A Few Good Things

"Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller." – Ibn Battuta

A Few Good Things

Month: June 2013

Educational Apps for Kids

I see a lot of Tablets & iPads being sold. If we believe the predictions of one of the large market research firms 2014 will see approximately the same no of tablets being sold as computers in the country ( ~ 10M). At home , in a airport , on a train – almost everywhere I see iPads being used by kids as a device to play games.


There are two common themes that cut across most Indian families.

1. We are ready to pay an arm and a leg for our children’s education. Tuition , special classes , all the books they need  – right from age 6 we start preparing them for their competitive exams.

2. We are not DIY ( Do it Yourself ) people. Our banks even offer to deliver money at home for lazy customers who cant travel to an ATM 100 m away from their home ( and that is a popular service) , our cars are cleaned by our drivers , most of us have drivers , and no house can operate without a few maids, a small balcony garden needs to be tended by a gardener – so overall the point is we are not DIY people . When it comes to studies we are more than happy to pack away our kids to Tuition classes rather than spend that extra time ourselves. After all money can buy everything.

Keeping these points in mind the iPad is a great tool for Kids at home. In addition to playing games they can learn a lot of useful stuff in a DIY manner. That helps in better knowledge retention and understanding of the concepts.

Listing below sections on the App Store where you can download education Apps for all levels – Pre School & Kindergarden , Elementary School , Middle School & High School . These are very useful & simple to use educational Apps for all ages. If you have an iPad download them for your kids and get started with getting more  value for the lovely iPad you have at home.

Apps for Pre-school & Kindergarten:  https://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewRoom?fcId=630741467&mt=8

Preschool copy

Apps for Elementary school: https://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewRoom?cc=us&fcId=634073737&mt=8&ls=1

Elementary copy

Apps for Middle School: https://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewRoom?cc=us&fcId=634638382&mt=8&ls=1

Middle copy
Apps for High School: https://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewRoom?cc=us&fcId=634638644&mt=8&ls=1

High copy

PS – Thanks to my colleague Kiran for compiling all the details

Simplify – Layman’s guide to peace & happiness

Its Tax Time and after three weeks I finally managed to compile all the information that is needed to get the job done in a thick 2 inch file. I got wiser after an IT Enquiry a few years back &  play it safe by  compiling every bit of information of the last FY. An IT enquiry can be really stressful – if you are asked in 2011 to provide in-depth detail of all your finances  in 2006 & 2007 – it isn’t easy  to dig out old records & transactions.


As you start compiling bank account (s) statements , TDS Certificates , Capital Gains & Losses , Property Details , Home Loan statements , Insurance Receipts , PPF scans , Nett Worth calculations, Credit card statements , Form 16………..- you start wondering – What can I do to simplify my life ?  How can I minimize transactions ? A time comes when you say its Ok to earn 1 % less interest but I want to sternly reduce  all the challenges and paperwork. And thats the goal behind this blog – The road to happiness and how to simplify your life.


Step – 1 : The goal of every human being is to be HAPPY 

I start with a simple Question – What is it that is common to all the 7 B people who inhabit planet Earth ? Other than the fact that they all breathe , need food & water , have desires and  live in communities ? Suppose I get all the inhabitants of the world into a large Stadium and ask  – All those who want to be Happy raise your hands ! My guess is that every person in that Stadium would raise his hand.

Step – 2 : What makes you Happy 

This is a tougher question.  A Big House , a hefty bank balance , a promotion , becoming a CEO , getting elected as a MP or the Prime Minister , a Rich Husband , A pretty wife , fancy holidays in exotic jets……. In short to a vast majority on earth Happiness is defined by two broad parameters – 1. Wealth

and 2. Status & Power. 

What is common to the Bellary Brothers , Satyam Founder Raju  , Rajat Gupta & Sanjay Dutt ? They are just some of the Rich & Famous people who are now behind bars. I doubt if they are Happy. Is a rich & powerful CEO happy – constantly under pressure to perform and facing the axe  from the shareholders if he slips a tiny bit. Partying in a pub with wild friends maybe happiness to many on a Fri evening after a long hard week – but its  similar to the pain killer shot that the doctor gives you , it just numbs your pain for some time. Most people run after wealth , power & status – that is clearly not the road to happiness. So what is the REAL  road to Happiness ? Thats a tough one to answer. But lets keep trying.

Step – 3 : Six Sigma & What makes you Unhappy

Lets apply a bit of Six Sigma Concept here. (Six Sigma became very popular in the mid 90’s when every large India IT company touted  Six Sigma and SEI CMM as their road to growth and the flag to enter the global world of IT outsourcing). Six Sigma preaches that the way to improve is to indetify defects – its easier to identify defects than to figure out a way to improve. If Six Sigma can help GE  & Motorola I am sure we can apply this principle to our life and try figuring out what are the defects that make us Unhappy. If we can reduce our unhappiness then automatically our happiness will go up.   Thats is simple and makes sense.


Step – 4 : 4 Key elements of Unhappiness 

1. Physical Pain – Headache , stomach pain , hurting knees , indigestion , arthritis , BP , 80 % blocked valves in your Heart and similar physical ailments cause unhappiness.

How can you eliminate or minimize physical pain  ?  A good lifestyle , sleeping at the right hours , healthy food & regular exercise – thats all it takes to ensure a health pain free body ( at least in 99 % of the case where you do not have a genetic disorder).

