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OF
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Includes FREE Self Publishing Guide
How to Self Publish for Indian Market
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3
Table of contents

Best of Pothi.com
Last Rights ...............................................................................9
Blackie ....................................................................................14
Return of Acharya ..................................................................18
Right in the Middle ................................................................25
Trip to the San Francisco Zoo ...............................................27
Analyze All Parameters ..........................................................41
A Toy for the Little Princess ..................................................57
Agony .....................................................................................63
Lalitha Bilgi (Social Enterprise) Venture: Swayam .................66
Motorcycle ..............................................................................78
Best of Pothi.com
4
Marriage, Kids and other Problems ........................................84
Correspondences With An Unknown Mystic .........................88
Te Moon’s Complexion .........................................................97
Of Education, Learnings & Knowledge ...............................109
Te harmony in my life .........................................................114

How to Self Publish for
Indian Market
Introduction ..........................................................................127
What is Self Publishing? ......................................................129
What Every Self Publisher Should Know .............................145
Self Publishing at Pothi.com ................................................150

Best of Pothi.com
7
Preface
L
ast year we decided to boldly go where no Indian company had
gone before. Pothi.com was founded to ofer the independent
Indian authors a platform to publish their works easily and
economically. More than a year and 250 titles down the line, the
concept of Print On Demand (POD) and self publishing is catching
on fast amongst the Indians. Te journey so far has been interesting,
exciting and at times scary. We faced numerous new challenges which
had no precedence and needed ingenious, innovative solutions. But
we learnt, we innovated and we remain focused on our goals.
Today, we are one of the very few established POD players in
the market. Apart from POD, we ofer a wide array of services like
editing, formatting, illustrations etc. We set up an online bookstore
for independent authors to be able to reach out to a wider audience.
You can submit your raw manuscript and leave the rest to us – from
editing to printing and online marketing. We ofer you the fexibility
of choosing all or any of our services to suit your convenience.
In past one year, more than 150 authors have chosen Pothi.com
as their partner in self-publishing. Trough them, we have come to
Best of Pothi.com
8
better understand the problems faced by independent authors. Since
these individuals lack the marketing muscle of traditional publishing
houses, more often than not they fail to get the kind of visibility
that their works deserve. Te books don’t get reviewed in mainstream
media, they don’t get interviewed by journalists and only few readers
get to see their work.
Trough this collection, we have attempted to ameliorate the
situation by choosing to showcase a few select works of self published
authors which are available with us. Te selection represents a diverse
genre of books including fction, humour, children’s book and self
improvement. Tese authors have explored their creative side and
have a charming tale or an important thought to share with you.
Te format provides for a brief description of the book and
author followed by a chapter from the books. Tese make for a
tantalizing and enticing reading. Tey whet your appetite without
satiating the hunger. In order to satisfy your hunger, you are invited
for the complete bufet at Pothi.com for buying these books and
exploring others too.
9

Last Rights
W
e fnally moved from King Edward Road Mess to a house on
Tughlak Road in November 1947.
It was a traumatic time for me. Hordes of refugees were streaming
in from West Punjab and refugee camps had been set up all over the
city. Often refugee families would go from house to house asking
for food and shelter. It made me very disturbed to see entire families
dispossessed of their homes and reduced to paupers.
Over a million people would be killed in the mass migrations
that took place after the partition of India. Tere were Hindus feeing
from Pakistan into India and Muslims going in the other direction.
Many would never make it to their destination. One apostle of non-
violence – Mahatma Gandhi – repeatedly went on fast to protest
against this communal violence. It did not help.
At the age of eight I was aware of Mahatma Gandhi but only
vaguely knew the reasons for his greatness.
Best of Pothi.com
My mother was my main source of my information about Gandhi.
She had purchased a children’s book about the life of Gandhi for me.
I read about his early life and eforts in India’s freedom movement.
Te one fact that impressed me was that he only travelled in the third
class in Indian trains. Even at my age, I was aware of the tribulations
of persons who travelled by third class. It was an era when the Indian
Railways had four classes – frst, second, intermediate and third –
and the third class compartments had simple wooden benches and
were invariably overcrowded. I was moved by Gandhi’s gesture of
enduring personal discomfort to focus on a social injustice.
When living on Tughlak Road, we were fortunate to be within
walking distance of Birla House. Tis sumptuous mansion belonged
to the Birla family who had placed it at Gandhi’s disposal. Whenever
in Delhi, Gandhi would stay at Birla House and hold his daily prayer
meetings at around 5 p.m. in the evenings. My mother would go to
these prayer meetings and I sometimes accompanied her.
It was a short walk from our Tughlak Road home to Birla House.
Tere would already be a crowd outside the Birla House gate. We
would join the stream of people walking down the drive to the prayer
ground at the end of the garden. By the time we reached the prayer
ground, the frst rows were already occupied. My mother and I were
obliged to fnd places a few rows behind. I can now only estimate but
there must have been more than a few hundred people at each prayer
meeting.
Gandhi was always punctual. At 5 p.m. he would arrive at
the prayer ground followed by some members of his family. After
mounting the steps to the level of the prayer ground, he would take
10
11
his place on a wooden platform. Te winter evenings were cool and
he was wrapped in a couple of homespun shawls. Te frst thing that
struck me was that he was completely bald and had a shining dark
brown head. It was much larger in proportion to his lean body.
I do not remember what actually took place during the prayer
meeting. I can only remember the pin-drop silence when he spoke.
He did not look at the audience. He spoke with his head down as
if he were contemplating aloud. Even as a child, I could sense the
anguish in his voice. We were living in tumultuous times. It was
now three months after partition and some communities were still
embroiled in communal carnage. Te Mahatma was pleading against
this senseless violence.
Like many of the others in the congregation, I had come for a
darshan of the Mahatma. I did not understand what he was saying
but I sensed that I was in the presence of a great man. It was as if all
of us were getting an uplift while in communion with a noble spirit.
Tere was singing and I would join my mother when the
congregation sang the Mahatma’s favourite refrain:
Raghupati raghavan raja Ram
Patita pavan Sitaram
A month later the Mahatma was assassinated. It happened just
before a prayer meeting on 30 January 1948. My mother was not
present at the meeting. She was coming back from an errand when
she heard somebody on the road say that Gandhi had been shot
dead. Another person then commented that the world would not
come to an end if Gandhi was dead. Tat comment indicated that
Last Rights
Best of Pothi.com
12
Gandhi’s message of non-violence was not being taken kindly by the
thousands of refugees from Punjab now living in camps in Delhi.
Among neighbours there was speculation that a disgruntled refugee
might have killed Gandhi.
Te next morning it turned out that a Hindu fanatic had
assassinated Gandhi. In school we recounted the details of how
Gandhi was shot at point blank range by Nathuram Godse. It was
at the nearby Tughlak Road police station where the FIR (frst
information report) on Gandhi’s death was fled, the report written
in Urdu. Everything had taken place so close to where we lived. I felt
that history was being played out around me.
Gandhi’s cremation took place on the banks of the River Jamuna
near Delhi. About twenty urns were flled with ashes were sent
to various places in India to comply with Gandhi’s wish that his
remains be immersed in the rivers of the country. One urn was sent
to Allahabad for the ashes to be immersed at the confuence of the
Jamuna and the Ganges, a sacred place for Hindus.
My father was deputed on 12 February 1948 to attend the last
rites in Allahabad. He was away for a day and, when he returned,
gave us a moving account. He told us of the huge crowds around
the cortège that took the urn to the point of immersion and of an
aeroplane that showered rose petals on the crowds near the banks of
the river. He gave us some rose petals as well as a small copper vessel
containing water from the Ganges.
Later we saw scenes of the cortège on the Indian News Re-
view feature that used to precede a flm in cinema houses. Ne-
13
hru and other leaders were seated on the open carriage carry-
ing the urn. In front and behind the carriage, there were huge
crowds. I briefy saw images of two naval of cers walking behind
the carriage and thought that one might have been my father.
Years later I saw Richard Attenborough’s flm Gandhi. In the flm,
there is a scene showing Gandhi’s cortège with soldiers marching
with slow and solemn precision to the beat of funeral drums. It was
impressive but the reality was slightly diferent.
I consider myself lucky. Even though I was only a boy, I had seen
the actual Mahatma. Not a Mahatma invented for flms or history.
Excerpts from ‘Permanent Ghosts - A Memoir’
(Genre: Biographies and Memoirs) by Nitin Shankar.
I n his autobiography, Nitin Shankar describes his
experiences of living in towns such as Bombay in forties,
Berlin in fifties, Warsaw and Milan in sixties and Tabriz
in seventies. He provides an interesting insight into the
personality of the people he has come across and also
gives a peep into historical events like Indian Independence
and Iranian turmoil from the eyes of an individual.
Last Rights
14

Blackie
K
avita hummed to herself as she cleaned the kitchen after lunch.
Outside, it was drizzling lightly, the rain drumming rap-a tap-
tap on the roof. Kavita loved the sound of the rains, and she breathed
in deeply, to smell the wet mud and the scent of fowers…
Kavita was just going to relax and complete the last few pages
of an exciting novel, when Mohan the gardener’s anxious voice was
heard. “Kavitaji! Kavitaji! When I opened the garage a huge black
dog pounced upon me. He’s vicious! He nearly bit my hand when I
went to collect the garden pipe.” “How did this dog slip in?” Kavita
inquired. “Maybe he lost his way, and slipped inside at night,”
suggested Mohan. “Or perhaps the dog is black in colour, so our
driver didn’t notice him,” put in the old gardener thinking deeply “for
he must have hidden underneath the warmth of the engine.” “Come
on Mohan. Let us go and check the dog out.” Kavita said putting
a book-mark in her book. “Will you lead the way please?” Kavita
sounded eager.
Blackie
15
It was soon discovered that it was a beautiful she dog, with a
shinning black coat of hair. Kavita loved dogs… and that is how
Blackie, as Kavita called her, got her name.
Blackie was very hot-tempered! To make matters worse, this
ferce and irritable nature had developed mainly because Blackie had
just given birth to four lovable puppies. “Blackie will leave as soon
as her puppies have grown older,” Vinay, Kavita’s husband explained.
“So don’t disturb her set-up.” Blackie howled, barked and snarled at
whoever tried to disturb or make friends with her; whether it was the
milkman, the enthusiastic newspaper boy, the dhobi who had a way
with dogs, or the servants. Surprisingly whenever Kavita paid her a
visit, Blackie instantly gave in - and danced, barked and licked her
from head to toe! Kavita thoroughly enjoyed herself and provided
Blackie with tit-bits like biscuits, bread, milk and sometimes with a
chunk of meat.
Since Mohan was the frst person to meet Blackie, he
soon narrated her ill-tempered ways of growling around the
neighbourhood. Scratch marks were still visible on his arms and legs.
Te other incident really took place by accident. A few children living
next doors were playing cricket when their ball rolled into Kavita’s
compound. Te garage door was ajar and Siddharth and Michael- not
knowing about Blackie’s whereabouts ventured right in. Siddharth
managed to escape with bruises and torn jeans, but Michael, who
was younger, was badly bitten. Although Kavita felt extremely guilty
about Blackie’s behaviour, she still felt protective towards her. “She
came seeking for shelter and chose our home, didn’t she Vinay? Ten,
on humanitarian grounds, I feel that I too should shield her.” Te
main reason behind Kavita’s logic was that she knew that she would
Best of Pothi.com
16
never become a mother. Terefore, Kavita felt like caring and loving
Blackie just like her own child…
It had just stopped raining that night but the sky still looked dark
and frightening. Kavita stood in the balcony waiting for her husband
who was going to come from Delhi. Just an hour ago, Blackie had
been given a bowl of warm milk and bread and Kavita had made
sure that she was made comfortable in that little garage. “I’ll warm
up some milk till then”, she thought. Just then, Kavita heard a soft
whine and peered out, knowing that it was Blackie. Te mournful
whine continued, now growing louder and louder, and Kavita grew
restless. In panic, she rushed downstairs to investigate…
An astonishing sight met her eyes. Blackie was kneeling in
front of the steps, calling out again and again to her puppy that
lay still and calm on the steps. Kavita’s eyes flled with tears as she
watched in silence as Blackie whined and pawed her baby trying to
lick her– trying her best to revive her lost puppy. Dogs are the only
animals who display their emotions so well. Today, Kavita saw the
real Blackie- a Blackie with feelings… Ten, when all plans failed,
Blackie sat besides her lovely white and black puppy and howled
loudly…
Kavita had never experienced a dog crying… She was so
mesmerized by this scene that she stood still, with hot tears rolling
down her cheeks… Te pup must have died only a few minutes ago.
Maybe it had ventured out of the gate by mistake and possibly was
hit by a car or a motor bike. “I think I heard a sound of abrupt braking
when I was in the kitchen,” recalled Kavita.
17
She stood long enough to see that Blackie gave one last lick to
her pup, then picked it up and ran silently down the road. Digging
a small pit inside the soft mud, Blackie then buried her puppy
forever…
Excerpts from ‘Over a Cup of Coffee
(Genre: Literature & Fiction) by Madhavi Hadker.
The book is a collection of charming short stories on
everyday subjects. The stories are simple yet poignant
and touch an emotional cord. Madhavi’s narration paints
an imagery which any reader can relate to instantly.
Madhavi Hadker is pursuing a career as a school
teacher.
Blackie
18

Return of Acharya
A
s dawn broke, so did the news about the ‘ junior’ acharya’s return
to the mutt. It spread like wildfre and people were thronging
about his quarters just to have a glimpse of him and his usual retinue,
the people who used to attend on him and assist him and make the
necessary arrangements for the morning Puja etc – they were all there
and by 7 AM, there was an expectant crowd outside his quarters
wanting to see him. He obliged them and came out but did not speak
a word, and with a benevolent smile, and a gesture with the hand of
benediction, he went back in. Ten his retinue of assistants came in
and he gave instructions for the Puja as usual. Te amazing thing was,
it all appeared as though nothing had happened in between. Tere
was no sign of any disruption or whatever that had happened – that
was a great testimony to the elder acharya’s organizing capability
that even during the young acharya’s absence everything went on
smoothly and when he came back and took over again, there was no
break whatsoever. So the arrangements for the Puja were on. Ten
sometime later, one assistant came to him and whispered something
Return of Acharya
19
in his ear. He said the Press has come. Somehow they had got wind
of his return and within an hour there was this horde of people from
the press waiting outside, wanting to see and have a word with the
‘ junior’ acharya.
Now, normally, in this mutt, which was very orthodox and
traditional, the Press was not given free entry into the mutt premises.
Tere was no regular or organized briefng for the press either in
this mutt – so cloistered and exclusive was the atmosphere. Even if
occasionally some news, which they wanted to be spread was given
to the press, in general the mutt always preferred to be not in the
news at all. But today the press have come in strength and how is it
going to be dealt with? It was an unprecedented situation. But the
young acharya took it all in his stride. In fact, this was the beginning
of a new era in public relations in the mutt. He just instructed his
assistants “Ask the press people to come in”. Te assistants were
shocked; it was not the done thing in this mutt! Ten a hurried press
meet was called and the hall was full. Of course, in deference to the
sanctity of the premises, all of them have removed their footwear
and were barefoot, but all the appurtenances of the media were
in full display. Hurried questions were hurled at the acharya and
there were a couple of woman reporters too – the questions were
coming thick and fast. All about his absence, why he left, why has
he returned, when did he return, where had he been, and was it true
that there was a diference of opinion between him and the ‘senior’
acharya, was it true that he was disillusioned with the way the mutt
was functioning, was it true that he had his own ideas of running
the mutt etc. Te acharya was unfazed and he felded them all one
by one. To such questions as to the diference of opinion between
Best of Pothi.com
20
him and the senior acharya, he said, “Well, you are free to imagine
what you want. But if you are asking me, I must tell you there is no
such thing.” To the others about his possible disillusionment with
the way things were run in the mutt he said “It is not a question
of disillusionment; it is a question of understanding. I am learning
like all others, and ef ciency is the key word. Te goal is the same,
but there may be better ways, and it is a team efort and we are all
exploring. It is not all my doing!” Like that he answered quite afably,
and even such questions which normally could have rubbed anyone
on the wrong side, the acharya deftly handled unctuously and with a
smile. So, the press meet ended amicably; the only question to which
he did not give a straightforward answer was as to why he left the
mutt. Finally, when it was pressed upon him again and again, he said:
“I did not leave the mutt in the sense you all think. It is all like astral
travel, a question of fnding myself and reorienting myself. It is not
just a question of corporeal shifting”. When some of the skeptical
reporters laughed at this reply with derision, he let them and did not
try to intimidate them with a steely glare or something like that. In
fact he joined them in their laughter. Tat was how the press meet
ended.
At the appointed hour of 9 AM, all the preparations for the daily
Puja were ready and the devotees who had thronged to witness this
highlight of the day, a beautiful celebration akin to the High Mass in
a basilica, were all seated orderly – men on one side and the women
on the other. Te acharya came and took his position in front of the
idol of the presiding deity of the mutt and the Puja began. For the
past one week when this acharya was away, the senior acharya was
doing this Puja, which was a rare sight indeed and to witness which
Return of Acharya
21
people from all over the land had come. Today also, they had not
expected the junior acharya to have returned and resume the Puja,
and they had come believing that the Senior would be conducting
the Puja, and when they saw the junior instead, it was a surprise to
them, and not entirely without disappointment either, for some of
them. Anyhow, the excitement and expectation was high and they
all settled down to watching the Puja in silence and reverence. Even
as the acharya was going through the Puja routine fawlessly, he was
thinking ‘ I am doing this whole heartedly and not just as my duty.
Because from today, I am not praying to some idol but to the Self, for
the welfare of the whole of humanity. So, to that extent, my soulful
prayers are radiating, and these idols in front of me to whom I am
apparently addressing these prayers are but lenses that concentrate
and bring my prayers to an intense focus.’ So he went through the
motions of all the rituals involved in the Puja, but with the single
concentrated aim and goal of the happiness of the whole of humanity.
And the fnal act was the lighting of a ceremonial lamp and waving
this at the idols as a mark if reverence and worship, bringing the Puja
to a close.
It was at this precise moment, when everyone was deeply
immersed in the grandeur and aura of this closing ceremony of the
Puja, that a loud shout came from one man of the congregation. He
was an old man, coming from a far of place, and he just stood up
and shrieked in rage, shouting at the acharya: “You scoundrel, you
imposter, what right do you have to come here and conduct the Puja
today? You traitor, you abandoned this mutt, leaving the grand old
man to shame and misery, and now you have turned up and have
the efrontery to resume the Puja, violating the holy orthodoxy
Best of Pothi.com
22
of this ancient mutt. How dare you….” etc he was shouting. His
frail body was shaking in his uncontrolled rage, and the rest of the
congregation was dumbfounded at this spectacle. Te acharya too
was shocked frst, but then looked at the old man and the sight of
that wretch shivering like a leaf in his righteous indignation moved
him to compassion. Meanwhile, the mutt assistants were rushing at
the man to make him shut up and also bodily remove him from the
audience. Te acharya signaled to them to leave the man alone, and
the old man having fnished his tirade was breathing heavily, still
standing. Tere was pindrop silence as the acharya looked at him
and said to him:”Sir, Please sit down”. Te man though he heard him
clearly, was still standing. Te acharya addressed him further: “You
are old enough to be my father. Your body is racked not only by rage
but anguish also, I am sure. Because you feel that the sanctity and
holy tradition of this mutt had been violated by my absence from
here for the past few days. But then, I want you to know that a very
similar thing happened to me too. I too left this mutt in anguish and
not in anger. And you are outraged with me for my deed, whereas I
was outraged with myself. I wanted to fnd myself so that I could be
worthy of sitting here and doing this time honored Puja, instead of
merely being one doing this by force of habit or by an edict. I wanted
to fnd my place in the scheme of things, where do I ft in, in what
way am I ft to be your guru and mentor, in what way can I be of help
to you all – it was on this soul searching journey that I embarked
on. I am sure, it is not blasphemy, in your eyes is it? Yes, outwardly
it looked I deserted the mutt, but how can I ever, sir? As I told you,
you are like my father. And my heavenly and earthly father is none
but the revered senior acharya. How can I ever desert my father and
go anywhere? No, I did not abandon this mutt. And if you think you
23
have the right to stand up in this devout congregation to shout at me
in anger and anguish, then I too had such a right and responsibility
really, to let my anguish fnd its solace and answer. I did fnd it and
you will all come to know the efects by and by.” With those words,
as the acharya began reciting the concluding verses of the Puja, the
old man was apparently mollifed and he sat down shamefacedly. At
the conclusion of the Puja, the devotees silently dispersed.
Tus began a renaissance in the annals of this august mutt. From
that day, things began to move in the otherwise stagnant afairs of
the mutt – there was to be no more obscurantist, tradition bound
‘right or wrong’ infexibility, inertia. Te acharya infused dynamism
into the place and its working. Te senior acharya has already given
up the whole charge of the afairs of the mutt to him, and therefore
he could take control without let or hindrance. Te mutt had a lot of
properties, various valuable endowments to it, from philanthropists
and well wishers in the past. In the days past, big landlords used to
bequeath vast acreage and lands to the mutt, and some of these lands
were lying fallow, some cultivated – but not fetching sizeable income
to the mutt which was its due. Today, in today’s prices, these lands
have greatly enhanced in value, though remaining as non-performing
assets. Te acharya constituted experts to go into maximizing returns
from these assets and consulted them as to how to put these to
productive use with recurrent returns to the mutt. He made one
thing crystal clear from the beginning. Te funds so generated for
the mutt should go towards spreading not merely Hindu culture and
spiritual and religious lore, but should be utilized for the welfare of
everyone, irrespective of religion. So let schools, colleges, Hospitals
and institutions be built with the funds, where every one can beneft.
Return of Acharya
Best of Pothi.com
24
Of course they will be run on a quasi-commercial basis, to the extent
to be self sustaining as far as possible once in existence and running,
but at nominal costs and there shall be no discrimination.
Excerpts from Memsahib
(Genre: Literature & Fiction) by Paul Gopal.
The book is a political thriller cum love story set in southern
India. The happenings and the characters in the book are
based on prominent Indian events and personalities. At
the end, the reader is left wondering whether this fiction
could actually be a part of an untold reality.
25

