Some of you may have heard of the Jindal Naturecure Institute (JNI) located in Bangalore, India. It has been around for more than 40 years now, and is a place associated with naturopathy-based treatments for various diseases and chronic problems, as also a place where one can go for general body cleansing, detoxification, and health rejuvenation.

My parents had gone for such programs to JNI many years back, and I had a kind of general perception around what the program was like, how it worked, etc. However, it was only a perception, and while the JNI website had some more information, the details of what exactly happens there, how it works, how is it for a person who enrolls there, was not much known to me. But I had enrolled for the program all the same, basis the strong reputation of JNI that gave me a conviction that it will be good for detox.

Having been through the program now, I am penning some notes on what I went through, as much for serving as a reference for me, as to share with anyone else, who may be interested to consider the JNI program.

Before I get into the treatments and the program itself, here’s some other general facts.

JNI as I mentioned earlier, is a 40+ years old institute, located in Bangalore and spread over a sprawling campus. The campus is beautiful, with amazing horticulture – fabulous large trees, plants, flowers, and fruits of various types, extremely well maintained. There are a variety of birds also, on the campus, and every morning, as one walks around, one is treated to variety of bird sounds. Across the large campus are also fruit orchards and other open spaces, and as you take your walks around those areas, you also spot the many peacocks that are part of the habitat there. The complex is situated just beside a huge lake, and which makes for a most spectacular view, especially as the sun and the clouds play to give many different hues, making for a fascinating visual of the landscape. And the “regulars” who have been coming here for years informed that there is always some expansion or development that they have seen, as the campus kept growing with new things there. While I was there, I saw work going on, for example, on a health museum. I can only imagine how they probably are creating a place to explain various facets of health and wellness, via displays and commentary, perhaps.

The campus also has services like laundry, library and a store providing the many essentials. This sells stuff that you may need while you are there (like I forgot to carry a swimming costume and purchased one there) to stuff that you might like to purchase and take back with you (some “products” based on naturopathy that they have created) to even a large range of books that they publish themselves. I particularly loved and purchased a coffee table sized book explaining the fundamental approach of naturopathy and the various treatments they have there, in a simple, single-page description.

On campus are also sports facilities like for badminton, tennis, basketball, etc., a swimming pool etc. Daily evening post dinner there are programs that one can attend, which include a mix of entertainment (antakshri, movie screening etc.) to knowledge sessions (talks by their experts, or about healthy recipes by their experts, etc.).

Across this large and beautiful complex are well-maintained walking tracks that you can use, at all times of the day. They are mostly flat, easy to walk on, with very small inclines. Amongst the many residents who are staying there at any point, often, the point of discussion would be as to how many steps or km each person had walked that day!

Speaking of residents, in fact, a very integral part of the stay is the opportunity to meet and mingle with many others who have enrolled for the program. There are many points in the day, be it when you are consuming one of the 4-5 juices that you are advised to, at different times of the day, or perhaps at lunch or dinner time, when you spend time with other residents. It is very natural to strike up a conversation, starting with the favorite parts of where one has come from, and how many days they are going to be here, etc. You end up finding people you connect well with, and they become your regular “hang-out” partners, thereafter. You can easily strike up friendships here, that would go beyond the course of your stay here.

People come from all around India, and all around the world as well. In my stay, people I met came from far and wide places like Mumbai, Delhi, Bellary, Lucknow, Dehradun, Chandigarh, Kolkata, Pune, Bangalore (locals), as well as Singapore, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Australia, London, the USA etc. Most of the people from outside India were NRIs, but there were a few “foreigners” as well. Clearly, the reputation of the place has spread far and wide and draws people from around the world.

Also, most people that I met were repeat visitors. Of course, there were few first-timers like me, but several were people who had come maybe 2-3 times or 4-5 times, or some who had come 15-20 times also, before their current visit. They had made it a routine of sorts, to make maybe, an annual rejuvenation trip, or some, even doing a half-yearly visit! And people were also of all ages. Some very young, say in their 20s, and all the way to senior citizens in their 80s. Some of the people that I saw looked so fit, I was wondering what brought them there. On asking the question to such people, the responses I got were that “x years back, they were heavier and after coming to JNI, they saw the change happen, and have been coming back frequently thereafter” or “that they suffer from diabetes or some such thing, so even though they look fit, they need the chronic issue addressed, and they prefer doing it the natural way”, or that “they are convinced about the natural way as being a holistic way to wellness and hence visit here”. All of such conversations made me feel even better about my own decision to have enrolled there for a program, and if anything, I felt that I should have come here, a few years earlier!

JNI also has a very large staff strength – from qualified doctors, yoga teachers, physiotherapists, acupuncture experts, masseurs, a team of coordinators helping participants with their programs, to the regular hospitality kind of team, such as kitchen and F&B staff, housekeeping, maintenance, horticulturists, etc. And the one thing to say about them is that all of them were fabulous in terms of their service levels, their dedication, their commitment to the work, their eagerness to help, their skills, etc. The service and maintenance levels were perhaps better than what you’d see in a good 5-star hotel! The extent of personalized service that one took, e.g., the number of massages, say, there would generally be a tendency to tip such service providers. But they don’t take a tip! And yet, they serve with a smile and with complete dedication. Some of the tasks that they performed were particularly “personal” such as giving enemas or the hydro colon therapy (more about these later), and these were also performed with a lot of dedication and care.

At the time of your check-in, your data is taken, and then you are to consult a few doctors, including a main naturopath who is assigned to you, as your consulting doctor, for your entire stay, and then a yoga specialist, a physiotherapist, an acupuncture specialist etc. Based on your case, your specific issues if any, your health constraints if any, your objective for the stay there, a fundamental program is created for you. Specifically for yoga, it spells out certain yoga sessions that you should do, certain asanas that you should avoid. And similarly, a basi program is spelt out for you, for acupuncture and physiotherapy.

The main consulting doctor that you are assigned to takes a more exhaustive health history of yours, records the initial parameters including height, weight, BMI, blood pressure etc. And makes some broad notes on the approach and starts you off for the first day or two of actual diet and treatment. In case he needs you to take any tests, such as blood test etc., he may ask you to get those done too, for him to assess your condition that much better. Thereafter, you are to meet this doctor every day, and basis your feedback and whatever other observations he draws, he keeps tweaking both, your diet and your treatment on a day-to-day basis.

The tariff for the program is based on two factors: a) the type of stay that you opt for (there are various levels at different price points) and b) the different types of treatment that you take or that you need to take, such as the different massages and other such treatments.

Basis the kind of room you have opted for, you get an access badge, and besides that you get another smart card. Both of these, you are supposed to carry around with you, most times that you are going anywhere on the campus.

I was particularly very impressed by the smart card. It is connected to your record and all you need to do is to swipe the same, at various places, for them to know what you need to be doing next. For example, you swipe the card in the lunch room and it will tell the persons there, what food you are supposed to eat in that meal, you swipe the card at the therapy center, and they know what massage you are supposed to have at that time, you swipe the card at the juice place, and of the many juices offered at that time, they will tell you exactly which one is meant for you. All this data is available on a phone or an iPad, to the attendant at each place. Of course, the doctors also have the same information when they see your record, as the information is all centralized. This tech was very impressive, I thought.

