29 Jun 2015

Why Smart People Play Their Cards Close to their Chests

Smart and successful people have been playing their cards close to their chests (and breasts) since centuries. Why? I’ll tell you why. But first, let’s talk about some incidents.

Something was nagging me. I discussed the case with a friend. I was just looking for someone to hear me out. I had barely spoken for half a minute when he interrupted, “See, I don’t know much about this, but here’s my advice.” “I don’t want it!”, I wanted to scream. Apparently I didn’t, and my face didn’t betray my mood either, because he carried on talking while I dreamt about visiting Iceland.

Another time, I wanted to try something adventurous. I shared my thoughts with someone I know - I want to call her a friend but the incident left me wondering. “Bad, bad idea! You’re bat shit crazy!”, she disapproved. Discouraged and feeling rather low, I proceeded regardless, expecting little from it. The response, however, was the opposite. It was better than what I expected even before speaking to her.

On both instances, when I got something off my chest, I wished I had shut my mouth instead. And these aren’t isolated cases (how I wish!). They frequently occur in daily life. I’ve suggested some brilliant ideas in my previous companies (yeah, I’m bragging) only to get responses drier than a dead leaf. And when I tried to justify the ideas, or push them forth with conviction, people said that I was being defensive. Maybe I was. Who am I, the Dalai Lama to nonchalantly smile while people trounce my ideas and thoughts?

I’ll bet my life’s savings on you having experienced similar emotions too. Many times…

playing cards close to chest

So, why do most people either pull you down or start giving you unsolicited advice, despite meaning well? It’s the feeling of self-importance. People like to plug themselves into every damn conversation and situation. “What would I have done in such a case?”, they think. And they respond without considering that your and their circumstances are different, or that you didn’t ask for their advice. And in case you did ask, they either believe that you will fail or are gripped by sheer jealousy because maybe… just maybe… you may succeed.

“People love you when you’re average. It makes them comfortable. But when you pursue greatness, it makes people uncomfortable. Be prepared to lose some people on your journey”, said Tony A. Gaskins Jr. So damn true. Now you get why people who achieve more often speak little in public?

People who speak less don’t have highly classified, CIA-type plans. Instead, they share those with a few trusted people. This eliminates the pretentious concept of ‘democracy’ where many people state unwelcome opinions and nothing is achieved. Instead, the smart folk put their plans into action, and when those yield good results, the world commends them saying that it knew that they always had it in them. MS Dhoni and Narendra Modi come to mind.

But the discomfort caused by people telling them what to do is not the only reason smart people play their cards close to their chest. Here’s one instance when I shot myself in the foot by being too honest.

I shared a unique thought on a topic for an assignment during college with a friend. He went on to tell the teacher the idea, as if it was his all along. So he created a good impression in her mind (in those days that was important to us), while I was left introducing my forehead to the wall repeatedly.

You get the drift. And again, I’ll bet my life’s savings.

The world has enough people who will take whatever you say or do and twist it to benefit themselves. It is also full of people who will support you in your pursuits and stand by your side rather than ‘advice’ you on what to do at every step. It’s important to find the latter and only have those people surround you. In this amazing infographic, James Altucher states that most successful artists, businesspeople, performers and the likes have surrounded themselves with people who have supported them in their ventures - something that played an indispensable role in them achieving success.

So think before you speak. Take your time before opening up to someone and sharing your beliefs and secrets with them. Be decisive with what you share. Test the waters before you dive into it headlong. Share your deepest thoughts and concerns with a select few who encourage you to do what you intend to. And until you find such people, be tenacious and silent. It not only saves you emotional distress of but also makes you resolute. People may call you stubborn and rude, but you can simply shrug and walk away, knowing that these are the very people who will suck up to you when you succeed.

I can count the number of people I trust on the fingertips of one hand. What about you? Whom do you trust? And why? I would love to hear from you.

