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    Best of pothi Best of pothi Document Transcript

    • BEST OF POTHI.COM Includes FREE Self Publishing Guide How to Self Publish for Indian Market
    • All rights reserved. No parts of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright holder. Copyright of individual entries in this collection rest with original contributors. Copyright of this collection rests with (Mudranik Technologies Pvt. Ltd.) Published by
    • Table of contents Best of Last Rights ...............................................................................9 Blackie ....................................................................................14 Return of Acharya ..................................................................18 Right in the Middle ................................................................25 Trip to the San Francisco Zoo ...............................................27 Analyze All Parameters ..........................................................41 A Toy for the Little Princess ..................................................57 Agony .....................................................................................63 Lalitha Bilgi (Social Enterprise) Venture: Swayam .................66 Motorcycle ..............................................................................78 3
    • Best of Marriage, Kids and other Problems ........................................84 Correspondences With An Unknown Mystic .........................88 The Moon’s Complexion .........................................................97 Of Education, Learnings & Knowledge ...............................109 The harmony in my life .........................................................114 How to Self Publish for Indian Market Introduction ..........................................................................127 What is Self Publishing? ......................................................129 What Every Self Publisher Should Know .............................145 Self Publishing at ................................................150 4
    • Best of
    • Preface L ast year we decided to boldly go where no Indian company had gone before. was founded to offer the independent Indian authors a platform to publish their works easily and economically. More than a year and 250 titles down the line, the concept of Print On Demand (POD) and self publishing is catching on fast amongst the Indians. The journey so far has been interesting, exciting and at times scary. We faced numerous new challenges which had no precedence and needed ingenious, innovative solutions. But we learnt, we innovated and we remain focused on our goals. Today, we are one of the very few established POD players in the market. Apart from POD, we offer a wide array of services like editing, formatting, illustrations etc. We set up an online bookstore for independent authors to be able to reach out to a wider audience. You can submit your raw manuscript and leave the rest to us – from editing to printing and online marketing. We offer you the flexibility of choosing all or any of our services to suit your convenience. In past one year, more than 150 authors have chosen as their partner in self-publishing. Through them, we have come to 7
    • Best of better understand the problems faced by independent authors. Since these individuals lack the marketing muscle of traditional publishing houses, more often than not they fail to get the kind of visibility that their works deserve. The books don’t get reviewed in mainstream media, they don’t get interviewed by journalists and only few readers get to see their work. Through this collection, we have attempted to ameliorate the situation by choosing to showcase a few select works of self published authors which are available with us. The selection represents a diverse genre of books including fiction, humour, children’s book and self improvement. These authors have explored their creative side and have a charming tale or an important thought to share with you. The format provides for a brief description of the book and author followed by a chapter from the books. These make for a tantalizing and enticing reading. They whet your appetite without satiating the hunger. In order to satisfy your hunger, you are invited for the complete buffet at for buying these books and exploring others too. 8
    • Last Rights W e finally moved from King Edward Road Mess to a house on Tughlak Road in November 1947. It was a traumatic time for me. Hordes of refugees were streaming in from West Punjab and refugee camps had been set up all over the city. Often refugee families would go from house to house asking for food and shelter. It made me very disturbed to see entire families dispossessed of their homes and reduced to paupers. Over a million people would be killed in the mass migrations that took place after the partition of India. There were Hindus fleeing from Pakistan into India and Muslims going in the other direction. Many would never make it to their destination. One apostle of non- violence – Mahatma Gandhi – repeatedly went on fast to protest against this communal violence. It did not help. At the age of eight I was aware of Mahatma Gandhi but only vaguely knew the reasons for his greatness. 9
    • Best of My mother was my main source of my information about Gandhi. She had purchased a children’s book about the life of Gandhi for me. I read about his early life and efforts in India’s freedom movement. The one fact that impressed me was that he only travelled in the third class in Indian trains. Even at my age, I was aware of the tribulations of persons who travelled by third class. It was an era when the Indian Railways had four classes – first, second, intermediate and third – and the third class compartments had simple wooden benches and were invariably overcrowded. I was moved by Gandhi’s gesture of enduring personal discomfort to focus on a social injustice. When living on Tughlak Road, we were fortunate to be within walking distance of Birla House. This sumptuous mansion belonged to the Birla family who had placed it at Gandhi’s disposal. Whenever in Delhi, Gandhi would stay at Birla House and hold his daily prayer meetings at around 5 p.m. in the evenings. My mother would go to these prayer meetings and I sometimes accompanied her. It was a short walk from our Tughlak Road home to Birla House. There would already be a crowd outside the Birla House gate. We would join the stream of people walking down the drive to the prayer ground at the end of the garden. By the time we reached the prayer ground, the first rows were already occupied. My mother and I were obliged to find places a few rows behind. I can now only estimate but there must have been more than a few hundred people at each prayer meeting. Gandhi was always punctual. At 5 p.m. he would arrive at the prayer ground followed by some members of his family. After mounting the steps to the level of the prayer ground, he would take 10
    • Last Rights his place on a wooden platform. The winter evenings were cool and he was wrapped in a couple of homespun shawls. The first thing that struck me was that he was completely bald and had a shining dark brown head. It was much larger in proportion to his lean body. I do not remember what actually took place during the prayer meeting. I can only remember the pin-drop silence when he spoke. He did not look at the audience. He spoke with his head down as if he were contemplating aloud. Even as a child, I could sense the anguish in his voice. We were living in tumultuous times. It was now three months after partition and some communities were still embroiled in communal carnage. The Mahatma was pleading against this senseless violence. Like many of the others in the congregation, I had come for a darshan of the Mahatma. I did not understand what he was saying but I sensed that I was in the presence of a great man. It was as if all of us were getting an uplift while in communion with a noble spirit. There was singing and I would join my mother when the congregation sang the Mahatma’s favourite refrain: Raghupati raghavan raja Ram Patita pavan Sitaram A month later the Mahatma was assassinated. It happened just before a prayer meeting on 30 January 1948. My mother was not present at the meeting. She was coming back from an errand when she heard somebody on the road say that Gandhi had been shot dead. Another person then commented that the world would not come to an end if Gandhi was dead. That comment indicated that 11
    • Best of Gandhi’s message of non-violence was not being taken kindly by the thousands of refugees from Punjab now living in camps in Delhi. Among neighbours there was speculation that a disgruntled refugee might have killed Gandhi. The next morning it turned out that a Hindu fanatic had assassinated Gandhi. In school we recounted the details of how Gandhi was shot at point blank range by Nathuram Godse. It was at the nearby Tughlak Road police station where the FIR (first information report) on Gandhi’s death was filed, the report written in Urdu. Everything had taken place so close to where we lived. I felt that history was being played out around me. Gandhi’s cremation took place on the banks of the River Jamuna near Delhi. About twenty urns were filled with ashes were sent to various places in India to comply with Gandhi’s wish that his remains be immersed in the rivers of the country. One urn was sent to Allahabad for the ashes to be immersed at the confluence of the Jamuna and the Ganges, a sacred place for Hindus. My father was deputed on 12 February 1948 to attend the last rites in Allahabad. He was away for a day and, when he returned, gave us a moving account. He told us of the huge crowds around the cortège that took the urn to the point of immersion and of an aeroplane that showered rose petals on the crowds near the banks of the river. He gave us some rose petals as well as a small copper vessel containing water from the Ganges. Later we saw scenes of the cortège on the Indian News Re- view feature that used to precede a film in cinema houses. Ne- 12
    • Last Rights hru and other leaders were seated on the open carriage carry- ing the urn. In front and behind the carriage, there were huge crowds. I briefly saw images of two naval officers walking behind the carriage and thought that one might have been my father. Years later I saw Richard Attenborough’s film Gandhi. In the film, there is a scene showing Gandhi’s cortège with soldiers marching with slow and solemn precision to the beat of funeral drums. It was impressive but the reality was slightly different. I consider myself lucky. Even though I was only a boy, I had seen the actual Mahatma. Not a Mahatma invented for films or history. Excerpts from ‘Permanent Ghosts - A Memoir’ (Genre: Biographies and Memoirs) by Nitin Shankar. In his autobiography, Nitin Shankar describes his experiences of living in towns such as Bombay in forties, Berlin in fifties, Warsaw and Milan in sixties and Tabriz in seventies. He provides an interesting insight into the personality of the people he has come across and also gives a peep into historical events like Indian Independence and Iranian turmoil from the eyes of an individual. 13
    • Blackie K avita hummed to herself as she cleaned the kitchen after lunch. Outside, it was drizzling lightly, the rain drumming rap-a tap- tap on the roof. Kavita loved the sound of the rains, and she breathed in deeply, to smell the wet mud and the scent of flowers… Kavita was just going to relax and complete the last few pages of an exciting novel, when Mohan the gardener’s anxious voice was heard. “Kavitaji! Kavitaji! When I opened the garage a huge black dog pounced upon me. He’s vicious! He nearly bit my hand when I went to collect the garden pipe.” “How did this dog slip in?” Kavita inquired. “Maybe he lost his way, and slipped inside at night,” suggested Mohan. “Or perhaps the dog is black in colour, so our driver didn’t notice him,” put in the old gardener thinking deeply “for he must have hidden underneath the warmth of the engine.” “Come on Mohan. Let us go and check the dog out.” Kavita said putting a book-mark in her book. “Will you lead the way please?” Kavita sounded eager. 14
    • Blackie It was soon discovered that it was a beautiful she dog, with a shinning black coat of hair. Kavita loved dogs… and that is how Blackie, as Kavita called her, got her name. Blackie was very hot-tempered! To make matters worse, this fierce and irritable nature had developed mainly because Blackie had just given birth to four lovable puppies. “Blackie will leave as soon as her puppies have grown older,” Vinay, Kavita’s husband explained. “So don’t disturb her set-up.” Blackie howled, barked and snarled at whoever tried to disturb or make friends with her; whether it was the milkman, the enthusiastic newspaper boy, the dhobi who had a way with dogs, or the servants. Surprisingly whenever Kavita paid her a visit, Blackie instantly gave in - and danced, barked and licked her from head to toe! Kavita thoroughly enjoyed herself and provided Blackie with tit-bits like biscuits, bread, milk and sometimes with a chunk of meat. Since Mohan was the first person to meet Blackie, he soon narrated her ill-tempered ways of growling around the neighbourhood. Scratch marks were still visible on his arms and legs. The other incident really took place by accident. A few children living next doors were playing cricket when their ball rolled into Kavita’s compound. The garage door was ajar and Siddharth and Michael- not knowing about Blackie’s whereabouts ventured right in. Siddharth managed to escape with bruises and torn jeans, but Michael, who was younger, was badly bitten. Although Kavita felt extremely guilty about Blackie’s behaviour, she still felt protective towards her. “She came seeking for shelter and chose our home, didn’t she Vinay? Then, on humanitarian grounds, I feel that I too should shield her.” The main reason behind Kavita’s logic was that she knew that she would 15
    • Best of never become a mother. Therefore, Kavita felt like caring and loving Blackie just like her own child… It had just stopped raining that night but the sky still looked dark and frightening. Kavita stood in the balcony waiting for her husband who was going to come from Delhi. Just an hour ago, Blackie had been given a bowl of warm milk and bread and Kavita had made sure that she was made comfortable in that little garage. “I’ll warm up some milk till then”, she thought. Just then, Kavita heard a soft whine and peered out, knowing that it was Blackie. The mournful whine continued, now growing louder and louder, and Kavita grew restless. In panic, she rushed downstairs to investigate… An astonishing sight met her eyes. Blackie was kneeling in front of the steps, calling out again and again to her puppy that lay still and calm on the steps. Kavita’s eyes filled with tears as she watched in silence as Blackie whined and pawed her baby trying to lick her– trying her best to revive her lost puppy. Dogs are the only animals who display their emotions so well. Today, Kavita saw the real Blackie- a Blackie with feelings… Then, when all plans failed, Blackie sat besides her lovely white and black puppy and howled loudly… Kavita had never experienced a dog crying… She was so mesmerized by this scene that she stood still, with hot tears rolling down her cheeks… The pup must have died only a few minutes ago. Maybe it had ventured out of the gate by mistake and possibly was hit by a car or a motor bike. “I think I heard a sound of abrupt braking when I was in the kitchen,” recalled Kavita. 16
    • Blackie She stood long enough to see that Blackie gave one last lick to her pup, then picked it up and ran silently down the road. Digging a small pit inside the soft mud, Blackie then buried her puppy forever… Excerpts from ‘Over a Cup of Coffee (Genre: Literature & Fiction) by Madhavi Hadker. The book is a collection of charming short stories on everyday subjects. The stories are simple yet poignant and touch an emotional cord. Madhavi’s narration paints an imagery which any reader can relate to instantly. Madhavi Hadker is pursuing a career as a school teacher. 17
    • Return of Acharya A s dawn broke, so did the news about the ‘junior’ acharya’s return to the mutt. It spread like wildfire and people were thronging about his quarters just to have a glimpse of him and his usual retinue, the people who used to attend on him and assist him and make the necessary arrangements for the morning Puja etc – they were all there and by 7 AM, there was an expectant crowd outside his quarters wanting to see him. He obliged them and came out but did not speak a word, and with a benevolent smile, and a gesture with the hand of benediction, he went back in. Then his retinue of assistants came in and he gave instructions for the Puja as usual. The amazing thing was, it all appeared as though nothing had happened in between. There was no sign of any disruption or whatever that had happened – that was a great testimony to the elder acharya’s organizing capability that even during the young acharya’s absence everything went on smoothly and when he came back and took over again, there was no break whatsoever. So the arrangements for the Puja were on. Then sometime later, one assistant came to him and whispered something 18
    • Return of Acharya in his ear. He said the Press has come. Somehow they had got wind of his return and within an hour there was this horde of people from the press waiting outside, wanting to see and have a word with the ‘junior’ acharya. Now, normally, in this mutt, which was very orthodox and traditional, the Press was not given free entry into the mutt premises. There was no regular or organized briefing for the press either in this mutt – so cloistered and exclusive was the atmosphere. Even if occasionally some news, which they wanted to be spread was given to the press, in general the mutt always preferred to be not in the news at all. But today the press have come in strength and how is it going to be dealt with? It was an unprecedented situation. But the young acharya took it all in his stride. In fact, this was the beginning of a new era in public relations in the mutt. He just instructed his assistants “Ask the press people to come in”. The assistants were shocked; it was not the done thing in this mutt! Then a hurried press meet was called and the hall was full. Of course, in deference to the sanctity of the premises, all of them have removed their footwear and were barefoot, but all the appurtenances of the media were in full display. Hurried questions were hurled at the acharya and there were a couple of woman reporters too – the questions were coming thick and fast. All about his absence, why he left, why has he returned, when did he return, where had he been, and was it true that there was a difference of opinion between him and the ‘senior’ acharya, was it true that he was disillusioned with the way the mutt was functioning, was it true that he had his own ideas of running the mutt etc. The acharya was unfazed and he fielded them all one by one. To such questions as to the difference of opinion between 19
    • Best of him and the senior acharya, he said, “Well, you are free to imagine what you want. But if you are asking me, I must tell you there is no such thing.” To the others about his possible disillusionment with the way things were run in the mutt he said “It is not a question of disillusionment; it is a question of understanding. I am learning like all others, and efficiency is the key word. The goal is the same, but there may be better ways, and it is a team effort and we are all exploring. It is not all my doing!” Like that he answered quite affably, and even such questions which normally could have rubbed anyone on the wrong side, the acharya deftly handled unctuously and with a smile. So, the press meet ended amicably; the only question to which he did not give a straightforward answer was as to why he left the mutt. Finally, when it was pressed upon him again and again, he said: “I did not leave the mutt in the sense you all think. It is all like astral travel, a question of finding myself and reorienting myself. It is not just a question of corporeal shifting”. When some of the skeptical reporters laughed at this reply with derision, he let them and did not try to intimidate them with a steely glare or something like that. In fact he joined them in their laughter. That was how the press meet ended. At the appointed hour of 9 AM, all the preparations for the daily Puja were ready and the devotees who had thronged to witness this highlight of the day, a beautiful celebration akin to the High Mass in a basilica, were all seated orderly – men on one side and the women on the other. The acharya came and took his position in front of the idol of the presiding deity of the mutt and the Puja began. For the past one week when this acharya was away, the senior acharya was doing this Puja, which was a rare sight indeed and to witness which 20
    • Return of Acharya people from all over the land had come. Today also, they had not expected the junior acharya to have returned and resume the Puja, and they had come believing that the Senior would be conducting the Puja, and when they saw the junior instead, it was a surprise to them, and not entirely without disappointment either, for some of them. Anyhow, the excitement and expectation was high and they all settled down to watching the Puja in silence and reverence. Even as the acharya was going through the Puja routine flawlessly, he was thinking ‘ I am doing this whole heartedly and not just as my duty. Because from today, I am not praying to some idol but to the Self, for the welfare of the whole of humanity. So, to that extent, my soulful prayers are radiating, and these idols in front of me to whom I am apparently addressing these prayers are but lenses that concentrate and bring my prayers to an intense focus.’ So he went through the motions of all the rituals involved in the Puja, but with the single concentrated aim and goal of the happiness of the whole of humanity. And the final act was the lighting of a ceremonial lamp and waving this at the idols as a mark if reverence and worship, bringing the Puja to a close. It was at this precise moment, when everyone was deeply immersed in the grandeur and aura of this closing ceremony of the Puja, that a loud shout came from one man of the congregation. He was an old man, coming from a far off place, and he just stood up and shrieked in rage, shouting at the acharya: “You scoundrel, you imposter, what right do you have to come here and conduct the Puja today? You traitor, you abandoned this mutt, leaving the grand old man to shame and misery, and now you have turned up and have the effrontery to resume the Puja, violating the holy orthodoxy 21
    • Best of of this ancient mutt. How dare you….” etc he was shouting. His frail body was shaking in his uncontrolled rage, and the rest of the congregation was dumbfounded at this spectacle. The acharya too was shocked first, but then looked at the old man and the sight of that wretch shivering like a leaf in his righteous indignation moved him to compassion. Meanwhile, the mutt assistants were rushing at the man to make him shut up and also bodily remove him from the audience. The acharya signaled to them to leave the man alone, and the old man having finished his tirade was breathing heavily, still standing. There was pindrop silence as the acharya looked at him and said to him:”Sir, Please sit down”. The man though he heard him clearly, was still standing. The acharya addressed him further: “You are old enough to be my father. Your body is racked not only by rage but anguish also, I am sure. Because you feel that the sanctity and holy tradition of this mutt had been violated by my absence from here for the past few days. But then, I want you to know that a very similar thing happened to me too. I too left this mutt in anguish and not in anger. And you are outraged with me for my deed, whereas I was outraged with myself. I wanted to find myself so that I could be worthy of sitting here and doing this time honored Puja, instead of merely being one doing this by force of habit or by an edict. I wanted to find my place in the scheme of things, where do I fit in, in what way am I fit to be your guru and mentor, in what way can I be of help to you all – it was on this soul searching journey that I embarked on. I am sure, it is not blasphemy, in your eyes is it? Yes, outwardly it looked I deserted the mutt, but how can I ever, sir? As I told you, you are like my father. And my heavenly and earthly father is none but the revered senior acharya. How can I ever desert my father and go anywhere? No, I did not abandon this mutt. And if you think you 22
