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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Corrupted corruption

"My canny plan to cook in a call centre manages, however, to fall on deaf ears. The multinationals that have arrived in India are exactly that: multinationals. They are not actually very Indian. They are, however, very multinational. They have all the protocols and policies of any multinational. They just happen to be populated by Indians and run locally by Indians. Generally speaking in India, if you need to get something, anything done, you just need some influence, as it is euphemistically known. Some call it corruption. I prefer the word influence. Someone, somewhere knows someone else, somewhere else who can get things done. That is the grease that oils the cogs of India. Bharat is one of those 'someones'. He knows everyone who needs to be known. At least he used to. Globalisation seems to have changed the rules; it's not enough to know someone. there are marketing managers and public relations executives in offices in San Francisco and Geneva. Bharat doesn't know them and they certainly have no idea what a man of influence he is. India, it would seem, is changing. Corruption has been corrupted."
(Hardeep Singh Kohli in 'Indian Takeaway,' p. 144 Harper)

Friday, January 30, 2009

Ideology

"Organizations are like people, searching for stability and meaning. Instability in the environment results in the development of a sustaining ideology, especially when the organization is threatened by the surrounding environment. It is necessary that this ideology be based on accepted political and moral values. The organization ideology serves as a parameter for decisions... Ideology facilitates the decentralization of management to lower levels. It shapes the views of new members as well as uniting technical experts within the bounds of the organization rather than toward their professions. Ideology may also emerge as organization members defend it against outsiders... Ideology most probably is stated in language that is ambiguous to the members. The meanings of concepts included in it may be different for different members."
(Henry L. Tosi in 'Theories of Organization,' p. 197 Sage)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Nutrition, health and productivity

"There has been some emphasis in the economics literature on the effects of nutrition and wages on productivity. Because higher intakes of desirable nutrients gradually improve individuals' health status, employers are likely to offer higher wages to workers that appear to be well nourished and may not offer similar terms to under-nourished individuals. Thus, it is important for national and international agencies to devise food supplementation programs for under-nourished individuals in developing countries... It was seen in the Rwandese data that adults with energy expenditures around twice the BMR lost weight, presumably due to the high workload. Thus, food supplementation programs are likely to enhance health status and labor productivity. Deficiencies of various micronutrients can be identified from nutritional surveys and economists can play an important role in devising food policies for raising labor productivity in developing countries. For example, increasing the intakes of protein and iron, especially from animal sources, are likely to enhance the performance of agricultural and heavy activities. Improvements in health status and life expectancy are important predictors of GDP growth rates in low-income countries (Bhargava, Jamison et al., 2001) and hence investments in health are likely to have high payoffs in the long run."
(Alok Bhargava in 'Food, Economics, and Health,' p. 136 OUP)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Partial systems thinking

"For a long time, organizations got away with approaching the future from an analytical perspective. Problem solving of current issues was typically handled by analyzing problems, breaking down each part, solving it separately, then moving on to the next one. Analytical thinking also put the current state of affairs above all other considerations: 'handle today's issues, and deal with tomorrow when it gets here.' Strategic planning from the analytical approach mostly extrapolated and projected today's issues into the future. Some businesses are still working this way today and surviving, but not for long. Today, when just about every organizational paradigm has flown out the window, organizations are beginning to respond with what we call partial systems thinking. This seems to be a beginning stage in moving away from the traditional analytic approach and thinking. Organizations are attempting to find integrated answers for individual problems, rather than the earlier way of applying a one-time only solution to a problem that had ongoing implications. It is because of this kind of thinking that we're seeing such an abundance of more integrated organizational change trends like value-chain management, cultural change, systems change, Six Sigma, TQM, business process reengineering, empowerment, appreciative inquiry, and restructuring, to name a few. It's an attempt to begin combining parts of problems into more complete and integrated solutions."
(Stephen Haines in 'Reinventing Strategic Planning,' p.52 Jaico)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Mahbub ul Haq