10 Jun 2015

Even The Myanmar Attack Can’t Make Us Less Indian

I’m happy. In a hitherto unheard instance, the Indian Army entered Myanmar and avenged the loss of their brothers. Army officials stated that about 100 insurgents were killed and there has been no counter from them so far. Neither the media nor the terrorists’ intelligence sources saw this coming. The operation was covert, carried out in cooperation with the Myanmar government, and has made us Indians feel proud and secure. A lot of credit for this goes to Narendra Modi’s foreign visit policy.

Apparently I am not alone. Millions of other Indians are happy too. Twitter and WhatsApp are filled with updates on how proud the army has made us feel. Some friends and I were discussing this on a WhatsApp group. And then, one of them wrote “Myanmar is okay, Pakistan is different. It’s like the difference between nuke and a hand grenade.” In short, he implied that the army will only have proved its mettle if it attacks Pakistan.

myanmar attack Indian army

At first, I was livid. I seethed for about an hour. Then, my anger turned to pity. It reminded me of my younger days. Once I had scored 60 out of 75 in Algebra. Just once! I was so happy that I mentally was announcing it to the world from atop Mount Everest. Mom, however, thought differently. “Good”, she said “but what was the highest score?” Experience had taught me that when it came to studies, every time my mother said “good”, it was followed with a “but”. And my mom wasn’t the only person, was she? No. Indian parents have a reputation to uphold, and by not doing this, they are probably letting themselves down. 

It’s not just Indian parents who indulge in comparison. This sort of behavior and thinking reflects an Indian resident’s lifestyle. Indians are unhappier than Pakistanis. Can you believe that! We’re more frustrated than Pakistan, though everything we have is a hundred-fold more than them.

I think that globalization has made us Indians take what we have for granted. Nothing is enough, and that’s why Amazon’s Aur dikhao (show me more) resonates so much with us. The outburst of things to possess has driven us insane. If we don’t have more than the person beside us, we have failed (or so we are made to believe). We have become slaves to the media. Traits like appreciation, gratitude and contentment are just good for talks in a satsangh: ironic, considering that our scriptures teach more contentment and less desire. It reflects even in our conversations. Talk to someone about something you did or intend on doing, and they instantly plug themselves into the conversation. Comparisons begin, advice is doled out without asking, you’re often made aware of ‘how wrong’ you are… it’s all about how you stack up against them.

It’s time to evolve beyond the conventional mindset that has been a part of us for decades. Stop comparing events and people. Appreciate unconditionally, and be happy for what you have. Silently thank God (or your stars, if you are an atheist) for small things that you are fortunate to receive. And quit saying that your life is f*cked and you don’t have anything to be thankful for. If you can read this post, it alone means that you are more fortunate than 75 percent of the world’s population. If you earn 5 figures monthly, you are more fortunate than 90 percent of India’s population. If you have an iPhone, you are more fortunate than me ;)

Practicing appreciation is not difficult. This is not about appreciating the Indian army or the Modi government (though you should). Appreciate small things that people do, or their feelings when they share some thoughts with you. Quit undermining someone’s accomplishments by comparing them with yours. Be grateful for family and friends, learn to live with less, and witness your own life become happier. And since you influence those closest to you, you will spread happiness in their lives too. Now isn’t that something worth living for!

21 May 2015

Does Modi Need to Go On Foreign Visits So Frequently?

“The previous PM was on Silent Mode. The current PM is on Flight Mode.” You must have read this message a hundred times by now, right? Narendra Modi has visited 17 countries in his first year, and the ‘tours’ just don’t seem to end. Someone had cracked a joke about how empty Modi’s passport was at this time last year.

So what is this showbaazi about? Senior journalist Renu Mittal slammed every move of Narendra Modi lately (surprise surprise?) and said that Modi is doing what every other Prime Minister has done. In fact, she believes that since he has 4 more years in the office, he should space out his visits and focus more on work within India. Well, she exemplifies the ignorance in a lot journalists these days - something that led to them being tagged ‘presstitutes’ and #GoHomeIndianMedia trending in Nepal and India.