    • Return of Acharya have the right to stand up in this devout congregation to shout at me in anger and anguish, then I too had such a right and responsibility really, to let my anguish find its solace and answer. I did find it and you will all come to know the effects by and by.” With those words, as the acharya began reciting the concluding verses of the Puja, the old man was apparently mollified and he sat down shamefacedly. At the conclusion of the Puja, the devotees silently dispersed. Thus began a renaissance in the annals of this august mutt. From that day, things began to move in the otherwise stagnant affairs of the mutt – there was to be no more obscurantist, tradition bound ‘right or wrong’ inflexibility, inertia. The acharya infused dynamism into the place and its working. The senior acharya has already given up the whole charge of the affairs of the mutt to him, and therefore he could take control without let or hindrance. The mutt had a lot of properties, various valuable endowments to it, from philanthropists and well wishers in the past. In the days past, big landlords used to bequeath vast acreage and lands to the mutt, and some of these lands were lying fallow, some cultivated – but not fetching sizeable income to the mutt which was its due. Today, in today’s prices, these lands have greatly enhanced in value, though remaining as non-performing assets. The acharya constituted experts to go into maximizing returns from these assets and consulted them as to how to put these to productive use with recurrent returns to the mutt. He made one thing crystal clear from the beginning. The funds so generated for the mutt should go towards spreading not merely Hindu culture and spiritual and religious lore, but should be utilized for the welfare of everyone, irrespective of religion. So let schools, colleges, Hospitals and institutions be built with the funds, where every one can benefit. 23
    • Best of Of course they will be run on a quasi-commercial basis, to the extent to be self sustaining as far as possible once in existence and running, but at nominal costs and there shall be no discrimination. Excerpts from Memsahib (Genre: Literature & Fiction) by Paul Gopal. The book is a political thriller cum love story set in southern India. The happenings and the characters in the book are based on prominent Indian events and personalities. At the end, the reader is left wondering whether this fiction could actually be a part of an untold reality. 24
    • Right in the Middle W hen my wife subtly reminded me to cut my overgrown toenails, little did I imagine that the task would be a challenge in itself. Armed with the nail-cutter, I tried to reach the superfluous growth at the extreme end of my body, but to no avail. While I could take care of my fingernails from time to time, it was the toenails that eluded my attention. Was it due to the shoes, which covered the sight of my toenails for most part of the day, shielding them from the onslaught of the implement? The real culprit lay between the position of my eyes and the position of my toenails, right in the middle. I have come across several obstacles, but never one that grew on me! The central growth, often attributed to prosperity, was the cause of my predicament. Several tidbits regularly made their way into my mouth between sumptuous meals, and were the cause of my “all-round” growth. Help began pouring in from well-wishers. “Let me tell you a simple yoga for this,” said one. “When you are offered some more food... look the person in the eye, shake your head sideways, until the offer is withdrawn.” How 25
    • Best of could I overcome my cravings for all things sinfully sweet? After Oscar Wilde, “I can resist anything, but temptation.” My sedentary lifestyle! The only time I walked was when I “walked through” a Powerpoint presentation, and the only time I “jumped”, was when I was in a queue. “Aerobic exercises. Turn on your music system and dance vigorously, as though no one is seeing you,” prescribed a fitness expert. After a couple of days of the near- hysterical workout, I was hurting in parts of my body that I never knew existed. The deeper meaning of “dard-e-disco” dawned on me. My next well-wisher, a salesperson by profession, urged me to buy a treadmill and some exercise accessories, which he could offer at a “special price”, so that I could burn my fat at home. After learning of the damage it would cause to my bank balance, I decided to go for a brisk walk around the neighbourhood, instead. At last, my first step in my long brisk walk has been taken. It is said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a small step. I have miles to go before I reach my own toenails! Excerpts from The ArTicKles Collection (Genre: Humour) by Gopinath Mavinkurve. The book is a collection of select articles. The author has converted everyday mundane happenings and activities into a rib tickling narration of humour. The short piece presented below is a perfect example of his writing where the expanding waistline of the author has been dealt with in an extremely humourous manner. Gopinath M. Mavinkurve is a professional management expert in the field of foreign trade policy and procedures. 26
    • Trip to the San Francisco Zoo A s the plane touched down in San Francisco, Julia could not contain her excitement. Descending over the Bay Area was exhilarating, and Julia was astounded at the beauty of the hills, the Pacific Ocean, and the skyline of the city. It was her first trip to San Francisco, and she was here on vacation visiting Jerry, whom she’d met over five years ago when he was an exchange student at her university in London. Jerry and Julia hadn’t seen each other for over a year. Julia was very excited to reach San Francisco and immediately wanted to share her excitement with her family back home in London. She had promised her parents that she would be in touch when she reached the United States. She also wanted to let Jerry know that she had arrived safely and on time. Her cell phone worked only in the UK, not here in the U.S. So she couldn’t contact Jerry or her family, and they couldn’t contact her. Indeed, she realized it was silly to have brought her cell phone at all. 27
    • Best of Once inside the airport and through customs, Julia located a pay phone. Fortunately, she had exchanged some Euros into dollars back in London, but had to go into a restaurant to change a dollar into quarters. She called Jerry, who was just pulling up outside the baggage claim. Elated to see each other, they told stories over dinner and drinks at a Mexican restaurant in Palo Alto, where Jerry lived. Unfortunately, Jerry had to work the day following Julia’s arrival. He was fairly new at his job with a technology firm in Palo Alto and hadn’t been able to get the day off. Over dinner, Julia decided that she would go to the San Francisco Zoo by herself the following day. She would take public transportation because she didn’t want to take Jerry’s car, or rent a car, as she was nervous about driving on the other side of the road, especially in the middle of the city. Jerry didn’t have a clue how to give her advice on public transit, as he always drove his car, though he knew it was possible to get to the zoo by taking buses and trains. After dinner, back at Jerry’s apartment, they looked up the San Francisco Zoo from Jerry’s computer in order to plan Julia’s trip. They were happy to discover that the SF Zoo Web site encouraged people to take public transportation, and even offered a discount to those customers who brought their receipt. Jerry and Julia logged on to the website to get help with what public transportation was available. They entered the address of Jerry’s apartment as the starting point, and the address of the zoo as the ending point. The Web site offered them a detailed itinerary, telling Julia exactly what to do. They printed this out; Julia felt confident that she’d be able to do it by herself. 28
    • Cell Phones Don’t Work in Other Countries In the morning, Jerry rushed to the office early for a meeting. Julia made herself an omelette and phoned her parents from Jerry’s landline. She checked her e-mail on his computer, packed a bag with a water bottle and some fruit, and set off to find the zoo. All the buses and trains were on schedule, and she arrived there without a problem. Julia was thrilled to be in the city. She thought about a friend in London, whom she would have loved to talk to right now, but she couldn’t figure out how, other than to use a pay phone, and she knew that would be ridiculously expensive. Jerry had asked her to call and let him know that she had arrived safely. After a bit of searching she found a pay phone and called him. He didn’t pick up, as he was having coffee with his boss, but she left him a message letting him know that everything had gone well. Julia bought the entrance ticket and got a map for the zoo. She wanted a cup of coffee, so she looked at the zoo map and found a restaurant. While having coffee, she looked over the map and planned out her trip inside the zoo. First she saw the birds, then the monkeys. She went to the big cats’ exhibit and then stood for a long time watching a zebra eating. There was a theatre at the zoo that offered daily “wildlife theatre.” The next show would begin in fifteen minutes. She was looking for the theatre location on her map, trying to figure out how to reach it from where she was. She was proceeding in one direction, looking at the signposts along the side of the pathways. After a few minutes, she realized that the other route would probably be shorter. She got a bit lost and flustered, and arrived at the theatre after the show had started. 29
    • Best of Nonetheless, Julia had a fantastic trip to the zoo. She spent a long time watching the tigers lounging around in the shade and took a bunch of pictures with her digital camera that she would later upload to her Picasa account so that her friends and family could check them out. She enjoyed the California sunshine, and ate her lunch outside. She was still feeling very proud of herself for finding the zoo all by herself in a foreign country. Now it was 5 o’clock, and the zoo was about to close, but it was too early to head back to Jerry’s apartment. He had said that he’d probably be home around 7:30. Julia decided to try to find the Golden Gate Bridge. It seemed like a daunting task, however, and Julia really wasn’t quite sure how to get there. She had no Internet access or else she would have logged on to the 511 Web site and printed out an itinerary similar to last night. When she finally found a pay phone, she dialled Jerry’s number again. Luckily, he answered and she asked if he could look up directions from the 511 Web site from the zoo to the Golden Gate Bridge. Jerry was having a very busy day at work, and really didn’t have the time to dictate the directions to Julia over the phone. Nor did he have much faith or interest in public transportation. “Take a cab,” he said, “It will be way easier.” Jerry explained. “Is there a phonebook there?” he asked. “Yes,” said Julia. “Turn to the back pages and look up ‘Taxi,’” said Jerry. The pages of the phone book were old and tattered; many pages were missing. Julia found a company called Yellow Cab. 30
    • Trip to the San Francisco Zoo “You’ve got to call them, tell them where you are, and they’ll come pick you up,” said Jerry. Web Not Available On-The-Go Julia hung up and called a cab. She waited about 10 minutes, and the cab showed up in front of the zoo. The cab driver was very friendly, and chatted with Julia while driving her towards the bridge. At her request, he dropped her off at the north end of the bridge, and then charged her what seemed like an arm and a leg for the ride. Julia was very excited to see the bridge in-person, after seeing it in photographs ever since childhood. It was such a magnificent feat of engineering excellence! She walked from the north end of the bridge back toward the city, stopping for a while in the middle to admire the bay, the water underneath the bridge, the sailboats, and the view of San Francisco. It was sunny and windy, and there were a lot of other tourists and bikers enjoying the view. She took tons of pictures. Then she again found herself looking for a pay phone and discovered one near the rest room on the south side of the bridge. “Here I am at the bridge!” she said to Jerry. “It’s so beautiful!” “Nice,” said Jerry. “I wish I were there. I get off work in a few minutes. Have you figured out how to get home from there?” “Well, I’ve got my itinerary,” answered Julia. “Yeah, but that was from the zoo. Now you’re at the bridge. Do you know how to get back?” 31
    • Best of “Oh, shoot,” said Julia. “I didn’t even think about that! Oh, man, this might get complicated. I guess I’ll have to call the cab again, and they’ll take me to the train station.” “How ‘bout this,” said Jerry. “I’ll pick you up and we can drive into Sausalito for dinner. It’s right on the other side of the bridge, and there are some fantastic places to eat there.” Julia was thrilled. “So, it might be an hour before I get there. Wait close to the rest- rooms and the pay phones at 7:30. I should be there by then.” Julia was very happy to spend another hour in that beautiful spot, and quite relieved that she didn’t have to worry about taking public transportation back to Jerry’s house. Julia returned near the restrooms at 7:30 and waited. Fifteen minutes went by, but there was no sign of Jerry. Julia had no way of knowing that he was stuck in traffic. Finally he showed up around 8:00. They were both starving. After a bit of searching, they found a sushi restaurant in Sausalito and then took a stroll along the beach. Afterwards, they drove back to his home. Virtual Companion It is a few years in the future. In a very short time, Web on-the go has become a universal phenomenon. Pretty much every global citizen has at least one Mobile Internet Device. Wireless access is available just about everywhere on planet Earth. Julia brought her Samsung MID to America with her, and also her Sony Pocket PC. She uses the MID to read e-mails and do some quick work online and the Pocket PC to write e-mails, read e-books, and more. The MID fits 32
    • Trip to the San Francisco Zoo into her shirt pocket while the Pocket PC is in her handbag. When Julia arrived in San Francisco, she pulled out her MID and sent a quick text message to Jerry, who immediately responded, letting her know he’d be waiting out front in his car, and then another to her parents back in the UK to let them know she’d arrived safely. Later on that night, Julia and Jerry were looking at the San Francisco Web site and then the site to get clear on Julia’s public transportation route to the zoo. On the site, a link was provided to download a transit trip planner application to a Mobile Internet Device. Julia downloaded and installed that application in her MID. The next morning, Jerry rushed to his office for the staff meeting. Julia got up and began preparing her breakfast. At work, in the meeting, all members of the firm were offering updates on their current projects. Jerry gave his update early and then listened to the updates from members of teams in different departments. He had his laptop in front of him and launched the Google Latitude application, which showed that Julia was still in Palo Alto. He sent a short text message, “Hi, are you still at home?” Julia responded that she was eating her breakfast. Jerry texted back: “Have a great trip to the zoo!” Around 9 a. m., Julia left the apartment and launched the 511 transit trip planner application on her Mobile Internet Device. The MID picked up her location from GPS and responded with a map showing her a map of the neighborhood she was standing in, including names of surrounding streets. The trip planner application prompted her to say or enter the place where she wanted to go. Julia said, “San Francisco Zoo.” But the application couldn’t recognize her British accent, so she had to enter the destination using the 33
    • Best of keyboard. Then the application asked her the next question, “When do you want to go? She entered “Now.” Then the application came up with an itinerary, based on her current location, the current time, and current traffic conditions. This is known as “Information in Real Time.” Now, Julia’s MID showed her a map with the directions that she needed to follow. It also had voice instructions. “Walk to that corner.” The device picked up the GPS location and also did some internal calculations to arrive at Julia’s new location. Then it said, “Turn right and walk to that bus stop.” Julia reached the bus stop. The MID said, “It will take another five minutes for the bus to arrive. Have a dollar and 25 cents for the bus fare. It will be a ten-minute bus journey to reach the Caltrain station.” After about five minutes, the bus arrived. Julia paid the fare and within a few minutes, reached the station. Julia was very excited about her first bus and train trip in California. She was proud of herself for doing it all alone. In fact, she didn’t really feel that she was alone. The voice instructions from the MID 511 transit planner application made her feel safe, and strangely enough, as if she had company. Meanwhile, Jerry was still in his weekly staff meeting, listening to people give their updates, while off and on checking the Google Latitude application on his laptop. He could see that Julia had reached the Caltrain station. In some cases, for obvious reasons, one would want to turn on the Google Latitude application’s privacy feature, in order to block anyone (or specific people) from being able to see their location. In this case, however, Jerry and Julia were not at all concerned with privacy. Jerry really just wanted to know that Julia was doing okay. Soon the meeting was over and Jerry rushed to his cube. He called Julia to talk to her about her trip so far. Meanwhile, Julia’s 34
    • Trip to the San Francisco Zoo Mobile Internet Device told her that the train for San Francisco would be arriving at the platform shortly, and was giving her all the relevant instructions. “I can’t believe how easy this is!” Julia said to Jerry. That eased Jerry’s mind, and he got back to work, not so worried that Julia might run into trouble finding the zoo. Julia boarded the train and began travelling north toward San Francisco. Meanwhile, her Mobile Internet Device continued to pick up her current location from GPS and informed Julia about each approaching station. When the train approached Millbrae, her MID let her know that she needed to get off at that stop. Thus Julia followed the step-by-step voice instructions and reached the San Francisco Zoo safely. Since Jerry and Julia were both online, every so often they would exchange small messages, making jokes and enjoying each other’s virtual “company.” Zoo Guide Application for Mobile Devices Julia reached the zoo and bought her entrance ticket. At the entrance, Jerry had let her know that there were instructions for installing the Zoo Guide application onto her Mobile Internet Device. Julia asked about that feature at the counter. The assistant told her that this application included the zoo maps, timings for shows, and specific directions to any location within the zoo, such as the theater and restaurants. Julia noticed that on every lamppost in the zoo, there was a wireless access point. “What’s up with the access points on the lampposts?” Julia asked the assistant. The employee told her it was the Zoo Wireless Network 35
    • Best of and that the Zoo Guide application installed on her Mobile Internet Device accesses those points. Through the same application, Julia learned that she could also access the Internet. However, she had noticed already that she had coverage throughout the city, thanks to the new municipal Wi-Fi service in San Francisco. Julia went to the Zoo Guide Application Download booth. Bringing her MID close to the counter, a Bluetooth connection was established between her MID and the counter. She then easily downloaded the Zoo Guide to her MID. A message popped up: “Do you want to install Zoo Guide application on your Mobile Internet Device? Yes or No.” Julia selected “Yes,” and after a moment another message popped up: “Zoo Guide application is successfully installed on your Mobile Internet Device.” Julia now launched the Zoo Guide application, which immediately established a wireless connection with the nearest lamppost. Each lamppost access point had a unique identification name, and with that name, the application could access the current location of the user inside the zoo. Julia selected the option: “Locate rest room.” Her MID immediately gave directions on how to reach the nearest restroom from the location where she was standing at that moment. Julia wanted a cup of coffee, and so asked the MID where the closest restaurant was. Immediately, it gave specific directions on how to reach the restaurant. While she was drinking her coffee, she explored the Zoo Guide application on her MID. She let Jerry know 36
    • Trip to the San Francisco Zoo that she had downloaded the Zoo Guide application through the chat feature on her MID. Then Julia alerted her MID that she wanted to view the tigers. The Zoo Guide application gave her step-by-step instructions on how to reach the tiger cages. It also alerted her to the other animals she’d see on the way. Her MID offered Julia rich background information about tigers in their natural habitat, and about this particular tiger and its family. Julia really felt that she was walking with a real person, a guide, telling her all about the animals at the zoo. She took a few pictures of the tiger with her Mobile Internet Device camera. Those pictures automatically uploaded to her Picasa account. Immediately, the tiger pictures were available in the public folder on her Picasa account. Right then, Julia noticed that her dad was also online. He was in London. She started chatting with him and sharing her pictures from the San Francisco Zoo. Then Julia was looking at the wildlife show times in the Zoo Guide application. The next show would begin in 10 minutes, and she wanted to go. This time the Zoo Guide application on the MID gave her step-by-step instructions about how to reach the theater from her current location, and thus she arrived on time. During the show, she noticed that an elderly Chinese lady also had a Mobile Internet Device and was watching the show. But the elderly lady was listening to the show commentary from her MID. Julia was curious to know what she was listening to. When she asked, the Chinese lady said that she was listening to the Chinese translation of commentary about the show. 37
