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  1. 1. BEST OF POTHI.COM Includes FREE Self Publishing Guide How to Self Publish for Indian Market
  2. 2. 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
  3. 3. 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
  4. 4. 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
  5. 5. Best of
  6. 6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. 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
  16. 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
  17. 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
  18. 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
  19. 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
  20. 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
  21. 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
  22. 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
  23. 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
  24. 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
  25. 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
  26. 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
  27. 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
  28. 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
  29. 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
  30. 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
  31. 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
  32. 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
  33. 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
  34. 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
  35. 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
  36. 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
  37. 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
  38. 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
  39. 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
  40. 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
  41. 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
  42. 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
  43. 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
  44. 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
  45. 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
  46. 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
  47. 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
  48. 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
  49. 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
  50. 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
  51. 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
  52. 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
  53. 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
  54. 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
  55. 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
  56. 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
  57. 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
  58. 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
  59. 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
  60. 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
  61. 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
  62. 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
  63. 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
  64. 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
  65. 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
  66. 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
  67. 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
  68. 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