Monday, August 29, 2016

Pappettan tackles a late arrival

In professional life, there is always a need for a meeting. When there is a meeting involved, there are always two opinions about it. Meetings waste a lot of time. There are many people called into a meeting where most of them are irrelevant. There are scores of articles written about how to organize and conduct meetings. As I have nothing new to add on that subject, I will stay away from such topics. At the same time, I would like to address a misconception about the action items generated in a meeting.

Recently, I was in a meeting with a group of people. In the current scenario where remote collaboration is becoming not only necessary but also attractive, the meeting was a teleconference. Pappettan was in the room along with me and several others. One of our colleagues joined late. By the time our fellow member came into the meeting, we had finished all the major items. 

One of us: *with a smile* Welcome.

Late Arrival: *sounding apologetic* I am sorry. I got caught up in something else.

One of us: *hiding the smirk* We are finishing up the meeting.

Late Arrival: *disappointed* Oh!

One of us: *seriously* There are a few action items. You are the owner of the majority of them.

Late Arrival: *slightly agitated* Because I wasn't there, it was convenient to put all actions on me.

As soon as the late arrival completes the statement, all of us become quiet. We realized we had touched a raw nerve. None of us were sure how to tackle the situation. At this point, Pappettan took charge effortlessly.

Pappettan: *chuckles* Hello Late Arrival. I am Pappettan.

Late Arrival: *silent and tensed*

Pappettan: *explains as gently as possible* There were action items on us too. But since we were in the meeting, we could address them immediately and close them.

Late Arrival: *silent*

Pappettan: *continues calmly* Since you were away, we parked it. Now that you are here, you can close them like we did.

Photo Courtesy: Office Now

Sunday, August 28, 2016

A young lady learns about Suffragettes

Sitting with your daughter while she is learning can turn into a humbling experience. While my daughter was practicing her comprehension skills, I noticed the text was about suffragette movement. Although I didn't know a lot of about this topic, I knew just enough to know it was a women's movement. So after my daughter finished the text, I asked her to explain what she read to me. As I was not happy with her explanation, I decided to hammer in the point.

Me: *seriously* You are a woman! *panics, pauses and rethinks the strategy* You are a girl!

Daughter: *looks up and fixes her eyes on me questioningly*

Me: *confidently* You should know about suffragette. It was a women's movement.

Daughter: *expressionless*

Me: *energetically* Women couldn't vote. Suffragettes were fighting for the fundamental rights.

Daughter: *silent*

Me: *determined* Women couldn't go to colleges. Girls couldn't go to schools.

Daughter: *breaks the silence* That was good.

Me: *confused* Why?

Daughter: *explains in a matter of fact tone* Then, I wouldn't have to learn all these. 

Photo Courtesy: U.S. Embassy, the Hague

Friday, August 26, 2016

India Type of deals

“India type deals.” Or should I read it as “Small is beautiful”? Since you can’t bottle has become old, package the wine in a new one. Earlier, the big companies used to shun small deals. It is up to smaller fishes in the market to go for the small deals. What is the reason for the sudden interest in such deals? Is this the direct result of the scramble for revenues and margins?

The other buzzword used is automation. I may sound like a Luddite or a retrograde. The reality is that services industry has not attained the maturity in this space yet. They will eventually get here. But currently, there is an emphasis on automation and pressure to deliver. The unnecessary pressure is not creating the right atmosphere to foster creativity. As a result, there is a tendency quickly fix some broken piece in a complicated process and label it as saving because of automation. This course of action does not foster the right environment to encourage creativity and end-to-end thinking.

Read Vanitha Narayanan's interview on India Type of Deals over here.

Photo Courtesy: Indi Samarajiva

Friday, June 3, 2016

Pappettan never gets bitter

Do you feel bitter when a friend lets you down? You may be disappointed. But does that disappointment turn into bitterness? While you answer the question, do you know that bitter words can destroy a good relationship? If you are feeling resentful, then what you utter will also be bitter. Most of the time, you spit out how you feel. It takes extraordinary abilities to control the negative emotions. But I stand corrected. There is one person who is above all human weaknesses. That person is none other than our Pappettan.

When the sun came out of hiding in the spring, we organized a photo walk. The mission was to photograph the lovely spring flowers in their natural habitat. After deliberation, we narrowed on a day where there was ample light but low temperatures. We can drape layers and layers of clothes to warm ourselves up, but we are unable to coax the weather god. On the day of the mission, a friend of ours decided to back out. I was consumed with rage and hatred, but Pappettan kept his cool. When we reached the destination, the levels of anger has climbed exponentially. At the meeting place, the rest of the friend raised the obvious question? Where is the other friend?

I was about to explode at this stage. When I had formulated all my bitterness and was about to respond, I heard a calm voice beside me. It was Pappettan. He had anticipated this moment and taken the lead quietly. "It is quite cold today for Spring. You know he can't handle cold. So he decided to skip." With this rationale, everyone accepted and felt sorry for the friend who missed the event. It also made me pause and rethink the whole scenario. Yes, our friend couldn't handle cold weather. It was the reason for him to skip the photo walk. But why was I concentrating on my disappointment and not the real reason for him to miss the occasion? 

