Monday, March 29, 2010

Emerging Leaders - People Leadership

Picture source

The most recent leg of the Emerging leaders program was titled "People Leadership". Over 4 days spread across two weekends, we touched upon "Negotiation skills", "Doing business in intercultural settings", "Organizational Politics" and so on. Note-worthy moments from this module
* Watching "Twelve Angry Men" as a study of negotiation. I can never have enough of that movie, although I wish Prof L.Prasad had given us more time to discuss the movie.
* We played a game called "Lost at sea", in which the participants are required to arrive at a consensus on the things to carry on a hypothetical raft soon after their hypothetical ship starts to sink. Among other things, I learnt that a mirror is a very useful attention-drawing prop. Since the whole discussion was video-taped I also learnt a lot about myself. That my diction isn't as clear as it sounds in my head. And that I touch my nose a lot. Body language experts interpret that as a sign of lying. I still insist it's hay-fever!
* Prof. Alexandra Benz's lectures on intercultural settings was fascinating. She was like Russell Peters without the irreverence. I can't think of any other person who can say things like "Indians have poor thought-word-action consistency. They don't say what they think, and seldom do what they say" and still make it sound non-threatening.
* The most intriguing part was a session by a famous male Kathak dancer who brought us his insights on how to connect to an audience. I spent the first 15 minutes fixated on observing how effeminate the guy was. And then he performed! All his failure to make us see the virtue of connecting to the transcendental in our own chosen vocations was forgotten when he started to make the floor thunder with the foot-tapping. He even coaxed us into dancing a bit towards the end. In a matter of minutes he had roused a bunch of self-important wannabe leaders and set them shaking their legs silly. He needn't have said a word.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Fishing in the Bhadra

For several years, I flip-flopped on the subject of vegetarianism, because I was never convinced about the reasons to relinquish meat. The every-animal-has-a-soul didn't make the cut. Cholesterol didn't discourage me too much. The cruelties of industrial scale husbandry was out of sight from my conscience. Finally, after a lot of reading on the subject, I was completely convinced that if every person on the planet turned to meat, we'd be screwed real bad. Too much of the meat that we eat was coming out of unsustainable ecosystems. I'm now convinced that any food grown without giving nature a chance at replenishment is going to cost us a lot in the future. The stewardship argument had finally pushed me over the edge into vegetarianism (not that farming was being done in a sensible way!).

Last weekend, I visited a fishing camp on the banks of the Bhadra river in Chikmagalur, where they practise a model of stewardship that I'd like to see in every goddamn part of the world that man inhabits. People are allowed to catch for their daily means but large-scale fishing is completely prohibited. The river is closed for fishing during the spawning season. The result of this is that the fish population in the river remains a constant, and the other predators that depend on the fish also thrive. If only you could teach the Jap whalers to take care of their waters like this. Anyway, since the stewardship was firmly in place I decided to indulge. Peter, our host, cast the net and in no time we had a handsome 2 kilo Karnataka Carp.

While walking back with the fish strung to a water weed stalk, I watched it flail about, and gasp for breath. I never thought fish are able to make noises, but this one did. Just when I allowed myself to feel relief that it had finally died, it would garner enough reserves for one more thrashing of the tail. In the end, it returned to me in a plate as one of the tastiest, non-smelliest fish dishes I've eaten. Yet I still can't take the image of the struggling carp out of my head. It's official, I'm a sissy!