At 22, Kalyan Varma had a ‘dream job’ with Yahoo. But one fine day, he quit and went on to pursue his passion – “wildlife photography”. Today, he is a living example , who believed his dream and making a living, out of something he truly loves. Now he has emerged as one of the top wildlife photographers in India!
Imagine a job description like this: “to study and assess human dimensions of conservation, such as human-wildlife conflicts, land use change and people-park relationships in five parks of India’s Western Ghats” and that too on a National Geographic grant! Krithi K Karanth, a 32 year old conservation biologist and daughter of noted wildlife biologist Ullas Karanth, has landed this enviable job. A Research Associate of the Centre for Wildlife Studies, India, Krithi is currently a post-doctoral scientist with Dr. Ruth DeFries at Columbia University, New York. Krithi holds a Ph.D in Environmental Science and Policy from Duke University. My Life Chronicles celebrates such achievement.
Have you noticed how talking about old times cheers up the environment? There is a magic in reminiscing that makes one feel better and happier. To be transported to a different time and place where one can meet one’s younger self, to meet people who are no more, to replay situations in our minds buried deep inside for several years. And all this is so much fun when the reminiscing happens together, sitting with relatives and friends who were a witness to those events and times. The other day, we brothers were sitting across the table after a hearty Sunday lunch when the topic of discussion veered around our grandfather’s walking stick. It then took a tortuous route touching various phases of his life some of which we had only heard about. The stick led to the accident, rather, his fall from the balcony of the two storey house he built in our village. And the various conjectures and hearsays about what led to the fall. And soon Hari came into the picture. Hari was his Man Friday. The person who so hated himself at not being able to prevent the fall, that he spent most of his youthful years taking care of grandfather. And then we moved on to the present when someone commented about how well Hari is doing these days as an advocate in the village. The stick also reminded us of the games we played with it and the occasional scolding we received. Afternoons at our grandfather’s place were full of fun and games, when the rest of the household retired to an afternoon nap. We used to slide down the solid brick staircase supports causing much alarm for horrified spectators. We were often chased out to the terrace or to the balcony where we continued our tandav. The call to clean up the table brought us back to our world. But for a moment we both savoured the inexplicable joy of being transported to the past and the joy of playing back our memories.
Corporate Chronicles are a wonderful way of capturing stories of a corporate. Each company has got its stock of legends, stars, stories, business lore – whatever you choose to call it. They stay alive in the minds and conversations of employees, partners and investors. Don’t you think it is time to put them down in a book? Today, we have moved ahead in terms of processes- ISO and CMM certifications are the order of the day. Almost every meeting is minuted to the last detail. What about the stories of the people working in the company? What about the trials and tribulations a company goes through. Are they destined to be forgotten as the company hurtles towards the next set of financial goals? Certainly not.
There is a need to capture corporate history. There is a need to tell stories.
Today it is common for companies to have a 20% annual churn in work force. How will a new recruit identify with a company? Is it the brick walls, or the swank interiors, futuristic architecture or the spa? A company needs to have its lore. A company needs to have role models. And there are plenty. Often companies are so absorbed with operations, they fail to pause and reflect on the journey. The journey that has made the present possible. A journey that has defined the character of the organization and its people.
From an external perspective, a corporate chronicle is a window for the world to learn more about the company. To read stories that creates a vision of the company in one’s mind that is not abstract and impersonal. And of course customers and investors!
We at My Life Chronicles strive to engage with companies and create their corporate chronicle. While it is good to take up a project like this to launch on a silver/golden jubilee year, there is no ‘right’ time to get on with a corporate chronicle.
College life & spending hours in the canteen is an inseparable combination.Brewing friendship,expressing love [& the eventual refusals], drama, at times action& what not- the canteen becomes a slice of our student lives. We hug it too close to our heart. Walk down the memory lane & share us with your college canteen stories[gossips as well] !! 🙂
May the festival of lights be the harbinger of joy and prosperity. As the holy occasion of Diwali is here and fills with the spirit of mirth and love…wishing this festival of beauty brings your way, bright sparkles of contentment, that stay with you through the year ahead…HAPPY DIWALI!
Questionnaires are one of the most important tools for a personal/corporate historian. A well-designed questionnaire is based on thorough research on the information gathered through initial interactions with the client, the material he/she shares, as well as information available in the public domain. Armed with a well-researched questionnaire tailored to suit the profile of the interviewee, the available time, the interview setting, etc. the interviewer starts the interview. The initial questions are all about breaking the ice and dropping the guard…to draw the interviewee into a mood where he/she starts sharing pieces of information the interviewer is looking for, in an anecdotal form. Anecdotes make the best stories. Impersonal and cold information is of little use. The body language of the interviewer and the warm, empathetic responses/reactions to interviewee is another key factor to get the best out of the conversation. Long pauses are very good and shows that the interviewee is in the zone.
There were two rickshaw-walas vying for our business when we wanted to go to Sankat-Mochan temple in Benaras. I agreed to go with the one who was about 20, seemed like a regular young rickshaw-wala, but I found something interesting about this fellow in his eyes. I was not proved wrong.
He wanted Rs 50, we said Rs 30. We settled for 40.
Here are the highlights of the conversation that ensued while he rode the rickshaw:
“aap kahan se aaye hain”
“bijness ya kaam karte hain?”