Let’s leave our emotions out of the picture and think objectively about Narendra Modi’s foreign visits for some time.

narendra modi foreign trips

Narendra Modi’s visit to Australia was the first by an Indian Prime Minister in 28 years. His visit left Russia and USA feeling somewhat queazy because of some policy agreements, most importantly a nuclear deal and landmark framework for security cooperation. India will now receive a substantial supply of uranium and collaborate with Australia in generating cleaner energy. This should, to an extent, put a tab on the bullying behavior of USA, and increase the bargaining power of India. Modi also pushed for making a resolve to ‘isolate those who harbor terrorists” and called for a “closer security cooperation, but, even more a policy of no distinction between terrorist groups or discrimination between nations’. The aim is to make India safer from Chinese and Pakistani insurgency.

Closer home, Modi has visited many Asian countries like Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Myanmar, Mongolia, China and South Korea. Come on! These are countries that we common folk visit on a vacation, right? (I hope you don’t mind being called common folk - anyway it’s Hindi translation is aam aadmi.) Why does a Prime Minister have to visit them instead of taking care of your and my petty problems here? Well, here are some points to ponder on.

The Prime Minister is forming good relations with neighbors, thus securing the borders of India from Chinese and Pakistani infiltration. Also, until recently, India was seen as a marketplace of a vast population, where multi-national corporations could sell their wares and make lots of money. Modi is now making India an investment centre. This will help in technology transfer (you MBAs surely know what it means. If you don’t, because you watch TimesNow and read ToI-let paper, you might have to Google it). It will also increase the number of jobs and reduce our current trade deficit because we will import lesser non-essential goods and instead, manufacture them here, and maybe even export them. The Rafale deal is a significant one because India has not had modern fighter aircrafts since the last 17 years, as pointed out by our defense minister Manohar Parrikar. Developed nations like Australia, France, Germany, USA and South Korea have agreed to invest in India. Apart from Australia, Mongolia (which no Indian PM had ever visited before) and Canada have agreed to supply India with uranium to meet the target of 10,000 MW of hydropower generation each year, which will make India less dependent on costly fuel imports. Apart from saving us time spent outraging when petrol prices rises, this will also save us an enormous amount of money and provide sustainable energy to millions of people who don't have access to it.

During his visit to China, Modi exhorted the politicians, civilians, and even students to think about the their hostility towards India. He also pointed out that China’s steel dumping in India was not ethical, something the Chinese leaders acknowledged and promised to address. Would these have been possible without a Prime Minister as dynamic and steadfast as Narendra Modi? Plus, there are talks about positive steps to work together on railway and other projects to improve the infrastructure of India.

So you see? The 3 key aims of Modi through these foreign visits are:

  1. Secure India’s borders
  2. Encourage foreign investment, and
  3. Build a better India

If you want someone to help you, you have to reach out to them and offer them something first. The law of reciprocation kicks in and the person in front helps you achieve what you need. Common knowledge, isn’t it? And it holds true not only for you and me, but politicians and bureaucrats too. And this is exactly what Modi is doing.

Critics say that Modi is doing the same thing done during UPA II - i.e. no talks with Pakistan. However, India has always measured the effectiveness of foreign talks on the basis of interactions with Pakistan, USA and, to an extent, Russia. Should we continue with age old redundant policies or look to implement new and effective ones? It’s time for you to decide. Do you want to live in an India which progresses in leaps and bounds in the coming years? Where people have jobs and the quality of life of billions is better than today? Or would you prefer living in one where you still keep promoting ‘secularism’ and decrying corruption while the world passes you by?

“I have never seen any leader as rapturously received in Australia as PM Modi”, said Tony Abbott. Modi received stellar welcomes in USA, Canada, Europe, Japan and other countries too. We, his own countrymen, however fail to recognize the hope that he brings, and rant about money and time being wasted on these trips. Now this post is not to tell you to start supporting Modi - if you despise him, you won’t see the light even if it is shining right in your face. And if you are a Modi supporter like I am, you don’t need to be convinced about the progress and development that India can achieve in the next 4 (hopefully 9) years.