Beyond this general information, let me share something about the specific diets and treatments:

The typical day’s program:

The typical day’s program is supposed to start by around 5.30 am. With minor differences, most people have this common morning schedule, viz. one takes maybe a 15-20 min walk, then heads to what is known as the Kriya Centre. Here, I was prescribed a first thing where two drops of ghee are put in my nose, and then the nose is massaged, and this is to clean up the nasal track. Thereafter, there is salt-water gargling, and then cleaning the eyes using eye cups filled with a liquid. Once these are done, one heads to the amphitheatre, where yoga mats are laid out. The program starts with meditation for a few minutes. Post-meditation, there is a laughter therapy session, followed up pranayama. After that, there is yoga, where for the first two days that one is there, you’d follow a learner’s yoga session, and beyond that, you’d join the general yoga session. In each of these, you may not do all asanas, if the yoga teacher has marked those out for you, basis your health constraints, if any.

Post this yoga session, by around 7.30 am, you get to have your first intake. Typically, it is a juice of some kind. In my case, most of the days, it was a warm water with jaggery and a little lime. When you are not “fasting”, you would get a small helping of sprouts with a little pomegranate too, along with the liquid.

Once you are done with this morning schedule, you’d either go and see your consulting doctor for the daily appointment (they are available from 8 am onwards) or maybe done another walk for 30-45 mins, or maybe go back to your room.

Other activities planned for you during the day could include an acupuncture session (generally 30 min duration), a physiotherapy session (also around 30 min duration), some packs that are put on you like a mud pack or a castor oil pack or an abdomen pack, kidney pack etc., which can happen at different times of the day, and are anywhere from 15 min to 45 min each, and 1-2 massage or enema or such sessions, planned in the course of the day.

Beyond that, there are evening yoga sessions for specific purposes like for diabetes patients or for anyone with hypertension or cardiac problems, there is also a yoga for eyes session, there is an aqua yoga session that happens in the swimming pool, there is a relexology area where you can go and “walk” barefoot over pebbles, sand etc. There is also a vibration place, which is this large platform hung over a large tree, where maybe 10-12 people could go and stand and then, the entire platform is subject to vibrations, even as you stand on the platform, for about 8 minutes.

Beyond these, there are always options to keep doing walks across the campus.

Juice breaks happen further around 8.45 am, 2-30 pm, 4.45 pm and post dinner at around 8.30 pm. Lunch is around 11-12 in the morning and dinner is around 6-7 pm in the evening.

A typical day, if you are going through a few of the treatments, has you busy for large parts of the day, especially as you rush around from one place to another, where the different treatments happen, and where meals and juices are served.

Diet Program:

Sensing my issue being largely one of being overweight, my diet program was catered accordingly.

The first 2-3 days, I would have some solid food like fruits (pineapple, papaya, watermelon etc.) along with steamed vegetables and sprouts, along with soup, for lunch and dinner. At different times of the day, I would have liquid intake like warm jaggery water with ginger or lime, kokum juice, tender coconut water, some mixed fruits smoothie etc. The post-dinner night liquid was always cold coconut milk with chia seeds, for me.

For 4 consecutive days in the middle, I was put on a fast. Those 4 days, I had all the liquids intake, but no solids. So, no sprouts early morning, no solid fruits, no steamed vegetables or sprouts at lunch or dinner. Lunch and dinner were just one bowl of soup, in fact.

Massages and other treatments:

Over the time that I was there, there were many different massages and other treatments that I needed to take. Sharing details of some of these:

  1. Enema: This is administered in your room itself. And is a first process to get your bowels cleaned. I was administered this for a couple of days, right in the beginning.
  2. Oil therapy massage: This was like a basic oil massage and perhaps, one to just get you started on massages. After that, many other, more intense and specialized massages happened. Post oil massage, one sits in the steam room for 10 minutes, before taking a shower to get the oil off!
  3. Kairali massage: The next massage was the Kairali type, also an oil massage, but done the Kairali style. With two masseurs, working your body, in synch, so that the two sides of your body get synchronized massaging. This is also followed by steam and shower.
  4. Deep Tissue massage: This is also an oil massage but where the masseurs put more pressure, going deeper on the muscles.
  5. Herbal Therapy massage: This is a very interesting massage. They use freshly ground and mixed herbal powder to spread over your body and rub it in, with a certain pressure, to give you a massage. After extensively doing this on all of your body, they clean out the powder as best as possible, and then follow up with a regular oil massage, and then steam and shower. This is supposed to be very effective, and I had this massage a couple of times, over my 10-days stay.
  6. GIB Bath with Epsom Salt: This is where you are in a tub filled with warm water and there is a lot of Epsom salt mixed, and the masseur rubs all of it over your body. It is part of the overall detox process.
  7. Hot Stone Therapy: This is a very interesting massage type. Again, there are two individuals who work together, to give this massage to you. There is extensive use of round, flat stones, pre-heated, along with oil. So, the body is oiled out and then it is rubbed with these hot stones. Hot stones are also kept on the body for certain periods of time, and allowed to provide the therapeutic treatment, from those.
  8. Salt Glow Therapy: This is a natural treatment using salt and oil, mainly focused on improving the skin, ridding it of dead cells, getting the pores opened up, mainly for purpose of detox, again.
  9. Hydro Colon Therapy: This is a very interesting therapy, kind of like enema, but with the idea of using pressurized warm and cold water, for purpose of cleaning the large intestine, specifically for waste that has accumulated there, for a long time. The equipment used has a display unit, where you actually see the waste coming out!!
  10. Vibro Therapy: This therapy uses a variety of vibration heads and same are applied across different parts of the body, to provide an exhaustive and holistic vibration across the body.
  11. Jet Hydro Therapy: This is where you are asked to stand towards a wall, and a person using a high pressure jet of water sprays water across various parts of your body, in a concentrated manner. The pressure makes it seem like sharp objects are being shot on to your body, but again, this has a therapeutic purpose.
  12. Whirlpool Bath: This is where you are asked to lie down in a jacuzzi kind of tub, and sharp streams of water are coming out, below the water surface. You are asked to move specific parts of your body, specifically the ones where there are fat deposits, such as your tummy, abdomen, thighs, etc. close to those jets, and get a strong hydro massage in the process. Like a typical jacuzzi, this is a circular shaped tub.
  13. Under water therapy: This is somewhat similar to the whirlpool bath, except that the tub is like a proper bathing tub in shape, and most of your body, except the head, is below the water and you are lying flat (you would also turn around and

have your back on the top and chest below, as you lie flat on your tummy, under the water). Water jets come in across the tub and the person helping you, also rubs on your immersed body, giving a massage.

While I saw some of the people who were coming to the place, repeatedly, making some choice on the treatments that they choose to take or not take, I, going there for the first time, chose to simply submit myself to the entire program, as envisaged by the doctors there. I followed their suggestions and tried to follow as much of the prescribed schedule set for me, as I could.

