5 things I learnt doing Zip Line

Inspiration, Motivation, My Blog

It’s an experience to try and the trill your experience can never be described in words. How similar is it to our daily life and what we can learn from this enthralling experience.

1. It’s faster than you expect: While on the wire, even before you realise you are on the other side. Believe it or not the same applies to our life. It moves fast and if you don’t move with it, you’ll be left behind.

2. Just let go and enjoy it: Sometimes we hold on to our life so dearly that we never get to enjoy the moments we need to enjoy. Sometimes it’s good to let go and enjoy the experience.

3. Feel the moment: If you don’t feel those few seconds when your on the line. You will never get those moments again. If you don’t feel your present moments, you’ll never have them again.

4. You get to see the world from top: We get so busy with life around us that we hardly get time to look at the world from a different perspective. Sometimes it’s nice to be on “top of the world” and admire the beauty, even if its just for few seconds.

5. You need to trust the ropes: Just the way we need to trust the ropes while we are up there. Like wise we need to trust the process when we are doing something different.

May you enjoy your life and live every moment, It’s good to start somewhere, then why not now!

You are a LION and you are meant to ROAR!

Inspiration, Motivation, My Blog

You are not born for the ordinary. You are born to go beyond. Beyond boundaries, beyond your own restrictions, beyond your own comfort. You are meant to break the shackles of your fear.You are meant to be great. Coz you can. At times you may feel you are nothing, that you can do nothing, I do feel that too. There is this strange fear of failure, of being embarrassed, of being ashamed, of regret and failure.

You will struggle, we all do, its fine, its ok, its part of a long journey. That fear will be there, it will grow, it will grow on you even more, that fear of not being able to achieve everything, that life will not be enough to achieve everything you ever want. But that’s ok, life is a learning journey, you will get somethings, some will be a struggle, but at the end wouldn’t it all be worth living. “Life happens” and yours will happen too.

You will make it to the top, you will some day, some day soon. Keep hoping, keep working, keep struggling, coz that struggle is life.. that struggle is “Life Happening”. Fight for it, make it a struggle worth fighting, coz you are a Lion and you are meant to ROAR!

FROM A CURRENTLY INSPIRED SOUL.

– (anonymous )

DO NOT MESS IT UP LIKE THEY DID WITH US.

education, Inspiration

Photo by Aaron Burden

Etymologically, the word school is derived from a Greek word ‘skholē’ meaning ‘leisure’.
Leisure?? School??
They don’t seem to align now, do they?

When I woke up this morning I didn’t set out to come up with this write up, but as I started working on a school report – I couldn’t help but find it sarcastically humorous that the place which is failing to uplift the essence, that is a child, actually has a connection to ‘use of free time for enjoyment’?

Sure, school is a requirement as of for hundreds of reasons. I am sure, many will come up with reason(s), as to why school is needed. But is it not becoming a nuisance for quite sometime now?
Since when did business and torment became synonymous with knowledge? 
Uncountable number of assignments, examinations, projects. How can we even forget the stress on marks obtained and the enormity of the fees levied by the schools. 
Even worse is the state of the teachers going through the training phase – trust me when I say this because I am a teacher in-training myself.

Are they competent enough to become teachers? What it takes to teach, to be amongst children and what damage a bad teacher can do to a child – no one keeps a tab on it. 
“There are no bad students, Only incompetent teachers”
Is this just a rant? No. It’s not. It’s a realisation on my part. 
We can’t change the curriculum nor can we wage a war on the government. Hell, we can’t even challenge a higher authority – but all y’all teachers and would be teachers, the one thing you can do is TRY. 
Try and change the way you teach and the way you perceive the art of education. Try to understand the psychology of the children and guide them accordingly. Make an alliance amongst yourselves. Make sure a child learns atleast one new thing from you everyday. 
Try and not create another generation of incompetent literates. 

Sure, it’s not what you set out to do initially, but you are here now – training yourselves to train the minds loaded with untouched untapped potential – DO NOT MESS IT UP LIKE THEY DID WITH US.
You got a voice – USE IT! The right way in the right place. 
INSPIRE. LOVE. CREATE A LEAGACY – YOUR LEGACY. 
BE THE TEACHER YOU ALWAYS WANTED WHEN YOU WERE A CHILD.

Written by Kasturi, Assam(India)

‘Lazy’ ways to be successful.

My Blog

Some people have been lazy for very a long time. Now when the reality has come knocking at their door, they realise that being successful requires hard work and certain amount of active lifestyle. This can be an arduous task of shifting the lifestyle from being perpetually lazy to active- hardworking person.

Hold on!

Changing habits requires time and dedication. Sometimes we want change to happen overnight and that’s where we go wrong. E.g.: if a person is use to waking up at 8 in the morning, suddenly when someone tells him/her to wake up at 4 in the morning it’s going to be a difficult task. Here are some habits you can cultivate, which will help you become successful while you gently come out of your lazzy habits…

1. Make small changes:

If you want to wake up early, change by setting your alarm 5 mins early everyday, than your normal waking time. Do this until you reach your desired goal. E.g.: if you are use to waking up at 6:00 everyday, set your alarm at 5:55 from tomorrow and deduct 5 mins every day.

2. Get someone to push you:

You be accountable for your actions, but also have someone to give you a push if you are lagging behind from creating successful lifestyle.

