I always appreciate minds that inspire with their vision, words, actions and life. In a noisy world, I look forward to such minds that permeate a good adulation of positivity and and an uplift and desire to improve internally. This is one such of a vibe.

Uplift | The Border Of a Mind

I happened to hear a beautiful conversation by H.E, Reem Al Hashimi, UAE’s Minister of State. She’s a very accomplished woman with lot of achievements and accolades in her life. Addressing a young crowd gathered, she had a very short speech, but what I liked is that she went through very profound aspects. I’m noting some details that I felt very inspiring:

  • Important impact that respect can have in our lives. Respecting ourselves, respecting the surrounding, respecting the country, respecting friendships & its importance in defining who we are.
  • Power and impact of families beyond our blood relations and fostering a family like relationship.
  • Rethinking who we want to be at all stages of our work & in making powerful strides whether it’s business, government, science or whichever field we are into.
  • She remembered a physics class with one of her teachers and it was at that time that Ayrton Senna passed away. Ayrton Senna was a very accomplished Brazilian Formula One driver. When he died, her teacher told that the “world has changed“, and she had thought that her teacher was crazy. Later she mentions that later on she realized that Ayrton Senna was not just a Formula One car driver, he achieved remarkable things. He exemplified the power of human spirit in achievement in sports, and that’s something that you respect. You respect somebody who worked so hard to show the full potential of the human spirit.
  • She spoke about making the most amazing thing with the least we could possibly have and to employ that approach to life.
  • She spoke of not being after titles in work and in general at life. Titles would come and go and it’s the way the world is. People are behind titles. It’s good to be ambitious in a way. Rather be more ambitious in the work we are delivering and in the service we provide. The value we are making, creating the impact we are leaving. Titles shouldn’t be the driving force. Become at the absolute pro at your work. It’s very hard to be good at something that we won’t like to do.
H.E Reem Al Hashimi speaks at a Keynote.

how your story begins

Tinkering edits with Pixlr. Not remembering where I photographed this from. Probably from Quilon, Kerala.

“Each day is born with a sunrise
and ends in a sunset, the same way we
open our eyes to see the light,
and close them to hear the dark.
You have no control over
how your story begins or ends.
But by now, you should know that
all things have an ending.
Every spark returns to darkness.
Every sound returns to silence.
And every flower returns to sleep
with the earth.
The journey of the sun
and moon is predictable
But yours,
is your ultimate

― Suzy Kassem

Spirit of the Stairway

This is a photograph that I took from a museum at Yerevan. The title of the post is based on the same notes from a French phrase.

People in France have a phrase: “Spirit of the Stairway.” In French: Esprit de l’escalier. It means that moment when you find the answer, but it’s too late. Say you’re at a party and someone insults you. You have to say something. So under pressure, with everybody watching, you say something lame. But the moment you leave the party

As you start down the stairway, then — magic. You come up with the perfect thing you should’ve said. The perfect crippling put-down.

That’s the Spirit of the Stairway. The trouble is even the French don’t have a phrase for the stupid things you actually do say under pressure. Those stupid, desperate things you actually think or do. Some deeds are too low to even get a name. Too low to even get talked about.

― Chuck Palahniuk, Guts

pull of the peaks.

“Although I deeply love oceans, deserts, and other wild landscapes, it is only mountains that beckon me with that sort of painful magnetic pull to walk deeper and deeper into their beauty. They keep me continuously wanting to know more, feel more, see more.”
― Victoria Erickson

My colleague’s photograph that I captured when he was capturing the mountains, circa 2018 somewhere in Fujairah, an emirate of the UAE.

passionate soulful prowess

Recently I’ve have been grazing through the videos by Chinese blogger Li Ziqi, who became an internet sensation after her videos on handicrafts, traditional cooking, and DIY from the countryside of Mianyang in southwest China’s Sichuan Province grew in popularity and caught netizen’s attention worldwide. What attracted my attention is the inherent calmness and the passionate composure with which each theme is made. It is in stark contrast with the heavily commercialized video bombardments, often largely obliquely spurious that we see on every video platform. Each video I’ve seen so far is so genuine and brilliantly captured. From what I’ve read in magazines, Li lives with her grandmother in a Chinese rural province. Orphaned at a very young age, she moved to city to work. After her grandfather’s death, she returned to the village to take care of her grandmother who fell ill. All her food and handicraft videos are often crafted from scratch and are prepared using authentic basic ingredients and tools making the best use of Chinese traditional techniques.

She initially started posting videos on Mepai, which is a very famous social platform in China and garnered great attention. In 2017, she started posting videos on Youtube which grew in popularity ever since. Her grandfather was a cook in the village. She learned how to grow vegetables, fish, carpenter handiworks, traditional dishes, and bamboo crafts. The well-made videos with its passion and subtle nuances give a wonderful experience of Chinese traditions and culture and her positive spirit on self-reliance sent by her life expertise has attracted warm international reception.

