Yesterday was one of those amazing days that rarely happens. It all started with a simple tweet I received from Rajendran Dandapani, the Head of iGarage – the Apple-focused development team at one of my favorite companies, Zoho Corp.
Kiruba, Heard you are gunning for a comic-collection record? Didn’t know you were a Tarzan fan. Have a trunkful from old Indian Express..
Rajendran had obviously chanced upon my Comics Collection website http://www.Kiruba.com/Comics . I was happy to find another comic fan in Chennai and replied to him with this tweet.
Yes, Raj. Great to hear you are a Tarzan and Comics fan. Please guard those strips with your life!
I nearly fell out of my chair when I read Rajendran’s reply.
Kiruba, I meant – I am planning to give them away…
We spoke on the phone and fixed up a time to meet together at his residence in the evening. When I was warmly welcomed into the home, I was shown the treasure box. A carton filled with comic strips.
All the comic strips were neatly segregated by stories and years and packed inside polythene covers. Each of them were numbered. I could immediately feel the passion and love with this hobby was pursued.
A bigger surprise was to await me. I was introduced to Rajendran’s Dad. A very amiable man with a radiating charm, walked out of his room. He couldn’t shake hands as he walked out mid-way from his dinner. It was then Rajendran told me that his Dad is a huge Tarzan fan and has been collecting Tarzan strips since when he as a young boy.
Rajendran’s Dad spoke pristine English and articulated how he was a big fan of Johnny Weismuller, the 5 time Olympics swimming gold medalist who acted in Tarzan movies. Since his younger days, he would carefully cut the Tarzan comic strips that appeared in Indian Express and save them. This was a bed time story tool for his young son.
Its obvious where Rajendran’s passion for Tarzan came from. Raj says that the Tarzan comics helped build a close strong bond between him and his Dad.
As me and Rajendran continued to talk, I asked him the difficult question. It was clearly the elephant in the room and had to get it out of the way. How can he afford to give away the collection? After all, not only was there an humongous effort that was spent in diligently collecting the strips, there were extremely strong and deep memories attached.
I expected Raj to give a pained reply. Surprisingly he didn’t. Either that or he is very good at masking his feelings. He told me that they had made digital scans of the strips and now its easier for his kid to read them on an iPad. More importantly, there is a copy of each of those strips available online. Besides, the cartons were occupying space at his home and they were doing some serious spring cleaning.
As a comics collector, I have total respect for Rajendran and his Dad for what they have accomplished. When I picked the carton and walked towards the car, I had a heavy feeling in my heart. A feeling of deep responsibility. The carton not only contains years of comic strips but tons of memories and nostalgia. It carries an inexplicably bonding between father and son. I have to be a good custodian and pass it onto the next generation. That’s the best form of gratitude I can show to Rajendran and his Dad.
After months of searching, I finally selected a gramophone that I liked. Its actually a remake and not an antique. However, its a remarkably done remake. The only consolation though is that I exchanged the shiny flower horn for a real antique one (seen in dull brass color). This gramophone is a full working model and it plays great. We listened to ‘Kaadhalika Neramillai’ (one of my parent’s favorite movie) and surprised them last night. View the Album.
If you had read my previous post, “Be a Producer, Not a Consumer“, you would have known why I’m a big believer of producing new content.
Producing new content can be in various forms. Writing. Photographing. Video recording, Podcasting, Designing. The idea is to be proactively involved in creating new stuff.
Among all these, writing is the most crucial and the most potent. While I loosely consider myself a writer and confident of my writing skills, I’ve been frustrated with my lack of dedication to actually park my arse and put pen on paper.
I found a solution to the problem, strangely, through my daughter. One day, I took her to a writing workshop for kids. Since they didn’t object to Parents being part of the program, I stayed on.
Among all the techniques that they taught the kids, the most impressive one was the ‘Write anything for 3 minutes‘ task. The trainer told the kids that the rule was that they should not stop writing at any time. They are free to write anything that comes to their mind. It can be a story, an essay, an incident, an experience… just about any subject under the Sun. The writer reminded that they need not worry about about typos or grammar. The important thing is to keep writing.
I will never forget the sight of the 300 young kids in the hall, their heads bent down, focusing on the paper they were writing. For an entire 3 minutes, I never saw a single head bop up. It was amazing how focused they were. More importantly, the kids felt satisfied that they produced something original. It kindled their interest in writing. And post this exercise, I could see a visible difference in their involvement in the workshop.
