Posts

Entropy in every breath!

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As the day winds down, sipping cognac, I take stock of the day shutting down. Did things settle down today or did they just get bigger, one leading to another, never really settling. Typically, you keep a to-do list handy to track and close the endless items but haven’t you noticed that it never ever clears up. Eventually, you lose interest and dump the laundry list. This disenchantment has led me to a visceral suspicion of something more fundamental at play here. So why is there always something to fix or clean up? Why cannot perpetual ‘order’ ever be achieved setting us free?
Interestingly, in physics, they got a funny definition and rule for this apparent ‘lack of order’ or shall we say, gradual decline into disorder. Entropy! Technically, it is a thermodynamic quantity representing the unavailability of a system’s thermal energy for conversion into mechanical work (Phew!). Simply put, it represents the degree of order or randomness in a system. They even conjured up a law for it.…

Ikiru's Secret of Happiness

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Strangely funny, Harvard would conduct a 75 year study to convince humanity that the secret to happiness lies in relations. In other words, outside your ‘self’. However, Kurosawa, in Ikuru (To Live, 1952) furthers the point that it actually lies in selfless action, Nishkama Karma. One of the best scripts ever written with dialogues so measured that every line hits hard like a punch line. Watch it (Ikiru (1952)).

The Living Dead - We see a man like you and me, completely defined by bureaucratic machines of modern society and the meaningless busy-ness (business?) it ensues. He does nothing except protect his position by doing nothing, better still, by appearing busy. We see a noble idea, to covert a sewage to children’s park, get entangled in meaningless complexity called human society. A permission needs the nod of departments ad infinitum…Park Dept->Health Dept->Sanitation Dept->Environment Sanitation Dept->Dept of Prevention of Infectious Diseases->Division of Pest Cont…

The Runner is the Run

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When you run, everything is different. You feel like a constant with everything around you moving. A sense of detachment sets in and it helps see things differently.
On weekends when I do longer stints, I cross the Akkulam bridge and see the ‘african payal’ eat up what is otherwise a beautiful lake. Just then, the Zen couplet made perfect sense…

“The wild geese do not intend to cast their reflection The water has no mind to retain their image”
Ironically these beautiful lines seem to negate something beautiful. Because in objective reality, neither the geese nor the lake in the setting expect the onlooker to ‘react’ to the spectacle. Alan Watts once joked ‘the clouds are not floating peacefully for the artists to be painted’! I guess, we human beings have a problem. We have this irresistible urge to ‘interpret’ and ‘judge’ what we see. Of course, it is essential mechanism to our survival. It is perhaps a natural outcome of consciousness and intelligence’s evolution itself. This process …

On Causality

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Writing in itself is tough, writing on Causality is next to impossibility. Let me explain. Causality is defined as ‘cause’ of something. Say, an event A is ‘caused’ by number of preconditions and reasons. Of all variants of questions (such as What? Where? When? How? Why?) you throw at something, to comprehend it, ‘Why’ perhaps seeks the core. What ? – tries to explain nature of event witnessedWhere? – handles the  ‘space’ aspect of event witnessedWhen? – typically handles the ‘time’ aspect of itHow? – handles the very process that happened  But Why? –captures the REASON why it happened after all!WHY seeks to tackle Causality, the cause of anything. In fact, Science has built its foundations on Time, Space and Causality. By logical reasoning and scientific empirical rigor, we study why something happened. If event A and B caused event C to occur, then A and B become for us, the sole reasons, to why C exists. Suddenly the MEANING of C becomes A and B. That’s how …

Without Limits

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“All of my life, man and boy, I have operated under the assumption that the main idea in running was to win the damn race. Actually when I became a coach I, I tried to teach people how to do that. I tried to teach Pre(fontaine) how to do that. I tried like hell to teach Pre to do that. And Pre taught me, taught me I was wrong. Pre, you see, was troubled by knowing that a mediocre effort can win a race. And a magnificent effort can lose one. Winning a race wouldn't necessarily demand that you give it everything you have from start to finish. He never ran any other way. I tried to get him to. God knows, I tried. But Pre was stubborn. He insisted on holding himself to a higher standard than victory. A race is a work of art. That's what he said. That's what he believed. And he was out to make it one every step of the way. Of course, he wanted to win. Those who saw him compete and those who competed against him were never in any doubt about how much he wanted to win. But how he…

Genome of the Wild Lilies

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Recently, I was at a client’s workshop, when this probing question came up. How do we enjoy so much commitment amidst our engineers? What values drive them to adapt a client’s culture, appreciate their needs? What training instill this spirit?What is that sets you apart? Your Key Differentiators?
In other words, what’s your DNA?
We looked at each other. It was not the first time this has happened. Been part of several discussions, from branding to pre-sales, to nail this ‘obvious’. And it is ironical, quite appalling that an outsider should trigger introspection. Of course, one can sugarcoat technical ‘differentiators’ that hardly sound different or rant about a remote hometown that offers little alternatives but it would be cliched!
So I had to ask myself again. What is the soul of this institution? Was it is to be realized in the vision and goals of an organization. Ought it to be found in the dreams of its founding fathers? If nothing exists, why did my clients keep harping on the com…

Tree of Life

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There is ‘this’ mango tree by the bank of small river near my native town. Every summer I go, there would be nothing much to waste your time elsewhere and so I would stroll around the river bank each evening, sometimes, mornings too. There are many more mango trees by the river bank, something like a mangrove but for no apparent reason, ‘this’ one had caught my fascination. Perhaps there was something beautiful about it or maybe it was just because it was on the side by which I walked …it could even have been the little rock that offered a resting spot from where the tree made quite an impression with those arms spread out, reaching to the sky...every summer I was particularly taken in by its bountifulness. As a project manager, I would even amuse myself...what would the % of growth YoY in its yield, its productivity...random thoughts...but last season, I was in for a surprise.

After a normal spring in full bloom, there were just four small mangoes to be spotted. Four mangoes! Would…