2. Stress  – Unhappiness can also be caused by Stress & Tension. Meeting deadlines , driving sales growth Year of Year , juggling with multiple balls at the same time , trying to squeeze too much out of too less – all this can add to Stress. A lot of this Stress is driven by trying to do too much in too less a time. You are constantly trying to race against the clock. And why are you trying to do this – because you have too many TRANSACTIONS. One transaction leads to another – and another and all of them start adding complexity to your life.

The trick here is to start Minimizing Transactions. Unsubscribe from all unwanted groups and mailing lists , simplify your investment portfolio from 20 different investments to 2 – 3 , avoid multiple Credit Cards , Multiple Bank accounts , reduce your FB friends, if you have 3 houses sell 2, avoid a role in the apartment management committee, stop trying to solve all the problems of the world   – If you consciously start working on it you can make good progress. Each Transaction reduction starts a chain of events and the chain of Transactions continue to reduce.  Set a goal and work towards achieving it. Each reduction reduces pain and gives you joy.

3. Insult – The 3rd thing that makes you unhappy is Insult. You feel your voice was not heard , your opinion & view was not respected , you were ignored. Your EGO is hurt. You created your own EGO – a small kid does not feel insulted its only adults who create their own Ego’s who feel insulted. With insult comes revenge & vendetta. And a river of negative energy starts flowing.  Its easier said than done – but if you can curb your EGO you will never feel insulted.

4. Unfulfilled Desire – The last and most common element that causes unhappiness is unfulfilled desire. The kid wants an expensive Nike shoe and Dad says NO . You want a promotion and a 20 % hike – Boss says NO. Wife wants a holiday to Switzerland and Europe –  Husband says NO. We all get upset when we don’t get what we want.  But getting what you want never makes you happy – else the people I spoke about earlier would not be in Jail. Again a little difficult to get started – but a conscious effort to reduce desire and can help eliminate unhappiness.

Step – 5 : Starting the journey – Meditation 

It sounds simple but getting started and maintaining it is not easy. A simple tool that can help you and be an enabler is to start  meditating for 10 minutes every day. Human beings consist of a Physical Body + Something Extra (Soul , Life , Prana , Consciousness)  . We are constantly in touch with the Physical Body but rarely do we connect with that “Something Extra” . Meditation is the only way to connect with that Something Extra and just 10 min a day can change your life and start helping you to control the above mentioned 4 elements that cause so much unhappiness. its not mumbo jumbo – but a science that can be practiced by one and all.



God – Fearing, Heaven & Hell : Brainwashed – 2

Adj : god-fearing – deeply religious; “a god-fearing and law-abiding people”

Its interesting to see the meaning of the word  “God – fearing” . A simple word – we have used so many times. But lets spend time analyzing this word.

I start with the premise – Why not “God – Loving” ? After all God is infinite compassion , always forgives you &  your mistakes – so why should we be afraid of God. This brings me to an interesting comment made in the movie “Oh  My God ” by the nakli baba ( Mithun Chakraborty) who says that people come to a temple out of fear. You are afraid of losing money , wealth , happiness – hence you come and take an insurance in the temple in front of God. 99% of the people who go to a Temple go to ASK for something – The student asks for Pass Marks or admission to a college , the young girl asks for a nice groom , the 30 year old for a fast track promotion, the 40 yr old for a VP / CEO posting. Rich industrialists cover temples with gold & platinum to ensure that IT raids do not happen , and Politicians offer money & grants to ensure that they do not lose their position & status.Come Diwali & Lakshmi Puja the stock Broker and Baniyas pray for more wealth & success.  The sad reality is that Few, very few go to a Temple with folded hands for peace & quiet – just to say Thank You. The priests & baba’s like Mithun know this and play on the fear – hence the word God Fearing. God did not create it , the institutions that control religion  under the name of great spiritual beings created them.

Linked to this is the concept of Heaven & Hell. We have all grown up fearing Hell and wishing we could at all times be in Heaven. the sole purpose of life is to be in Heaven !

What is HELL ? A place of  endless torture & pain. Where they throw you in boiling oil & fry you alive. Think of the worst set of cruelties that come to your mind – and they practice all of that and more in HELL. Its so easy to brainwash you from childhood with the concept of HELL.

Detail of Hell from  Fresco Cycle by Frederico Zuccaro and Giorgio Vasari

I would like to know who conceptualized HELL ? Only a crazy sadist can think of such a ghoulish place that even with its mere mention can terrify mankind. If God created everything – would God create a place like HELL ? If GOD is infinite compassion would he have the heart to punish someone so heartlessly. Jesus when crucified – in extreme pain & agony said ” Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” – that sounds like God.

And what is Heaven ? A place of infinite joy , apsaras & nymphs dancing , unlimited liquor – some religions even promise their practitioners that on accomplishing their mission ( Jihad) on earth  virgins will be waiting for them in heaven.  I wonder how all that is banned on earth is your reward in Heaven – in  unlimited quantities ?


In Conclusion – Whats the Point I am trying to make.  I am just trying to make you think . Its time for each person to introspect. To reflect on what we have learnt , how we have been brainwashed. Read what the greatest spiritual thinkers of the last 2500 years have preached  – they don’t talk about Heaven & Hell and being God Fearing. They talk about reflecting inside yourself by asking – Who am I ? What is my purpose in Life ? What is the Material & Spiritual World ? Interesting Questions leading to an interesting journey.  Questions for which you need to find  answers by yourself.

Few other related reading sections 

Am I a Hindu ? Religion & Spirituality


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