3. Rabbit and the tortoise:

You may have heard the story of rabbit and the tortoise, how successfully the tortoise completed the race first, even though rabbit was much faster than the tortoise.

Don’t stop…. make small small changes possible..

Lazy -ness is just a way of life, you can replace it any time.. these slow or ‘lazy’ methods will help you become successful.

-Written by Paul Fernandes

-(Photo by Kate Stone Matheson)

How to use February to Desire?

My Blog

(Photo by Andrew Neel)

We have many desires and this is the month we can achieve it. Why do I say this month? You may have had desires to do certain things in the month of January and have not finished doing it. Whatever the reason may be. February is a time when your moral is still high and you know you have still another 11 months to go before the year ends. If you let pass this month without doing much of the things which you desire or atlist take minor actions on those desires than the coming month and the months after it may be groggy and you may procrastinate those desires for the following year.

So here are main areas to focus on.

[ ] Health

[ ] Wealth

[ ] Relationship

[ ] Goal

Write down, don’t have it only thinking .. write down 2 things under each area (health, wealth, relationship, goal) that you desire this month.

Don’t wait – just do it. It may just take you 5 mins, but it will make the remaining hours worth living.

-Paul Fernandes

Sometimes ideas won’t come to you, you have to go to them….

Inspiration, My Blog

Photo by NeONBrand

Many times we wait for an inspiration to strike us- to write, learn an instrument or do whatever you deep down always wanted to do.

Sometimes it is the action which comes before inspiration.. You just have to stick with that musical instrument or sit with those blank pages and start writing…

It’s the idea muscle we need to develop and this will only happen when we decide to act and not wait for the inspiration.

So let’s take the action and wait for the inspiration to strike latter.

-Paul Fernandes

Dream like your life depends on it..

My Blog

Photo by Bethany Legg

Sometimes external situations in life may push you to pick up a job that you dont enjoy or it will push you to take risk, be creative, innovative and do the things you always wanted to do and earn your living from it.

But, why wait for external situations in life to decide your destiny? Ya, I understand- fear of failure, people’s judging opinions are all part of not having confidence to take the risk and doing something that you love. Irony is that people will judge you anyways, then why not do the things you love and then allow people to judge you and make opinions about you…

Photo by Jordan Whitfield

Let me help you out, just answer these two questions to yourself.

1. What do you really enjoy doing and you won’t mind doing it for the rest of your life?

2. What is the only job you would do if your life depended on it?

Paul Fernandes

5 Things you did not know about 2019.

My Blog

While some of us are making our New Years resolutions – we have entered into the New Year. In this post I am going to tell you about 5 things you did not know about 2019.

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Photo by Ethan Robertson

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1. If you don’t take action, this year will not be any different.

You may have decided to do certain things, achieve certain results and live your dream life. This won’t be possible if you don’t take any action on those decisions. I like the Nike tag line – just do it. So let’s take some concrete actions on our desires to achieve higher results.

2. No one is going to help you more than you can help yourself.

We need people around us, no doubt about it. But if we only depend on people to help us reach our destination, we will never reach there. People have their own sh*t to deal with. So, you do all you can to achieve your goals and depend less on others doing it for you.

3. Health is wealth.

Last year I have seen too many young people dying due to health problems. There is no use of trying and getting millions, if your not there to enjoy it. This year let’s keep the balance between work and time to look after our body.

4. You don’t read, you don’t lead.

So many things are happening in our world today, that keeping a pace with what’s happening around us becomes very important. Let’s make a commitment to read more this year, because I believe reading and leading is directly associated with each other.

5. You are awesome.

I believe you are beautiful, handsome, hot, sexy, intelligent, successful and whatever you wish to be. Deep down I know you want to be that. Believe you are beautiful or handsome or successful and I am sure confidence, hardwork and belief in yourself will take you just where you want to be.

May be all of these 5 things were just a reminder to start this year with right mindset and positive attitude..

Have a wonderful year 2019.😀

-Paul Fernandes

My walk from Garage to NASA, Md Adil Aman

Motivation, My Blog, NASA

We all are in pursue of one answer. What is life? For me life is Marvel movies, Dan Brown books and Ed Sheeran songs. You guessed it right. I’m a kid. I’m the person who dared to dream.

So, here’s my story. I was born and brought up in a small town named Asansol in West Bengal. My father was a peon in Eastern Railways and we used to live in a rented garage until my father was promoted and we moved to comfortable quarters. I joined St. Vincent’s High & Technical school. This was the part where I think God showered his blessing upon me. Being poor is not a very good option in this era of economics. Pardon me for using the word “option”. But trust me everyone has a choice. Vincent’s was my home. I learnt a lot in this school. Really a lot. Not rot learning, real learning. My life was more than perfect. I had just one little problem. My parents! Always had arguments. It went to the extend that my mom, along with my nine months baby brother and me went to commit suicide in a railway track. I never had good clothes at that time and I could feel the chill shivering my bone. Imagine my brother’s situation. I was merely only in fourth grade. That particular night it went too far. Even the tear drops were cold that night. I had only one thing in my hand. A book. Yes, a book. That day I prayed and prayed just so that I could see the morning’s light along with my mom. I think God listened to me. From that night my life changed. It might seem a light vague that how a small kid become so determined. Trust me, hunger pangs can change anything.

