Sunday, July 02, 2017

A Week Forward

A week into my 100 day plan, I have kept most of my pledges except doing a daily update on this blog. And, that is perhaps for better: It is best to let the mind settle when embarking on a new enterprise before starting to write about the experience (Remember, in a different context, Robinson Crusoe made the same argument - that it was better that he started writing his diary long after he arrived on the island, as, if he started writing immediately, his desolate mind would have filled the narrative with trivial and boring details).

However, I kept most of my other pledges, including arriving at a more health-conscious daily routine, getting back to serious reading, and pursuing my commercial endeavours in a more focused manner. Getting back to creating checklists and maintaining them was the first step: I fished out my checklist book from under the pile of books where it had disappeared, and the act itself made me feel more focused. The start was predictable - I listed out 10 tasks and only completed 6 on the first day - but I got more realistic as I went along. 

As I started thinking about Reading more seriously, it also got better. I have started reading some of the classic stories, primarily for my son whose bed-time reading I still do most days, and finding them infinitely rewarding (as you can tell, I am on Robinson Crusoe right now). But, I also willed myself into other reading. I got back to reading The Economist, buying a two-year subscription, and getting back to my weekly habit of reading it cover to cover. 

This habit once helped me - I used to do this every Friday since 2001 straight down to 2015 - but stopped thereafter as The Economist became to right-wing for me (or, I shifted leftwards for The Economist). Reading it now, I find its pretentions infuriating - like its rejection of Jeremy Corbyn without giving any clear reasons - but now, I am also enjoying its desperation as its kind of politics is clearly failing. Its reactions to Trump and Mrs May, the big and little elephants in the China shop of Liberalism, are quite to my taste: My sympathies with Corbyn and Sanders are primarily fueled by my deep disillusion with professional politics and politicians. The Economist, it seems, is at a loss about what happened to Liberalism, and I almost feel vindicated reading it now. Beyond the political disagreements though, I find the journal squarely to my taste and requirement, with balanced analysis (of everything except left politics, where the editorial line becomes unapologetically hostile) and high editorial standards. Needless to say, I am thrilled by the journals recent denouncement of Mr Modi!

I also read a history of the October Revolution, written by China MiƩville during the week. This was on opposite side of the political spectrum than The Economist, but not the usual Russian propaganda histories I have read when I was in college. This was well written, as you will expect from a best-selling novelist, backed by impressive research and a narrative line, which is all bot unexpected. Instead of the superman narrative built around Lenin (as Trotsky, from a different political corner), this story puts the people of Petrograd as the hero. It brings to life a number of ordinary people, some heroic, some tragic, some comical. It tells the story of a revolution as it should be told, a people's movement which leaders were desperately trying to catch up on. In a way, this is true for all the successful revolutions, starting with the English or the French ones, as well as unsuccessful ones, like the 1848 European revolutions or 1969 student revolts. In fact, in this story, Lenin tries to catch up, and fails repeatedly, with the turn of the events. But, importantly, the key insight of the story comes from Lenin:"One must be as radical as the reality itself".

I have made some progress at work too. I have now drawn a line as far as my current employer is concerned, and have started doing new things. Hope is not a strategy, as I always knew, and now I have also seen the wisdom of Einstein's wit, that it is stupidity to expect different results by doing the same thing over and over again. But, as 1st July comes, I have now taken on different projects and got back to travelling again. In a week, I should be in Pakistan doing some work with business incubators there, and then to India end of July, engaging more substantially with employers and skills training providers. These are all 'projects', temporary assignments, but I am hoping that these engagements would sow the seed of something more significant.



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"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."

- Theodore Roosevelt

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We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

- T S Eliot

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