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A squirrel eats

April 2, 2012

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An evening with a forest guard

March 26, 2012

I was hesitant to go there on a bike- alone. But when two more bikes agreed to ride along, I couldn’t resist but make the trip. It was one of those trips that you yearn to go on, but you’re not exactly enjoying the place coz you’re unaware of the dangers that might lay ahead, and when you return home you feel like the KING of adventures and you vow that you’ll never have such adventures again. It passes on and the next weekend you feel like going there again!  😉

I am not supposed to give specifics of this place (told not to). Makes enough sense considering the amount of people who would be willing to jump in to this place to sip beer! No, that’s not what this place is meant for.

So we drove when the sun was right on top of our shoulders, making every effort to tire us, and it did succeed to an extent. The silence of this place was broken by the occasional crying of wild animals, mostly elephants, and of course our bikes 🙂

Playing during sunset.

We reached the place, had a car waiting to pick us up to a point from where we had to do a little trek. The humpty-dumpty drive in the car helped us digest the heavy lunch we had had. A full-meal before a trek? Hmm, you’re up for some real adventure!

We reached the spot, and had a small trek until the forest-guard tower. The guards were finishing their shifts and leaving to go to their villages. As usual, we started chatting up and what we thought would end in fifteen minutes lasted for more than an hour. It felt like we were in the most silent, and a peaceful place on Earth, & talking to a man who had met danger eye-to-eye.

Forest duty is dangerous and difficult one. They have to watch-out for wild animals, forest fires, poachers, hunters, etc. And to get any supply (of whatever), they need to walk for at-least 5km (not a joke). It is sad that the govt doesn’t even provide them with clean water here. They drink the same water that the animals drink and bathe, which was so muddy and you wouldn’t even imagine to clean your hands with it. They have very minimal protection, added to this – a very meager salary.

All they have is a cell-phone to reach out to the external world, which is wholly dependent on one single tower! The talk ended, the sun set, and we were ready to leave the place. I muttered “Man, there’s a whole lot of elephant corridor to be crossed in our bikes!” and with nothing for self-defence, no street (forest) lights, or elephant experience, these were the things racing in my mind. My friend said “I’m there, let’s make it”. Even though I knew he’ll piss in his pants I mustered my confidence, said ok and without a turn or hesitation drove fast without other thoughts. Some intense biking 😛

Reached the main road in sometime. Whoa! What a relief after looking at the road lights! Never was I so happy looking at a main road 😉

Wings of Poesy

March 21, 2012

For generations, people have thought poetry to be a bunch of Rhyming verses, placed vertically. But in realty there’s more to poetry than what you think. So ever since I read somewhere that March 21st is “World poetry day” I’ve been wanting to write this.

What’s the power in poetry? (picked up from some random pages)

Wordsworth defined poetry as “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings;” Emily Dickinson said, “If I read a book and it makes my body so cold no fire ever can warm me, I know that is poetry;”

Poetry is evocative. It typically evokes in the reader an intense emotion: joy, sorrow, anger, catharsis, love… Alternatively, poetry has the ability to surprise the reader with an Ah Ha! Experience — revelation, insight, further understanding of elemental truth and beauty.

Poetry is stronger than you think. Poetry is imagination and will break those chains faster than the time time you take to think and react.

Not many people who know me, really know how much I admire poetry simply because I don’t talk about it or I don’t have a reason to talk about it. Wikipedia says that UNESCO declared March 21st as the Word poetry day in the year 1999.

“Wings of poesy” was my prescribed text book for class 10, and if you’d have done ICSE between the years, 2001 to 2006 / 07 you’d know what I’m talking about. For others, it was a text book containing just poems. I don’t remember how many poems were in it (as my aunt who fell in love with my text book after my schooling, misplaced it- and it was never found, or has my aunt hidden it?? 😛 ). I had meanings written after every verse, sad I lost it 😦

I’d also like to highlight that teachers are people who make a subject interesting, & who influence in making you like a subject. I’ve always found this to be true in many cases, at least when it comes to mine. My English teacher was splendid. If a pin would drop in her class, that would be heard quite loud. Her class used to be a journey and not just a class, which I realize now! And you can probably say that she was the one who strengthened this interest in me.

Though some years have been passed since I completed my schooling, some things, some subjects, some lessons, something, anything that would have caught your eye at that age is almost permanently etched in your mind. One of those things for me is definitely Wings of Poesy. I will not hesitate to say that I remember some of those verses and can recall them almost in an instant. On the other side, I can say I’ve forgotten Chemistry totally and please, not that my teacher was bad at teaching it 😛 , but simply because it didn’t appeal to me.

