Friday, April 29, 2011

Down Red Brick Lane

There are many many institutes, but only a handful of institutions. Because an institution is built not just with bricks but with a collective mind, heart and soul.

IIM Ahmedabad is one such institution, which I am lucky to have been part of. As we celebrate our golden jubilee year, it's a time to look back in wonder. To remember and to reflect on the people, the purpose and the principles which made us 'who we are'.

Much can and has been written on this subject, but as they say, a picture can speak a thousand words. Or even ten thousand, when it is a book of pictures as lovingly selected and produced as this one.

I am talking about the IIM Ahmedabad coffee table book, a work of not just art but beauty, joy and eternal spirit.

From the early days of the institute, right to the present time, the book brings to life the campus and its somewhat crazy way of life. The freedom enjoyed by both faculty and students, the many rituals and traditions (such as 'dunking' and 'WAC runs').

I was particularly fascinated by the many rare black and white pictures, including the first convocation, construction of the now-famous red brick campus, and pictures of some of the legendary professors like V L Mote, in their younger days.

Another beautiful thing is that the pictures of campus life were sourced not just from institute archives but from the alumni scattered across India and the rest of the globe. I was surprised to see two pictures of myself - looking young, thin and starry-eyed - which I'd never seen before!

All I can say is, a lot of thought and effort has gone into the making of this book. A team consisting of Prof Rakesh Basant, Prof Monippally, Sunil Handa, Aditi Handa, and Pranay Gupta took a year to put it all together. But the end result is certainly worth the sweat!

The book itself carries the weight of history not-so-lightly. The 150 page volume weighs 1.6 kgs and is printed by Thomson Press on a wonderful, thick paper called 'Natural Evolution'.

In short, it's a book you would want to possess and treasure, whether you have been associated with IIMA as a student or participant, or as an observer and admirer.

You can order your copy online through The site also carries a
range of other wonderful products from the WIMWIAN (the Official IIMA Souvenir Shop on the campus) .

The IIMA Coffee Table book costs Rs 3000 (plus Rs 150 for courier and beautiful, sturdy packing!). It's a limited edition, so place your orders quickly!!

For any further queries email

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I Have a Dream!!!

Finally. This is the cover I chose for 'I Have a Dream' - it's designed by Rupinder Singh, a young graphic artist from Kolkata. Yes, it was one of the 70 odd entries I received in response to the 'Design my next cover' contest.

I knew it was the 'One' the moment I saw it.

A big thank you to all who participated. I really appreciate the time and effort, and the love you put into this. I am truly blessed to have such wonderful readers and wellwishers out there.

And I'm sorry this announcement took its own time. But that's the world of publishing for you :)

I am also happy to announce that I have a new publisher - Westland. I am sure they will help 'I Have a Dream' reach out to even more readers. Touching more lives, inspiring more young minds.

The format of 'I Have a Dream' is similar to 'Stay Hungry' and 'Connect the Dots', but the theme is social entrepreneurship. A brief synopsis:

'I Have A Dream' is the story of 20 idealists who think and act like entrepreneurs. They are committed to different causes, but they have one thing in common: a belief that principles of management can and must be used to achieve a greater common good.

These stories say one thing loud and clear change starts with one person, and that person could be someone next door. Someone like you.

'I Have a Dream' will be released in the first week of June. Meanwhile, you can pre-order it at Flipkart, Infibeam and Indiaplaza.

For exact release date, launch event and loads more updates do 'like' the 'I Have a Dream' FB fanpage (which will be populated today):

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Inner (Re) engineering

"Do you know what you want from life?"

When a question is posed by a man with orange robes and dancing eyes, the word 'no' tumbles out spontaneously.

"See, many people say I want this job or that house or this much money... but then what?"

Then what is the reason we are standing at the entrance of the Dhyanalinga temple at the Isha Yoga Ashram near Coimbatore. Swami Patanga is our 'guide'. And he must have repeated these very same words a hundred times before, but he is so involved and animated.

Because each time it is an honour and a privilege, to open the door to a new seeker.

I will not play back the words, or provide a textual tour. All I can say is the experience of the Dhyanalinga is different from any other.

At this 'temple' there are no rituals, no poojas. No jostling, no queues. Dhyanalinga is a space which you enter to be with yourself, to experience the joy of a quiet mind.

They say you don't need to 'know' how to meditate. You enter Dhyanalinga and it just happens. And that is absolutely true.

In the short time I spent at the ashram I visited Dhyanlinga four different times. The first time, during the naad-aradhana, which is held twice a day. At this time, the majestic dome reverberates with an offering of sound.

People say it is one of the most beautiful experiences they have ever had. But for me, the Dhyanalinga experienced in silence was the 'real' thing. This time, I first took a dip in the Theerthakund - a reservoir of 'sacred water'.

Theerthakund is a rectangular tank embedded 30 feet deep in the earth, you walk down giant granite steps to reach it. The water is cold enough to make you go Brrrr - it will invigorate you to the core. But it's more than a religious 'swimming pool'.