    • Best of Stay in Touch Using Google Latitude Once the show was over, Julia continued happily wandering about the zoo. She was confident that she would never get lost with that device. Again, in the evening, she decided to go the Golden Gate Bridge. This time she had no regrets that she hadn’t planned ahead for this side trip before leaving home. When she left the zoo, Julia launched the 511 trip planner application. The application registered her current location from the GPS sensor and said, “Right now you are in San Francisco; where would you like to go?” Julia entered “Golden Gate Bridge.” The 511 trip planner application came up with information about the public transportation that would take her to the bridge, and Julia arrived there safely, in a very short time. Almost the whole day, Jerry was watching her going from place to place on his laptop by running the Google Latitude application. Jerry sent her the message: “It looks like you are going to the Golden Gate Bridge. Stay there and I will pick you up.” Julia was happily walking on the bridge. This time, even without a cell phone, she easily stayed in touch with Jerry in the U.S. and her family in UK. There was no need for her to use the pay phone or wait around near the restroom so that Jerry could find her. Checking the Latitude application on her Mobile Internet Device, Julia noticed that Jerry had left Mountain View and was driving north on Highway 101. After an hour, he parked his car and got out his Mobile Internet Device to select walking directions to reach Julia. The device was pointing toward the middle of the bridge. Jerry walked and noticed in his device that Julia was walking toward him. Both of them saw a handshake sign on their devices and by that time, they had bumped into each other. They spent some time together on the bridge, then searched for a good restaurant close by, 38
    • Trip to the San Francisco Zoo using their Mobile Internet Devices. The result showed quite a few in Sausalito. They spent an incredibly enjoyable evening, and then headed back to Jerry’s apartment. These days, pretty much everyone has a cell phone. We pay a premium fee for the service, but much of the time we are travelling places where our cell phone no longer serves us. Perhaps we are a tourist in another country, or even just out driving or camping in a rural area. The technological advancements suggested in the second part of this story demonstrate a much more efficient method of wireless communication. The San Francisco Zoo Guide application could be applied to any zoo or theme park in the world. A similar downloadable program could be offered at Disneyland, the Singapore Zoo, Great America, and more. is a wonderful concept for public transportation. They have already built the entire infrastructure necessary to evolve into the downloadable application referred to here. The next step would be to make this program work on a Mobile Internet Device. A further feature might include the ability to track an individual’s current location from GPS. It is real-time information, real-time decision- making, with the ability to incorporate fluctuating variables such as traffic into consideration 39
    • Best of Excerpts from Web-on the Go (Genre: Computers & Internet) by S. Balachandran. This book provides great ideas for future applications of the web. It motivates the reader to come up with surprisingly new ideas for industries like, transportation, shipping, health care, safety, security, etc. The book will interest professionals as well as and the general public. Bala lives in Silicon Valley, California, United States. 40
    • Analyze All Parameters I was not sure whether Venkatraman and his brother were pleased with our first encounter and whether they would come back for further discussion. There had been others earlier who had come for instant remedies for their entrepreneurial itch. Getting no immediate inoculation they had either drifted towards those who professed to administer the right curative doses or given up the idea altogether. I have ever maintained that an accurate assessment of one’s Entrepreneurial Edge is of utmost importance before any attempt to venture out on one’s own is made. I like to define ‘EDGE’ here as the Enthusiasm, Dynamism, Grit and Enjoyment that a prospective entrepreneur must be possessed with at the threshold of his venture. In the face of opposition and discouragement successful entrepreneurs display unabated enthusiasm backed by dynamism at getting things done. Grit expects you to possess the mettle, zeal, perseverance and total commitment to achieving your goal through self-discipline. It suggests that you hold an intense desire – almost a craving, to succeed at business. Why so? Well the universal truth 41
    • Best of is that every business passes through good and bad patches and to nourish you through trying times you need an inexhaustible supply of tenacity. This strain of disciplined commitment emanates from loving and enjoying what you are doing. You must love and enjoy the business you intend to start or are already in – only then can you give it your best. Talking about love – where is it that love caresses you first? At home of course! Now consider this: your father has been in service all his life and the one time he tried his hand at business his partner took him for a royal ride. He was bitter and just about managed to get his job back. Your sibling met with a similar fate when he tried his hand in business just after college. He was lucky to get alternative employment. The mother is a housewife though she augments the household income by selling sarees that she sources once in a while from her hometown during her visits there. As for you, you have a good-paying job but you also have this itch for your own enterprise. You have never seen a working business at close quarters. Your loved ones don’t want you to burn your fingers at business nor do they want you to sacrifice your good job at the business altar. Do you really believe that your family can understand your love for business? Incidents of business failure in the past, within the family and friends circle, will be repeatedly quoted to discourage you from doing anything ‘foolish’. “We are a service class family. Besides, you have the potential to reach the top,” will be the mildest admonition in disguise. So where do you get the moral support and encouragement to nurture your love for business? I believed that this predicament was going to be Venkat’s first big mental hurdle to cross. 42
    • Analyze All Parameters From what I have been told I was confident that Venkat had the technical credentials and experience to undertake the production of equipments in his range of expertise. Whether he had a speck of the ‘business-mind’ was anyone’s guess. My own experience was that technology’s contribution to the overall health and success of a manufacturing unit diminishes, as the product reaches maturity. A product design company that introduces new artifacts or models on a regular basis and prides itself as an innovator of new and futuristic devices, definitely relies more heavily on technology. Mind you here again efficient production and bringing the product to the market is the responsibility of a lesser technology oriented department or entity. Only in the software industry where no ‘physical’ three-dimensional product gets forged, molded, bent or otherwise processed into shape do technologies continue to play a dominant role. There are no material inputs or outputs in the software industry. In most other cases the market triumph of any product depends on factors other than just technology. Meanwhile, Venkatraman seemed to have found his reasons for starting his own enterprise and gave me a call on the following Wednesday. Since I was pre-occupied that day and the next we decided that Friday was appropriate for us to meet. He came alone and very much on time. After the usual pleasantries we settled down to the matter of our meeting. “Do you still believe that Jaiprakash is your reason for going into business?” I queried. “Not directly, but indirectly - yes,” Venkatraman revealed. 43
    • Best of “How’s that?” I wanted to know “Let me be frank with you. My original thinking was ‘If Jaiprakash can own a business why can’t I?’ But when you suggested that Jaiprakash could not be a valid reason I had to ask myself honestly why I could and should get into business,” Venkatraman enlightened. “And so why do you believe you can get into business?” I enquired. “I am good with and understand technology better than Jaiprakash.” “But doesn’t that still make Jaiprakash your reason?” “I guess so, but the difference between him and me is that he does not like technology and I do,” Venkatraman contended. “How does liking technology really matter?” I probed “Oh it does; especially when the client also has only an overall idea of the controls his systems require to achieve an end result. That’s when you need to understand the capacity and limitations of your technology. It’s only when you love technology can you go beyond the college version.” “So are you’re saying that you are in a position to help a client conceive a working solution whereas Jaiprakash is not?” “That’s absolutely right.” “But how many times would you come across such a situation?” 44
    • Analyze All Parameters “Oh you’ll be surprised. Even in the Alfa Laval panels that Jaiprakash delivers he and our engineers are unaware or do not understand why some functions are incorporated in the collaborators designs. In fact I have clarified certain features for Jaiprakash on more than two occasions.” “Mr. Venkatraman you do seem convinced that the extent of your love and understanding of technology will benefit your client. But is that enough to risk getting into your own manufacturing?” “After last Friday I did a mental review of the kind of equipments Jai is supplying to Alfa. In my opinion there is a vast space for improving the workmanship. It baffles me that some of their equipment passes the inspection at all. I won’t bother you with details but believe me I can do a much better. There are times when even their cable terminations are not tagged, cable routing is shabby but you get to see that only when you uncover the cable channels. Oh I could list at least a dozen similar defects. These would impact the performance of the panel adversely in the long run.” “Are you saying then that if you were to manufacture the same control panels you could give a better and more reliable product at the same price than Jai Controls?” “Exactly,” Venkatraman clarified. “Let’s accept that for the time being,” I agreed. “Yet none of this convinces me on why you should quit your job and start a unit.” “I would have to quit because it would not be fair on my part to be employed by and take a salary from Alfa and at the same time run 45
    • Best of a unit of my own. I would keep feeling that I am cheating. It would be cheating isn’t it?” “It would definitely be cheating if you were working at your unit during the time you should actually have been attending to your duties at Alfa Laval. It would be cheating if you manufactured a product for someone else based on Alfa’s drawings. It would be cheating if you off-loaded work from your Alfa department to your personal unit when there was no need for it,” I opined. “But I already told you I am only responsible for maintenance of the electrical infrastructure at Alfa and not directly involved with production. As far as off-loading is concerned our planning people look after that. No individual department can take that kind of decision,” refuted Venkatraman. “Does that mean you could be cheating only if you were to steal Alfa drawings or work at your business on their time?” I prodded. “How can you even imagine me stealing drawings?” contested Venkatraman loudly, “I don’t even bring as much as a pin home from the factory.” “And how about stealing their time?” I cornered Venkatraman “I definitely do not? For the eight hours that I get paid I am wholeheartedly an Alfa man doing not only the job assigned to me but much more. Most of my sick and casual leaves just expire. As for the balance sixteen hours I am the sole master of that time and they have no say in that,” Venkatraman clarified. 46
    • Analyze All Parameters “Are you then saying that once you are back from your employer’s factory you can do what you want?” “That is right. Only difficulty is that I do tend to get a bit tired,” Venkatraman confessed. “How real is this tiredness? Is it mental or is it physical?” I interrogated. “Frankly speaking, now that you ask, I think it could all just be in my head. There are days when the factory politics does leave me mentally agitated,” Venkatraman reflected. “I guess I should ignore what my peers at work keep griping about,” he contemplated. I had jotted on the pad in front of me the figures ’24 - 9’ and below it ‘8 + 1’. The handwriting was large enough to be easily read by Venkatraman sitting opposite me. He stared at these numbers for a while. Having weighed them to his satisfaction he exclaimed, “Yes it does leave me with at least six hours to work for myself assuming I spend eight hours sleeping and one for other personal effects; doesn’t it?” “That’s what it seems to me and it still leaves you with your full- time job,” I confirmed in an understanding tone. “I wonder what all you can do in these six hours?” I pushed further. “Oh I could definitely study the user’s system requirements and generate the schematic, control and circuit diagrams. I could draw the general layout and mechanical details of placements and mountings. In fact sitting at my home desk I could conceive the entire panel with all its features.” 47
    • Best of “You sound exactly like my brother,” I revealed to Venkatraman. “This engineer brother of mine is considered a master at conceiving mechanical designs and could generate drawings and fabrication details based on defined requirements. However this talent was of little use at his job in the synthetic-fiber plant where he worked. This plant had a foreign collaboration and the Indian Company was required to, and strictly followed the foreign designs right to the last screw. No innovation or improvements were even looked at. It took a cousin of mine to bring out my brothers genius.” “This cousin refused to go through formal education after his twelfth class. His Dad managed to get him enrolled for the L & T Apprentice Training program. The trainees underwent a three years on-the-job training with the Company, which finally absorbed the talented amongst them in the different L & T production units. Now this cousin had always been atypical. During the third year he noticed that the L & T business unit he was delegated to was falling behind in their deliveries. He boldly approached his trainer to take on a sub-contract to help finish some of the business unit’s pending jobs. The trainer and business unit head were surprised and remarked that only a good design engineer could do what was expected. At this my cousin offered to do the job free of cost provided workspace and all materials were supplied by the Company. ‘Pay me only if you are satisfied with the quality of what I do,’ he had offered.” “The business unit head was intrigued by the boldness and decided to take a chance with my cousin. Requirements were given to him with a two-week deadline for completion of the drawings along with the job work. Promptly the cousin recruited my brother’s genius. My brother generated the set of drawings and together the 48
    • Analyze All Parameters two completed and handed over the piece of equipment for inspection by L & T within the eight days that my brother was on leave from his regular work. Needless to say that L & T paid them for a job well executed. The cousin went on to become an entrepreneur while my brother continued in service.” “That sounds very interesting. But looking at it from Srimaali’s angle his contribution cannot be a whole lot I guess. At least not from the point of view of starting our own electrical panel’s business,” Venkatraman observed. “But you did bring him along when you first came here; and hadn’t you said something about him being the finance professional for your project?” I jogged Venkatraman. “Oh yes, but he would only be able to play his part when we are all set and running,” Venkatraman acknowledged. “Aren’t you overlooking something Mr. Venkatraman? Or is it that you have the money, the product with all its details and a list of clients ready to buy this product?” I purposely fast-forwarded. “I never said I had the cash or a product with detailing, leave aside customers that would buy from us,” objected Venkatraman, “but I think I know what you are getting at.” “Yes? So let me hear what you think I am getting at,” I prodded “If you think that Srimaali can locate prospective clients, forget it. He has no clue of electrical panels so how is he going to try and find users?” doubted Venkatraman. “As a banker he would definitely know bank’s borrowing terms, interest rates and things like that 49
    • Best of which might help in working out costs, that’s about all. But if you think he can arrange finance from his bank, just forget that too. I wouldn’t put him in that kind of soup. In any case he is too junior to influence any decisions of his bosses at the Bank.” “You’ve got my ‘getting at’ all wrong! Why are you putting the cart before the horse? I quizzed “Huh! Then what is your ploy? What are you suggesting? Did I miss something?” “Let’s just go back a bit. You said you could conceive a control panel sitting at your desk. Suppose you did that for a client and he approves your designs, what happens then?” I enquired. “Once a client approves my designs he would want to know how much the finished panel would cost.” “And normally only if he finds the price right would he place an order on you,” I butted in. “That means I would first need to know the prices of all components and parts that would go into the panel including the fabricated frames and cabinets. Maybe Srimaali can help by collecting price lists and catalogues of different components and manufacturers,” Venkatraman caught on. “Now you have put the horse in its place. The one sure thing that Srimaali can do is collecting all the relevant information. The information horse caught by Srimaali can be put to good use even if you do not have the cart!” I proposed. 50
    • Analyze All Parameters “We can easily do this exercise but it still gets us no closer to starting our unit. How are we supposed to do that?” “Look at it like this, if you found that your product costs more than competing products I would ask you to rethink before putting any money on setting up your manufacturing unit,” I reigned in. This daunting statement of mine appeared to dismay Mr. Venkatraman as he aspired to become an entrepreneur in double quick time. *** In the course of my consultancy work I had come across many dejected individuals who had jumped on to the entrepreneurial bandwagon. Some had mistakenly believed that their product could compete with existing products. Others had burned their fingers trying to copy what their friend or relative had established. Yet others had discovered that their unique inventions had no takers in the market. Success usually came after several failed attempts at trying to produce a marketable widget. Those who had dreamt of making it big in their first attempt were badly bruised by their failures. Those who learned valuable lessons from their earlier failures and persevered tasted success. My own experiences and my close association with them had given me a new respect for entrepreneurs. An entrepreneur is a person who undertakes a commercial activity for the purpose of making a profit but sometimes ends up with a loss. This activity could be done as an employee for someone else, or for one’s self. Entrepreneurial people make things happen and as a result rise up the ladder in the corporate world or start and expand their 51
    • Best of own businesses. Often successful corporate entrepreneurial managers with vision quit their jobs and promote a start-up business of their own while others may continue in their jobs taking their company to great heights. From his own account Mr. Venkatraman Aiyer had quite often displayed this entrepreneurial streak, as a maintenance engineer at Alfa Laval. The company had awarded him for it. He now wanted to be amongst entrepreneurs who have given or wish to give birth to a new business. Such a person, prior to or during the development stages of his project, knowingly or unknowingly does an exercise to investigate and understand certain factors that he considers critical for the well being of his project. This drill is a must. It not only brings forth some interesting and intriguing questions, but also opens one’s eyes to certain aspects that have to be addressed adequately and promptly. It also alerts you to what is best avoided. The issues, characteristics, and mechanisms that determine the success of an entrepreneur and his choice of business are multi- dimensional and in reality quite difficult to segregate. I wanted Venkatraman to initially discuss and do a thorough analysis of these dimensions with the aid of simple examples and later try to arrive at the more complex picture for himself. Most entrepreneurs have used this technique during their careers to find their bearings and drive themselves to achieve their goals. The exercise I wanted Venkatraman to do, would give him the wherewithal to choose such a direction so as to be able to come as close as possible to his ideal. Though mind you, there is no ideal product or project for any entrepreneur. 52
    • Analyze All Parameters In its simplest form, a 3-way system of analysis consists of matching one’s ‘Personal Parameters’ to that of the ‘Product Parameters’ and the ‘Project Parameters’. For a new comer – especially a first-generation entrepreneur, the relative importance of these parameters are in order mentioned. However I am aware that the most important – Personal Parameters are least considered in any entrepreneurship development program and the banks do not even make a cursory reference to them. It is for this reason that I lay stress on personal parameter study and understanding. A good understanding by Mr. Venkatraman of his Personal Parameters could make or break his project. *** “Don’t be disappointed with what I just said,” I appealed to Mr. Venkatraman, “I am sure you won’t like to burn your fingers or your money by hasty decisions, would you?” “There’s no money to burn; fingers – may be yes! But with what I’ve done so far even my fingers look safe,” laughed Venkatraman. “That’s great! So far you have accepted that both you and your brother could utilize your spare time to work on your project. You also believe that your unit will be able to manufacture good, reliable control panels. Right?” “That’s as far as you allowed me to go. What comes next? You tell me,” Venkatraman sounded me out. “There are some fundamental decisions that you will have to take. First and foremost you will need to be absolutely sure as to why you 53
    • Best of want to be in business. You will be putting some – I recommend not all, of your personal and family savings at risk. Your life may go out of balance, with the additional working hours taking away from other social, family or pleasurable activities. The headaches and other forms of stress may increase beyond the point you have experienced as an employee. To top it all, family support may be worse than nil. It will probably be negative with admonitions and warnings that ‘business does not run in the family’” I forewarned Mr. Venkatraman. You will run the risk of sounding a little eccentric, literally loosing friends and relations. How prepared are you for all this?” “My father has always believed that business is very dangerous. He reminds us that he financed my brothers and my engineering education so that we could get good jobs, be happy and settle down in life. In fact you may say that we are basically an employment seeking family. None in the family barring me can see that there is a huge market for the kind of business I want to do. I guess the idea of using my spare time to set up a venture will appeal to them and their stance may change,” declared Venkatraman longingly. “What if they are not convinced by your part-time argument? What is your stand then?” “I would still go ahead and give it my best shot. You are there to help me, aren’t you?” “Mr. Venkatraman you are a thoroughbred technology man and well versed with all the technical aspects of the product you want to manufacture. This knowledge will definitely contribute to your success, yet on its own it will not guarantee it. Any 54
