P+P+P = P

Between me and Tennis hardly anything exists. As a school student at Kozhikode, Malabar Christian College School, I used to cross the boundaries set for the tennis games that used to be played in those evenings. My close friend and classmate Dado Pavamani, son of Principal Dr. Pavamani used to play tennis and I used to look around as my games were something different in hockey and basket ball – Though my name came from Lala Amarnath. Later my father who used to be one good at cricket and football took me to the Cosmo Club at Kozhikode when Ramanathan Krishnan played. No wonder when I first went to England and went past Wimbledon I felt that I should get into the stadium.
Every failure is a lesson to be learnt. So is every success. Roger Federer who set up the 19th record breaking Grand Slams in July 2017, appeared to me as a success in his pursuit of achievement. I went on to understand and appreciate his story and found an equation:
P+P+P = P

The following is based on this – P for passion; P for Power; P for Perfection = P for Performance. And a hidden P is for being Positive and that P comes on both sides of the equation.
René Stauffer who wrote about Roger Federer after meeting him when Federer was 15 years old tells the story of the boy who made history. Every story becomes a history only when accomplishments become either in creation or destruction.

“He appeared to have mastered every stroke, which was quite unusual for juniors in his age group. He dominated with his serve and his forehand, but his powerful one-handed backhand and the occasional volley also looked like something taken from tennis textbook. Federer was a diamond in the rough, no doubt.”

Like a diamond that turns from carbon black, it takes years of pressure to glitter- Sweating it out. Federer’s athletic maturity stood in stark contrast to his behavior. He was a hot-head! Being hot is a phenomenon that is evidenced in many successful giants in history – they chase and every failure makes them grind – grind their teeth. “Hunger for results” – my MD of British Oxygen Company late Mr. Prasad used to advise.

In that interview when Federer was just 15 years of age, with René Stauffer, Federer said “I probably am among the 30 or 40 best in his age class in the world and I want to become a top professional but still had to improve his game. That is his attitude”. That arises out of the first P – Passion.
“I hardly forgive myself on any mistakes although they’re normal. One should just be able to play a perfect game.”

That takes the dominant and the third P – Perfection, in that equation.
It is written about Federer: “He seemed to sense his great potential that he was capable of doing great things—but he was not yet able to transform his talents into reality. His unusual attitude towards perfection had a positive side effect in that he did not consider his opponents as rivals who wanted to rob the butter from his bread. His opponents were more companions on a common path. This attitude made him a popular and well-liked person in the locker room. For Federer, tennis was not an individual sport with opponents who needed to be intimidated, but a common leisure activity with like-minded colleagues who, as part of a big team, were pursuing the same goal”. My friends like Indrajit Mukherjee and Anil Batra who are veterans in the game of golf used to tell me that that game is a fight between you and you.

Successes eludes even for bright youngsters, because some lack in their persuasive and persistent behavior and lack of commitment including health issues. Federer was once quoted as an underachiever. For years he was dogged by the label “best player without a Grand Slam title.”
“To the contrary, Federer developed quietly and not be subjected to the pressures of expectations, from his parents and from the public.” This is what we call as focus. He grew. Like the game of golf, he played to improve himself.
“He was very vibrant, a bundle of energy, and was sometimes very difficult” said Lynette his mother. This energy of Federer is in the equation the second P – indicating power and the fuel is that energy that he built both physical and mental.

Being positive is on both sides of the equation. Federer had his streaks of being negative. Negative emotions also often took control of him on the court. “When things weren’t going the way he wanted, he would curse and toss his racquet” Kacosvky once said “It was so bad”. But Federer himself understood and probably corrected in his journey to win the 19 Grand Slam and set a record. That silent P – being positive made his reach the current position. In his own words – “I was constantly cursing and tossing my racquet around. It was bad. My parents were embarrassed and they told me to stop it or they wouldn’t come along with me to my tournaments anymore. I had to calm down but that was an extremely long process. I believe that I was looking for perfection too early.”

“When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure”- Peter Marshall.

Ups and downs

This month June 2017, we were in Visakhapatnam for a few days to be with friends. Standing on the frontage of the flat we stayed, I could see two high rise buildings. Later as we went round that place where in 1971, I worked as a management trainee of a MNC, I was informed that the two buildings are of 35 floors high and have nearly 800 flats. I took some pictures and sent to friends.

