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Monday, 5 May 2014

Negotiation, an art

This book gave me valuable insights into the many facets of the art of negotiation. I added this very informative book to my library some years ago during one of my travels. Being a small book I could finish it within a few hours. Very interesting read !

Herb Cohen is an expert in negotiation. His biography mentions many high profile clients who have availed his expertise in negotiations.

Rules are the product of negotiations but then they can also be subjected to negotiation. It does not mean that you cannot put forward an application even after the deadline. I have many experiences in life where the so called deadlines have been broken by the same people who made those deadlines. There is no harm in negotiating to get what you want ! Cohen is right :)

It is easy to say 'no' through email and telephone but it is difficult to say 'no' face-to-face. So take advantage of this if you are a hard negotiator.

Escalate the matter with somebody higher up and you can see dramatic changes happening. The problem is we do not try. We are psyched into following rule books.

Be persistent ! We may have to run from pillar to post but that finally gets us the reward even if it is tiny ! Do not just sit idle doing nothing thinking that rules and decisions are final. Nothing in life is static, there is fluidity everywhere, today's wrong is tomorrow's right.
In our place there is a saying, ' the crying baby gets the milk ' ! 

Cohen who knows very well the intricacies and complexities of the corporate world seems to be knowing a thing or two how things work in organizations and this book is a valuable read for ordinary people like us who is under the impression that everything is black and white in present day world, having no experience with the so called grey areas.

If I see a board or sign and if I am in a situation where I think negotiation will work I surely will try. Mixed results but there were many positive outcomes :) Thanks for the book :)
Thanks, Cohen !

Some of his famous quotes :

"You and I do not see things as they are. We see things as we are.” 

“No' is a reaction, not a position. The people who react negatively to your proposal simply need time to evaluate it and adjust their thinking. With the passage of sufficient time and repeated efforts on your part, almost every 'no' can be transformed into a 'maybe' and eventually a 'yes'.”
  • Always be persistent if you believe that what you are trying to achieve is right. Listen to your gut feelings, act accordingly, boost yourself ! Rules and regulations are made by human beings like you and like you they also have feelings and in that case negotiations are possible. Nothing called dead ends exist anywhere !
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Sunday, 4 May 2014

Chandramohan Jain, 'Never born, Never died: only visited this planet Earth between December 11, 1931 and, January 19, 1990."

Had this brilliant soul lived in these times........?

Chandramohan Jain aka Osho Rajneesh :
  • published about 600 plus books and
  • several thousand videos and audio discourses.  
  • has millions of followers and their numbers are steadily growing. So many seekers, both foreigners and Indians, still visit his ashram in Pune, India. His books and other publications are in great demand. Likes of his videos are still growing in numbers in YouTube. People are writing beautiful comments there. Young generation is showing much interest in him.
Was he a totally misunderstood Indian Guru in those times when he lived ?

When we were children I remember reading many bad things in newspapers about his teachings. Years later I happened to read a book written by him ' Bauls : The seekers of the path ' ! Bold ideas, short stories with simple messages, crystal clear answers to questions asked by his disciples, complex philosophical ideas explained in a simple manner, a totally different, unique thinking style...I did not find anything bad in it. I began wondering why this much negative publicity about him. Was it because of his unconventional ideas, outspoken attitude, fearless speeches, stinging humor and criticisms, open attitude towards sexuality, love of Rolls Royce's, Rolex watches...? 

This incident opened my eyes and I thereafter read many books like this bought from used books shops, all priced very cheap. It was difficult at that time to find his books in mainstream book shops. Now even used book shops have hiked the price of such books because of great demand. Newer editions of his books occupy prime positions in top bookshops now-a-days ! So many audio CD's and VCD's everywhere !

Then began the era of internet, You Tube, ebooks etc.etc. wow, it all helped me in getting a good insight into the teachings of this great guru ! There are a lot of videos about his meditation techniques, discourses etc. in the web. Very interesting !

Actually it was this early experience that taught me never believe anything, anyone just by hearsay, what that gets printed may not be all true, dwell deep and find out by yourself what exactly is the truth !

“The less people know, the more stubbornly they know it.”
- Osho 

From his famous ten commandments:
  • Truth is within you, do not search for it elsewhere.
  • Life is now and here.
  • Live wakefully.
  • Do not search. That which is, is. Stop and see.  
He never endorsed the word commandments; he was against any such restrictions, advocating to live free !

What a beautiful concept, live free ! Are we living free, courageously ? 

When I go through some of the poems of Richard and Andrew, my blogger friends, I often think about 'our freedom'.