    • Analyze All Parameters successful business requires an equally strong knowledge and skill of marketing, finance and general management. And even with these skills available you may still face a lot of hardships.” “How could that happen?” Venkatraman disbelievingly interrupted. “I believe that for entrepreneurs to be successful they need to be fully aware of the environment they are operating in. Besides their technological and managerial background, they should possess personal strength to cope with the vagaries of the business atmosphere they operate in. If they fail to assess their personal strengths and weaknesses their chances of success are remote,” I proposed. “And pray how does one do that?” was Venkatraman’s obvious reaction. I patiently wait for my Client to come up with that very question. Those who have addressed that question and given themselves honest answers have found success faster than those who have not. I am also aware that a picture speaks more than thousands of words. I handed Venkatraman the set of three tables reproduced here. “Venkatraman I suggest that you and Srimaali use these tables to assess your strengths and weaknesses. You must become responsive to and positively tackle and take steps to strengthen parameters related to your background, personal traits and environment. I have used a weightage scale of 5 to 1; you could use a scale of 10 to 0. What is important is that you give yourself an honest rating and be prepared to work on your shortcomings. Remember, you can get plenty of information and published data on all other aspects of your enterprise but nothing on yourself.” 55
    • Best of “I expect after completing this crucial exercise, you may need the help of other professionals. By the way have Srimaali and you already figured out, first, what product or mix of products you are going to be good at manufacturing in the initial stages, and second, where and how you are going to manufacture them?” I queried. “Regarding product or mix, I have an overall idea of what and where control panels are required and some knowledge of who is buying from Jai Controls. How we will manufacture is still a question mark?” confessed Venkatraman. “Well then you need to do a lot of homework on yourself, your product and your facility,” was my rejoinder. Excerpts from Entrepreneurial Sins (Genre: Self-Improvement) by Ashok Purandutt. The book is an easy to understand guide for a budding entrepreneur. Almost every facet of entrepreneurship is covered in a practical way –from how to make a business plan, set up the manufacturing unit, expansion, cash flows and everything in between. The explanation of the issues through a story makes it easier to understand. Mr Ashok Purandutt is an Entrepreneur and Human Resource Development consultant based at Pune. 56
    • A Toy for the Little Princess T he day began as usual at Alladin’s Toy Mart. The shelves were dusted, the floors were mopped to a sparkle and the glasses were wiped squeaky clean. Each toy stood smartly in its place, hoping it would be taken to a new home that day. Some of them had stood on the shelves for months and they were bored with the place. Suddenly a robotic dog with artificial intelligence perked up his ears. “Hey! That’s exciting news,” he exclaimed, jumping up and down. He then whispered something to the toys beside him. Soon, the excitement spread among the toy population of Alladin’s: the robotic dog had heard that the king and queen of the land were going to visit Alladin’s that day! The princess’ birthday was less than a week away and the royal couple wanted to buy a plaything for her. They had decided to visit 57
    • Best of ‘Alladin’s Toy Mart’ because it was the biggest toy shop in their country. And they wanted only the best for their precious daughter. The shop assistants and managers ran about making arrangements to welcome the royal couple in style. The toys jostled with one another to occupy the prime position on their shelves. Each of them hoped to be the one to catch the eye of the royal couple. The whole country adored their kind king, generous queen and the gentle, little princess. And every toy wanted to become part of the wonderful royal household. The beautiful dancing doll with auburn curls cascading down her back said, “I’m so fashionable and classy! I can do a ballet like a regular ballerina! In fact, I’m almost like a princess myself ! I’m sure the queen will choose me for her daughter.” “Oh, you’re just a pretty-face. All beauty and no brains. Choose you? Ha! Ha! You must be joking,” sneered the programmable robot. “Right now I’m a sleuth looking for an intruder. But I have an electronic chip embedded in my head. That makes me the only toy with brains in the whole shop,” “I have a chip too. I also have brains,” barked the robotic dog who had first heard the news of the royal visit. But the programmable robot was nonchalant. “Perhaps, but his majesty is sure to choose me and only me,” he said, haughtily. It’s true the robot was a rather unusual toy. In a jiffy he could transform himself from a sleuth into a traffic constable or a firefighter. He even had separate sets of clothes to match his roles. And, was he proud of his electronic sophistication! 58
    • The soft, life-sized piglet in pretty pink put the robot in its place. “No, no, you’re just a machine. And you’re too hi-brow for a toy. Who wants to tire their brains over toys?” she squealed. “Toys are for fun and comfort. I’m so soft and cuddly, the princess will love to hug me! I’m sure I’ll be the royal couple’s choice,” she said, adding, “After all, everyone knows pink is the princess’ favourite colour.” “Oh, the princess has long since outgrown soft toys. She’s going to be ten, you know! Just the right age to play with me: I can hop, I can skip. I can sing, I can dance, I can cry and laugh too; With me around I don’t think there’s a chance for any of you!” sang the dancing lion, and began somersaulting with gusto. He almost fell off the shelf in his eagerness to show-off. But he was a vain fellow and wouldn’t own up his mistake. He looked around for a scapegoat and found the wobbly little duckling. “Oh! You cheeky little duckling! How dare you push me!” roared the lion. “Are you trying to displace me and waddle up to the front? You don’t imagine the royal couple will choose you, do you? “You don’t have a switch, a button, an electronic chip or anything. That shows you can do nothing, just absolutely nothing. No wonder no one’s bought you all these days. Who’d want a bright yellow, stuffed 59
    • Best of duckling that can just stand around and stare with beady eyes? Why, you must be the most ancient toy here!” he said, scornfully. The little duckling felt terribly ashamed of herself. The lion was right. She could do none of the things the other toys could. She cowered into a corner and hoped no one would notice her. She didn’t mind not being bought, but she didn’t want to be laughed at or scolded. Suddenly there was a hullabaloo in the shop. A few attendants ran to and fro with bouquets. A red carpet was rolled out. An electronic band, which could automatically play tunes stored in its memory, was switched on. And the managers stood at attention at the entrance, heads held high, shoes polished to a sparkle. The royal couple had arrived! The toys assumed their best postures and waited. The king and queen went round the shop. The shop manager and her attendants explained the working of all the modern playthings. They demonstrated the best ones and the unique ones. The royal couple was most gracious and said, “That’s wonderful, but not really what we want” or “Oh, how very nice, but I don’t think it’s the right one for Tina” or “Amazing, but not exactly what we’re looking for” and so on and so forth till almost every toy in the shop was disqualified. Then they began another round of the vast shop, wondering if they had missed out some toys. But they did not find anything to buy. They went round the shop a third time too, but without choosing anything. 60
    • A Toy for the Little Princess The suspense became intolerable for the toys. The queen was tired and the king, bored. “Don’t they make simple toys any more? Toys that’ll just be toys instead of trying to imitate life?” sighed the queen, disappointed. “One can hardly call these playthings! They’re more like machines,” said the king. At that very moment the queen spied the tiny yellow duckling nestling in the darkest possible corner of a shelf of sophisticated toys. “Can you show me that bright yellow thing, please? I don’t think we’ve seen it yet,” she said to the attendant. The attendant took down the duckling rather shamefacedly and said, “I’m sorry your majesty. This is just a stuffed duckling. It belongs to an old generation of toys. I don’t know how it has escaped our periodical stock-taking operations….” But the royal couple waved aside his profuse apology. “Look at its eyes – so bright and full of wonder,” said the king. “And it’s so small and cute,” gushed the queen. “Just the thing for Tina,” agreed the king. “Oh! She’ll love this,” exclaimed the queen. And they were right. The princess simply adored the little yellow duckling. She named it Shyla because it seemed so shy. “It looks and feels like a real duckling, So soft and wobbly,” she said. “And just look at her eyes! Like dark blue marbles – so bright and shiny. I’m sure she 61
    • Best of loves me as much as I love her. It’s among the best birthday presents I’ve ever got,” she said. Shyla simply smiled shyly and snuggled happily into the princess’ arms. Excerpts from Children’s Stories for Our Times (Genre: Children) by Revathi S Kumaran. These are collection of stories for children. They are fun filled, simple, mischievous and carry a subtle message of virtue. The backdrop to the stories is a mix of the ancient and the modern. This adapts the stories to our modern context beautifully. Revathi S Kumaran is a writer, editor and independent researcher with special interest in education. 62
    • Agony I was rushing down the road, Singing, jumping all along in joyous mood. On a sharp corner, foggy day and far way. I bumped into a monster blocking my way. I was knocked down, bleeding on the road side, The monster was laughing loud and wide, I lay there for days unknown, woke up to see the rainy afternoon. There were rains, lightning and thunder storm, I had to lay there, why I don’t know. Rain stopped and rainbow sighted Birds seen flying, singing and delighted, There was joy in all woods around But I was scared, looking the monster around. Few boys came around, I did not say anything but, They lifted me up and took me to a hut. I met my GURUJI, whom I know as my mentor He gave me food, medicine and shelter, 63
    • Best of He taught me the ways and means for How to live happily once again “Still I am scared GURUJI,” once I screamed “I always see monster in my dream” “Why do you think” said Guruji “Monster blocking you” “It is now only inside you and you only are blocking your way” “Learn the ways and art of life” Take the inner monster in your stride” “Make it your best friend, O my boy” It is a blessing in disguise and A GIFTED TOY. Bliss O Guruji, thank you a zillion times, you made me your boy. now only, I can understand, and accept this monster as a gifted toy. Now I can play with him, if I want, and turn it off when I don’t. I allow it to play with myself, and then pack it off to the shelf. The monster sometimes smiles, And walk with me, hand in hand, for miles. Sometimes, when I am unable to walk, He lifts me up, and run, shunning the talk. 64
    • Agony He is my buddy, if I deploy I know, for sure, it is my GIFTED TOY. Excerpts from A Gifted Toy (Genre: Self Improvement) by Amit Dave. This is a self help book for those who suffer from frequent spells of bad mood as well as clinical depression. The book is a frank and practical guide on taming the mood swings and making friends with your emotions. It gives sane everyday advice to the reader. The poems given below are a part of the introduction. Amit Dave is a mechanical engineer and has had some first hand experience of mood swings. 65
    • Lalitha Bilgi (Social Enterprise) Venture: Swayam “W e cannot do great things on this Earth, only small things with great love.” -Mother Teresa It was with this dream and vision that Lalitha started Swayam, a parent support group of differently abled children. Swayam is an outfit that works towards educating and empowering children with special abilities. While merging social responsibility and business is a distant dream for many, Lalitha makes it look like child’s play. Lalitha did her masters in Commerce and was a rank holder in Bangalore University. She did her Bachelors in Education while staying in Delhi from Annamalai University. She has had a meritorious student life, and a rich and cherishing experience as a teacher of Commerce and Accountancy in Cambridge School, Noida and Bishop Cotton Girls’ School, Bangalore. During her teaching experience of over a decade, she has contributed immensely towards 66
    • Lalitha Bilgi Teach to the Future Program supported by Intel® India. Lalitha feels that her exposure to Intel® Teach provided her with the impetus to be successful in her pursuit. “During those days as a master trainer, I realized that the realm of technology does not limit itself to downloading information from the internet. It also gives us a platform to upload our opinions, raise concerns over issues and act towards improving them. That further motivated me to do something for children with disabilities and empower them to stand firmly on their feet’’, says Lalitha with a sparkle in her eyes. “It was Intel® Teach that opened the door of opportunities for me. Until then I enthusiastically followed the obsolete teaching practices and would have succumbed to it, if not for Intel. It exposed me to a new outlook that made be believe that I can still grow individually and institutionally,” says an enthusiastic Lalitha. During the Intel® Teach training, she learnt that the current generation of students is not acquainted with technology relevant for their career growth. In May 2005, she gave up teaching to completely engage herself in her family business (Kou-Chan Convergence Pvt. Ltd) and start off Swayam. Here she put to use the knowledge she gained at Intel® Teach training. Kou-Chan works with youth and motivates them to take up learning computer applications and other skills like writing, human resource management etc which offer them sound employment opportunities. “Around the same time, I was looking for a program for my own development. I saw the advertisement for MPWE and joined 67
    • Best of the course in summer 2007. While I was teaching, I came to Kou Chan only on weekends. Being a director, I was looking into events for employees and the human resource aspects within the company. When I stopped teaching, I started coming to the office daily.” She has the enthusiasm and belief to bring about an integrated approach to her company’s business which has spread over metros in India in areas of human resources and business process outsourcing support to clients like Airtel, TTSL, ALCATEL, IMB to name a few. Her company has outsourced manpower strength of over five thousand employees spread across different parts of the country. Her job at Kou-Chan is more on the administrative lines now, and she does not need to be in office every day. She utilizes her spare time to work on Swayam, building it slow and strong, one brick at a time. Lalitha lives in a nuclear family and that makes the task of looking after Kaushal (her son) and her elder daughter (who is now a doctor) all the more challenging. When I ask her about the balancing act, she smiles and says, “There are some things you learn with time. Its experience and age basically. I needed flexibility of timings and scope for development and these needs governed my choices. However, family has always been top priority”. She is a strong advocate of social groups and is a part of a club of teachers called Prerana in Bangalore. She truly believes in ‘keeping touch’ and runs a quarterly magazine for family members with updates and funny anecdotes. Lalitha is always ready to help others with her knowledge and expertise. She has helped an NGO at Kormangala as well Seva-in-Action in planning their budget and resources. With the information age replete with examples of women 68
    • Lalitha Bilgi breaking the proverbial `glass ceiling’, Lalitha sets an example of a new generation social woman entrepreneur. She was early to realize the potential of technology and utilized it in a way that contributed to the empowerment of the society. In her words, “Swayam has not only grown as an organization but also helped individuals to grow. We still have scope to grow.” It seems sky is the limit for this determined yet modest lady. Swayam “A few years back when I was watching TV on 3rd December (World Disabled Day), the idea of Swayam came to my mind. I saw a disabled adult struggling to make his living, travelling in buses all day to reach office with a lunch box in his hand. My son is a down syndrome child, and I want him to be self sufficient. He is very lovable and is a workaholic, and he loves to see the result of his work immediately. While he is not very good academically, he is adept at using the computer for certain functions like printing, scanning etc. The idea was to make a work unit for him, so that he is not dependent on anyone in future. I thought of making a unit where all adults with disability in the neighbourhood could come and work together. Lunch would be provided at the centre, and vans would be available to pick them up and drop them back so that their comfort is also in place.” Swayam was conceptualized in June 2006, and since then Swayam has been holding hobby workshops on Saturdays at Seva- in-Action. It continues to do so at Bethany Special School. In April 2010, Lalitha plans to inaugurate a work unit in Bangalore which 69
    • Best of will operate five days a week. She has not yet registered Swayam, but plans to register it as a sole proprietorship. “I need to market Swayam well for continuous flow of work into Swayam, and even after we start the unit, I will keep Saturdays aside for marketing. I think personal contacts are the best source to get work for Swayam. I live in an apartment complex, and we get a lot of jobs from the neighbors. We also plan to approach schools to sell our products at their carnivals or fests.” Swayam is engaged in various activities with an aim to make learning fun for special children. Here, they are trained to perform their chores independently. The teachers and parents try to make them communicate through paintings, drawings, songs and most importantly with computer applications. “It is a slow process, but these kids are taught drawing using computer tools, printing their pictures and gradually they will be taught data entering. These activities make learning and teaching a lot more enjoyable”, says Lalitha. Their work, a fusion of imagination and intimate expressions, has created wonders and now this special art finds buyers which are a great boost to the morale of these special children. For example, recently Swayam prepared specially designed gifts for the invited audience at designer Babita Jaishankar’s show at the Bangalore Fashion Week. Objectives of Swayam 1. Prepare differently abled children to work: For this, Swayam invites volunteers who help the children (or 70
    • Lalitha Bilgi adults) to carry out tasks such as printing documents, painting, cutting and peeling vegetables etc. 2. Help them develop pride in their work: Anatole France rightly said, “Nine-tenths of education is encouragement”. It is very important that differently abled children are made to feel important. A word of praise after a painting is completed or a vegetable is cut, not only brings a smile to a child’s face but also boosts his self-esteem. 3. Make children, siblings and families feel honored in the society: The most crucial and challenging job is earning respect. More so for these children and Lalitha feels that earning a salary is the first step. “When these children earn salaries comparable to their more fortunate friends or cousins, they automatically earn respect in society. Having job security and a constant cash inflow is so important for every individual. I want the children to feel the same sense of pride that we feel when we get our salary cheque at the end of the month.” Swayam has been recognized by • Intel® India for attempting to empower children with challenges and turning it into a social entrepreneurship. (Under the Teach to the Future Program) • Management Program for Women Entrepreneurs (MPWE) at Indian Institute of Management Bangalore, for showing the potential to grow into a successful 71
    • Best of organization (Winner of 2nd prize in Business Plan Awards). • Kou-Chan Knowledge Convergence Private Ltd., by providing work experience to the children at Swayam. A Social Enterprise Social enterprises are social mission driven organizations which trade in goods or services for a social purpose. Their aim to accomplish targets that are social and environmental as well as financial is often referred to as having a triple bottom line. Social enterprises are profit-making businesses set up to tackle a social or environmental need. They often use blended value business models that combine a revenue-generating business with a social-value-generating structure or component. Many commercial businesses would consider themselves to have social objectives, but social enterprises are distinctive because their social or environmental purpose is central to what they do. Rather than maximizing shareholder value, their main aim is to generate profit to further their social and environmental goals. Therefore some commentators describe them as ‘not-for-profit’ as their profits are not distributed to financial investors. Others dislike the term as it suggests they have an unbusinesslike attitude. An ingenious solution to this quandary is to call them for ‘more-than-profit’. It could be that the profit (or surplus) from the business is used to support social aims (whether or not related to the activity of the business, as in a charity shop), or that the business itself accomplishes the social aim through its operation, for instance 72
    • Lalitha Bilgi by employing disadvantaged people or lending to businesses that have difficulty in securing investment from mainstream lenders. The term social enterprise should not be confused with trusts or NGOs working for empowerment of women, orphans, poor, disabled etc. The former strives to earn independently from the business to serve dependants (i.e. the socially underprivileged it works for), while the latter depends on donations and charity. Swayam was born out of Lalitha’s strong determination to work towards empowering children with disabilities after the birth of her son Kaushal with down syndrome. Her aim through Swayam is to develop individuals with down syndrome or similar disabilities through lifelong learning and social integration. Along with this, being a parent herself, she tries support other parents through information, education and discussion. Swayam advocates for equal opportunities, quality of life and their contribution to society. Operations At present, Swayam comprises five children with their parent- volunteers. By April 2010, Lalitha plans to gather ten adults as members and develop more variety of products and services. Activities of Swayam children currently include: 1. Making paper-covers and supplying to the chemist-shops. The children are supplying envelopes and courier covers to shops currently. 2. Painting/Designing greeting cards, envelopes, CD gift- covers, cloth bags, bookmarks. 3. Vegetable sorting, peeling and chopping. 73
    • Best of 4. Scanning photographs. 5. Stamping application forms with official seals. Swayam is open to accepting volunteers. It accepts children who are not in the main stream of academics as members, their relatives and anybody who wishes to volunteer their services. Volunteers invest their time to help these children with their jobs and motivate them at the same time. The inflow of volunteers is not an issue – there are many from social groups, schools, and colleges etc who want to help Swayam in its noble venture. Sources of revenue for Swayam include: 1. Contribution of reusable items from households of promoters and volunteers. Using and reusing items, and making useful products out of waste and recycling etc help recover some costs. 2. Offices/organizations where the Swayam children-adults do a part of the work such as scanning, printing, Xeroxing etc. 3. Sales of Swayam products such as cards, diaries, paper covers etc. Swayam operates in a very simple way. The parents or relatives of the children contribute monthly for the minimal expenses incurred like buying stationery, vegetables etc. The children process these items (either make creative items out of them or cut the vegetables or sprout the pulses) and they are paid for the products and services. The profit that is generated is distributed among the children/adults 74