Even after doing this once now, and seeing the immense overall benefits, I am not able to pinpoint which of the parts contributed less or more, to my final results. So, I am not sure if I can really pick and choose even the next time that I go there.

Speaking of the “next time”, I am quite convinced about the relevance and benefits of the program and feel that a 7 to 10 days stint at JNI should become a part of the year’s agenda, each year. I hope to be able to do so.

Overall, I found the entire experience excellent, and I would highly recommend anyone considering the same, to take the call and enroll!

Prior to August 2020, my only contribution to gardening was to engage a professional gardener, pay him a fee, and let him do his thing, in our garden. And he did an “okay” job in the once-a-week visits he would pay us. It was clearly not enough to get the dream garden that we wished for. But then I did not particularly get around to investing more time or energy behind it.

Come March 2020, and the pandemic and the lockdown ensured that we did not get any outsiders coming in, and which included the gardener too. So from March to August 2020, the garden was poorly looked after and started looking terrible.

That was the point when, at a moment of inspiration, I decided to get into some gardening work myself. In fact, the desire was always there, but I had not put my mind to it, and I was also not sure where to start. Luckily, I had subscribed to the Masterclass series online, and one of the great masterclass series was around home gardening. Which I saw. And after that I went and saw a few more videos on YouTube. And that was just the trigger I needed, to plunge into this new hobby.

And it’s been an amazing 12 months now, of pottering around the garden, trying out things, failing a lot, learning new stuff, experimenting, seeking help from friends, visiting nurseries, and getting to some decent state of developing a home garden.

We have not called any gardener for our garden, since March 2020, so I am able to take full responsibility of the good, bad and the ugly in our garden, with no one else to point fingers to!

And this is what has emerged in terms of the flora and the fauna now.

The learnings have been many over this one year. And in fact, as an entrepreneur, I saw a lot of parallels between trying to nurture and grow plants, and trying to build out a business venture! In fact, gardening experiences are a lot like life itself. I am pleased to share a few of these points, that bring out the parallels:

  1. I tried to grow plants starting from bare seeds. This turned out to be the most challenging. The journey from a seed to a plant that can reasonably self-sustain is a long and arduous one. Many things can go wrong in between. Some of these don’t even get started, in terms of showing up above the soil. Others sometimes give way, in a few days or weeks, just as they start showing up, above the ground. Many startups have the same story. Early period needs extreme care.
  2. Sometimes a plant reaches a certain size and then needs to be transplanted into a bigger planter. Or sometimes you get a ready, small plant (instead of a sapling or just seeds) and you are working to grow them from that point onwards. The transplantation from an existing soil structure to a newer one has to be done very carefully. This is to ensure that the roots are well-maintained and don’t snap off. And you need to settle down the transplanted plant, in the new planter also, well. This is much like M&A in startup life. Needs to be done with as much care!
  3. As you do gardening, you realise that by and large, nature has tremendous resilience. There were at least two major occasions of heavy rains and very strong winds that damaged several of my plants very badly. Few small and delicate ones did not survive and died! Some others were badly damaged but survived. Once the storm passed, I cleaned them up, and provided further tender loving care, for a few days. And lo and behold! The plants recovered and came back to their own, like nothing had happened. That resurrection of sorts, from the dead, was very fascinating and showed the amazing resilience that the plants had. Sometimes in startup life too, one would face storms. But the entrepreneurs’ and the teams’ resilience can enable a startup to battle it out, survive and come out stronger.
  4. After several experiments, what I finally concluded in terms of the causes of failed plants, was that these were either under-watered or over-watered. Too little, mostly infrequent watering deprives plants and causes them to get spoilt or die, but also excess water causes similar and sometimes worse damage. It is much like the need of capital in startups. Too less capital or too much capital could potentially cause the same kind of damage to startups!
  5. When you have dried up leaves or damaged leaves in a plant, there is no way to undo that damage and make them nice and green again. The only option is to cut those damaged leaves, and which allows the rest of the plant and the rest of the leaves to survive and grow well. And soon, you would have a nice healthy plant all over again. In a startup (or even a matured company), if there are some some team members that are not fitting well, it is best to let them go, and give the rest of the team and the company a chance to survive and thrive again.
  6. I am totally indebted to some great friends and some experts in our housing community, to provide me with great suggestions, whenever I had questions. There was a keen willingness to help and guide and it just felt good to know that there was someone to go to. And it is on account of that support that I was able to fumble and falter but yet correct and try and get things right. In a startup too, it is important to have access to good advisors that you can turn to, from time to time!
  7. Gardening is not about a lot of work for a short period of time. It is not about this massive burst of effort. Rather, it is about a continuous and committed effort on a regular and constant basis. A certain investment of time, almost on a daily basis, perhaps a slightly longer effort at least once each week. But the bottomline being that one just has to be “at it” relentlessly. There are almost no short cuts to that. Results do not show up every day, in fact, they often do not show up for days and week together. But still, you have to be at it. Because that is the only way that growth happens, that the flowers and fruits show up. Any sort of impatience on the journey means that you will not get the desired rewards of your labour! This is again, so true for startups as well. As they say, the journey of a startup is a marathon and not a sprint.

It has been a great one year of gardening for me. And the journey has just started, it would seem to me. I find the time I spend gardening to be therapeutic, to provide me with a lot of happiness, away from my phone and other devices, and very rewarding as well.

Like I feel running my business venture..

It’s that time of the year.

Cannes is in the air. And so is Wimbledon.

And in these pandemic times, as I experience these sitting at home, on a remote screen, nowhere close to Europe, I am reminded of that wonderful summer of 2015, one which was very special for me, in many different ways!

It was earlier in 2014 when the digital agency that I had co-founded, Social Wavelength, was acquired by the global advertising network, WPP. We were folded under J Walter Thompson, one of the oldest and highly reputed advertising agencies.

Even as we were getting inducted into the WPP network and getting to know people in the group, I was pleasantly surprised to be invited to be on the Jury for the Mobile Lions at the very prestigious Cannes Lions Awards for advertising and creativity. Unlike colleagues in the WPP group who had grown in the advertising industry and many of whom had had a chance of experiencing Cannes, for me, having come to the advertising world, as a kind of “outsider”, Cannes was the holy grail of sorts, an awe-inspiring event, and one that ordinarily, would have remained aspirational.

So, the invitation to not just be at Cannes Lions, but to in fact, be on the jury, was absolutely out of the blue, and an unbelievable surprise.

What followed was a massive effort of pre-screening entries (while still in India) to help come to a short list of entries (once all jury members had done their pre-screening), and which entries, the jury would sit together and review in Cannes.

The jury experience itself was fabulous. One of the major highlights of that summer of 2015!

Being in a room with other eminent jury members, coming from agencies around the world, together looking at one entry after another, discussing the merits, debating some where we were not all on the same page. And doing this day after day, for almost a week. Meeting and engaging with these amazing folks, and also networking with them, beyond jury hours, was an experience of a lifetime!