"Mahbub ul Haq had taken over economic policymaking in Pakistan after the end of Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto's era of economic socialization in which the thrust of economic policy was on the nationalization of all private enterprises. The key policy of the 1980s was to reverse this trend, given the corruption and rent seeking that had become all-pervasive within the State machinery. In interviews with the press, Haq repeatedly emphasized that the Sixth Plan would place primary reliance on the private sector for the achievement of its industrial objectives. 'The government will not enter in the export expansion industries, and would encourage the private sector in import substituting engineering industries.' The proposed financial policies included disinvestments in State enterprises, distribution of taxes between the centre and provinces, direct taxation, restructuring of taxation system, and indexation of salaries to the rate of inflation."
(Ed. Khadija Haq & Richard Ponzio in 'Pioneering the Human Development Revolution: An intellectual biography of Mahbub ul Haq,' p. 26 OUP)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Stuff happens

"States find it difficult to control illicit movements of goods and people across their borders, even with the full and tiresome panoply of controls operated for example by the USA, which has nearly 100,000 miles of shoreline and almost 6,000 miles of borders with its neighbours. Every day more than a million people and more than 400 million tons of goods arrive at 301 ports of entry with 3,700 terminals. They come by road, by commercial and private flights and by ship. The nearly 10 million containers arriving at American ports cannot all be searched; it is said to take five inspectors three hours to do a thorough search of a 40-foot container. But the controls that do exist themselves create profitable opportunities. The nature of state and interstate regulatory regimes, and the efforts of the military, the police and customs officials to interdict illegal goods, create numerous lucrative opportunities to capitalize on the resulting arbitrage."
(Chris Patten in 'What Next?' p. 244 Penguin)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Observer and observed

"Scientists had always conducted their experiments on the unspoken assumption that they were passive observers of nature, able to look without disturbing what they were looking at. There was a razor-sharp distinction between object and subject, between the observer and observed. According to the Copenhagen interpretation, this was not true in the atomic realm, as Bohr identified what he called the 'essence' of the new physics - the 'quantum postulate.' It was a term he introduced to capture the existence of discontinuity in nature due to indivisibility of the quantum. The quantum postulate, said Bohr, led to no clear separation of the observer and the observed. When investigating atomic phenomena, the interaction between what is measured and the measuring equipment meant, according to Bohr, that 'an independent reality in the ordinary physical sense can neither be ascribed to the phenomenon nor to the agencies of observation.' The reality Bohr envisaged did not exist in the absence of observation. According to the Copenhagen interpretation, a microphysical object has no intrinsic properties... An unobserved electron does not exist."
(Manjit Kumar in 'Quantum,' p. 262 Icon)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Fallacy of the two-sided brain

"The Google office resembles nothing so much as a college dorm but with better architecture, better equipment, and better food. Most Google employees are young, so they feel at ease in that environment. But let's not confuse that with creativity. A practitioner of Zen could make the opposite argument: the most creative work environment is a blank, empty box. You don't want Ping-Pong or a watercress salad to distract you from freeing your mind completely. In the end we have no way to measure whether being busy or being blank is better. All the leading methods for creative ideas - from wishing, imaging, and sensing for individuals, to brainstorming for groups, to a playful work environment - spring from the same fallacy: the two-sided brain. You take off your analytical hat and put on your creative one. The two-sided brain dates back to Roger Sperry's 1981 Nobel Prize and had two decades of widespread popularity until Eric Kandel won the Nobel Prize in 2000. It will take some time for the whole-brain model of intelligent memory to have a similar influence in offices around the world."
(William Duggan in 'Strategic Intuition,' p. 158 HarperCollins)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Appropriate education