30 Apr 2015

10 Similarities Between Dhoni and Modi

Despite being anti-IPL, I have been following it a lot this season, partly because I want to rally behind our players who couldn’t win the World Cup. Sounds lame, doesn’t it? But hey, I’m being honest with you here.

A couple of weeks ago was my 32nd birthday. I was thinking of keeping celebrations low-key and chilling at home. Chennai Super Kings were playing Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede stadium and I was going to watch it at home (you can figure out my birth date now). Instead, Ramya got tickets for the Sachin Tendulkar Stand. Thanks to her, I finally saw Mahendra Singh Dhoni live in action.

If you know me (or have read my posts), you know that I am a huuuuge MS Dhoni fan. More than his powerful hitting and habit of winning, I admire his philosophies on life. I consider him as Dhonicharya and myself as Eklavya, though I haven’t learnt enough from him yet.

Dhoni was his typical self in the match - calm, composed and unhurried. It was mind-blowing to see the number of CSK supporters in a stadium in Mumbai, until Dhoni came out to bat. It then hit me like a bullet in the chest. They were all Dhoni fans! While screaming “Dhoni, Dhoni” with thousand others that night, I felt like I had seen this somewhere else. Oh yes, I had seen it on TV. A lot! Only instead of “Dhoni, Dhoni”, people were chanting “Modi, Modi”.

Dhoni and Modi
The similarities are striking

I thought about it on the way back. Are Dhoni and Modi similar? My heart and brain emphatically said “Yes! In more respects than one.” And when your heart and brain agree on something, you really want to talk about it! So I thought of listing 10 similarities between the two veterans in their respective fields.

  1. Both carry the hopes of 1.2 billion countrymen on their shoulders
    One thing that unites India is cricket. And one thing that divides India is politics. Events in both of them impact the entire country massively. Being the captain of the Indian cricket team places a colossal burden on Dhoni’s shoulders, just like being the Prime Minister of India does to Modi. The entire nation’s hopes rest on them. But why do we have high hopes of them? Well, read point number 2.

  2. Both possess unwavering self-belief
    As long as Dhoni is at the crease, any target, however distant, looks achievable. Remember the last time we felt like this? Yes, it was during the Sachin Tendulkar era. Similarly, when Modi galvanizes himself and his team into action, we are left inspired almost always. Remember the wave of delight across the country when the BJP won a landslide victory in the 2014 Elections? How do these 2 real life superheroes make us believe in them? How have they been so effective in what they do? It’s because they believe in themselves. They back their abilities, and deliver more often than not. And since others see in us what what see in ourselves, people believe in Dhoni and Modi too. Their sheer presence exudes a certain charisma and gives us hope - the only emotion stronger than fear.

  3. Both have brilliant perspectives on things
    Yet another commonality between Dhoni and Modi is their enviable intelligence. This intelligence stems from years of mental and physical training, empowering them to have a brilliant perspective on things. They are astute students of life, possessing the ability to look beyond the present and chart out plans to handle situations before they even arise.

    For instance, here is how Modi meticulously plans every action of a strategy down to the last detail. And Dhoni… well, he says “People generally have Plan B to fall back on. I have Plans B, C and D.” Unbelievable!

  4. Yet, both are massively misunderstood
    In this post, Oliver Emberton has beautifully explained that the more you impact people’s lives, the more they will misunderstand you. Since 2.4 billion eyes (and a lot of foreign ones) are watching both Dhoni and Modi closely, every move they make is scrutinized and dissected. And then there are us Indians. The more the world applauds one of our own for being unconventional, the more more we hurl insults at him (APJ Kalam is an exception to this rule, thankfully!). Someone who doesn’t tell us what his intent is, becomes an antagonist. Thankfully, both Modi and Dhoni keep away from the limelight. This saves them time that would otherwise be wasted in explaining their actions to people who won’t listen anyway. How they do it? How do they soak up this pressure and still be retain their amazing attitudes? The next point answers these questions.

