The Flying Book Project

A book lying idle on a shelf is wasted ammunition. Like money, books must be kept in constant circulation. A book is not only a friend, it makes friends for you. When you have possessed a book with mind and spirit, you are enriched. But when you pass it on you are enriched threefold. -Henry Miller

I love reading. And the things I love more than reading are books. The feel of a real book, printed on paper, its texture, and smell, make it a lone firm spot of sanity and solace in the ever changing world around us. In the last 5 years I accumulated a small collection, one by one, and dragged it with me, from city to city. It fits in a carton but weighs a ton, or so my back feels!!

The Flying Book Project
The Flying Book Project

Some of them are my best friends, soothing but curiously static. Some are the wise scholars I reach out to when I have questions; and they happen to have the answers every time. Some are nothing but pure mystery, but are they fun getting lost into?!

This raw power of books to influence human mind is the reason why I believe they should not be caged. They have so much potential and yet they are boxed. I regret being selfish so far, but I will correct my error. I am giving away every single book I own in the next 10 days. I hope the people who get these books will uphold the motive and let these books fly forever, from one reader to another.

Starting today I will post 5 books on my facebook wall. Anyone can claim a book by liking or commenting on the post first. And in an attempt to spread the windfall I am enforcing a one person one book rule. And, of course, we will have to meet to actually exchange the book with your smiles.

Happy Reading!!

Update [11th May, 2012 ]:

In the last 7 days I was able to give away 40 books to 32 friends and friends of friends. The participation was way above my original expectations. One particular night 10 books got claimed between 12 and 2 in the night!! Overall an amazing experience. And now begins the task of delivering these books to their new owners and en-cashing those digital smiles for real ones, as I meet all of them one by one.

This project was started as a one time activity. But I feel it will be impossible to stop something so amazingly beautiful. The Flying Book Project will live, it will breath every time these books exchange more hands, and hopefully the positivity created will foster the spirit of reading and sharing everywhere.

If you have a book which you want to give away please mail me or contact me on Facebook or Google+. Let’s make the world a better place, one book at a time.

Note: I held on to 10 books which will go to my nephews and niece in Jaipur. We have a strict no Facebook policy for them and hence they could not participate. :]

Update [15th May, 2012 ]:

[Thanking Joyeeta for the quote on top.]

6 Steps to rising early

Few weeks back I decided to finally become a morning person. My extensive experience at failing to wake up early coupled with some neat tips I stumbled onto on the web helped me achieve what I once only dreamed of. In here I make an attempt to summarize my lessons into a structured approach to rising early.

Step 0 : Sleep early

Retire to bed on schedule even if you are not sleepy. You can’t arm twist your body into waking up early if you do not give it enough sleep. I call this the 0th step, because all others are worthless without it.

This rule has another payoff; Since you already know that you do not have the luxury of waking up till late, you tend to focus on finishing up your tasks instead of stupid Facebook updates and senseless cat videos.

Step 1 : Moms are bad alarms

During my high school days, my mother used to wake me up for school somewhat like this: She would stand in the kitchen (busy preparing lunches for dad and us children), and yell my name, telling me that it’s 8 o’ clock and I should get my lazy bum out of the bed. This did not work, ever. Instead of doing her bidding, I would curl into a ball, shielding my ear with my pillow, more determined to stay in my bed. My dad, on the contrary, would walk up to my bed, sit by my side and just keep his warm hand on my forehead. This used to work like magic.

And hence the lesson: Never use harsh or very loud alarm tones. Unpleasant triggers invoke instant negative response; You would simply shut the alarm off even before giving it a thought. Your alarm should be soothing to ear and low in volume. Personally, I rely on a playlist of my favorite slow and melodious songs that my Mac is programmed to play when I want to wake up. Most of the times I let the music play long after I have left my bed.

In the same rhyme, don’t place your alarm within your arms length. Make sure that you have to move out of your bed to reach the alarm. Keeping the alarm too close is a recipe for an incurable disease called chronic snoozing, and this brings us to the next step.

Step 2 : Death to the snooze button

I hereby declare the snooze button as the most evil invention of our times and a threat to humanity. I believe it was invented to lead us all into a state of procrastination and denial. Snooze button represents a false assurance that next time the alarm rings you would actually feel inclined to wake up and not hit the snooze button again. And the more you do this, the more powerful this false belief grows. I have spent countless mornings snoozing and sleeping, ending up in bed for longer after the alarm went up first time than before.

If you can’t make it out of the bed, just stop the alarm. Follow this rule strictly, burn your bridges, even if this screws up your schedule a few times. The fear of not having a backup to rely upon will help you jolt out of your bed. But wait, not so fast..

Step 3 : You don’t have to get out to get up

Don’t bog your mind down with the mammoth task of getting out of your warm, cozy and irresistible blanket the moment you wake up. Take small manageable steps towards being fully awake and aware. Open your eyes. Check what the time is. Take a long, leisurely, I-feel-oh-so-awesome kind of a stretch, making every muscle in your body realize it is time to get going. Message your loved ones, wishing them a beautiful day. Visualize what you plan to do this morning. And, then, finally, get out. Ah, the getting out..

