Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Its been a while

Its been a while since I last wrote, and like always so much happened in between. But I'm closer home literally, metaphorically - I moved back to Guwahati, Assam in hopes of doing what I always thought I should. It is not particularly easy - not with everyone doubting, not believing in the intensity of the ideas that nurture in me. But then, I figured out its important - its important to me more than anything else, its important I gave that part of me an opportunity to surface.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Oh the bank of the Red River!!

An emotional fool ... I may be that. But I also am glad I can feel those very humane emotions every time I hear the Bihu songs, every time I hear Bhupen Hazarika, Jayanta Hazarika...sometimes I wake up in the morning and try to imagine the sounds that I heard when I was growing up in the village...the sounds of the villagers walking past our house in the village of Pakorkona in Hajo in the crack of the dawn, on their way to the bus stop to catch the 5 AM bus to Guwahati where they would sell brinjals...amongst many other sound. But I remember this sound particularly as this is the first sound I would hear in the day. I would be still on the bed. Those days all the kids would usually sleep with Abu or Bordeuta. I must have been around 3 years old ...that's the image I've in my mind. The villagers would walk all the way from Roumari, a nearby village, as there was only one road where buses could stop for miles and miles. I often used to wonder how could they be all ready with their brinjals nicely stacked on those balance-type of carriers made of bamboo while I was still sleeping. There is absolutely no light outside, but you can see the silhouettes pf the people - all cheerful and optimistic about the business that day...all but two baskets of brinjals balanced across their shoulders!

By the way - no one any longer sells brinjal from Pakorkona or Roumari - they have or spend their time looking for a "government" job - one that would pay for no work whatsoever. No longer any kid goes to pick potatoes on the fields like we used to.They go to schools and institutes which do not give them skills but qualifies them for some jobs which again would require no skills. Why is when I want to go back to Pakorkona after having seen the land across 7 oceans and 13 seas (as is the proverb), they want to go away? Why progress is moving away from roots?

For the matter of fact, no one any longer walks to any other house in the same village, forget about walking from Roumari.No one any longer needs the bus, they all have bikes and cars! My sister and I often talk about how to make more and more people aware of the defining environmental issues of the 21st century - of global warming & carbon footprints. We will be called mad women if we even tried. But then we will make our attempts!

Why did I write again ...just to understand why do I feel so strongly about the love of my land, about Bihu, about the banks of the mighty Brahmaputra..

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Oscars,passion, goals of life....and morning cup of tea

I got up – determined that today will change things. Today will be that moment in my life when I will live for the purpose, and find the purpose. I woke up quite early for that purpose – I dragged myself out of the bed at 5:30 AM in the morning – a habit that I had lost in the recent times.
Its always soothing – the quietness of the morning, the soft light, the fact that I’m one of those who are ahead of the mass today – the fact that I’m ahead and an early starter, terrific feelings. I was almost about to write a post on the importance of a cup of tea early morning – but then other things came – certain realizations and certain facts. Yeah – but an early morning cup of tea has its wonder effects – true to the campaign of one tea brand – it just wakes you up to your surroundings. I guess the Oscar awards playing live on Star Movies had a catalyst to play – somehow all these incredible people and the magnitude of their achievements, people who embody passion in what they do made me realize one thing – you can’t do anything without passion. There is no point living life without passion, without embodying passion.
These are the facts for the day –
• I realized there is no point staying separate from your family – no matter what is the price. No amount of money can ever take being with my sister – the fact that I could wake her up in the morning, pep her up for the day – these are wonders by themselves
• Second realization – hard work is a must for any success. To achieve any amount of success worth the mass – so much more goes into it
• More than working hard to be a success in the mass, if what you’re doing is your passion – its the addiction of perfecting it – of pushing the bar
• My father got transferred to Sonitpur when he was thinking of getting transferred to Guwahati – to home. I understand his pain – but he will not tell me.
• I understand now , more than ever, of controlling your life and not letting a job, others control it
• Did someone not say the other day – “If you don’t write your the story of your life, someone will write it”
• Ofcourse I ask myself – will I be able to pull it? But I also know now is not the time to doubt – now is the time to believe in myself, and go for it
• I ask for strength – God give me some
• And yes – like the show I’m watching now – I want to excel at a world level, to achieve something at that level
Faith I have. Believing is having. I will have a wonderful life.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Wisdom from Satya, founder of CareerLauncher

"...You live your life by your individual balance sheet, by your own profit and loss statement...Don't waste time on what others think, say, just live your life, your purpose in life. In the end - only you makes sense..."

I heard this is in a TiE "My Story" session

Rich Dad, Poor pigs & goats:)

Rich Dad, Poor Dad is one of the most useful book I've read. I read it back in college. Thanks to a friend who couriered it to me to my hostel in some god forbidden remote corner of the North East. The book drove across many points which hit me bang on - and I've not forgotten them, even now. Asset & Liability - how do you differentiate between them, balance sheets, P & L etc. He made them seem so relevant to my life in its various ramifications that I started using those terms.