  5. Both have mastered the art of detachment
    The Bhagavad Gita preaches about performing action without attachment towards fruit. But how many of us can follow it? Well, Dhoni and Modi are two living beings who do so every single day. "If tomorrow he has to say goodbye to all the trappings of fame, Dhoni will calmly get on his motorbike and go away. He is that rarity who treats both those impostors - wins and losses - in the same way. He simply plays the game”, said Sunil Gavaskar.

    We have read unlimited articles and posts about Modi’s simple and austere lifestyle also. The sheer dignity with which our Prime Minister conducts himself despite what people say about him shows what he thinks of critics. I would love Modi to have 2 more terms as India’s Prime Minister. But if he doesn’t, I’m sure that he will still be at peace, knowing that he gave it his all. Such remarkable clarity of thought and ability to endure cannot be accomplished without detachment - from others’ opinions about them, materialistic pleasure, results and everything else.

  6. Both aim to serve Mother India
    It’s amply clear from the Indian Prime Minister’s and cricket captain's interviews and speeches that their prime goal is to serve their nation. For Dhoni, his country comes above everything else, even above his parents. Narendra Modi has dedicated his entire life to serving his nation, including valiant actions that we don’t know about to keep India united.

  7. Both distrust the media
    It’s no secret that both Modi and Dhoni distrust the media. By now we’re familiar with Modi’s aversion to mainstream media. Thousands of media journos beg for an interview with him, but he and his cabinet air their views only on Doordarshan and All India Radio. And he has substantially reduced the size of the entourage of the press traveling overseas with a Prime Minister, which has pissed off many journos who now write and talk horse shit about him frequently.

    Similarly, Dhoni has instructed the Indian cricket team not to speak to the media. He has shown what he thinks about the media on multiple instances. When asked about his retirement plans recently, Dhoni said “The media should conduct a thorough research, come up with conclusions and write the exact opposite, because that will be the truth.” On another occasion, when Dhoni was asked whether a rumor about the Indian team’s dressing room would be spread, he said “Newspapers like Times of India will do that for us. So I won't bother.” And I’m a sucker for people who don’t trust mainstream media.

  8. Both give credit where it's due and prefer avoiding the limelight
    The Indian cricket team is called ‘Dhoni’s boys’. The current Indian government is called ‘the Modi government’. However, rarely, if ever, do we see either of these evolved souls taking centre stage and hogging the limelight. When India wins a trophy, Dhoni is generally invisible in the team photo, often standing with the support staff in the second row. When a good budget is announced or good policies are implemented, Modi is nowhere in the limelight either. He stealthily goes about his work to make India a better place to live in for you and me. Did you see his response to #ThankYouPM?

  9. Both live in the present
    There is no denying that Dhoni and Modi work with the future in mind. They have to. However, they both possess the remarkable trait of living in the present moment. I have never seen Dhoni fuss about the future - he simply focuses on the current ball of the current over in the current match. Rahul Dravid says, “He has a unique ability to ignore consequences and soak up pressure. This makes it easier for everyone else. He is calm and measured. Win, lose, he can walk away.” And when he is off the field, he simply switches off from cricket and enjoys life outside.

    Modi is no different. Yes, he thinks a lot about our future (as he should), but he works in the present. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that he asks himself “What can I do now to improve our country’s future?”, and works accordingly. The last time developmental work was carried out at such furious pace was 1991. Instead of dreaming about our ideal future, Modi prefers to act in the present. And living the current moment to its fullest is the mark of a great human being.

  10. Yet, we choose to learn from neither
    Both Dhoni and Modi have infinite lessons to teach us; lessons which will make us better human beings. Yet, we refuse to learn from them and instead carry on with our mundane and hollow lives. It’s like we fear the consequences of living like them. But trust me, life is much better when you emulate Dhoni and Modi. The shackles fall off and you no longer feel like singing “I want to break free” because you already have broken free.