The large part of this jury effort in Cannes happened about a week prior to the actual start of the Cannes Lions event. So, just as we completed the jurying effort, it was time to swing to the exciting part of actually being at the event and participating there. As a jury member, we got free access to the event (registration is pricey otherwise!). And specifically, for the day when the awards for the specific category that I was a jury member for, viz. the Mobile Lions, were to be announced, we got pride of place, in terms of being right up front in the main event hall. Being up close, right in the front, in a hall and an atmosphere that felt like being at the Oscars, was totally surreal. I had goosebumps. And as I saw the many winners come up on stage to receive their Lions, there was such an adrenalin rush, wanting to so badly, want to go up on that stage, to receive my own Cannes Lions!

There was a lot more about the Cannes experience, including the beautiful city, meeting up with many friends and colleagues from India, attending some really great sessions of knowledge from the absolutely top speakers and panelists from the world, etc.

With all these, Cannes was not done just yet for me.

Besides all the above mentioned exciting stuff that happened, there was one more very significant meeting that happened while I was at Cannes that year.

As mentioned earlier, in 2014, we became a part of WPP Group and were folded under J Walter Thompson (JWT). At this time, JWT was in the process of creating a new digital agency brand called Mirum. This was being created by bringing together a few of the digital agencies that JWT owned, around the world. We had just become a part of the group few months prior to this, and were still getting to know people in the network. Becoming a part of Mirum was going to be by invitation, and we were certainly not expecting that call so soon. However, the Cannes visit gave me an opportunity to meet with Dan Khabie, the global CEO of the newly formed Mirum. That meeting was a get-to-know meeting, which became the basis of our subsequent induction into Mirum. The opportunity to meet Dan in person, and for me to understand the vision for Mirum, and for him to understand what Social Wavelength was about, was an important development. Looking back, we know that becoming Mirum, has been an absolute game changer for us, and in many ways, the seeds of the same were sown during that summer of 2015, in Cannes!

While it all started with the invitation to be on the Mobile Jury at Cannes, as the travel plan was getting ready, I noticed an amazing opportunity. Just as the Cannes Lions event was winding up, on a weekend, the Monday that followed was the beginning of Wimbledon at London. Being the tennis fan that I was, this was an unmissable opportunity to add a few days to my travel, and grab the opportunity to make my “pilgrimage” to Wimbledon!

I did not have tickets for Wimbledon already, and an effort to try and procure tickets only returned very expensive options. But it also led to the discovery that there were a few tickets that Wimbledon sold at low prices on a first-come-first-served basis, every morning. And for which people would queue up, potentially through the previous night! That was a part of the big tradition of Wimbledon, and had it’s own charm!

So, that summer of 2015, in London, I did the whole works of spending a night in the Wimbledon lawns, getting a ticket to go inside, next morning, seeing some amazing tennis, and seeping in the brilliance of the Wimbledon experience. More detailed photos of my Wimbledon trip are shared here.

Thus happened, one of my deep desires as an avid tennis fan, namely to attend Wimbledon live.

In this manner, a matter of three weeks turned out to be extremely significant and crucial for me, in 2015.

  • Being on the Mobile Jury at Cannes Lions
  • Spending an amazing week attending Cannes Lions
  • Having a crucial first meeting with Dan Khabie, global CEO of Mirum, that led to Social Wavelength being invited to become Mirum
  • Making the “pilgrimage” to Wimbledon

Sometimes destiny ordains you to be in a place at a time, and it turns out to be the perfect place at the perfect time, and the rest of the dots just start connecting seamlessly.

The summer of 2015 was one such memorable period for me!!

There is absolutely no doubt that India is in the midst of a health emergency, due to the second wave of Covid-19. And as citizens grapple with personal tragedy, and scenes of grief at hospitals etc., there is a natural anger seething within all of us, as to why we have ended up in this state.

And one of the intuitive directions where the blame goes, is towards the government – both state and centre. I have myself been very vocal on social media and personal Whatsapp group conversations, about my own disappointment with regards to the government in terms of what they could do, and what they have done so far!

That said, at this point, I was reminded of the famous call of John Kennedy, that went, “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country!”.

I am making a small change in that line, to say that “Ask not JUST what your country can do for you, ask ALSO what YOU can do for your country”!

Before I get into the detail of this, let me focus on the many messages going on, across media, in various private conversations, where we seem to lay all of the blame to the governments. And reckon that if they had behaved better, we’d all have been safe and sound at this point.

To that narrative, let’s understand a few things to begin with:

  • Last year, when the rest of the world was grappling with very large number of cases and fatalities, somehow or the other, we had managed to keep the numbers at bay, and kind of managed to flatten the curve; essentially, ensured that the number of patients demanding a Covid hospital bed were lesser than the number of hospital beds available
  • Considering our population numbers and density, it seemed to be quite an incredulous feat to have achieved, and we gave credit to all kinds of reasons for this, including our higher immunity due to the various diseases we go through, growing up in India, or that we had had the BCG vaccination as kids, or that our weather made it harder for Covid to survive or spread, etc. At the end of it all, these were all considered speculative, and no one really pinpointed the real reasons for our better numbers.
  • As we tend to be more critical of government at any time, we did not give much credit to the initial quick steps taken for administering an unpopular lockdown, or the rapid creation of new healthcare infrastructure, etc. Maybe also the citizens’ higher levels of discipline to stay at home, sacrifice a lot, to contribute to the curve getting flattened then.
  • Whatever be the reasons, towards the end of 2020, a certain feeling was getting across that we are putting the Covid monster behind us, slowly but surely. It was on this basis that government started allowing the opening up of the economy, from transport to offices to cinemas and malls etc. And people also started getting comfortable about stepping out, going to work, and resuming their pre-Covid life, gradually.

Note that this was the backdrop, of gradually overcoming the Covid monster and an increasing confidence to resume the pre-Covid life, in Jan-Feb 2021, both for the government and for the people. And it was against this backdrop, and kind of against the turn of events, that we were all taken in by this shocking and surprising second wave of Covid.

Yes, appreciate that none of us expected it, none of us anticipated it – not the government, not the people. Unlike the first wave where it started from China and was seen to be hitting other countries, unfailingly, and it was only a matter of time before it hit India as well, the second wave did not come with such predictive knowledge.

But then, towards end of of February and through March, it became clear that the second wave WAS indeed happening and one had to start taking adequate steps in an urgent manner. Perhaps, this was the very crucial period where adequate and urgent action did not happen, like it had been done in anticipation of the first wave, in March, 2020.

So, let’s understand the role of the government and the role of the people. And note that when I speak of “government”, I refer to the centre and the state and all the connected teams and departments including municipalities, health ministry, etc.

Appreciate that hindsight is a great place to preach from (“we should have done this, we should have done that”), but at a point in time when decisions need to be taken, you don’t really have the advantage of hindsight. So, consider that fact as you raise your “expectations” of what should have been done.

What should (could) the government HAVE done?

