Autobiography of Ram Prasad 'Bismil'

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Autobiography of Ram Prasad 'Bismil' Autobiography of Ram Prasad 'Bismil' Satchidananda This is the original autobiography of Shri Ram Prasad Bismil (the great Indian revolutionary) which he finished just 3 days before going to the gallows. The autobiography is a must read for every Indian. It shows how great men are formed and how they think!!! In the end, it contains the poem 'Sarfaroshi ki Tammana' written by Shri Bismil which inspired millions to work for Bharat Ma's freedom...

A, B and C

One of the latest pieces of work that has really caught the fancy of the world has been Anurag Kashyap and Abhay Deol's Dev D. It is a story of this young lad, Dev, a rich dad's poor little boy, an obsessive lover, an escapist, disillusioned by the world and in search for something that he calls love.

So much for Dev and his psychedelic life. Let me talk about me and a couple of my friends. Let me call these three people A, B and C. All three have a fairly enviable education background. All are beyond their prime now (28 types).

A works for India's most visionary entrepreneur's prodigal elder son's one of million companies. This company is one of few organized players in India's burgeoning retail market. A is one of the most extraordinary people that I have ever met. Although he doesnt put a lot of time and effort in coming up with insights and ideas but whenever he does so, he comes up with gem. His words are worth their weight in gold and diamonds and platinum. His thoughts are very clear and he knows what exactly he wants out of life and work. He is also one of the laziest people you would ever meet.

B works for a "conglomerate" with businesses ranging from chemicals to locks to rocket engines to foods to retail to real estate to medicine and to what not. If we legalized gambling and prostitution, they would have launched that too. Of course they would have put myriads of hierarchy and long designations for doing seemingly innocuous work. Anyways, B is an engineer by education, manager by designation and Shikari Shambhu by character. His sole aim in life is to make more money than anyone he knows, own the biggest house amongst his reference group and retire with enough in the pension fund. Nothing wrong about it. Just that its a different story that he is not doing anything about it.

C thinks that he hard to understand for most of the people that he knows. Including C himself. Actually that's what C thinks. He is often branded random, frivolous and fickle minded. He is trying to ride some 19 boats at the same time and needless to say, failing at staying on course. He work a 8:30 to 5:30 job and leaves his office strictly at 5:30, goes to his place and stares at the wall and TV for about 5 hours before he sleeps.

So, three of us, our life stream can put any number of Devs' to shame. A typical day for each of us is VERY predictable. We probably are the cheapest targets for detective agencies. Sitting here, in my office, I can tell, with 100% certainty what the other two are upto. For example B is trying to scroll through his gtalk chat list thinking who he can chat up with. A would be out of his office smoking umpteenth cigarette of the day. I can also say for sure if you asked the other two about all three, everyone but A would know what others are upto. A's secretary might have some answers.

Not that we dont try to break out of this monotony, its just that we are constrained by things that seem out of control and we dont even try to move out of the rat race. For A, its lethargy, for B, its security and for C, its, well he doesnt know.

Dev was better. He at least had an outlet in blur of alcohol. We dont.

P.S.: Title changed from "Putting Dev D to shame" to "A, B and C"

April 2009: Goals!

When April 2009 would end, I would have
  1. bought the bike.
  2. learnt how to juggle 4 balls.
  3. finished (or given up) on the twitter clone. This would mean I would know the basics of CSS. PHP and MySQL.
  4. restarted blogging on
Will add more things that I may think of before April begins.

Twitter Clone in a Month

Me and Kunal have gone back to our BIT days. We just bet with each other that both of us will come up with a Twitter clone in a month. So, by 25th April we would have two home grown twitter clones*.

Goodluck and Godspeed Kunal. And just in case, I am @Saurabh at twitter.

I plan to use this thread to put updates on my clone. I will call it #Twitter22. I know, not very creative, but still. And I have created a blog for the same Will update it with progress and lessons.

* Hopefully.

Work Better

I have realized that I work better when ...
  1. I am facing a wall. I this helps me keep distractions to the minimum.
  2. Listening to music I like. This helps in concentrating.
  3. The background noise is at bare minimum. For obvious reasons.
  4. There's a glassful of water next to me. And a loo within 10 seconds walking distance.
  5. My feet are free. Or read as, when I am not wearing any shoes. May be my brain is in my toes?
  6. I have a notepad and few pencils to scribble things on. I like taking notes!
  7. Lights are dimmed. Not too much of a brightness fan. Blame it on q3?
I am trying to build this list. Lets see how far this goes. Once I have everything in place, I would move!