Right in the Middle
W
hen my wife subtly reminded me to cut my overgrown
toenails, little did I imagine that the task would be a
challenge in itself. Armed with the nail-cutter, I tried to reach the
superfuous growth at the extreme end of my body, but to no avail.
While I could take care of my fngernails from time to time, it was
the toenails that eluded my attention. Was it due to the shoes, which
covered the sight of my toenails for most part of the day, shielding
them from the onslaught of the implement?
Te real culprit lay between the position of my eyes and the
position of my toenails, right in the middle. I have come across several
obstacles, but never one that grew on me! Te central growth, often
attributed to prosperity, was the cause of my predicament. Several
tidbits regularly made their way into my mouth between sumptuous
meals, and were the cause of my “all-round” growth. Help began
pouring in from well-wishers. “Let me tell you a simple yoga for this,”
said one. “When you are ofered some more food... look the person in
the eye, shake your head sideways, until the ofer is withdrawn.” How
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26
could I overcome my cravings for all things sinfully sweet? After
Oscar Wilde, “I can resist anything, but temptation.”
My sedentary lifestyle! Te only time I walked was when I
“walked through” a Powerpoint presentation, and the only time I
“jumped”, was when I was in a queue. “Aerobic exercises. Turn on
your music system and dance vigorously, as though no one is seeing
you,” prescribed a ftness expert. After a couple of days of the near-
hysterical workout, I was hurting in parts of my body that I never
knew existed. Te deeper meaning of “dard-e-disco” dawned on me.
My next well-wisher, a salesperson by profession, urged me to buy
a treadmill and some exercise accessories, which he could ofer at a
“special price”, so that I could burn my fat at home. After learning of
the damage it would cause to my bank balance, I decided to go for a
brisk walk around the neighbourhood, instead. At last, my frst step
in my long brisk walk has been taken. It is said that a journey of a
thousand miles begins with a small step. I have miles to go before I
reach my own toenails!
Excerpts from The ArTicKles Collection
(Genre: Humour) by Gopinath Mavinkurve.
The book is a collection of select articles. The author has
converted everyday mundane happenings and activities
into a rib tickling narration of humour. The short piece
presented below is a perfect example of his writing where
the expanding waistline of the author has been dealt with
in an extremely humourous manner.
Gopinath M. Mavinkurve is a professional management
expert in the field of foreign trade policy and procedures.
27

Trip to the San Francisco Zoo
A
s the plane touched down in San Francisco, Julia could not
contain her excitement. Descending over the Bay Area was
exhilarating, and Julia was astounded at the beauty of the hills, the
Pacifc Ocean, and the skyline of the city. It was her frst trip to San
Francisco, and she was here on vacation visiting Jerry, whom she’d
met over fve years ago when he was an exchange student at her
university in London. Jerry and Julia hadn’t seen each other for over
a year.
Julia was very excited to reach San Francisco and immediately
wanted to share her excitement with her family back home in
London. She had promised her parents that she would be in touch
when she reached the United States. She also wanted to let Jerry
know that she had arrived safely and on time. Her cell phone worked
only in the UK, not here in the U.S. So she couldn’t contact Jerry or
her family, and they couldn’t contact her. Indeed, she realized it was
silly to have brought her cell phone at all.
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Once inside the airport and through customs, Julia located a
pay phone. Fortunately, she had exchanged some Euros into dollars
back in London, but had to go into a restaurant to change a dollar
into quarters. She called Jerry, who was just pulling up outside the
baggage claim. Elated to see each other, they told stories over dinner
and drinks at a Mexican restaurant in Palo Alto, where Jerry lived.
Unfortunately, Jerry had to work the day following Julia’s arrival.
He was fairly new at his job with a technology frm in Palo Alto
and hadn’t been able to get the day of. Over dinner, Julia decided that
she would go to the San Francisco Zoo by herself the following day.
She would take public transportation because she didn’t want to take
Jerry’s car, or rent a car, as she was nervous about driving on the other
side of the road, especially in the middle of the city. Jerry didn’t have
a clue how to give her advice on public transit, as he always drove his
car, though he knew it was possible to get to the zoo by taking buses
and trains. After dinner, back at Jerry’s apartment, they looked up the
San Francisco Zoo from Jerry’s computer in order to plan Julia’s trip.
Tey were happy to discover that the SF Zoo Web site encouraged
people to take public transportation, and even ofered a discount to
those customers who brought their receipt. Jerry and Julia logged on
to the 511.org website to get help with what public transportation
was available. Tey entered the address of Jerry’s apartment as the
starting point, and the address of the zoo as the ending point. Te
Web site ofered them a detailed itinerary, telling Julia exactly what
to do. Tey printed this out; Julia felt confdent that she’d be able to
do it by herself.
29
Cell Phones Don’t Work in Other Countries
In the morning, Jerry rushed to the of ce early for a meeting. Julia
made herself an omelette and phoned her parents from Jerry’s
landline. She checked her e-mail on his computer, packed a bag with
a water bottle and some fruit, and set of to fnd the zoo. All the
buses and trains were on schedule, and she arrived there without
a problem. Julia was thrilled to be in the city. She thought about a
friend in London, whom she would have loved to talk to right now,
but she couldn’t fgure out how, other than to use a pay phone, and
she knew that would be ridiculously expensive. Jerry had asked her
to call and let him know that she had arrived safely. After a bit of
searching she found a pay phone and called him. He didn’t pick up,
as he was having cofee with his boss, but she left him a message
letting him know that everything had gone well. Julia bought the
entrance ticket and got a map for the zoo. She wanted a cup of cofee,
so she looked at the zoo map and found a restaurant. While having
cofee, she looked over the map and planned out her trip inside the
zoo. First she saw the birds, then the monkeys. She went to the big
cats’ exhibit and then stood for a long time watching a zebra eating.
Tere was a theatre at the zoo that ofered daily “wildlife theatre.”
Te next show would begin in ffteen minutes. She was looking for
the theatre location on her map, trying to fgure out how to reach it
from where she was. She was proceeding in one direction, looking at
the signposts along the side of the pathways.
After a few minutes, she realized that the other route would
probably be shorter. She got a bit lost and fustered, and arrived at
the theatre after the show had started.
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30
Nonetheless, Julia had a fantastic trip to the zoo. She spent a
long time watching the tigers lounging around in the shade and
took a bunch of pictures with her digital camera that she would later
upload to her Picasa account so that her friends and family could
check them out. She enjoyed the California sunshine, and ate her
lunch outside. She was still feeling very proud of herself for fnding
the zoo all by herself in a foreign country. Now it was 5 o’clock, and
the zoo was about to close, but it was too early to head back to Jerry’s
apartment. He had said that he’d probably be home around 7:30.
Julia decided to try to fnd the Golden Gate Bridge. It seemed
like a daunting task, however, and Julia really wasn’t quite sure how
to get there. She had no Internet access or else she would have
logged on to the 511 Web site and printed out an itinerary similar
to last night. When she fnally found a pay phone, she dialled Jerry’s
number again. Luckily, he answered and she asked if he could look
up directions from the 511 Web site from the zoo to the Golden
Gate Bridge. Jerry was having a very busy day at work, and really
didn’t have the time to dictate the directions to Julia over the phone.
Nor did he have much faith or interest in public transportation.
“Take a cab,” he said, “It will be way easier.” Jerry explained.
“Is there a phonebook there?” he asked.
“Yes,” said Julia.
“Turn to the back pages and look up ‘Taxi,’” said Jerry.
Te pages of the phone book were old and tattered; many pages
were missing. Julia found a company called Yellow Cab.
Trip to the San Francisco Zoo
31
“You’ve got to call them, tell them where you are, and they’ll
come pick you up,” said Jerry.
Web Not Available On-Te-Go
Julia hung up and called a cab. She waited about 10 minutes, and the
cab showed up in front of the zoo. Te cab driver was very friendly,
and chatted with Julia while driving her towards the bridge. At her
request, he dropped her of at the north end of the bridge, and then
charged her what seemed like an arm and a leg for the ride.
Julia was very excited to see the bridge in-person, after seeing it
in photographs ever since childhood. It was such a magnifcent feat
of engineering excellence! She walked from the north end of the
bridge back toward the city, stopping for a while in the middle to
admire the bay, the water underneath the bridge, the sailboats, and
the view of San Francisco. It was sunny and windy, and there were a
lot of other tourists and bikers enjoying the view. She took tons of
pictures. Ten she again found herself looking for a pay phone and
discovered one near the rest room on the south side of the bridge.
“Here I am at the bridge!” she said to Jerry. “It’s so beautiful!”
“Nice,” said Jerry. “I wish I were there. I get of work in a few
minutes. Have you fgured out how to get home from there?”
“Well, I’ve got my itinerary,” answered Julia.
“Yeah, but that was from the zoo. Now you’re at the bridge. Do
you know how to get back?”
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“Oh, shoot,” said Julia. “I didn’t even think about that! Oh, man,
this might get complicated. I guess I’ll have to call the cab again, and
they’ll take me to the train station.”
“How ‘bout this,” said Jerry. “I’ll pick you up and we can drive
into Sausalito for dinner. It’s right on the other side of the bridge,
and there are some fantastic places to eat there.”
Julia was thrilled.
“So, it might be an hour before I get there. Wait close to the rest-
rooms and the pay phones at 7:30. I should be there by then.”
Julia was very happy to spend another hour in that beautiful spot,
and quite relieved that she didn’t have to worry about taking public
transportation back to Jerry’s house. Julia returned near the restrooms
at 7:30 and waited. Fifteen minutes went by, but there was no sign of
Jerry. Julia had no way of knowing that he was stuck in traf c. Finally
he showed up around 8:00. Tey were both starving. After a bit of
searching, they found a sushi restaurant in Sausalito and then took a
stroll along the beach. Afterwards, they drove back to his home.
Virtual Companion
It is a few years in the future. In a very short time, Web on-the go has
become a universal phenomenon. Pretty much every global citizen
has at least one Mobile Internet Device. Wireless access is available
just about everywhere on planet Earth. Julia brought her Samsung
MID to America with her, and also her Sony Pocket PC. She uses
the MID to read e-mails and do some quick work online and the
Pocket PC to write e-mails, read e-books, and more. Te MID fts
Trip to the San Francisco Zoo
33
into her shirt pocket while the Pocket PC is in her handbag. When
Julia arrived in San Francisco, she pulled out her MID and sent a
quick text message to Jerry, who immediately responded, letting her
know he’d be waiting out front in his car, and then another to her
parents back in the UK to let them know she’d arrived safely.
Later on that night, Julia and Jerry were looking at the San
Francisco Web site and then the 511.org site to get clear on Julia’s
public transportation route to the zoo. On the 511.org site, a link was
provided to download a transit trip planner application to a Mobile
Internet Device. Julia downloaded and installed that application in
her MID. Te next morning, Jerry rushed to his of ce for the staf
meeting. Julia got up and began preparing her breakfast. At work,
in the meeting, all members of the frm were ofering updates on
their current projects. Jerry gave his update early and then listened
to the updates from members of teams in diferent departments. He
had his laptop in front of him and launched the Google Latitude
application, which showed that Julia was still in Palo Alto. He sent a
short text message, “Hi, are you still at home?” Julia responded that
she was eating her breakfast. Jerry texted back: “Have a great trip to
the zoo!”
Around 9 a. m., Julia left the apartment and launched the 511
transit trip planner application on her Mobile Internet Device.
Te MID picked up her location from GPS and responded with a
map showing her a map of the neighborhood she was standing in,
including names of surrounding streets. Te trip planner application
prompted her to say or enter the place where she wanted to go. Julia
said, “San Francisco Zoo.” But the application couldn’t recognize
her British accent, so she had to enter the destination using the
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34
keyboard. Ten the application asked her the next question, “When
do you want to go? She entered “Now.” Ten the application came
up with an itinerary, based on her current location, the current time,
and current traf c conditions. Tis is known as “Information in Real
Time.” Now, Julia’s MID showed her a map with the directions that
she needed to follow. It also had voice instructions. “Walk to that
corner.” Te device picked up the GPS location and also did some
internal calculations to arrive at Julia’s new location. Ten it said,
“Turn right and walk to that bus stop.” Julia reached the bus stop.
Te MID said, “It will take another fve minutes for the bus to arrive.
Have a dollar and 25 cents for the bus fare. It will be a ten-minute
bus journey to reach the Caltrain station.” After about fve minutes,
the bus arrived. Julia paid the fare and within a few minutes, reached
the station. Julia was very excited about her frst bus and train trip
in California. She was proud of herself for doing it all alone. In fact,
she didn’t really feel that she was alone. Te voice instructions from
the MID 511 transit planner application made her feel safe, and
strangely enough, as if she had company.
Meanwhile, Jerry was still in his weekly staf meeting, listening
to people give their updates, while of and on checking the Google
Latitude application on his laptop. He could see that Julia had reached
the Caltrain station. In some cases, for obvious reasons, one would
want to turn on the Google Latitude application’s privacy feature,
in order to block anyone (or specifc people) from being able to see
their location. In this case, however, Jerry and Julia were not at all
concerned with privacy. Jerry really just wanted to know that Julia was
doing okay. Soon the meeting was over and Jerry rushed to his cube.
He called Julia to talk to her about her trip so far. Meanwhile, Julia’s
Trip to the San Francisco Zoo
35
Mobile Internet Device told her that the train for San Francisco
would be arriving at the platform shortly, and was giving her all the
relevant instructions.
“I can’t believe how easy this is!” Julia said to Jerry. Tat eased
Jerry’s mind, and he got back to work, not so worried that Julia might
run into trouble fnding the zoo.
Julia boarded the train and began travelling north toward San
Francisco. Meanwhile, her Mobile Internet Device continued to
pick up her current location from GPS and informed Julia about
each approaching station. When the train approached Millbrae, her
MID let her know that she needed to get of at that stop. Tus Julia
followed the step-by-step voice instructions and reached the San
Francisco Zoo safely. Since Jerry and Julia were both online, every
so often they would exchange small messages, making jokes and
enjoying each other’s virtual “company.”
Zoo Guide Application for Mobile Devices
Julia reached the zoo and bought her entrance ticket. At the entrance,
Jerry had let her know that there were instructions for installing the
Zoo Guide application onto her Mobile Internet Device. Julia asked
about that feature at the counter. Te assistant told her that this
application included the zoo maps, timings for shows, and specifc
directions to any location within the zoo, such as the theater and
restaurants. Julia noticed that on every lamppost in the zoo, there was
a wireless access point.
“What’s up with the access points on the lampposts?” Julia asked
the assistant. Te employee told her it was the Zoo Wireless Network
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36
and that the Zoo Guide application installed on her Mobile Internet
Device accesses those points. Trough the same application, Julia
learned that she could also access the Internet. However, she had
noticed already that she had coverage throughout the city, thanks to
the new municipal Wi-Fi service in
San Francisco. Julia went to the Zoo Guide Application
Download booth. Bringing her MID close to the counter, a Bluetooth
connection was established between her MID and the counter. She
then easily downloaded the Zoo Guide to her MID. A message
popped up:
“Do you want to install Zoo Guide application on your Mobile
Internet Device? Yes or No.” Julia selected “Yes,” and after a moment
another message popped up: “Zoo Guide application is successfully
installed on your Mobile Internet Device.” Julia now launched the
Zoo Guide application, which immediately established a wireless
connection with the nearest lamppost.
Each lamppost access point had a unique identifcation name,
and with that name, the application could access the current location
of the user inside the zoo. Julia selected the option: “Locate rest
room.” Her MID immediately gave directions on how to reach the
nearest restroom from the location where she was standing at that
moment.
Julia wanted a cup of cofee, and so asked the MID where the
closest restaurant was. Immediately, it gave specifc directions on
how to reach the restaurant. While she was drinking her cofee, she
explored the Zoo Guide application on her MID. She let Jerry know
Trip to the San Francisco Zoo
37
that she had downloaded the Zoo Guide application through the
chat feature on her MID.
Ten Julia alerted her MID that she wanted to view the tigers.
Te Zoo Guide application gave her step-by-step instructions on how
to reach the tiger cages. It also alerted her to the other animals she’d
see on the way. Her MID ofered Julia rich background information
about tigers in their natural habitat, and about this particular tiger
and its family. Julia really felt that she was walking with a real person,
a guide, telling her all about the animals at the zoo. She took a few
pictures of the tiger with her Mobile Internet Device camera. Tose
pictures automatically uploaded to her Picasa account. Immediately,
the tiger pictures were available in the public folder on her Picasa
account. Right then, Julia noticed that her dad was also online.
He was in London. She started chatting with him and sharing her
pictures from the San Francisco Zoo.
Ten Julia was looking at the wildlife show times in the Zoo
Guide application. Te next show would begin in 10 minutes, and
she wanted to go. Tis time the Zoo Guide application on the
MID gave her step-by-step instructions about how to reach
the theater from her current location, and thus she arrived on time.
During the show, she noticed that an elderly Chinese lady also had a
Mobile Internet Device and was watching the show. But the elderly
lady was listening to the show commentary from her MID.
Julia was curious to know what she was listening to. When she
asked, the Chinese lady said that she was listening to the Chinese
translation of commentary about the show.
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38
Stay in Touch Using Google Latitude
Once the show was over, Julia continued happily wandering about the
zoo. She was confdent that she would never get lost with that device.
Again, in the evening, she decided to go the Golden Gate Bridge. Tis
time she had no regrets that she hadn’t planned ahead for this side
trip before leaving home. When she left the zoo, Julia launched the
511 trip planner application. Te application registered her current
location from the GPS sensor and said, “Right now you are in San
Francisco; where would you like to go?” Julia entered “Golden Gate
Bridge.” Te 511 trip planner application came up with information
about the public transportation that would take her to the bridge,
and Julia arrived there safely, in a very short time. Almost the whole
day, Jerry was watching her going from place to place on his laptop by
running the Google Latitude application. Jerry sent her the message:
“It looks like you are going to the Golden Gate Bridge. Stay there
and I will pick you up.” Julia was happily walking on the bridge. Tis
time, even without a cell phone, she easily stayed in touch with Jerry
in the U.S. and her family in UK. Tere was no need for her to use
the pay phone or wait around near the restroom so that Jerry could
fnd her. Checking the Latitude application on her Mobile Internet
Device, Julia noticed that Jerry had left Mountain View and was
driving north on Highway 101. After an hour, he parked his car and
got out his Mobile Internet Device to select walking directions to
reach Julia. Te device was pointing toward the middle of the bridge.
Jerry walked and noticed in his device that Julia was walking toward
him. Both of them saw a handshake sign on their devices and by
that time, they had bumped into each other. Tey spent some time
together on the bridge, then searched for a good restaurant close by,
39
using their Mobile Internet Devices. Te result showed quite a few
in Sausalito. Tey spent an incredibly enjoyable evening, and then
headed back to Jerry’s apartment. Tese days, pretty much everyone
has a cell phone. We pay a premium fee for the service, but much
of the time we are travelling places where our cell phone no longer
serves us. Perhaps we are a tourist in another country, or even just out
driving or camping in a rural area. Te technological advancements
suggested in the second part of this story demonstrate a much more
ef cient method of wireless communication. Te San Francisco
Zoo Guide application could be applied to any zoo or theme park
in the world. A similar downloadable program could be ofered at
Disneyland, the Singapore Zoo, Great America, and more.
511.org is a wonderful concept for public transportation. Tey
have already built the entire infrastructure necessary to evolve into
the downloadable application referred to here. Te next step would be
to make this program work on a Mobile Internet Device. A further
feature might include the ability to track an individual’s current
location from GPS. It is real-time information, real-time decision-
making, with the ability to incorporate fuctuating variables such as
traf c into consideration
Trip to the San Francisco Zoo
Best of Pothi.com
40
Excerpts from Web-on the Go
(Genre: Computers & Internet) by S. Balachandran.
This book provides great ideas for future applications
of the web. It motivates the reader to come up with
surprisingly new ideas for industries like, transportation,
shipping, health care, safety, security, etc. The book will
interest professionals as well as and the general public.
Bala lives in Silicon Valley, California, United States.
41