    • Lalitha Bilgi as their earning and the cost is recovered by the parent who initially invested. The task of keeping the children occupied is not as simple as it seems. They tend to get bored of similar jobs, hence variety is essential. While parents are relieved that their children are in safe hands at the Swayam centre, they are also happy that they don’t need to come up with tasks to keep their children engaged. “It’s very difficult to handle these children. They have less attention span. If you ask them to write three pages, they will do so for five or ten minutes. Parents are often at a loss as to how to keep their children occupied.” Apart from the jobs currently undertaken at Swayam, there are multiple other ideas in the offing. These children could undertake shopping (with the help of volunteers) for their clients, who could mail their shopping list online. This is just one example of the many utility oriented activities which are currently being brainstormed at Swayam. The market for Swayam seems to be continuously expanding. All the customers feel an emotional connection with Swayam and reward the children with repeat orders. Once the website is running, the market for Swayam products will be global while the key enterprise will be dependent on a neighbourhood support group. “There are so many things in the house we would want someone to do like cleaning, dusting, peeling vegetables. These things are done by our children. The key to making Swayam profitable is to find small products which could bring profits.” 75
    • Best of Message to Women Entrepreneurs “Don’t be lazy in life. Always try to empathize with others problems, and you never know the solution to a problem may turn out to be a business venture! Women tend to be soft on issues and discuss their problems with each other. If we utilize this, we can gain strength from each other. We play multiple roles in our lives. I have been a matchmaker and an educational consultant on occasions, apart from my regular job. If we compartmentalize our work, then multi tasking becomes simple.” “We should be more sensitive to social problems. Disability itself is a social problem. Its time these children are accepted in totality by society.” Lalitha believes that these children need not be kept at home. They too, can lead normal lives. Happiness lies at home, but exposure to the outside world keeps the children busy and helps them earn their livelihood at the same time. No donation, no charity. Only jobs. This is Lalitha’s motto for Swayam. She does not want the enterprise to be dependent on money from outside. One cannot help but admire her determination and strength. Looking at her sitting in her office at Kou-Chan, I realize that Lalitha has definitely succeeded as a mother as well as a social entrepreneur. It does not matter how many lives she has touched. Even if she has given one day of ‘normal’ living to a child, one day of living with his 76
    • Lalitha Bilgi head held high and with a smile on his face; then Swayam lives its name. And that’s all that matters at the end of the day. Lalitha can be contacted at; References India Employee Communication News, August 2007 Wikipedia Management Program for Women Entrepreneurs (MPWE) at IIM Bangalore Excerpts from Inspiring Women to Start Innovative Enterprises (Genre: Job & Career) by Sria Majumdar. The book narrates the story of nine women entrepreneur from diverse fields. The author has presented various new ideas being tried out by these first generation entrepreneurs. These stories will inspire more women to create such innovative enterprises. Sria Majumdar is currently an undergraduate student at the Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology, Nagpur and is pursuing her B.Tech in Mechanical Engineering 77
    • Motorcycle I do not know whether you would believe it or not. However I believe it to some extent. That day a motorcycle came into my life, in all probability, from the left corner. I did not know how it happened. It might be I was feeling jealous of my neighbour, day in and day out, traveling by his motorcycle while I waited for a bus at the bus-stop. He would roar past me, while I would feel bore, waiting, waiting and waiting for my bus. All of a sudden, I decided to buy a motorcycle and finally got a second hand motorcycle. It was then I remembered that I did not know how to ride it. I began to learn to ride and before anybody could understand what I was doing, as I and the motorcycle were an unusual combination, I quickly reached B.M. – Bachelor of Motorcycling. I was thinking of completing M.M. – Master of Motorcycling – and opening a training centre for the juniors. As expected by all, I came to know that it was not so easy to ride a motorcycle, and experienced some great falls from the motorcycle. Everybody had anticipated me to give up this dream of riding a 78
    • Motorcycle motorcycle, especially my neighbour who had started to wear sun glasses even if there were no sunlight to avoid. I knew what he was avoiding. Encouraging me, my professor who had done Ph.D. said, ‘You would learn something new every time you would fall from the motorcycle.’ He told me the absolute truth. Later I came to know every time I fell, I experienced pains at different parts of my body. Sometimes red blood peeped out of the flesh. Sometimes skipping, jumping out drop by drop or flowing down my body to kiss the earth to be swallowed by it. My blood vanished into the earth here and reappeared to flow with Indian Ocean, I hoped. Nevertheless we stood still in the field and returned home after winning. Next day professor said, ‘You have gained enough experience to ride the motorcycle on the main road. Go, brave man, go.’ I looked worried but the professor was confident, exposing his 70mm smile. I followed his suggestion and tried my best to show all and sundry by the expression of my face that I had full confidence upon myself and was ready to face any danger which might come in my way. Although I was all alert, the danger struck, most probably from the left corner. Suddenly a dog came before my motorcycle. I turned my motorcycle to an angle of about 40 degree which made the front tyre to go just touching the ankle of a girl; she shrieked, fell to the ground and shrieked, while my motorcycle collided with two bricks, went out of my control, shrieking and throwing me to the ground beside that girl and lay silent. I looked into her eyes while she looked into mine. I thought I would receive good beating from her, with her 79
    • Best of high heeled shoes. ‘Oh! My god! Save me! Save me! Her shoes have pointed heels,’ I murmured. My whole body with its flesh and bones began to shiver at the mere thought of them. But nothing happened like I had thought. I also turned my eyes from her sharp eyes for there was a great risk of getting hypnotized. My motorcycle did not hurt her much. Blood only peeped out. It had no intention to skip, jump or to flow down her to vanish into the earth. I also told her, ‘I am sorry.’ Next day I again met her. This time there was neither a dog, nor any brick. Her enraptured smile threw me out of my motorcycle to the ground. Blood only peeped out. When she had a splendid opportunity to talk with me, she told me, ‘You have knocked the door of my heart.’ After a brief pause, as I was active in thinking when I did knock, she continued: ‘And I have opened the door’. I had read enough biology but the door of a heart seemed to me a strange fact I had ever come across. She also added, ‘I am in love.’ Almost singing, she repeated, ‘I am in love.’ I wondered she would start to sing the love song from the movie ‘Dhadkan’. But she was not Shilpa Shetty. And I was not Akshaye Kumar. I thought ‘She fell in love with my motorcycle’, as I did not do anything to bring about this type of result. In that accident she liked the delicate touch of my motorcycle. So she did not complain anything. Smiling and exposing her two broken teeth, she added more, ‘You have not only fallen beside me but also succeeded in making enough place for you in my heart by going into my heart by way of my eyes.’ 80
    • Motorcycle But I could still remember that I was beside her and had never thought of making a place for myself in her heart. I told her so. But she was not ready to listen to me. I tried to bribe her by offering her an Amul chocolate and simply told her to forget everything. She rejected my offer and surprised me by saying, ‘Amul chocolate is usually given as a gift to someone one loves. I would remember it as your first gift. I would never eat it. I would keep it as your first gift.’ I tried my best to slip out of her hands like a fish caught in the net tries to escape; but I could not. This net was wider than ‘World Wide Web’. Then believe it or not, digest it or not, I found myself trapped in the web of marriage. We had nothing more on earth to do in our leisure than to roam about on our motorcycle. But the motorcycle did not like the sudden admission of a new partner. Whenever we were going somewhere together, my motorcycle would go for some minutes and then all of a sudden it would stop with a roar of unwillingness to go any further. After that it would need the gentle touch of a mechanic to get it move an inch or start. Many times, my wife would curse herself for not having satisfied herself with the Amul chocolate only. ‘I am going to eat it today.’ she had told me once and copied it several times. Finally it was decided by me that the motorcycle was to be get rid off as soon as possible. But no sensible person was ready to buy my motorcycle. The buyers would come, have a glance at it and turn their face away from it. It was not ugly at all. Poets could chant their best poems about its physique and their imagination could run wild, wild and wild if they were to write a book about it. It was something else 81
    • Best of that turned off the interest in the customers. On numerous occasions, I endeavoured hard to turn it on, but failed to find its main switch. Then I had a plan. A brilliant one, I presumed. I kept the motorcycle with the key on it for the whole night thinking that the thieves would strike. I prayed to god and promised to give him personally a packet of Amul Chocolate, if I were successful in getting rid of my favorite motorcycle. But in the morning I found it still there where I had left it, unmoved and untouched. It seemed the thieves were also afraid to come near it. I lost my temper now. I thought of throwing it down the cliff. It was not a bad idea. But my kind heart would not let me treat it so badly. It was indeed too bad of me to think about it. Then my wife, the darling of my heart, while preparing something out of barley, gave me an idea which was brilliant diluted with a little sympathy. She was not aware that I would convert it to an idea when she said, ‘Listen, dear, why don’t you go to the supermarket and buy some things?’ And she gave a list as long as a bamboo tree without any coconuts. Then I realized one would not look for any coconut on a bamboo tree. I went to the supermarket with my motorcycle and returned without it. I thought while walking home, ‘Bravo! I am so intelligent’. But I was not strong at my heart. That night I could not sleep well as that motorcycle repeatedly came into my dreams. Next morning I did not take my breakfast as the charming face of my motorcycle was still dancing before my eyes. I even switched off my idiot box which narrated how a motorcycle was stolen from 82
    • Motorcycle a certain area. Then a police inspector arrived. My motorcycle was with him. First of all he thanked me. When I did not understand the mystery, he stated describing the heroic deed of my motorcycle: ‘We succeeded in arresting a notorious smuggler who tried to escape on your motorcycle while we were after him. The motorcycle stopped suddenly leading that smuggler in our hands. I got your address from a diary found in the box of the motorcycle. Here is your property. It’s fantastic with its problem. Take care. And don’t forget the keys on it while you shop around.’ I was rewarded and got enough money to buy a new secondhand motorcycle. Now what happened to the old motorcycle? Well, I am still trying to throw it out of my life. Excerpts from The Alpha and The Omega and Other Stories (Genre: Literature & Fiction) by U. A. Kiran. The book is a collection of short stories depicting different characters, moods and situations. The characters are based on everyday people and situations. This gives a very authentic feel to the short stories U. A. Kiran is a Commerce graduate, born in Kerala, educated in West Bengal, employed in Andhra Pradesh and now based in Goa. 83
    • Marriage, Kids and other Problems A bachelor has no problems in life. A married man has no respite from them, unless he renounces everything like Buddha did, or runs away into the mountains never to return. The maximum number of jokes are on married life, even more than the dirty jokes. There must be something in these. Emotions which you have never experienced before can be easily experienced (sometimes in a day) when you are married. Understanding someone else’s point of view (I think the psychologists like to call this empathy) is forced on you, like it or not. Note that I have said understanding, not liking! If the urge to marry is strong, the urge to undo it is stronger, and felt many times during the course of one. Why it should arouse such strong emotions after a voluntary pact to cohabit, beats me. Maybe 84
    • Marriage, Kids and other Problems some research into our regressive genes or ‘out of order’ brain cells might one day explain why. Kids are a necessary byproduct of marriage, if you discount the small number of condom users. Again, one cannot really explain why, when given the choice of not having kids, most people (99.99999%, when research last came in) do not exercise this choice. Peer pressure could be the reason, coz it can make us do things we don’t want to. Like buying a new fridge, a new car, a new house, a new…oh, forget it! Sometimes, you feel sorry for the nice people at ICICI bank who might starve if you don’t buy anything with money borrowed from them. And so, you give in. In the olden days, if you want to believe Hindi films, the hero had to buy only one saree for the wife on his monthly salary day, and she would be happy. But with multiple credit cards and loans for shaving your head available at your beck and call, and pizza deliverers flocking at your doorstep, life is getting tough. Life can be lived on EMIs (Equated Monthly Instalments), and the bank can take you to the cleaners or send bouncers after you if you fail to pay up some of them. Terrorism takes on a completely different hue, if you consider these sobering perspectives. Planning a vacation becomes a nightmare, among other things. I would want to go to Kashmir, the kids to Kullu and the wife, to Kanyakumari, almost every year. So we went to Goa instead. Fortunately, most of us liked Goa, though maybe for different reasons. I, because drinking at 9 am is not taboo, and you can swim any time of the day, drink on the beach, etc. My kids probably because they 85
    • Best of could play or swim or lounge on the beach, and my wife, I am not sure why, but since she did not complain, I assume she liked it. It is difficult to figure out when exactly children cease to be cute and become (an expensive) pain in the neck. Sometime after five, I guess, mainly because you have to get them admitted into a school. Next to climbing Mount Everest with your eyes closed, this is the toughest thing an Indian parent can do. In the U.S., the trauma begins rather late (the college years) because schooling is almost free, but in India, it begins with pre-school, and goes on till Post Graduation. IIM admissions are a national pastime, with reporters (usually the PYTs or Pretty Young Things) breathlessly reporting on daily and hourly updates on things like the CAT cutoffs. I got married in 1988, and I enjoyed it for the first few years. The most fun thing about a marriage is (no, you are wrong) the arguments. These can be about anything and at any time. Whether it is about where to go out or whether to go out, or about whether the fan should be on or off, or whether about buying furniture, they can go on from minutes to hours, sometimes ending in long silences. I would have complete sympathy for the Buddha, even if it should be proved that he ran away from his wife without actually looking for any enlightenment. One good thing about a marriage (in India, to an Indian girl) used to be that the man gets an assured supply of food, and barring headaches and long silent periods, regular tosses in the hay (without the hay actually being there). Next generation, I am not certain about the food. Maybe eating out, or out of a TV dinner box will become common in India too. 86
    • Marriage, Kids and other Problems I wonder how single women who work manage on a salary. Married females in general behave as if they have an unlimited expense account. There seems to be a circuit in their brain that tells them to live (or rather, spend) as if there is no tomorrow. Shoes and bags, and a few other things too numerous to go into, are never enough. Thanks to the telecom boom, we now have five phones in a household of four people. What we communicate with various earthly beings, God only knows. But the bills do bring one down to earth. I heard one speaker at a seminar talking about how poor people skipped on milk for their children to buy a TV, but I wouldn’t be surprised one bit if a woman skips everything to speak on the phone. I think Maslow made a BIG mistake, when he did not include the NEED TO COMMUNICATE in his hierarchy of her needs, right at the top, along with food and sex, before these two. Excerpts from My Experiments with Half-truths (Genre: Humour) by Rajendra Nargundkar. This is a witty, free flowing and fun filled autobiography encompassing a wide array of topics ranging from education, travel, relationships, official tussles etc. The book traces the years the author spent at Hyderabad Public School, Osmania Engineering College, IIM Bangalore, and his later years as a marketing professor at IIML, IIMK, and various other B schools. Dr Rajendra Nargundkar is the Director of IFIM Business School, Bangalore. 87
    • Correspondences With An Unknown Mystic 19 Oct 2008 Dear Aruna, N amaskar. It is nice to learn from you that you are fine. In fact, I aspire to learn about the progress in your sadhana / meditation. As I learn that you are striking good balance in work, education, art, meditation, and sadhana, I wish you would have tremendous progress in LEARNING ABOUT YOURSELF. Is not learning about your SELF meditation? ‘The gospel of Buddha’, which I suggested to you to read is to make you reflect your PURSUIT OF SADANA AND UNDERSTANDING OF YOURSELF. This understanding of yourself is a way of liberation from all the past - pleasures and pains, and of the future - fear and craving. This understanding makes you to live in the Moment, in Now and in what is. This then is a truth. This then is Divine. This then is enlightenment. 88
    • Correspondences With An Unknown Mystic A constant AWARENESS makes you realise the truth. Your seeing the golden light is because of changes in the brain, due to Pranayama. Ancient philosophers call this light “SPOTA” (correctly spelt?). Do not PURSUE this SEEING of this light. If you pursue, you will be stuck with it. Be AWARE of all these things. The more you progress, you will learn that the world that you see through / with the senses, is Maya. People who see this light- (throughout the universe) constantly changing, always in motion, communicating, loving are awe struck with wonder and sing on calling it NARAYANA - ISHWARA OR SAKTHI. Do not name it. That is it. May the Divine bless you. When I told you to write down your experiences, it is THIS type of experiences that I want you to note down. Because this vision, these experiences needs understanding. Can you please write about how you feel after these experiences? You need to eat well and drink water and take energy foods. You are fragile. That is why I have to stress more on your health. This sadhana needs a strong body and strong mind. I mean, not the strength of a banyan tree, but the strength of a flower, dancing, holding amongst the gushing winds. I shall send my writings on education shortly. Take care. With love Krishna 20 Oct 2008 Dear Sir, Namaskar. Please find my comments below: YOU WROTE: 89
    • Best of Namaskar. It is nice to learn from you that you are fine. In fact I aspire to learn about the progress in your Sadhana / meditation. I feel expansive during meditation on most days. I see flashes of images/ scenes at times, but I do not focus on that, but let it go. However, I notice a real change in my attitude and in my daily life. Will write more on this soon. YOU WROTE: As I learn that you are striking good balance in work, education, art, meditation, and sadhana, I wish you would have tremendous progress in LEARNING ABOUT YOURSELF. Is not learning about yourSELF meditation? Yes, I need to understand myself and I am going to sit down one day and reflect on my past- the major and memorable incidents that have happened in my life and the mistakes I make, what motivates me etc. I do this once/ twice a year during special occasions. YOU WROTE: The gospel of Buddha, which I suggested you to read is to make you reflect your PURSUIT OF SADANA AND UNDERSTANDING OF YOURSELF. This understanding of yourself is a way of liberation from all the past - pleasures and pains, and of the future - fear and craving. This understanding makes you to live in the Moment, in Now and in what is. This then is a truth. This then is Divine. This then is enlightenment. There is so much in this book that I want to really remember and follow in life. I am marking selected text when I am reading. Once 90
    • Correspondences With An Unknown Mystic I have read it fully, I will come back to these paragraphs and spend more time contemplating the meaning of these words. YOU WROTE: A constant AWARENESS makes you to realise the truth. Your seeing the golden light is because of changes in the brain, due to Pranayama. Ancient philosophers call this light “SPOTA”(correctly spelt?) I have never heard of this term Spota. YOU WROTE: When I told you to write down your experiences, it is THIS type of experiences that I want you to note down. Because this vision this experiences needs understanding. Can you please write about how you feel after these experiences? I did not feel anything different after I saw these lit- tle moving lights. I continued with the yogasanas and felt normal. I thought it could be because of flow of blood /pra- na to the head and was surprised and a bit curious as well. Bye for now, With love Aruna 21 Oct 2008 Dear Aruna, Namaskar. 91
    • Best of I am glad to receive your detailed mail. Glad to learn that you are fine YOU WROTE: I feel expansive during meditation on most days. I see flashes of images/ scenes at times, but I do not focus on that, but let it go. However, I notice a real change in my attitude and in my daily life. Will write more on this soon. This expansiveness is the mind seeing the consciousness. Once you dwell in consciousness, your whole living, whatever be the pursuit, works, relationships, love, outlook, becomes / is Divine. Your being is transformed. There is absolute silence. That is not the silence of the caves. This silence is rich. This silence is dynamic. This silence is the movement of the universe beyond the senses, body, mind. Until such time sadhana is required. This expansiveness, images, scenes are not to be PURSUED. At the same time, they should not be overlooked. BE OBSERVANT AND AWARE OF THIS. Like the wind it comes and goes. Do not pursue when it goes. When you pursue these images, scenes, you will see clearly. The pursuit of these images, scenes will make the mind imagine, create and triggers the ego of achievement and strengthens the self. As long as the self is there, there is no realisation / enlightenment. But losing the self is ignorance. IT IS TO UNDERSTAND THAT YOUR SELF IS THE SELF OF THE UNIVERSE. TO REALISE THIS IS ENLIGHTENMENT. AND TO MOVE, SPEAK, LIVE ONE WITH THE SELF OF THE UNIVERSE IS THE LIFE DIVINE. And you will realise this. 92