Poem and poetry?

Poem and poetry are interchangeably used although there is a minor difference in their inner meanings. A poem can be considered as a fundamental unit of poetry. You can also say that poetry is made of “poems”, or poems fudge together to create an art called poetry.

Poet is someone who composes poems and creates poetry in the process of doing so.

I’m not a poet but I appreciate the art!

I have a collection of some of my favourite poems from School, thanks to google! And I have put them up here.

1. The Education of Nature

THREE years she grew in sun and shower;
Then Nature said, “A lovelier flower
On earth was never sown:
This child I to myself will take;
She shall be mine, and I will make
A lady of my own.

“Myself will to my darling be
Both law and impulse; and with me
The girl, in rock and plain,
In earth and heaven, in glade and bower,
Shall feel an overseeing power
To kindle or restrain.

“She shall be sportive as the fawn
That wild with glee across the lawn
Or up the mountain springs;
And hers shall be the breathing balm,
And hers the silence and the calm
Of mute insensate things.

“The floating clouds their state shall lend
To her; for her the willow bend;
Nor shall she fail to see
Ev’n in the motions of the storm
Grace that shall mould the maiden’s form
By silent sympathy.

“The stars of midnight shall be dear
To her; and she shall lean her ear
In many a secret place,
Where rivulets dance their wayward round,
And beauty born of murmuring sound
Shall pass into her face.

“And vital feelings of delight
Shall rear her form to stately height,
Her virgin bosom swell;
Such thoughts to Lucy I will give,
While she and I together live
Here in this happy dell.”

Thus Nature spake—the work was done—
How soon my Lucy’s race was run!
She died, and left to me
This heath, this calm and quiet scene;
The memory of what has been,
And never more will be.

-William Wordsworth

2. Upagupta

Upagupta, the disciple of Buddha, lay sleep in
the dust by the city wall of Mathura.
Lamps were all out, doors were all shut, and
stars were all hidden by the murky sky of August.
Whose feet were those tinkling with anklets,
touching his breast of a sudden?
He woke up startled, and a light from a woman’s
lamp fell on his forgiving eyes.
It was dancing girl, starred with jewels,
Wearing a pale blue mantle, drunk with the wine
of her youth.
She lowered her lamp and saw young face
austerely beautiful.
“Forgive me, young ascetic,” said the woman,
“Graciously come to my house. The dusty earth
is not fit bed for you.”
The young ascetic answered, “Woman,
go on your way;
When the time is ripe I will come to you.”
Suddenly the black night showed its teeth
in a flash of lightening.
The storm growled from the corner of the sky, and
The woman trembled in fear of some unknown danger.

A year has not yet passed.
It was evening of a day in April,
in spring season.
The branches of the way side trees were full of blossom.
Gay notes of a flute came floating in the
warm spring air from a far.
The citizens had gone to the woods for the
festival of flowers.
From the mid sky gazed the full moon on the
shadows of the silent town.
The young ascetic was walking along the lonely street,
While overhead the love-sick koels uttered from the
mango branches their sleepless plaint.
Upagupta passed through the city gates, and
stood at the base of the rampart.
Was that a woman lying at his feet in the
shadow of the mango grove?
Stuck with black prestilence, her body
spotted with sores of small-pox,
She had been hurriedly removed from the town
To avoid her poisonous contagion.
The ascetic sat by her side, took her head
on his knees,
And moistened her lips with water, and
smeared her body with sandal balm.
“Who are you, merciful one?” asked the woman.
“The time, at last, has come to visit you, and
I am here,” replied the young ascetic.

-Rabindranath Tagore

3. The Man with a Hoe

Bowed by the weight of centuries he leans
Upon his hoe and gazes on the ground,
The emptiness of ages in his face,
And on his back, the burden of the world.
Who made him dead to rapture and despair,
A thing that grieves not and that never hopes,
Stolid and stunned, a brother to the ox?
Who loosened and let down this brutal jaw?
Whose was the hand that slanted back this brow?
Whose breath blew out the light within this brain?

Is this the Thing the Lord God made and gave
To have dominion over sea and land;
To trace the stars and search the heavens for power;
To feel the passion of Eternity?
Is this the dream He dreamed who shaped the suns
And marked their ways upon the ancient deep?
Down all the caverns of Hell to their last gulf
There is no shape more terrible than this–
More tongued with cries against the world’s blind greed–
More filled with signs and portents for the soul–
More packed with danger to the universe.