Analyze All Parameters
I
was not sure whether Venkatraman and his brother were pleased
with our frst encounter and whether they would come back for
further discussion. Tere had been others earlier who had come
for instant remedies for their entrepreneurial itch. Getting no
immediate inoculation they had either drifted towards those who
professed to administer the right curative doses or given up the
idea altogether. I have ever maintained that an accurate assessment
of one’s Entrepreneurial Edge is of utmost importance before any
attempt to venture out on one’s own is made. I like to defne ‘EDGE’
here as the Enthusiasm, Dynamism, Grit and Enjoyment that a
prospective entrepreneur must be possessed with at the threshold of
his venture. In the face of opposition and discouragement successful
entrepreneurs display unabated enthusiasm backed by dynamism
at getting things done. Grit expects you to possess the mettle, zeal,
perseverance and total commitment to achieving your goal through
self-discipline. It suggests that you hold an intense desire – almost
a craving, to succeed at business. Why so? Well the universal truth
Best of Pothi.com
42
is that every business passes through good and bad patches and to
nourish you through trying times you need an inexhaustible supply
of tenacity. Tis strain of disciplined commitment emanates from
loving and enjoying what you are doing. You must love and enjoy the
business you intend to start or are already in – only then can you give
it your best.
Talking about love – where is it that love caresses you frst? At
home of course! Now consider this: your father has been in service
all his life and the one time he tried his hand at business his partner
took him for a royal ride. He was bitter and just about managed to
get his job back. Your sibling met with a similar fate when he tried
his hand in business just after college. He was lucky to get alternative
employment. Te mother is a housewife though she augments
the household income by selling sarees that she sources once in a
while from her hometown during her visits there. As for you, you
have a good-paying job but you also have this itch for your own
enterprise. You have never seen a working business at close quarters.
Your loved ones don’t want you to burn your fngers at business nor
do they want you to sacrifce your good job at the business altar.
Do you really believe that your family can understand your love for
business? Incidents of business failure in the past, within the family
and friends circle, will be repeatedly quoted to discourage you from
doing anything ‘foolish’. “We are a service class family. Besides, you
have the potential to reach the top,” will be the mildest admonition in
disguise. So where do you get the moral support and encouragement
to nurture your love for business? I believed that this predicament
was going to be Venkat’s frst big mental hurdle to cross.
Analyze All Parameters
43
From what I have been told I was confdent that Venkat had
the technical credentials and experience to undertake the production
of equipments in his range of expertise. Whether he had a speck
of the ‘business-mind’ was anyone’s guess. My own experience was
that technology’s contribution to the overall health and success of a
manufacturing unit diminishes, as the product reaches maturity. A
product design company that introduces new artifacts or models on
a regular basis and prides itself as an innovator of new and futuristic
devices, defnitely relies more heavily on technology. Mind you here
again ef cient production and bringing the product to the market is
the responsibility of a lesser technology oriented department or entity.
Only in the software industry where no ‘physical’ three-dimensional
product gets forged, molded, bent or otherwise processed into shape
do technologies continue to play a dominant role. Tere are no
material inputs or outputs in the software industry. In most other
cases the market triumph of any product depends on factors other
than just technology.
Meanwhile, Venkatraman seemed to have found his reasons
for starting his own enterprise and gave me a call on the following
Wednesday. Since I was pre-occupied that day and the next we
decided that Friday was appropriate for us to meet. He came alone
and very much on time. After the usual pleasantries we settled down
to the matter of our meeting.
“Do you still believe that Jaiprakash is your reason for going into
business?” I queried.
“Not directly, but indirectly - yes,” Venkatraman revealed.
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44
“How’s that?” I wanted to know
“Let me be frank with you. My original thinking was ‘If
Jaiprakash can own a business why can’t I?’ But when you suggested
that Jaiprakash could not be a valid reason I had to ask myself
honestly why I could and should get into business,” Venkatraman
enlightened.
“And so why do you believe you can get into business?” I
enquired.
“I am good with and understand technology better than
Jaiprakash.”
“But doesn’t that still make Jaiprakash your reason?”
“I guess so, but the diference between him and me is that he
does not like technology and I do,” Venkatraman contended.
“How does liking technology really matter?” I probed
“Oh it does; especially when the client also has only an overall
idea of the controls his systems require to achieve an end result. Tat’s
when you need to understand the capacity and limitations of your
technology. It’s only when you love technology can you go beyond
the college version.”
“So are you’re saying that you are in a position to help a client
conceive a working solution whereas Jaiprakash is not?”
“Tat’s absolutely right.”
“But how many times would you come across such a situation?”
Analyze All Parameters
45
“Oh you’ll be surprised. Even in the Alfa Laval panels that
Jaiprakash delivers he and our engineers are unaware or do not
understand why some functions are incorporated in the collaborators
designs. In fact I have clarifed certain features for Jaiprakash on
more than two occasions.”
“Mr. Venkatraman you do seem convinced that the extent of your
love and understanding of technology will beneft your client. But is
that enough to risk getting into your own manufacturing?”
“After last Friday I did a mental review of the kind of
equipments Jai is supplying to Alfa. In my opinion there is a vast
space for improving the workmanship. It baf es me that some of
their equipment passes the inspection at all. I won’t bother you with
details but believe me I can do a much better. Tere are times when
even their cable terminations are not tagged, cable routing is shabby
but you get to see that only when you uncover the cable channels. Oh
I could list at least a dozen similar defects. Tese would impact the
performance of the panel adversely in the long run.”
“Are you saying then that if you were to manufacture the same
control panels you could give a better and more reliable product at
the same price than Jai Controls?”
“Exactly,” Venkatraman clarifed.
“Let’s accept that for the time being,” I agreed. “Yet none of this
convinces me on why you should quit your job and start a unit.”
“I would have to quit because it would not be fair on my part to
be employed by and take a salary from Alfa and at the same time run
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46
a unit of my own. I would keep feeling that I am cheating. It would
be cheating isn’t it?”
“It would defnitely be cheating if you were working at your
unit during the time you should actually have been attending to
your duties at Alfa Laval. It would be cheating if you manufactured
a product for someone else based on Alfa’s drawings. It would be
cheating if you of-loaded work from your Alfa department to your
personal unit when there was no need for it,” I opined.
“But I already told you I am only responsible for maintenance
of the electrical infrastructure at Alfa and not directly involved with
production. As far as of-loading is concerned our planning people
look after that. No individual department can take that kind of
decision,” refuted Venkatraman.
“Does that mean you could be cheating only if you were to steal
Alfa drawings or work at your business on their time?” I prodded.
“How can you even imagine me stealing drawings?” contested
Venkatraman loudly, “I don’t even bring as much as a pin home from
the factory.”
“And how about stealing their time?” I cornered Venkatraman
“I defnitely do not? For the eight hours that I get paid I am
wholeheartedly an Alfa man doing not only the job assigned to me
but much more. Most of my sick and casual leaves just expire. As for
the balance sixteen hours I am the sole master of that time and they
have no say in that,” Venkatraman clarifed.
Analyze All Parameters
47
“Are you then saying that once you are back from your employer’s
factory you can do what you want?”
“Tat is right. Only dif culty is that I do tend to get a bit tired,”
Venkatraman confessed.
“How real is this tiredness? Is it mental or is it physical?” I
interrogated.
“Frankly speaking, now that you ask, I think it could all just be
in my head. Tere are days when the factory politics does leave me
mentally agitated,” Venkatraman refected. “I guess I should ignore
what my peers at work keep griping about,” he contemplated.
I had jotted on the pad in front of me the fgures ’24 - 9’ and
below it ‘8 + 1’. Te handwriting was large enough to be easily read
by Venkatraman sitting opposite me. He stared at these numbers for
a while. Having weighed them to his satisfaction he exclaimed, “Yes
it does leave me with at least six hours to work for myself assuming I
spend eight hours sleeping and one for other personal efects; doesn’t
it?”
“Tat’s what it seems to me and it still leaves you with your full-
time job,” I confrmed in an understanding tone. “I wonder what all
you can do in these six hours?” I pushed further.
“Oh I could defnitely study the user’s system requirements and
generate the schematic, control and circuit diagrams. I could draw the
general layout and mechanical details of placements and mountings.
In fact sitting at my home desk I could conceive the entire panel with
all its features.”
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“You sound exactly like my brother,” I revealed to Venkatraman.
“Tis engineer brother of mine is considered a master at conceiving
mechanical designs and could generate drawings and fabrication
details based on defned requirements. However this talent was of
little use at his job in the synthetic-fber plant where he worked.
Tis plant had a foreign collaboration and the Indian Company was
required to, and strictly followed the foreign designs right to the last
screw. No innovation or improvements were even looked at. It took a
cousin of mine to bring out my brothers genius.”
“Tis cousin refused to go through formal education after his
twelfth class. His Dad managed to get him enrolled for the L & T
Apprentice Training program. Te trainees underwent a three years
on-the-job training with the Company, which fnally absorbed the
talented amongst them in the diferent L & T production units.
Now this cousin had always been atypical. During the third year he
noticed that the L & T business unit he was delegated to was falling
behind in their deliveries. He boldly approached his trainer to take
on a sub-contract to help fnish some of the business unit’s pending
jobs. Te trainer and business unit head were surprised and remarked
that only a good design engineer could do what was expected. At this
my cousin ofered to do the job free of cost provided workspace and
all materials were supplied by the Company. ‘Pay me only if you are
satisfed with the quality of what I do,’ he had ofered.”
“Te business unit head was intrigued by the boldness and
decided to take a chance with my cousin. Requirements were given
to him with a two-week deadline for completion of the drawings
along with the job work. Promptly the cousin recruited my brother’s
genius. My brother generated the set of drawings and together the
Analyze All Parameters
49
two completed and handed over the piece of equipment for inspection
by L & T within the eight days that my brother was on leave from
his regular work. Needless to say that L & T paid them for a job well
executed. Te cousin went on to become an entrepreneur while my
brother continued in service.”
“Tat sounds very interesting. But looking at it from Srimaali’s
angle his contribution cannot be a whole lot I guess. At least not
from the point of view of starting our own electrical panel’s business,”
Venkatraman observed.
“But you did bring him along when you frst came here; and
hadn’t you said something about him being the fnance professional
for your project?” I jogged Venkatraman.
“Oh yes, but he would only be able to play his part when we are
all set and running,” Venkatraman acknowledged.
“Aren’t you overlooking something Mr. Venkatraman? Or is it
that you have the money, the product with all its details and a list of
clients ready to buy this product?” I purposely fast-forwarded.
“I never said I had the cash or a product with detailing, leave
aside customers that would buy from us,” objected Venkatraman,
“but I think I know what you are getting at.”
“Yes? So let me hear what you think I am getting at,” I prodded
“If you think that Srimaali can locate prospective clients, forget
it. He has no clue of electrical panels so how is he going to try and
fnd users?” doubted Venkatraman. “As a banker he would defnitely
know bank’s borrowing terms, interest rates and things like that
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which might help in working out costs, that’s about all. But if you
think he can arrange fnance from his bank, just forget that too. I
wouldn’t put him in that kind of soup. In any case he is too junior to
infuence any decisions of his bosses at the Bank.”
“You’ve got my ‘getting at’ all wrong! Why are you putting the
cart before the horse? I quizzed
“Huh! Ten what is your ploy? What are you suggesting? Did I
miss something?”
“Let’s just go back a bit. You said you could conceive a control
panel sitting at your desk. Suppose you did that for a client and he
approves your designs, what happens then?” I enquired.
“Once a client approves my designs he would want to know how
much the fnished panel would cost.”
“And normally only if he fnds the price right would he place an
order on you,” I butted in.
“Tat means I would frst need to know the prices of all
components and parts that would go into the panel including
the fabricated frames and cabinets. Maybe Srimaali can help by
collecting price lists and catalogues of diferent components and
manufacturers,” Venkatraman caught on.
“Now you have put the horse in its place. Te one sure thing
that Srimaali can do is collecting all the relevant information. Te
information horse caught by Srimaali can be put to good use even if
you do not have the cart!” I proposed.
Analyze All Parameters
51
“We can easily do this exercise but it still gets us no closer to
starting our unit. How are we supposed to do that?”
“Look at it like this, if you found that your product costs more
than competing products I would ask you to rethink before putting
any money on setting up your manufacturing unit,” I reigned in.
Tis daunting statement of mine appeared to dismay Mr.
Venkatraman as he aspired to become an entrepreneur in double
quick time.
* * *
In the course of my consultancy work I had come across many
dejected individuals who had jumped on to the entrepreneurial
bandwagon. Some had mistakenly believed that their product could
compete with existing products. Others had burned their fngers
trying to copy what their friend or relative had established. Yet others
had discovered that their unique inventions had no takers in the
market. Success usually came after several failed attempts at trying to
produce a marketable widget. Tose who had dreamt of making it big
in their frst attempt were badly bruised by their failures. Tose who
learned valuable lessons from their earlier failures and persevered
tasted success. My own experiences and my close association with
them had given me a new respect for entrepreneurs.
An entrepreneur is a person who undertakes a commercial activity
for the purpose of making a proft but sometimes ends up with a loss.
Tis activity could be done as an employee for someone else, or for
one’s self. Entrepreneurial people make things happen and as a result
rise up the ladder in the corporate world or start and expand their
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52
own businesses. Often successful corporate entrepreneurial managers
with vision quit their jobs and promote a start-up business of their
own while others may continue in their jobs taking their company
to great heights.
From his own account Mr. Venkatraman Aiyer had quite often
displayed this entrepreneurial streak, as a maintenance engineer at
Alfa Laval. Te company had awarded him for it. He now wanted
to be amongst entrepreneurs who have given or wish to give birth to
a new business. Such a person, prior to or during the development
stages of his project, knowingly or unknowingly does an exercise to
investigate and understand certain factors that he considers critical
for the well being of his project. Tis drill is a must. It not only brings
forth some interesting and intriguing questions, but also opens one’s
eyes to certain aspects that have to be addressed adequately and
promptly. It also alerts you to what is best avoided.
Te issues, characteristics, and mechanisms that determine the
success of an entrepreneur and his choice of business are multi-
dimensional and in reality quite dif cult to segregate. I wanted
Venkatraman to initially discuss and do a thorough analysis of these
dimensions with the aid of simple examples and later try to arrive at
the more complex picture for himself. Most entrepreneurs have used
this technique during their careers to fnd their bearings and drive
themselves to achieve their goals. Te exercise I wanted Venkatraman
to do, would give him the wherewithal to choose such a direction so
as to be able to come as close as possible to his ideal. Tough mind
you, there is no ideal product or project for any entrepreneur.
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53
In its simplest form, a 3-way system of analysis consists
of matching one’s ‘Personal Parameters’ to that of the ‘Product
Parameters’ and the ‘Project Parameters’. For a new comer –
especially a frst-generation entrepreneur, the relative importance of
these parameters are in order mentioned. However I am aware that
the most important – Personal Parameters are least considered in
any entrepreneurship development program and the banks do not
even make a cursory reference to them. It is for this reason that I
lay stress on personal parameter study and understanding. A good
understanding by Mr. Venkatraman of his Personal Parameters could
make or break his project.
* * *
“Don’t be disappointed with what I just said,” I appealed to Mr.
Venkatraman, “I am sure you won’t like to burn your fngers or your
money by hasty decisions, would you?”
“Tere’s no money to burn; fngers – may be yes! But with what
I’ve done so far even my fngers look safe,” laughed Venkatraman.
“Tat’s great! So far you have accepted that both you and your
brother could utilize your spare time to work on your project. You
also believe that your unit will be able to manufacture good, reliable
control panels. Right?”
“Tat’s as far as you allowed me to go. What comes next? You tell
me,” Venkatraman sounded me out.
“Tere are some fundamental decisions that you will have to take.
First and foremost you will need to be absolutely sure as to why you
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want to be in business. You will be putting some – I recommend not
all, of your personal and family savings at risk. Your life may go out of
balance, with the additional working hours taking away from other
social, family or pleasurable activities. Te headaches and other forms
of stress may increase beyond the point you have experienced as an
employee. To top it all, family support may be worse than nil. It will
probably be negative with admonitions and warnings that ‘business
does not run in the family’” I forewarned Mr. Venkatraman. You will
run the risk of sounding a little eccentric, literally loosing friends and
relations. How prepared are you for all this?”
“My father has always believed that business is very dangerous.
He reminds us that he fnanced my brothers and my engineering
education so that we could get good jobs, be happy and settle down
in life. In fact you may say that we are basically an employment
seeking family. None in the family barring me can see that there is a
huge market for the kind of business I want to do. I guess the idea of
using my spare time to set up a venture will appeal to them and their
stance may change,” declared Venkatraman longingly.
“What if they are not convinced by your part-time argument?
What is your stand then?”
“I would still go ahead and give it my best shot. You are there to
help me, aren’t you?”
“Mr. Venkatraman you are a thoroughbred technology man
and well versed with all the technical aspects of the product you
want to manufacture. Tis knowledge will defnitely contribute
to your success, yet on its own it will not guarantee it. Any
55
successful business requires an equally strong knowledge and
skill of marketing, fnance and general management. And even
with these skills available you may still face a lot of hardships.”
“How could that happen?” Venkatraman disbelievingly interrupted.
“I believe that for entrepreneurs to be successful they need to
be fully aware of the environment they are operating in. Besides
their technological and managerial background, they should possess
personal strength to cope with the vagaries of the business atmosphere
they operate in. If they fail to assess their personal strengths and
weaknesses their chances of success are remote,” I proposed.
“And pray how does one do that?” was Venkatraman’s obvious
reaction.
I patiently wait for my Client to come up with that very question.
Tose who have addressed that question and given themselves honest
answers have found success faster than those who have not. I am also
aware that a picture speaks more than thousands of words. I handed
Venkatraman the set of three tables reproduced here.
“Venkatraman I suggest that you and Srimaali use these tables to
assess your strengths and weaknesses. You must become responsive
to and positively tackle and take steps to strengthen parameters
related to your background, personal traits and environment. I have
used a weightage scale of 5 to 1; you could use a scale of 10 to 0.
What is important is that you give yourself an honest rating and
be prepared to work on your shortcomings. Remember, you can get
plenty of information and published data on all other aspects of your
enterprise but nothing on yourself.”
Analyze All Parameters
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56
“I expect after completing this crucial exercise, you may need the
help of other professionals. By the way have Srimaali and you already
fgured out, frst, what product or mix of products you are going to
be good at manufacturing in the initial stages, and second, where and
how you are going to manufacture them?” I queried.
“Regarding product or mix, I have an overall idea of what and
where control panels are required and some knowledge of who is
buying from Jai Controls. How we will manufacture is still a question
mark?” confessed Venkatraman.
“Well then you need to do a lot of homework on yourself, your
product and your facility,” was my rejoinder.
Excerpts from Entrepreneurial Sins
(Genre: Self-Improvement) by Ashok Purandutt.
The book is an easy to understand guide for a budding
entrepreneur. Almost every facet of entrepreneurship is
covered in a practical way –from how to make a business
plan, set up the manufacturing unit, expansion, cash flows
and everything in between. The explanation of the issues
through a story makes it easier to understand.
Mr Ashok Purandutt is an Entrepreneur and Human
Resource Development consultant based at Pune.
57