Step 4 : Getting out to more comfort

This is important, because this is where we fail more often. Getting out of bed is almost like a punishment, no wait, it is a punishment. Take steps to make the world outside suck less. One of the tricks is to have a warmer room, using lets say a programmable thermostat. The alternate is a warmer you. Make sure you wear enough clothes so that the room doesn’t feel frozen as compared to your bed. Socks do wonders here.

You could add some more incentives to getting out of bed. Program the coffee machine to start brewing at the time you want to wake up. Or keep those cozy furry slippers by your bedside. You could even program your system to boot up and play your favorite songs.

Step 5 : Winning the war

Doing all this helps, but, there is one thing which is critical: Winning the war within, empowering ourselves to win the argument about waking up or sleeping off. You could take some cues from the very talented David McRaney. His blog and book discuss at length about the human tendency to put off what it otherwise seems important. Few excerpts from his excellent article on procrastination:

…the problem isn’t you are a bad manager of your time – you are a bad tactician in the war inside your brain… The trick is to accept the now-you will not be the person facing those choices, it will be the future-you – a person who can’t be trusted. Future-you will give in, and then you’ll go back to being now-you and feel weak and ashamed. Now-you must trick future-you into doing what is right for both parties…

All the best and happy mornings!!

Akidat ke phool chaddha kar

Akidat ke phool chaddha kar..

Chhoti si ekal baddha kar..

Aaye hai sar ko jhuka kar..

Tujhse dua maangte hum..

I learnt this song listening to my sister sing it in school. I was in Montessori back then. We used to walk to school together, either singing such rhymes or discussing the day ahead. On our way back we used to collect “Bandar ki Roti“, small flattened leaves with an edible nut sealed between them, in our empty tiff-ins. Homework was more fun with some Monkey’s Bread to chew on.

It’s wonderful how we never forget some things. You can always recall them vividly, no matter how long ago they happened. They stick out in the puddle of your memories, letting you step over them and cross over to times that are long gone. There stands 5 year old me, crying, cause he is being sent to school and a little away is the 15 year old me, with his mate, standing outside the class. Together they are weaving incredible worlds out of their imaginations, too creative for the confines of a classroom. Everything else in between the two is faded, vague. There, but not so significant.

Broken Mirrors

I’m so happy.. Cause today I found my friends,
Their in my head.
I’m so ugly.. That’s OK cause so are you,
We’ve broken mirrors.

These lines are from a Nirvana song, Lithium (Nevermind). The line “We’ve broken mirrors” attempts to describe a state of moral decay where values cease to matter. Human, being a social animal, evaluates it’s actions and behaviour against the norms established by the society as a whole. He checks himself out in this social mirror to ensure that it “looks” good. Though this largely fosters hypocrisy, it at least keeps anarchy in check.

I saw a very sensitive teenage. My reactions to acts of social injustice and corruption used to be phenomenal. I used to believe that world has lost all it’s sensitivity and is headed for collapse. What follows is an angry ramble which little Anupam Ashish penned probably after witnessing another social incident that did not fit into his definition of a fair world.

When was it the last time you actually reacted to something abnormal or disturbing? And I am not talking about your cell not working well or the discovery about the alternate sexuality of a close friend. I am talking about some of the numerous events that shape up the world that goes around you, the cosmos you live in, your habitats, your city, your block, count the cyber space as well. In short, the surroundings that should normally grab your attention. Also, when I say “reacted” I am not talking about cursing before moving on.

An organism is supposed to evolve to higher mental and physical capabilities. Degradation is not the direction of time and that’s why the dials of life should witness an incessant (however minute and insignificant) development in our perception, understanding and compassion.

Then why is it that we are becoming increasingly careless about things going the wrong way around? Why is it that we find ourselves at a complete loss of concern? Why is it that we fail to even notice happenings that should ordinarily provoke a mutiny? Why are we ignoring disturbing facts? Why are we forgetting and forgiving brutal acts? Why are we accepting things which instigate loathing?

– Mundane


This is an article I wrote sometime back as a reaction to a mishap in Mumbai on New Year eve. I just finished reading “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell. It had few examples of social upheaval and even degeneration which I could relate to with this piece.. particularly with it’s last paragraph.


1st of January, 2008
Juhu, Mumbai
01:45 am

Two women were molested by an unruly mob on the New Year’s eve in Mumbai. The women, accompanied by their male friends, had just left a party when the mob attacked them outside a five-star hotel. They tore their clothes and also manhandled their friends, who were trying to save them from the allegedly drunk and out of control crowd.

Post this, media got busy chastising Mumbai Police for the unpleasant incident and the delay in punishing the accused. That was the only noteworthy mishap on the eve throughout the city; evidently the Police was well prepared (or skeptically, unaware!).

A similar incident had happened exactly a year ago, when a girl was molested by New Year revelers at the Gateway of India.

Will the Police be there to guard us everywhere? When will we start targeting the root cause instead of the symptom? That group of 70-80 people belongs to Mumbai. They are amongst us. We, our friends or our friend’s friends or some other people we regularly deal with were there, either doing that crime or committing a bigger crime by being mere spectators.

A society does not jump, it merely creeps. It does not take a certain stand or acquire a particular behavior all of a sudden; the degradation is gradual and contagious. There is a relation between its acceptance, approvals, tendencies and actions. We have encouraged eve teasing in one way or the other in our lives. Either by doing it, or by applauding or meekly accepting it. We are the source, and the harvest, I must say, is pleasant.

Do take care.