What helps you work better? Any more tips?

Shaheed Bhagat Singh - 23rd Mar 1931

I have seen this video at least 100 times in last few days. What started as a joke with a colleague has turned into an obsession. Safaroshi ki tammana ab humare dil main hai, dekhna hai zor kitna baazu-e-quatil main hai. This poem, by Ram Prasad 'Bismil', became a clarion call during the Indian independence movement. So much so that it is still used at any anti-establishment or even anti-anti-establishment "agitation".

Anyways, coming back to what I started ranting on, 23rd March (in 1931) is when Bhagat Singh was hanged to death (along with Sukhdev and Rajguru for murder of one J.P. Saunders*). And I, Saurabh Garg, dint even know this till I saw an update from a friend on FB. So much for my patriotism and Bhagat Singh fandom.

Bhagat Singh died at the young age of 24. If he would have lived on, he would have change the course of history. His ideas, radical they may sound, were far ahead of his times and I completely subscribe to the same. He was a very well read man even at that young age. From russian revolutionaries to poets to world leaders, he had read them all. His sense of logic was impeccable. Some of the thing he said (wrote) are just brilliant. Few got very famous (like Why I Am An Atheist and his views on marriage) but most were ignored. Both by common man and celebrated historians alike. I am in process of reading more about him and his ideas. Its a slow and a painful process.

When I was 24, I was using MBA as an excuse to waste my time and my parents hard earned money. And there was this guy who was 24 and he could think like that and he died for his country. What purpose does my life solve? Why am I even alive?

BTW I write while I was reading a philosophical debate between the use of a pixel or a point while designing webpages with CSS. I still havent been able to figure out which to use. Any recommendations?

*Pity that I had to look up on wikipedia to know why Bhagat Singh was hanged to death. Sucks again !

Value Add - Price Premium

While creating a philosophy for Cyntax, I have been thinking what kind of businesses can command a price premium. I think the businesses in the value chain that add "unique" value to the end product are the ones where you can ask for money. This is probably as old and as commonsensical as Michael Porter's work on value chains, but realizing it myself, was an achievement.
Let me take an example. The tee shirts business. Three most important components are the supplier, the designer and the retailer. The supplier can not ask for a premium. Simply because he is manufacturing a commodity. There are bound to be many suppliers with similar or near similar offerings and only thing that all suppliers can compete on is the price. A retailer, might command premium if he is a large player and has a ready set of customers. Someone like, say Big Bazaar. But over a period of time, with Internet eliminating all kinds of middle men, a marketer would no longer need a retailer to sell his products. Cases in point being zappos (ok, zappos is a retailer), threadless and cafepress.

On the other hand, if you are someone like Tantra or People Tree or Play Clan, you add value to a basic white tee shirt. You add a unique design and print that design. You dont sell just a tee shirt. You sell this design that no one else can do. And you thus ask for a premium. To compete with a Tantra, I wont need the supplier, I wont need the retailer but I would need a designer. Obviously I am assuming that I would be able to squeeze the suppliers and command terms to the retailers and create a fantastic online community (and a shop).
Tee shirt business is ok. What about travel business? Who will command a premium?
Travel chain has two components - service providers (airlines, railways) and agents (Traditional, OTA). Off the two, agents can only sell the inventory that service providers make available. And its a simple business where you add zilch value (online agents add value in the sense that they make available the inventory real time) and hence they cant command a premium. Moment an agent asks for a premium, the user would move on to the next agent. You compete on mindshare and again, cost!
What about HR consultancies? Petrol pumps? FMCG companies? Who do you think commands a premium? What to you guys think?

Sixth Sense !

Just saw this video on TED featuring Pattie Mae and Pranav mistry of MIT Media Lab. She introduced a wearable device that can present meta information (that already exists) anywhere anytime (assuming the phone supports Internet connection) just by looking at it. Few applications that they showed include looking at your boarding card to know your flight status, clicking pictures, reading book reviews from Amazon by just looking at the barcode, knowing about a person by just looking at his face.

