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The QUEST

A very different book. From the dusty airports of Africa to bag-packing in Europe.

The Happiness of Pursuit is a life long dream of travelling across the world. Armed with travel docs & lonely planet, this book will act as your catalyst to view the world.

The book takes you on a QUEST. You get to see the world though the eyes of Chris, the author. But besides, he is also a good story teller. He brings along other QUESTS. About Nate’s walk across Americas, Scott Young’s mastering MIT Curriculum in a year to Martha’s living on a tree for 400 days. Each QUEST is unique, brave and fulfills a personal ambition.

For those who love to travel, this book is lovely, gripping and adventurous. For me personally, it opened up a new QUEST that I was upon unbeknownst.

My QUEST is the GREAT INDIAN FAMILY VACATION. To visit every Indian state (29 states & 7 unions,as of today) with my three daughters and their astute mother. And pen the journey in the pennations.com blog. A goal that I learnt from the book. What’s your QUEST?

Most Likely to Succeed

The education book of the decade. The book is divided into two parts. While most of the ‘education concept’ book whines about the problems, this book is tad different. There is a sincere attempt to offer an alternate and a clear solution.

I was privileged to be a part of the special screening of the movie with the same title and a message from Ted Dintersmith. The book, if used as an academic extension for the school research, can be a valuable ally in overcoming the current challenges of the school and college system.

The topics under each academic subject, from Maths to Social studies is very well defined. I found the topic of High Education, not very relevant, but that may be because I am primary attached to the school.

Over all a great book. I felt this was just the right book for me at this stage of my school academic career. 5 stars for sure.

Sully – The drama in air

Popcorn Rating – 5 stars

I first heard about Captain Sully while reading the exceptional book Four Seconds by Peter Bregman. The chapter spoke about his passion for flying every since he could walk. Almost. He looked at the skies all day, drooled at the hangers and while his friends went gaga over Ferraris, his love was Air-crafts.

Then the movie ‘Sully’. This movie is not about the heroics in air but grit on land. While this has been dramatic and wonderfully explained, the real movie in the courtrooms.

The trauma of being labelled as a failure and a show stunt instead of being hailed a hero, that Capt Sullenberger is, the movie is about managing your fears.

As a fan of Tom Hanks over the years from Forrest Gump to Saving Private Ryan and Castaway, his odyssey with airports (Terminal) and airlines continue. Sully shows when not to lose control over your fears. Despite all the simulations pointing to a possible safe landing, Capt. Sully, made the jury and participating members realize that a simulation does not account for human emotions.

The simulating pilots, despite the best intentions, took the 155 human lives out of equation. When finally made to accept that the perfect landing was after a practice of 17 simulations, it dawned upon the members what a tragedy was averted. It is difficult not to shed tears of joy when we see such exceptional tale of survival and hope.

 Sully is similar in many ways to the Denzel Washington’s 2012 flight drama ‘Flight’, where the real battle are on in the air but post landing. In air, as in life, the real fights are not in your areas of expertise, the real battlefields are when you make real decisions based on a common benefit in areas where you are uncertain and uncomfortable.

Miracle on Hudson is about the human grit to survive, take decisions and be bold to accept the consequences of those decision. A movie, that every CEO must watch. Twice.

Trivia:
And yes this movie is based on the book Highest Duty by Capt. Chesley ‘Sully; Sullenberger’ and Zaslow

Silence – the unsaid word!

Silence. What a soft word it is. Sometimes not opening your mouth is the difference between life and death. Look at the Aesop fable about the talkative turtle. She just couldn’t resist the temptation of speaking her mind out.

Silence. A word that can fill the room and yet make no noise. Last week, when we were in the midst of a heavy decision making, this was the perfect prescription to solve the issues. Silence. Sometimes delaying a decision and holding on to that, just a little bit, is worth the wait.

Silence. The unspoken communication between couples. A word that can resolve crisis. A word that diffuses tension. A lot can be said, without words. A lot can be meant without saying. No wonder, they say, Speech may be Silver, but Silence is Golden.

Red Cliff (2008)

Popcorn Ratings: 4 stars

One of the rare oriental movie that I watched. And was it long. Two parts each about a couple of hours.