    • Correspondences With An Unknown Mystic Stick to all the positive changes that brings in your moment to moment living. YOU WROTE: Yes, I need to understand myself and I am going to sit down one day and reflect on my past- the major and memorable incidents that have happened in my life and the mistakes I make, what motivates me etc. I do this once/ twice a year during special occasions. Understanding oneself may help to plan and to draw a blue print of life to live. But one’s life is not so simple, that we can have a master plan and try to live by that. All major incidents of one’s life do not go away from the memory. Any recalling of the past only gives rise to sensations. And the mind captured by sensations pursues further sensations. Do you know that all life has sex to procreate. But man and woman brood over the experience again and again in their minds. This brooding gives a sensation and thereby leads to perversion. Young lovers do brood. The boy thinks and tries to give a meaning to the girls words, smile, clasp, etc. The girl recalls the moments she spent with the boy and replays in her mind. This RECALLING / BROODING strengthens the experience and leads both of them to a point that each thinks and feels that they cannot live without the other. Each person’s mind is occupied by the other in totality. And there is a craving and longing to be in each other’s presence. Hence, UNDERSTANDING and BEING AWARE IS EVERY MOMENT’S BUSINESS. One has to die to all that is past. (Let the dead past bury its dead.- Kipling) Only then the new, the self, which hitherto the mind has not experienced shall come into being. 93
    • Best of If a girl is talking to a boy, you can observe that her toes on her legs, especially the big toe raises. This you can observe in India very much. The girl is not aware of this. Total observation / awareness of oneself in every moment is what is required. Because this awareness makes you to live totally, wholly and then there is no need to look back at the past. Have I stated clearly? YOU WROTE: There is so much in this book that I want to really remember and follow in life. I am marking selected text when I am reading. Once I have read it fully, I will come back to these paragraphs and spend more time contemplating the meaning of these words. The sadhana you practice and the teachings of Buddha appears to be in opposite. The difference is only by which part / element of your existence that you practice sadhana and try to realise the truth or Divine. Buddha takes hold of the functioning of the mind and discerns the awareness as the means, THE BEST MEANS, HITHERTO IN THE HISTORY OF ENLIGHTENED LIFE. The sadhana you practice is taking all the elements of your existence. Buddha’s life and times are different from yours. Your life and times are different. You have to learn, teach, preach, share, love, and still be an enlightened person like KRISHNA. YOU WROTE: I have never heard of this term Spota. The correct spelling is Sphota. The universe is manifested as NAME AND THEN AS FORM. The whole universe is name and form. Swami Vivekananda spoke, “All this expressed sensible 94
    • Correspondences With An Unknown Mystic universe is the form, behind which stands the eternal inexpressible sphota, the manifested as LOGOS OR WORD.” If you further want understanding on this, please see the dictionary for the meaning. The dictionary I have do not carry this word. To know further on this, you can refer the Book `Bhakthi Yoga’ under the chapter – ‘The Mantra OM: Word and Wisdom’. YOU WROTE: This only happens when I do the Thirigona asana. I do not place much importance on this, but I will continue recording anything like this which happens. After this asana come back to the relaxed position for 1-3-5 minutes and breathe normally. The relaxed position is the position you remain before doing an asana. Each asana has a position you stand or sit before doing an asana. That moment before attempting an asana is the position you draw all concentration and your consciousness flows in you to make the attempt. After doing the asana YOU HAVE TO REMAIN IN THIS ORIGINAL POSITION OF THAT ASANA - RELAX. Take care. With love, Krishna 95
    • Best of Excerpts from Correspondences With An Unknown Mystic (Genre: Religion & Spirituality, Self-Improvement) by Aruna Nadaraj. This book is a collection of correspondences between an enlightened master and a sincere spiritual seeker who is striving to realise God. It provides a deep insight into the mind of a seeker and the mind of an enlightened person. There is something for everyone in this book- from the mildly curious to those who are seriously interested in spirituality. . Aruna is a spiritual aspirant who constantly strives to realize the Divine. 96
    • The Moon’s Complexion H annah sat up and looked at her watch. Three hours had passed. She’d dropped off to sleep. Hardly surprising, as she’d been up all night. Now she felt wide-awake, buoyed up by her escape— evidence that she still had some fight left in her. She smiled. You’ve not lost it, gal, she told herself, but a little help wouldn’t go amiss. She passed the time reading up on Bangalore in her guidebook. She discovered that the capital of the state of Karnataka was the fastest-growing city in India, a world center for the computer software Industry. The city was home to some of the greatest seats of education and learning in the whole of the sub-continent, its scientific institutions counting as among the best in the world. The language spoken was mainly the local Kannada, but Tamil was widely understood due to the presence of a large minority from the neighboring state of Tamil Nadu. The geographical features of Karnataka ranged from thriving cities to mountainous wilderness, from ancient temples to tiger reserves, from the jungle to the sea. 97
    • Best of By late afternoon, Hannah’s clothes were dry enough to wear. At half past four, the telephone rang. “Hannah? Oh, hallo, it’s Ashok Rao here. Sorry I was out when you phoned.” “Ashok! What a relief.” The words slipped out, before embarrassment caught up with them. “I mean...well, sorry, hope I’m not being a nuisance...” “Is something wrong?” “Look, I’m in a spot of bother. Are you free?” “Yes, of course. How about if I pick you up at the hotel at around seven, and we get something to eat.” “Great, but you couldn’t make it earlier, could you? On top of everything else, I’ve lost my luggage—tell you about it later. Is there somewhere I can do some clothes shopping?” “Yes, sure. I’ll be round in half hour and take you to Commercial Street.” He arrived on the dot and knocked gently at her door. “Hallo, it’s me, Ashok.” His voice sent an unexpected shiver of pleasure down Hannah’s spine. She opened the door. He looked down at her, for he was some four inches taller than she was, his dark eyes sincere, a lock of black hair straying across his forehead, a half-smile forming on his lips. Gosh, Hannah thought, as she felt her heartbeat quicken. Gosh. 98
    • The Moon’s Complexion “Namaskara,” he said, breaking a moment’s awkwardness. “Nice to see you again.” “And you. Thanks for coming.” “Here—I’ve brought you this. Evenings get a bit chilly.” Hannah unfolded a huge, light woolen shawl. It was double- sided, green on one side and maroon on the reverse. The weaving was intricate and beautiful. She wrapped herself inside it. It covered her completely, and she twirled around, laughing. “It’s enchanted. I feel as if I’m floating in gossamer.” Behave, she warned herself. Of course it’s simply the shawl that’s making me feel light-headed. “It’s Kashmiri,” Ashok said, adding, “Suits you.” “Thank you. It’s very kind of you.” “No problem.” After a moment’s pause, he continued. “You said something was wrong.” “Yes.” On the flight to India, Hannah had felt an inexplicable accord with this man. Now, as they stood awkwardly in the doorway of her hotel room, the feeling had already been rekindled. But she had learned to be cautious. She didn’t feel inclined to pour out her heart. Not yet. “Can I tell you about it later? Over a meal?” Outside the hotel, they commandeered one of the waiting autorickshaws. Hannah scrambled in awkwardly and slid across the 99
    • Best of seat to make room for Ashok, who, despite having to bend almost double, managed the maneuver with a grace that had eluded her. “Not designed for well-fed foreigners like us!” he commented. “Whoops…sorry…didn’t mean to imply...” “Don’t worry. Been feeling like Dumbo’s mother ever since I got off the plane.” “Dumbo’s mother? Dumbo, maybe, but his mother? That’s taking things a bit far.” “Gee, thanks a bunch. You’ve made me feel a lot better.” “Well, you don’t deserve to. Poking fun at elephants.” “Sorry. Hope there weren’t any listening, though I suspect that at least one was.” Her eyes gestured to the little shrine, festooned with tinsel and wilted marigolds, sitting on the rickshaw’s dashboard. Ashok smiled. “Aha, you can be quite sure Ganesh is listening. But he’s a god: son of Shiva, with head of elephant, not quite the same thing.” “So how come you regard yourself as a foreigner? Thrown off the shackles of your native soil?” “No, not at all. I suppose it’s a trick being played on my mind. It seems as if, when I’m in England, the Indian part of me yearns to be set free, but back here the Englishman in me sometimes slips out.” The rickshaw pulled up at the end of a narrow alleyway, crowded with shoppers. 100
    • The Moon’s Complexion “Come on. Down there is Commercial Street. Great place for clothes.” Ashok steered her through the crowds on the bazaar-like alley and out onto Commercial Street, where she was plunged into a world of noise and color and light. Shops and state emporia fell higgledy- piggledy over one another,bulging with advertisements and neon lights, crowded and cluttered with every kind of item imaginable on display: shops selling bags and suitcases, saris and shalwar kameez, cheap jewelry; heavily-fortified gold shops with entry-phones and guards; and fruit sellers and food stalls exuding mouth-watering aromas that drew Hannah’s attention to the length of time since her last meal. They made their way slowly up the street, their progress hampered by beggar children and half-dissolved lepers tugging at their clothing, and by the sheer volume of people flowing past them. A man tried to sell them an umbrella that you wore on your head. “How about trying out some local fashions?” Ashok said. “Much cheaper than trying to buy European clothes here. Better, too.” “Brilliant! I’d love to...” She was about to add go native then stopped herself. Two hours later, Hannah, clutching her purchases, found herself being ushered by Ashok up four flights of hotel stairs to a top floor restaurant. “Power cut—no lift,” he said, “but I think you’ll find the climb worthwhile.” 101
    • Best of Before they even reached the fourth floor, the aroma of freshly pounded spices wafted tantalizingly down from the restaurant to welcome them. A table by the stairwell; roti-bakers at work across the room; the rhythmic slap, slap, slap of a score of hands beating out the dough into thin circles; the fires from many ovens playing on the bakers’ faces and rekindling them into works of art. “You should have brought your camera,” Ashok said. “Plenty of faces among that lot for your next book.” Hannah remembered telling him on the plane. Professional photographer. Going to India to take photos for a coffee-table book. Now she’d even lost the camera. How could she ask this man to help her and yet keep half the truth from him? But how could she level with him until she was sure about him? And if he turned out to be that Ashok Rao, wouldn’t it be harder, not simpler, to come clean? Take it easy, she told herself. Get to know him. At least test the water before you throw yourself in. The food arrived. Little measures of different vegetable mixtures and chutneys carefully ladled onto their banana-leaf plates. Freshly baked rotis and bowls of rice. “Didn’t realize how hungry I was.” “Enjoy. We call this baingan bharta. It’s from the north—a favorite of mine.” Hannah scooped a little of the mixture onto a corner of her roti and tasted it. Her eyes opened wide. “But this is incredible. This is exactly 102
    • The Moon’s Complexion what my grandmother used to make. It was a favorite of mine, too.” “Your grandmother made baingan bharta?” “Yes—well, she didn’t call it that. I think she just called it mashed eggplant. But the ingredients must have been very similar…” “…aubergines, tomatoes…” “…chilies, onion—I think the onions were raw, but that’s the only difference.” “Amazing.” “Yes, amazing. My grandfather came from Romania—he taught Grandma how to make it.” “Perhaps not so amazing then. They say the Romanies came from India and some traveled west via Romania. Perhaps you have Romany blood.” “Maybe I have Indian ancestors.” By now, any residual formality had been swept aside. Words tumbled between them like acrobats. Hannah took more food from her banana-leaf plate and transferred it to her mouth via the roti, using her fingers as deftly as if she had been eating this way all her life. “That’s pretty good,” Ashok replied. “Yes, you must have been an Indian in another life. Incidentally—that chudidar looks great on you.” He nodded at her simple, silver-gray outfit: long dress over loose, tapered leggings, gathered round the ankles, matching chiffon 103
    • Best of dupatta slung back across her shoulders. “You wear it well. A true Maharani.” “That’s made my day.” Her smile faded. “Perhaps it’ll make me less conspicuous.” Excerpts from The Moon’s Complexion (Genre: Literature & Fiction) by Irene Black. The book is a romantic thriller set in India. A distant tragedy turns the lives of an Indian doctor and a British journalist upside down when, newly arrived from England, they meet in India and discover a secret that binds them together as they flee from a dangerous stalker. Irene Black is based in Surrey and has won numerous national and international awards. 104
    • , , - - - - , - - - 105
    • Best of - - , ," , " , ," , , , " 106
    • - ,“ , , " ," , - - ?" , , 107
    • Best of Excerpts from Phuljhadiyan (Genre: Children) by Priyanka Gupta. This is a collection of short stories for the children. They are written in simple Hindi and cover common everyday topics. However, the narration is charming and elegant. The stories entertain as well as teach morals to the children. Priyanka Gupta is writing since a tender age of 7-8 years. 108
    • Of Education, Learnings & Knowledge I was waiting for the security check call at the departure lounge of an Airport. Sitting at a distance from me, a co-passenger was puffing a cigarette. Right in front of him was a prominently hung florescent-lit notice prohibiting smoking in public places and warning attraction of a fine of Rs.500/- if caught defying the order. What surprised me most was that all the while his eyes had also remained rooted to it. He was a fine looking and impeccably dressed man in his middle-age. Do you think he was not literate? What to speak of being literate, he must be a highly qualified person! This incident took me back on the timeline somewhere in the eighties when I was serving in Mumbai (then Bombay). I had a senior who was once discussing with us the socio-economic problems of our country. By the by he stated that India’s problems were not just because many of her citizens were illiterates but many of her so-called educated people often behave in an ill-educated manner. Defining 109
    • Best of education he said, “According to Rig Veda, education is a process of learning to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong; to say or do in a situation and sticking to the right at a similar situation in future.” I did not check the veracity of the authority quoted for the saying but it appealed to me profoundly and has, therefore, stayed so long with me. From the above definition of education, two things are clear. Since life, at every point in its journey, has to deal with a combination of some situations which are similar to the ones confronted in the past and others for the first time, the process of education never ends. In other words, education continues for the whole life. It does neither end on obtaining a desired academic degree nor on getting into an earning mode. Secondly, education is invariably a value education. If education has not helped a person in instilling in him a sense of right and wrong and accordingly, in guiding his behaviour, then it is not an education at all. What is learning? That which surprises us is our learning. As a part of training, I have to sometimes take the participants for field visits. Next day we would have sessions on ‘Learnings from field visit’. In one such session, a participant said that it surprised him to see a seventh- class read village woman member of a local self-help thrifts and loans group flawlessly maintaining accounts on the lines of double-entry bookkeeping system. Yes. It was a case of learning for him. A person was earlier known to be very supportive to you, but on one occasion you were surprised to see him behave in an altogether different manner. That was again a point of learning for you about that person. 110
    • Of Education, Learnings & Knowledge When does one get surprises? Although all of us live in one world, each one lives in his own world. All those attributes which together define a real world are not known to anybody. The concept of real world is, therefore, a myth. Whereas an experience of life is a reality. And a life is too short to experience all the facets, hues and moods of this phenomenal world. Only on the basis of whatever limited number of experiences one has gathered thus far in living a life, would he accordingly tend to develop his perceptions about the real world. Thus, in the same world, as many we are, so many are the perceptual worlds. And as are one’s perceptions about the world, so are the assumptions one develops in life in relating with all the events in it. In other words, assumptions sprung up from one’s perceptual world condition one’s way of filtering/ selecting the information from an event, organising them into a meaning and interpreting a message for oneself. When one comes across something which differs strikingly from what is considered to be valid in one’s world view of things, it makes one feel surprised. It follows, therefore, that more the surprises in life, more would be our learnings. And these learnings only ultimately help us to develop a wider set of assumptions as well as in transforming some of our existing assumptions into the ones which can relate well to a larger world view of things. If you want to get a lot more surprises in life, just try changing a matter, situation, person or even yourself ! What about knowledge? Being aware of all that which work and which don’t with or on something together bring into existence formally a knowledge about that thing. When we are required to 111
    • Best of work with and through something towards a goal, this knowledge about that thing helps us to do it effectively. Since knowledge forms the basis of action, unless your ‘self ’ first validates the truth about something, it would never consider it safe for you to work with and through it. In other words, a knowledge of others on anything is no knowledge for you until it has also received the inner validation from you. Obviously, for this inner validation to be possible, knowledge about anything should have existed in you as an a priori phenomenon or a pre-existed truth. Only then on your coming across a knowledge about something from an external source would it provide you with an opportunity for this inner validation to take place and make you accept it as well a truth for you. In this connection, it would be pertinent to quote what ‘The Mother’, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry said: “Knowledge about everything is always within us. Only it is waiting for an expression in our subconscious level. Men find a book or a teaching very wonderful and often you hear them say, ‘that is exactly what I myself feel and know, but I could not bring it out or express it as well as it is expressed here’. .... But, once expressed, he immediately recognises it and feels that it is truth. The knowledge that seems to come to you from outside is only an occasion for bringing out the knowledge that is within you.” (‘The Sunlit Path- Passages from Conversations and Writings of the Mother’ published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry). Hence the role of a teacher in our life.While conducting programmes in Shillong (Meghalaya) in a training establishment of a premier Public Sector Bank, I noticed a quote from Galileo’s writings put up on the 112
    • Of Education, Learnings & Knowledge wall inside the classroom by the authority there. It read, “You cannot teach a man anything. You can only help him discover it within himself.” Let us, therefore, recognize someone as our true teacher, if his/ her presence had at anytime in our life facilitated the mind to reach at least one layer of stored knowledge in our subconscious being and we could instantly and concurrently become aware of its presence within ourselves in such a manner that as if we knew it earlier but could not so far give it a conscious expression in our behaviour only due to lack of realisation. Excerpts from Treasured Slices From Life & Living (Genre: Self-Improvement) by Ranjit Kumar Das. The book is a collection of 101 articles on spiritual and philosophical thought. Replete with Hindu mythology, the book showcases the authors’ personal convictions on the subject with great clarity. A must read book for anyone who wishes to understand his own self. Mr. Ranjit K. Das is working with an All India Public Financial Institution. His works have been published extensively. 113
    • The harmony in my life I sit down on the sand, facing the ocean, far away from whispering couples and boisterous teenagers. In some dim corner of my mind, I notice the beauty of the marked moon. I notice how the moon light catches each of the rising waves, giving it its moment of glory before it dies—like my own life until now? At some sub-conscious level, I feel grateful for the stinging chillness of the wind hitting my face. But today, I will not let the calming elements of nature console me. Today, I want to think, alone. Instead, I cry. I cry for reasons I don’t fully understand. I cry until the wind dries my wet cheeks. I cry like a man who has lost, a man who is lost. And I have neither lost nor am lost. because she is still with me. *~*~* “I am getting married.” 114
    • The harmony in my life Priya says it in one of her matter-of-fact tones. She has several tones, their repertoire, almost a second nature to me, in just two years? I feel I know her like I know myself—natural, instinctive. So, I do what comes naturally to me. I laugh. “What’s so funny? He happens to be a sensitive, good looking gentleman...” and she adds, “Unlike you!”, when I continue to laugh. “Poor guy. Did he not take a good look at you?” “He did! And he happens to like me. A lot. He said he liked me from the time he met me first at the coffee shop!” “Oh...that guy. The oh-am-so-goody-goody-I-willturn-up- fifteen-minutes-early chap!” “Yes and that chap has a name, Arvind. Ok, Prem, please be serious, for once?” “As you wish, Madame. When do I get to meet him? Obviously you are joking about the marriage bit, right? You didn’t already say yes, did you?” I ask in mock anger. My feeble attempt to make her feel guilty. And I lose, as always. The girl never gives me a chance! “Of course not. That was just to get your attention. Am not saying yes, until you give the go-ahead, buddy!” And she tilts her head a bit to the side - something she always does when she is happy - and smiles. 115