  • Reacted quickly and strongly, as soon as the sense of the second and large wave, was felt in late Feb 2021
  • Rang the alarm bells out early enough, and on the back of the same, put an immediate stop to all mass gathering events like the Kumbh mela, farmers’ protests etc.
  • Paused the 5-state elections immediately
  • In doing all this, give out a clear message that “this is serious and needs everyone’s immediate attention”
  • While we were rolling out one massive vaccination program for a country of our size and it was being done with some planning, in terms of logistics etc., and if there was no second wave, we might have been okay with the pace and the distribution, considering the extremely special situation created out of the impending second wave, additional and corrective steps should have been taken. Like figuring out any supply chain hiccups for current vaccine players, or figuring out means and modalities to hasten the larger population into vaccination, or exploring additional vaccine types to be approved on priority and allowed in, etc.
  • Put quick curbs on non-essential public gatherings. Yes, it was back to the lives vs livelihood debate, and like the first wave, quick and essential steps, even if they were unpopular, needed to be taken.
  • Reassessed the eligibility criteria for vaccination, tweaked it as necessary basis the demography being most susceptible, looking at entire families that were getting infected, perhaps figuring alternate SOPs on quarantine etc.

There might be few more bullets to this list. But, yes, the governments – state and centre – missed out on various opportunities to react sooner and better.

Having said that, some of the (hindsight based) expectations that one reads in social media today, about what the government should and could have done, seem a tad unfair.

What are perhaps, unfair expectations of the governments:

  • That they should have rolled out the vaccination program much faster and to all, to begin with; there were logistical challenges of a large and diverse country like ours that needed to be figured out. And after all that, the rollout when it began, and started taking pace, was one of the fastest and biggest around the world. In fact, people were taking their time to register and go for vaccination as everyone seemed to believe that there is ample time to get this done. The government could have not anticipated the current huge rush for getting people vaccinated faster, at that time.
  • The choice of vaccines was made as per scientific basis and also keeping with the demands of storage and distribution in a country like ours, where availability of cold storages and reliable electrical supply across the country is not that great. So, the expectation again that, many different vaccines should have been simultaneously cleared at the outset, is unrealistic.
  • That the hospital beds infrastructure should have continued to be kept growing and maintained in numbers, even as Covid related demand for these had dramatically gone down, from the peak levels. Just think about it, if the capacity was 100 and demand was 10, and not looking to grow, how would there be a justification to not only maintain that physical infrastructure and people associated with it, but also keep increasing that capacity, for a “possible” much larger second wave, whose likelihood there was no hint about. Hell, people are finding faults in the Health Minister’s quote last year that we have adequate hospital infrastructure. Heck, he was referring to the situation at that point in time. He did not have any idea of such a huge second wave coming in! This is akin to the statement that Bill Gates has apparently said to have made many years back that “640K memory should be enough for any home computer” or words to that effect. These have all to be read in the context of the history at that point in time.
  • In the same context as the previous point, the idea that government should have ensured large scale production of Remdesvir or Oxygen cylinders for healthcare, or even purchased these and kept with them, at a time when case numbers were dwindling down, is an unfair expectation.

So, broadly speaking, the point being made is that while we are happy to blame governments for everything basis the hindsight knowledge of the current numbers of second wave cases, it must be appreciated that these are not like monsoon that was expected at some point in time for sure, and for which “rainy day”, the governments should have stayed prepared. This second wave and its intensity has caught everyone, including the government, by surprise, unfortunately.

So, if we have vented out enough about the governments, let us turn inwards. As the title of the post goes, let’s not just ask the government what it can and should have done for us, but let’s see what our role is, in this current emergency that we are all grappling with.

The people’s role:

  • Yes, we had all felt choked sitting at home for many weeks last year, so as soon as the slightest window opened, we were keen to rush out. Going out to work, as it had been hampered badly due to closures or WFH scenarios was one thing, but we could not wait to get back to our celebratory ways and partying and random travel etc. As we expect the government to have an eye on still existing Covid threats, did we not have the same sensibilities??
  • The crowds that were seen together in festivals or the weddings that resumed with the same gusto as pre-Covid times, or the lakhs of people that rushed to Goa and other destinations were a testament of how we, as people, took things for granted too. While there were restrictions at play, the jugaadu Indian took pride in how he was able to “bet the system”!
  • The height of such “beating the system” stories are the fake Covid negative certificate scams and people roaming around freely in their housing complexes or even travelling or roaming around in the city, in spite of being tested Covid positive. That someone enables such routes to be exploited and that there are huge takers of such short cuts, is again proof that we get what we deserve!
  • Note that I am not talking of daily wage earners and other working population who had to step out due to their needs of livelihood. Those could not be put off beyond a point. It is the scores of others who went out and mingled “just like that” or who chose to have large weddings or who went for large religious gatherings etc. that I point to. Absolutely unnecessary and suicidal, as we are able to see in hindsight now!
  • In late December and then in January, I could sense people giving up even on the mask, in a big way. Simple mask discipline or social distancing was being compromised big time. Because of the complacency that had set in, but that time, that “things were normal now”.
  • And even as the second wave has hit, and is clearly much stronger than the first one, there is a huge hangover on the post-first-phase liberties that we don’t want to give up. While we lived totally locked down, without domestic help, learned to manage our chores ourselves, now, with a much bigger wave, when an idea of cutting down domestic help is mooted, there is “furore” in the housing complex! We want it all, but want Covid to go away, and want some magic from governments!!

This is really the point around what WE can do for the country.

  • To start with, appreciate that we are in a serious health emergency!
  • Don’t wait for someone in your own family to have to go through the agony of finding a hospital bed in an emergency, to come to that realisation. Appreciate it already, as you see the situation around you!
  • The fundamental challenge is again around flattening the curve or cutting the curve, or whatever term you choose to use. And to understand this, it is about that difference between availability of hospital beds (including ICUs, oxygen, etc.) versus the demands for the same. At this time, the demand is surging, it is already above the capacities at most places.
  • How do you get this diverging curve under control? On the one side, you increase capacities. However, that is a slower process and we cannot expect overnight results here. And the increase of capacity will also be in finite numbers at a time. So, the other option to bring the diverging curve under control is by reducing cases.
  • And, there are effectively two ways to reduce the demand. Fewer people getting infected and more people getting vaccinated. What we can do about the former is to fundamentally follow the disciplines around masks, social distancing, not mingling, not stepping out unless absolutely necessary, and urging our friends and families towards these aspects too. Don’t step out and begin routine again, at the first signs of reopening, unless you need to do so. Basically do your bit.
  • And on the latter part, as soon as you qualify for vaccination, do get vaccinated. Get your families vaccinated. Spread vaccine education so as to remove the resistance against vaccination amongst certain people.

And if I may dare to share this last suggestion for people. And perhaps, the most critical one!

Unfortunately, most of the dialogue on social media and in private groups is around finding faults. Most times, with the government. When suggestions for lockdown or curbs are given, the response if around “why those other things are still on, and we are asked to restrain??”.

How does this help??

