Habits Die Hard

Habits die hard is commonly known. But forming new habits is equally hard. In the fast changing world that we are in today, we need ‘change’ more than anything else. Change in attitude and change in habits need to be priorities. Someone told me that if you do something at the same time daily, it becomes your habit. I have motivated some of my students, but the results are far from satisfactory. To form a new habit or to ward of the old one needs the following:

                                i.            Develop a strong desire to bring in the change.

                              ii.            Set a valid reminder system.

                            iii.            Define the milestones and the timeline.

St. Valentine's Day!

The popularity of St. Valentine’s day is increasing by the day. Unfortunately, the ignorance about the origin of St. Valentine’s day persists.

St. Valentine was a priest who lost his life because of his convictions. King Claudius of Rome wanted soldiers not to marry. His reason was that if they are married they would not want to fight battles. St. Valentine started marrying couples secretly. He was arrested. King Claudius thought that he was a well-meaning priest and therefore gave him an opportunity to change his activity and become a true Roman. He wanted him to propagate patriotism.

However, St. Valentine followed his conviction and did not listen to the King. He was executed on 14th February in the year 269 or 270 AD. We celebrate the day on 14th February. We celebrate with candies and bands, but we fail to remember the sacrifice of St. Valentine.

Appraisals

On 8th of this month I had to conduct a training programme for a small organization of less than 100 people.

Appraisals are difficult to conduct, by are necessary for the organisation. This is when you sit in judgment on people you have to deal on day-to-day basis. This is when you, as a manager have to perform this arduous task. You naturally become extra careful. You don’t want to annoy a person who is an integral member of your small team.

The biggest problem is whatever you do on that day of judgment sits as a permanent mark in the file of the person appraised.

In 50s & 60s there used to be large families in our country. It was not uncommon to find 6 and 7 and 8 children in a house. Parents were expected to treat them alike but could they ever do. Here, children were also expected to contribute to the growth and development of the family. But were they treated alike?  Same love and affection of father and of mother? Not really! Some would become favorite of their mother, others of their father. Often the father would hardly have the time to make any favorites.

In an organization, too, personal bias is bound to creep in. An Appraisal is expected to bring in differentiation. But in order that the objective of the appraisal is achieved, the Manager needs to rise above the personal likes and dislikes. The more arduous problem is the hesitation of the Manager. Hesitation to articulate what he/she objectively considers the correct comments on the person being appraised.

Songs that continue to shine!

In the absence of regular classical music concerts and the peoples’ declining love of the classical music, I’ll refer to Hindi film songs as the popular form of music.

Some sings have stood the test of time. Even though composed in 50s & 60s they are a pleasure to listen to. What are the qualities that distinguish from the ‘happening’ songs of today? One is the poetry; two, the simplicity of the tune; and three, the singer is given importance rather than the ‘inorganic’ electronic instruments. These days, a variety of sounds can be manipulated with the help of these instruments. Besides, the recording technology of ‘cut & paste’ music, the great original talent of the composer and the music arranger is no longer that important.

 The sad reality is that the modernity of the instruments, the advancement of recording technology and the concept of ‘hat ke’ (being different) in the field of films are all responsible for the decadence in the modern era. This seems so far removed from the golden era of unforgettable ‘film songs’.

‘Stithpragye purush’

The Bhagwad Gita, which an excellent treatise on human life emphasizes the importance of remaining calm and composed in happy situations as well as in most challenging ones. In Chapter two, on the request of Arjuna; Lord Krishna defines the Stithpragya Purush’. He is the one who maintains equanimity in all circumstances. This definition encompasses the following qualities of a human being which may be difficult to develop but become. The greatest asserts of an individual.

  1. Developing an ability to remain unperturbed amid sorrows. It gives strength to fight the daily battles of life effectively.
  2. The thirst for pleasure needs to be eradicated altogether. Pleasure will elude the pleasure seeker.
  3. The human being who is never upset because of fear of any kind. He is the one who can practice a positive attitude.
  4. The person who does not get lost in activities of any nature bust performs the same with an ardent sense of duty.
  5. The person may be likened to a tortoise which draws in its limbs from all directions and remains protected by the solid dome of its back.

 It may difficult to imbibe these qualities in one’s personality, but with consistent practice the same can be achieved.

Television Today

After TV invaded the Indian household radio was pushed in the background. It became insignificant. But I had read long ago that radio is the medium of imagination. TV is an idiot which makes people tired. At first I did not agree with the statement.

TV was considered a great source of agreement. Every house was considered incomplete till there was a TV of the size that the room deserved. To begin with we had a limited number of black & white TV Programmes. This included The News and some educational programmes for children & farmers.  The real sought-after programmes were – the weekly film & ‘Chaya Geet’. I had a small advertising agency. So I was particularly interested in the viewership versus the cost. There was a programme that would inform viewers about the weekly schedule of programmes. Advertising was not expensive. But the viewership was reasonable. My small agency had smaller clients – for most of whom the Ad-spend was critical.