"The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act, or IDEA, is the federal law that governs special education. This law is a combination of both civil rights and education laws and has the following core requirements:
* All students with disabilities who are eligible to receive special education must be provided a free, appropriate public education, or FAPE. This means specially designed instruction and related services that meet the unique needs of an individual student and which should be provided in the least restrictive environment possible.
* The rights of every student with a disability and his or her family are ensured and protected through procedural safeguards.
What is an appropriate education? The IDEA and the courts have defined appropriate education as one that is provided in accordance with a child's Individualized Education Program (IEP) and is 'reasonably calculated to confer benefit.' The law assumes that a team of professionals, including a student's parents or guardian, is in the best position to determine what is appropriate for the student."
(Margaret J. McLaughlin in 'What Every Principal Needs to Know About Special Education,' 2e p. 5 Sage)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A tribe coming from the yellow sun

"We are members of the sun family, and if we encounter intelligent creatures from another solar system some day, we may introduce ourselves this way. Just as people once identified themselves as belonging, for example, to the Kalika tribe from the desert on the far side of the Blue Mountains, we may describe our 'tribe' as coming from the yellow sun with eight planets in the sector of Orion. That's as good a reason as any to familiarise ourselves with our part of the universe. Before we do that, here is another challenge for you. We have learned that when we look out into deep space, we are also looking back in time. Could this point us to where the universe began? And if we decide to follow this trail, what will we learn about ourselves?"
(Mani Bhaumik in 'The Cosmic Universe,' p. 42 Penguin)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Don't take work stress home

"If you find yourself beginning to think more about work when you're at home, big trouble. I was a master at this. As thoughts of work enter your consciousness, release them. Go for a walk, listen to some music, call a close friend (preferably one who is upbeat and a good listener), play with your kids, cuddle with someone you love (pets included), or get into a home project you have been putting off. If possible, integrate some background music or use music at break time that's purposefully selected because it makes you feel good. Remember, this is about self-care. Do not expect others to recognise and treat the unhealthy stress-burden that is pent up inside you. We all need more tools to foster resilience in our stressful lives. It helps to periodically pause and take inventory of the tell tale signs that signal the excessive consumption that stress poses in one's life. It's cumulative, insidious, and remarkably hard to detect in those getting more mired down in it."
(Mark Pettus in 'It's All In Your Head,' p. 166 Macmillan)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Long run is getting shorter

"We can find a way to build a world in which people can live a decent life while keeping their ecological life-support system intact for future generations. But it won't be easy, and if the world's majority is compelled to spend scarce resources feeding a small minority's insatiable appetite for capital, it won't even be possible. Because any attempts to steer a capitalist economy toward eco-friendliness are guaranteed to reflect, for the most part, the interests of the economy's top decision makers, regulations imposed from above without the support of the majority of people are likely to be ignored or resisted. People's efforts to salvage the ecosphere will have to arise outside capitalist economies and outside the governments that serve capitalism's interests. Because of that, those efforts will be resisted as alien by economic elites."
(Stan Cox in 'Sick Planet,' p. 174 HarperCollins)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Learning process needs constant reinforcement

"Teachers of very young children are most often involved in the resolution of conflicts and must always keep one cardinal rule in mind: Hostile behaviour of one child toward another cannot be handled in the same way it is done in the case of older children. Of course, it should be dealt with so that the child knows this is not the way to behave, but always without shaming the child or making him feel less of a person. Take an occurrence I witnessed in Linda Schnitzer's class. Two boys, Robert and Carson, were playing at the computer when suddenly a row erupted, and Robert became very upset. Carson had spit in his face. Linda came over and held both children around. 'Where did he spit?' she asked Robert, who touched a spot on his face. She then looked into Carson's eyes and said to him, 'You must really be angry to spit at Robert. But we must never do that. If we're angry, we use words. Do you think you can do that?' The little boy nodded. After a short time, she left them alone together and watched them as they resumed their computer game and then went together to another activity. By showing affection to both of them, the teacher was telling each child that she cared about him. That was the most important thing in this situation. Even as she was telling one child that his behaviour was not appropriate, she was making them both feel respected and more emotionally receptive to what she was saying. Of course, this doesn't mean that Carson won't do it again sometime. What occurred was part of his learning process, and any learning process needs constant reinforcement. It's just one step along the way."
(Nettie Becker and Paul Becker in 'Developing Quality Care for Young Children,' p. 70 Sage)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Gautama and Krishna