There were many incidents in my life. Mostly happy ones. One of them is science. I loved science. Not just for marks. I used to study to find answers. I used to study stuffs of higher standards just to quench my thirst for answers. In sixth grade we had a science teacher. I was such a mischievous fellow at that time! I really apologize to every teacher who taught me even after I gave pain. There my science teacher, Mr Paul Fernandes for me he was a star. No kidding, he was star for every kid at that time. He played his 11-year-old guitar and taught us how to sing in the school chapel. I couldn’t learn singing from him. But I learnt one important thing in my life in that one year. God is there with everyone of us. He called me ‘scientist’ at that time. I had this very bad habit of asking questions!

I was in high school in the eighth grade when a news was there in the newspaper. The news read,”Durgapur kid went to NASA”. This was pretty fascinating for me. NASA to me was like Mount Olympus to Greeks. I thought that yes, I can do it too. But sadly, I never had a computer to write my stuffs. So, I waited. Until latter that year that my mom gifted me a computer by selling few of her jewelleries. Our house needed renovation. My father had no money at that time. So, my mom sold some of her jewelleries. With the left-over money, my computer arrived. With the joy of a new device, I forgot everything. Really everything. Until one day the NASA thing hit me. At once I left everything and started my research work. Now let me tell you something about this NASA thing. NASA along with NSS conducts a project named “NASA Space Settlement Contest”. Individuals, small group and large group can participate in this contest. These are conducted for age group of 12 to 18. I asked my best friend at that time to help me in the work. I thought we can do this together. But he denied. I thought that may be this is too childish. Dreaming for NASA in ninth grade needs determination. But I went alone. Not because I was determined to do it. I did my NASA project just for fun. I knew I won’t get it and still it would be fun. I wanted to learn stuffs and this was the perfect excuse to my mom to skip study hours (Yes, I love science and maths but I hated subjects like history, geography and Bengali because my marks were pretty bad in these subjects). I did a lot of research. I used to get my monthly 1 GB/month net allowance from my parents so I had to manage with it. I used to sleep 5-6 hours at that time. But for me that didn’t matter because it was fun for me. I wrote a 110 pages project and sent it to NASA. I didn’t expect anything out of it. But then, on March our term for ninth grade was over. At that time, we never had this career tension banging our heads. So, we were more than just happy. Fiddle with my phone, I went to the NASA website. I was checking who all won it. I was scrolling and scrolling. Then there was a list of first prizes in ninth grade. The very first project was “Wings of fire”. I was like wo, someone copied my project’s name. Then I saw “St. Vincent’s”, beside the project’s name. Yes, by God’s miracle I won a NASA prize. That too the first prize. I rushed to my mom and told her. She told me, “Good now study, your ICSE exams are knocking on your door”. I just rushed to my teacher’s house and showed him the notification. He was so proud of me. He told me well done. I was so happy. I told my school principal and my other teachers. They were more than happy. I was happy that I don’t have to listen to my mom’s nagging because I did something good which made her happy. But God planned something else for me.

The next day, I opened my what’s app. Instead of some “Good morning” message there was a newspaper article. “Wings of fire”. Yes, I was all over the news. And guess what I was a celebrity. And by celebrity, I mean more delicious food! Yes, I was a kid. Friends and family meant everything to me and I wanted to enjoy my life. Time went by and reporters came to our house. At some point it went bad for me. I didn’t like so much exposure because I thought it will make me egoistic and I will topple as fast as I went up. So, I just stayed calm and stayed away from all these. But my friends, to whom I will always be thankful, were the same. They were the same kid snatching away my tiffin. But in my small world, it was the keyhole through which I could see the world. But my school principal(Mr. Ravi) opened the entire door. He decided to go with me to Canada where I was invited. Money never stood a problem at that time. My relatives furnished me with their support. I never had a very good relationship with parents and was consider a black sheep of my family. But this was a chance for me to make them proud. I went to Canada. It was a pretty good place. I saw people with white skin for the first time. They all were smiling all the time. I was shy at first. Then I opened up. As I won the first prize in the NASA Space Settlement contest in 2015, I was invited to attend the International Space Development Conference (ISDC) which was held in Toronto that year. I along with my teacher attended the five days conference in which we learnt a lot. I won the prize individually, so I was all alone in the conference. But as time passed, I made new friends. They were from all over the world. As I was trying to explain my project, I also got to know the project of other students and groups. Students from Romania, South Korea, China United States, United Kingdom and many more countries were present in the conference. On the five day long conference, one day we visited the University of Toronto. There we visited the aeronautical and physical science department. There we learnt a lot. Many post graduate students and researchers shared the projects they were working on. We even saw micro satellites that were used for navigation. For the first time in my life I saw a 3D printer. I was so excited that even stayed few hours extra to know its exact working mechanism! I was allowed to give a speech on my project. Many businessmen, scientists, students, researchers, teachers and students were present to listen to my project. I was so glad that my project caught their eyes. Back in India, when I asked my friends whether they will be in my project or not, they ridiculed me and called me “crazy” after hearing my idea. But when I presented my project as a first prize winner, that too working alone, I was happy. My teacher was really proud of me. I attended lectures by noble laureate Kip Thorne and astronaut Anousheh Ansari.