Photo Courtesy: Navaneeth KN
Tags: Pappettan Says

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Pappettan and Vincent Bhavana

Over the weekend, I saw "Maheshinte Prathikaaram." I have heard a good review about the movie. Fortunately, the glowing reviews did not dampen the viewing pleasure. It is an intriguing movie as it is not easy to pinpoint the success of the movie. You might come up with many points, but the story will not be one of those points. That is the brilliance of the movie. There is a wafer-thin plotline, but you are hooked. When compared to "Premam" which was tightly packed with conversations, "Maheshinte Prathikaaram" diametrically opposite. Mahesh Bhavana, the protagonist, is a simpleton. In a harsh tone, we can call him the proverbial frog in the well. He doesn't get out of the well. But he sees his well in a different way giving the movie a flavor of coming off age. And Vincent Bhavana is Mahesh's dad who indirectly influences the change.

There are many similarities between Pappettan and Vincent Bhavana. Before we delve into the similarities, let us address the obvious differences. Obvious is the keyword is here. There is a difference which is not very apparent. I will treat this difference at the end. Pappettan and Vincent Bhavana are not the same agewise or looks-wise. Pappettan is decades younger than Vincent Bhavana, and he is also more handsome than the latter. Then they are both photographers, sees beauty all around them and can inspire people. Vincent Bhavana in the movie advises his son on the essential trait for a photographer. As a photographer, you have to sense a beautiful moment about to unfold before you and be ready with your camera. This line also happens to Pappettan's favorite. Compassion or an inordinately strong experience can groom you to predict the beautiful moment.

Now to the differences. According to Vincent Bhavana, you can learn photography, but you cannot teach photography. It is a philosophical statement. You can point and click. But that does not guarantee a good picture. Unless and until you appreciate and value the beauty around you, there will not be great photos. Vincent Bhavana leaves Mahesh to figure this out. Pappettan does not stop at this point. In fact, he tries to open your inner eyes. He will help you in every which way possible to fasten your learning process.

Tags: Pappettan Says

Monday, May 30, 2016

Books: Running with the Kenyans

Adharanand Finn writes about his experiences in training for a marathon in this book. If you look at running, Kenyans have been dominating this field. They have been winning medals in most of the famous events. This book tries to understand what make Kenyans such good runners based on the author's experience. As Finn tries to learn running from the Kenyans, Kenya seems to be the best place for getting that education. So, Finn packs his bag and moves to Kenya for a year.

Finn has a family. So it is not easy to relocate to Kenya even for a short duration. Fortunately for him, his partner and his children are excited about the move. The life in Kenya is different from the one they are used to. But they make the best use of it. This aspect is inspiring for the reader. It is not easy to embrace the unknown when you have a comfortable life. The non-fiction genre is full of authors trying out different things once they attain a certain age or after a breakup. Unlike the other, Finn is not undergoing any existential crisis. He sincerely wants to surpass his personal best.

The book is not a comprehensive training material for a marathon. But the book effectively captures the Kenyan spirit and their aspirations. The author tells us why there is an onslaught of Kenyan athletes and what does it mean for them to win these races. The book also gives us the information about various camps and races in the country without endorsing any one of them.

See for yourself. Any expert will give you this advice. Finn takes this advice seriously. Instead of lightning visits to the camps and interviews with various people, he prefers to live in Kenya and undergo training for a year. This way, he can understand the culture better. So the book is like a travel book with a sports background. The narration is factual. Although the language is not humorous, it is not dry either. Having spent a year in Kenya, Finn is the best person to write about this topic.

When compared to Born to Run, this book is less entertaining. But for someone who is a challenge the status-quo in training or life, this book is an inspirational one. You may pick it up if you are athlete and needs reaffirmation on your goal.

Tags: Books,Adharanand Finn,Kenya

Monday, May 23, 2016

Lets do curry for dinner

What is British cuisine? Fish and Chips, Sunday Roast, Bangers and Mash... A few years back, I used to treat British cuisine as an oxymoron. After having lived over here for the past two years, I have grown respectful towards my host country. But there is also another interesting phenomenon in Britain as a result of two factors. The first one is the empire where the sun never set and the second is the liberal immigration policies towards the Commonwealth countries when the sun finally set on the Empire.

While living in colonies, they must have developed a taste for local food. They carried the love for ethnic food back to their country. The immigration policies during the second half of the previous century ensured the ethnic restaurants sprouted up in various parts of the country. The majority of these restaurants feature Indian cuisine. For ease of convenience and also to bulk up the numbers, I have grouped Pakistani and Bangladeshi cuisine under Indian cuisine. Sometimes, simplification is best for comprehension.

A few months, I was traveling by a single carriageway. Out of nowhere, I saw an Indian restaurant. I looked around for signs of prominent office buildings, supermarkets or houses. I couldn't find any. I was passing by Exeter, and I found a Kerala restaurant there. These restaurants do not feature dumbed down version of food sold in India. The food is equally spicy. A Brit will eat the food without upsetting the decorum featuring one of their prominent characteristics namely stoicism.

The Indian cuisine has almost become the national cuisine over. To tell you the truth, I do feel jealous. What do you expect? They have adopted my cuisine. At the same time, I do feel happy too. To understand this feeling, you will have to hear the praises heaped upon the Indian cuisine. The discussion of cuisine invariably leads to a discussion of culture which in turn is fascinating for both the parties, me being one of the parties.

It all leads to a dilemma when you arrange for lunch or dinner at work. Everyone wants to eat Indian. When you are the host, everyone expects to go to an Indian restaurant. When you love food like me, it is really a dilemma.

Photo Courtesy: Johnny Silvercloud

Tags: British Lessons

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