But then it’s John Woo and he has raised the bar way too high. On a quick trivia that the war scenes are twice the size of those in Lord of the Rings. Now that I got you interested, read further 🙂

What is Red Cliff?
Red Cliff is a battle between two armies. Chinese armies to be more precise.

So what is special about Red Cliff? The story is vanilla about good guys versus the bad ones. But what stands out are three interesting observations.
– the Chinese art of battles
– loyalty, leadership and amazing role assignment
– Chinese ethics and culture

 

The movie is about the Han Dynasty in ancient China and is adapted from the 14th-century Chinese novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

The antagonist Prime Minster Cao Cao intends to seal the Empire and the final frontier is the Red Cliff.

What follows is almost like the movie version of that ancient Chinese military philosophy The Art of War.

Also the often quoted wisdom that all warfare is based on deception. Teams spy with pigeon and over football (now that one claim, the Chinese can make citing the movie).

The sea battle and the clever ploy is surreal. Points to one amazing team led by an excellent leader and ably supported by his able and wide minister. If there is one movie on Chinese history you choose to watch, then pick this one by the acclaimed John Woo.

 

Why is there so much pain in this world?

It is as if pain finds you, no matter where you are and what you think. I am not referring to the physical pain, which too forms a part of this and perhaps is manifested in its other crude and dirty forms like in hunger, illness or accidents.


Is there a reason for pain? Imagine a career of a young doctor. All his life, she struggles for an education, she deserves but is unable to afford. But despite the odds, she obtains her degree. Meets and falls in love with a young and passionate doctor. They have a lovely family, blessed with two daughters. It seems nothing can go wrong and then she is diagnosed with a terminal illness. I am not sure what is more painful, the slow and sure death or the feeling of helplessness in seeing your young cheerful and innocent daughters being left abandoned. Spare a tear for her dutiful husband who is willing to go to any length to have some more time together.


Time, then, must be the most unusual and sophisticated creation. With time we live and by time we die. The passing of time has seen it all. The movements of the earth’s tectonic plates to the sprouting of the seeds. And yet, at these very moment, time seems to pause. It ceases to move. Time is like a free flowing liquid that is now contained in a jar.

The answers are contained in the lessons from history. History must be understood to understand the human tragedies. The human pain. The agonies of losing loved ones over territorial wars. The pain of seeing entire towns suffer through black deaths and plagues. The loss of human lives when we don’t understand our own moralities. And yet, ‘time seems to stand still. ‘

And as if some divine intervention happens to give me a clue. My air hostess serves me water in a cup that says, ‘time flies.’ Well, the only divinity of this was that this happened 20,000 feeds above the sea level.

Remember ‘pain’ is universal. Suffering is OPTIONAL. Be brave. Learn from History.

 

 

A promise well kept!

Bookworm: 5 stars

The Promise of a Pencil

Spending a semester at sea, Justin Beiber as a part of your growing up team and meeting the blue eyed girl – are just some of the amazing moments in this lovely book. True to its title, the promise is well kept.

A simple request of a Pencil from a young Indian girl, changed the track, career and thinking of Adam Braun.

I had read a similar book titled, ‘Leaving Microsoft to change the world’ by John Wood. This is just equally inspiration story of an education dream, one pencil at a time.

The book is divided into thirty mantras and Adam tell his learnings in step-by-step through these mantras. The fact that the author has the courage to share his vulnerabilities, his mis-steps in the most candid fashion- makes you connect with his journey. Rarely have I accidentally come across a book with offers so much insight that makes this book so special. Anyone who has a big dream in life – this book shows you how it is done says Richard Branson and the first Mantra itself strikes a chord with you – “Why be Normal”. [Vamsi Sridhar – Magical]

 

5 Ways to (Re)Invigorate Your Teaching

BookWorm: 4 stars

5 Ways to (Re)Invigorate Your Teaching

I expected more from this book and while it did not disappoint, I think the ideas are there with all of our teachers. These are practical, pragmatic and implementable guidelines. Here are the 5 basic themes that this books is build on:

Mentor-ship
Networking – be part of it
Grow intellectually
Listen to inner voice
Empower student

In today’s age of fast paced school life filled with lesson planning, assessment, grading and stuff, the book offer a way out for the teachers. While this would help you grow your library, it could very well be a complimentary reading book for school circle meets.