There were many lectures going on during the entire session of conference. I, along with my friends from other countries attended those lectures. We were astonished by the similarity we shared in our views even though we live miles apart. During the break we were even playing games. After all we were all teenagers! We learnt a lot about each other and the way of studies. We even exchanged our projects and discussed about the improvements we can make in them. There were sessions where we had to make groups and visit the project made by other groups. We literally learnt a lot from these sessions. After that we even visited US. For me US was the factory for Marvel Heroes. I visited that factory! For me it was like visiting Willi Wonka’s chocolate factory. Guess what? I went to the home of Captain America and Spiderman, New York City. For me it was a dream come true. I returned to India with more knowledge and more determination. I was pretty much determined to do something and make a mark. I decided to do something. I wanted to become a scientist. Yes, a scientist. I wanted to become the person my teacher wanted me to be. A scientist. I won first prize in the NASA Space settlement contest in 2015. After winning such a prestigious award, I was confident. I wrote another project for 2016. I used to sleep only a couple hours for three months to complete my project. After a lot of struggle, I wrote it. When I sent my project to the United States of America in the month of January, 2016, my project was stopped by customs. I used to track my mail. My project went into a black hole. I don’t know why my package was stopped. It didn’t reach the correct place before the deadline and so it was not evaluated. I was really hurt. I didn’t get a prize that year. I really put a lot of effort in my project but it didn’t reach the real place. I was so frustrated that I gave up on studies. My grade in 11th grade degraded a lot. I was under a lot of pressure and was depressed. After a phase I started working again and came back to normal life. I was so heartbroken that I didn’t want to continue any of my research work. I just wanted to do my normal academic studies. But then I saw a video depicting the life story of the famous rapper Eminem. I was like, “Hey Adil if he can do it why can’t you. Don’t lose hope man.” I started working for another project for the next year. This time I wasn’t afraid of losing. In the month of November, 2016, I decided to do another project. I was again filled with hope and had the mental energy to pull this thing up again. This time I wasn’t afraid of being rejected. I was morally stronger now. I worked harder this time and again won it in the year 2017. This story of mine is known to only few of my close friends. After I won the prize for the second time, I told my parents what happened. All along they thought my project was not good enough and they were really also very sad about it. When I told them that my project never reached and then the following year I again tried to do another project, they were like supper happy. I didn’t share my achievements with my friends and teachers because they might distract me. I was happy. From that day, I was never ever afraid of making mistakes or failing in life. This made me cool minded and help me focus on my work. The thing I learnt from this part of my life is to never give up on yourself and to keep faith on God. I would like to say something to anyone reading this. I am a kid. Just a normal kid who was playing in the garage. From the garage I went to NASA. This might not be the part where I will stop. This is the part where I realised that I was much than just a kid. My parents couldn’t support me because they had their personal issues. I wanted a family, a happy one. I wanted a mom who isn’t depressed about her life. I want a family! But guess what, God is the best playwriter. Characters appear in a particular scene, incidents happen in a particular act. Not before or after. Just at a particular time. I pray I don’t commit a sin, for God is the greatest. I don’t open up myself to anyone. Literally no one. I have worked hard in my life. I used to wash clothes for my mom couldn’t when she was pregnant. I used to eat less because my mom couldn’t cook when she had pain. I used to cry when my father didn’t stay up in home for Eids. But guess what, life is more than just asking from God.

I have failed a lot of times in my life. But one thing I am sure of is that, I will never stop. There are times when I wanted to end my life all at once. I cried, I winced, I fell. But I didn’t stop. There are people like Eminem, Chris Gardner, Malala, Mahatma Gandhi, Barack Obama, Napoleon Hill who inspire millions. But one thing they had in common. They all dared to dream. So, did I. The journey wasn’t pleasant. But the results are always happy. I have to achieve a lot. I won’t stop till the day my father has a smile of his face or till the day my mom says you did it. Till then I will work and work. As Frost said,” Miles to go before I sleep, Miles to go before I sleep”. Mr. Paul Fernandes told me write about my NASA experience. But this was more than just an experience. It was a lesson for me. To this date I remain thankful to him who trusted me. Friends and teachers will always be the “BOB the builder” of my life. Thankyou!

If I did it my way and failed, it’s OK, An extra step changes everything. -Anil Singh.

marathon, Motivation, My Blog

If I did it my way and failed, it’s ok. These words came out of Anil Singh’s mouth and most of the audience had an immediate connection with him. This article is my take on Anil Singh’s TEDX, Panchgani talk, which at a personal level did move me a lot. His journey with marathon started with the London marathon. The difference between participatory sports and spectator sports was crystal clear in his talk.

He said, “When over 40,000 plus people participate in the marathon run, there are 40,000 plus winners and with it 40,000 stories.” These were golden words, because isn’t our life about stories ?

He spoke about getting Standard Chartered to back up his dream of having a marathon and how he made people understand the fabric of sports. Two things which stood out were perseverance and love for sports. I think we all need to have both, love and perseverance no matter what field we are into.

I am paraphrasing the words of Anil Singh – ‘If I did it my way and failed it was ok, I would get a good sleep, imagine I did it your way and failed, I would never get sleep’. May be this is what we need sometimes, to believe in our dream and to know that in the end it will workout.

Anil Singh introduced India to “Dream run”. And this year(2018) it’s called as TATA Mumbai marathon.

Anil Singh is the founder and Managing Director of Procam International – the company that promotes the iconic TATA Mumbai Marathon, Airtel Delhi Half Marathon, TCS World 10k Bengaluru and the Tata Steel Kolkata 25k.

Imagination Breathing wishes him all the best for his future endeavours. Let’s all as he says, “Keep plunging away”.