Her videos are unfeigned, lucid and basics from scratch and mostly don’t use any sort of modern technology or even electricity in most cases. She does everything on her own from cutting goat and rabbit fur for the brush hairs to chopping small trees to make paper. In one of the videos that I saw, she built a coffee table and two sofas using bamboo in its entirety using carpentry skills inspired by her grandfather. In some other videos, lip colors are prepared from fresh flower petals and honey. You’d be amazed by how she delves to the roots. The honey shown is not from a supermarket, but from a beehive in the village. She prepares her own deserts, sweet potato jelly, and pancakes from the sweet farm potatoes which she harvested on her own. A lot of traditional ways of preparations are shown.

The authenticity and fervent equanimity keep these visuals apart from the rest of the crowd and has truly impressed me. As we touched upon in our note on compassionate prudence, true magic ensues when people put in their signature on every single thing they do and when everything is done with love. Stories like this truly inspire!. God bless!

change | influence | build

Here are a few.


After recently seeing a South Indian flick revolving around the story of an army man and his valiant death in the service of the nation, I’ve been thinking of Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan (15 March 1977 – 28 November 2008). He was an officer in the Indian Army serving in the elite Special Action Group of the National Security Guards. He was martyred in action during the November 2008 Mumbai attacks. He was consequently awarded the Ashoka Chakra, India’s highest peacetime gallantry award, on 26 January 2009. He was the only son of retired ISRO officer K. Unnikrishnan and Dhanalakshmi Unnikrishnan.

It’s been almost 10 years since his passing and I was looking at the narrations and thoughts of his proud mother.  She gets a new T-shirt for her son on the day of his birthday. Recently actor Tovino Thomas visited their home after she expressed an interest to meet him after he starred in an army movie. She gifted him one of those T-shirts and cooked for him appam and stew, her son’s favorite dish. Probably because I was in the mood after watching the flick, but I’m deeply moved and ardently melted by these gestures and the strength of their family.

Ajay Sukumaran writes on Outlook India

Over these 10 years, Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan’s parents have grown used to spending a large part of their time travelling to events or meeting people. A few months ago, they were in Kerala to speak at a school, despite Dhanalakshmi’s nagging backache. “I will go and speak as long as my health permits,” she says. She has so much to share with people about her son. “After he has gone, we have only him to talk about.”

Upstairs in their two-storey home is a gallery, a labour of love for their son. “He would keep his things very carefully. So we were wondering what to do with them. And that’s how we created this,” she says. There’s an astonishing collection of personal articles and memories, painstakingly put together four years ago. A harmonica, a nursery-class gift from his father which Sandeep treasured; the first cup he won in a school sports tournament and several other accolades that followed; his clothes and shoes, all neatly pressed and polished, in a glass wardrobe; the Ashok Chakra medal and citation; the bag with a change of clothes that he carried into Operation Black Tornado and his entire kit; the dirt from the spot he fell, at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, which the family visits every anniversary (a sofa from the room is now at the NSG’s headquarters in Manesar); the Indian flag his body was wreathed in.

On another side of the room, a glimpse of the personal side of a man dedicated to his profession—His 1999-model music system, an old point-and-shoot camera, his small collection of movies, among them Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. He had told mom to keep the CDs safe, and so she did. There are other mementos: the towel she wrapped her four-month-old baby in when the family moved to Bangalore in 1977; a T-shirt the one-year-old had worn. It is still work in progress, she says. There are so many more articles to add.

Every year on Sandeep’s birthday on March 15, his best friend from school brings a bouquet which his mother keeps alongside his photo until the next birthday. His military colleagues stay in touch and schoolmates, many abroad now, drop in with their kids. “Frankly, if you ask me, why was he so popular? I would say he deserved it,” says Unnikrishnan, who is in his mid-seventies. “Sandeep is living in many minds.” The family lives by the ideals that Sandeep set for himself. “We have learnt a lot from him,” says Unnikrishnan. “I always make sure I dress well,” his wife adds. “That’s how Sandeep liked it.”

Sandeep’s Ashok Chakra, the country’s highest peacetime gallantry award was received her mother and the citation in it reads:

“Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan led the commando operation launched on 27 November 2008 to flush out terrorists from Hotel Taj Mahal, Mumbai in which he rescued fourteen hostages. During the operation, his team came under intense hostile fire, in which one of his team members got grievously injured. Major Sandeep pinned down the terrorists with accurate fire and rescued the injured commando to safety. In the process, he was shot in his right arm. Despite his injuries, he continued to fight the terrorists till his last breath. Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan displayed most conspicuous bravery besides camaraderie and leadership of the highest order and made the supreme sacrifice for the nation.”