I took some other picture a week after that at the Gandhi Road, Christian College Junction on Kannur Road, in Kozhikode. That place now has no signs of the house where I lived as an infant till a few years ago – made to ground zero for the widening of the road.

Up and down?

Seethammathara, a remote village in Visakhapatnam then was approachable only by one bus and few cycle rickshaws. I worked there in night shifts manufacturing medical and industrial gases. Months later I got shifted to Madras. That landscape has changed and has given a rise to the two towers. Gandhi road widening demolished my home where I still keep memoirs.

Ups and downs!

Profoundly in a state of thought, I received a whatsapp message from my daughter showing a photo of her son riding his newly bought bi-cycle – a cute picture of my grandson.

 I linked my thoughts of “ups and downs” to that of the cycle.

Quote – “There’s rises and falls and ups and downs in all music”. Tim McGraw. The music must go on in spite of ups or downs, like the cycle.

During his annual school holidays as a custom we take our grandson for a giant wheel drive at one of those exhibitions. He is only eight years of age and he need to appreciate the ups and downs and the thrill of returning from the downs to ups again. No wonder – Sarah Todd Hammer said – Everyone has adventures in their lives – Some good ones, some bad ones”.

When I sent the picture of the newly laid road demolishing my home, my brothers and sisters engaged in conversations of the “Lost” feelings. I think materials provide us with instant and immediate pleasures that when lost or deleted like in a relationship make us worried, with concerns of what next?

I have changed from those training days in night shifts at Seethammathara. So are the landscapes in terms of growth. We need to be part of that change by adapting without conditions.

We should be like a clock we need not keep watching the clock. But do what it does. Keep moving, unconditionally. Be with the flow. Witness the lives and nature around. After all in those more than 50000 thoughts that come to our minds every day how many deserve our concerns? How many of those thoughts can we influence? Leave and let go.

Let’s keep our looks at the rise of the Sun, the one that wakes us UP. Let our shadows remain behind with the setting Sun as it sets DOWN.

We move on – lets pedal the cycle of life.

 

Horizontal and vertical – It’s all about space

It was early June that I spent a good lot of time with my sister’s husband who happens to be my cousin. We had a sumptuous feast of communications interesting from the fact that most were about the bygone era.

I mentioned about my engineering college days in Akathethara, Palakkad. And he said that none of the current generation can believe this. Yes it is true. My parents used to send a money order every month for my living expenses and I used to wait. The amount was Rs.70/- that comprised of around Rs.55/- towards the food and room rent that we shared between two. The balance went for a movie and some travel expenses and a biriyani and tea from Hotel Kashmir, Olavakkot.

I told him the cost per sardine small size that I bought a couple of days back was nearly Rs.5/- a piece. And on return way back from the fish market I recollected how when I was a school student in Calicut sardines crop during a season was so much (there was no cold storages then) that the fishermen had to dispose their catch. My father bought sardines in bamboo baskets at a price of 10 “naya” – paise per basket and put as manure for the coconut trees at home.

He spoke about his early days with the Japanese trainers in deep sea fishing that was first introduced in India by Norwegians and followed with the Japanese. He spoke a few words he remembered in Japanese and stories of Ayumu, his captain, who survived with four holes on his back near his waist line during world war. He was lying on his chest during a carpet bombing. Aged but strong they all worked nearly 18 to 19 hours in a day in deep sea. Eating was not in sitting position as waves and weather played a lot against.

He then suddenly remembered how he picked the seahorse Ayumu had captured from the fishing net along with fish. Ayumu asked him to return to him and he actually took a second one from Ayumu. Japanese believed that if you keep the shell of the seahorse it takes away evil spirits and wards off bad times!

We both continued to discuss and appreciate the old nostalgic pills coated with sugar and spice. After that I took a picture of those two seahorses and at home probed to know more of the creature God created to ward off evil spirits.

The seahorse name species is called Hippocampus. “Hippocampus” comes from the Ancient Greek word hippos meaning “horse” and campus meaning “sea monster”. Seahorses range in size from 1.5 to 35.5 cm and live in shallow waters. Seahorses swim upright, a characteristic not shared by their close pipe- fish relatives, which swim horizontally. That makes a difference and I noted that aspect and compared to the times I spent in work in Saudi Arabia where the Arabic language is written from left to right.