Each of us comes in this world to serve a purpose. I think that God sent Dhoni and Modi to inspire millions of us, apart from excelling in their fields. And boy, do they serve their purposes well or what! I hope that someday, I get to meet them and learn more about the core philosophies that govern their lives. If I can be 10 percent as honest, as genuine and as driven as either of them, my life’s purpose will be accomplished.

I’m sure that you can point many more similarities between them which are not listed here. Why not share them in comments? And for heaven’s sake, keep them positive. There is enough negativity in this world, so you don’t need to contribute to it.

24 Apr 2015

A Day Well Spent in the New TATA Bolt

We’re on the Expressway, on our way back from Lonavala. I’m getting ready to take the sweeping hairpin. 80 km/h should be good. So I look down at the speedometer to check whether I need to go faster. 110! Sh*t… must slow down. Gaadi meri nahi hai.

That’s how responsive the new Revotron 1.2 liter engine of the TATA Bolt is. And not just the engine, the whole package delights. The steering and handling, the planted feel, the responsive brakes, roomy interiors… they combine to make this car worth the ₹ 4.5 lakhs it costs in Mumbai. The accessories are good too, though they don’t appeal to a non gadget freak who likes and dislikes vehicles based on their quality of drive.
Image courtesy: Rohan
Before our trip started, I saw the Bolt’s product manager Udit Khanna peering into an Audi R8 parked outside CafĂ© Infinito. His nose was almost stuck to its glass. Good sign - a product manager who is passionate about automobiles. We struck a conversation and I got a sneak peek into the vast knowledge Udit has… something that Inder, the brand manager, affirmed later.

Rohan, Monish and me were paired up together for the day, while Suchir would drive with us as our guide answering all questions about the car. Both Rohan and Monish pulled rabbits out of the hat. Rohan showed marvelous control on the Tata Bolt, effortlessly carving his way out of traffic with precision. And he didn't complain once, which means that the car was just as welcoming of his inputs. And while I knew no blogger at the event, Monish knew everyone. I simply tagged along with him hoping that people would speak to me too. And it worked.

We were allotted the Diesel Tata Bolt to begin with. Rohan took the wheel first. After driving through the mini track (read Rohan’s review here), we headed for Lonavala. The car responded well in traffic (surprising that we found some on a Sunday afternoon) and came into its own on the Mumbai Pune Expressway. Rohan drove at good speeds and the Bolt stayed stable and planted. The diesel car especially bolted forward with additional vigor after touching the 2,500 rpm mark. The exhaust note wasn’t spectacular (I know, I know… too much expectation) but the cabin was quiet. We could keep the stereo volume low and still hear it clearly while having a conversation in the car, which speaks volumes (no pun intended) about the level of car’s cabin noise.

I took the wheel after Food Mall on the Expressway. The diesel didn't really feel enjoyable… can’t quite put a finger on the reason. I stalled twice and felt like the steering was somewhat vague. Maybe it’s because the diesel has to be driven differently from a petrol vehicle and am used to the latter. Anyway, post lunch we got to switch to the petrol Bolt.

Boy, the Revotron engine responded instantly. She was in Eco mode (the petrol variant has 3 settings - Eco, City and Sport) and needless to say, I switched to Sport. The steering instantly felt more taut, the engine had more grunt and the car did her best to stick to the line I was trying to take. The winding road between Bushi Dam and Aamby Valley is my favorite in Lonavala.

Push the limits of the TATA Bolt was fun. The only parts of the car opposing, as if telling me to peg back, were the tyres. But they still held their own. Meanwhile, the rest of the vehicle wanted to know what I was made of. So I tried, and she responded brilliantly on the ghats section. We stopped at Tiger Point, clicked snaps and returned.
tata bolt review
(L-R clockwise): Suchir, Rohan, Monish and me with the TATA Bolt at Tiger Point, Lonavala
It was a lovely event organized by Blogadda… seamless and hassle free. Anikta(s), Pooja, Anuja, Harish and the other team members were fabulous hosts, ensuring that no one felt any inconvenience. I met Ekta, Vaishakha, Deepak, Purujeet, Ankit, Omkar and other equally popular bloggers. Chatting with them was a whole lot of fun. It was a sunday well spent at #BoltDrives with BOLT from TATA Motors in association with BlogAdda.