What gulfs between him and the seraphim!
Slave of the wheel of labor, what to him
Are Plato and the swing of the Pleiades?
What the long reaches of the peaks of song,
The rift of dawn, the reddening of the rose?
Through this dread shape the suffering ages look;
Time’s tragedy is in that aching stoop;
Through this dread shape humanity betrayed,
Plundered, profaned and disinherited,
Cries protest to the Powers that made the world,
A protest that is also prophecy.

O masters, lords and rulers in all lands,
Is this the handiwork you give to God,
This monstrous thing distorted and soul-quenched?
How will you ever straighten up this shape;
Touch it again with immortality;
Give back the upward looking and the light;
Rebuild in it the music and the dream;
Make right the immemorial infamies,
Perfidious wrongs, immedicable woes?

O masters, lords and rulers in all lands,
How will the future reckon with this Man?
How answer his brute question in that hour
When whirlwinds of rebellion shake all shores?
How will it be with kingdoms and with kings–
With those who shaped him to the thing he is–
When this dumb Terror shall rise to judge the world,
After the silence of the centuries?

-Edwin Markham (He was inspired by a painting by a french artist to write this poem)

4. The Eve Of Waterloo

HERE was a sound of revelry by night,
And Belgium’s capital had gathered then
Her beauty and her chivalry, and bright
The lamps shone o’er fair women and brave men.
A thousand hearts beat happily; and when
Music arose with its voluptuous swell,
Soft eyes looked love to eyes which spake again,
And all went merry as a marriage bell;
But hush! hark! a deep sound strikes like a rising knell!
Did ye not hear it? — No; ’twas but the wind,
Or the car rattling o’er the stony street;
On with the dance! let joy be unconfined;
No sleep till morn, when youth and pleasure meet
To chase the glowing hours with flying feet.
But hark! — that heavy sound breaks in once more,
As if the clouds its echo would repeat;
And nearer, clearer, deadlier than before;
Arm! arm! it is — it is — the cannon’s opening roar!
Within a windowed niche of that high hall
Sate Brunswick’s fated chieftain; he did hear
That sound the first amidst the festival,
And caught its tone with death’s prophetic ear;
And when they smiled because he deemed it near,
His heart more truly knew that peal too well
Which stretched his father on a bloody bier,
And roused the vengeance blood alone could quell;
He rushed into the field, and, foremost fighting, fell.
Ah! then and there was hurrying to and fro,
And gathering tears, and tremblings of distress,
And cheeks all pale, which, but an hour ago,
Blushed at the praise of their own loveliness.
And there were sudden partings, such as press
The life from out young hearts, and choking sighs
Which ne’er might be repeated; who would guess
If ever more should meet those mutual eyes,
Since upon night so sweet such awful morn could rise!
And there was mounting in hot haste; the steed,
The mustering squadron, and the clattering car,
Went pouring forward with impetuous speed,
And swiftly forming in the ranks of war;
And the deep thunder, peal on peal afar;
And near, the beat of the alarming drum
Roused up the soldier ere the morning star;
While thronged the citizens with terror dumb,
Or whispering, with white lips — “The foe! they come! they come!”
-Lord Byron
(It relates the events of the night before the battle of Quatre Bras, which was fought near Brussels, the capital of Belgium, on June 16, 1815, and was the preliminary of the great battle of Waterloo, fought two days later.)
A word before my next poem. It is called a sonnet.
Before Shakespeare’s day, the word “sonnet” meant simply “little song,” i.e., a short lyric poem. A Shakespearean, or English, sonnet consists of 14 lines, each line containing ten syllables.
More can be read about Sonnets if you desire, google is free!
5. Sonnet 116 (I’m unsure if I read this in my school or college, but it is good enough to be written here)
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
-William Shakespeare
It is an impossible task to pull out 5 poems out of so many wonderful ones out there, it is. Just to fill up the space for the day, remember, and promote them, because it is an art that DESERVES appreciation!

Doing what you love

March 16, 2012

I read an essay written by Paul Graham titled “How to do what you Love” His Bio can be found at:

http://www.paulgraham.com/bio.html

Excellent guy, and I thank him for giving such a deep brainwave regarding something which we’re all scared to even think about! 😛

That being said, it took some time for me to complete reading the essay (it is a long one), but not to forget to mention, it gave a new insight on doing what you love, and how we’ve all been mislead all these years, & so deprived of strength to do anything different from what we’ve been doing all these days.

So, if you’ve read until here, great! I have made a little effort for people like me (who usually don’t like to read a BIG essay or a big blog post running several pages). Though I’d recommend you’ll to read that article, at-least once.