“naukri karte hain”
“humara bhi kuch wahin kaam lagwa do”
I just chuckled
“main try kar raha hoon engineering padhne kee. achchi naukri lag jaayegi tab”
“achcha?” I asked a little interested
“haan, delhi mein Guru Gobind Singh Indraprashta University mein engineering ke liye apply kara hai. achchi hai woh university”
“haan, achchi hai”, I agreed.
“haan, kal hee maine JEE bhi diya”
“JEE matlab, IIT ka?”
“haan, Joint Entrance Examination” he pronounced it perfectly just to make it clear to me what JEE stood for. “mushkil hota hai exam”
“haan, 2 saal toh log padhte hee hain uske liye, asaan nahin hai” I carried on the conversation
“Delhi mein Akaash coaching institute hain na?”
“aapne kya padhai kari?”
“main engineer hoon, aur phir mba bhi kiya”
“kahan se engineer?”
“IIT delhi se”
He swung back, surprised, a little delighted, and smiled. “Ok, aapke liye Rs 30”
Swati and I laughed
Swati asked “padhai kab karte they IIT ke liye”
“bas, rickshaw chalaane ke baad raat mein”. Then he added “kismein engineering kari aapne?”
“toh aapki chemistry toh badi strong hogi”
“nahin, aisa nahin hai”
He continued “yeh bataiye….jab Mendeleev ne Periodic Table banaya tha tab kitne elements they usmein?”
Now it was my turn to get surprised. He was quizzing me. I said “shayad 70-80”
“no, 63” he said sharply. “kaunse element kee electronegativity highest hai?”
Swati was laughing, and I didnt try too hard and said “pata nahin”
“Flourine”, he said confidently. Without a break he asked,”kaunse element kee electron affinity highest hoti hai?”
Now I was laughing too and said “nahin pata”
“Chlorine. toh aapka kaunsa subject strong tha?” clearly having proven that my chemistry wasnt a strong point
“Physics”, I said
“achha, Newton’s second law of motion kya hai”
I knew this one I thought, “F=ma” I said
“Physics is not about formula, it is understanding concept!” he reprimanded me in near perfect english. “Tell me in statement”
I was shocked. Swati continued to laugh.
I said “ok, Newtons second law, er….was….”
” ‘was’ nahin, ‘is’!Second law abhi bhi hai!” he snapped at my use of ‘was’
Surely, my physics wasnt impressing him either. “yaad nahin, I said”
“Force on an object is directly proportional to the mass of the object and the acceleration of the object”, he said it in near perfect english. “aapne mtech nahin kiya?”
“nahin, mba kiya”
“mba waale toh sirf paisa kamana chahte hain, kaam nahin karte”
“nahin, aisa nahin hai, paisa kamaane ke liye kaam karna padta hai”
He said “arrey, rehene do” or some words to that effect. He didnt think too highly of me apparently anymore.
In a minute we reached our destination. We got off and I told him that he must and should definitely study more, and that I think he is sharp as hell. He took only Rs 30, smiled and began to leave. I got my camera out and said “Raju, ek photo leta hoon tumhari”. He waved me off, dismissed the idea and rode off before I could say anything more….leaving me feeling high and dry like a spurned lover.
What a ride that was! India is changing, and changing fast.
Hosur Road,Bangalore circa 1940- “A road less traveled ….”
Writing about past events, people and places is a very good habit. It may be in the form of regular journal entries or an occasional outlet of feelings on paper. Here’s why. Firstly it is an important record of the past. It helps one to have a dialogue with oneself and reconcile with unhappy memories. Such writing has also been proven to have healing powers.
Indians, in my opinion, are not keen documenters or recorders of the past. However a number of Indians (the common man) I know have had the discipline to maintain diaries for several years. These diaries can turn out to be rich sources of information for family members across generations and historians alike. Photographs also capture the past very well. Almost every Indian middle class family has albums full of black and white photographs going back 50 or more years. Most of them are not well maintained and will probably get damaged beyond repair in a decade or two. With the advent of scanning technology and availability of low-cost scanning facilities, it is imperative that these photos are saved from destruction i.e. scanned and archived. It is better, if the scans are sorted and selected ones published online – something done easily and for free. Apart from the nostalgia of looking at old photos, such content and information available online helps the next generation connect with their roots.
The sad fact is that we never have time for personal projects. Everyone acknowledges the need and the value in preserving memories by keeping a record of ongoing events, digitizing legacy content, and maybe bring them all together in a finely crafted book. However, with a busy life such tasks are always at the bottom of one’s priority list. Even after retirement from service, very few people get to complete this satisfying and rewarding work.
The other factor is the skill needed in completing a project. Writing skills, designing skills, publishing and printing knowledge are keys to completing a personal history project. And not everybody can write down their memories, especially the elderly and the indisposed. But will they be therefore deprived of the benefits of writing? Enter the personal historians. These are people trained in eliciting information in a gentle manner. Their time spent with clients usually have a deep healing effect. And they convert these conversations and legacy documents into a book that will remain with the family for generations to come. Children of elderly parents, staying away from them, can do themselves and their parents a huge favor by commissioning such personal history projects. A wonderful gift that captures the essence of a life, its learnings and experiences!
In short, personal history is a wonderful gift that digitizes all legacy content, including handwritten letters, journals, photos and audio/video tapes. And hence making them shareable with the larger extended family and friends. These amazing memories have the power to cheer up our elders living alone and often depressed.