As I eat the chocolate fudge which I bought from Lonavala, I recommend the Tata Bolt if you want to buy a hatchback. Okay, I didn’t buy the fudge. Monish did, and forgot to collect it. What was I supposed to do? Waste a box of delicious chocolate fudge? Anyway, thanks Monish ;)

1 Apr 2015

Why Australia Beat India in the World Cup, And It Will Happen Again

Yawn. Australia has won the World Cup. Again. The final was a pretty much a one-sided affair. Millions of hearts were broken since the support for New Zealand was massive. Indians wanted New Zealand to win because Australia had ousted us from the tournament. And the others wanted New Zealand to win because, frankly, it’s getting boring to see Australia win all the time. Reminiscent of Michael Schumacher's winning streak in the early 2000s. Borrriiingggggg…

India had a stellar World Cup. We set a world record by claiming 70 wickets in 7 successive matches. We were unbeaten until we faced the only team that could defeat us. Post defeat, it’s that  time when we claim that the Indian team is incapable of matching international standards. Again (Yawn?). Dhoni is destroying Indian cricket, Kohli is irresponsible, Anushka Sharma is a bad omen… blah blah blah blah blah.

Not to sound like a prophet, but I had sensed that the final would be between Australia and New Zealand by 19th February itself. And after the dog fight between Australia and the co hosts in the league matches, I was certain that Australia would be world champions again. Don’t ask me why. The explanation will put you to sleep.

Many Indians are disappointed because we couldn’t beat Australia despite having spent 95 days in the country. I’m not. We were beaten by a substantially better team. And this trend of Australia being dominant in world cricket (not just over India) will probably even outlive us. Why? Well, it’s because of the difference in quality of cricket - not just international, but domestic too.

See, the Australians are driven by excellence. Nepotism, red-tapism, preference to the minorities and other petty squabbles don’t plague them. ’Perform or perish’ is their mantra. And did I mention the military-esque discipline? How else do you explain a match winner like Andrew Symonds being dropped? And they train bloody hard - physically and mentally. This is why they not only play spectacular cricket but also raise their game many levels when the pressure increases.

india world cup 2015

Watch the KFC T20 Big Bash and other domestic Australian matches, and you will be stunned by Australia’s talent pool. Their domestic players are better than the international ones of most countries. And yet, most of those guys never make it to the international team. Can you imagine the quality of the international players then? Australians don’t just want to be number 1 compared to their rivals. They want to be better today than their own yester-selves. If other international teams are a 6, Australia doesn’t aim at being 7.5. They aim for a 10, which is why they are always above 9. 

India, on the other hand, is driven by vested interests. I’m not talking about the current cricket team - it’s the best ‘team’ we’ve had since I can remember. And those who believe that Dhoni is the captain of the best team, please remember that MS Dhoni has made this team the best. Which of these players would you called match winners about 6 years ago - Kohli, Rohit/Mohit Sharma, Dhawan, Ashwin, Raina, Shami or Jadeja? And how many of our players were considered among the best fielders in the world? 

MS Dhoni has brought about a fundamental change in the way players think. Contrary to your belief, politics does not decide which player makes it to the team. When asked what it would take for India to win more tournaments, Dhoni promptly responded, “10 men who are ready to stand in front of a moving bus if I ask them.” And he doesn’t want them to do something because he demands it, unlike most corporate bosses. Dhoni has an in depth understanding of the game which is beyond your and my mortal brain’s comprehension. His vision and ability to bring out the best in each player has made India an outstanding cricketing unit, one that we are proud of.