A Toy for the Little Princess
T
he day began as usual at Alladin’s Toy Mart. Te shelves were
dusted, the foors were mopped to a sparkle and the glasses
were wiped squeaky clean.
Each toy stood smartly in its place, hoping it would be taken to
a new home that day. Some of them had stood on the shelves for
months and they were bored with the place.
Suddenly a robotic dog with artifcial intelligence perked up
his ears. “Hey! Tat’s exciting news,” he exclaimed, jumping up and
down. He then whispered something to the toys beside him. Soon,
the excitement spread among the toy population of Alladin’s: the
robotic dog had heard that the king and queen of the land were
going to visit Alladin’s that day!
Te princess’ birthday was less than a week away and the royal
couple wanted to buy a plaything for her. Tey had decided to visit
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‘Alladin’s Toy Mart’ because it was the biggest toy shop in their
country. And they wanted only the best for their precious daughter.
Te shop assistants and managers ran about making arrangements
to welcome the royal couple in style. Te toys jostled with one
another to occupy the prime position on their shelves. Each of them
hoped to be the one to catch the eye of the royal couple. Te whole
country adored their kind king, generous queen and the gentle, little
princess. And every toy wanted to become part of the wonderful
royal household.
Te beautiful dancing doll with auburn curls cascading down
her back said, “I’m so fashionable and classy! I can do a ballet like a
regular ballerina! In fact, I’m almost like a princess myself ! I’m sure
the queen will choose me for her daughter.”
“Oh, you’re just a pretty-face. All beauty and no brains. Choose
you? Ha! Ha! You must be joking,” sneered the programmable robot.
“Right now I’m a sleuth looking for an intruder. But I have an
electronic chip embedded in my head. Tat makes me the only toy
with brains in the whole shop,”
“I have a chip too. I also have brains,” barked the robotic dog
who had frst heard the news of the royal visit. But the programmable
robot was nonchalant. “Perhaps, but his majesty is sure to choose me
and only me,” he said, haughtily.
It’s true the robot was a rather unusual toy. In a jify he could
transform himself from a sleuth into a traf c constable or a frefghter.
He even had separate sets of clothes to match his roles. And, was he
proud of his electronic sophistication!
59
Te soft, life-sized piglet in pretty pink put the robot in its
place.
“No, no, you’re just a machine. And you’re too hi-brow for a toy.
Who wants to tire their brains over toys?” she squealed. “Toys are for
fun and comfort. I’m so soft and cuddly, the princess will love to hug
me! I’m sure I’ll be the royal couple’s choice,” she said, adding, “After
all, everyone knows pink is the princess’ favourite colour.”
“Oh, the princess has long since outgrown soft toys. She’s going
to be ten, you know! Just the right age to play with me:
I can hop, I can skip.
I can sing, I can dance,
I can cry and laugh too;
With me around I don’t think
there’s a chance for any of you!”
sang the dancing lion, and began somersaulting with gusto.
He almost fell of the shelf in his eagerness to show-of. But
he was a vain fellow and wouldn’t own up his mistake. He looked
around for a scapegoat and found the wobbly little duckling.
“Oh! You cheeky little duckling! How dare you push me!” roared
the lion. “Are you trying to displace me and waddle up to the front?
You don’t imagine the royal couple will choose you, do you?
“You don’t have a switch, a button, an electronic chip or anything.
Tat shows you can do nothing, just absolutely nothing. No wonder
no one’s bought you all these days. Who’d want a bright yellow, stufed
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duckling that can just stand around and stare with beady eyes? Why,
you must be the most ancient toy here!” he said, scornfully.
Te little duckling felt terribly ashamed of herself. Te lion
was right. She could do none of the things the other toys could.
She cowered into a corner and hoped no one would notice her. She
didn’t mind not being bought, but she didn’t want to be laughed at
or scolded.
Suddenly there was a hullabaloo in the shop. A few attendants ran
to and fro with bouquets. A red carpet was rolled out. An electronic
band, which could automatically play tunes stored in its memory, was
switched on. And the managers stood at attention at the entrance,
heads held high, shoes polished to a sparkle. Te royal couple had
arrived!
Te toys assumed their best postures and waited.
Te king and queen went round the shop. Te shop manager and
her attendants explained the working of all the modern playthings.
Tey demonstrated the best ones and the unique ones.
Te royal couple was most gracious and said, “Tat’s wonderful, but
not really what we want” or “Oh, how very nice, but I don’t think it’s the
right one for Tina” or “Amazing, but not exactly what we’re looking for”
and so on and so forth till almost every toy in the shop was disqualifed.
Ten they began another round of the vast shop, wondering if they
had missed out some toys. But they did not fnd anything to buy.
Tey went round the shop a third time too, but without choosing
anything.
61
Te suspense became intolerable for the toys. Te queen was
tired and the king, bored.
“Don’t they make simple toys any more? Toys that’ll just be toys
instead of trying to imitate life?” sighed the queen, disappointed.
“One can hardly call these playthings! Tey’re more like
machines,” said the king.
At that very moment the queen spied the tiny yellow duckling
nestling in the darkest possible corner of a shelf of sophisticated toys.
“Can you show me that bright yellow thing, please? I don’t think
we’ve seen it yet,” she said to the attendant.
Te attendant took down the duckling rather shamefacedly and
said, “I’m sorry your majesty. Tis is just a stufed duckling. It belongs
to an old generation of toys. I don’t know how it has escaped our
periodical stock-taking operations….”
But the royal couple waved aside his profuse apology.
“Look at its eyes – so bright and full of wonder,” said the king.
“And it’s so small and cute,” gushed the queen.
“Just the thing for Tina,” agreed the king.
“Oh! She’ll love this,” exclaimed the queen.
And they were right. Te princess simply adored the little yellow
duckling. She named it Shyla because it seemed so shy. “It looks and
feels like a real duckling, So soft and wobbly,” she said. “And just look
at her eyes! Like dark blue marbles – so bright and shiny. I’m sure she
A Toy for the Little Princess
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62
loves me as much as I love her. It’s among the best birthday presents
I’ve ever got,” she said.
Shyla simply smiled shyly and snuggled happily into the princess’
arms.
Excerpts from Children’s Stories for Our Times
(Genre: Children) by Revathi S Kumaran.
These are collection of stories for children. They are fun
filled, simple, mischievous and carry a subtle message of
virtue. The backdrop to the stories is a mix of the ancient
and the modern. This adapts the stories to our modern
context beautifully.
Revathi S Kumaran is a writer, editor and independent
researcher with special interest in education.
63

Agony
I was rushing down the road,
Singing, jumping all along in joyous mood.
On a sharp corner, foggy day and far way.
I bumped into a monster blocking my way.
I was knocked down, bleeding on the road side,
Te monster was laughing loud and wide,
I lay there for days unknown,
woke up to see the rainy afternoon.
Tere were rains, lightning and thunder storm,
I had to lay there, why I don’t know.
Rain stopped and rainbow sighted
Birds seen fying, singing and delighted,
Tere was joy in all woods around
But I was scared, looking the monster around.
Few boys came around, I did not say anything but,
Tey lifted me up and took me to a hut.
I met my GURUJI, whom I know as my mentor
He gave me food, medicine and shelter,
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He taught me the ways and means for
How to live happily once again
“Still I am scared GURUJI,” once I screamed
“I always see monster in my dream”
“Why do you think” said Guruji
“Monster blocking you”
“It is now only inside you and
you only are blocking your way”
“Learn the ways and art of life”
Take the inner monster in your stride”
“Make it your best friend, O my boy”
It is a blessing in disguise and A GIFTED TOY.
Bliss
O Guruji, thank you a zillion times,
you made me your boy.
now only, I can understand,
and accept this monster as a gifted toy.
Now I can play with him, if I want,
and turn it of when I don’t.
I allow it to play with myself,
and then pack it of to the shelf.
Te monster sometimes smiles,
And walk with me, hand in hand, for miles.
Sometimes, when I am unable to walk,
He lifts me up, and run, shunning the talk.
Agony
65
He is my buddy, if I deploy
I know, for sure, it is my GIFTED TOY.
Excerpts from A Gifted Toy
(Genre: Self Improvement) by Amit Dave.
This is a self help book for those who suffer from frequent
spells of bad mood as well as clinical depression. The
book is a frank and practical guide on taming the mood
swings and making friends with your emotions. It gives
sane everyday advice to the reader. The poems given
below are a part of the introduction.
Amit Dave is a mechanical engineer and has had some
first hand experience of mood swings.
66

Lalitha Bilgi (Social Enterprise)
Venture: Swayam
“W
e cannot do great things on this Earth, only small things with
great love.” -Mother Teresa
It was with this dream and vision that Lalitha started Swayam,
a parent support group of diferently abled children. Swayam is an
outft that works towards educating and empowering children with
special abilities. While merging social responsibility and business is a
distant dream for many, Lalitha makes it look like child’s play.
Lalitha did her masters in Commerce and was a rank holder
in Bangalore University. She did her Bachelors in Education
while staying in Delhi from Annamalai University. She has had a
meritorious student life, and a rich and cherishing experience as a
teacher of Commerce and Accountancy in Cambridge School, Noida
and Bishop Cotton Girls’ School, Bangalore. During her teaching
experience of over a decade, she has contributed immensely towards
67
Teach to the Future Program supported by Intel® India. Lalitha feels
that her exposure to Intel® Teach provided her with the impetus to
be successful in her pursuit.
“During those days as a master trainer, I realized that the realm
of technology does not limit itself to downloading information from
the internet. It also gives us a platform to upload our opinions, raise
concerns over issues and act towards improving them. Tat further
motivated me to do something for children with disabilities and
empower them to stand frmly on their feet’’, says Lalitha with a
sparkle in her eyes.
“It was Intel® Teach that opened the door of opportunities for me.
Until then I enthusiastically followed the obsolete teaching practices
and would have succumbed to it, if not for Intel. It exposed me to a
new outlook that made be believe that I can still grow individually
and institutionally,” says an enthusiastic Lalitha.
During the Intel® Teach training, she learnt that the current
generation of students is not acquainted with technology relevant for
their career growth. In May 2005, she gave up teaching to completely
engage herself in her family business (Kou-Chan Convergence Pvt.
Ltd) and start of Swayam. Here she put to use the knowledge she
gained at Intel® Teach training. Kou-Chan works with youth and
motivates them to take up learning computer applications and other
skills like writing, human resource management etc which ofer them
sound employment opportunities.
“Around the same time, I was looking for a program for my
own development. I saw the advertisement for MPWE and joined
Lalitha Bilgi
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the course in summer 2007. While I was teaching, I came to Kou
Chan only on weekends. Being a director, I was looking into events
for employees and the human resource aspects within the company.
When I stopped teaching, I started coming to the of ce daily.”
She has the enthusiasm and belief to bring about an integrated
approach to her company’s business which has spread over metros in
India in areas of human resources and business process outsourcing
support to clients like Airtel, TTSL, ALCATEL, IMB to name a
few. Her company has outsourced manpower strength of over fve
thousand employees spread across diferent parts of the country. Her
job at Kou-Chan is more on the administrative lines now, and she
does not need to be in of ce every day. She utilizes her spare time to
work on Swayam, building it slow and strong, one brick at a time.
Lalitha lives in a nuclear family and that makes the task of looking
after Kaushal (her son) and her elder daughter (who is now a doctor)
all the more challenging. When I ask her about the balancing act,
she smiles and says, “Tere are some things you learn with time. Its
experience and age basically. I needed fexibility of timings and scope
for development and these needs governed my choices. However,
family has always been top priority”.
She is a strong advocate of social groups and is a part of a
club of teachers called Prerana in Bangalore. She truly believes in
‘keeping touch’ and runs a quarterly magazine for family members
with updates and funny anecdotes. Lalitha is always ready to help
others with her knowledge and expertise. She has helped an NGO
at Kormangala as well Seva-in-Action in planning their budget and
resources. With the information age replete with examples of women
Lalitha Bilgi
69
breaking the proverbial `glass ceiling’, Lalitha sets an example of a
new generation social woman entrepreneur. She was early to realize
the potential of technology and utilized it in a way that contributed
to the empowerment of the society.
In her words, “Swayam has not only grown as an organization
but also helped individuals to grow. We still have scope to grow.” It
seems sky is the limit for this determined yet modest lady.
Swayam
“A few years back when I was watching TV on 3rd December
(World Disabled Day), the idea of Swayam came to my mind. I saw
a disabled adult struggling to make his living, travelling in buses all
day to reach of ce with a lunch box in his hand.
My son is a down syndrome child, and I want him to be self
suf cient. He is very lovable and is a workaholic, and he loves to
see the result of his work immediately. While he is not very good
academically, he is adept at using the computer for certain functions
like printing, scanning etc. Te idea was to make a work unit for him,
so that he is not dependent on anyone in future. I thought of making
a unit where all adults with disability in the neighbourhood could
come and work together. Lunch would be provided at the centre, and
vans would be available to pick them up and drop them back so that
their comfort is also in place.”
Swayam was conceptualized in June 2006, and since then
Swayam has been holding hobby workshops on Saturdays at Seva-
in-Action. It continues to do so at Bethany Special School. In April
2010, Lalitha plans to inaugurate a work unit in Bangalore which
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70
will operate fve days a week. She has not yet registered Swayam, but
plans to register it as a sole proprietorship.
“I need to market Swayam well for continuous fow of work into
Swayam, and even after we start the unit, I will keep Saturdays aside
for marketing. I think personal contacts are the best source to get
work for Swayam. I live in an apartment complex, and we get a lot of
jobs from the neighbors. We also plan to approach schools to sell our
products at their carnivals or fests.”
Swayam is engaged in various activities with an aim to make
learning fun for special children. Here, they are trained to perform
their chores independently. Te teachers and parents try to make
them communicate through paintings, drawings, songs and most
importantly with computer applications.
“It is a slow process, but these kids are taught drawing using
computer tools, printing their pictures and gradually they will be
taught data entering. Tese activities make learning and teaching a
lot more enjoyable”, says Lalitha.
Teir work, a fusion of imagination and intimate expressions, has
created wonders and now this special art fnds buyers which are a great
boost to the morale of these special children. For example, recently
Swayam prepared specially designed gifts for the invited audience at
designer Babita Jaishankar’s show at the Bangalore Fashion Week.
Objectives of Swayam
1. Prepare diferently abled children to work: For this,
Swayam invites volunteers who help the children (or
Lalitha Bilgi
71
adults) to carry out tasks such as printing documents,
painting, cutting and peeling vegetables etc.
2. Help them develop pride in their work: Anatole France
rightly said, “Nine-tenths of education is encouragement”.
It is very important that diferently abled children are
made to feel important. A word of praise after a painting
is completed or a vegetable is cut, not only brings a smile
to a child’s face but also boosts his self-esteem.
3. Make children, siblings and families feel honored in the
society: Te most crucial and challenging job is earning
respect. More so for these children and Lalitha feels that
earning a salary is the frst step.
“When these children earn salaries comparable to their more
fortunate friends or cousins, they automatically earn respect in
society. Having job security and a constant cash infow is so important
for every individual. I want the children to feel the same sense of
pride that we feel when we get our salary cheque at the end of the
month.”
Swayam has been recognized by
• Intel® India for attempting to empower children with
challenges and turning it into a social entrepreneurship.
(Under the Teach to the Future Program)
• Management Program for Women Entrepreneurs
(MPWE) at Indian Institute of Management Bangalore,
for showing the potential to grow into a successful
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72
organization (Winner of 2nd prize in Business Plan
Awards).
• Kou-Chan Knowledge Convergence Private Ltd., by
providing work experience to the children at Swayam.
A Social Enterprise
Social enterprises are social mission driven organizations which trade
in goods or services for a social purpose. Teir aim to accomplish
targets that are social and environmental as well as fnancial is often
referred to as having a triple bottom line. Social enterprises are
proft-making businesses set up to tackle a social or environmental
need. Tey often use blended value business models that combine a
revenue-generating business with a social-value-generating structure
or component.
Many commercial businesses would consider themselves to have
social objectives, but social enterprises are distinctive because their
social or environmental purpose is central to what they do. Rather
than maximizing shareholder value, their main aim is to generate
proft to further their social and environmental goals. Terefore some
commentators describe them as ‘not-for-proft’ as their profts are
not distributed to fnancial investors. Others dislike the term as it
suggests they have an unbusinesslike attitude. An ingenious solution
to this quandary is to call them for ‘more-than-proft’.
It could be that the proft (or surplus) from the business is
used to support social aims (whether or not related to the activity
of the business, as in a charity shop), or that the business itself
accomplishes the social aim through its operation, for instance
Lalitha Bilgi
73
by employing disadvantaged people or lending to businesses that
have dif culty in securing investment from mainstream lenders.
Te term social enterprise should not be confused with trusts
or NGOs working for empowerment of women, orphans, poor,
disabled etc. Te former strives to earn independently from the
business to serve dependants (i.e. the socially underprivileged it
works for), while the latter depends on donations and charity.
Swayam was born out of Lalitha’s strong determination to work
towards empowering children with disabilities after the birth of
her son Kaushal with down syndrome. Her aim through Swayam
is to develop individuals with down syndrome or similar disabilities
through lifelong learning and social integration. Along with this,
being a parent herself, she tries support other parents through
information, education and discussion. Swayam advocates for equal
opportunities, quality of life and their contribution to society.
Operations
At present, Swayam comprises fve children with their parent-
volunteers. By April 2010, Lalitha plans to gather ten adults as
members and develop more variety of products and services. Activities
of Swayam children currently include:
1. Making paper-covers and supplying to the chemist-shops.
Te children are supplying envelopes and courier covers to
shops currently.
2. Painting/Designing greeting cards, envelopes, CD gift-
covers, cloth bags, bookmarks.
3. Vegetable sorting, peeling and chopping.
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4. Scanning photographs.
5. Stamping application forms with of cial seals.
Swayam is open to accepting volunteers. It accepts children who
are not in the main stream of academics as members, their relatives
and anybody who wishes to volunteer their services. Volunteers invest
their time to help these children with their jobs and motivate them
at the same time. Te infow of volunteers is not an issue – there are
many from social groups, schools, and colleges etc who want to help
Swayam in its noble venture.
Sources of revenue for Swayam include:
1. Contribution of reusable items from households of
promoters and volunteers. Using and reusing items, and
making useful products out of waste and recycling etc help
recover some costs.
2. Of ces/organizations where the Swayam children-adults
do a part of the work such as scanning, printing, Xeroxing
etc.
3. Sales of Swayam products such as cards, diaries, paper
covers etc.
Swayam operates in a very simple way. Te parents or relatives of
the children contribute monthly for the minimal expenses incurred
like buying stationery, vegetables etc. Te children process these
items (either make creative items out of them or cut the vegetables
or sprout the pulses) and they are paid for the products and services.
Te proft that is generated is distributed among the children/adults
Lalitha Bilgi
75
as their earning and the cost is recovered by the parent who initially
invested.
Te task of keeping the children occupied is not as simple as
it seems. Tey tend to get bored of similar jobs, hence variety is
essential. While parents are relieved that their children are in safe
hands at the Swayam centre, they are also happy that they don’t need
to come up with tasks to keep their children engaged.
“It’s very dif cult to handle these children. Tey have less
attention span. If you ask them to write three pages, they will do so
for fve or ten minutes. Parents are often at a loss as to how to keep
their children occupied.”
Apart from the jobs currently undertaken at Swayam, there are
multiple other ideas in the of ng. Tese children could undertake
shopping (with the help of volunteers) for their clients, who could mail
their shopping list online. Tis is just one example of the many utility
oriented activities which are currently being brainstormed at Swayam.
Te market for Swayam seems to be continuously expanding. All the
customers feel an emotional connection with Swayam and reward
the children with repeat orders. Once the website is running, the
market for Swayam products will be global while the key enterprise
will be dependent on a neighbourhood support group.
“Tere are so many things in the house we would want someone
to do like cleaning, dusting, peeling vegetables. Tese things are done
by our children. Te key to making Swayam proftable is to fnd small
products which could bring profts.”
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76
Message to Women Entrepreneurs
“Don’t be lazy in life. Always try to empathize with others problems,
and you never know the solution to a problem may turn out to be a
business venture! Women tend to be soft on issues and discuss their
problems with each other. If we utilize this, we can gain strength
from each other.
We play multiple roles in our lives. I have been a matchmaker
and an educational consultant on occasions, apart from my regular
job. If we compartmentalize our work, then multi tasking becomes
simple.”
“We should be more sensitive to social problems. Disability itself
is a social problem. Its time these children are accepted in totality by
society.”
Lalitha believes that these children need not be kept at home.
Tey too, can lead normal lives. Happiness lies at home, but exposure
to the outside world keeps the children busy and helps them earn
their livelihood at the same time.
No donation, no charity. Only jobs. Tis is Lalitha’s motto for
Swayam. She does not want the enterprise to be dependent on money
from outside.
One cannot help but admire her determination and strength.
Looking at her sitting in her of ce at Kou-Chan, I realize that Lalitha
has defnitely succeeded as a mother as well as a social entrepreneur.
It does not matter how many lives she has touched. Even if she has
given one day of ‘normal’ living to a child, one day of living with his
77
head held high and with a smile on his face; then Swayam lives its
name. And that’s all that matters at the end of the day.
Lalitha can be contacted at swayam.koramangala@yahoo.com;
lvbilgi@kouchanindia.com
References
India Employee Communication News, August 2007
Wikipedia
Management Program for Women Entrepreneurs (MPWE) at IIM
Bangalore http://www.nsrcel.org
Excerpts from Inspiring Women to Start Innovative Enterprises
(Genre: Job & Career) by Sria Majumdar.
The book narrates the story of nine women entrepreneur
from diverse fields. The author has presented various
new ideas being tried out by these first generation
entrepreneurs. These stories will inspire more women to
create such innovative enterprises.
Sria Majumdar is currently an undergraduate student at
the Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology, Nagpur
and is pursuing her B.Tech in Mechanical Engineering
Lalitha Bilgi
78