From Mom’s Nose Pin to Brother’s Gym: How at the age of 9 I realised that gender is fluid, Aishwarya

Inspiration, My Blog, women

“Rahul, Raj, Govindda, Ajay…..” the audience blabbers as they were asked to guess the host of OBR (One Billion Rising is a global movement, founded by Eve Ensler, to end rape and sexual violence against women (onebillionrising.org)

“It is Aishwarya”, says the host finally.

“My name is Aishwarya and I was born a girl.”

I am a 17 year old student and at the age of 9 started applying the concept of gender fluidity. It started when my mom and dad separated, and my dad was fed up of tying up my waist long hair, hence, got it cut short. I was told by many that it suited me, and that I was looking cute. That was the reason I didn’t return to my long hair, but this of course is not the reason that I am identified as a boy. I have an elder brother and sister and since childhood my brother was allowed to go out, be it day or night, was allowed to hangout with his friends, and take all serious decisions and responsibilities of the house, this used to confuse and annoy me because I too was a human and I used to wonder why was I treated unequally. That time I didn’t know anything about gender equality, or that women were equal before law, I became sensitised only after 6 years when I joined NINEISMINE (http://www.nineismine.in)at the age of 14.

Although I was being treated equal as my brother, by her father, I was sent for grocery shopping or any other important work in the absence of my brother; I was given a phone before my elder sister. Although it made me happy but it also made me realise the level of discrimination in our Indian families and I started fighting for my sister’s rights with my father, and now all the three children of my family are treated equally.

When I got opportunity to speak in public, I spoke on gender equality, and everybody used to think that I am a boy because of my attire, my voice and my built which I had due to the gym, and once I tell them my name the hall used to echo with applause.

Now, everyone refers to me as beta(son), bhai(brother) and my sister looks up to me, as the so called protector, rather than my brother. I know this concept of protector too needs to be eliminated and that’s my vision: I want to become a professional dancer, and by being be the real me on private and public platforms, I know I am fighting gender stereotypes and inequality.

Now that I recall the times I used to apply my mother’s lipstick I laugh, and continue doing my dumbbells. There are lot of people who come to me and say that they want to be just like me and have the same courage. You know what? I am going to fight for all of these people.

My family, friends, neighbours, teachers all have accepted me like I am, and why shouldn’t they?
I am just another human.

Let’s play again – Reviving our forgotten childhood games! Dr. Sandeep Kate

Games, My Blog

MAGIC !!!

The mere mention of word is sure to arouse some interest !

Well, let me tell you that this writeup is NOT about Magic, at least not of the kind we usually mean when we think of the word.

I’m talking about the long lost and nearly “magical” period of our lives that we all fondly remember & cherish as our “Childhood days”….

Let’s have a bit of a fun quiz  –

Question –

Did you play any of the following games as a child ??

Spinning tops ( Lattoo/Bhavra ),  Marbles ( Kanche/Gotya ) , Gilli danda ( Viti dandu ) , Lagori, flying Kites, Chor Police, Aandhali Koshimbir (blind man’s buff ), Jiblya/Thikrya, Aba dubi, Sagargote, and so on …

If your answer is “yes” and if the mere mention of these games and play things brings a sensation of nostalgia or “deja vu” to you, then I can safely (magically ) tell you that you were born in the early half of the 1990’s or earlier.

Okay Okay … I know this wasn’t really a demonstration of magic but a simple guesstimate here….

My point is that these and dozens of other such games and activities have been played traditionally by children for hundreds or rather thousands of years. Not only in India but all over the world. However, the advent of technology and the sweeping changes in our culture and lifestyle, brought about by the rapid digitisation of our world, has put these games at a real risk of getting lost forever.

Is it important at all to sweat over this ” trivial ” issue ? How does it matter if the kids of the present and future generations stop playing these games ? Isn’t change the reality and rule of life ??

Is it even our business to get involved as adults ?

The answer is both easy and very difficult at the same time.

For my part, I have chosen to say –

” YES ”

Yes, it is important to ensure that our children are introduced to these wonderful pastimes and that they develop and sustain an interest in these games and activities.

It’s not like we tell them to start playing  these games to the exclusion of their  computers and televisions. I think we need to help them (and ourselves) achieve a healthy balance between the “Real” and “Virtual” games !

There is something wonderful and important about these traditional games that cannot be simply brushed away as rose tinted & sepia toned nostalgia.

Adults or Kids – we all need our regular dose of “Fun” & “Play” to keep our sanity intact in our fast paced and “constantly connected” world !

We need to connect on a more basic, simple and human level with each other and with our own selves. There is no better way to do this than through simple and plain old fashioned games – the games that we all played as children and that we still ought to play with each other AND with our children.

Simple games, simple fun, simple and joyful lives….

If this thought excites you, & if you would actually like to do something about this,  please visit our website http://soilgames.co.in to find out more.

Get in touch with us if you wish to contribute to the movement to revive our long lost / forgotten / traditional childhood games…

चलो, फिरसे खेलते हैं ..

Let’s Play Again!!!

Dr. Sandeep S Kate

Democratised Disruptive Innovation- What could it mean for the individual? Hirander Misra

Finance, My Blog

To learn lessons for the future we have to look at the past.

A few thousand years ago, when money never existed, a transaction happened only by exchanging agreed commodities by barter. E.g. Panchgani in Maharashtra where I recently held a TEDx talk on the subject I am writing about now is famous for strawberries – if you had strawberries and someone had cows to produce cream you could exchange a given amount of milk for a given amount of strawberries based on a discussion to determine the value of each and you both now could happily eat strawberries and cream. Life was simple and easy to understand.

