Friday, April 27, 2007

jeetendra aur yash chopra.... aur unke bete

Reasoning is a difficult thing to do. Because some things are beyond reason. Like why tushar and uday chose to do what they are doing. And they are doing it so miraculously well, you already know which tushar and uday I am talking about, and what they do, and well, the nation knows them. They do not know the last time they massaged the inner walls of their aching nostrils, but they know tushar and uday. Such is this medium. And it is this medium that has caught my otherwise fragile attention ever since I was a little boy who would swing his neck in pride saying as meaningless a thing as " jo kehta hai wohi hota hai " whenever some smarter and wittier class fellow would taunt me with some copybook one-liner like " zindagi jhand hai, phir bhi ghamand hai!". Ofcourse this fellow would impress the giggling girls and nose-mending boys in the process, but its films I am talking about now, if you still haven't figured it out.

I had always been this really film buff sort of a kid, resolutely insisting Dad to get a cable connection at home. This was in 1992 I guess. And there was nothing even on cable TV other than Zee and Prime-Sports, that showed some things that I didn’t understand at that time. So, I would stick to the 2-films a day routine, watching the films our local cablewallah would roll for us. That’s a time I really cherish, not all actors of the time were exactly stupendous, but I think it was the childish sanguinity that I could stand the funky chunkey pandey two times a day and still say : dhaaasu. I don’t think there were many entertainment fronts those days, no internet, no computers, no dvds , no ipods nothing, and just the two second rate 1980s bollywood stuff gave me the sort of completeness you would expect to find in Shakti kapoor when a beautiful and ambitious young lass knocks his door hoping for a shot at the next yash chopra epic drama. Hopes! They are uffff.

This extremely-psychotic-craze-for-2nd-rate-hindi-films was on an alarming rise until I saw those two milestones of hindi cinema - 'neil and nikki' and the fantabulous 'jeena sirf mere liye' and so you know the root of my irritating bitterness.

God ! Get me out of it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

My Ride

I wanted trust, Which wasn't there.
I longed for it, But they just didn’t care.
Such indifference, I thought was rare.
But what I thought, They'd never care.

I wanted to show I could pull it off
And back I got a cynical laugh
I laughed back and went ahead
Only to find, a motive dead.

I look back now, Time and again
All those hopes, That died in vain
Still hurt me where it hurts most
Still makes me feel what I lost.

I stare at the ceiling thinking every night
All that's happened, was it right?
Should I be thinking about giving now?
Or for selfish desires should I fight ?

I really want now to just rise back
To get the powers that I'd once lack
To throw my flaws rather than hide
To guide my ride on a dreamy tide.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Stay Hungry. Stay foolish.

Nothing from me.

This is the speech I think is the best piece of wisdom that would fit in 15 minutes of time. Like all things I deeply admire, I felt like sharing this one too with people I feel connected too. You know this feeling when you come back from watching a great movie, and then you really want your friend to watch it too. just because you liked it soo much. Its like that. So if you haven't already been through with this speech, please read it now. You won't repent these 15 minutes, you'll cherish them, hopefully.

So lets get started with the iconic Steve Jobs' words itself :


I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?" They said: "Of course." My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, its likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down - that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple's current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I'm fine now.

This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope its the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960's, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much.


Saturday, April 7, 2007

bas kuch idhar udhar ki baatein

A lot has been happening around me. And suddenly I am working more and more. I didn't expect any immediate changes in my lazy work habits, and am pleasantly surprised myself. I know I have been sharing a lot of observations these days, this is something I usually refrain from because it gives away a very wannabe-gyani image, which I don't desire. So this last observation from me. The more I started working, the more I found was there to do, the more I started learning about new things, the more things I found that are needed to be learned about, and the more all of this kept happening, the more I found I had a time shortage, and the more I sensed this, the more I pushed myself to work more, learn more, try harder. So there was a time, not long ago when I wasn't working or learning, had all the time to do these things, but still wasn't doing anything. I was free, but not happy. And now, I am working hard, more than I usually do, trying to manage every minute of time I have into something more useful. I am not as free, a lot more occupied, but still happier. I spent my entire teenage fighting with habits, analysing them, trying to incorporate some, trying to get rid of some. Looking back, I think this past fortnight or so has been right up there, alongside the most formative times of my life, the time-periods I think I gained a lot. A lot of insight, a lot of work habits, a lot of knowledge.

So much so, my mummy actually asked me to take it easy two days back, and I think such a thing has happened with me after four to five years , so I just spent the day roaming around, and on the internet where I also created my webpage, and watching television. And I am liking it too. Apart from the Chappel-Tendulkar drama. BCCI can beat Balaji Telefilms anyday with their kahani-mein-twist antics. Just that they have been kind enough to Ekta Kapoor. Or may be they dread her. God knows. Together with Tushar kapoor, I think they are the most dreaded bhai-behen pair in the world. A pair that, when at its artistic best, can put the most vigilant of owls to sleep at nine pm sharp. Only if owls had T.V sets. Poor human beings.

Meanwhile I've grown really fond of the kind of work ethics google and apple practice and preach at their workplaces.

And it took me two years to realise it completely, to realise it confidently enough to belt it out in writing - I just hate my college. I just don't feel like I belong there. Everything about it is so superficial. There is more originality in Uday Chopra's acting, more of it even in Anu Malik's tunes. They just stacked up big concrete structures here and there, while nothing absolutely goes on inside them. Things are going on just for the heck of it. Teachers feel they are being ultra generous if they take a class of two hours for two hours, students think they've been ultra generous to the teacher if they actually sit through it. And leading both students and teachers, are the staff-workers who are impartial in their lashing-outs against students and teachers alike. With the kind of slowly-slowly state of affairs with which things progress here, I seriously think I could wrap the remaining two years of the course in six months and move on and be happy, but they wouldn't let that happen. Just two more years, I keep telling myself.

I've been hitting dcetech lately. For those of you who are not aware of it, and that’s the way it should be for all of you I guess, it is a web forum where the future engineers of my college just quarrel over any topic under the sun, and most of the times it can be associated to their future and their plans and their goals. Although anything constructive hardly, if ever, comes out of those 'uski kameez meri kameez se zyada safed kaise' discussions, the gist I get is somehow, everyone's quite concerned about their respective lives-to-come. So that in a sense was an eye opener for me, because it hinted me to sometimes think of future too rather than dreaming and analysing the past all the time of the present. So, for a change I did some future planning as well. I thought what I would name my kids. Not that I zeroed in on any names particularly, all I could decide was I wouldn't name them Tushar if it’s a boy or Ekta if it’s a girl. And some short term future planning about what to eat for dinner, and which movie to watch this weekend also ensued. Here i zeroed in on 'dum-aloo' and 'zaalim bhootni' in keeping with my polished and cultivated eating and film-watching habits.

I've never been to kumbh mela snaan or suryagrahan snaan at kaashi, but there are two snaans I know are splendid. One is when you make the switch from cold to hot water at the onset of winters and the other, when you switch from hot to cold water on some day of early summers. I made the switch a week back and I was happy like a pig on a honeymoon to outer delhi's central sewer. Perhaps even more. Grrrrrrrr..

Thats it for now.