They use basic technology tools - a camera, a mirror, a rechargeable battery, pointers and a cellphone (for communication) to bring to life possibilities that bring the entire world literally on your finger tips. In the team's words, SixthSense is
a wearable gestural interface that augments the physical world around us with digital information and lets us use natural hand gestures to interact with that information.
Its more than QR Codes, Microsoft Surface, iPhone, a digital personal assistant. All put together. Wish it comes to life soon. And this is what I can the New New Thing.

Project SixthSense homepage
TED Talk

Gulaal - Yaara Maula

Track: Yaara Maula
Lyrics: Rahul Ram, Aushim, Piyush Mishra
Movie: Gulaal

Ever since I saw, Gulaal, I have been gung ho about it. As I said earlier too, I cant decide if I hate the movie or love it. But one thing is for sure - I couldnt ignore it. The music is super awesome. The lyrics are even better. Here is the best track from the movie.
Yaara Maula

Yaadon mein hai ab bhi
Kya sureela wo jahaan tha
Hamaare haathon mein rangeen gubbare they aur, dil mein mehekta samaa tha

Yaara Maula

Wo to khwabon ki thi duniya
Wo kitaabon ki thi duniya
Saans mein they machalte hue zalzale, aankh mein wo suhaana nasha tha

Yaara Maula

Wo zameen thi aasmaan tha
Humko lekin kya pata tha
Hum khade they jahaan par usi ke kinaare par gehra sa andha kuaan tha

Yaara maula

Phir wo aayi bheed bankar
Haath mein they unke khanjar
Bole phenko ye kitaabein
Aur sambhalo ye salaakhein

Ye jo gehra sa dhooaan hai
Haan haan andha to nahi hai
Is kooein mein hai khazana
Kal ki duniya to yahin hain
Kood jao le ke khanjar
kaat daalo jo ho andar
Tum hi kal ke ho Shivaji
Tum hi kal ke ho Sikandar

Humne wo hi kiya jo unhone ne kahaa
kyunki unki to khwahish yahi thi

Hum nahi jaante ki ye kyun ye kiya
kyun ki unki farmaaish yahi thi

Ab hamaare lagaa jaayka khoon ka
ab bataao karein to karein kya
nahi hai koi jo hamein kuch bataaye
Bataao karein to karein kya

Via Musicaloud

Gulaal - Pseudo Review

And then I saw Gulaal, yet another Anurag Kashyap movie (after Dev D) that I cant decide if I liked it or hated it. At times I wanted to compare it to Haasil, at times to Rang De Basanti and at times to Gangajal.

Movie's got AWESOME music. Wonderful voice talent, sound direction and lyrics. In fact I can compare the lyrics for gulaal to what Rabbi Shergill writes. We need more song writers like these in the main-stream.

It made me aware of the underground movement for Rajputana. I never imagined that the kings that were removed after independence are still struggling for their princely states. Need to read more about them.

BhimaShankar: The Sepia Tones

Title: The Sepia Tones
Equipment: Sony Ericson K790i
Date: 14 Mar 2009
Time: 6:16 PM
Place: Way back from BheemaShankar to Mumbai, Maharashtra

P.S.: I did not choose the color settings as Sepia. This is how the place looked ! 

Drive to Bhimashankar

Apart from regular games of pool and counter-strike, this time on the weekend, me and Vivek did a roadtrip to Bhimashankar. Bhimashankar boasts of a wild life sanctuary, famous treks and one of the 12 Shiv Jyotirlings.

Roadtrip was full of mountains, rains, landscapes, sheep, dams, rivers, sunshine, clean air, people walking long miles, going from nowhere to nowhere. The drive to Bhimashankar is easily the most scenic drive I have even taken in India (better than my trek to Chandratal and Rohtang Pass).

I got to know about the place from Milind Gunaji's book - Offbeat tracks in Maharashtra. It is some 260 KMs from Mumbai and easiest way to reach there is by the Mumbai Pune Expressway and take the exit at Talegaon. Then you drive on for about 3 hours to reach the Shiva temple.

This is one of those places where the journey is more exciting and fun than the destination.

Why Travel?

I say ...
I have always believed that journey is more important than the destination. The pursuit of unknown is what makes the journey part exciting. You face ambiguity. You face uncertainty. You don’t know if you would reach or not. You don’t know what to expect when you reach your destination. You don’t know what is on the other side of that long and winding dark tunnel. You don’t even know if the tunnel would end.