Theerthakund is 'energised' by a mercury lingam (known as Rasalinga). This lingam is said to have healing properties and 'opens' you, makes you more receptive to Dhyanalinga. And kuch to hai, you can feel it.

I have never been the 'religious' type but what I have understood in the last five years is this: the true purpose of visiting a temple or a guru is 'darshan'. Darshan is not merely to 'see' but to receive energy. Energy embedded in the deity, or in the living person.

The lingam form is the purest form of energy worship.

Dhyana, in Sanskrit, essentially means meditation, and Linga means, the form. The first form is a Linga and the final form before dissolution is also a Linga. A Linga or perfect ellipsoid can be energized in various ways, to serve different purposes. It is one form that when energized becomes a perennial storehouse of energy.

Hence in very simple terms Dhyanalinga is a recharge station. You plug in and your receive. You don't have to 'do' anything, just being there is enough.

A more eloquent explanation provided by Sadhguru himself in this video:

I know that all this may sound like mumbo-jumbo to some of you but you have to experience it for yourself. The third time I entered Dhyanalinga, I sat there for an hour, feeling a sense of complete calm and wellbeing. I was connected to some Higher Power, a loving energy, The Source.

I come back, feeling different. The very first day I woke up at 5 am, feeling fresh and ready to start the day. With Isha yoga practices which I found 'boring' just a week ago.

It feels like something deep and fundamental within me has shifted.

I share this very intense and private moment with all of you, because I know *some* of you are lost and looking for 'answers'. For one brief moment, put logic aside and open your mind.

To ideas which are as old as the world itself.

To know more more visit

Friday, April 15, 2011

Kuch na kaho

There are two kinds of people in the world - those who speak their mind, and those who mind what they speak.

Now I am not referring to the kind of speaking out we see on television, or at Jantar Mantar, a group discussion or even a school classroom. That kind of speech is about opinion, about response in a formal, public environment.

The speech I am talking about is the interaction between two people in a close, personal relationship. Could be father and son, husband and wife, girlfriend and boyfriend - you get the picture.

Each human being is unique and different, each has their own internal wiring - some of it genetic and some learned behavior. So there is no 'right' and 'wrong' here. But whether you speak, or don't speak - either way you are likely to have problems.

The person who speaks, generally does so out of anger. Something is bothering him or her, sochte hain chhodo rehne do, I will stay quiet. But the tension builds up inside and one day, it all bursts out like a volcano. A molten lava of words, thoughts and 'things I don't really mean but can't help saying' spill onto the tongue. Scorching the other party's mind and heart, sometimes irrevocably.

Things get even worse when the person you are speaking to is the 'silent' kind. Even as you are expressing your anger and just want some reassurance, or an apology or simply acknowledgement of your feelings, you find yourself speaking to a brick wall. Impenetrable and indifferent.

It makes you even more mad and well, you can imagine the vicious cycle this creates. A cycle that becomes a default pattern for interaction, and for frustration and despair.

Even a child will tell you that it's not nice to yell and shout and lose control. So, does that make the silent man or woman a saint? No, sir.

Human beings communicate many things with their silence. And also with their expressions. A person may not say anything, but contempt or indifference can clearly be felt by the way you look at someone, By choosing not to respond you are saying "I don't care what you say, what you feel - I have shut my mind, you can't affect me."

Another form of silent punishment is 'passive aggressive behavior'. Which means you fail to keep promises or fulfill responsibilities, yet don't actually refuse and hence keep the other person hanging.

It's that maddening deathzone between a 'no' and a 'yes'.

Suppose I ask you to go and buy some eggs and you don't really want to do it. Now instead of saying,"Can you go get the eggs today - I don't feel like getting out of my pajamas" you say you will go fetch, and then hang around doing nothing.

After 15 minutes I realise you are not going to move your butt. Depending on how stressed I get, we could see a minor, major or Mahabharat level argument break out.

Now the mature thing would be for me to keep cool and discuss this at another time. Explain that this is hurtful and unacceptable. But with trains to catch and deadlines to meet, maturity is about as common as an honest politician.

And so it goes, and so it goes… what is the solution you propose?

Expressing emotions in an unhealthy manner is mental pollution - it poisons the atmosphere. And creates rifts and chasms between hearts.

Not expressing your emotions is allowing them to eat you away inside. Cancer is said to be a manifestation of suppressed emotions.

I personally think the answer lies in working on yourself mentally - all the time. We are mostly in auto pilot mode, rushing from one 'thing to do' to the next.

Meditation, deep breathing, yoga, pranayam, reiki - these are some of the techniques one can use to calm the mind. The trick is to get into a routine and do it continuously. Every day. Just like you brush your teeth.

But all said and done it is bloody difficult! I have an ongoing personal struggle with anger management issues and I think I've made a bit of progress. But sometimes, a brain transplant seems like the only permanent solution.

If you have other - more practical ideas - please do share them!

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