Motorcycle
I
do not know whether you would believe it or not. However I believe
it to some extent. Tat day a motorcycle came into my life, in all
probability, from the left corner. I did not know how it happened. It
might be I was feeling jealous of my neighbour, day in and day out,
traveling by his motorcycle while I waited for a bus at the bus-stop.
He would roar past me, while I would feel bore, waiting, waiting and
waiting for my bus. All of a sudden, I decided to buy a motorcycle
and fnally got a second hand motorcycle. It was then I remembered
that I did not know how to ride it. I began to learn to ride and before
anybody could understand what I was doing, as I and the motorcycle
were an unusual combination, I quickly reached B.M. – Bachelor
of Motorcycling. I was thinking of completing M.M. – Master of
Motorcycling – and opening a training centre for the juniors.
As expected by all, I came to know that it was not so easy to ride
a motorcycle, and experienced some great falls from the motorcycle.
Everybody had anticipated me to give up this dream of riding a
79
motorcycle, especially my neighbour who had started to wear sun
glasses even if there were no sunlight to avoid. I knew what he was
avoiding. Encouraging me, my professor who had done Ph.D. said,
‘You would learn something new every time you would fall from the
motorcycle.’
He told me the absolute truth. Later I came to know every time I
fell, I experienced pains at diferent parts of my body. Sometimes red
blood peeped out of the fesh. Sometimes skipping, jumping out drop
by drop or fowing down my body to kiss the earth to be swallowed
by it. My blood vanished into the earth here and reappeared to fow
with Indian Ocean, I hoped. Nevertheless we stood still in the feld
and returned home after winning.
Next day professor said, ‘You have gained enough experience to
ride the motorcycle on the main road. Go, brave man, go.’ I looked
worried but the professor was confdent, exposing his 70mm smile.
I followed his suggestion and tried my best to show all and sundry
by the expression of my face that I had full confdence upon myself
and was ready to face any danger which might come in my way.
Although I was all alert, the danger struck, most probably from
the left corner. Suddenly a dog came before my motorcycle. I turned
my motorcycle to an angle of about 40 degree which made the front
tyre to go just touching the ankle of a girl; she shrieked, fell to the
ground and shrieked, while my motorcycle collided with two bricks,
went out of my control, shrieking and throwing me to the ground
beside that girl and lay silent. I looked into her eyes while she looked
into mine. I thought I would receive good beating from her, with her
Motorcycle
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80
high heeled shoes. ‘Oh! My god! Save me! Save me! Her shoes have
pointed heels,’ I murmured. My whole body with its fesh and bones
began to shiver at the mere thought of them. But nothing happened
like I had thought. I also turned my eyes from her sharp eyes for
there was a great risk of getting hypnotized. My motorcycle did not
hurt her much. Blood only peeped out. It had no intention to skip,
jump or to fow down her to vanish into the earth. I also told her, ‘I
am sorry.’
Next day I again met her. Tis time there was neither a dog,
nor any brick. Her enraptured smile threw me out of my motorcycle
to the ground. Blood only peeped out. When she had a splendid
opportunity to talk with me, she told me, ‘You have knocked the door
of my heart.’ After a brief pause, as I was active in thinking when I
did knock, she continued: ‘And I have opened the door’.
I had read enough biology but the door of a heart seemed to me
a strange fact I had ever come across. She also added, ‘I am in love.’
Almost singing, she repeated, ‘I am in love.’ I wondered she would
start to sing the love song from the movie ‘Dhadkan’. But she was
not Shilpa Shetty. And I was not Akshaye Kumar. I thought ‘She fell
in love with my motorcycle’, as I did not do anything to bring about
this type of result. In that accident she liked the delicate touch of my
motorcycle. So she did not complain anything.
Smiling and exposing her two broken teeth, she added more,
‘You have not only fallen beside me but also succeeded in making
enough place for you in my heart by going into my heart by way of
my eyes.’
Motorcycle
81
But I could still remember that I was beside her and had never
thought of making a place for myself in her heart. I told her so. But
she was not ready to listen to me. I tried to bribe her by ofering her
an Amul chocolate and simply told her to forget everything. She
rejected my ofer and surprised me by saying, ‘Amul chocolate is
usually given as a gift to someone one loves. I would remember it as
your frst gift. I would never eat it. I would keep it as your frst gift.’
I tried my best to slip out of her hands like a fsh caught in the
net tries to escape; but I could not. Tis net was wider than ‘ World
Wide Web’. Ten believe it or not, digest it or not, I found myself
trapped in the web of marriage.
We had nothing more on earth to do in our leisure than to roam
about on our motorcycle. But the motorcycle did not like the sudden
admission of a new partner. Whenever we were going somewhere
together, my motorcycle would go for some minutes and then all of a
sudden it would stop with a roar of unwillingness to go any further.
After that it would need the gentle touch of a mechanic to get it
move an inch or start. Many times, my wife would curse herself for
not having satisfed herself with the Amul chocolate only. ‘I am going
to eat it today.’ she had told me once and copied it several times.
Finally it was decided by me that the motorcycle was to be get rid
of as soon as possible. But no sensible person was ready to buy my
motorcycle. Te buyers would come, have a glance at it and turn their
face away from it. It was not ugly at all. Poets could chant their best
poems about its physique and their imagination could run wild, wild
and wild if they were to write a book about it. It was something else
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82
that turned of the interest in the customers. On numerous occasions,
I endeavoured hard to turn it on, but failed to fnd its main switch.
Ten I had a plan. A brilliant one, I presumed. I kept the
motorcycle with the key on it for the whole night thinking that
the thieves would strike. I prayed to god and promised to give him
personally a packet of Amul Chocolate, if I were successful in getting
rid of my favorite motorcycle.
But in the morning I found it still there where I had left it,
unmoved and untouched. It seemed the thieves were also afraid to
come near it. I lost my temper now. I thought of throwing it down
the clif. It was not a bad idea. But my kind heart would not let me
treat it so badly. It was indeed too bad of me to think about it.
Ten my wife, the darling of my heart, while preparing something
out of barley, gave me an idea which was brilliant diluted with a little
sympathy. She was not aware that I would convert it to an idea when
she said, ‘Listen, dear, why don’t you go to the supermarket and buy
some things?’ And she gave a list as long as a bamboo tree without
any coconuts. Ten I realized one would not look for any coconut on
a bamboo tree.
I went to the supermarket with my motorcycle and returned
without it. I thought while walking home, ‘Bravo! I am so intelligent’.
But I was not strong at my heart. Tat night I could not sleep well as
that motorcycle repeatedly came into my dreams.
Next morning I did not take my breakfast as the charming face
of my motorcycle was still dancing before my eyes. I even switched
of my idiot box which narrated how a motorcycle was stolen from
83
a certain area. Ten a police inspector arrived. My motorcycle was
with him. First of all he thanked me. When I did not understand the
mystery, he stated describing the heroic deed of my motorcycle:
‘ We succeeded in arresting a notorious smuggler who tried to
escape on your motorcycle while we were after him. Te motorcycle
stopped suddenly leading that smuggler in our hands. I got your
address from a diary found in the box of the motorcycle. Here is your
property. It’s fantastic with its problem. Take care. And don’t forget
the keys on it while you shop around.’
I was rewarded and got enough money to buy a new secondhand
motorcycle. Now what happened to the old motorcycle? Well, I am
still trying to throw it out of my life.
Excerpts from The Alpha and The Omega and Other Stories
(Genre: Literature & Fiction) by U. A. Kiran.
The book is a collection of short stories depicting different
characters, moods and situations. The characters are
based on everyday people and situations. This gives a
very authentic feel to the short stories
U. A. Kiran is a Commerce graduate, born in Kerala,
educated in West Bengal, employed in Andhra Pradesh
and now based in Goa.
Motorcycle
84

Marriage, Kids and other
Problems
A
bachelor has no problems in life. A married man has no respite
from them, unless he renounces everything like Buddha did, or
runs away into the mountains never to return. Te maximum number
of jokes are on married life, even more than the dirty jokes. Tere
must be something in these.
Emotions which you have never experienced before can be
easily experienced (sometimes in a day) when you are married.
Understanding someone else’s point of view (I think the psychologists
like to call this empathy) is forced on you, like it or not. Note that I
have said understanding, not liking!
If the urge to marry is strong, the urge to undo it is stronger, and
felt many times during the course of one. Why it should arouse such
strong emotions after a voluntary pact to cohabit, beats me. Maybe
Marriage, Kids and other Problems
85
some research into our regressive genes or ‘out of order’ brain cells
might one day explain why.
Kids are a necessary byproduct of marriage, if you discount the
small number of condom users. Again, one cannot really explain why,
when given the choice of not having kids, most people (99.99999%,
when research last came in) do not exercise this choice. Peer pressure
could be the reason, coz it can make us do things we don’t want to.
Like buying a new fridge, a new car, a new house, a new…oh, forget
it! Sometimes, you feel sorry for the nice people at ICICI bank who
might starve if you don’t buy anything with money borrowed from
them. And so, you give in.
In the olden days, if you want to believe Hindi flms, the hero
had to buy only one saree for the wife on his monthly salary day, and
she would be happy. But with multiple credit cards and loans for
shaving your head available at your beck and call, and pizza deliverers
focking at your doorstep, life is getting tough. Life can be lived on
EMIs (Equated Monthly Instalments), and the bank can take you to
the cleaners or send bouncers after you if you fail to pay up some of
them. Terrorism takes on a completely diferent hue, if you consider
these sobering perspectives.
Planning a vacation becomes a nightmare, among other things.
I would want to go to Kashmir, the kids to Kullu and the wife,
to Kanyakumari, almost every year. So we went to Goa instead.
Fortunately, most of us liked Goa, though maybe for diferent reasons.
I, because drinking at 9 am is not taboo, and you can swim any time
of the day, drink on the beach, etc. My kids probably because they
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86
could play or swim or lounge on the beach, and my wife, I am not
sure why, but since she did not complain, I assume she liked it.
It is dif cult to fgure out when exactly children cease to be cute
and become (an expensive) pain in the neck. Sometime after fve, I
guess, mainly because you have to get them admitted into a school.
Next to climbing Mount Everest with your eyes closed, this is the
toughest thing an Indian parent can do. In the U.S., the trauma
begins rather late (the college years) because schooling is almost
free, but in India, it begins with pre-school, and goes on till Post
Graduation. IIM admissions are a national pastime, with reporters
(usually the PYTs or Pretty Young Tings) breathlessly reporting on
daily and hourly updates on things like the CAT cutofs.
I got married in 1988, and I enjoyed it for the frst few years.
Te most fun thing about a marriage is (no, you are wrong) the
arguments. Tese can be about anything and at any time. Whether it
is about where to go out or whether to go out, or about whether the
fan should be on or of, or whether about buying furniture, they can
go on from minutes to hours, sometimes ending in long silences. I
would have complete sympathy for the Buddha, even if it should be
proved that he ran away from his wife without actually looking for
any enlightenment.
One good thing about a marriage (in India, to an Indian girl)
used to be that the man gets an assured supply of food, and barring
headaches and long silent periods, regular tosses in the hay (without
the hay actually being there). Next generation, I am not certain about
the food. Maybe eating out, or out of a TV dinner box will become
common in India too.
Marriage, Kids and other Problems
87
I wonder how single women who work manage on a salary.
Married females in general behave as if they have an unlimited
expense account. Tere seems to be a circuit in their brain that tells
them to live (or rather, spend) as if there is no tomorrow. Shoes
and bags, and a few other things too numerous to go into, are never
enough.
Tanks to the telecom boom, we now have fve phones in a
household of four people. What we communicate with various
earthly beings, God only knows. But the bills do bring one down to
earth. I heard one speaker at a seminar talking about how poor people
skipped on milk for their children to buy a TV, but I wouldn’t be
surprised one bit if a woman skips everything to speak on the phone.
I think Maslow made a BIG mistake, when he did not include the
NEED TO COMMUNICATE in his hierarchy of her needs, right
at the top, along with food and sex, before these two.
Excerpts from My Experiments with Half-truths
(Genre: Humour) by Rajendra Nargundkar.
This is a witty, free flowing and fun filled autobiography
encompassing a wide array of topics ranging from
education, travel, relationships, official tussles etc. The
book traces the years the author spent at Hyderabad
Public School, Osmania Engineering College, IIM
Bangalore, and his later years as a marketing professor
at IIML, IIMK, and various other B schools.
Dr Rajendra Nargundkar is the Director of IFIM Business
School, Bangalore.
88