“Truth is not to be found outside. No teacher, no scripture can give it to you. It is inside you and if you wish to attain it, seek your own company. Be with yourself. ”  - Osho 

It was very funny he discussed about the word "f...k', it's different usages, lol ! Many videos about this are available on YouTube. Be prepared to LOL !

Osho has discussed in detail about many meditation techniques. Dynamic meditation is one among them.  

'Meditation is nothing but withdrawing all the barriers; thoughts, emotions, sentiments everything that builds a wall between you and existence. The moment they drop, you suddenly find yourself in tune with the whole; not only in tune, you really find you are the whole'. - Osho

His epitaph:
'Never born, Never died: only visited this planet Earth between December 11, 1931 and, January 19, 1990." 
  • A genuine guru will not force or allow the followers to surrender to them unconditionally but nurture them to grow and be themselves. They strengthen followers to become mature and help them to look into their minds deeper to find the truth that is inside them and be whole ! The same applies to success coaches and trainers.
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Friday, 2 May 2014

A hot and healthy superfood !

Why chillies are considered superfood ?
  • Weight loss 
Chillies help in reducing body weight. It is gaining acceptance and popularity as a weight loss food. They boost metabolism and help in burning fat.
  • Heart health, cholesterol lowering and blood thinning actions
This superfood improves circulation. It is thought to reduce cholesterol levels and acts as a blood thinner. Being a blood thinner it may have a role in the prevention of stroke. Chillies prevent blood clot formation also. It improves heart health being a circulation booster and cholesterol reducing agent.
  • Reduce blood sugar 
There are many studies claiming chillies lowering blood sugar. So few chillies a day if good for reducing blood sugar is good thing. It may help people on medications to reduce the dosage.

Also it has been found that the insulin surge that happens normally after a meal rich in sweets and carbs gets reduced markedly with chilli consumption. This has relevance in controlling obesity and weight loss too.
  • Reduces inflammation 
So it is useful in arthritis and related disorders. It also has pain relieving actions.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
This as the name suggests is an irritating disease. Chillies are supposed to be effective here.
  • Neuropathy and pain
Since it has the ability to control pain it is effective in these conditions too.
  • Anti cancerous
Some studies found that Chillies reduce stomach cancer risk. Capsaicin, the active compound in chillies retards growth of cancer cells. It is also claimed to limit the spread of prostatic cancer.
  • Relaxation, improves mental alertness
It improves alertness and may be useful in depression. There is release of natural endorphins that better mood. Well, it literally burns so how can anyone feel blue, lol !

Surprising that hot chillies also have become superfoods !

I thought of writing this post when I watched a chilli trail on traveler channel a week ago. They tasted different types of chillies and hot sauces across America at various outlets. I laughed seeing them doing the typical dance moves burning, same all over the world :), after consuming hot chillies !

But I was surprised when I stumbled upon the wonderful medicinal value of this hot stuff when I browsed the web !
The chilli has to be eaten raw to obtain it's full health benefits. And it is aweful  ! Chilli eating is no simple thing ! Be slow and steady :) and be careful too ! 

Dairy products help in reducing the burn. Have a cup of yoghurt or milk ready if you are going to give it a try ! They are better than cold water.

I have seen in the middle east chilli kept in vinegar with a little salt ; it tastes yummy along with Shawarma, a popular arabic snack. In India too some people like chilli in vinegar. Shawarma is rolled pita bread stuffed with chicken or beef with lettuce, potato chips and garlic paste. The chicken soaked in exotic masala is stacked layer by layer on a metal rod in Shawarma maker, slow cooked to perfection by flame and cut into small pieces to be stuffed into bread.   
  • Nature has provided us with many unique gifts. Some may look ugly, taste bitter but they are treasure houses of well being. Our duty is to identify those, study about them and let others also know about the good things about it.
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Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Indian goose berry ( Amla ), an extremely nutritious divine fruit

Indian gooseberry ( Amla, Amlaki, Nellikka, Phyllanthus emblica ) is a miracle health food that is gaining attention globally. 

This fruit has been postulated as having :
  • anti cancerous
  • cholesterol lowering
  • blood sugar lowering
  • anti ageing
  • anti inflammatory ( so may be effective in Rheumatoid arthritis )
  • hair nourishing 
  • liver function normalizing
properties. Besides it may retard or delay the progress of Osteoporosis. 

These pale green, spherical  fruits having smooth surfaces are about 2 cm in diameter and tastes sour / bitter. Inside there is a hard seed about a centimeter diameter. The tree grows about 15 meters tall and has small leaves.   