Eye-catchers:

“To be happy I think you have to be doing something you not only enjoy, but admire. You have to be able to say, at the end, wow, that’s pretty cool.”

You have to like what you do enough that the concept of “spare time” seems mistaken. Which is not to say you have to spend all your time working. You can only work so much before you get tired and start to screw up. Then you want to do something else—even something mindless. But you don’t regard this time as the prize and the time you spend working as the pain you endure to earn it.

Prestige is like a powerful magnet that warps even your beliefs about what you enjoy. It causes you to work not on what you like, but what you’d like to like.

Prestige is just fossilized inspiration. If you do anything well enough, you’ll make it prestigious. So just do what you like, and let prestige take care of itself.

I think the best test is one Gino Lee taught me: to try to do things that would make your friends say wow. But it probably wouldn’t start to work properly till about age 22, because most people haven’t had a big enough sample to pick friends from before then.

Wonderful one, this really struck me:

The test of whether people love what they do is whether they’d do it even if they weren’t paid for it—even if they had to work at another job to make a living. How many corporate lawyers would do their current work if they had to do it for free, in their spare time, and take day jobs as waiters to support themselves?

Here’s the link to the original article, in case you are interested to read further.

http://www.paulgraham.com/love.html

Startup lessons from Moneyball

February 13, 2012

Couple of days ago I was reading an article I stumbled upon and the author urged the readers to watch the movie “Moneyball” before continuing to read it.

I’ve watched the movie and although the movie by itself was good, it has certain “lessons” which are helpful not only when it comes to Baseball, but also in Running a startup. Yeah, there’s a relation! It’s not about baseball, its about data.

Here’s my pick from the list.

This post is more for my own reference. I need to read this over and over so I’m posting it in my blog.

1. He passes the eye candy test. He’s got the looks, he’s great at playing the part.

Recruiting your first team is not necessarily about passing the eye candy test. You need to choose people who can actually DO the job, rest is secondary. Get good at seeing talent where others don’t!

2. You’re not solving the problem. You’re not even looking at the problem.

Look at the problem, identify the source and set that right. Focus on that.

3. We’ve got to think differently.

Startups work under constraints, big, unfair constraints! You cannot beat your competitor who is well established and super-funded, you’ve got to think different keeping the budget constraints in mind.

4. First job in baseball? It’s my first job anywhere.

When Billy asks Peter if it was his first job in Baseball, he answers “It’s my first job anywhere.

Don’t over-rate experience, all you need is hunger and talent. You’re looking for the future stars, because the current-stars aren’t affordable.

5. Your goal shouldn’t be to buy players, your goal should be to buy wins.

Think in terms of buying outcomes, not titles.

6. He really needs to accept this as life’s first occupation, a first career.

Commit to something, don’t move, make it your life’s first occupation.When it comes to making decisions, it’s either “yes” or “no” there’s nothing in-between! Don’t sit on a fence.

“If you sit on the fence too long, your genitals are going to hurt.” – from the original article.

7. Why do you like him? Because he gets on base.

Figure out what success looks like for a given role, omit other details.

10. Hey, anything worth doing is hard. And we’re gonna teach you.

Teach, motivate. You need to make sure you teach valuable lessons. Fill power in gaps found in your employees.

12. It’s day one of the first week. You can’t judge just yet.

Don’t judge your employees too early, it takes a little time to shine, patience!

But you need to judge them eventually.

14. Where on the field is the dollar I’m paying for soda?

Being penny-wise and pound foolish. Save on big things than the small things. It’s not about money but about inconvenience and the principle. Remember, deep down inside, people are human.

15. These are hard rules to explain to people. Why is that a problem, Pete?

When you are transforming something and making a massive change, not everyone is going to understand. Be right- and make the change happen.

16. I’m not paying you for the player you used to be, I’m paying you for the player you are right now.

Hard-hitting. If he’s a good hitter, why doesn’t he hit good?

17. We’re going to change the game.

Fix something you want to be fixed. It’s just that.

Though I was able to identify most of these while watching the movie, I had to re-read the post to make this article upto here.

I wasn’t quite sure as to how I’d relate the lessons to the startup-scenario. The author of the original article has done it brilliantly.

Original article was written by a co-founder of Hubspot:

http://onstartups.com/tabid/3339/bid/76799/Startup-Lessons-From-17-Hard-Hitting-Quotes-In-Moneyball.aspx?utm_source=pulsenews&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=Feed:+onstartups+%28OnStartups%29