"It was a breathtaking place to suffer in. The sentinel peaks of the Himalayas ringed the far horizon. The air was crisp and cold as the first ice crust on a pond in winter. Gautama would wake up with supersensitive hearing. The faint air currents sweeping up the valley sounded like the breathing of the world. But rain made his bones ache, and thunder split his head open - it would throb with pain for days. For some months he and the five monks sat in their cave, doing the minimum of speaking, collecting roots for food, filling their gourds from a stream. At first Gautama was worried that he was indulging himself, because no matter how austere the conditions, he loved the life of austerity. Perhaps too much. He tried sitting in the snow for hours to see if he could make his body hurt so much that it would give up all its hopes for pleasure. Day after day he repeated this, and then a miracle happened. Through the heavy falling snow he saw a stranger walking toward him. At first he was only a blurred dark shadow against the whiteness, but as he came nearer, Gautama saw that it was not a man who had braved the storm but the god Krishna. he had the most serene and beautiful face; his skin was a deep blue-purple that was all but black. Gautama prostrated himself in the snow. 'I have waited to meet you all my life,' he murmured. 'I have abandoned everything for you.' 'I know,' Krishna said. His voice rang among the mountains like dull thunder. 'Now go home and don't do anything so stupid again.' The god turned his back and walked away. At that instant Gautama woke up, shivering and starving. The skies were clear; there was no snowstorm. He returned to the cave but said nothing to the five monks."
(Deepak Chopra in 'Buddha,' p. 203 HarperCollins)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Political map of the company

"Very often the move into service is initiated by people at business unit level who are able to see the opportunity when top management cannot. They are caught in a dilemma. They know that a service approach is important for the future of the business but their boss or senior managers do not share their vision. Many in these circumstances create a shielded programme aimed at starting the momentum. For example, one former service vice president of a (sales orientated and product dominated) technology company, deliberately recruited an individual who would shake up the entrenched attitudes to business. He first wrote a 'golden parachute' clause into the contract of the new hire so that he was protected when the organisation began to resist change. They then quietly sanctioned the selling of service offers, beyond their existing, tight remit and beyond product related key accounts. In parallel with this, they jointly created a 'political map' of the company, planning who was to be influenced and when by the new approach. Now, two decades and several generations of leaders on, the company claims to be a service-dominated technology supplier with more than 60 per cent of its worldwide revenue coming from consultancy, outsourcing and other forms of service."
(Laurie Young in 'From Products to Services,' p. 93 Wiley)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Collective consciousness

"Let's not fall into the trap of thinking that new media is about technology. Well, yes it is about that also. But it is equally about the collective consciousness of an entire generation of people across religious, sociological as well as psychographic boundaries. The question to ask is - what are billions of people doing on the Net anyway? Where is this buzz originating from? When Rupert Murdoch purchased Myspace.com for $500 million in 2005, people got a jolt out of the blues. Then came the $1.2 billion purchase of video sharing website YouTube.com by search maestro Google and people cried hallelujah! It's not been very long and the international press is already abuzz with rumours that Facebook might be up for sale for a whopping $15 billion. New media in India is on a ballrun. On May 30, 2007 there were 8.3 million Indian profiles on Orkut - forming 15 per cent of its user base. There are more than 100,000 'active' Indian blogs out there already."
(Rajeev Karwal and Preeti Chaturvedi in 'Corporate Blogging in India,' p. 21 Wisdom Tree)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Joint farming, lift irrigation

"Joint farming society means a registered society, which has as its object the cultivation on a joint basis of the lands of the members pooled for the purpose and such other lands owned or possessed by such registered society, where substantially the members or the members of their families engage themselves in such cultivation and are remunerated for the services rendered by them to the society.... Every person making an application for admission as a member of a lift irrigation society shall specify in such application the particulars of the lands for which he desires supply of water by the lift irrigation society and if the bye-laws of such society so require, also make a declaration in the form prescribed authorising the lift irrigation society to mortgage the lands specified in the application as security for any loan to be taken by the lift irrigation society in connection with, or to facilitate, the operations of such society."
(Ravi Subramanyam in 'Tamil Nadu Co-operative Societies Laws,' p. 157 CLI)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Denunciation of the slave trade