The concept of horizontal and vertical is a geometrical proposition and when applied to thought processes it gave me a corollary of the 9-hat game of parallel thinking by Edward de Bono.

The photo I captured on my cell phone was the toy in my hand that put me to a pedestal into future. A total deviation from the nostalgia filled discussions we had at my brother-in-laws home.

From where to where is the space that once seen as carrier for clouds, the full moon that came up in most of romantic poetry, aero planes and radio waves have shifted for communications of all kinds, scientific explorations and defense techniques etc. That space defines the way we live now.

The NET or internet depends on that horizontal and vertical space and decide how we operate our day’s schedules and time-passes like “whats-apping” and “face-booking”!

Most of our procedures and processes including health care and life is about that pattern. And we depend on the horizontal-vertical space around us.

Relationships that make and break also connect to the digital space we depend upon these days. The time-pass whether in waiting for the train or in a hypermarket mall is with the two fingers swiping on that tiny glass space, to rub and penetrate deeper into affairs and matters.

I was showing and telling about the radio that I used to wait for Radio Ceylon on Wednesdays at 8 pm to my grandson. He now has the remote control that switch to different channels and my grandson was astonished to know those old times of his Ammacha and how it was possible for those time’s people to live at such a slow speed!

I think as the parallel thinking methodology work out opportunities when we are stuck with choices and decisions the next generation people will explore things that recede the current trends into dust bins? Will it or the current times become obsolete with or without values?

The seahorse somehow helped me to think forward and positive – if it can swim vertical and Arabic can be read from left to right everything is a possibility as long as we indulge not in stuck spaces and idle moments, but move forward with a thought process that find ways for handling issues of relationships or more newer methodologies that make the next generation live their lives better.

 

 

 

MUSIC in our lives …

It was an evening where an audience without age barriers christened at the Calicut Town Hall. Lovely is the minimum that many expressed who watched the program from an overcrowded hall. Sure that was. Nostalgic melodies of Latha Mankeshkar and the rich voice of Mohammed Rafi were reverberating, sung by the two stalwarts in music – Rahamath and Firoz. The song presenter recollected the music of late 1950’s to the audiences. Years gone by; but shelf life of those songs has not perished.

I was watching that Sunday noon show on Television where latest movie on Dhoni was shown on StarPlus. Compare the epics of yesteryears in cinema and that of the recent ones. The movie is produced to cross the magic numbers of 100 and 200 crores and soon thereafter we forget about the movie.

What gets registered is stored as memoirs. We are flooded with a huge amount of alternatives and choices. Cell phone that costs a lot is replaced once a new brand comes up. Apps and Appo’s provide a variety beyond practical needs but we dispose off and life of the costly apparatus becomes redundant. Shelves in the show rooms get a refill, with more modern equipments.

That probably is due to a fact that our mind’s IN BOX is crowded with thoughts that clutter. We have in store more than what we can chew. This was not the case some years back. Number of e-mails, Whats App messages and Likes on Face Book are accountable for the crowded transaction of thoughts that obstruct a leaner positive chain of thoughts. That of course reduces the shelf life of our thoughts and thus our positive action. We then have an issue of time created by our mindset. That time we lose does not nourish quality time. We lose relationships. We cannot even relax.

We need to think what we do? Why we do? And when we do? – Otherwise we miss and end up in losing some good friends.

It is said that our body is the servant of our mind. Undesirable thoughts that invade constantly in our minds put our body into sicknesses created by mental and physical tension. And we succumb to deceases and wild pressures including monitory issues. The delicate body tissues surrender to the penchant bad thoughts and become ill. We see street urchins playful, and rich ones with tough exteriors.

Bring peace within yourself by avoiding jealousy, ill-will, judgment, comparison, evaluation, criticism, doubt and cynicism, suspicion and envy. It’s we who create peace within us.

When we are happy and positioned with love and forgiveness we tend to be happier and smiling at issues that once we felt were un-surmountable.  Forget and forgive and use the dust bin in your mind and brain, to re-invent spaces where slowly good things tend to flourish. “Understand the flaws to appreciate the perfection of the Universe” – Ka Chinery.