A few centuries ago, with an inception of globalisation and increase in population the trade happened by exchanging commodities with rare materials like gold and silver.

Moneylenders in the past filled the gaps left by banks and still exist today. The Venetians were key players in the 1300s. For example moneylenders keep your gold and lend you money and charge you interest but if you did not pay it back they keep your gold

Around 16thcentury, the current banking system started evolving. Banks started to print paper currency. They were printed on the basis of gold reserve but from 1973 this backing by gold was removed as part of the Breton Woods Agreement as backing by gold was expensive. From then on faith in currency is based on trust. This is not different to Bitcoin, a virtual currency today, whose value is based on expectations and hence trust.

At the time of the 16th century exchanges also came into being. An exchange is a central meeting place for buyers and sellers and came because in era before computers more buying and selling could be conducted in a concentrated location. This was really the start of the evolution of an exchange and money as we understand it. In 1602 a central place for buyers and sellers to trade with each other was established in Amsterdam which became known as Amsterdam Stock Exchange albeit the Belgians claim the first exchange since 1531.

From the 1990’s stock markets become more electronic gradually in the most part replacing trading that was done on the open outcry floor of a stock exchange to computer based trading. Then the financial crisis happened in 2018 and many individuals and companies were impacted by the reckless greed of a few.

This financial system has made individuals reliant on middlemen be it a bank or a broker and even in cases, exchanges with dominant position. Financial markets have became complex to understand and expensive in many cases with a never ending era of products available to the unassuming consumer. The system the rough the centuries has become unfairly priced and complex. For example you may only receive 50% of the value of your gold as a loan and 20 percent interest may be paid for it. Is it fair?

Banks do the same with assets but one can argue in this era of technology the value of the services provided is too expensive relative to the overhead to deliver those services. Greed has led to a complex financial system that few understand with lots of vested interest. Every day people are exploited by the system and I am not saying the system is not needed but it needs to change. How can we bring fair level playing field to eradicate disparity – but also with social reform, which is impactful and sustainable? This niggling thought really hit home to me in 2008 when I was COO of an innovative electronic stock exchange called Chi-X Europe, which I had co-founded. Lehman one of our clients went bust in front of my very eyes and Fortis Bank our clearing bank nearly went the same way until the Dutch Government bailed it out. Global financial meltdown ensued. I realised that the system was flawed and there must be a better way. Yes the system had to exist with better controls but it had to reach back to grass roots level as it had become so far removed from reality.

We at GMEX Group have personal experience of this as a company. In 2015 we started working with the Agricultural Commodity Exchange for Africa (ACE) in Malawi after a fortuitous meeting with Kristian Shach Moller in a hotel bar at a conference in Switzerland. This exchange, which deals with grains and pulses but was struggling to reach the end smallholder farmer that it was set up to facilitate in a meaningful way as only 5% of its activity was farmers selling their crop direct to market. Middleman which at the time added no value were giving smallholder farmers 10% of what their commodity was worth and the banks despite having the commodity as security much like a money lender keeps gold still lent at 30-40% interest rates and that too to only 60% of the value. The farmer took all the risk but was left struggling to feed his or her family. By introducing prices on their mobile phones to farmers and educating them as well as making the banks compete online to lend in addition to brining in cheaper finance through mobile/ electronic banking coupled with making the exchange more accessible for them to sell their produce directly, in one year in 2016 the incomes of 47,000 smallholder farmers went up 31%. $10mn worth of finance was provided and that would have been $110mn if there had been better access to finance. This would have then benefitted nearly 500,000 smallholder farmers.

This lead us to realise that technology instead of being exclusive could become more inclusive and transparent. More income leads to social welfare, women’s empowerment, children’s nutrition as we saw in Malawi. Value add now can move from being farmers growing tomatoes to produce tomato paste (add value) and then have demand for financial services personally like mortgages and loans that are priced right. The unbanked start to become banked.

We further realised that this issue was prevalent across all other parts of Sub-Saharan Africa as well as Latin America and South East Asia. Take coffee as an example, we in a fancy coffee shop were paying £2.50 a cup yet the end farmer was lucky if he got £0.10. As such positive change in a sustainable manner where we made people reliant on commercial enterprise not charity hand outs could lead to a massive positive impact on a global scale

This led to the creation in 2017 of a dedicated initiative by us to facilitate this called FinComEco (Financial and Commodities Ecosystem). This has led to engagement in 21 African countries as well as 3 outside the continent but with lots of work to be done to fully convince governments and stakeholders in many of these to not only do this but also do it in a proper fashion involving all key areas fully linking farming to the end value chain of demand. A middleman for agriculture still has a role to play much like they do in financial services but it was those who could add value be it by making the smallholder farmer bigger and influential by grouping/ aggregating production or offering convenience such as transport to get it from the farm gate to the warehouse were the ones which would now prevail in this new world. The farmers in the case of ACE can now choose how they sell, when and how they got a fair loan to buy fertiliser and seeds when they needed it at the outset. The exchange now enabled by technology is at the heart of that to ensure that technology is used for good. This is applicable to many different sectors and we are also now starting to do the same through a separate India based initiative we announced in December 2017 for rag pickers and others who generate waste to creating an exchange for waste such as cow dung, etc to bring valuable incomes to those who need them most. Not to also mention the positive environmental impact this will have. This also supports the Indian Government’s Clean Ganga and Swach Bharat initiatives but is not just an India problem it is a global one as rich and poor countries all produce waste and most of it ends up in our oceans destroying marine life.