If there is something wrong with Indian cricket, it is the IPL and domestic cricket. Here are some stats: Between 2007-08 and today, Ishant Sharma has bowled 240+ overs in domestic matches and 220+ in the IPL. 500 overs! 3000 more balls! That’s more than what I have bowled underarm all my life. Shami, Zaheer and Mohit Sharma are overworked too. And before you go around blaming only the IPL (though I would rather have the IPL banned too), keep in mind that domestic cricket is also contributing to pushing fast bowlers towards the brink of breaking down physically. If a bowler declines domestic obligations citing lack of rest, the domestic boards start grumbling saying things like “since you play for India you don’t want to play for us anymore”. You get the drift, right? India doesn’t have the infrastructure to support fast bowlers or promote budding talent, despite the BCCI being the world’s richest sporting body. All India has is greed and selfishness. And that is why our fast bowling department sucks.

I hope that this post has made you realize that we didn’t lose the semis because of false shots or cracking under pressure. We lost to a team that has been virtually invincible since more than a decade now, even after all the veterans retired. This match was more than the Indian cricket team being beaten by a superior team. It was a reflection of the Indian culture’s demolition at the hands of a superior one. 

26 Mar 2015

Will You Be A Slave All Your Life?

Question for you: Why do you want to be a millionaire? Is it because you want a million dollars (or rupees) in your account? Or is it because you crave for the lifestyle that comes with it? Driving fancy cars, living in a lavish house, going on exotic vacations, attending crazy parties… Aaaaaah! The life!

I’m guessing it’s the latter, right? And that’s why you slog your butt off! You work like a maniac to be productive. This productivity, you are told, will help you progress and earn more. But here’s the thing. Productivity, real productivity, isn’t measured in quantity. It’s measured in quality.

I had written about one lie that society wants us to live in. Well, here’s another: doing more means you are productive. Doing less means you’re not doing enough. And if you don’t do enough, you won’t get anywhere in life. You will languish at the bottom while your peers get promoted, earn more, and enjoy more of life’s offerings. But, in reality you’ll work 10 hours a day, only to get promoted to eventually start working 14 hours! And that ‘relaxing weekend’ you so looked forward to will become a myth. If you are lucky, you’ll occasionally get to enjoy the spoils of your earnings by spending on gadgets that you barely use or indulge in a “short-or-get-fired vacation”, as Tim Ferris terms it. You will become a slave to money all your life.

But how can this be a lie? After all, doesn’t packing more activities in 24 hours give us a rush? True, it makes you feel great, but what do you accomplish? You tick a lot of items off your to-do list each day, but in the end, how did it help you to be productive? You worked your ass off only to have to do the same thing, in the same way, again tomorrow.

Doing more’ was a concept introduced by organizations to wring us, to suck out our blood, and then do it again. The more man did what he was told, the harder he labored, the better his chances were of being promoted. And as long as he believed this truth, the corporate world could make him work more and keep him bound.

slave to money

Dalai Lama was once asked what surprised him most about humanity. “Man”, he said. “Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present. The result being that he does not live in the present or in the future. He lives as if he is never going to die and then he dies having never really lived.”

Poignant, isn’t it? We are all living that life. Well, at least most of us are. If you are one of the few who is genuinely happy with their lives, I salute you. 

So what should we do to get out of this trap? Bruce Lee opined, “It’s not the daily increase, but the daily decrease that matters. Hack away at the unessential." So take stock of each daily activity. If that is helping you move closer to your ultimate goal, pursue it. If not, either delegate or stop it. However, dear reader, this does NOT apply to household chores. Please don’t quote this to your husband, wife or mother and declare that you will stop (or worse, delegate) household chores. It won’t be pleasant for me to see them chase me with knives and daggers.

So if you have a goal, do what helps you to pursue it. If you don’t, spend time with people who matter - spouse, parents, children, good friends. How will you find time? Simple. Eliminate activities and things that add to your daily burden instead of reducing it. Quit going to places where you are not needed. It’s better to quit when people are asking “why” instead of “when”. A “why” question means they are applauding your contribution, rather than wondering “when” your exit will come. So it’s best to free up time to pursue a more constructive and fulfilling life. You are the master of your fate. The key to your life is yours. It’s time you took it back from people who never should have had it to begin with.
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