Then TV was thrown open to private players. Programmes were thoroughly screened by the authorities before these could be produced. This increased the interest of the people. The first continuously running serial was Hum log. Quite popular. But soon it was overshadowed by ‘Ramayan’ produced by veteran film produced Ramanand Sagar. But then came the most popular even “Mahabharat” produced the greatest film producer BR. Chopra. If you had an important family, social or society meeting people would ask “before Mahabharat or after Mahabharat?” Mumbai roads would be empty during the telecast of Mahabharat. The greatest India epic was a classic creation.

Today’s we have too many channels, offering mostly regular type of programmes. Religious programmes still score.

Magnifying Glass

Except for the watch maker, palmist or others who use it professionally, a magnifying glass reminds you of your childhood. I was particularly fond off burning paper or creating heat on a summer day.We friends would compete on the duration of time one could tolerate the focused energy produced by sun rays on hand.

But today, the name magnifying glass symbolizes far greater importance in an individual’s life. It signifies ‘focus’. Focus that we often miss. Focus that can kindle a fire of desire in our minds. Desire when converted into a passion can bring about a total change in one’s life and its purpose. Success is bound to follow in anything that you do!

Kala Ghoda Festival

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Today I visited Kala Ghoda Festival. A good colourful Mela. Many artists have displayed their creations. Good crowd. Lots of Food Stalls. And the same NGOs displaying their usual stuff year after year were present this year too. Mehdi stalls, Ceremics, Artificial Jewellery, and gift items were there.

What I found noteworthy is that some effort was made to focus the attention on the current issue – the issue of crime against women, female feticide, were exhibited and condemned with rather unimaginative art works.

Nothing great but worth a visit. Since I had gone there in the afternoon, there was less noise and lesser people. There was no loud music and no theatrical performances which are consipuicious in this festival. However, a few village men and women dressed up as Sadhus and Soothsayers were moving around in the crowd. To me it appeared they were trying to attract attention.

I sat on the step close to Jahangir Art Gallery. A thought came to my mind. Why is it called the Kala Ghoda Festival? Someone had told me that once upon a time, there used to be statue of a Black Horse with a rider. But that was quite some time ago. It did not appear to me a good reason to call this festival remembering the insignificant ‘Kala Ghoda’ and its rider. I looked around and found that the place is called Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Chowk. I did not find any reason why it was not called Netaji Subhash festival. It would have been a very significant move. A great tribute to a great courageous leader our country has ever produced.

I got up and started moving around, until I saw the Municipal signboard call the place Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Chowk. It saddened me to find that where such celebrations were going on, the board carrying the name of such a historical figure was in a very dusty and shabby condition. I took the photograph which is reproduced above.

A room without books is like a body without a soul.

Though I have never been an avid reader, buying and collecting books has always been my hobby. Unfortunately, I had to part with almost 500 books, because I did not have space to keep them in the apartment I shifted to. I donated some of these to free libraries run by some NGOs. Others I had to sell to the pavement book sellers at a fraction of the price at which I had bought them. In fact, many of those had been bought by me from the pavement book sellers themselves.
What attracts me to buy a book? Sometimes, only sometimes – it is the need. But often it is the satisfaction of acquiring something precious which will come in handy at the time of need. How often I may need a particular book is a question that I never thought important to answer. Yes, whenever it was possible I would go through the contents page on the pavement itself. Whenever the contents were spread over two or more pages, I invariably ended up buying the book.
I am not too happy with the trend of buying books online. You do not get the first hand experience of touching the book cover, browsing through the contents, and some of the pages that might interest you at random. The best piece of decoration in any room – any room in a house, according to me is a well crafted book shelf. It must be well stocked with books both new and old. Old classics, like the complete works of Shakespeare, George Bernard Shaw, Poets of the romantic era constitute the essentials.
Cicero indeed left a great advise for all of us, “A room without books is like a body without a soul”.

Well & You Know

I did my masters in English Literature long ago from Government College, Ludhiana. My friend Ajit Prasad Jain and I shared the same bench in the class – in the last row. One of our lecturers who taught us kept us engaged in a rather unusual manner. He had a habit of repeating two words – ‘well’ and ‘you know’, almost in every sentence.

We did not have a counter at that time. Nor did we have a stop watch. But we gave ourselves a task of keeping track of how many times the lecturer would repeat the word ‘well’ and ‘you know’ during the period of 45 minutes. The wager was simple. If the professor repeated ‘well’ more than ‘you know’ Ajit would pay for our tea and samosa in the tuck-shop (college canteen) and in case ‘well’ left ‘you know’ behind, I would have to foot the bill.

It appeared to be a never ending game; and it kept our interest high in the prose lecture of our dear Professor. None of us or any other student in the class had the guts to point out and say to him, “Sir, 15-20 % of what you speak in class comprises just of two words – ‘well’ and ‘you know’.

These days too I find that a lot of professionals who come to me for improving their communication skills have similar habits. Filler words, are intruders who reduce the efficacy of speech. I still encounter, ‘You know’, though ‘well’ is not commonly used these days. But the most repetitively used words these days are – ‘like’, ‘basically’, ‘actually’ etc. Besides, other common intruders are – and, eh, uh, etc. In the first session itself I ask my students to remove these intruders (filler words and sounds) from their speech.