"Throughout 1775, Paine used a number of pseudonyms - 'Atlanticus' and 'Amicus' - to produce a stream of articles. By no means starry-eyed about his new homeland, he was swift in his denunciation of the slave trade, which maintained an open market in human beings in Philadelphia itself. 'That some desperate wretches should be willing to steal and enslave men by violence and murder for gain, is rather lamentable than strange. But that many civilised, nay, Christianized people should approve, and be concerned in the savage practice, is surprising.' He announced himself an abolitionist, and became a founding member of the American Anti-Slavery Society. he also found the time to reflect upon a system of welfare for the young, and pensions for the old, that was unique for its time..."
(Christopher Hitchens in 'Thomas Paine's Rights of Man: A Biography,' p. 28 Manjul)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Market misalignment

"Market misalignment is challenging because it confronts entrepreneurs with an identity crisis. A multitude of tempting potential customers appears on the horizon, but because entrepreneurs are so consumed with the task of putting out fires, they no longer have the bandwidth to consider which customers will open doors for the firm down the line and which won't. The promises the firm should be making are unclear, and as a result it is unclear where the company should be directing scarce resources. What exactly is the company all about? What differentiates the company from competitors in customers' minds? Having lost sight of this, entrepreneurs grow scared, and they frequently experience a crisis of confidence. As entrepreneurs struggle with the firm's identity, they tend to curl up and become internally focused. One of the most dangerous reactions I have witnessed is the tendency for entrepreneurs to fall back almost exclusively on new product development as a way to recreate the growth experience they encountered before the company entered No Man's land... Entrepreneurs are by nature creative, innovative people. As they grapple with market misalignment, they find it tempting to walk away from the hard work of institutionalising their own ability to make and meet the right customer promises, and instead immerse themselves in the more gratifying work of developing something new from scratch. In the end, though, firms can't invent their way out of market misalignment. It would be nice if they could, but that's not how it works. Don't let boredom with the task of keeping the firm in alignment kill your company."
(Doug Tatum in 'No Man's Land,' p. 43 Penguin)

Monday, January 12, 2009

JIT modified for bulk purchase

"The traditional JIT (just-in-time) practice has been modified in many cases to handle the bulk purchase of certain commodities like chemicals, enabling the more efficient use of transportation resources like energy. Bulk delivery decreases the amount of handling and lowers the potential for leakage, spills, emissions, and other environmental hazards. In some cases, the company and the chemical supplier use their combined expertise to design bulk chemical storage and handling facilities with improved EHS (environmental, health and safety) features. This is often done by automating storage and distribution in order to diminish manual handling and the need to throw away chemical containers."
(Purba Halady Rao in 'Greening the Supply Chain,' p. 64 Sage)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A stone from the streets of Baghdad says...

"I've been cut down to size
by time and human intervention.
But not, it seems, cut down enough.
I still squeak when soles
cross me on their way
to work and battle.

Yet in the beginning
I was in earth, monumental
then dug up for a pagan temple.
The structure fell. Weeds grew on my body;
roots cracked me up.

I was reclaimed to be
foundation of a home
aqueduct cover
centerpiece for an arch (my proudest moment)
back to a mirror
side-walled in a mosque (O, the prayers!)
fountainhead
a girl's secret whispering stone
then forgotten, then picked up
and cemented into a street.

But who's to care
for the story of a pebble
that's set
in a Baghdad street?

