Improv – Deserving of a wider stage

At a play – The Diary of a Madman – the wonderful British performer was right into his solo-act as Poprishchin, a minor civil servant in Nicolas I’s time. Poprishchin is going mad and his descent into insanity is subtle & deceptive. That was in the script. What was not there was that there would be a constant titter of mobile phones ringing. The audience was getting mad in it’s own way and this descent was not so subtle; it was rather obvious! The actor was sane on this count. He carried on unaffected. And then it happened. He was half-way into his delivery of a particular monologue when an earth-shattering musical ringtone started to reverberate around the auditorium. Even before all of the audience had heard it, this actor started swaying to the rhythm of the ringtone, even as he continued his talk. It was so effortless that one could almost wonder if the ringtone music was intentional. At another critical instant, a girl sneezed. Without batting an eyelid, the actor said, “Bless you” and carried on! Both adaptations were a…

Nov 2017 Diary

22nd Nov Rukhmabai Raut in Google Doodle One of the best contributions of Google is it’s doodles on less known or unheralded icons. Today was on Rukhmabai Raut. On reading about her at Wikipedia, it is interesting to know that her defiance of the cusutoms of her day & unwillingness to go stay with her husband were considered to be the result of an English education. No less a person than Lokmanya Tilak said that. Centuries later, the least we can do is look at what transpired objectively. Individual stories played out against the larger backdrop of social change & political struggles. And individual self-interest or liberation suffered at the hands of duly acknowledged Indian leaders. For reasons that would now cause an uproar if leaders & icons were to play them up. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rukhmabai 21st Nov Jana Novotna’s passing Sad to know about Jana Novotna’s passing. She had an out and out attacking game and was lightning fast at the net. She cried in 1993 after losing the Wimbledon final. Millions of viewers, including me, could feel her heart go…

Indigo Fracas – Flawed Disciplinary Action

Indigo Airlines flew directly into a storm kicked up on the ground! Two Indigo staffers were caught on video trying to pin down an abrasive passenger. This was a fight more common among kids at school. Not at an airport. The incident happened in mid-October. The video, shot by an Indigo cargo handler, came out in November. Curiously enough, the cargo handler was removed from the job. As per Indigo’s public statement, he had instigated the other crew and was directly responsible for things coming to a head. Still, no matter what the cargo handler did, there is no way the people who actually got physical can be let off the hook. This is where Indigo seems to have gone completely off the radar. Let us accept for now that the cargo handler was the instigator. Even if that was the case,were the two other staffers such mindless automatons that they would just follow someone’s bidding, even if that be of their own supposedly senior colleague. Indigo claims the staffers used force to rein in an out of bounds passenger as a matter of…

October 2017 – Thinking Practice – Regularly updated

5th October 2017 Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Report The Australian government report on MH 370 search has these following words. The Flight had disappeared somewhere in the ocean in March 2014. “The reasons for the loss of MH370 cannot be established with certainty until the aircraft is found.. And that is unimaginable..It is almost inconceivable and certainly societally unacceptable in the modern aviation era with 10 million passengers boarding commercial aircraft every day, for a large commercial aircraft to be missing and for the world not to know with certainty what became of the aircraft and those on board.” This is an important conclusion. All too often, a failed project is made light of or sought to be consigned to the dustbins of history. This conclusion doesn’t do that. It unequivocally states the continuing criticality of establishing what exactly happened to the flight. And offers invaluable perspective and guidance for future decision-making in this field. The failure to know is indeed societally unacceptable and we must continue to remember that. 14th October 2017 Harvey Weinstein – Sexual misdemeanours After the New…

The Elphinstone Stampede – Getting back on our feet

On 29th September 2017, an overcrowded foot over bridge at Elphinstone railway station, Mumbai witnessed a horrific stampede. 23 people died. What can we, as a society of organizations, do in the aftermath of the Elphinstone stampede? Let us explore the way forward using systems thinking. It might be a good idea to start with a description of the mental model we carry in our collective consciousness. Mental models are the very foundation, the source of how we create our own social reality. Mental Models Here is an articulation of the current mental models as I perceive them. ” Mumbai is the city of dreams. The financial capital. The corporate hub. Everything worth striving for is in Mumbai. We must go to work where the offices and establishments are. The best way to travel? The Mumbai locals – hands down. Cheaper & faster than anything else. Sure, it’s risky. Rush-hour.Packed trains, people falling off, getting run over. Part of the deal. We have made peace with it. Brave everything you encounter because there is a job to be done and food to…