    • Best of For a moment, I feel a pang of something I can’t quite put my finger on. I touch her lightly on the head and tousle her hair. “I am going to miss you, Priya.” She doesn’t say anything, just closes her eyes and leans against my hand for a few seconds. *~*~* “Excellent”, I make a little circle with my thumb and forefinger and Priya’s mom laughs. “Have some more idlis, Prem. You seem to be growing thinner by the day!” I am about to reply when Priya rushes in, “Amma, do you think I should wear a saree instead?” She looks adorable. “You look fat”, I say. “Amma! See what Prem is saying...” she turns to her mom, with a querulous tone in her voice. Her childish pout delights me. I grin and Priya’s mom rolls her eyes as if she were settling a fight between two children. She is still a child, at least to me. Just as she is about to walk off in a huff, I catch her hand and say, “Arvind is going to be swept off his feet today”. She has such an expectant twinkle in her eye, I suddenly feel protective about her—he better keep my Priya happy. My Priya? I 116
    • The harmony in my life smile to myself—not anymore. I let go of her hand and wonder for the first time if I really want Arvind to be swept off his feet... *~*~* That night, she calls me late in the night to tell me all about Arvind. “I was waiting for mom and dad to sleep. They had so many questions—‘Do you like him? Does he seem like a decent boy? Did he ask to meet again?’” I interrupt and let her catch her breath, “Well?” “Well? Well what?” “Well, do you like him? Did he ask to meet again?” “Uh huh” I wait and she says, “Prem?” “Still here.” “You know how all your life, you wait for this one perfect person? The one person who understands you even when you don’t say a thing? The one person who knows you better than yourself ? So much so that he completes your thoughts even before you have finished having them?” I wait for her answer. 117
    • Best of “...well, you know, that’s kind of impractical. There is no such person. Well, I have you but...” and then she pauses as if her own words confuse her. I realize I am holding the receiver tightly and I also realize I am holding my breath. Why? She is my friend and I should be happy for her. But, all I feel is a slight sense of relief that her perfect guy is just a figment of her imagination and Arvind is none of those. But, I assume more than her words imply. “...but you know, Arvind is sweet, patient and I think he adores me. He has that look in his eyes, you know what I mean? I can go on waiting for the right person and maybe I will never find him...but I just know that Arvind will keep me happy...” I still say nothing. “So?” “So...” “Will you meet Arvind?” “No.” Why did I say that? I should want to meet Arvind now, to make sure he is right for Priya—after all, I am her best friend, I should do this for her... And I hear myself say again, “No, Priya, not tomorrow. This week is not good for me...” 118
    • The harmony in my life “Prem, you promised! You have to meet him. He is waiting for me to say yes...” “Oh?” “...or no. Please, will you meet him sometime this week? Next week? I have told him so many things about you...” The idea of this stranger knowing me intimately, as Priya knows me, infuriates me. I know I am being irrational but several other feelings overpower the practical me. “Why? You didn’t have to go talking to your sweetheart about me behind my back!” “Prem, stop being silly. Remember the time when we went forty five minutes late to that Sudha Raghunathan music concert and we tried to bribe the gate-wallah to let us in...I was telling Arvind about that and we had such a must...” “I suppose he had a good laugh and preached about why I must be on time?” “No...Arvind said...” “Priya, all this talk about Arvind is getting really tiresome. Can we do this some other time? I have an early morning conference call to attend...” “Prem...ok”, she says in a small voice and I know she will cry after she hangs up. 119
    • Best of And still, I say bye and hang up. That night, sleep eludes me for a long time. Early morning, I have a dream about Arvind and Priya laughing and me! I wake up, feeling just not right. What is the matter with me? Am I just not ready to let go? Or am I confusing friendship with something else? Why is it that a part of me wants Arvind to hurt her so that she comes running to my arms? That can’t be love—I shouldn’t want to hurt if I am in love... I make up my mind. It’s just best for her and for me if I move away from her, for some time. Time will clear my thoughts and direct our lives. Time...that’s all I need. *~*~* The next few weeks, I feel miserable. I don’t return her calls. Her emails to me still announce that they are unread. I avoid her, perhaps hurting myself more than am hurting her. I hardly stay in my apartment, making my working days as long as possible and working even during the weekends. One dreary Saturday afternoon—it had rained the whole day; I remember because she walked in slightly shivering, rainwater dripping from her clothes—she decided I had given time enough time to steer our lives. She decided it was time she took our lives into her hands. She sits down next to me, the silence around us interrupted only by the constant pitter-patter of the rain outside. 120
    • The harmony in my life “I am sorry”, I say. “Yes, you are.” “I just thought I needed some time to sort life. Without you.” “You can’t.” “Sorry?” “Your life is a mess”, she smiles and it’s as if everything is the same between us, “What makes you think you can sort it out without me?” I smile at her and fight back an impulse to hug her tightly. “You think I will run away that easily and let you live your life the way you want to, you idiot?” She continues, “I can’t let go that easily, Prem. I know that you can’t either.” And I suddenly wonder who the child in our relationship is. “Priya, I know that. I don’t ever want to...” But, she doesn’t let me complete what I wanted to say. Instead, she talks about Arvind. She likes him. She wants to say yes and she is still waiting for me to say yes. And I say yes. Just like that. “But, you haven’t even met him!” 121
    • Best of “Yes, but I have heard a hundred things about him, from you. I am sure he will be a nice and boring husband, no surprises! And if he is not, I will kill him for you.” We laugh together and I wish I could make that moment last forever. *~*~* I know she is probably getting things ready for her engagement tomorrow. I know I should probably be with her now. I just can’t bring myself to face us together, one more time. So, I walk to the beach and sit down at her favorite spot. It reminds me of time spent in her company, of laughter, of friendship—of all the things close to my heart. And then I cry. I am not sure how long I have been sitting there. I think about friendship and love. I think about Priya and Arvind and I know we have taken the right decisions in our lives—Priya and Prem... I know it is Priya. Even before her hand touches my shoulders. Even before she sits down next to me and takes my hand in hers. I just know. And these are the little things that confuse me—this feeling of nothingness, lightness when she is around, it’s as if there is no other person sitting next to me—I can be myself—boring, witty, caustic, funny, whatever I want to be because I know she will understand... “I thought about it for a long time too”, she looks at the waves as she talks and for once, I see their turbulence reflected in her eyes. 122
    • The harmony in my life The wind carries her hair all around her tear-stained face, hiding it from me. She tries to smoothen out stray strands of hair with her right hand and the moonlight reveals a bride’s delicate hand—the henna has not even dried. “Arvind knows I’m here...with you. Everyone’s so excited - my parents, Arvind...they are all talking about the engagement and I just needed to be alone, to listen to the voices in my head. But, then I realized, I just wanted to hear you talk. I knew you’d be here.” We sit there, seemingly no different from the other couples who sit at the beach that day, holding hands. But we don’t whisper like them - the silence between us talks for us. I know we are different because we are friends. We were meant to be friends. To be anything else would be unnatural, incomplete. And that night, holding Priya’s hand, I know as she does that we will always be friends. “I love you Priya. I should have said this long back, without hurting you...I love you as I can love no one, perhaps not even…” “And I love you too...”, It’s as if the wind is whispering those words to me. “ a way, I can never love Arvind. I am sure I will be insanely possessive about him. I would not want his eyes to even dare settle on another pretty woman, I would want to own him, make him mine and I am looking forward to that. But you...are different. I don’t want to spoil what we have, by trying to thrust newer meanings to it. It is perfect as it is.” It was as if she had just read out my thoughts to me. 123
    • Best of And she, my thoughts, convinced me that our decision was taken if not rightly, at least for the right reasons. Sometimes, we gain by letting go but I had everything I wanted, I was letting go to gain nothing, to lose nothing. I was letting go so that I could still hear the harmony I hear now in the waves, in her words, in my thoughts, years later when I want to hear it again. And then, I hug her, without guilt, without thinking— my moment of glory. And I know she will always be with me. Excerpts from The Last Laugh (Genre: Romance) by Ramya Sethuraman. The book is a collection of intensely romantic short stories. The stories are set in Indian context and have a simplistic charm about them. It leaves you feeling poignant, at times nostalgic and touches your romantic core. Ramya Sethuraman is a software engineer with a penchant for telling tales. 124
    • How to Self Publish for Indian Market
    • Created with Inputs and Help from Jaya Jha, Nadeem Sani and Chandrima Pal ‘How to Self Publish for Indian Market’ by Pothi. com (Mudranik Technologies Pvt. Ltd.) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
    • Introduction T here is a writer in all of us. We write diaries and letters, poems, and stories, we blog and make office memos…. Perhaps the more serious among us write on professional topics. Apart from the utilitarian aspect, we write because we want to create something more permanent than the spoken word. Not everyone can be as successful as JK Rowling but that does not mean we cannot write as well. Maybe we haven’t got the opportunity to showcase our creation. Or perhaps we are intensely private and don’t want to share our thoughts with anyone except a few close friends. But wouldn’t it be great if you had the freedom and the means to convert your thoughts into a book? Whether it is a collection of your love letters meant as an anniversary gift, or a glimpse of your professional wisdom meant for colleagues and seniors – now you can 127
    • Best of publish anything with the help of modern technology. What’s more, you don’t even have to wait for an eternity to get your coveted book published. In this guide we look at self publishing using Print on Demand (POD) which enables low-cost publishing for printed books. Print on Demand is a technology which offers you the means to get your precious work printed quickly and cheaper, in the numbers you want. The Internet and a few friendly sites even help you market your books to the world. This booklet aims to explore the world of self publishing with you and answer some of the obvious and not-so-obvious issues which may crop up in your mind. It is divided into three main parts - What is Self Publishing?, What Every Self Publisher Should Know and Self Publishing at 128
    • Part I – What is Self Publishing? Publishing This is the process by which books, magazines and other reading material are produced and distributed among the readers. The aim is to make information, ideas, thoughts, stories available for public viewing and, maybe, make some money too. The process of publishing a book can be broken down into the following steps: • Selection of manuscript – This is the step where the struggling writer goes from pillar to post, hoping to draw the attention of some editor or publishing house. • Editing the book – Once a manuscript is selected, an editor starts cutting the flab -- doing away with what is unnecessary. Also under the scanner are language, syntax and readability. 129
    • Best of • Designing the book – Once the basic text is ready, it needs to be packaged the right way to appeal to the target audience. The designer’s job is to ensure, for example, that an Economics textbook does not have Katrina Kaif on the cover. • Printing – This crucial process can be handled in different ways, depending on the requirement. We shall discuss this in detail later. • Sales and marketing – Thousands of writers get their books printed every year. You need to let the readers know that your book is unique, luring them to buy it. You can have a great book but if the reader does not know about it, you may as well chuck it in the dustbin! The book needs to be distributed well so that every reader – or even a possible reader – gets to buy a copy at the nearest book shop. Publisher is a person or an organisation which takes the manuscript from the author and handles the processes outlined above. Self Publishing Self publishing is a special kind of publishing in which the author has complete control over all the aspects of publishing – preparing the book, printing and marketing the book. In fact, anyone – be it an individual or an organization – can self publish. 130
    • What is Self Publishing? Self Publishing: Advantages and Disadvantages Advantages • No need to spend time convincing publishers/agents. • The author is the boss and has complete control over content, design, pricing. • Faster way to get your book published. • Easy to publish books for a niche audience. Disadvantages • Needs financial investment for the publishing process - editing, designing, printing, marketing. • Lack of sales and marketing expertise. No pre-launch publicity, no launch hype with celebrities and media. • Chances of lower credibility because the book is not validated by an independent/traditional publisher. In India, these things do matter. When to Self Publish • Experts: If you are some sort of expert in anything, you could self publish a book targeted towards that audience. Expertise need not mean global fame. You could be a blogger on environmental issues with a following, for example. 131
    • Best of • Niche publications: The way the economics of traditional publishing works, if your audience is niche and small, publishers may not be interested in your book. If you have a way to access this niche audience and market your book, self publishing is the way to go. • Publishing as gift: A book can be published for gifting purposes or for distribution to friends and family. For example, you may want your book just for your family, or may want to surprise a friend by publishing his/her writings as a birthday gift. • Support to profession and brand building: A book can be published to establish your credibility and thought leadership in your profession. Coaches, training institutes and other professionals/organisations can publish a book themselves and distribute or sell them. It will help brand building. • Complete control over the book: If you do not like to succumb to the demands of the editors on how the book should start, read and end, self publishing is the option for you. Self Publishing and Print On Demand (POD) There is a difference between self publishing and Print on Demand. The two terms are often used interchangeably by most of us since POD is the most prevalent technology used by self publishers. But the two are not the same. 132
    • What is Self Publishing? Publishing is the entire process of preparing the manuscript, editing, designing the cover, printing, distribution and marketing. Printing is only one step in the process of publishing. At the printing stage, the publisher has to choose between two technologies – offset printing and POD. If the publisher is confident of selling a large number of copies (500+), then he may opt for offset printing. If the sale is not expected to be in large numbers, then even a normal publisher may prefer POD. In short, publishing is the entire process whereas POD is a technology which can be used by a full-fledged publisher as well as a self publisher. POD versus Offset Printing POD is a relatively new printing technology where the cost of printing does not depend on the number of copies being printed. This is essentially digital printing, where each copy is printed independent of the other. POD has its advantages and disadvantages. Advantages • Flexibility to print even a single copy at a time. The unit cost of printing one copy and 1,000 copies does not vary much. • Each copy can be personalised. You can even dedicate different copies to your different bosses or friends and earn brownie points, for instance. • The content can be updated over time at no cost since the printing is done directly from a soft copy. 133
    • Best of • Since one can print exactly the number of copies ordered for, with no significant addition to costs, there is no need to maintain dead inventory (unsold copies). • The entire process is faster. Disadvantages • The cost per copy is slightly higher as compared to bulk printing done by offset. • Although black and white/greyscale printing quality is now at par with offset, accurate colour reproduction may be an issue in some cases. Offset printing is a more prevalent and older technology. This involves setting the book in certain specialised software and cutting a plate of the image. The inked image is transferred (or ‘offset’) from a plate to a rubber blanket, then to the printing surface. The plate making process is costly and once made, the plates cannot be corrected or changed. Revision in the book requires cutting new plates. But once you create a plate, you can use it to generate a large number of copies. Therefore, one needs to print a large number of copies (typically 1,000+, minimum 500+) to distribute the cost of plates over all those copies. As a result, printing just a few copies is not cost-effective with offset printing; the cost per copy decreases with increase in the number of copies printed. Offset printing too has its advantages and disadvantages. 134
    • What is Self Publishing? Advantages • Per copy cost is low if number of copies is high. Works well with the current distribution setup in the industry. • Quality may be better, especially for coloured printing/ photo books. • Wider choice of printing paper and other production options are available. Disadvantages • Large upfront investment in bulk printing. Because of high setup costs, short print runs are not feasible • Need to maintain the inventory and logistics Binding The binding process involves folding, gathering, trimming, stitching, glueing, and/or casing of printed pages. The common types of binding available are: • Perfect bound: A paperback book where the title and author’s name are printed on the spine. Your book must have 70-80 pages for text to appear on the spine. • Saddle stitch: A stapled booklet. Best for very thin books. Your page count should be divisible by four. If it is not, the printer adds enough blank pages to the back of your book to make the page count divisible by four. 135
    • Best of • Dust jacket hardcover: A book bound in navy-blue linen with a full-colour dust jacket. • Casewrap hardcover: Full-colour, glossy cover; no dust jacket. Self Publishing Your Book You have finally finished your book and are dying to see it in print. Since you have decided to self publish, nobody prevents you from going ahead and printing copies of your book. But hang on, there are a few more tasks to be done, decisions to be taken before you can see the birth of your creation. As they say, haste makes waste. Step 1 – Finalise the content. You should not write a book and forget about revisiting it. You need to go through the manuscript in minute details and revise it if required. In the initial excitement of having completed the book, authors tend to overlook checking for mistakes in writing style. Remember, no matter how talented a writer you are, it always helps to have another person look over the entire book. The greatest writers in the world have had their work ruthlessly edited. Editing does not mean your book has to lose its style/flavour. As a self publisher, you retain the right of final judgement on anything. The editing options available to an independent author are • Professional editor.This is the costliest option. However, it will ensure that you get an unbiased professional look at your work from a third person’s perspective. 136
    • What is Self Publishing? General editing checklist Common mistakes we tend to commit in our writing Getting repetitive. Repetition – of a sentence or words or ideas – can be used as a tool to emphasise a point or an idea, but beyond a limit, it becomes counter productive. Narration, flow and writing style. The book should be consistent. The storytelling should not be disjointed or abrupt. The tense and narrator’s person should be consistent. The best writers break many rules, but they know the rules like the back of their hand before that. Contradictions. Care must be taken to ensure that the characters/information/incidents mentioned do not contradict each other in different parts of the manuscript. Readability. You need to ensure that the sentences are lucid and readable – not too long or complex. Clarity of narration. While editing, emphasis needs to be laid on checking that the narration is clear and conveys the ideas or description clearly. Check if certain portions need to be rewritten to improve clarity and narration. Flow of the book. The overall flow of the book needs to be logical. Check if the organisation of the chapters is fine or if it needs to be rearranged. 137
    • Best of Grammatical errors. Last, but not the least, the language needs to be grammatically correct. Sentence construction, prepositions and articles, punctuation, verbs, tenses, spellings – everything. Nothing will be a bigger turn-off for a potential reader than spotting a grammatical mistake in a book. • Editing by friend/acquaintance. You could approach a friend with good language skills to go over the manuscript and do a frank, ruthless critique. • Self editing. The third, option is to go over the manuscript yourself for spotting problems. This is the least you must do. Remember, errors can be spotted more easily if you review your manuscript after a gap – say, a couple of weeks. Step 2 – Design the book. The book design is in two parts – the interior of the book and the cover. Book interior. The layout, fonts, size, etc of the book needs to be designed according to the target audience. For instance, a children’s book will have more illustrations with larger, well spaced out fonts and an overall endearing look. On the other hand, a thriller will have a denser text with an easy-to-read font. Technical books are likely to have more diagrams and tables. Book cover. Unfortunately, most people do judge a book by its cover. So, design an eye-popping cover for your prized work. 138