This is an emergency like any other emergency, such as a war. These are the times to stand as one, and focus only on the enemy, which in this case, is the Covid virus. At such a time, why are we wasting our time and energies, on fault finding, and throwing doubts around anything constructive that anyone is attempting??

Just support the steps that are being taken. You or I are NOT in a position of decision making, and if you ask a 100 people, there will be a 100 different approaches that you might get. So, just because the government is not doing what YOU think they should be doing, does not necessarily mean that they are wrong, or that you should not support them at this time.

Hopefully, we will fight this war and win, and then there will be ample time to analyse the mistakes and blame the concerned people. But for now, there can only be one objective, one laqshya, viz. to overcome this challenge of the covid emergency and win! Let’s all stay focused on that goal, and do whatever we can, in that endeavour, from our side.

In the above, where I have described the less than responsible behaviour of people earlier, I have kept using the pronoun, “we”, as I have equally been a part of that behaviour. This message is as much to myself, as to every other citizen in the country.

Let’s go, win this war against Covid, TOGETHER!

Are you too quick to judge??

Posted: April 2, 2021 in Uncategorized

Are you? Too quick to judge?

Like someone is speaking to you, and even as you hear her speak, your head is going, “She doesn’t get it” or “she is so biased” or “this is such nonsense” etc.??

Whether we verbalise such thoughts of ours or not, too often we find ourselves jumping to such conclusions.

While it is a fact that we need to constantly analyse all inputs (knowledge, experience, opinions, what we are hearing, etc.) and come to our own conclusions, rushing to such judgments may be detrimental.

Yes, it is a busy world and we have other things to do in life.

Yes, there is a lot of data to process.

Yes, we need to get on with life.

However, that does not mean that we need to judge prematurely and risk making a wrong call.

So, when you are reading some content or talking to someone, and you let your mind take a decision about the subject too quickly, what you are doing is to keep a closed mind and not allow a potential alternate thought, or a clarification from the other person to come in.

And thanks that that, we can end up forming prejudices about people or topics, for example:

  • He / she is leftist / rightist and hence those views
  • He / she comes from a very different background and won’t understand this subject
  • He / she is wrong
  • I know what he / she is going to say next
  • There he / she goes blabbering away
  • I have made a mistake in hiring him / her
  • This client is so irrational / insenstive
  • My boss / manager / colleague / client hates me
  • etc.

I am sure all of us are guilty of doing this, to small or large extent. But if you see yourself doing this all the time, you might want to pause and think.

What you might be doing is to put the cart before the horse. Or to put a conclusion without merit, or without having heard the perspective completely.

The traits that lead to such behaviour are as under:

  1. Overconfidence: you feel that you know everything, and don’t even need to listen to what the other person is saying, or what that other view is.
  2. Arrogance: a feeling that “what can this person teach me”!
  3. Not being a good listener: is when, you are supposedly “hearing” the other person, but not really “listening” to them. Which means that you are blanked out to that person’s talking, and your mind is elsewhere. Or perhaps preparing a response, basis the little initial part that you heard.
  4. Not having empathy: you choose to not put yourself in the other person’s shoes to understand where they are coming from, on their viewpoint

As you handle larger responsibility in any field, the demand to take decisions, and sometimes quick ones, is high. And that requires that you reach a judgement quickly too. But that should not come at the cost of being over confident or arrogant or not being empathetic to the other person.

Walk the balance between quick decision making and not being judgmental well, and you should see a huge impact in the quality of decisions that you make! And the consequences thereof…

The Stockdale Paradox is a concept that was popularized by Jim Collins in his book Good to Great. It was named after James Stockdale, former vice presidential candidate, naval officer and Vietnam prisoner of war. The main gist of the idea is that you need to balance realism with optimism.

If ever we needed to think in this manner, it is probably now!

Let me give you the context of this Stockdale Paradox first.

James Stockdale, former vice-presidential candidate, during the Vietnam War, was held captive as a prisoner of war for over seven years. He was one of the highest-ranking naval officers at the time.

During this horrific period, Stockdale was repeatedly tortured and had no reason to believe he’d make it out alive. Held in the clutches of the grim reality of his hell world, he found a way to stay alive by embracing both the harshness of his situation with a balance of healthy optimism.

Stockdale explained this idea as the following: “You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end — which you can never afford to lose — with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

That is the concept of the Stockdale Paradox. Confront the brutal facts, but never lose faith!

The current situation we find ourselves in, demands that kind of thinking.

We cannot be pretending that “oh, this is nothing, and we will be out of this in no time”. That is clearly not the case.

We don’t have a vaccine. We have no particular confidence about how the virus won’t spread rapidly once lockdown is lifted or is normal life resumes. We know that this shows up also asymptomatically, and if one’s immune system is not strong enough, it can be fatal too.

All of these are realities. So let’s not pretend any other way.

So accepting these brutal facts, we need to do what we can to face up to the challenge. These could include:

1. Working to improve your own immune system

2. Being safe by avoiding too much external contact, as far as you can help

3. Following best practices of social distancing, using sanitisers, washing hands regularly etc.

Doing all of the above for one self, and one’s family, including seniors at home.

Besides that, as a consequence, there will be economic challenges. Again, one has to accept that brutal fact as well. An event of this nature, WILL take a toll. As Jack Ma put it, if you come out of 2020 alive, you are in profit! That may be about as brutal as you can go, in terms of accepting current situation!

So once you accept that, you work on your personal challenges. How do you hold cash for as long as you can? How do you secure your career? Are there new skills that will be required in the new normal that emerges, which you can get trained for? Etc.

So all of this is about accepting the brutal facts.

But often what ends up happening with such acceptance is that you get depressed! You start feeling like it’s the end of the world.

Over that seven years of being held as a prisoner of war, and being tortured constantly, if James Stockdale had felt that “this was it, I am not going to come out of this alive, I am never going back to America”, then he would have actually died!!

The accompanying belief to the acceptance of brutal facts, is the one that says, “never lose faith”.

So is also the case for us now.

We have to have this humungous faith in the abilities of humankind to survive challenges, of the scientists to be able to figure out a vaccine or any other solution, to the innate survival Instinct that we all have to come out of this safe and sound (maybe a little scarred, perhaps!), and most of all, at least the way I see it (atheists, please don’t mind!), is trust in God, to bring us out of all this. Think of this as a huge test that HE has thrown at us, one that we must pass with flying colours!

And we will!!

Chris Martin mentioned that November 19, 2016 would forever remain as one of the best days for Coldplay ever.

I think it may be so for a lot of Mumbaikars too!

For this was the day when Mumbai hosted the biggest party ever. About 80,000 people on their feet for close to 10 hours at a stretch, with enough energy to have a smashing time, over the last 2 of those hours, as Chris Martin and the Coldplay band entertained their fans to their hearts’ content!

What an amazing day it was.

Long walks and queues (well, we’ve been seeing a lot of these nowadays!) to begin with, but then, a rich mix of performers, leaders, stars, and some awesome people supporting some very worthy causes. In this unique approach to build awareness and action, interspersing popular culture with strong messaging, addressed to the youth. To come forward and make a difference to the world.

