stories

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…

Ikiru : A movie for the cinephile

Most people like watching movies that entertain. A few are open to being more patient. These people will strive to engage with the movie on a deeper level, at least to begin with. Later on, it of course, pans out differently for different people. And the few who are in this category, make peace with that. If you are among this select few, you should surely watch Ikiru. And if death and the meaning of life as cinematic themes sit easy with you, you cannot miss Ikiru. It will be a movie you will cherish forever. So, what is Ikiru about? Ikiru means ‘to live’ in Japanese. The story is simple. A lifelong bureaucrat comes to know that he has cancer and has only 6 months or so to live. When death stares him in the face, he realizes he has never truly lived. Caught up in a system that has reduced him to being a cog in the wheel, the man, Kanji Watanabe wonders whether he will ever get a chance to do anything that makes him come alive before…

The Olympics at Rio : Inspiring achievements

The curtains have fallen over the Rio Olympics. The applause is yet to die down. The adrenalin is still surging through my brain. After all, our mind can soak in the glory of sport even when the body is not in the contest. Which is what I experienced when the Brazilian volley ball players were on the gold medal podium. This is Rio. This is their home. And their anthem is being played. Can anything top this?! They are weeping tears of joy. Clutching each other. Hearts beating as one, and stuttering because the moment is one to die for. Who doesn’t know that feeling?! Everyone does. Each one of us who has played team sports has that one electrifying experience of a closely fought game, be it any sport. When we know the contest has chiselled something within us, something deep and lasting, that goes beyond the game. Call it Self-belief or the power of We or by any other name. It is near impossible to define it and no definition is required for those who have experienced it. All we can say is that, it…

The Red Balloon : An enchanting movie experience

The red balloon will stay with you forever. It can make you wrestle with the very idea of what a story is. A great story is incomplete. A story is never complete in itself. A good story becomes complete when the audience or the reader merges into it. A great story transcends the desire for completion. The red balloon ends after 34 minutes but it stays incomplete. ‘ What is the story about’ has ready simplistic answers at hand. ‘What does the story mean’ has no one answer. And that is so beautiful about experiencing it. Searching for the answer leads us onto the familiar conceptual tool-kit of metaphors, allegories. We can bandy about words like narrative and structure and impose some sense. And this movie just like its red ballon floats away from the sense-making world. Which is why it is such a compelling watch for all those who seek to make a living out of story-telling, be they artistes, writers, or trainers. The movie restores mystery and magic to its unassailable place in explaining what makes a great story possible. And…