    • What is Self Publishing? Suggestions for an attractive, effective book cover: • Do include the author’s photograph somewhere. This gives the author behind the book a personality and helps readers connect better. • Use the back cover to show positive reviews of the book and a gripping synopsis of its content. • The design of the front cover, title and subtitle should arouse the reader’s curiosity. • The book title and the author’s name should be printed on the spine for better visibility on a bookshelf. (This may not be possible for thinner books.) Step 3 - Printing. Earlier in this booklet, we had discussed the printing process and the two options available - bulk printing with offset or one-off/short run printing with Print on Demand. Your decision needs to be based on three main factors – • Estimate of the market size. If you are confident that the demand for your book is more than 500 copies, go for offset printing. In the event of a smaller demand, POD is a better option. To put things in perspective, a book selling more than 5,000 copies in India is considered a success by traditional publishing houses. Remember to factor in your actual marketing abilities when you are estimating the demand. Most well-known authors have a large, specialised promotion and marketing team working behind the scenes. As a self publisher, you 139
    • Best of will mostly be your own promoter and marketer. Self promotion is something which many of us Indians are not very good at given our upbringing where humility is highly valued. Marketing your book successfully will require a lot of aggressive self promotion, without which your book will be read only by your close friends and family. So shake off the humility and get going. • Genre of the book. In case the book is essentially a photo book or what is called a ‘coffee-table book’, you should go in for offset printing to ensure print clarity of the photographs. For a normal book, POD may be a better option. • Distribution options. If you see a possibility of getting a distributor, then, to get the prices right bulk printing is more suitable. If you are selling directly, through your own website or through the website of self publishing companies (like then you are better off with Print on Demand and short run printing. Read more about distribution options in the next section. One good thing to try could be to print a short run by POD, test market it, probably scout for publishers/distributors by showing it to them and depending on the response, go for bulk printing. Step 4 - Distribution. Distribution should not be confused with marketing. Marketing creates awareness and entices the reader to read the book. However, the book has to move from the printing press to the book store for the reader to buy it. Distribution is the process by which the book is made available to the reader. 140
    • What is Self Publishing? In a typical chain, the book travels from the publisher to the distributors. These are comparatively bigger stockists who usually look after a region or state. From the distributor, the book goes to the retailer (your nearby book shop is a retailer) where it is purchased by the individual reader. Typical margins1 (known as ‘discounts’ in the industry) are 40- 60% of MRP to retailer and 10-20% of MRP to the distributor/ wholesaler. This implies that for a book with a printed price of Rs 100, Rs 40–60 is pocketed by the retailer as profit and Rs 10-20 is pocketed by the distributor. The books are also generally distributed on a “fully returnable if not sold within a specific period (e.g. three months)” basis. This means upfront payment from the distributor is rare and they take no financial risk whatsoever. These numbers often surprise first timers, but these are the realities of the publishing industry. Online as well as offline retailers work with similar margins. Without contacts, getting a distributor is difficult for a self publisher. Distributors are picky about the books since they have to store the copies and sell it to the retailers. Even when you find a distributor, often they don’t really do a good job of getting your book to the retailer, i.e. the bookstore. The above information is not meant to discourage, but to give a realistic picture to the independent author/publisher. 1 For English Language publishing 141
    • Best of Options for Self Publishers Offline Distribution: • The best bet is to start with your local bookshops. Give away the book even for free at this stage. If it picks up, try and get to a distributor through the bookshop. • Sell it yourself, through your family and friends. Don’t give in to relatives asking for free copies! • Ask people around to explore the possibility of institutional selling (for example, company/school libraries). Works better for non-fiction books on specialised topics. Online Distribution: • Make your own website and sell the book through it. You can accept payment through PayPal (in dollars) or through cheque, demand drafts and electronic transfers. • There are self publishing companies (like which operate online book stores specifically for self publishing authors. • Get a distributor in a similar way for offline distribution. Check with them if they can get you listed on online book shops. As mentioned earlier, the distribution option you go for would also decide which printing technology is better for you. If you can get into traditional distribution, to get the prices right (refer to the margins above), you are better off going with bulk printing 142
    • What is Self Publishing? through offset technology. If you are selling yourself or through self- publishing company’s website, Print on Demand is a better option to avoid inventory and logistic hassles. Step 5: Marketing. Although marketing comes as the fifth step in publishing, fact is, the buzz should start even before writing. Marketing a book is all about building the author’s brand. It takes time and you have to work towards it. If you recall the hype surrounding release of a Dan Brown or a JK Rowling book, you will understand the concept. The books sell on the author’s reputation, which is created by a team of professionals representing a publishing house. This obviously is a limitation for an independent author who has chosen to self publish. But the good news is, with the Internet, everyone has a free and effective marketing tool to reach their audience. This works especially well when going for POD. You can get your readers, book orders and then have the book printed. It is important for the author to build a brand before trying to sell the book. Just coming online with a book to sell won’t be effective. • There are many social and professional networking Internet sites where you can promote your work. Among them Orkut, Facebook and Twitter have the largest following. Build your profile on these sites to market your book economically and effectively. But build up your credentials before making your sales pitch. • If you have written a book about your professional expertise, market it on professional sites like Linkedin where you can join groups with shared interests. Also explore book 143
    • Best of centred websites like Shelfari and Librarything which provide excellent opportunities for marketing. • Adding your book to Google book search displays it in relevant search results. • You can also create a website about your book. Request a friend or some prominent personality to write a review of your book and post it on your site as well as their networking sites. You could even write about your own experiences while writing the book. • Put up extracts from your book on your website for others to read. This will catch the reader’s interest and help sell your book. Don’t worry too much about piracy. Nobody is interested in a great but unknown manuscript. Book pirates only target bestsellers. Apart from the Internet, you could also arrange for a press release in the local newspapers. If you know someone in the print media, you could have reviews of your book published in newspapers/magazines. Remember: • It is easier to market a non-fiction book in your area of expertise rather than fiction or poetry. • Think about your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). The market is flooded with books and other content mediums. Why should someone buy your book? In the next section, a few tips for the debutant self publisher. 144
    • Part II – What Every Self Publisher Should Know ISBN ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number, a unique code that can be assigned to a book. This is a system developed and adopted by the International Organisation for Standardisation to uniquely identify each published book. Assignment of ISBN Each country has their designated ISBN agency which is responsible for allotment of ISBNs for the books published in their country. In some countries there are also resellers of ISBN apart from the agency. In India, the only agency authorised to issue an ISBN is Raja Rammohan Roy National Agency for ISBN, which comes under Ministry of Human Resource Department. As of now, there are no authorised resellers of ISBN in India. 145
    • Best of Who should get the ISBN ISBNs are issued to publishers, who can then assign them to each of the books published by them. No one other than the publisher should assign an ISBN to the book. For a self publisher in India, it means that they should not get an ISBN from anybody except directly through the agency issued in his/her name. That would be the correct way of getting the ISBN. The process of getting an ISBN assigned is simple and it is explained later in this guide. Importance of ISBN • ISBN helps in compilation of published book in directories and bibliographic records. • It helps everyone in the distribution chain track the movement of the books. • It helps in collection of sales data of books. In India, however, the ISBN is yet to be adopted by the majority and many parts of the distribution process are not automated. So, the real advantage of ISBN is not that high. However, if you want to go through the traditional distribution channels for your book, it would be useful to get an ISBN. Most organised and online retailers need an ISBN assigned for a book to be sold through them. ISBN for Self Publishers in India As mentioned earlier, ISBNs are given to publishers to assign to the books they publish. Earlier ISBNs were allotted only in blocks. But 146
    • What Every Self Publisher Should Know the good news is individual ISBNs can now be allotted to individuals who are self publishing. And getting an ISBN in India is free. You need to send an application to the Raja Rammohan Roy National Agency for ISBN with the details of your book, photocopy of the cover page, identity proof and a self-addressed envelope for return communication. A template for this application form is provided as Appendix I along with the address of the agency. Copyright2 Copyright is a form of intellectual property that gives the author of an original work exclusive right for a certain time period in relation to that work, including its publication, distribution and adaptation, after which time the work is said to enter the public domain. Protecting your copyright Copyright issues in India are governed primarily by The Copyright Act of 1957. Some of the important aspects of copyright law are: • Protection under copyright law kicks in as soon as the work is written. No formality or registration is required to claim copyright. This is unlike patents. Protection under patents is not given if the invention is not registered as patented. But copyright law works differently. Registration of copyright is strictly optional. 2 All the content under this section is for informational purpose only and is NOT supposed to be legal guidance or opinion. For any confusion or details check out Copyright Office’s website or consult an Intellectual Property (IP) lawyer. 147
    • Best of • If a dispute occurs, the registration of copyright can come in as a handy proof, but it’s not mandatory and does not stop anyone from starting the dispute against you. • Copyright law, in general, would not protect the name of your book and other short phrases. This means, registering a copyright does not mean your book will have a unique name. • If you do want to register the copyright, the details are available on the Copyright office’s website (http:// The FAQ [Frequently Asked Questions] section can be really useful. • If the paperwork is difficult for you, you should contact an Intellectual Property lawyer for help. The minimum expense in this case would be approximately Rs 10,000. Not violating other people’s copyright This is also an important aspect to be kept in mind while writing and publishing your book. You should not, knowingly or unknowingly, violate the copyright of other people’s work. Here are some thumb rules: • Just because some content is available on Internet, it does not mean you have the right to copy it. Carefully check the license under which the content is released before using it. • If no license information is available, assume that you don’t have the right to reproduce the material. In that case, 148
    • What Every Self Publisher Should Know either limit any reproduction to small excerpts and give reference to the original source to be within the limit of “fair use” clause and ethics; or ask for explicit permission from the content owner. • Do not download and use images from the Internet without checking the license or getting explicit permission from the owners. • Do not reproduce complete data sets, tables, graphs, etc without permission from the owner of the material. • If you are unable to locate or contact the owner and must use some content, then put a clear disclaimer somewhere stating that if someone thinks their copyright is violated they can contact you. Remember, as the publisher of the book, you are the one who is finally responsible for the content of the book. For further details of copyright law, copyright registration and protection, visit the Copyright office’s website at http://www. or consult an Intellectual Property (IP) lawyer. 149
    • Part III – Self Publishing at S o you have read through the initial part of this booklet and have a fair idea of what self publishing is all about. You have a manuscript ready or intend to finish it as soon as you get that last chapter sorted out in your head. And you are dying to see your work get published. Welcome, you are at the right place. At, we convert your dream manuscript into a book. Publishing at can be surprisingly simple. You can become a published author just by uploading your manuscript on, deciding on the royalty you want to earn, and getting it listed on online store. Besides the typical Print on Demand publishing process, also supports private publishing (publishing without listing on’s store), e-book printing, etc. By default, is adapted to POD, but you can specify in case you want 150
    • Self Publishing at bulk printing done. The economics and the methodology for bulk printing are slightly different since it involves a different technology and maintaining an inventory. The rest of the section gives an overview of the publishing services and tools available at You can use our services irrespective of whether you want to go for Print on Demand (POD) or bulk printing (offset). How Self Publishing Companies Work Self publishing companies broadly work on two kinds of models. Package Model. In this, the entire bouquet of services needed for publishing is offered as a single package. So, you can give your raw manuscript to the company and the printed book is available to you after a given time. The company will edit it, format it and design it. All the services are offered at a package price. Depending on the company and the kind of package offered, delivery of some printed copies may or may not be included in the pricing. Pick and Choose Model. In this, the company offers each of the services as an individual product. The author is at liberty to decide which part of the process he wants to handle himself and which part he needs to assign to the company. Since all the services are available, the author may go for all them, but each service is priced individually and not as a package. Both these models have their pros and cons. The Package Model can be costly for the author, but it does not put much demand on the author’s time. The Pick and Choose Model is more cost effective 151
    • Best of and gives the author more control over the entire process. But it also requires involvement from the author’s side. At, you can pick and choose the services you want to avail and you can also choose to go for all the services by paying for them individually. Details of services offered by us can be accessed from our website. We may offer packages in future. But right now, we do not have any. How to Use Preparing the Book (pre-press) After editing the manuscript, the book needs to be prepared for printing. There are multiple options available to the you, the self publisher. You can prepare the entire book yourself, or you can use our entire range of pre-press services. We suggest a judicious mix of the two, depending on the time and resources available to you. Do it yourself (DIY ). The ready-to-print book is maintained in two parts, the inside and the cover. The inside file includes the complete content of the book and all other components that should be printed on the inside pages. These include table of content, preface, foreword, title page, copyright information and anything else you want in the book. The cover file has the cover design of the book. Both these files need to be prepared in accordance with certain specifications. These specifications and tutorials on how to go about preparing the files are available at our website. In addition to the 152
    • Self Publishing at tutorials, we also have free tools to create Generic Cover Design and for converting blogs to books on our site. The obvious advantage of going the Do it Yourself way is that it involves no investment or upfront cost. Avail professional services. We offer all the services needed to prepare a raw manuscript for printing. These include editing, formatting, cover designing, illustration and allied services. Depending upon your specific needs, you can pick and choose these reasonably priced services. For example, if you have friends who are good with English, you could use their assistance for editing and avail of our services to format the book. You can avail of our services even if you do not plan to publish through us. For example, you may want to get your book edited before submitting to a publisher. Or you may print the book locally, but want it designed by us. Making the Book Available As you must have realised, POD and self publishing have tremendous flexibility to match individual requirements. You can choose to sell your book to anyone who is interested or circulate it privately, within a small, select group. offers you the additional flexibility of selling your books printed elsewhere through its online book store. Publish and sell. You can publish your book through or from a printer of your choice and have it listed at our online store. Depending on your book’s production cost, there will be a minimum price for the book. If you choose not to get any royalty, your book will be available at that price. But you are free to decide how much you want to earn per copy and the final price of the book will be decided 153
    • Best of according to that. More details about this are available on the website. The royalty will accrue to you depending upon the number of copies your book sells. Private publishing. It is also possible for you to publish the book through us but not sell it on our website. We will maintain your ready-to-print files and dispatch the books only to the person/ organisation you ask us to do. This way you can ensure that your book is circulated only amongst the people/organisations you want. This facility is especially useful in following circumstances • The book is for gifting purposes only. • The book is for private circulation in a closed group (family, organisation). • The book is for selling exclusively through your own website or other channels. Marketing and Distribution Marketing and distribution are hurdles for individual publishers since they do not have the resources and the network of an established publisher. In the current scenario, online marketing and distribution is the best way out.’s online book store. The books published through can be sold through’s store. The book is allocated a page on the online store, where people can read sample pages, write reviews and buy the title. As the author/publisher, you are however, free to tie up with any distributor and retailer you want in addition to putting up the book on our online store. 154
    • Self Publishing at also offers the flexibility of online listing already printed books of the individual publisher. Online marketing packages. Basic online marketing is aimed at helping self publishers build a strong online presence and engage with existing and potential readers, without committing to heavy ongoing expenses. offers such packages which include online brand building measures like registration of domain names, creation of website, etc for reaching out to a wider audience. Details can be accessed at our website. Other opportunities. You can participate in the other marketing and distribution opportunities provides from time to time. For example, the book launch during the Bangalore Book Festival 2008 and placing your book at the’s stall at the Bangalore Book Festival 2009. Things to Know While Publishing Through • Selection criteria for publishing. is not a publisher. It’s an open platform for anyone to use. So, there is no question of us ‘selecting’ any book for publication. We do not have any restrictions on the content or topic of the book, except that it should not violate the law of the land. • Evaluation of manuscript. We do not evaluate manuscripts. Remember, is not the publisher; you are. If you have decided to publish your book, we are glad to oblige. 155
    • Best of • Indian language support. We accept books in all Indian languages. We also provide typing facilities in most Indian languages. • Royalty. Amount of royalty is not fixed; it is decided by you: There is no fixed percentage royalty that pays to the authors. Authors decide their royalty and the books’ prices are affected by that. Higher the royalty, more is the price of the book. Details of book pricing formula are available on the website. Price can also be easily estimated by using the price estimator tool available on website. • Author margin. Author Margin or Author Earning are the phrases commonly used on for royalty. • Author price. Irrespective of how the book is priced at the store, authors can buy printed copies of their book at a special Author Price. This is the price with zero Author Margin and minimum margin for Pothi. com. They can also avail discounts for bulk purchase of their book. • Rights to the content. You retain all the rights to the content and are free to publish the manuscript through other self publishing companies or send it to a traditional publisher/agent for consideration. You can also sell the book through any channel you want to. You are free to put up the content on you blog, websites and anywhere you please for free or for a price. In nutshell,’s terms are completely non-exclusive and do not prevent you from using your content in any other way. 156
    • Self Publishing at • Duration of publishing process. If the soft copy of the book is ready as per our specifications, your book can go online within one working day. Physical copy of Print on Demand books are generally produced in three to five working days. Getting Further Information The site is your one-stop-shop for further information. There are articles and tutorials about self publishing and preparing your book, as well as details about the services offered by If you still have doubts, refer to the FAQs on the site. Last but not the least, we ( are always there to answer any specific query. E-mail is the best way to interact with us. You can write to us at The Takeaway! provides a flexible, easy-to-use platform for publishing your books. You can exercise control over every stage of publishing. You can choose to avail of the editing service and yet not accept the editor’s remarks, design your own cover, and choose the book size you want. You can choose to sell it through our website to everyone or retain the choice of distributing the book to a select few. While publishing with us, you can still send the manuscript to a conventional publisher for acceptance and put it up on your blog. In short, you are your own master. So, what are you waiting for? 157