Sunday 5 February 2012

Little pleasures of life

I love saturdays with no plans.  Today, I took my eight year old son son for his long due haircut.  We went to the usual road side shop, got his usual short hair cut while chatting with the barber in telugu, watching an old movie on the TV mounted on the corner.  When we got home, I helped my son wash his hair.  As he sat on a low stool and bent his head down waiting for me to pour the the tumbler of water down his head, I saw all the small hairs from the haircut settled on the back of his neck and back.  The sight took me back many years and reminded me of my dad and our hair cut session.

When I was a kid, my dad used to insist that I spend the entire weekend with him no matter what he was doing …from the time we woke up and brushed our teeth to the time we were asleep, we were together.  Even if he had an important event to attend, I used to tag along with him. Even though my dad was bald, he was keen to get a haircut almost every other sunday.  That sunday morning, the barber would show up at our home, enjoy my grand mother’s cup of coffee and set up a make shift barber shop in our front yard.  Till I was 8, my dad used get my hair cut done along with him.  While my classmates had long, thick tresses, I had a crew cut! I used to get my haircut while my dad finished reading his morning paper and then I would watch my dad get his haircut while chatting with the barber on every subject from local politics to latest medical discoveries.  Even though the amount of hair that needed to be cut from my almost bald father was little, the ritual was rather long.  As he got done, my dad would turn his back to me to pay the barber.  That’s when I would spot these small hairs stuck to his neck and his back and I would take a small hand towel and wave it across his back trying to dust every bit of hair off his back. It was a game .. our silly game. I can still remember small specs of grey hair splashed on his brown neck as though it was yesterday.  In that moment, I was thankful that he insisted on us being together through all the routine stuff of the day.

 I realized that It is in these insignificant activities that we find memorable moments.  As I brushed the hair off my eight year old’s back and poured the water to rinse off the remnants of the haircut, I hoped that someday he would be thankful for these simple moments as well. 

Thursday 2 February 2012

What do INK and South Africa have in common?

originally posted to the INK Blog
Emerging economies like India and South Africa are at a crossroads. In the past, the West has defined the dominant narratives of these places. To many people, India has always been associated with poverty, and Africa with animals – exotic, alien and somehow different. But the image has been changing in recent years, as the world understands that stereotypes do not define the essence of these countries.

From left to right: Chi Chi Maponya (Deputy Chairman of the board, Brand South Africa); Jacob Zuma (President of South Africa); Miller Matola (CEO of Brand South Africa); and Lakshmi Pratury (Host and Curator of the INK Conference)
Part of INK’s mission is to make the world aware of new thought leaders from places like India and South Africa. The story of India is more than popular sports or stars. At INK we work hard to break that stereotype. One thing we do which I find inspiring is our Fellows program, where we bring young innovators from India and emerging economies around the world to the INK Conference, and invite them to give a talk on their ideas to our community. The INK Fellows are the type of people I believe should be the role models for our youth.

That’s why it was so encouraging to meet with President Jacob Zuma of South Africa and his team of leaders from Brand South Africa on Tuesday. The people at Brand South Africa are trying to redefine South Africa to the rest of the world, just as INK is working to offer the world new perspectives on India. While speaking with them I realized they are just as enthusiastic as we are about breaking stereotypes about places, and getting the thought leaders and youth from emerging economies to meet and collaborate with one another.

We’re looking forward to working with President Zuma and his team to partner with South Africa and bring more South African thinkers to INK. As INK grows, these types of collaborations are an exciting part of our future.


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