As me and my wife listened to the music that eve, the song had a silent sequence of a few milliseconds. That was a dip in the rhythm, a split second of solitude in isolation. I thought then we need to listen and be silent more than we speak. Pythagorus wrote: “Learn to be silent. Let your quieter mind listen and absorb”.

Silence settles our mind. That allows us to think what we are thinking. But most of us do multi-tasking, loosing focus and attention. We drive and we speak on phone at the same time. We risk our lives and we reduce the shelf life of others in accidents.

As the cell phones need re-charge our minds do need a re-charge of re-vitalizing doses of happiness. We have given away the power to control our mind. It was one of my friends who said – I will chose to pick the phone and the caller cannot enter and interrupt my flow of transactions and thoughts. Surely I will respond to the call.

Innumerable SMS, BBM, WhatsApp, IMO call tunes, and the times we enjoy in LIKEs on Face Book columns distract and enter our solitude and privacy. We allow the world – professional, social and digital space influence the way we live and interact.

I think we need to reflect and live. Live the way we want to live. Not the way others want our lives to be defined.

It’s then when music to the ears becomes soothing. It’s then when we tend to listen to the tunes, the flimsy voices of birds and start thinking that our lives with limited shelf life need to be enjoyed.

 

 

 

Soliloquy (Ugly is beautiful – if handled well)

Beyond the might of Alps, its beauty and elegance, what still strikes me when in thoughts is what my wife and I watched with awe. A lady holding her pet dog allowed it to litter on snow. After that she took out a plastic bag, picked up the discharge, wrapped and rolled it into her hand bag. Just a few days ago, while stepping into lift in our flat I stepped on to urine left behind by a pet dog and not minded by the owner. Both are lessons, about attitudes.

Observing nature is a source of abundance to learn lessons. Like reading a book, listening to TED lectures, discussing with people and thinking aloud, questioning with a reason.

Stories nurture our minds if we observe and listen like a child.

I learnt a lesson from this story. A farmer who grew award-winning corn was interviewed. The reporter discovered that she shared her corn seed with her neighbours.

Reporter asked the farmer “How can you afford to share your best corn seed with your neighbors when they are in competition with yours?”

he answered: The wind picks up pollen from ripening corn and swirls it from field to field. If my neighbours grow inferior corn, cross-pollination will steadily degrade quality of my corn. If I am to grow good corn, I must help my neighbours grow good corn.”

Her attitude is a lesson. Those who choose to live in peace must help others to be happy. Happiness is infectious. Those who choose to be happy help others to find happiness, for the welfare of each is linked up with welfare of all.

It is possible to give away and become richer! It is also possible to hold on too tightly and lose everything. Reading this story, I went into a state of soliloquy. In general we take things for granted and remain ignorant how nature is at work in the background for us.

As we move on our journey it is interesting to take interludes and watch mojo moments that catapult our moods.

I wonder how a flower named “Star of Bethlehem” blossoms once in a year and another one named “Neelakurinji” in Munnar, Kerala blossoms once in 14 years. Another variety named “Puya berteroniana” flowers once in a century. Remember the Deciduous plants that shed leaves in winter? Have you heard of a bird named Pied Crested Cuckoo” that only drinks water when it rains and not any other way? All these are examples that enrich our understanding in making choices, being silent and at times using the tactics of “Deaf-Ear” in relationships.

On my Face book account I add a quote and a picture daily, and the largest number of “like” came for the quote – “Some of the best moments in life are the ones you can’t tell anyone about”.

That brings us to the concept of “deaf-ear and blind-eye” syndrome in relationships. That’s acting “as-if” you did not hear when communications that you do not want to respond. By choosing to have temporary “blind eyes”, we tend to move on a path that least disturb the equilibrium in relationships.

Disposing off dogs excreta, shedding of leaves when matured, bird waiting for rains for drinking water, flower that blossom in a century – help us to understand that in a large cosmic alignment we can make choices that makes others happier.

To a large extent it’s about empathy, like the corn grower, that we manage the outcome to best advantage that result in exciting moments, and reap maximum benefits.

We need to build a relationship with nature, so that the tendency we create in ourselves “deaf-ear” & “blind-eye”, wipe away the clouds we recreate so that we listen to birds chirps and feel the wind that brush past our cheeks.