Correspondences With An
Unknown Mystic
19 Oct 2008
Dear Aruna,
N
amaskar. It is nice to learn from you that you are fne. In
fact, I aspire to learn about the progress in your sadhana
/ meditation. As I learn that you are striking good balance
in work, education, art, meditation, and sadhana, I wish you
would have tremendous progress in LEARNING ABOUT
YOURSELF. Is not learning about your SELF meditation?
‘Te gospel of Buddha’, which I suggested to you to read is
to make you refect your PURSUIT OF SADANA AND
UNDERSTANDING OF YOURSELF. Tis understanding of
yourself is a way of liberation from all the past - pleasures and
pains, and of the future - fear and craving. Tis understanding
makes you to live in the Moment, in Now and in what is. Tis
then is a truth. Tis then is Divine. Tis then is enlightenment.
89
A constant AWARENESS makes you realise the truth. Your seeing
the golden light is because of changes in the brain, due to Pranayama.
Ancient philosophers call this light “SPOTA” (correctly spelt?). Do
not PURSUE this SEEING of this light. If you pursue, you will be
stuck with it. Be AWARE of all these things. Te more you progress,
you will learn that the world that you see through / with the senses, is
Maya. People who see this light- (throughout the universe) constantly
changing, always in motion, communicating, loving are awe struck
with wonder and sing on calling it NARAYANA - ISHWARA
OR SAKTHI. Do not name it. Tat is it. May the Divine bless you.
When I told you to write down your experiences, it is THIS
type of experiences that I want you to note down. Because
this vision, these experiences needs understanding. Can you
please write about how you feel after these experiences?
You need to eat well and drink water and take energy foods.
You are fragile. Tat is why I have to stress more on your
health. Tis sadhana needs a strong body and strong mind.
I mean, not the strength of a banyan tree, but the strength
of a fower, dancing, holding amongst the gushing winds.
I shall send my writings on education shortly. Take care.
With love
Krishna
20 Oct 2008
Dear Sir,
Namaskar.
Please fnd my comments below:
YOU WROTE:
Correspondences With An Unknown Mystic
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90
Namaskar. It is nice to learn from you that you are fne. In fact
I aspire to learn about the progress in your Sadhana / meditation.
I feel expansive during meditation on most days. I see fashes of
images/ scenes at times, but I do not focus on that, but let it go.
However, I notice a real change in my attitude and in my daily life.
Will write more on this soon.
YOU WROTE:
As I learn that you are striking good balance in work, education,
art, meditation, and sadhana, I wish you would have tremendous
progress in LEARNING ABOUT YOURSELF. Is not learning
about yourSELF meditation?
Yes, I need to understand myself and I am going to sit down one
day and refect on my past- the major and memorable incidents that
have happened in my life and the mistakes I make, what motivates
me etc. I do this once/ twice a year during special occasions.
YOU WROTE:
Te gospel of Buddha, which I suggested you to read is to make you
refect your PURSUIT OF SADANA AND UNDERSTANDING
OF YOURSELF. Tis understanding of yourself is a way of liberation
from all the past - pleasures and pains, and of the future - fear and
craving. Tis understanding makes you to live in the Moment, in
Now and in what is. Tis then is a truth. Tis then is Divine. Tis
then is enlightenment.
Tere is so much in this book that I want to really remember and
follow in life. I am marking selected text when I am reading. Once
Correspondences With An Unknown Mystic
91
I have read it fully, I will come back to these paragraphs and spend
more time contemplating the meaning of these words.
YOU WROTE:
A constant AWARENESS makes you to realise the truth. Your
seeing the golden light is because of changes in the brain, due to
Pranayama. Ancient philosophers call this light “SPOTA”(correctly
spelt?)
I have never heard of this term Spota.
YOU WROTE:
When I told you to write down your experiences, it is THIS type
of experiences that I want you to note down. Because this vision this
experiences needs understanding. Can you please write about how
you feel after these experiences?
I did not feel anything diferent after I saw these lit-
tle moving lights. I continued with the yogasanas and felt
normal. I thought it could be because of fow of blood /pra-
na to the head and was surprised and a bit curious as well.
Bye for now,
With love
Aruna
21 Oct 2008
Dear Aruna,
Namaskar.
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92
I am glad to receive your detailed mail. Glad to learn that you
are fne
YOU WROTE:
I feel expansive during meditation on most days. I see fashes
of images/ scenes at times, but I do not focus on that, but let it go.
However, I notice a real change in my attitude and in my daily life.
Will write more on this soon.
Tis expansiveness is the mind seeing the consciousness. Once
you dwell in consciousness, your whole living, whatever be the pursuit,
works, relationships, love, outlook, becomes / is Divine. Your being is
transformed. Tere is absolute silence. Tat is not the silence of the
caves. Tis silence is rich. Tis silence is dynamic. Tis silence is the
movement of the universe beyond the senses, body, mind. Until such
time sadhana is required.
Tis expansiveness, images, scenes are not to be PURSUED. At
the same time, they should not be overlooked. BE OBSERVANT
AND AWARE OF THIS. Like the wind it comes and goes. Do
not pursue when it goes. When you pursue these images, scenes,
you will see clearly. Te pursuit of these images, scenes will make
the mind imagine, create and triggers the ego of achievement and
strengthens the self. As long as the self is there, there is no realisation
/ enlightenment. But losing the self is ignorance. IT IS TO
UNDERSTAND THAT YOUR SELF IS THE SELF OF THE
UNIVERSE. TO REALISE THIS IS ENLIGHTENMENT.
AND TO MOVE, SPEAK, LIVE ONE WITH THE SELF OF
THE UNIVERSE IS THE LIFE DIVINE. And you will realise
this.
Correspondences With An Unknown Mystic
93
Stick to all the positive changes that brings in your moment to
moment living.
YOU WROTE:
Yes, I need to understand myself and I am going to sit down one
day and refect on my past- the major and memorable incidents that
have happened in my life and the mistakes I make, what motivates
me etc. I do this once/ twice a year during special occasions.
Understanding oneself may help to plan and to draw a blue print
of life to live. But one’s life is not so simple, that we can have a master
plan and try to live by that. All major incidents of one’s life do not
go away from the memory. Any recalling of the past only gives rise
to sensations. And the mind captured by sensations pursues further
sensations.
Do you know that all life has sex to procreate. But man and
woman brood over the experience again and again in their minds.
Tis brooding gives a sensation and thereby leads to perversion.
Young lovers do brood. Te boy thinks and tries to give a meaning
to the girls words, smile, clasp, etc. Te girl recalls the moments she
spent with the boy and replays in her mind. Tis RECALLING /
BROODING strengthens the experience and leads both of them
to a point that each thinks and feels that they cannot live without
the other. Each person’s mind is occupied by the other in totality.
And there is a craving and longing to be in each other’s presence.
Hence, UNDERSTANDING and BEING AWARE IS EVERY
MOMENT’S BUSINESS. One has to die to all that is past. (Let the
dead past bury its dead.- Kipling) Only then the new, the self, which
hitherto the mind has not experienced shall come into being.
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If a girl is talking to a boy, you can observe that her toes on her
legs, especially the big toe raises. Tis you can observe in India very
much. Te girl is not aware of this. Total observation / awareness of
oneself in every moment is what is required. Because this awareness
makes you to live totally, wholly and then there is no need to look
back at the past. Have I stated clearly?
YOU WROTE:
Tere is so much in this book that I want to really remember and
follow in life. I am marking selected text when I am reading. Once
I have read it fully, I will come back to these paragraphs and spend
more time contemplating the meaning of these words.
Te sadhana you practice and the teachings of Buddha appears
to be in opposite. Te diference is only by which part / element
of your existence that you practice sadhana and try to realise the
truth or Divine. Buddha takes hold of the functioning of the mind
and discerns the awareness as the means, THE BEST MEANS,
HITHERTO IN THE HISTORY OF ENLIGHTENED LIFE.
Te sadhana you practice is taking all the elements of your existence.
Buddha’s life and times are diferent from yours. Your life and times
are diferent. You have to learn, teach, preach, share, love, and still be
an enlightened person like KRISHNA.
YOU WROTE:
I have never heard of this term Spota.
Te correct spelling is Sphota. Te universe is manifested as
NAME AND THEN AS FORM. Te whole universe is name
and form. Swami Vivekananda spoke, “All this expressed sensible
Correspondences With An Unknown Mystic
95
universe is the form, behind which stands the eternal inexpressible
sphota, the manifested as LOGOS OR WORD.” If you further want
understanding on this, please see the dictionary for the meaning. Te
dictionary I have do not carry this word. To know further on this, you
can refer the Book `Bhakthi Yoga’ under the chapter – ‘Te Mantra
OM: Word and Wisdom’.
YOU WROTE:
Tis only happens when I do the Tirigona asana. I do not place
much importance on this, but I will continue recording anything like
this which happens.
After this asana come back to the relaxed position for 1-3-5
minutes and breathe normally. Te relaxed position is the position you
remain before doing an asana. Each asana has a position you stand or
sit before doing an asana. Tat moment before attempting an asana is
the position you draw all concentration and your consciousness fows
in you to make the attempt. After doing the asana YOU HAVE
TO REMAIN IN THIS ORIGINAL POSITION OF THAT
ASANA - RELAX.
Take care.
With love,
Krishna
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Excerpts from Correspondences With An Unknown Mystic
(Genre: Religion & Spirituality, Self-Improvement) by Aruna
Nadaraj.
This book is a collection of correspondences between an
enlightened master and a sincere spiritual seeker who is
striving to realise God. It provides a deep insight into the
mind of a seeker and the mind of an enlightened person.
There is something for everyone in this book- from the
mildly curious to those who are seriously interested in
spirituality. .
Aruna is a spiritual aspirant who constantly strives to
realize the Divine.
97

The Moon’s Complexion
H
annah sat up and looked at her watch. Tree hours had passed.
She’d dropped of to sleep. Hardly surprising, as she’d been
up all night. Now she felt wide-awake, buoyed up by her escape—
evidence that she still had some fght left in her. She smiled. You’ve
not lost it, gal, she told herself, but a little help wouldn’t go amiss.
She passed the time reading up on Bangalore in her guidebook.
She discovered that the capital of the state of Karnataka was the
fastest-growing city in India, a world center for the computer
software Industry. Te city was home to some of the greatest seats
of education and learning in the whole of the sub-continent, its
scientifc institutions counting as among the best in the world.
Te language spoken was mainly the local Kannada, but Tamil was
widely understood due to the presence of a large minority from
the neighboring state of Tamil Nadu. Te geographical features of
Karnataka ranged from thriving cities to mountainous wilderness,
from ancient temples to tiger reserves, from the jungle to the sea.
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98
By late afternoon, Hannah’s clothes were dry enough to wear.
At half past four, the telephone rang.
“Hannah? Oh, hallo, it’s Ashok Rao here. Sorry I was out when
you phoned.”
“Ashok! What a relief.” Te words slipped out, before
embarrassment caught up with them. “I mean...well, sorry, hope I’m
not being a nuisance...”
“Is something wrong?”
“Look, I’m in a spot of bother. Are you free?”
“Yes, of course. How about if I pick you up at the hotel at
around seven, and we get something to eat.”
“Great, but you couldn’t make it earlier, could you? On top of
everything else, I’ve lost my luggage—tell you about it later. Is there
somewhere I can do some clothes shopping?”
“Yes, sure. I’ll be round in half hour and take you to
Commercial Street.”
He arrived on the dot and knocked gently at her door.
“Hallo, it’s me, Ashok.” His voice sent an unexpected shiver of
pleasure down Hannah’s spine.
She opened the door. He looked down at her, for he was some
four inches taller than she was, his dark eyes sincere, a lock of black
hair straying across his forehead, a half-smile forming on his lips.
Gosh, Hannah thought, as she felt her heartbeat quicken. Gosh.
The Moon’s Complexion
99
“Namaskara,” he said, breaking a moment’s awkwardness. “Nice
to see you again.”
“And you. Tanks for coming.”
“Here—I’ve brought you this. Evenings get a bit chilly.”
Hannah unfolded a huge, light woolen shawl. It was double-
sided, green on one side and maroon on the reverse. Te weaving
was intricate and beautiful. She wrapped herself inside it. It
covered her completely, and she twirled around, laughing.
“It’s enchanted. I feel as if I’m foating in gossamer.” Behave, she
warned herself. Of course it’s simply the shawl that’s making me feel
light-headed.
“It’s Kashmiri,” Ashok said, adding, “Suits you.”
“Tank you. It’s very kind of you.”
“No problem.” After a moment’s pause, he continued. “You said
something was wrong.”
“Yes.” On the fight to India, Hannah had felt an inexplicable
accord with this man. Now, as they stood awkwardly in the doorway
of her hotel room, the feeling had already been rekindled. But she
had learned to be cautious. She didn’t feel inclined to pour out her
heart. Not yet.
“Can I tell you about it later? Over a meal?”
Outside the hotel, they commandeered one of the waiting
autorickshaws. Hannah scrambled in awkwardly and slid across the
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100
seat to make room for Ashok, who, despite having to bend almost
double, managed the maneuver with a grace that had eluded her.
“Not designed for well-fed foreigners like us!” he commented.
“Whoops…sorry…didn’t mean to imply...”
“Don’t worry. Been feeling like Dumbo’s mother ever since I got
of the plane.”
“Dumbo’s mother? Dumbo, maybe, but his mother? Tat’s taking
things a bit far.”
“Gee, thanks a bunch. You’ve made me feel a lot better.”
“Well, you don’t deserve to. Poking fun at elephants.”
“Sorry. Hope there weren’t any listening, though I suspect that
at least one was.” Her eyes gestured to the little shrine, festooned
with tinsel and wilted marigolds, sitting on the rickshaw’s dashboard.
Ashok smiled. “Aha, you can be quite sure Ganesh is listening. But
he’s a god: son of Shiva, with head of elephant, not quite the same
thing.”
“So how come you regard yourself as a foreigner? Trown of the
shackles of your native soil?”
“No, not at all. I suppose it’s a trick being played on my mind. It
seems as if, when I’m in England, the Indian part of me yearns to be
set free, but back here the Englishman in me sometimes slips out.”
Te rickshaw pulled up at the end of a narrow alleyway, crowded
with shoppers.
The Moon’s Complexion
101
“Come on. Down there is Commercial Street. Great place for
clothes.”
Ashok steered her through the crowds on the bazaar-like alley
and out onto Commercial Street, where she was plunged into a world
of noise and color and light. Shops and state emporia fell higgledy-
piggledy over one another, bulging with advertisements and neon lights,
crowded and cluttered with every kind of item imaginable on display:
shops selling bags and suitcases, saris and shalwar kameez, cheap
jewelry; heavily-fortifed gold shops with entry-phones and guards;
and fruit sellers and food stalls exuding mouth-watering aromas that
drew Hannah’s attention to the length of time since her last meal.
Tey made their way slowly up the street, their progress hampered by
beggar children and half-dissolved lepers tugging at their clothing,
and by the sheer volume of people fowing past them. A man tried to
sell them an umbrella that you wore on your head.
“How about trying out some local fashions?” Ashok said. “Much
cheaper than trying to buy European clothes here. Better, too.”
“Brilliant! I’d love to...” She was about to add go native then
stopped herself.
Two hours later, Hannah, clutching her purchases, found herself
being ushered by Ashok up four fights of hotel stairs to a top foor
restaurant.
“Power cut—no lift,” he said, “but I think you’ll fnd the climb
worthwhile.”
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102
Before they even reached the fourth foor, the aroma of freshly
pounded spices wafted tantalizingly down from the restaurant to
welcome them.
A table by the stairwell; roti-bakers at work across the room; the
rhythmic slap, slap, slap of a score of hands beating out the dough
into thin circles; the fres from many ovens playing on the bakers’
faces and rekindling them into works of art.
“You should have brought your camera,” Ashok said. “Plenty of
faces among that lot for your next book.”
Hannah remembered telling him on the plane. Professional
photographer. Going to India to take photos for a cofee-table book.
Now she’d even lost the camera. How could she ask this man to help
her and yet keep half the truth from him? But how could she level
with him until she was sure about him? And if he turned out to be
that Ashok Rao, wouldn’t it be harder, not simpler, to come clean?
Take it easy, she told herself. Get to know him. At least test the water
before you throw yourself in.
Te food arrived. Little measures of diferent vegetable mixtures
and chutneys carefully ladled onto their banana-leaf plates. Freshly
baked rotis and bowls of rice.
“Didn’t realize how hungry I was.”
“Enjoy. We call this baingan bharta. It’s from the north—a
favorite of mine.”
Hannah scooped a little of the mixture onto a corner of her roti and
tasted it. Her eyes opened wide. “But this is incredible. Tis is exactly
The Moon’s Complexion
103
what my grandmother used to make. It was a favorite of mine, too.”
“Your grandmother made baingan bharta?”
“Yes—well, she didn’t call it that. I think she just called it mashed
eggplant. But the ingredients must have been very similar…”
“…aubergines, tomatoes…”
“…chilies, onion—I think the onions were raw, but that’s the
only diference.”
“Amazing.”
“Yes, amazing. My grandfather came from Romania—he taught
Grandma how to make it.”
“Perhaps not so amazing then. Tey say the Romanies came
from India and some traveled west via Romania. Perhaps you have
Romany blood.”
“Maybe I have Indian ancestors.”
By now, any residual formality had been swept aside. Words
tumbled between them like acrobats.
Hannah took more food from her banana-leaf plate and
transferred it to her mouth via the roti, using her fngers as deftly as
if she had been eating this way all her life.
“Tat’s pretty good,” Ashok replied. “Yes, you must have been
an Indian in another life. Incidentally—that chudidar looks great
on you.” He nodded at her simple, silver-gray outft: long dress over
loose, tapered leggings, gathered round the ankles, matching chifon
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104
dupatta slung back across her shoulders. “You wear it well. A true
Maharani.”
“Tat’s made my day.” Her smile faded. “Perhaps it’ll make me
less conspicuous.”
Excerpts from The Moon’s Complexion
(Genre: Literature & Fiction) by Irene Black.
The book is a romantic thriller set in India. A distant
tragedy turns the lives of an Indian doctor and a British
journalist upside down when, newly arrived from England,
they meet in India and discover a secret that binds them
together as they flee from a dangerous stalker.
Irene Black is based in Surrey and has won numerous
national and international awards.
105

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106
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107
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, “Hȡs ?¤ȡP, ïPȡ1ȯ ïȪ3ȯ
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\”“Ȣ ¡ȡ™
108
Excerpts from Phuljhadiyan
(Genre: Children) by Priyanka Gupta.
This is a collection of short stories for the children. They
are written in simple Hindi and cover common everyday
topics. However, the narration is charming and elegant.
The stories entertain as well as teach morals to the
children.
Priyanka Gupta is writing since a tender age of 7-8
years.
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109

Of Education, Learnings &
Knowledge
I
was waiting for the security check call at the departure lounge
of an Airport. Sitting at a distance from me, a co-passenger
was puf ng a cigarette. Right in front of him was a prominently
hung forescent-lit notice prohibiting smoking in public places and
warning attraction of a fne of Rs.500/- if caught defying the order.
What surprised me most was that all the while his eyes had also
remained rooted to it. He was a fne looking and impeccably dressed
man in his middle-age. Do you think he was not literate? What to
speak of being literate, he must be a highly qualifed person!
Tis incident took me back on the timeline somewhere in the
eighties when I was serving in Mumbai (then Bombay). I had a senior
who was once discussing with us the socio-economic problems of
our country. By the by he stated that India’s problems were not just
because many of her citizens were illiterates but many of her so-called
educated people often behave in an ill-educated manner. Defning
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education he said, “According to Rig Veda, education is a process of
learning to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong; to
say or do in a situation and sticking to the right at a similar situation
in future.” I did not check the veracity of the authority quoted for the
saying but it appealed to me profoundly and has, therefore, stayed so
long with me.
From the above defnition of education, two things are
clear. Since life, at every point in its journey, has to deal with a
combination of some situations which are similar to the ones
confronted in the past and others for the frst time, the process of
education never ends. In other words, education continues for the
whole life. It does neither end on obtaining a desired academic
degree nor on getting into an earning mode. Secondly, education is
invariably a value education. If education has not helped a person
in instilling in him a sense of right and wrong and accordingly,
in guiding his behaviour, then it is not an education at all.
What is learning? Tat which surprises us is our learning. As a part
of training, I have to sometimes take the participants for feld visits.
Next day we would have sessions on ‘Learnings from feld visit’. In one
such session, a participant said that it surprised him to see a seventh-
class read village woman member of a local self-help thrifts and loans
group fawlessly maintaining accounts on the lines of double-entry
bookkeeping system. Yes. It was a case of learning for him. A person
was earlier known to be very supportive to you, but on one occasion
you were surprised to see him behave in an altogether diferent
manner. Tat was again a point of learning for you about that person.
Of Education, Learnings & Knowledge
111
When does one get surprises? Although all of us live in one
world, each one lives in his own world. All those attributes which
together defne a real world are not known to anybody. Te concept
of real world is, therefore, a myth. Whereas an experience of life is a
reality. And a life is too short to experience all the facets, hues and
moods of this phenomenal world. Only on the basis of whatever
limited number of experiences one has gathered thus far in living a
life, would he accordingly tend to develop his perceptions about the
real world. Tus, in the same world, as many we are, so many are the
perceptual worlds.
And as are one’s perceptions about the world, so are the
assumptions one develops in life in relating with all the events in it.
In other words, assumptions sprung up from one’s perceptual world
condition one’s way of fltering/ selecting the information from an
event, organising them into a meaning and interpreting a message for
oneself. When one comes across something which difers strikingly
from what is considered to be valid in one’s world view of things, it
makes one feel surprised.
It follows, therefore, that more the surprises in life, more would
be our learnings. And these learnings only ultimately help us to
develop a wider set of assumptions as well as in transforming some
of our existing assumptions into the ones which can relate well to a
larger world view of things. If you want to get a lot more surprises in
life, just try changing a matter, situation, person or even yourself !
What about knowledge? Being aware of all that which work
and which don’t with or on something together bring into existence
formally a knowledge about that thing. When we are required to
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work with and through something towards a goal, this knowledge
about that thing helps us to do it efectively.
Since knowledge forms the basis of action, unless your ‘self ’ frst
validates the truth about something, it would never consider it safe
for you to work with and through it. In other words, a knowledge of
others on anything is no knowledge for you until it has also received
the inner validation from you. Obviously, for this inner validation to
be possible, knowledge about anything should have existed in you as
an a priori phenomenon or a pre-existed truth. Only then on your
coming across a knowledge about something from an external source
would it provide you with an opportunity for this inner validation to
take place and make you accept it as well a truth for you.
In this connection, it would be pertinent to quote what ‘Te
Mother’, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry said: “Knowledge
about everything is always within us. Only it is waiting for an
expression in our subconscious level. Men fnd a book or a teaching
very wonderful and often you hear them say, ‘that is exactly what I
myself feel and know, but I could not bring it out or express it as
well as it is expressed here’. .... But, once expressed, he immediately
recognises it and feels that it is truth. Te knowledge that seems
to come to you from outside is only an occasion for bringing out
the knowledge that is within you.” (‘Te Sunlit Path- Passages
from Conversations and Writings of the Mother’ published by Sri
Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry).
Hence the role of a teacher in our life. While conducting programmes
in Shillong (Meghalaya) in a training establishment of a premier Public
Sector Bank, I noticed a quote from Galileo’s writings put up on the
Of Education, Learnings & Knowledge
113
wall inside the classroom by the authority there. It read, “You cannot
teach a man anything. You can only help him discover it within himself.”
Let us, therefore, recognize someone as our true teacher, if his/ her
presence had at anytime in our life facilitated the mind to reach at
least one layer of stored knowledge in our subconscious being and we
could instantly and concurrently become aware of its presence within
ourselves in such a manner that as if we knew it earlier but could not
so far give it a conscious expression in our behaviour only due to lack
of realisation.
Excerpts from Treasured Slices From Life & Living
(Genre: Self-Improvement) by Ranjit Kumar Das.
The book is a collection of 101 articles on spiritual and
philosophical thought. Replete with Hindu mythology, the
book showcases the authors’ personal convictions on the
subject with great clarity. A must read book for anyone
who wishes to understand his own self.
Mr. Ranjit K. Das is working with an All India Public
Financial Institution. His works have been published
extensively.
114

