Oct 232016

…. but, it is one of the sharpest pieces of writing on what ails America, and the Trump phenomenon. Such precision is devastating.

If the prospect of a female President represents a departure in the history of American politics, the candidacy of Donald J. Trump, the real-estate mogul and Republican nominee, does, too—a chilling one. He is manifestly unqualified and unfit for office. Trained in the arts of real-estate promotion and reality television, he exhibits scant interest in or familiarity with policy. He favors conspiracy theory and fantasy, deriving his knowledge from the darker recesses of the Internet and “the shows.” He has never held office or otherwise served his country, never acceded to the authority of competing visions and democratic resolutions.

If you thought that  being discriminatory, bigoted, and dogmatic, weren’t bad enough as characteristics, there is more …

It is not merely narcissism that leads him to speak about grabbing women’s genitals or to endorse the “Lock Her Up!” chants directed at his opponent. It is his temperamental authoritarianism—a trait echoed in his admiration of Vladimir Putin. …

The consistencies of Trump’s character are matched by the inconsistencies of his policy positions. Every politician is allowed to change his or her mind, but Trump abuses the privilege. His reversals on issues as fundamental as first-strike nuclear policy and our obligations to nato reflect not so much a thought process as the blunderings of ignorance.

I actually thought, when i read about Trump’s candidacy, that it must have been an evolved joke. And, when i realised it was not (a joke) , i began paying a bit more attention to what was going on. It is that kind of horrific fascination when you are about to see a terrible car accident. the conspiracy theorist part of me wonders if Bill Clinton planted the seed of running for presidency in this man’s head, the many times that they played golf.  If so, it would be two birds with one stone (maybe even 3) = Hilary as President, a devastated Republican Party, and Democrats in Congress.

 The combination of free-form opportunism, heroic self-regard, blithe contempt for expertise, and an airy sense of infallibility has contributed to Trump’s profound estrangement from the truth. He said that he saw “thousands and thousands” of Muslims in New Jersey cheering the attacks of 9/11. When he was told that this never happened, he repeated the claim, mocked the disabled reporter who exposed it—a grotesque antic captured on video—and then denied having done so. He maintained that he saw a picture of Ted Cruz’s father “having breakfast with Lee Harvey Oswald”; no such picture exists. He boasted of conversations with Putin that never occurred; he said that Putin had not invaded Ukraine. He described climate change as a Chinese-perpetrated hoax, then said that he hadn’t. Day and night, Trump assembles and distributes these murky innuendos and outright lies through his Twitter account.

But, in the United States, as elsewhere, there is a backlash from, what i call, the “formerly privileged’ .  People who have been the backbone of the formerly left wing parties. Union members, workers, people who are seeing their futures rapidly diminishing with the onslaught of outsourcing of work to other countries, as well as the influx of cheaper labour into their own lands. But this is not just about jobs. It is about other things to. It is about equality – it is the resentment that some have about those who were servants and chattel, who can deal with them on equal basis. We are seeing this across the world.

We are in the midst of a people’s revolt, a great debate concerning income inequality, the “hollowing” of the middle, globalization’s winners and losers. If the tribune whom the voters of the Republican Party have chosen is a false one, we cannot dismiss the message because we deplore the messenger. The white working-class voters who form the core of Trump’s support—and who were once a Democratic constituency—should not have their anxieties and suffering written off. Their struggle with economic abandonment and an incomplete health-care system demands airing, understanding, and political solutions.

Oh, and they talk about Hilary Clinton too.

Read the full piece, here 

Oct 022016

As a culture, one of our hallmarks, is the ability to deify, build rituals, but lose the essence, of the great men and women, who walked before us.

We build temples, and take their words as cast in stone. We create rituals, and we create new Gods. But, the leanings are lost. We bring them out once a year, dust them out, offer them flowers, prayers, talk about their values in our life, and then get on with other stuff. And, it is rinse and repeat, every single year.

Today is Gandhi Jayanti, “Dry Day” as Munnabhai said famously in the film. And, it is the day every major leader, industrialist, actor, celebrity, talks about Gandhi and his impact on their life. Gandhi would have been amused. For all his failings, his sense of humour was intact (and before i get trolled for saying he had faults, it is something he readily accepted)>



everytime i read this, i am struck by how apt this is. I wonder if it was like this in his era, or is it unique to ours.

May 032016

I have begun thinking about loss and grief, and coping with grief, a lot in the last one year. Also, about acceptance, and coming to terms with grief. It isn’t that one doesn’t misses the person who is gone (in my case, my father) , one does intensely. But, the death was natural, the natural destination of a life well lived. He went surrounded by loved ones, with memories of a, more or less, happiness and laughter filled life, and today it is possible to remember him with a smile. In a way, acceptance is also because you expect your parents to precede you in death. It is the natural way of things.

I have often wondered, at the kind of grief that one has to cope with, if it is a parent mourning the loss of their child. It is not really the natural order of things.  Many years ago, i had written about putrashoka, the grief one feels at the loss of a child. There are many kinds of losses, and many kinds of grief.

Two days ago, a person I knew and worked with, not even 30 years old died. At that age, it can only be an unexpected death. My heart goes out to her parents. What does one even say at a time like this.