Yet... listen:
I'm your future.
Come, lie with me -
your bones bare
under Paradise's glare.
(Priya Sarukkai Chabria in 'Not Springtime Yet,' p. 67 HarperCollins)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Hundred miles an hour

"When a person picks up a promotional letter or brochure or skims over an ad in a magazine or newspaper, his eye moves at about a hundred miles an hour. What is going to stop the eye dead in its tracks? Certainly a clever headline that is easy to see will slow it down and may even stop it for a split second. In that second the eye scans the rest of the ad and tries to focus on what to read next. If the rest of the ad is in mice type, the likely outcome will be move on... Your job is to give your ads EVERY chance of being read and acted on. Small type is the enemy. Sans serif type is the enemy. Reverse type is the enemy... Many studies have been done on type readability. Let me cite just one from the 1995 book by Colin Wheildon, Type and Layout: How Typography and Design Can Get Your Message Across - Or Get in the Way (Strathmoor Press): 'Body type must be set in serif type if the designer intends it to be read and understood. More than five times as many readers are likely to show good comprehension when a serif body type is used instead of a sans serif body type.'"
(Steve Cone in 'Steal These Ideas!' p. 43 Viva)

Friday, January 9, 2009

IBM's Passage to India

"When IBM pulled out of India in 1978 in protest of new government regulations, it opened up the nascent Indian tech market to local players. Some of them grew up to be the tigers of the country's fast-growing software and tech services industries, including Infosys, Wipro, Tata Consultancy Services, and HCL Technologies. Now, those outfits are some of IBM's toughest competitors. But IBM isn't off navel-gazing. It reentered India in 1992 and pumped up its game in the past two years - intent on turning its operations there into a huge competitive advantage... Already, IBM India just blew by Japan as the company's second largest country operation - after the US. 'What you have seen in the past 5 years is nothing compared to what you'll see in the next 5 to 10,' promises Mats Agervi, a tall, enthusiastic Swede who is vice-president for global delivery at IBM Global Services India."
(Ed. Pete Engardio in 'Chindia,' p. 193 TMH)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Tales of a Bill Collector

"One day when the office was about to close for lunch, a very beautiful lady wearing exclusive designer jewellery walked into the hall. She came to my desk; even before she could say anything, she collapsed on my table and said she was about to have a heart attack and I must take her to a doctor at Golf Links. In those days, I did not have any vehicle and did not know what to do. In between gasps fro breath, she said she had received a heavily inflated bill. Her husband was away in London and she wanted to pay the dues to ensure that her phone was not disconnected. Otherwise, there was no way she could contact her husband. In her desperation to reach me, she had climbed four floors of the building - against the advice of her doctor - as the lift was too crowded. The lady was taken to her doctor where she gradually recovered after receiving medication. She was none other than the legendary film actress, Leela Naidu. Later, we found that she had been sent the wrong bill and we immediately corrected it. I felt so sorry that such a person had been harassed just because someone had punched wrong data into the computer."
(S. D. Saxena in 'Connecting India,' p. 130 Konark)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The power of three

"When seeking to drive points home and paint clear pictures, Obama sometimes use three words, three phrases, or even three parallel paragraphs, to underscore his points... For example, on the night of his Iowa Caucus win, Obama stated: 'I know how hard it is. It comes with little sleep, little pay, and a lot of sacrifice.' In an example from Obama's announcement for president, in Springfield, Illinois, on February 10, 2007, he started: 'It will take your time, your energy, and your advice to push us forward when we're doing right, and to let us known when we're not. This campaign has to be about reclaiming the meaning of citizenship, restoring our sense of common purpose, and realizing that few obstacles can withstand the power of millions of voices calling for change.'"
(Shel Leanne in 'Say it like Obama,' p. 119 TMH)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

An undeclared civil war

"Nineteen seventy-six was an election year, and it was the year an undeclared civil war began. The main question in the living rooms and on the verandas was whether Jamaica would now align itself fully with the Communists as Cuba and Grenada had done, or would that 'Communist ally,' Manley, be destroyed? 'Taking over the country' was the phrase on everyone's lips. Something or someone was 'taking over the country.' Every day the newspapers reported rapes and killings by the gunmen. No one knew exactly who or what the gunmen were... People began leaving the country, even though the government passed laws that prevented them from taking their money with them. Foreign companies had been steadily pulling out because of the violence, and there was little foreign currency except on the black market. Jamaican currency became a joke. Irene complained that a pound of flour had gone from fifty cents to five dollars in less than a year. She asked for a raise..."
(Margaret Cezair-Thompson in 'The True History of Paradise,' p. 259 Hachette)

