories about and around you.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

-| Mundane Kindness |-

When you travel in local trains of Mumbai you are exposed to some interesting people. During my evening commute, I sit near a corner which allows me to look at the entire compartment. Usually I am pretty much ignored unless someone I know happens upon my little corner.

However, about a week ago now, I cannot remember exactly when, something memorable happened…memorable because it was different. It was the kind of thing, if you told me it would be memorable, I would wonder what you were getting at.

A lady smiled at me. And it was not the smile that says, “we have looked at each other and I am acknowledging this fact.” You know, that smile which is really no smile…where you pull in your lips and nod your head. There was nothing particularly sly about her smile. It contained no demand. And there was no reserve behind it. It lacked any pretension and seemed generous. And though I cannot understand why it was given, after thinking about this moment, kindness seems to be the only explanation I can come up with.
It was just a moment of kindness.

You may be thinking, “Why is this such a big deal?” Let me begin by pointing out, being smiled at, by strangers, is not unique in the Mumbai local trains. Maybe it is not a big deal. But it didn’t have the ‘feel’ of social convention.


I had no need for the smile. My week was going great. The year was about to end wonderfully on many notes. My family was and is full of smiles for me. We laugh and smile with each other throughout the day. There is no shortage of kindness expressed through smiles in our home. And the same is true among extended family. And friends. And when gathered with my office colleagues, over a meal or for the purpose of design discussions, smiles bound. So it is not as if I was sulking in my seat, laboring away in gloom and was refreshed by a moment of kindness, which was nothing more than mundane.

But let’s suppose I am someone else. Suppose I am someone else, sitting here when the smile leaps out of the life of kindness and lands on me. I have lost my job and I am laboring to scale the smooth, hard face of unemployment while feeding, clothing and sheltering a family. I am a day removed from getting the news I have cancer. Or I have just found out my child has leukemia. A parent has passed away. A friend has lied to me. I am alone. I have no one. Wandering this world, my interaction with others is limited to the goods and services I purchase.

If I were any of the above people, such a smile might be a flower in the desert. Or an oasis. Maybe we could call it “even a cup of cold water” for those thirsty for some kind, any kind of kindness. Any kindness at all will do. The significance of a cup of cold water will be hard to grasp for those who have never been thirsty. If you are in an air-conditioned building full of water fountains and water coolers, a cold cup of water will mean very little. Certainly appreciated when given but forgettable. It will seem ordinary, mundane even. The same goes for smiles.


Deep down, we do not really think this kind of kindness is important. As far as we are concerned, it will get no press before God or men. It’s the big stuff which looks excellent on spiritual resumés and it’s these we use to determine the authenticity of the faith of God’s people. The smaller acts of kindness? They not only do not show up but their absence is justified by the former. “I know he is a jackass and hard on the waitstaff at restaurants but he gives a lot of daan (donations)!” “Oh, well then.” Neither should negate the other. The small acts of everyday nor the noteworthy should make the other obsolete. Both are needed, sure. But one is mundane and therefore forgone. And forgotten. We forget the need. We forget the power. And we forget the words of Shri Krishna, who would commend the mundane kindness of a cup of cold water.

I imagine, most cannot see the significant moments of kindness because their lives are so full of the like. The very preponderance of it all crowds out any meaning therein. So we naturally see kindness in the newsworthy acts of philanthropy we either want to receive or be noted for. After all, no one notices the smile…it disappears in a wisp. Poof! It is gone. The cold water is no sooner enjoyed than forgotten in the desire for another. So we forgo these kinds of things altogether. They lack significance in a world we are always being told we can change. Kindness has no cataclysmic effect on the forces of evil in the name of justice. So we leave it off on our way to end injustice. In other words, we want to end war, hunger and poverty in our lifetime. But we do not posses the will to let someone merge in front of us in traffic. And do so with a smile.


In “a dry and weary land” a cup of cold water is the picture of kindness. Though small, the refreshment is needed, appreciated and not easily forgotten. This is hard because we are prone to define kindness by the largest possible measure. The plumb-line for what is kind is far removed from the stuff of smiles and cups of cold water. It exists in the form of checks and gifts, voluminous and weighty. And all the while, as we plan on laudable acts of kindness, there are moments of opportunity. Perhaps only a smile is possible. A holding of the door. An offer of assistance. That cup of cold water. All mundane, but every single one an opportunity for kindness to break in on a life just as the rays of the sun break in on a morning.