The fruits are available almost everywhere in India. The common uses of this fruit in households in India is to crush it to prepare 'Amla juice' or to 'make pickles'. In some parts of India curry like dishes are prepared with it. I have seen in the middle east and in some parts of India, Amla being kept in honey to be enjoyed later because it is bitter to consume fresh ! Amla is in great demand in manufacturing Ayurvedic medicines, the traditional system of medicine here. 

It has high concentrations of Vitamin C. The antioxidant action is said to be due to the presence of Ellagitannins, which also has anti-cancer, antiviral, antimicrobial, and anti-parasitic activities, as well as ability to regulate blood glucose, in addition to other substances that also has antioxidant properties.

There are many legends prevailing about the divine nature of this fruit. One says it has fallen to Earth from the spillage of Amruth, the nectar of immortality, during the 'Kheera sagara madhana' or 'churning of the milk ocean' described in the Holy Mahabharatha, Indian epic when a fight occurred between the 'devas' and 'asuras'. Check my old post to know more about this interesting event

Some are of the opinion these divine fruits were given by Lakshmi devi, the Goddess of wealth, fortune and prosperity to Sri Adi Sankaracharya, a great scholar and sage when he prayed to alleviate the poverty of a poor brahmin woman. This fruit is a must when we prepare Vishukkani, during the time of Vishu, a festival during new year according to the traditional calendar about which I have blogged before.

Amla is thus considered a God given universal remedy in India and I have not heard any instances where it cannot be consumed. 

The first picture shows Amla and it's juice. With the advent of mixie / mixer / smoothie maker it is easy to crush and smoothen it into juice. If you have the patience to remove the hard seed, well and good :) or just go on with whole fruits washed well and strain the juice once it is done. The residue may be used as 'chammanthy', mixed with a little chilly powder and salt, it is a good side dish with dosa or iddali. You may add a pinch of salt / sugar  / honey to mask the bitter / sour taste of Amla juice. I prefer it plain :) All of the above are my culinary experiments, user discretion advised :)

The next picture shows Nellikka ( Amla ) pickle. It is called 'Nellikka', in malayalam, our mother tongue. Fruits are washed thoroughly, lightly steamed and seeds removed. Some prefer to preserve the spherical shape and would like to remove the seed while enjoying achar during meals. Different oils are used for sauteing like gingelly or sesame. Spices like asafoetida, fenugreek, turmeric, ginger etc. are used along with chilly powder, salt and there are many recipes prevalent in India. It can also be done plain without oil / little salt but the shelf life will be short and you must compromise upon the taste factor but it is a definitely healthier option particularly for people with high cholesterol. Be careful if you have high blood pressure because pickles in general have high concentration of common salt. 'Achar' is a common accompaniment eating rice or rice porridge in Kerala. 
  • Health is wealth ! Food is medicine ! God has blessed mankind with many good things but the the most important He has given is health. It is our primary responsibility to safeguard this healthy state of complete physical, mental and social well being !
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Monday, 28 April 2014

The largest Varpu in the world, Crafters, Jew Town, Kochi

Varpu is a large cauldron made of cast bronze traditionally used in Kerala for preparing sweet dishes like 'Payasam' (Kheer in hindi). This large cooking vessel will be put into use during feasts, festivals and special occasions when food has to be prepared for a large number of people in Kerala. A smaller version of this vessel is called Uruli, and it is golden colored. Now-a-days you will see such vessels filled with water and beautiful flowers floating, in many resorts and hotels and house holds. But 'varpu' are still being used by large catering business firms that involves cooking for a very large number of people.

I remember seeing such huge cauldrons at Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of Kerala. While visiting the historic Jew town area of Mattancherry in Kochi, I happened to visit this awesome antique shop called 'Crafters', where the world's largest varpu is being exhibited.

Stunning ! It is huge !

They have entered into the Limca book of records their being the largest varpu ever made in the world. This measures twelve feet in diameter and weighs 3184 kg ! It has taken about 30 skilled craftsmen and 160 artisans to work tirelessly for 13 months at Mannar in Kerala, to bring this dream of the owners of this beautiful shop to possess the largest varpu in the world, into reality!

What an amazing achievement !

The art works on this vessel is beautiful. You can see beautiful floral patterns cast below the handles. All along the perimeter beautiful lace work is also seen !

HRH the prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall have paid a Royal visit here recently; the photos are on the wall as well as on their website.

This is a very famous antique shop at Jew Town having unique and priceless items. They sell some spices too; we bought a packet of tea mixed with Cardamom. Awesome tea ! More about it in the next post :)
  • Ideas are precious. Determination, hard work and sharply focused mind are essential to convert such creative ideas into beautiful reality.
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