The harmony in my life
I
sit down on the sand, facing the ocean, far away from whispering
couples and boisterous teenagers. In some dim corner of my mind,
I notice the beauty of the marked moon. I notice how the moon light
catches each of the rising waves, giving it its moment of glory before
it dies—like my own life until now? At some sub-conscious level, I
feel grateful for the stinging chillness of the wind hitting my face.
But today, I will not let the calming elements of nature console me.
Today, I want to think, alone.
Instead, I cry. I cry for reasons I don’t fully understand. I cry until
the wind dries my wet cheeks. I cry like a man who has lost, a man
who is lost. And I have neither lost nor am lost. because she is still
with me.
*~*~*
“I am getting married.”
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Priya says it in one of her matter-of-fact tones. She has several
tones, their repertoire, almost a second nature to me, in just two
years? I feel I know her like I know myself—natural, instinctive. So,
I do what comes naturally to me. I laugh.
“What’s so funny? He happens to be a sensitive, good looking
gentleman...” and she adds, “Unlike you!”, when I continue to laugh.
“Poor guy. Did he not take a good look at you?”
“He did! And he happens to like me. A lot. He said he liked me
from the time he met me frst at the cofee shop!”
“Oh...that guy. Te oh-am-so-goody-goody-I-willturn-up-
ffteen-minutes-early chap!”
“Yes and that chap has a name, Arvind. Ok, Prem, please be
serious, for once?”
“As you wish, Madame. When do I get to meet him?
Obviously you are joking about the marriage bit, right?
You didn’t already say yes, did you?” I ask in mock anger.
My feeble attempt to make her feel guilty. And I lose, as always.
Te girl never gives me a chance!
“Of course not. Tat was just to get your attention.
Am not saying yes, until you give the go-ahead, buddy!”
And she tilts her head a bit to the side - something she always
does when she is happy - and smiles.
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For a moment, I feel a pang of something I can’t quite put my
fnger on. I touch her lightly on the head and tousle her hair. “I am
going to miss you, Priya.”
She doesn’t say anything, just closes her eyes and leans against
my hand for a few seconds.
*~*~*
“Excellent”, I make a little circle with my thumb and forefnger
and Priya’s mom laughs. “Have some more idlis, Prem. You seem to
be growing thinner by the day!”
I am about to reply when Priya rushes in, “Amma, do you think
I should wear a saree instead?”
She looks adorable.
“You look fat”, I say.
“Amma! See what Prem is saying...” she turns to her mom, with
a querulous tone in her voice. Her childish pout delights me. I grin
and Priya’s mom rolls her eyes as if she were settling a fght between
two children.
She is still a child, at least to me. Just as she is about to walk of
in a huf, I catch her hand and say, “Arvind is going to be swept of
his feet today”.
She has such an expectant twinkle in her eye, I suddenly feel
protective about her—he better keep my Priya happy. My Priya? I
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smile to myself—not anymore. I let go of her hand and wonder for
the frst time if I really want Arvind to be swept of his feet...
*~*~*
Tat night, she calls me late in the night to tell me all about
Arvind.
“I was waiting for mom and dad to sleep. Tey had so many
questions—‘Do you like him? Does he seem like a decent boy? Did
he ask to meet again?’”
I interrupt and let her catch her breath, “Well?”
“Well? Well what?”
“Well, do you like him? Did he ask to meet again?”
“Uh huh”
I wait and she says, “Prem?”
“Still here.”
“You know how all your life, you wait for this one perfect person?
Te one person who understands you even when you don’t say a
thing? Te one person who knows you better than yourself ? So much
so that he completes your thoughts even before you have fnished
having them?”
I wait for her answer.
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“...well, you know, that’s kind of impractical. Tere is no such
person. Well, I have you but...” and then she pauses as if her own
words confuse her.
I realize I am holding the receiver tightly and I also realize I am
holding my breath. Why? She is my friend and I should be happy
for her. But, all I feel is a slight sense of relief that her perfect guy is
just a fgment of her imagination and Arvind is none of those. But, I
assume more than her words imply.
“...but you know, Arvind is sweet, patient and I think he adores
me. He has that look in his eyes, you know what I mean? I can go on
waiting for the right person and maybe I will never fnd him...but I
just know that Arvind will keep me happy...”
I still say nothing.
“So?”
“So...”
“Will you meet Arvind?”
“No.”
Why did I say that? I should want to meet Arvind now, to make
sure he is right for Priya—after all, I am her best friend, I should do
this for her...
And I hear myself say again, “No, Priya, not tomorrow. Tis week
is not good for me...”
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119
“Prem, you promised! You have to meet him. He is waiting for
me to say yes...”
“Oh?”
“...or no. Please, will you meet him sometime this week? Next
week? I have told him so many things about you...”
Te idea of this stranger knowing me intimately, as Priya knows
me, infuriates me. I know I am being irrational but several other
feelings overpower the practical me.
“Why? You didn’t have to go talking to your sweetheart about me
behind my back!”
“Prem, stop being silly. Remember the time when we went forty
fve minutes late to that Sudha Raghunathan music concert and we
tried to bribe the gate-wallah to let us in...I was telling Arvind about
that and we had such a laugh...you must...”
“I suppose he had a good laugh and preached about why I must
be on time?”
“No...Arvind said...”
“Priya, all this talk about Arvind is getting really tiresome. Can
we do this some other time? I have an early morning conference call
to attend...”
“Prem...ok”, she says in a small voice and I know she will cry
after she hangs up.
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And still, I say bye and hang up. Tat night, sleep eludes me for
a long time. Early morning, I have a dream about Arvind and Priya
laughing and pointing...at me! I wake up, feeling just not right.
What is the matter with me? Am I just not ready to let go? Or
am I confusing friendship with something else?
Why is it that a part of me wants Arvind to hurt her so that she
comes running to my arms? Tat can’t be love—I shouldn’t want to
hurt if I am in love...
I make up my mind. It’s just best for her and for me if I move
away from her, for some time. Time will clear my thoughts and direct
our lives. Time...that’s all I need.
*~*~*
Te next few weeks, I feel miserable. I don’t return her calls.
Her emails to me still announce that they are unread. I avoid her,
perhaps hurting myself more than am hurting her. I hardly stay in my
apartment, making my working days as long as possible and working
even during the weekends.
One dreary Saturday afternoon—it had rained the whole day;
I remember because she walked in slightly shivering, rainwater
dripping from her clothes—she decided I had given time enough
time to steer our lives. She decided it was time she took our lives into
her hands.
She sits down next to me, the silence around us interrupted only
by the constant pitter-patter of the rain outside.
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“I am sorry”, I say.
“Yes, you are.”
“I just thought I needed some time to sort out...my life. Without
you.”
“You can’t.”
“Sorry?”
“Your life is a mess”, she smiles and it’s as if everything is the
same between us, “What makes you think you can sort it out without
me?”
I smile at her and fght back an impulse to hug her tightly.
“You think I will run away that easily and let you live your life the
way you want to, you idiot?”
She continues, “I can’t let go that easily, Prem. I know that you
can’t either.”
And I suddenly wonder who the child in our relationship is.
“Priya, I know that. I don’t ever want to...”
But, she doesn’t let me complete what I wanted to say.
Instead, she talks about Arvind. She likes him. She wants to say
yes and she is still waiting for me to say yes.
And I say yes. Just like that.
“But, you haven’t even met him!”
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“Yes, but I have heard a hundred things about him, from you. I
am sure he will be a nice and boring husband, no surprises! And if he
is not, I will kill him for you.”
We laugh together and I wish I could make that moment last
forever.
*~*~*
I know she is probably getting things ready for her engagement
tomorrow. I know I should probably be with her now. I just can’t
bring myself to face us together, one more time. So, I walk to the
beach and sit down at her favorite spot. It reminds me of time spent
in her company, of laughter, of friendship—of all the things close to
my heart.
And then I cry.
I am not sure how long I have been sitting there. I think about
friendship and love. I think about Priya and Arvind and I know we
have taken the right decisions in our lives—Priya and Prem...
I know it is Priya. Even before her hand touches my shoulders.
Even before she sits down next to me and takes my hand in hers. I just
know. And these are the little things that confuse me—this feeling of
nothingness, lightness when she is around, it’s as if there is no other
person sitting next to me—I can be myself—boring, witty, caustic,
funny, whatever I want to be because I know she will understand...
“I thought about it for a long time too”, she looks at the waves as
she talks and for once, I see their turbulence refected in her eyes.
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Te wind carries her hair all around her tear-stained face, hiding
it from me. She tries to smoothen out stray strands of hair with her
right hand and the moonlight reveals a bride’s delicate hand—the
henna has not even dried.
“Arvind knows I’m here...with you. Everyone’s so excited - my
parents, Arvind...they are all talking about the engagement and I
just needed to be alone, to listen to the voices in my head. But, then I
realized, I just wanted to hear you talk. I knew you’d be here.”
We sit there, seemingly no diferent from the other couples who
sit at the beach that day, holding hands. But we don’t whisper like
them - the silence between us talks for us. I know we are diferent
because we are friends. We were meant to be friends. To be anything
else would be unnatural, incomplete. And that night, holding Priya’s
hand, I know as she does that we will always be friends.
“I love you Priya. I should have said this long back, without
hurting you...I love you as I can love no one, perhaps not even…”
“And I love you too...”,
It’s as if the wind is whispering those words to me. “...in a way, I
can never love Arvind. I am sure I will be insanely possessive about
him. I would not want his eyes to even dare settle on another pretty
woman, I would want to own him, make him mine and I am looking
forward to that. But you...are diferent. I don’t want to spoil what we
have, by trying to thrust newer meanings to it. It is perfect as it is.”
It was as if she had just read out my thoughts to me.
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And she, my thoughts, convinced me that our decision was taken
if not rightly, at least for the right reasons.
Sometimes, we gain by letting go but I had everything I wanted,
I was letting go to gain nothing, to lose nothing. I was letting go so
that I could still hear the harmony I hear now in the waves, in her
words, in my thoughts, years later when I want to hear it again.
And then, I hug her, without guilt, without thinking— my
moment of glory. And I know she will always be with me.
Excerpts from The Last Laugh
(Genre: Romance) by Ramya Sethuraman.
The book is a collection of intensely romantic short stories.
The stories are set in Indian context and have a simplistic
charm about them. It leaves you feeling poignant, at times
nostalgic and touches your romantic core.
Ramya Sethuraman is a software engineer with a penchant
for telling tales.

How to Self Publish
for Indian Market
Created with Inputs and Help from
Jaya Jha, Nadeem Sani and Chandrima Pal
‘How to Self Publish for Indian Market’ by Pothi.
com (Mudranik Technologies Pvt. Ltd.) is licensed under
a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works
2.5 India License.
127

Introduction
T
here is a writer in all of us.
We write diaries and letters, poems, and stories, we blog
and make of ce memos…. Perhaps the more serious among us write
on professional topics. Apart from the utilitarian aspect, we write
because we want to create something more permanent than the
spoken word.
Not everyone can be as successful as JK Rowling but that does not
mean we cannot write as well. Maybe we haven’t got the opportunity
to showcase our creation. Or perhaps we are intensely private and
don’t want to share our thoughts with anyone except a few close
friends.
But wouldn’t it be great if you had the freedom and the means
to convert your thoughts into a book? Whether it is a collection of
your love letters meant as an anniversary gift, or a glimpse of your
professional wisdom meant for colleagues and seniors – now you can
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publish anything with the help of modern technology. What’s more,
you don’t even have to wait for an eternity to get your coveted book
published.
In this guide we look at self publishing using Print on Demand
(POD) which enables low-cost publishing for printed books.
Print on Demand is a technology which ofers you the means to
get your precious work printed quickly and cheaper, in the numbers
you want. Te Internet and a few friendly sites even help you market
your books to the world.
Tis booklet aims to explore the world of self publishing with
you and answer some of the obvious and not-so-obvious issues which
may crop up in your mind. It is divided into three main parts - What
is Self Publishing?, What Every Self Publisher Should Know and
Self Publishing at Pothi.com.
129

Part I – What is Self Publishing?
Publishing
Tis is the process by which books, magazines and other reading
material are produced and distributed among the readers. Te aim
is to make information, ideas, thoughts, stories available for public
viewing and, maybe, make some money too.
Te process of publishing a book can be broken down into the
following steps:
• Selection of manuscript – Tis is the step where the
struggling writer goes from pillar to post, hoping to draw
the attention of some editor or publishing house.
• Editing the book – Once a manuscript is selected, an
editor starts cutting the fab -- doing away with what is
unnecessary. Also under the scanner are language, syntax
and readability.
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• Designing the book – Once the basic text is ready, it
needs to be packaged the right way to appeal to the target
audience. Te designer’s job is to ensure, for example, that
an Economics textbook does not have Katrina Kaif on
the cover.
• Printing – Tis crucial process can be handled in diferent
ways, depending on the requirement. We shall discuss this
in detail later.
• Sales and marketing – Tousands of writers get their
books printed every year. You need to let the readers know
that your book is unique, luring them to buy it. You can
have a great book but if the reader does not know about
it, you may as well chuck it in the dustbin! Te book needs
to be distributed well so that every reader – or even a
possible reader – gets to buy a copy at the nearest book
shop.
Publisher is a person or an organisation which takes the
manuscript from the author and handles the processes outlined
above.
Self Publishing
Self publishing is a special kind of publishing in which the author
has complete control over all the aspects of publishing – preparing
the book, printing and marketing the book. In fact, anyone – be it an
individual or an organization – can self publish.
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131
Self Publishing: Advantages and Disadvantages
Advantages
• No need to spend time convincing publishers/agents.
• Te author is the boss and has complete control over
content, design, pricing.
• Faster way to get your book published.
• Easy to publish books for a niche audience.
Disadvantages
• Needs fnancial investment for the publishing process -
editing, designing, printing, marketing.
• Lack of sales and marketing expertise. No pre-launch
publicity, no launch hype with celebrities and media.
• Chances of lower credibility because the book is not
validated by an independent/traditional publisher. In
India, these things do matter.
When to Self Publish
• Experts: If you are some sort of expert in anything, you
could self publish a book targeted towards that audience.
Expertise need not mean global fame. You could be a
blogger on environmental issues with a following, for
example.
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• Niche publications: Te way the economics of traditional
publishing works, if your audience is niche and small,
publishers may not be interested in your book. If you have
a way to access this niche audience and market your book,
self publishing is the way to go.
• Publishing as gift: A book can be published for gifting
purposes or for distribution to friends and family. For
example, you may want your book just for your family,
or may want to surprise a friend by publishing his/her
writings as a birthday gift.
• Support to profession and brand building: A book can
be published to establish your credibility and thought
leadership in your profession. Coaches, training institutes
and other professionals/organisations can publish a book
themselves and distribute or sell them. It will help brand
building.
• Complete control over the book: If you do not like to
succumb to the demands of the editors on how the book
should start, read and end, self publishing is the option
for you.
Self Publishing and Print On Demand (POD)
Tere is a diference between self publishing and Print on Demand.
Te two terms are often used interchangeably by most of us since
POD is the most prevalent technology used by self publishers. But
the two are not the same.
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133
Publishing is the entire process of preparing the manuscript,
editing, designing the cover, printing, distribution and marketing.
Printing is only one step in the process of publishing. At the printing
stage, the publisher has to choose between two technologies – ofset
printing and POD. If the publisher is confdent of selling a large
number of copies (500+), then he may opt for ofset printing. If
the sale is not expected to be in large numbers, then even a normal
publisher may prefer POD. In short, publishing is the entire process
whereas POD is a technology which can be used by a full-fedged
publisher as well as a self publisher.
POD versus Ofset Printing
POD is a relatively new printing technology where the cost of
printing does not depend on the number of copies being printed. Tis
is essentially digital printing, where each copy is printed independent
of the other.
POD has its advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages
• Flexibility to print even a single copy at a time. Te unit
cost of printing one copy and 1,000 copies does not vary
much.
• Each copy can be personalised. You can even dedicate
diferent copies to your diferent bosses or friends and
earn brownie points, for instance.
• Te content can be updated over time at no cost since the
printing is done directly from a soft copy.
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• Since one can print exactly the number of copies ordered
for, with no signifcant addition to costs, there is no need
to maintain dead inventory (unsold copies).
• Te entire process is faster.
Disadvantages
• Te cost per copy is slightly higher as compared to bulk
printing done by ofset.
• Although black and white/greyscale printing quality is
now at par with ofset, accurate colour reproduction may
be an issue in some cases.
Ofset printing is a more prevalent and older technology. Tis
involves setting the book in certain specialised software and cutting
a plate of the image. Te inked image is transferred (or ‘ofset’)
from a plate to a rubber blanket, then to the printing surface. Te
plate making process is costly and once made, the plates cannot be
corrected or changed. Revision in the book requires cutting new
plates. But once you create a plate, you can use it to generate a large
number of copies. Terefore, one needs to print a large number of
copies (typically 1,000+, minimum 500+) to distribute the cost of
plates over all those copies. As a result, printing just a few copies is
not cost-efective with ofset printing; the cost per copy decreases
with increase in the number of copies printed.
Ofset printing too has its advantages and disadvantages.
What is Self Publishing?
135
Advantages
• Per copy cost is low if number of copies is high. Works
well with the current distribution setup in the industry.
• Quality may be better, especially for coloured printing/
photo books.
• Wider choice of printing paper and other production
options are available.
Disadvantages
• Large upfront investment in bulk printing. Because of
high setup costs, short print runs are not feasible
• Need to maintain the inventory and logistics
Binding
Te binding process involves folding, gathering, trimming, stitching,
glueing, and/or casing of printed pages. Te common types of binding
available are:
• Perfect bound: A paperback book where the title and
author’s name are printed on the spine. Your book must
have 70-80 pages for text to appear on the spine.
• Saddle stitch: A stapled booklet. Best for very thin books.
Your page count should be divisible by four. If it is not,
the printer adds enough blank pages to the back of your
book to make the page count divisible by four.
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• Dust jacket hardcover: A book bound in navy-blue linen
with a full-colour dust jacket.
• Casewrap hardcover: Full-colour, glossy cover; no dust
jacket.
Self Publishing Your Book
You have fnally fnished your book and are dying to see it in print.
Since you have decided to self publish, nobody prevents you from
going ahead and printing copies of your book. But hang on, there are
a few more tasks to be done, decisions to be taken before you can see
the birth of your creation. As they say, haste makes waste.
Step 1 – Finalise the content. You should not write a book and
forget about revisiting it. You need to go through the manuscript in
minute details and revise it if required. In the initial excitement of
having completed the book, authors tend to overlook checking for
mistakes in writing style.
Remember, no matter how talented a writer you are, it always
helps to have another person look over the entire book. Te greatest
writers in the world have had their work ruthlessly edited. Editing
does not mean your book has to lose its style/favour. As a self
publisher, you retain the right of fnal judgement on anything.
Te editing options available to an independent author are
• Professional editor.Tis is the costliest option. However,
it will ensure that you get an unbiased professional look at
your work from a third person’s perspective.
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137
General editing checklist
Common mistakes we tend to commit in our writing
Getting repetitive. Repetition – of a sentence or words
or ideas – can be used as a tool to emphasise a point or an
idea, but beyond a limit, it becomes counter productive.
Narration, fow and writing style. Te book should be
consistent. Te storytelling should not be disjointed or
abrupt. Te tense and narrator’s person should be consistent.
Te best writers break many rules, but they know the rules
like the back of their hand before that.
Contradictions. Care must be taken to ensure that the
characters/information/incidents mentioned do not
contradict each other in diferent parts of the manuscript.
Readability. You need to ensure that the sentences are
lucid and readable – not too long or complex.
Clarity of narration. While editing, emphasis needs to be
laid on checking that the narration is clear and conveys the
ideas or description clearly. Check if certain portions need
to be rewritten to improve clarity and narration.
Flow of the book. Te overall fow of the book needs to be
logical. Check if the organisation of the chapters is fne or
if it needs to be rearranged.
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Grammatical errors. Last, but not the least, the language
needs to be grammatically correct. Sentence construction,
prepositions and articles, punctuation, verbs, tenses,
spellings – everything. Nothing will be a bigger turn-of
for a potential reader than spotting a grammatical mistake
in a book.
• Editing by friend/acquaintance. You could approach a
friend with good language skills to go over the manuscript
and do a frank, ruthless critique.
• Self editing. Te third, option is to go over the manuscript
yourself for spotting problems. Tis is the least you must
do. Remember, errors can be spotted more easily if you
review your manuscript after a gap – say, a couple of
weeks.
Step 2 – Design the book. Te book design is in two parts – the
interior of the book and the cover.
Book interior. Te layout, fonts, size, etc of the book needs to be
designed according to the target audience. For instance, a children’s
book will have more illustrations with larger, well spaced out fonts
and an overall endearing look. On the other hand, a thriller will have
a denser text with an easy-to-read font. Technical books are likely to
have more diagrams and tables.
Book cover. Unfortunately, most people do judge a book by its
cover. So, design an eye-popping cover for your prized work.
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139
Suggestions for an attractive, efective book cover:
• Do include the author’s photograph somewhere. Tis
gives the author behind the book a personality and helps
readers connect better.
• Use the back cover to show positive reviews of the book
and a gripping synopsis of its content.
• Te design of the front cover, title and subtitle should
arouse the reader’s curiosity.
• Te book title and the author’s name should be printed
on the spine for better visibility on a bookshelf. (Tis may
not be possible for thinner books.)
Step 3 - Printing. Earlier in this booklet, we had discussed the
printing process and the two options available - bulk printing with
ofset or one-of/short run printing with Print on Demand. Your
decision needs to be based on three main factors –
• Estimate of the market size. If you are confdent that
the demand for your book is more than 500 copies, go for
ofset printing. In the event of a smaller demand, POD
is a better option. To put things in perspective, a book
selling more than 5,000 copies in India is considered a
success by traditional publishing houses.
Remember to factor in your actual marketing abilities
when you are estimating the demand. Most well-known
authors have a large, specialised promotion and marketing
team working behind the scenes. As a self publisher, you
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will mostly be your own promoter and marketer. Self
promotion is something which many of us Indians are
not very good at given our upbringing where humility
is highly valued. Marketing your book successfully will
require a lot of aggressive self promotion, without which
your book will be read only by your close friends and
family. So shake of the humility and get going.
• Genre of the book. In case the book is essentially a photo
book or what is called a ‘cofee-table book’, you should
go in for ofset printing to ensure print clarity of the
photographs. For a normal book, POD may be a better
option.
• Distribution options. If you see a possibility of getting
a distributor, then, to get the prices right bulk printing
is more suitable. If you are selling directly, through your
own website or through the website of self publishing
companies (like Pothi.com) then you are better of with
Print on Demand and short run printing. Read more
about distribution options in the next section.
One good thing to try could be to print a short run by POD, test
market it, probably scout for publishers/distributors by showing it to
them and depending on the response, go for bulk printing.
Step 4 - Distribution. Distribution should not be confused with
marketing. Marketing creates awareness and entices the reader to
read the book. However, the book has to move from the printing
press to the book store for the reader to buy it. Distribution is the
process by which the book is made available to the reader.
What is Self Publishing?
141
In a typical chain, the book travels from the publisher to the
distributors. Tese are comparatively bigger stockists who usually
look after a region or state. From the distributor, the book goes to
the retailer (your nearby book shop is a retailer) where it is purchased
by the individual reader.
Typical margins
1
(known as ‘discounts’ in the industry) are 40-
60% of MRP to retailer and 10-20% of MRP to the distributor/
wholesaler. Tis implies that for a book with a printed price of Rs
100, Rs 40–60 is pocketed by the retailer as proft and Rs 10-20 is
pocketed by the distributor. Te books are also generally distributed
on a “fully returnable if not sold within a specifc period (e.g. three
months)” basis. Tis means upfront payment from the distributor
is rare and they take no fnancial risk whatsoever. Tese numbers
often surprise frst timers, but these are the realities of the publishing
industry. Online as well as of ine retailers work with similar
margins.
Without contacts, getting a distributor is dif cult for a self
publisher. Distributors are picky about the books since they have
to store the copies and sell it to the retailers. Even when you fnd a
distributor, often they don’t really do a good job of getting your book
to the retailer, i.e. the bookstore.
Te above information is not meant to discourage, but to give a
realistic picture to the independent author/publisher.
1 For English Language publishing
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Options for Self Publishers
Of ine Distribution:
• Te best bet is to start with your local bookshops. Give
away the book even for free at this stage. If it picks up, try
and get to a distributor through the bookshop.
• Sell it yourself, through your family and friends. Don’t
give in to relatives asking for free copies!
• Ask people around to explore the possibility of institutional
selling (for example, company/school libraries). Works
better for non-fction books on specialised topics.
Online Distribution:
• Make your own website and sell the book through it.
You can accept payment through PayPal (in dollars) or
through cheque, demand drafts and electronic transfers.
• Tere are self publishing companies (like Pothi.com)
which operate online book stores specifcally for self
publishing authors.
• Get a distributor in a similar way for of ine distribution.
Check with them if they can get you listed on online book
shops.
As mentioned earlier, the distribution option you go for would
also decide which printing technology is better for you. If you
can get into traditional distribution, to get the prices right (refer
to the margins above), you are better of going with bulk printing
What is Self Publishing?
143
through ofset technology. If you are selling yourself or through self-
publishing company’s website, Print on Demand is a better option to
avoid inventory and logistic hassles.
Step 5: Marketing. Although marketing comes as the ffth
step in publishing, fact is, the buzz should start even before writing.
Marketing a book is all about building the author’s brand. It
takes time and you have to work towards it. If you recall the hype
surrounding release of a Dan Brown or a JK Rowling book, you will
understand the concept. Te books sell on the author’s reputation,
which is created by a team of professionals representing a publishing
house.
Tis obviously is a limitation for an independent author who
has chosen to self publish. But the good news is, with the Internet,
everyone has a free and efective marketing tool to reach their
audience. Tis works especially well when going for POD. You can
get your readers, book orders and then have the book printed. It is
important for the author to build a brand before trying to sell the
book. Just coming online with a book to sell won’t be efective.
• Tere are many social and professional networking
Internet sites where you can promote your work. Among
them Orkut, Facebook and Twitter have the largest
following. Build your profle on these sites to market
your book economically and efectively. But build up your
credentials before making your sales pitch.
• If you have written a book about your professional expertise,
market it on professional sites like Linkedin where you
can join groups with shared interests. Also explore book
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centred websites like Shelfari and Librarything which
provide excellent opportunities for marketing.
• Adding your book to Google book search displays it in
relevant search results.
• You can also create a website about your book. Request
a friend or some prominent personality to write a review
of your book and post it on your site as well as their
networking sites. You could even write about your own
experiences while writing the book.
• Put up extracts from your book on your website for others
to read. Tis will catch the reader’s interest and help sell
your book. Don’t worry too much about piracy. Nobody
is interested in a great but unknown manuscript. Book
pirates only target bestsellers.
Apart from the Internet, you could also arrange for a press release
in the local newspapers. If you know someone in the print media, you
could have reviews of your book published in newspapers/magazines.
Remember:
• It is easier to market a non-fction book in your area of
expertise rather than fction or poetry.
• Tink about your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Te
market is fooded with books and other content mediums.
Why should someone buy your book?
In the next section, a few tips for the debutant self publisher.
145