So a lot of great people performed, so many of them talked to the audience, it was a galaxy of great stars. So here’s a glimpse of some of the artists and the leaders and the stars who were present:

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Everybody was there. Or so it seemed!

Folks who could sit in their plush airconditioned comfort with home theatres and the like, all wanted to experience this concert, as a concert needs to be experienced. In the ground. Standing. With thousand others. Hustling and bustling. Moving your feet to the beats. With thousands of other fans like you.

So you saw Vineet Jain and Milind Soman and Dalip Tahil and Vikram Chandra and Puneet Babbar and Boney Kapoor and Sridevi and a whole bang of venture capital big shots and other media barons and corporate head honchos, all hanging out together. With the rest of the party goers!

The stage was flown in from Belgium, I understand. And it was an amazing set up. As you can see, the stage took so many forms over the evening, and especially during the Coldplay performance:

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But the bestest and the classiest act, that which people had really thronged there for, was none other than Coldplay. They did full justice to the expectations of the people gathered to see them perform, with a full 2-hour show, and with all the pyrotechiques that their shows are known for, all the glitz and the unbound energy of Chris Martin!

The icing on the cake for India and Indians, was the Coldplay – A R Rehman combine for Maa Tujhe Salaam…Vande Matram! Chris Martin also picked in up and joined Rehman to sing this. Check some of the Coldplay magic here:


The crowds, oh, they had fun. There were a lot of people. They were standing all afternoon and right into the night. Working with the artists by holding up their hands, crouching down, putting their phones up with the lights on.. essentially playing along, to have a great time. And we were enjoying too. Some of our moments and those of the crowds there:


But to really experience what happened there, you need to see the videos. They’re just taking forever to upload. As and when I get around to uploading those, I will try and add the links here.

For now, this is one link to show what makes Coldplay Coldplay!!

And this is how the curtains came down on the Coldplay performance:


The two most common businesses that you see all over Vietnam, are Karaoke Bars and Massage Spas. At the rate both of these services seem to be in demand, you’d imagine someone getting a spa on the one side, and at the same time, singing away on a Karaoke Mic. If such a combo offering is not yet on offer, that could be one big business opportunity in Vietnam!

That apart, Vietnam has a lot of similarities with India.

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I presume at many levels, the two countries are similarly placed economically, at least where an average citizen is concerned. With a larger scale and size, and perhaps a longer run at private enterprise, and English language advantage, India is a bigger economy overall, but to the common man, Vietnam and India, could seem very alike.

Emerging economies, offering a lot of opportunities for its respective citizens, industrious people, working to make a decent life for themselves.

Language though, is a big challenge in Vietnam. Most people on the road – from taxi drivers to hotel staff to the average worker – don’t get English well. Or at all. There are many who do. Our counterparts at Mirum Vietnam office, don’t believe that language is much of an issue. But for a tourist, it can be a bit of a pain.

Of course, due to that reason, Vietnam may not be able to compete in the BPO world for English speaking projects, in the near future.

As I had reason to drive around a fair bit (well, “driven around” strictly speaking), I got a chance to see some countryside parts of Vietnam. I took a 3-hour long drive from Ho Chi Minh, an hour long drive from Da Nang, and a 4-hour long trip from HaNoi.

In almost all of these drives, I could barely find barren land. One small town (village?) led to the next. Almost.

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And the characteristic with all these small towns / villages was that the people there all seemed to be reasonably settled. Unlike in India, where often, as you leave the cities and go to the interiors, you see a shade of poverty, that was not the case here in Vietnam. There were proper houses, sometimes large ones, there were many small stores, with proper rolling shutters in most cases.

What seemed strange was that a lot of these stores were closed. In any case, there weren’t a lot of customers to be seen anywhere. Or in fact, there weren’t a lot of people to be seen. So that, in fact, was one of the bigger differences between Indian and Vietnam. All else remaining same, the people were a lot lesser. Both, in the cities, and in these smaller towns.

So we saw these small towns, with good homes, lot of stores, but with a lot of shutters down, and very few people on the roads or at stores.

I would believe that besides Karaoke Bars and Massage Spas, two other areas where Vietnam may be highly over-indexed (per capita usage wise) are two-wheelers and plastic tables and chairs.

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For a population of around 90 mn, I understand that Vietnam could be having as many as 40 mn two-wheelers. I wonder if these are to the benefit of Indian giants like Hero and Bajaj? Whoever it is that benefits, what we see on streets of all cities, like Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi, etc. as well as the smaller towns, are the large number of these zipping around. However, they are much more disciplined in their driving compared to what we see in India. And pretty much, every one wears a helmet. Though the helmet is not the astronaut kind covering the entire head and face, but in fact, just a half-helmet, covering the head. But I can’t remember seeing any two-wheeler rider without one!

And then comes a phenomenon that would certainly please Neelkamal Plastics, if it was a supplier here.

There’s lots and lots of street food, and then there are an extremely large number of simple food joints that could accommodate say, anywhere from 20 to 100 people at a time. Almost ALL of these have simple plastic chairs and tables. Even the street food vendors will have tiny plastic chairs or stools, and you are expected to sit on these and have a bite, unlike in India, where you stand across the bhel-wala and have your sev puri and such!

And then there’s the crazy currency! Well, crazy for a foreigner!

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Vietnamese currency VND’s rate is VND 100,000 to INR 300. So you change say, USD 100 and you could end up having upwards of VND 2 million in change! Which: a) will last you a while, and b) are a handful to carry around and figure the notes, and the change and what not.

So a water bottle could cost VND 20,000 or a glass of sugar cane juice could cost VND 10,000 or a shirt could cost a whopping VND 350,000 and you’re never sure without constantly calculating, as to whether it’s a fair price or not! Didn’t need to practice my Sudoku, as I got plenty of math exercises just figuring the money!

With all these, the one reason you’d visit Vietnam is of course, the amazing natural beauty. From a sea to a river to lakes to wonderful mountains. You get it all. And everything is pristine. There is a fair amount of tourism professionalized, so you get good hotels and food and transport. And yet, the currency factor ensures that you get a good vacation that does not necessarily drills out a deep hole in your pocket!

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Thanks to the current hot topic of the death penalty, the debate around the relevance of the death penalty has resurfaced. Many nations in the world have chosen to do away with the death penalty. However, India hasn’t gone that route yet. Although the law does say that the death penalty has to be awarded only in crimes which are of the “rarest of rare” kinds.

hangmans_noose_prop_hire_01Personally, I am torn on the subject. For once, I do not have a clear opinion whether as a nation we should do away with the death penalty or not.

This post is NOT about the current hanging or his case or the judgement. This is about death penalty in general, and my views on the same.

On the one hand, I do agree that death does not punish someone, it just finishes the one.

It does not reform the person, because the person is not around anymore, to come out as a reformed one.

And I also believe that really, the only one who has the power to decide the last day on earth, for any individual, has to be the Almighty, and no one else.

So what is the sense of the death penalty, then?