And was I not proud of it! I gifted copies of that book to all those who matter to me when I started earning.

But I was ashamed of myself when I got to know about the wealth creation abilities of the guy who takes care of L&S - Manoj. Manoj is a 16 year old boy from a remote village in Assam who lives with us. (How he came to live with us is another story which I will blog on later) Manoj has two responsibilities - his two sisters, one elder and one younger. He has nothing else in this world - but good people skills (amazing is the word!!), a sense of reality, ability to work hard.Manoj makes about Rs.2500/month. He saves this amount completely because his other needs are taken care of. He sends money home - but only when it is needed. He thinks his sisters may not have a sense of how much in the money at hand, and end up spending it all.

Anyway, Manoj just came back from home. As usual he gave me a trip recap. I was particularly impressed with his investments -

- 2 piglets. Female. Each @ Rs.1000.
- 4 goats.Each @ Rs.500
- 1 cow which gives 1 litre milk of everyday:)

He has "outsourced" the rearing of all the above to people who are experts in this field:)The deal: 50-50.

2 female pigs will rear 8-10 piglets twice a year. Each will sell for Rs.1000. 50-50%!!

Same logic applies for all.

Isn't that impressive! I know friends who make well over a lakh a month, but end up saving nothing. And look at him. Without reading "Rich Dad, Poor Dad", he is following the advice:

- started young
- he is paying himself (saving for the future is paying himself)
- knows the difference between asset & liability ( outsourcing, not giving into emotions but investing is assets)

Truly impressive!!


Well, not the one in the Cambridge campus by the Charles river in Boston...but the one in my life..."Most Important Task". I've been reading about how to make effective use of time that I've in general ...each hour, each day...etc. I started by getting up early. Its working. There's nothing like getting up early and beating Mr.Sun on his own game. I see him rise up the horizon while I sip my morning cuppa. So long, Mr. Sun ..dream on!

Anyway, now that getting up early is not my battle any longer - deciding what to do with my time is the next question. I view these extra hours that I've in the morning as my perfect world - I don't have to deal with interruptions, or be involved in engagements on trivial matters, or be expected to act in a particular way because the majority thinks a certain a way. Well - there I digressed again.Brought the job into my life, into my blog post. The frustration is so much - more so about me because I'm not doing anything about it. I'm tired of acting as someone else in my day job - well, because I don't want to waste time resolving conflicts, having nonsensical arguments. I can be my argumentative Indian self elsewhere - not the job. It just is not required - or I get into these conversation which yield nothing. Even the brightest idea ( I was talking to someone the other day how effectively social media could be used) does not ring a bell. What's the use?

Anyway - back to MIT.

So, everyday I tell myself - what's the most important task of the day for me today? The process of thinking through it helps me shape up my day. Not always I can identify what's the MIT - those are bad days for me. At the end of those days, I feel indifferent. That's the worst thing - indifference. It should be one extreme:) But yeah - thinking of MIT helps.

What's the MIT for today? Start thinking!!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Where have I been? Starting up!

Well - its been quite some time. But I was up to all good things. Between 16th Dec, which was my entry into the start-up ecosystem at the TiE summit, and now - oh my god, I'm amazed at my own progress. I remember in the TiE summit, I was a nobody looking at these incredibly successful people giving talks on how to convert your ideas to a business to a global firm. But after Open Coffee Club meets and the Proto event, I'm pretty much the ecosystem now.

I know most people, most VCs, most idea generators, most serial entrepreneurs,most incubators - perfect!

I will update more about each of them specifically in my other blog - one for the professional world. But - I'm happy about my progress!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Dear Toon

Dear Toon,

Are you angry with me? Life has taken a fast track again, hasn't it? Several months ago, you could have been sipping tea with me on a day like today - you know Sunday afternoon, England visiting us and cricket on TV …and perhaps even talk about Randy Pausch’s teachings....its so unbelievable that you are not here.

"Keep everyone safe and sound" has become my new prayer - I say these words every time I breathe in. I don't know why we lost you. Its not easy for me to say - life has to go on, but I want to write about a few things. I'm hoping my whole family who I will read this letter to you, read about what I want to tell them. First of all, I want to tell my family - Maa, Deta, Moo, Mama, Mami, Mahi, Moha, Jethai, cousins.... everyone of you, that I love all of you and value all of you.

And through you, I want to tell Roon - we are family brother, we are family.

I want to remind all of my family to live a good life. Please eat healthy, take care of your body, be aware of your body, exercise, be active, be aware of the world and of things in general, have a sound mind and make good use of life.

And now, I want to tell all of them through you - about a great personality, Randy Pausch. I got to know Randy because of you. It was during the days when you were at my home in Bangalore that a friend introduced me to a source of hope and inspiration - Randy Pausch. I wish I could have told you about Randy Pausch when you were with me. But unfortunately, I could not.