Monday, January 5, 2009

Territorial identification

"In the UK, the state determines the general conditions of entry, work and residence differentiating between migrant groups on a number of bases, including skills and country of origin. For people who have a nationality of a country outside current European Union membership, that is, third country nationals, entry to the UK is particularly influenced by the application of these state regulations as they relate to both immigration and citizenship. It regulates entry but is also attempting to force a form of overt and often exclusionary forms of territorial identification on its citizens. Hence, not only who can enter but how they identify is increasingly coming under the purview of the state."
(Ed Parvati Raghuram et al. in 'Tracing an Indian Diaspora,' p. 175, Sage)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Making love vs having sex

"Try and approach your sex life with the intention of 'making love' to your partner rather than just 'having sex.' This subtle shift in emphasis ensures that you are as conscious of your partner's needs as your own. This makes for a more mutually satisfying process. If you are a man, this will help you remember that for women, sex is not a purely biological act, even if this is the case for you. A woman needs to feel emotionally connected to a man before she can even consider disrobing in his presence. So even if you've got a really hot body, don't expect your woman to necessarily be all over you; she will respond only when she feels emotionally connected with you and feels that you are emotionally tuning in to her. If you're a woman, remember that nowadays, even men need emotional comfort before jumping into bed. So if your partner is not ready for you from day one, doesn't mean there's anything lacking in your sex appeal, it just means he, too, wants to make love, not have sex."
(Vijay Nagaswami in 'The 24x7 Marriage,' p. 141 Westland)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Set an example

"Although Awakened Leaders readily offer a pep talk or a shoulder when needed, the greatest source of motivation they have to offer their workers is an exemplary life. Knowing that the Awakened leader has had his or her share of ups and downs encourages employees to demonstrate resilience as well. Knowing that the leader is genuine encourages workers to be genuine too. Knowing that the leader works hard encourages them to work hard as well."
(Joan Marques in 'The Awakened Leader,' p. 142, Macmillan)

Friday, January 2, 2009

Dum biryani

"The menu at a South Indian Muslim wedding feast is always the same: mutton biryani, brinjal and bottle-gourd side dish as a sauce and a coconut and onion raita. Long after everything else is forgotten and the bride has become a matron with grown-up children, the biryani will still be remembered and used to grade the quality of the wedding celebration. The best meat is mutton from a full-grown ram. There must be at least as much meat by weight as the rice - preferably one and a half times or even twice as much, if the family can afford it. Ideally, the rice should be Basmati, but few families can afford that, and so a local long-and-thin-grained variety is acceptable. The meat and rice alone are not enough, however. There is the skill of the chef and the right combination of onions, chillies, ghee, salt, spices - cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, poppy seeds, ginger, garlic and a vast number of others - cooked for the right amount of time at the correct temperature. Cooking for a thousand people in one batch is not a job for the faint-hearted, especially when all the guests have eaten the dish scores of times before and fancy themselves as critics."
(Farahad Zama in 'The Marriage Bureau for Rich People,' p. 189, Little Brown)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The morning after

"The morning was unspoilt by the sound of humans. The stillness was broken only by the occasional rustle, or the chirping of birds. Further on there was an untidy band of babblers, scrabbling around among dry leaves, squabbling over the fallen flowers of a silk cotton tree. A narrow path wound around the house, leading past several others before coming to a low wall with a turnstile. Beyond this was a grassy expanse, still green, dotted with hardy shrubs and trees, their branches swishing in the gentle breeze. In the filtered light they looked unreal, ethereal..."
(Daman Singh in 'Nine by Nine,' p. 201 HarperCollins)