Malawi-image

Ultimately billions people can benefit if these types of initiatives are rolled out more widely leading to positive change by other organisations be they public or private. Corporate Social Responsibility is not just about meeting targets for CSR budget spend any which way as it has to be more than that. Equally executives at development finance institutions have to galvanise their organisation as many are acting like private equity houses and not looking at a 10 year view for sustainable socio economic reform no matter what the PR ad rhetoric lends us to believe. The number of times we have knocked on such doors and been told that we should come back when we have a track record and profitable on such ventures for funding so we can scale further and that we should be three years old as an enterprise. If that was the case why would we need them at that stage? We are not the only ones that face this predicament.

We as the individual are the ones that have to drive this change. So it’s no surprise that we find ourselves in an era “Democratised Disruptive Innovation” (DDI as I term it) enabled by technology, where 1 month is like living 10 months in terms of opportunity and development and it is not inconceivable that in 5 years time organisations not only such as Google could be a bank and banks as we know it would be different as even we individuals could lend and borrow more and more from each other as we have seen with some tech initiatives with peer to peer lending emerging. In the last few weeks two large company CEOs have approached me that are successful as they reflected over the holiday period and said we make lots of money now but we can see that either we change or someone eats our lunch. Look at what digital cameras did to Kodak which is a shadow of its former self.

Now we can trade with each other direct by technology whereas in the past you had to be in local area and Now national and international. Anyone will be able to trade with anyone with transparent in an open manner with more consideration to just financial services. We are in an era of “Anyone to Anyone trading .“ The intermediary (middleman) is now technology and this means massive opportunities not only for companies like Google who can from nothing in 20 years to become a giant worth about $700bn USD but also for us as the individual as anything is possible. I am not saying that there is not a need for a middleman, but this match making is needed at a better price and continually needs to evolve.

We have come back full circle to the new age of barter between all of us but with online convenience to coexist with the current exchange and financial services ecosystem but technological enabled change is making it more practical, more efficient and more accessible. So we can now all embrace change and use it to empower ourselves in any manner we choose, when we choose. Whether change is the only constant (the overall theme of TEDx Panchgani) or there needs to be constant change in the way you do things is now for you to decide how best to democratise.

-Hirander Misra

CEO, GMEX

http://www.gmex-group.com/

One voice was louder than the rest- DANCE, DANCE, DANCE!

dance, My Blog

I loved dancing since I was a kid. I always looked for opportunities to get on stage and dance. After I had finished my schooling years, my dream of being a professional dancer was fading away. I knew dance was the only thing that would make me come alive.

After my 3 years of graduation, I was contemplating about going into management sector. It was the movie “3 idiots” that changed my mind and I began to ask myself some serious questions on what I really wanted to do in life. One voice was louder than the rest “DANCE, DANCE DANCE.” I listened to my gut feeling and decided to venture into the world of professional dancing. My family and friends always supported my decision.

Since Bollywood is full of senior experienced choreographers and dancers, the biggest struggle in Mumbai was to find work as a choreographer. On a good day I would get through an audition or an interview, on a bad day it was worst.

I thought of doing my training in my hometown- Goa, but there were no professional institutes that attracted me. I was on a lookout for full time dance training institute and then I came across Terence Lewis professional training institute.

I auditioned in 2010, but I did not get through. I worked hard at my moves everyday for a year and then I auditioned again in 2011 and this time I got selected for the scholarship programme. I finished my training in 2013, then I got selected to work with Terence Lewis contemporary dance co. as performer, I was really happy n amazed to finally work with Terence Lewis. He is one of the most intelligent and beautiful human being I have come across, he is my biggest motivation in life who has always been there when I needed him. He has been a guide and friend to me.

Today, I am a professional dancer and choreographer and this was possible because of immense hard work, support form Terence Lewis and unconditional love from family and friends. To all those out there who aspire to be professional dancers. Get into this business only if you have love for it and are willing to work hard.

-Shailesh

Into the world of smoky falls tribe coffee.

My Blog

1. When did you realise your passion for entering into the world of coffee?

I realised my love for our locally grown coffee ever since I was introduced to it by my late grandmother almost 25 years ago. Seven years ago I decided to venture into the Coffee business by starting a small café using locally grown coffee, initially I started from my own farm and then from neighbouring villages. I started with traditional pan roasting and got a small commercial coffee grinder and sold it in my café. The name of the café back then was Black & White Coffee Shop.

2. What helped you to get a strong foothold in this business?

The support from my family, husband, parents are the reason I took this step. Good feedbacks and reviews from friends helped me a lot in this journey.

3. Struggles/setbacks and how your persevered in it?

There are many things that I had to do to be able to prove myself to start up this business. I was working in SBI (State Bank of India) when I started this business and had to convince my family that I wanted to pursue my dream of going full time in Coffee business.

4. Things you like most about your profession?

I get to be creative, innovative and also get to work with coffee growers(farmers) from different villages across Meghalaya.

5. Major achievement and significant moment.

My most significant moment was the day I got to launch the first Coffee product and got positive feedback and support from friends and relatives.

6. Your belief about what it takes to be successful in any field.

Honesty in this field is very important, especially in any business.