The new Saurabh Garg Blog

For reasons, known and unknown, evident and classified, the New New Thing has been put to rest. And since it left a void in my routine, I am onto my next blogging endeavor. The all new Saurabh Garg Blog.

Personal Information Management

So, these are problem statements ...
  1. I know a lot of things and want to know lot more.
  2. I read tons of material and my to-read list is growing exponentially everyday.
  3. I come in contact with a lot of wonderful people. And I need to stay connected with them.
  4. And finally I want to be able to manage my todo list on a daily basis.
And with busier and mobile life, its imperative that something about managing information is done. And fast.

I have decided I would use online tools for these tasks. Simply because Internet is now as ubiquitous as it could be and online tools are almost as good as offline ones. Also I want to use simple tools. Life is too complex anyways, why use complex tools?

So, here is a list.
  1. A pen drive for files that are too large to be shared on the Internet. And carry along data that is very critical that if Internet goes for a toss.
  2. - bookmark links, webpages and other things that I want to keep track of.
  3. pbwiki - take notes and invite comments
  4. Google Docs, Calendar - for creating lists and schedules
  5. Google Reader - to keep track on my reading list
  6. and
  7. Slideshare and Scribd - for managing files, documents and presentations
And then I will continue to use these online tools/services
  1. Twitter
  2. Dopplr
  3. Facebook
  4. Flickr
  5. LinkedIn
What else should I use? Is there a good contact management software? Where I can keep a list of my contacts, where I know them from, what do they get to the table and all that?

In Delhi, I did ...

I am in Delhi right now and back in Mumbai tomorrow morning. Here are few things that I did on this visit. In no particular order ...
  • Met @pjain. We have been planning to meet for about 6 months now. Finally caught up with him. Had a nice chit chat about barcamps and entrepreneurship in India.
  • Hogged onto "fried" Paranthas from Paranthe Wali Gali.
  • Saw Dev D. Finally. No more comments. Except that it was emotional atyachaar ;P
  • Visited Birla Temple - the same place where Mahatama Gandhi was killed in 1948. And for some funny reasons, you are not allowed to take your cameras inside the temple.
  • Practised driving on my dad's car. Drove atleast 300 KMs within Delhi. I can now drive comfortably as long as its not the uphill part of a crowded flyover. 
  • Read WEB's 2008 letter to shareholders (notes here). Did not understand a major chunk of it. Hopefully would get clarification at Value Investors Mumbai's Meeting No. 3 on Sunday.
  • Dropped my sis at Delhi's domestic airport.
  • And Picked a friend from Delhi's international airport.
  • Visited People Tree. Bought one teeshirt (for myself) and a bell (for a friend).
  • Dropped my phone thrice. Time to buy a new one.
And these are the things that I normally do, but did not do this time

Warren Buffet's 2008 Letter to Shareholders: Notes

WEB released his 2008 letter for shareholders. Download it here

Following are the things that I underlined while reading the letter. Samples of his gift of the gab at play. 
  • By yearend, investors of all stripes were bloodied and confused, much as if they were small birds that had strayed into a badminton game.
  • Like it or not, the inhabitants of Wall Street, Main Street and the various Side Streets of America were all in the same boat.
  • When investing, pessimism is your friend, euphoria the enemy.
  • sucking my thumb
  • Long ago, Ben Graham taught me that “Price is what you pay; value is what you get.”
  • Whether we’re talking about socks or stocks, I like buying quality merchandise when it is marked down.
  • As we view GEICO’s current opportunities, Tony and I feel like two hungry mosquitoes in a nudist camp. Juicy targets are everywhere.
  • A promise is no better than the person or institution making it.
  • If merely looking up past financial data would tell you what the future holds, the Forbes 400 would consist of librarians.)
  • We never want to count on the kindness of strangers in order to meet tomorrow’s obligations. When forced to choose, I will not trade even a night’s sleep for the chance of extra profits.
  • Approval, though, is not the goal of investing. In fact, approval is often counter-productive because it sedates the brain and makes it less receptive to new facts or a re-examination of conclusions formed earlier.Beware the investment activity that produces applause; the great moves are usually greeted by yawns.

The Nidhi Kapoor Story

Did you like this post? May be you want to read my first book - The Nidhi Kapoor Story.

Check it out on Amazon or Flipkart?