I was impressed. I told myself what if I tried the same experiment. So I tweaked the method to write 500 words. And instead of 3 minutes, I made it before 9am.
The topic can be anything. It can be a personal diary, a blog post, an article for a newspaper, a page for my next book, a tweet. It can be a parts of all these. The important thing is for me to write. And to cross the 500 words mark.
True, not everything I write will be of good quality. It doesn’t matter. Remember, the experiment with the kids. If the trainer had told the kids to ‘Write an interesting essay within 3 minutes’, then 90% of the kids would have got stuck. They would be under pressure to not only to think of a subject but also under pressure to make it interesting. I realized that the same thing applies to me. So far, I was pressuring myself into creating” meaningful” content. If I wasn’t sure how meaningful it is, I would invariably procrastinate. And slowly, I was losing the very habit of writing. Its shocking that in the whole of 2011, I had written less than two dozen blog posts.
Now, the focus is on writing. Its on getting back into the writing habit. Getting myself into the groove. Once the habit sets in, I can turn my focus towards improving the quality.
It looks like the experiment is already working. I realize that I have just crossed the 500 words mark. 519 to be exact! And the time is just 8:22 am!
I recently chanced upon an article that scratched the great itch in me to improve my productivity in the mornings.
It was a thread on Reddit titled, ‘What are the small lifestyle changes you’ve made that have had big impacts for you?‘ I particularly fell in love with the first answer by user Aceex. He spoke about how his life changed when he moved from being a consumer to a producer. First, I’ll quote him. Then I’ll tell you why I so truly believe in this.
“I make sure to start every day as a producer, not a consumer.
When you get up, you may start with a good routine like showering and eating, but as soon as you find yourself with some free time you probably get that urge to check Reddit, open that game you were playing, see what you’re missing on Facebook, etc.
Put all of this off until “later”. Start your first free moments of the day with thoughts of what you really want to do; those long-term things you’re working on, or even the basic stuff you need to do today, like cooking, getting ready for exercise, etc.
This keeps you from falling into the needy consumer mindset. That mindset where you find yourself endlessly surfing Reddit, Facebook, etc. trying to fill a void in yourself, trying to find out what you’re missing, but never feeling satisfied.
When you’ve started your day with doing awesome (not necessarily difficult) things for yourself, these distractions start to feel like a waste of time. You check Facebook just to make sure you’re not missing anything important directed at you, but scrolling down and reading random stuff in your feed feels like stepping out into the Disneyland parking lot to listen to what’s playing on the car radio – a complete waste of time compared to what you’re really doing today.
It sounds subtle, but these are the only days where I find myself getting anything done. I either start my day like this and feel normal and productive, or I look up and realize it’s early evening, I haven’t accomplished anything and I can’t bring myself to focus no matter how hard I want to.”
Reading this post hit the nail on the head. I’m guilty of doing almost everything that the author wanted me to avoid. Here’s how I used to spend my mornings. I wake up at around 8am and almost the first thing I do is to reach for the newspaper. Then I pick my Blackberry to check for mails. Next I pop open my notebook, login to Facebook and get sucked right into it. I start by catching up on statuses by friends and invariably click on videos and links.
Before I know it, I’m into random aimless browsing, hopping from one link to another. By this time, two hours melt away and I’m already running late for office. And then I have to worry about the meetings and the deadlines I have to meet at work. I knew I wasn’t doing the right thing. I had this deep urge to change.
I’ve decided to take small baby steps to change.
1) Wake up at 6am instead of 8am. That’s 2 precious quiet hours I get for myself without any disturbance.
2) I no longer pick up the newspaper in the mornings. News can wait.
3) I don’t check my mails before 9am. Either on Blackberry or Notebook.
4) I don’t open up Facebook. No sir. Not until 10 am.
Instead, I start the day by listing down the important tasks I need to do. Then I quickly dive into writing. Be it my personal diary, the blog, proposals or my books. The important thing is for me to produce new stuff instead of just consuming others’ stuff. That’s where my next project, ‘500 words before 9AM‘ comes in super handy. Read about it in the next post.
The interest in antiques has been steadily growing and it has reached a stage where it warranted its own microsite. Please check out http://www.Kiruba.com/antiqes
Please note that its a soft beta launch. The paint is still fresh and rough around the edges. Please do let me know what you think of it…especially areas that need improvement. Please feel free to be critical.
Through the site, I hope to share with others not only information about my collection but also my experiences. The information would come i useful for those who want to get started with this hobby. I’m also hoping to network with other antique collectors and get inspired.