Part II – What Every Self Publisher
Should Know
ISBN
ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number, a unique
code that can be assigned to a book. Tis is a system developed and
adopted by the International Organisation for Standardisation to
uniquely identify each published book.
Assignment of ISBN
Each country has their designated ISBN agency which is responsible
for allotment of ISBNs for the books published in their country.
In some countries there are also resellers of ISBN apart from the
agency. In India, the only agency authorised to issue an ISBN is Raja
Rammohan Roy National Agency for ISBN, which comes under
Ministry of Human Resource Department. As of now, there are no
authorised resellers of ISBN in India.
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Who should get the ISBN
ISBNs are issued to publishers, who can then assign them to each
of the books published by them. No one other than the publisher
should assign an ISBN to the book. For a self publisher in India,
it means that they should not get an ISBN from anybody except
directly through the agency issued in his/her name. Tat would be
the correct way of getting the ISBN. Te process of getting an ISBN
assigned is simple and it is explained later in this guide.
Importance of ISBN
• ISBN helps in compilation of published book in directories
and bibliographic records.
• It helps everyone in the distribution chain track the
movement of the books.
• It helps in collection of sales data of books.
In India, however, the ISBN is yet to be adopted by the majority
and many parts of the distribution process are not automated. So, the
real advantage of ISBN is not that high. However, if you want to go
through the traditional distribution channels for your book, it would
be useful to get an ISBN. Most organised and online retailers need
an ISBN assigned for a book to be sold through them.
ISBN for Self Publishers in India
As mentioned earlier, ISBNs are given to publishers to assign to the
books they publish. Earlier ISBNs were allotted only in blocks. But
What Every Self Publisher Should Know
147
the good news is individual ISBNs can now be allotted to individuals
who are self publishing. And getting an ISBN in India is free.
You need to send an application to the Raja Rammohan Roy
National Agency for ISBN with the details of your book, photocopy
of the cover page, identity proof and a self-addressed envelope for
return communication. A template for this application form is
provided as Appendix I along with the address of the agency.
Copyright
2
Copyright is a form of intellectual property that gives the author of
an original work exclusive right for a certain time period in relation
to that work, including its publication, distribution and adaptation,
after which time the work is said to enter the public domain.
Protecting your copyright
Copyright issues in India are governed primarily by Te Copyright
Act of 1957. Some of the important aspects of copyright law are:
• Protection under copyright law kicks in as soon as the
work is written. No formality or registration is required to
claim copyright. Tis is unlike patents. Protection under
patents is not given if the invention is not registered as
patented. But copyright law works diferently. Registration
of copyright is strictly optional.
2 All the content under this section is for informational purpose only
and is NOT supposed to be legal guidance or opinion. For any
confusion or details check out Copyright Of ce’s website or consult an
Intellectual Property (IP) lawyer.
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• If a dispute occurs, the registration of copyright can come
in as a handy proof, but it’s not mandatory and does not
stop anyone from starting the dispute against you.
• Copyright law, in general, would not protect the name of
your book and other short phrases. Tis means, registering
a copyright does not mean your book will have a unique
name.
• If you do want to register the copyright, the details
are available on the Copyright of ce’s website (http://
copyright.gov.in/). Te FAQ [Frequently Asked
Questions] section can be really useful.
• If the paperwork is dif cult for you, you should contact
an Intellectual Property lawyer for help. Te minimum
expense in this case would be approximately Rs 10,000.
Not violating other people’s copyright
Tis is also an important aspect to be kept in mind while writing and
publishing your book. You should not, knowingly or unknowingly,
violate the copyright of other people’s work. Here are some thumb
rules:
• Just because some content is available on Internet, it does
not mean you have the right to copy it. Carefully check
the license under which the content is released before
using it.
• If no license information is available, assume that you
don’t have the right to reproduce the material. In that case,
What Every Self Publisher Should Know
149
either limit any reproduction to small excerpts and give
reference to the original source to be within the limit of
“fair use” clause and ethics; or ask for explicit permission
from the content owner.
• Do not download and use images from the Internet
without checking the license or getting explicit permission
from the owners.
• Do not reproduce complete data sets, tables, graphs, etc
without permission from the owner of the material.
• If you are unable to locate or contact the owner and must
use some content, then put a clear disclaimer somewhere
stating that if someone thinks their copyright is violated
they can contact you. Remember, as the publisher of the
book, you are the one who is fnally responsible for the
content of the book.
For further details of copyright law, copyright registration
and protection, visit the Copyright of ce’s website at http://www.
copyright.gov.in or consult an Intellectual Property (IP) lawyer.
150

Part III – Self Publishing at
Pothi.com
S
o you have read through the initial part of this booklet and
have a fair idea of what self publishing is all about. You have a
manuscript ready or intend to fnish it as soon as you get that last
chapter sorted out in your head. And you are dying to see your work
get published. Welcome, you are at the right place. At Pothi.com, we
convert your dream manuscript into a book.
Publishing at Pothi.com can be surprisingly simple. You can
become a published author just by uploading your manuscript on
Pothi.com, deciding on the royalty you want to earn, and getting it
listed on Pothi.com online store.
Besides the typical Print on Demand publishing process,
Pothi.com also supports private publishing (publishing without
listing on Pothi.com’s store), e-book printing, etc. By default,
Pothi.com is adapted to POD, but you can specify in case you want
Self Publishing at Pothi.com
151
bulk printing done. Te economics and the methodology for bulk
printing are slightly diferent since it involves a diferent technology
and maintaining an inventory. Te rest of the section gives an
overview of the publishing services and tools available at Pothi.com.
You can use our services irrespective of whether you want to go for
Print on Demand (POD) or bulk printing (ofset).
How Self Publishing Companies Work
Self publishing companies broadly work on two kinds of models.
Package Model. In this, the entire bouquet of services needed
for publishing is ofered as a single package. So, you can give your
raw manuscript to the company and the printed book is available to
you after a given time. Te company will edit it, format it and design
it. All the services are ofered at a package price. Depending on the
company and the kind of package ofered, delivery of some printed
copies may or may not be included in the pricing.
Pick and Choose Model. In this, the company ofers each of the
services as an individual product. Te author is at liberty to decide
which part of the process he wants to handle himself and which part
he needs to assign to the company. Since all the services are available,
the author may go for all them, but each service is priced individually
and not as a package.
Both these models have their pros and cons. Te Package Model
can be costly for the author, but it does not put much demand on
the author’s time. Te Pick and Choose Model is more cost efective
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and gives the author more control over the entire process. But it also
requires involvement from the author’s side.
At Pothi.com, you can pick and choose the services you want to
avail and you can also choose to go for all the services by paying for
them individually. Details of services ofered by us can be accessed
from our website.
We may ofer packages in future. But right now, we do not have
any.
How to Use Pothi.com
Preparing the Book (pre-press)
After editing the manuscript, the book needs to be prepared for
printing. Tere are multiple options available to the you, the self
publisher. You can prepare the entire book yourself, or you can use
our entire range of pre-press services. We suggest a judicious mix of
the two, depending on the time and resources available to you.
Do it yourself (DIY). Te ready-to-print book is maintained
in two parts, the inside and the cover. Te inside fle includes the
complete content of the book and all other components that should
be printed on the inside pages. Tese include table of content,
preface, foreword, title page, copyright information and anything
else you want in the book. Te cover fle has the cover design of the
book. Both these fles need to be prepared in accordance with certain
specifcations. Tese specifcations and tutorials on how to go about
preparing the fles are available at our website. In addition to the
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153
tutorials, we also have free tools to create Generic Cover Design
and for converting blogs to books on our site. Te obvious advantage
of going the Do it Yourself way is that it involves no investment or
upfront cost.
Avail professional services. We ofer all the services needed
to prepare a raw manuscript for printing. Tese include editing,
formatting, cover designing, illustration and allied services. Depending
upon your specifc needs, you can pick and choose these reasonably
priced services. For example, if you have friends who are good with
English, you could use their assistance for editing and avail of our
services to format the book. You can avail of our services even if you
do not plan to publish through us. For example, you may want to get
your book edited before submitting to a publisher. Or you may print
the book locally, but want it designed by us.
Making the Book Available
As you must have realised, POD and self publishing have tremendous
fexibility to match individual requirements. You can choose to sell
your book to anyone who is interested or circulate it privately, within
a small, select group. Pothi.com ofers you the additional fexibility of
selling your books printed elsewhere through its online book store.
Publish and sell. You can publish your book through Pothi.com
or from a printer of your choice and have it listed at our online store.
Depending on your book’s production cost, there will be a minimum
price for the book. If you choose not to get any royalty, your book will
be available at that price. But you are free to decide how much you
want to earn per copy and the fnal price of the book will be decided
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according to that. More details about this are available on the website.
Te royalty will accrue to you depending upon the number of copies
your book sells.
Private publishing. It is also possible for you to publish the
book through us but not sell it on our website. We will maintain
your ready-to-print fles and dispatch the books only to the person/
organisation you ask us to do. Tis way you can ensure that your book
is circulated only amongst the people/organisations you want. Tis
facility is especially useful in following circumstances
• Te book is for gifting purposes only.
• Te book is for private circulation in a closed group
(family, organisation).
• Te book is for selling exclusively through your own
website or other channels.
Marketing and Distribution
Marketing and distribution are hurdles for individual publishers since
they do not have the resources and the network of an established
publisher. In the current scenario, online marketing and distribution
is the best way out.
Pothi.com’s online book store. Te books published through
Pothi.com can be sold through Pothi.com’s store. Te book is
allocated a page on the online store, where people can read sample
pages, write reviews and buy the title. As the author/publisher, you
are however, free to tie up with any distributor and retailer you want
in addition to putting up the book on our online store. Pothi.com
Self Publishing at Pothi.com
155
also ofers the fexibility of online listing already printed books of the
individual publisher.
Online marketing packages. Basic online marketing is aimed
at helping self publishers build a strong online presence and engage
with existing and potential readers, without committing to heavy
ongoing expenses. Pothi.com ofers such packages which include
online brand building measures like registration of domain names,
creation of website, etc for reaching out to a wider audience. Details
can be accessed at our website.
Other opportunities. You can participate in the other marketing
and distribution opportunities Pothi.com provides from time to time.
For example, the book launch during the Bangalore Book Festival
2008 and placing your book at the Pothi.com’s stall at the Bangalore
Book Festival 2009.
Tings to Know While Publishing Trough Pothi.com
• Selection criteria for publishing. Pothi.com is not a
publisher. It’s an open platform for anyone to use. So, there
is no question of us ‘selecting’ any book for publication.
We do not have any restrictions on the content or topic
of the book, except that it should not violate the law of
the land.
• Evaluation of manuscript. We do not evaluate manuscripts.
Remember, Pothi.com is not the publisher; you are. If you
have decided to publish your book, we are glad to oblige.
156
• Indian language support. We accept books in all Indian
languages. We also provide typing facilities in most Indian
languages.
• Royalty. Amount of royalty is not fxed; it is decided by
you: Tere is no fxed percentage royalty that Pothi.com
pays to the authors. Authors decide their royalty and the
books’ prices are afected by that. Higher the royalty, more
is the price of the book. Details of book pricing formula are
available on the website. Price can also be easily estimated
by using the price estimator tool available on website.
• Author margin. Author Margin or Author Earning are
the phrases commonly used on Pothi.com for royalty.
• Author price. Irrespective of how the book is priced at
the store, Pothi.com authors can buy printed copies of
their book at a special Author Price. Tis is the price with
zero Author Margin and minimum margin for Pothi.
com. Tey can also avail discounts for bulk purchase of
their book.
• Rights to the content. You retain all the rights to the
content and are free to publish the manuscript through
other self publishing companies or send it to a traditional
publisher/agent for consideration. You can also sell the
book through any channel you want to. You are free to
put up the content on you blog, websites and anywhere
you please for free or for a price. In nutshell, Pothi.com’s
terms are completely non-exclusive and do not prevent
you from using your content in any other way.
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• Duration of publishing process. If the soft copy of the
book is ready as per our specifcations, your book can go
online within one working day. Physical copy of Print on
Demand books are generally produced in three to fve
working days.
Getting Further Information
Te Pothi.com site is your one-stop-shop for further information.
Tere are articles and tutorials about self publishing and preparing
your book, as well as details about the services ofered by Pothi.com.
If you still have doubts, refer to the FAQs on the site. Last but not
the least, we (Pothi.com) are always there to answer any specifc
query.
E-mail is the best way to interact with us. You can write to us at
writer@pothi.com
The Takeaway!
Pothi.com provides a fexible, easy-to-use platform for publishing
your books. You can exercise control over every stage of publishing. You
can choose to avail of the editing service and yet not accept the editor’s
remarks, design your own cover, and choose the book size you want.
You can choose to sell it through our website to everyone or retain the
choice of distributing the book to a select few. While publishing with
us, you can still send the manuscript to a conventional publisher for
acceptance and put it up on your blog. In short, you are your own master.
So, what are you waiting for?
Self Publishing at Pothi.com

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