The arguments in my head, in favour of the death penalty are some of these (and most are in the context of India):

1. Although the death penalty does not reform the person concerned, does it stop others from committing such rarest of rare crimes?? Does it help to dissuade others to go that route? If so, then it helps society.

2. The alternative to death penalty is life imprisonment. Which in the Indian context, often equates to a certain finite number of years. So, although there is a misconception that life imprisonment is all of a maximum of 14 years, the reality is that state governments are empowered to release a prisoner serving life sentence, subject to a minimum of 14 years served. Since this has often been misused for political motivations, there could be a lot of hardened criminals serving life imprisonment, who could be out on the streets again, in 14 years. Since their release is left to state governments, and which at any point in time, could have their own political motivations, it is always a risk to let a criminal of such a severe crime to be released so soon! And potentially go back to his old ways and be a threat to society!

3. Whether jail itself be reforming or could it become a place from where the criminal continues to run his crime?? In case of Indian jails, one has these doubts. So while on the one hand, he is perhaps waiting out 14 years, and hoping for a benevolent state government to be in place then, in the meantime, he could well have set up a full-fledged seat of his crime, within the confines of the jail. And perhaps even recruited several new members into his gang. Sad to say, but that is the perception I carry about Indian jails, in general. I am sure like the police, even jailers would have exceptions and some jails may be managed better than others. But we do worry about this possibility of abuse of jail itself!

4. Then there is our benevolent law that allows parole and what not. When the limelight of media is reduced, one never knows if some “cooperative” smaller court would grant such relief to the hardened criminal, and if that would also be a possible escape route?? For the right price, anything can be made to happen in India!!

5. So can such rarest of rare case criminals be kept in solitary confinement then? And could a law be passed to modify the fundamental ‘life imprisonment’ law, to say that such criminals of the rarest-of-rare cases are NOT eligible to be released by state governments, even if they are allowed to release other life imprisoned criminals?? Would that be a reasonable option? Perhaps.

With all these, I remain undecided.

Do you have stronger arguments leaning one or the other way? Do share them, in that case.


The Southfields station, closest point to go to the Wimbledon queue, bears a Wimbledon look and feel!


And at right above, is the Wimbledon station itself, where I went, to purchase a sleeping bag. For my all-night stay in the queue

for the tickets

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And as one moves out of the station and walks towards Wimbledon, the streets beckon. You know you are in Wimbledon territory. Unambiguously!


And as I reach the place where the queue builds up, at 8-30 pm on the previous night, I am amazed to see a few hundred people already there, before me! Tents are laid out and people have got quite comfortable too..


The view of the camping ground in the evening, with tents and people all over.


And in the middle of the elaborate tents, my rather unpretentious little sleeping bag 🙂

Early morning, with a beautiful sky, and people waking up from the tents, and sleeping bags, etc.

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The left-luggage place where tents and other stuff can be left, as you move from the queue and into Wimbledon. Also you can see young and old alike, waiting patiently.


So when I reached at 8-30 pm, I got a queue number of 1378. So 1377 people before me already. However, there were 500 reserved seats each, for centre court, court no. 1 and court no. 2 to be given away. Or 1500 in total. So at 1378, I was assured of a reserved seat in one of these three courts. By morning, when the queue moved ahead, and people ahead of me, started making their choices – whether to get centre court, court no. 1 or to NOT take a reserved seat (they can take a basic entry into Wimbledon which allows one to walk around, and also get into the multiple other courts, where there are no reserved seats!) – by the time, my turn came, I was fortunate to get a firm seat on court no. 1. The wrist band confirmed that allocation.


And finally the queue starts moving forward in the morning, around 7-30 am or so. And the excitement builds up further.

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The foot bridge crossed, and then you see the board of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum. And you are just around the corner from the turnstiles, where you’ll purchase the ticket and go inside WImbledon! Against advance purchase ticket prices of 600 Pounds or 1000 Pounds or 1500 Pounds, the tickets offered to the people in queue, were as low as 50 Pounds for Centre Court, and 42 Pounds for Court no.1, etc. Really attractive pricing!!


And then you spot “Centre Court”. Oh my God!! It’s like spotting the sacred idol, after a long queue on a pilgrimage! Also spotted the board that showed what matches were going on, on what courts. Many of the courts have unreserved seats, and especially on day one, you might find some good players, playing on the outside courts. You need to make the most of the opportunity then, land up early at that court, and get a seat. These outside courts have limited seating capacity.

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Beautiful spaces, green all over. And the typical Wimbledon store, selling merchandise!


And the famous “hill” where one can hang out, eat strawberries and cream (grossly overhyped, by the way), grab a beer or some wine, And as Federer was not playing on the day I was there, and in any case, I had not got centre court tickets, this was the closest I could get to God aka Federer!!


The smaller outside courts. One can just walk by and see the games. Good players often found playing here, and one can feel extremely close to the players, on these courts!


Ahh.. you noticed the cap and the T-shirt. Any guesses who I am an ardent fan of?? ;-P And now I am on my seat. In a court no. 1 stadium which is pretty large, thanks to the penance of the overnight queue, I am on row 5 or 6 behind the chair umpire. Extremely close to the court!! Amazing seat.. By the way, the Indian lady seen below (and her family) were waiting in the queue from Sunday MORNING around 9-30 am!! And they were about 560 in the queue. And they did not get centre court. And were on court no 1 just a couple of rows ahead of me! And I had gone at 8-30 pm at night.. Guess they had really bad luck, after being so early and waiting for so long, to miss out on centre court.. !

The court no. 1 before the players come in.

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The unformed people and the specific positions – all that goes to make Wimbledon, Wimbledon.


The linesmen walk in and take their position. There are two sets of folks – the entire linesmen team is rotated after every few games, perhaps to ensure against fatigue and mistakes. In fact, the same thing happens with ball boys and ball girls. Changed every few games.


I am set too!! For the first match to being. Women’s top seed starts proceedings here, Serena Williams vs Margarita Gasparyan.


And the players walk out.

The match begins. Margarita puts up a good fight initially before Serena asserted herself and took over. Here’s a good rally.

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Serena in full flow..


Serena serve in slow motion!


And Serena prevails.


Large crowds enjoying Wimbledon

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The outside courts – much cosier, smaller stands, feel closer to the game..

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On right are the practise courts, where one could be lucky to find some big players knocking away. I could not recognise the players on the court, except for Hewitt, on the left court.


On the left is the pavilion from where players come out. Fans crowd around to spot the stars walking out!


Another entry for the centre court on the left, and a huddle of linesmen outside their court, on the right..


On the left is the formal entrance to the All England Lawn Tennis Club, and on the right is a scoreboard showing updated scores from the various courts


Nishikori and Bolelli coming in for their first round match.





Nishikori service in slow motion!


Bolelli service in slow motion


A hard-fought 5-setter win for Nishikori. A repeat of how the two met last year at Wimbledon, and Nishikori won a 5-setter then too.


Nishikori did have an injury which needed to be attended to, while the match was one. That may have been the reason for the long-drawn 5-setter. As it turned out, though Nishikori won this match, he dropped out of Wimbledon thereafter, due to the injury!