8 September 2017

A beautiful couplet

“Waiz! Teri duaon mein asar ho
To masjid ko hila kay dikha
Nahin to do ghoont pee,
Aur masjid ko hilta dekh”

To understand this beautiful couplet, one needs to understand the basis for Sufism – which was a liberal offshoot of Islam. The proponents of Sufism – the Sufis – composed a lot of beautiful poetry around three things that could purportedly put you in a transcendental high. The spirit of God, the intoxication of alcohol and the beauty of your woman. Some would argue that they actually merge at one level.

In fact, there are some interesting duels between those three concepts. This couplet is one of them. The poet is saying…

“If your prayers have that much power
Then make the mosque sway in front of me
Or else, come sit with me and take a couple of sips
And watch the minarets swing in front of your eyes” !!!

6 September 2017

From the bartender’s corner: Gin #19 – GW Goodwynn Gin

The literature on this gin is as bland as the gin itself is. First off, I could not find where the distillery is exactly. All that materials that I could find – and that was not a lot, mind you – said that is is made in France and then imported by a company in California. There is more material on the internet about the company in California that designed the bottle label than there is about the pedigree or the uniqueness of the gin.

It is certainly of the London Dry variety. And the juniper is noticeable. It also has citrus and coriander that you can get in the finish. The official website of this gin claims “hints of cucumber”. I have to admit, I missed all those hints. This is nothing like a Scottish Hendricks gin or even an American Uncle Val Botanical.

On the whole it is a very middle of the path gin. Rather tame at that. I would suggest using it in cocktails where there is something else that will render a stronger nose and palette. e.g. mix it with Campari and Sweet Vermouth and have a Negroni perhaps.

5 September 2017

Meeting Suzanne after a couple of decades…

The last time I saw Suzanne was in the software development offices of a prior company in Dallas when the company was very small and both of us worked in the User Interface team. As I recollect, she then moved further south in Texas and all I knew was that she was following her passion. She had found art to be her calling. She was doing bronze sculpture, painting and what not. Thru Facebook when I had finally tracked her down, I found out that she also is into photography and videography.

I am always attracted towards people who follow their passions in life. I was barely 39 when I came to the moment of epiphany that it is only one life we will have. And even that is perhaps more finite than we are willing to admit. Nobody wakes up with the first thought – “One day less. How should I then spend the rest of my life?”.

Given that, my excitement was palpable when I found out that Suzanne was going to pass by Atlanta in one of her sojourns. Sharmila and I were waiting at home to welcome her. When she finally showed up after having gotten a first hand understanding of Atlanta traffic, I was thrilled to see her – like I said, after two decades. I could pick her up in a crowd easily – she looked so similar to what I had imagined.

We were even more thrilled to explore her van. Sharmila and I spent half an hour checking out her Ford Sportsmobile that Suzanne had personally designed. It has a kitchen, her sleeping quarters, hot and cold showers and her art area complete with storage space. I am sure Sharmila will want one like that soon. Can you imagine going around in the country and stopping wherever you want and start painting once a beautiful scenery catches your imagination?

Suzanne has reached where I want to some day. Prioritize her time to do what makes her happy – bereft of what corporate world or even society at large might tell you to do. Obviously, there was a lot of catching up of old friends that we needed to do. But I also wanted to learn from her and get her perspectives on life.

With that in mind, we eventually went to have lunch by the lake and pondered over a lot of questions. Getting her perspective was very insightful. One of the biggest discussion we had was around the seeming dissonance of what we were built out to be versus what the current society values. The basic hypothesis we agreed on is that as human beings, we are not sent to be highly specialized like a machine. In fact, we are happiest when we can pursue multiple goals – when we are not defined by just one thing. We certainly admire people who are world experts in one area, but we are in awe of people who can do multiple things well.

People we have considered “geniuses” (we need at least fifty years after death to consider somebody a genius to make sure the effects are longer lasting) – Edison, Franklin, da Vinci, Tagore… – all of them excelled in multiple fields. None of them were unidirectional. And yet today’s society and corporate life tends to value you increasingly more if you are a deeper and deeper expert in one field. In fact, there is a saying to downplay trying to have a multifaceted personality – “Jack of all business, Master of none”!!

Great discussions!! I certainly had one of the best times in a long time. There were a lot of things left to still discuss. But we just had one day.

Looking forward to the next meeting!!!

3 September 2017

A good commencement speech (abridged)

Sixteen years back almost to this day. the then Coca Cola CEO – Brian Dyson – had given a wonderful commencement speech at Georgia Tech here in Atlanta. Anybody who wants to read the full text can see it here: http://www.markturner.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Whistle-Brian_Dyson-Georgia_Tech_Commencement_Sept_1991-p3.pdf

I have taken the text and edited out the parts (in ellipsis) that were mostly examples to make his point – if you want to get the gist of his message. There are two core messages – what it takes to succeed and the need for balance. Here it is:

“I think the ingredients for success <…> are: vision, knowing what you want to be when you grow up; confidence, knowing who you are; and luck, or what I would call being in the right place at the right time.


The first ingredient in the secret formula for success is vision — what you would like to be. Because remember that we all live under the same sky, but we do not have the same horizon. A vision is different, I think, from the short-term goals that characterize a young life. These are often set for you by teachers. parents, advisers. They all have, to one degree or another, some stock in your life, and they quite appropriately set goals for you.

There’s no harm in taking advice, but now you will shape your own destiny. Now you need a larger vision.


Another ingredient I mentioned as being important to me is confidence — a basic acceptance of what I am and a realistic understanding of what I am not. It is an understanding of your potential.

To realize this potential, you must be at peace with yourself. You must focus on your strengths and attributes, and you must develop them to the max. I think I was in my twenties when this truth finally dawned on me, because until then I had been thrashing around, trying to be all things to all people. It doesn‘t work that way. Confidence in your potential means you can look anybody in the eye and not be in awe of them. Confidence is seeing an equal, level playing field.
So there you have it, my ingredients for success. Vision, confidence and thirdly, luck. Don‘t think that if you have vision and confidence, luck will come looking for you. Sometimes you have to make your own luck.

Lastly, I would caution you that as intelligent and active participants in a dynamic society like America, you must bring balance into your lives. Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them — work, family, health, friends and spirit — and you’re keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls ~ family. health, friends and spirit — are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked. nicked. damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for balance in your life.

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