Though Ravi Shankar was born in 1920, when India was still a British
colony, he led a fabulously avant-garde life, combining in his creative persona, elements of the East and West. It’s fascinating to examine fragments from the life of the intensely inventive global icon.
His Early Childhood at Varanasi inside A Bengali Bhadralok Family
Ravi Shankar’s parents were Shyam Shankar and Hemangini Devi, a Bengali couple living in Benares. Shyam Shankar was a middle-temple barrister and a Dewan of Jalwahar,
Alberto Manguel: Reading as a Conquest of Space and Time
Alberto Manguel, author of A History of Reading, recalls the
time, as a four-year-old, when he was first able to decipher the signs on a
billboard. He says the new magical attribute – being able to read – felt akin
to acquiring a new sense. After all reading enables the conquest of time and
space, or in the words of the 16th Century Baroque writer,
Jayanth Narayanan, Owner of Mani’s Dum Biryani and Co-author of Secret Sauce and Startup your Restaurant, Constantly Reinvents Himself
Mahatma Gandhi dwelt as intensely on the foods he and his followers consumed (or consciously avoided) as on larger political or spiritual themes. But he would have applauded the contemporary nation’s variegated palates as a hallmark of its receptiveness. Yet India, according to the authors of Secret Sauce, is a “punishing” market for most restaurateurs.
Many years ago, Pico Iyer, who resides in Nara, Japan, had travelled to the San Gabriel Mountains in California. Ragged peaks loomed into view when he turned off spiraling freeways that spun in and around Los Angeles. At his destination, where “a cluster of rough cabins scattered across a hillside,” he was greeted by a small man, dressed in threadbare monastic robes. Despite his stooped back,
In the concluding passage of his Acknowledgements, Adam Grant, Wharton Professor and author of Originals, thanks his three children for compelling him to unlearn many of the lessons that adults take for granted. After all, as someone fascinated by the mindsets and processes that create Original thinkers, Grant himself had to forge a creative path while penning his thoughts. His book does dispel familiar myths about creativity while also highlighting recent research to foster originality in both individuals and organizations.
Henry David Thoreau: The Possession of an Unusual Sensibility
At an early age, Henry David Thoreau realised he was going to be different from other members of his family. There was inside him a sense of the simultaneity of time, of the past and future melding into the present. Born in 1817, at Concord, Massachusetts, as the third of four kids, Henry was a quiet and thoughtful child, often lost in his own reveries. His spirited and firebrand mother,
With disarming modesty, Tridip Suhrud describes himself in four pithy words as a “scholar of modern Gujarat.” While he has been deeply engaged in scholarly practices, he has also, like the sunlit river that bisects Ahmedabad, coursed through a remarkable array of other roles. From being a Professor at the National Institute of Design to becoming the Director of the Sabarmati Ashram, from translating four volumes of Gandhi’s biography from Gujarati to English to annotating and contextualizing Gandhi’s My Experiments With Truth,
Mekin Maheshwari: Quitting A High-Status Position to Pursue Meaning
On the Udhyam website, Karthik’s toothy smile radiates into the camera. A migrant from Tamil Nadu, whose wife and two kids reside in the ramshackle Ejipura slum, Karthik runs a tea shop in Indiranagar. Besides tea and coffee, his menu flaunts dosas and rice baths, Maggi noodles and eggs, catering to both watchful and fearless eaters. After his interactions with the Udhyam team, Karthik is foraying into uncharted territories.
The year 2018 witnessed the release of two memoirs that corralled global readers into attentiveness. The first one was anticipated: Michelle Obama’s Becoming. The second book streaked into distracted lives like a lightning bolt, numbing all our previous notions about education, family, community, religion and government. With its electrifying account of a child being raised inside a fundamentalist Mormon family in Idaho, USA, Educated by Tara Westover not only reshapes ideas about the makings of a sound education,
It can be disconcerting to attempt changes at midlife even under the watchful scrutiny of just friends and family. After all, most of us would prefer some semblance of privacy and anonymity while fumbling into new terrains, especially now that we carry the extra heft of being ‘grown up’. Take that ordinary discomfort and magnify it a million times, and we get a sense of what Michelle had to grapple with, in her mid-forties, as she transited into a new role under the hyper-critical gaze of trailing cameras and a global audience.