Stanislav Petrov – The Man who Saved the World

Without you knowing about it, Stanislav Petrov has been a part of your life. He has saved the world as we know it by the decisions he made all the way back in 1983. On 26th September, 1983, Petrov was the duty officer at the command-center for a nuclear early warning system near Moscow in Soviet Union. That night, he faced one of the biggest decisions of the 20th century – a decision that could have precipitated an inevitable chain-reaction of events to culminate into the destruction of the whole world. Hard to get what this means into our gut and that is part of our collective challenge – but that’s beside the point. How did a low-ranked duty-officer come to bear such a huge responsibility? After all, we expect this to come to the desks of country leaders & top generals.  And what made it such an agonising decision? In the eighties, the then superpowers, the United States & Soviet Union, were in a state of MAD ( Mutually Assured Destruction) This is even now the case. MAD means both superpowers had enough…

Movies : Elle – Isabelle Huppert’s magnificent performance

We harbour notions about how a movie on rape & sexual violence will be. Elle, the French movie brushes them aside; totally subverting the viewer model we have on such a sensitive subject. The moral purists may not appreciate it. But such is the mesmerising power of Isabelle Huppert, the actress in the role of Michele, that we are held in thrall by her and contend with the existential reality. Michele, the fifty-something CEO of a gaming company, is raped by a masked man in the opening scene. Everything else that follows goes against the grain, deviates from the expected proceedings. Michele does not report to the police. There is an air of nonchalance in the way she breaks the news to a few friends – as a part of dinner table small talk. She does not even actively seek to find the rapist – till he starts to needle her. And even when she starts the search, she does not let it become an obsession. Far from it, it is just something to tackle, that’s it. In short, Michele refuses…

August 2017 Thinking practice – Thoughts on everything & nothing – Regularly updated

14th August 2017 Versova Beach clean-up Afroz Shah, a feted UN Earth Champion once again led a clean-up effort at Versova beach. Our Prime minister has already lauded him for his extraordinary work. Many clean-up efforts have been inspired by his initiative. In Versova, since the past year 4000 tons of garbage has been collected. The beach was made sparkling clean and again defiled, and has again been cleaned. Afroz is not dispirited by having to do the clean-up act all over again. As a society, we ought to think deeper. When the dirt and the filth stare us in the face, the first question has to be, “How can we clean up our beaches and public places?” The ultimate question then has to be, ” How can prevent our beaches and public places from getting dirty in the first place?” In the West, the civic society was grappling with the poor state of animal shelters. Abandoned pets were arriving at a higher rate. The first question they asked was, ” How can we improve the state of our animal…

July 2017 Thinking practice – thoughts on everything & nothing – Regularly updated

30th July 2017 Ghaktopar building collapse : No guidance on how to prevent a recurrence A four storey building collapsed in Ghatkopar, Mumbai on 25th July. 17 people lost their lives. Dangerous renovation that tampered with the structural foundation was the cause. The person who initated this work brushed aside any objections of residents because he was politically connected. The sad part about the coverage is that not enough focus is seen in informing people how to handle similar situations in the future. Two questions. Where do we complain if we think somebody is going about building repairs unmindful of structural safety? What is to be done if we want to check the safety of our building? No starting answers available in this information age. From reading, what I understood is that every five years, a structural engineer should be roped in to audit an old building. Checked the BMC website. Why can’t it be responsive to what is happening, unearth critical information as guidance for citizens and share it as a pop-up? An FAQ feature would have been great.…

Dunkirk : Hope amidst despair

On the deck of the boat, the British soldier anxiously asks Peter how George is doing. He doesn’t know that George lies dead on the lower deck. How did he die? Peter is seething inside. How dare you ask, his eyes speak. After all, he knows that this soldier, their own soldier, owes his very life to the help he received from Peter, his father, Dawson and George. The three of them -civilians- were on the way across the Engligh channel to Dunkirk in their private boat to help in the evacuation of Allied soldiers. They were responding to a desperate call by the British authorities. All sea-faring vessels were needed to get soldiers back home. In the sea,they had spotted this lone soldier, the sole survivor of a ship-wreck and rescued him from a certain death by getting him onboard. They planned to move on. But, the rescued soldier had had enough of war. On hearing of their Dunkirk plan, he had termed it as madness and demanded they straight away head for home instead. As talk went out of hand,…