Feb 212016
My dad used to do the laundry, and the ironing. He could cook up a divine meal. he adored his kids, and was adept at changing  diapers. He treated women as equals, and brought me up as an equal 🙂He got me a lego set, dolls too. He got all of us books to read – on adventure and science, on far away places and history. Told us stories of ghosts, and heroes, of treasures in far away places; of the adventures from the epics; on advanced
All three siblings (two are brothers)  learned to cook, and to fix plugs, and to change fuses, and we played with cars and dolls – and saw no difference in it. We learned to clean the loo, and wash up plates on which we have eaten food. We learned, there was no difference between boys and girls, in the chores we did, in the books we read, in the paths we choose for life.
There was only one condition – ‘don’t lie to me or your mother’. We didn’t. An open, open honest relationship at home, translated to all our relationships in life. We fought. we made up. We laughed. And, when i look back on our lives together, despite the many crisis and tears, the overwhelming memories are all of us laughing together.
Btw – he taught me to swear in multiple languages (with the right inflection) and to fight (if you are hitting a man attacking you, hit him with a closed fist and your thumb inside) ; he taught me to appreciate art, music and good alcohol. My love for photography comes from him, as does my passion for music.
It is another Sunday, and there isn’t a day when i don’t think of him, or miss his counsel or his humour in dealing the world, on a Sunday the missing seems more acute.
Fathers of daughters do end up changing the world. Not out of anger or fear. But, because they want a better, safer, kinder world for their daughters.
This ad made me tear up, it is true in most houses. It made me tear up because my dad was like that when he was young, and we were kids. 


(Buddha, Angkor Thom, Cambodia when i was visiting Cambodia, it was part of his unfulfilled dream i was living. He always wanted to visit. )

Feb 092016

…. and there is a part of me that is terrified, and there is a part of me that is terribly excited. I missed this sensation for the time i worked in corporate land. This sensation of being completely attuned to my universe and being alive.

Friday was my last day at my last employer. I had put in my papers towards the end of the last year. I had a great, great time in Zee. Fabulous boss and fabulous teams, and  quite a large number of very nice people – people who make it a great workplace. And, I had the opportunity to work and interact with one of the greatest media visionaries in India, and that itself was a great experience and a great education.

Working in a corporate structure is like climbing the Himalayas with a safety net. Working for yourself is like jumping off the Himalayas without one (and then climbing up again, and then jumping off again).. Ha ha , i am doing the latter again, I must be nuts 🙂

So what am I going to do ? Right now – i am taking a month off to just get my priorities straight. And, at the core of the priority list is me and what i want to do. Am having lots of conversations on what all can be done – and there is a lot I can do, news, entertainment, education, across forms, formats and media. But, it is humanly impossible to do it all. The screw up is that all of it is terribly exciting, but there are only 24 hours in a day 🙁 So, i am sitting and pruning the list. |No, you cannot go to central Uttar Pradesh and create a web series … no. no. no, says my rational business mind.  Not yet, agrees my creative mind, and things go from the junk to the maybe one day list 🙂

I am thinking maybe 2 out of the list. And, even that means a lot of time commitment. As, i get older, i have begun guarding my non work time. I get so little of it, that it is important.

Finally, as i go back into figuring a start up ecosystem – some thoughts based on my last experience (as much for me, as anyone finds it interesting).

  1. Ideas are the easiest things in the world. Everyone knows how to fix the world, intellectually. Fixing the world, however, is about implementation. And, implementation is about roadmaps – you need to know what you are fixing, why you are fixing it, how will you fix it, and who will fix it. How much will the fixing cost, and how do you make money out of this. You, at the very least, need to have a pragmatic fix on this. And this goes beyond spreadsheets and presentations. oh, and it also goes beyond coffee shop conversations.
  2. While it is important to meet people and discuss your idea, do not meet so many people that you get confused about what you are doing. Refer to point one – everyone has a killer idea, the devil is in the implementation. Spend time meeting people who have implemented anything.
  3. Have a time plan — what are you going to do with your time and how. It is important to be disciplined. This is not an extended break, it is work. Work for yourself You only have two assets now – your intellect and 24 hours each day. The former needs to be sharpened and sharp focused so as not to wander. The latter needs to be used well. else the tendency to fritter both is huge. Use a small mantra – there is no tomorrow, only today. Stuff needs to be done today.
  4. While you are talking to random people in this journey, remember to talk to people who have undertaken the journey, successfully and otherwise. Success does not mean unicorn funding alone #justsaying.
  5. Your personal space is just as important as when you are working for someone else. Don’t let work crowd out your personal time so much that you begin resenting work.
  6. Be honest – there is no substitute for direct, and sometimes brutal, honesty. No point committing to stuff you don’t believe in, or don’t think can work. But, at the same time don’t burn bridges.
  7. Be clear – do you want to be a vendor or do you want to be an entrepreneur – in the former, the only risk is 90 days credit will become 120 days. The latter can be trying to do an obstacle race in a minefield.
  8. Don’t ignore paperwork — Government, who is God, loves paperwork. As does everyone in each of the Government departments. If you think you have done this paperwork before, you possibly have – except it was for another Government department, not this one. Just because the Government is talking about #StartupIndia doesn’t mean the paperwork will go away.  Paperwork is in our dna … even the private sector has it. Hire an accountant if needed. Far more important initially than getting that fancy alienware laptop you are eyeing 🙂
  9. Meet the audience regularly. Figure if they really want what you are plugging – no point discovering there is no market for it.
  10. Have fun – if you are not having fun, you are doing this wrong, and go get a job. Being in a start up is not like being burnt at the stake – it is loads of fun, joy and excitement. there is a tremendous sense of achievement If you are miserable, maybe you should be doing something else.

Does this mean, being entrepreneurial is only a function of starting up.  Not really, you can find a company that is entrepreneurial and join that. There is no one path – all are equally valid. Just don’t be miserably unhappy at whatever it is that you are doing.  There is more to life than that (and, no i wan’t miserably unhappy – i had just become placidly smug. and, i didn’t like myself quite as much as i did before ) 😀



(shot a couple of years ago (but processed last year) — the boatman on the Ganga, Benaras)