7. Any advice for young entrepreneurs?

Don’t be scared to pursue your dreams. And when you think of finance, we have the PMEGP which is a loan from KVIC, India and also there are many crowdfunding websites. Write a good project and approach them.

-Dasumarline Majaw

Inspirational journey of Daniel Syiem

Designer, Inspiration, Motivation, My Blog, shillong.

FASHION DESIGNING is something which I was always very passionate about since I was a boy.  It’s funny looking back at my school days and finding scribbles and sketches of designs on my notebooks, whereas you’d find sketches of buildings and skylines on my brother’s who is now an architect. Goes to show that even at an unconscious level we had already tapped into our passion.
It was only after school and after completing my 12th that I realized  I wanted to pursue this further. Keeping in mind that during the time, the fashion industry was was almost non existent here in Shillong and there were no known local designers, so it wasn’t surprising that my parents were not supportive with my decision and insisted that I do a regular graduation course.

I joined St Edmunds college pursuing a degree in Arts majoring in Sociology. Little did I know that being in St. Edmunds would pave the way to my designing career. It was during my final year in college that I got to organise a fashion show during our college festival. That in itself was a challenge trying to convince our principal and getting his permission to host the college’s first ever fashion show. But with the support from the teachers,  my friends and fellow students, we managed to create history in the college by hosting the biggest fashion and talent show ever and which later set a trend for other colleges around the city.

  The show was called Young Talent Time or as they popularly call it now YTT. I got to showcase my first ever collection during that show. It was well recieved and that led me to being selected to represent my state at a Fashion Designing Competition(Fifth World Organisation) and me winning the North East Best Designer Award. Brian Wallang being the curator of the competition.

Winning the award was a turning point for me and I knew then that this was something that I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Taking it further I took up a three and a half year course on fashion designing at the prestigious Pearl Academy of Fashion in New Delhi. However due to unavoidable circumstances I had to drop out after completing a semester.

Dropping out of Pearl dampened my spirits and my passion for designing, and that led me to think of other career options.  After a few months working at a call center in Delhi, I returned back home to Shillong.

That was one of the lowest points in my life. Unsure of what to do next I took up odd jobs around the city.. from driving a cab to waitering at Shillong’s first coffee shop led me to being asked to manage Shillong’s first ever night club called Platinum.
I spent two years of my life working at Platinum. Those were the most challenging yet stimulating times which helped me kick start my professional life and again paved another path for me to get back into my designing career.


I have always said that I believe in Angels. Mine was a fun loving party hopping man by the name of Tennyson Lyngdoh. Tenny would visit club almost every Saturday. I later came to know that he was an officer with the Sericulture department.

Tenny had heard of my short lived career as a designer and would bring it up during our conversations. He would mention about his work with the weavers of Ri bhoi district and his attempts at promoting The Ryndia – our heritage fabric. From our brief conversations I saw that Tenny was very passionate about his work and insisted that I get back into fashion and help him promote the weaving community.

That was the turning point in my career. After much persuasion I agreed to visit the weavers of Ri bhoi. This I always say, the moment I was introduced to the Ryndia,  I felt  an almost spiritual connection to it. I knew then I had found my calling.


A little bit about my background- I come from a family where both my father and grandfather were  great social activists and their works had contributed a lot towards the upliftment of our people. From the time I had decided to take up Fashion Designing, I always wondered how can I do the same for my people through my work? Having been introduced to the Ryndia gave me that opportunity.

Till then inspite of Tennys great efforts, not much was being done to protect and promote this heritage fabric. Working with the Ryndia would give me a chance to not only promote the weaving community and better their livelihood through weaving but also using fashion as a platform to give the outside world a chance to peak into our culture and tradition.
Over the years Tenny and I worked hard to introduce the Ryndia to the market through my designs. I had to overcome a lot of challenges one being that I was never formally trained in designing. It was through a lot of trial and error that I came to hone my skills.

My relationship with Tenny blossomed into a beautiful friendship. Unfortunately he passed away leaving a huge void in my life. I however decided to carry on his mission. In the process I came across Janess. Janess was working with a weaving community in Manipur at the time. After many conversations, we decided to join hands.  That led us to start the Daniel Syiem’s Ethnic Fashion House. The aim of the fashion house would be to promote textiles from the North East with Meghalaya- being our first priority. And our dream was to take Ryndia to the world.


In a span of four years and with numerous collections the world got to know about the Ryndia and our people. From back home in India to London, New York,  Toronto,  Italy,  Dubai,  Thailand and Singapore the story of the Ryndia was well received and appreciated.  Doors of prestigious organizations like the Nehru center in London, IFFAD in Rome and the World Intellectual Property Organisation, United Nations in Geneva were  opened for us.

The journey has been long and challenging and I still have a long way to go, to achieve my childhood dream of becoming one of the biggest designer in the world. All the ups and downs have made me stronger and wiser. But all these experiences have also made me realize that there is no true recipe to success. A dear friend once told me that ones true aim in life is to be Happy. That in a way has helped simplify my outlook in life.

It’s all about being true to yourself and not being afraid to listen to your inner voice, because that voice is true and wise. It’s about allowing yourself to fall and having the strength to rise back up and not being afraid to give up and starting all over again. It’s about loving yourself and loving others unconditionally. It’s about not being afraid to show off your true colors, because those colors are beautiful.

-Daniel Syiem

Imagination Breathing