I think this is an important book because though, as one reviewer said, its contents may be “common sense,” it is a reminder that it is necessary to take inventory and to articulate what we value. Rami shares her philosophy and its development warmly, inviting her readers to rediscover the power of collaboration. She reminds us that are practioners working on craft and we need to be aware of what we need and where to find it. She reminds us to be real in our classrooms and model vulnerability and gratitude as we learn with our colleagues and our students. [Lisa Moore – A Book to Sharpen Your Saw]

Unbroken – keep the spirits high

Popcorn Ratings: 4 stars
Genre: World History / World War

Unbroken is on the ImDB’s list of must watch movies and its worth it. But you need grit and patience to see it through. Set against the background of World War Two, focusing on the United States – Japan part of the war.

So there is a childhood story of the young thief Louis Zamperini (portrayed by Jack O’Connell), whose latent talents are reconverted in long distance running by his elder brother.

After years of toil and practice, what a moment is there for the young athlete to compete at the Berlin Olympics and defeating his own more accomplished countryman.
With all eyes on the Tokyo Olympics, he sets himself up with training and determination. Fate had other plans, as the war erupts and our hero is enrolled in the US Airforce. 

From there on, it is one man’s struggle against odds of nature to human vengeance. The best part of the movie is how the three men stranded on a lifeboat manages life
at sea. The tag line says it all: Survival. Resilience. Redemption

 

 

At the mercy of violent storm and hungry sharks, they eat raw bird and vomit it almost instantaneously. They catch fish almost bare handed and wait for rains to have
water to drink. There is also the Japanese airplane shooting that deflates their lifeboat but not their spirits.

Unbroken is a story of human survival against all odds. Director Angelina Jolie’s message based on a true story is clear – do not give up. Be it sports or life itself,
there is light at the end of the tunnel.

The tunnel, however, here is very dark indeed. Almost to the point of being savagery and gory. The cruel Japanese office Japanese corporal, Mutsuhiro Watanab,
nicknamed ‘bird’ tried all sorts of vengeance. From being brutally assaulted with stick to punched on the face from every member of Zamperini’s own colleagues.

At times, the violence mars the message. Still, the movie has a deep impact on the perspective that our best plans get washed on the onslaught of turn of events.

I loved the statement that Zamperini says. “I always wanted to be in Tokyo (for the Olympics), but didn’t know it would be like this (as a prisoner of war).”

Movie Trivia:
Zamperini survived in a raft for 47 days after his bomber crash landed in the ocean during World War II
The movie is based on the 2010 non-fiction book by Laura Hillenbrand, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
At age 81, Louie Zamperini ran a leg of the Olympic Torch relay for the Winter Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan

Selma – Martin Luther King Jr

#BlackLivesMatter

Popcorn Ratings: 5 stars
Genre: Politics / Black History / USA

I have always been fascinated with the black struggle for equality. To me it is one of the greatest landmark in calling ourselves human. As great as man’s landing on moon.

So I was keen on all things black. Be it #BlackLivesMatter or #OscarsSoWhite. Then when Selma came along it was a must watch.

The performance of the lead character David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King Jr. is phenomenal. The struggle, decisions, protest march and the subsequent consequences.


And to think of it that the producers had to do it, without those magical words. The producers could not manage to get the copyright of the famous ‘I have a dream’ quote from the King’s family.

Selma stands out as a movie about a movement. It is all about one incident (actually three) – The march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. And what a powerful statement that march is. IT is about human dignity. About civil rights. About counting every person as important. And who show is better than MLK Jr.

Along with Spielberg’s Lincoln and McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave, this movie sure has stirred the #BlackLivesMatter debate. It also reminds us that despite the huge technology advances we still have monkey chants and racial discrimination from football stadiums to New York streets.

Quick Info:

MLK’s speech ‘I have a dream’ is the most quoted line from a speech
Martin Luther King was awarded the Nobel peace prize
MLK visited India in 1959 and was inspired by the Gandhi-nian philosophy.