It was at Koramangala, that the two Bansal partners started the iconic Flipkart. Since then, known variously as the “Bandra of Bengaluru” or the startup hub, the locality has been reshaped by its chic pubs, swank restaurants and organic food stores that service the entrepreneurial swish set. It’s rather apt then that I met Prabhat Kumar Tiwary, founder of YourOwnROOM, who kindly agreed to share his story with me, inside a warmly-lit café. Amidst the hiss of the steaming espresso machines and murmurs about “B to C” and “seed funds” that wafted above other napkin-doodling dreamers,
On the 150th birth anniversary of the Mahatma, I thought it fitting to learn about the nation’s founder, beyond the drab and mostly forgotten facts from uninspiring history textbooks. Coincidentally, towards the end of 2018, the historian Ramachandra Guha has released the second volume of his magnificent and sprawling biography, Gandhi: The Years That Changed the World. I’m less than halfway through the first volume, Gandhi Before India, and completely gripped by the little-known stories,
In the 1999 film, American Beauty, the protagonist Lester Burnham embarks on rather stereotypical responses to what one might term his midlife ennui. He trades his unexciting Toyota Camry for a zippier 1970 Pontiac Firebird, and lusts after his teenage daughter’s best friend.
Kieran Setiya, who is currently a philosophy professor at MIT, rejects such a cliched return to adolescence – a sports car, an extramarital fling, marijuana or an impulsive career change.
The movie, Bohemian Rhapsody, was recently drawing crowds at theatres across the globe. The UK band, Queen, received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2018 Grammys. The group, fronted by the confounding, layered, complex Freddie Mercury continues to seize the world’s attention an astonishing twenty-seven years after its star performer died at Kensington, London. Even in Bengaluru, the city I inhabit, the radio channels were abuzz with specially-curated Queen events at local clubs or trivia about the musician’s life.
Creativity, to begin with a cliché, is often considered an exercise in ‘thinking outside the box.’ The phrase, however hackneyed or tired-sounding, does urge one to shatter boundaries, a necessary step to usher newness or innovation in any sphere. My quibble, however, is with the word ‘think.’ It seems to denote that creativity is primarily a cerebral exercise, one in which the intellect is ordered to willfully wander into new terrains. What it fails to encompass is the role of feelings,
As a cool twelve-year-old, I would have been the last to admit my father had a vernacular accent. Like most children of a generation born at the cusp of India’s independence, he had studied in a regional language (Tamil medium) school. As a result, he was as conversant in Tamil as he was in English. While his English was grammatically faultless, his accent, from our perspective, was infected by his ‘so-sad Tamil’ upbringing. My mother on the other hand,
Georges Seurat’s life was a brief flash on the planet. The French Neo-Impressionist painter, who lived in the 1880s, died of diphtheria at the age of 31. And yet, during his fleeting existence, Seurat accomplished a density of work that was to reshape the manner in which future artists would contend with perspective and color and technique.
He was the inventor of Pointillism, a method by which tiny daubs of color are applied to a scene.
Right from its inception, Indian cinema has always resisted the imposition of other sensibilities. During the colonial era, British rulers often attempted to manage and control the cinema to service the Empire’s aims. They were, in fact, explicitly afraid of the cinema’s influence over illiterate viewers who flocked to the theatres in numbers that overwhelmed newspaper and book readers. But even post Independence, cinema continued to ignore the nationalist urges sought by the newly formed government.
Paul Graham is a founder of Y Combinator, the famed accelerator in Silicon Valley that has spawned many champion startups, including Dropbox, Airbnb and Reddit.
Yet his personal website (paulgraham.com) eschews the blaring self-promotion we associate with our celebrity-mediated age. But don’t be deceived by its starkness or skip over the large chunks of text that pop up on his blog. Because Graham has an unusual Renaissance mind, and some of the insights offered by the understated technology veteran are relevant to creators in all fields,
Recently, the Salvator Mundi, a painting by Leonardo da Vinci that depicts Jesus Christ as the Savior of the World, shattered auction records, selling for a stunning $450 Million. Also, last year, the meticulous and imaginative Walter Isaacson, who was commissioned by Steve Jobs to document his own life, released a new biography of the Italian Maestro. Isaacson was inspired to delve into Da Vinci’s life because of Jobs’ intense veneration of the artist, scientist,