But, I now want to tell everyone about him. Before I go ahead Toon, I want to tell you even though I tell myself to have a rational mind I can't always fight my tears. And no, I'm not too proud of those tears.But, here I go.

Randy Pausch was an American professor of computer science, human-computer interaction and design at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pausch received his bachelor's degree in computer science from Brown University in 1982 and his PhD in computer science from Carnegie Mellon in August 1988. Pausch later became an associate professor at the University of Virginia, before working at Carnegie Mellon as an associate professor.
He gave his "The Last Lecture" speech on September 18, 2007 at Carnegie Mellon. Pausch conceived the lecture after he learned that his previously known pancreatic cancer was terminal.The talk was modeled after an ongoing series of lectures where top academics are asked to think deeply about what matters to them, and then give a hypothetical "final talk", with a topic such as "what wisdom would you try to impart to the world if you knew it was your last chance?" He died on July 25, at the age of 42.
Randy knew about his situation – knew that his days were numbered. But that didn’t take the spirit out of Randy – he tried more than ever to make use of the time that he had. He in fact researched his own medicines/treatment strategy. Randy used to maintain a daily blog – till a week before he could write no more. He planned as much as he could for his family for the time when he is gone. He sorted out his finances with his wife, made educational plans for his three kids. But like most human beings, Randy wanted to be a superhero for his kids – he wanted his kids to remember him as the great father even when he is gone physically. That motivated him to write, “The Last Lecture” – his attempt to leave behind a legend.
In his 42 years of life, Randy achieved a lot :
- Professor at Carnegie Mellon University
- A great marriage with Jai
- Three wonderful kids
- A legend for his kids – his book became a New York Times Bestseller
- More than anything else, he fulfilled all of his childhood dreams
To do all of these, he required an indomitable spirit and “can-do” attitude towards life. That’s the message I want to give to our family, Toon – we need to have the spirit, we need to have dreams, we need to create value out of life – we need to go that extra mile, be disciplined to justify the purpose our life.
Through this letter to you, I would encourage all of my family, specially the young, to read the following and be inspired –
- “How to really live all your childhood dreams”
- Randy’s time management tricks
- The Last Lecture
Please reach out to me – whoever needs the books.
I read somewhere Toon, death is the next phase of life. May be that’s what it is. But I do know that we should make best use of the time we have in hand – reach out to those who need us, create an impact, make this world a little better because we lived.
In so many ways – you’ve done that, brother. You were the ideal son, the sincere student, the composed human being. You taught us many things – its up to us now to maximise our lives. That’s what makes sense, right brother?
Perturbed as I’m to the core, I’m trying to spread some soothing thoughts. That’s my intention brother, nothing else.
May we all make good use of our lives. Bless us brother – give us your good sensibility and judgement. Watch over us.
- Majoni Ba

P.S. – Please forgive me, Toon, if I had hurt you in anyway during the period that you stayed with us. No, I couldn’t relate to the acute pain that you experienced. Perhaps I could have done better. I didn’t know I was running against time. But this is my promise brother, I will try to use my time well and touch as many lives as I can.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Silence after the mayhem

No, No... I've not given up. Not after all the mayhem,bloodshed and the war on my country. No, I've not given up. I'm just preparing my to-do list. This time I need time to think through the list.

Basic rules - action within my scope of control, timelines, accountability - all basic project management. But yes, this time its my country who needs my services.

I started with a small step - spreading awareness. Now, one would argue that's vague. But this is how I've achieved objectiveness

- Never remain silent when I, to the best of my knowledge, know that I'm hearing is incorrect - morally and factually
- Influence through written and spoken words. Start contributing to the local dailies of Assam. I will have to start small - graduate from my state to my country and who knows, to the world. And as Maa says, people in the cities have access to publications but its the people in places like Guwahati who need hope, assurance and ideas.
- Educate the uneducated Indians; not letters but ideals. My action - teach Manoj. Today I taught him about the geographical boundaries of India, earth's rotation & revolution. I want him to appreciate the world at large, and grow out of his small village. THis is my dream for every Indian
- Learn, learn, learn - Indian history, world history, politics, economics, international relations - with sis & Rajib. Answers to today's problems are often found in history. So, I will make myself aware.
- Make an attempt at Civil Services. If ISB happens, take social entrepreneurship seriously. Otherwise, start executing the plan. My hope preparing for IAS will atleast give me the foundation to know my country & world diplomacy/affairs better. I can always reconsider how best is to serve the country, make use of my life
- Intelligence, ability are gifts. Make use of them. And its a sin if I don't use, and more so, if I let incapable people lead me. Leadership is an attitude. And leaders are also responsible to rectify irresponsible leadership of mistaken-leadership

Keep motivation high