E-readers – schooling the future!

Textbook

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Governor Schwarzenegger has announced plans for California high schools to start ditching textbooks in favor of digital media, starting with math and science books. The claim is that with so much information available in digital format, why waste precious little budget money on textbooks that just get outdated and tossed?

Similarly Taiwan plans to roll out e-readers in classrooms this year. This is part of their efforts to further digitize schools and promote reading.

E-readers are definitely cooler than reading PDF files on the laptop and/or computer. The reader is light-weight and easy to carry. In fact, it may not be just an e-reader. Some of the Sony mobile phones have e-reader software installed ; convergence makes for carrying fewer devices.

With e-readers, you probably do not have bother about outdated curriculum. In addition, rolling them out to schools promotes volumes and some form of subsidies.

And there’s always the green argument. E-books are so much greener than paper ones. More green gold!

For the next generation, at least, books in paper form may just become an anachronism.

But for me and others from my generation , until we are convinced that reading off a tiny screen is more convenient and not so much of a strain on our sensitive eyes , the switchover will have to wait. This is not that much of an argument against e-readers – most of us already access our email and the internet on our mobile phones. Also, there is the affordability issue. Books in India , especially ones printed by Indian publishers, cost a tiny fraction of what they cost in the developed world. Would we get the same kind of prices for the e-books? Would this make a case for discounted later editions of books? I have argued for this elsewhere; something like software versions available at discounted rates to existing users. And why not? It is about customer loyalty , after all. Though a more cynical reader may term it more of a lock-in. 🙂 And believe me , no-one likes that word or its connotations. Ha!

What about libraries? How would they make the transition to a digitized world?

Some libraries such as the British Council Library have decided to provide some of their collection of books as e-books to their patrons.

Here are some articles and posts related to schools and e-readers.

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/06/whats-the-eco-impact-of-californias-plan-to-ditch-school-textbooks-for-ebooks.php

http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9141560/Taiwan_plans_to_roll_out_e_readers_in_schools

http://collegetou.wordpress.com/2010/01/28/ebook-readers-into-schools/

http://buyetextbooks.com/tag/california-schools

http://technological-teaching-aids.suite101.com/article.cfm/advantages_of_ereaders

http://www.csmonitor.com/Books/2009/1221/The-e-reader-generation-speaks-about-e-books

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Updated for British Council Library.

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Mumbai Cyclothon – 21st Feb, 2010 – Well Done!

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I participated in the Amateur Community Ride on my new Fomosa Power Sport mountain bike! The Amateur & Corporate riders started their race at 8:30 a.m from Rangsharda grounds at Bandra Reclamation. We started a bit late, around 8:35 a.m. I completed the race at 9:30 a.m. 24kms in 55 minutes! More time than I anticipated! I didn’t go all out to outrace participants. I was happier being safe rather than sorry! I also decided to conserve energy for the Sea Link stretch! And did I need it! The Sea Link leg was fantastic. It was quite warm and the uphill climb at the start of the Sea Link was really hard on the thighs. Gatorade to the aid! I guess road cycling really is not the same as stationary biking smile_shades.Good fun!

Never tell a story because it is true: tell it because it is a good story. John Pentland Mahaffy

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Mumbai Cyclothon – 21st Feb, 2010

Police officer on a bicycle.

Image via Wikipedia

bicycle demonstration in Chamonix. Image via Wikipedia

The Mumbai Cyclothon takes off on the 21st of February, 2010 here in Mumbai.

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p align=”justify”>The BSA Hercules India Cyclothon- Mumbai 2010 is a mass participative cycling event for professional, amateurs and the casual biker. The event intends to promote the cause of cycling and promote the various benefits.

The race categories are as follows:

International Elite (Men)
100kms
18yrs and above
Entry By Invitation only

Elite Indian (Men)
50kms
19yrs and above
Entry By Invitation only

Amateur
24kms
18yrs and above
Online Registration

Corporate Group Ride
24kms
18yrs and above
Online Registration

Green Ride
12kms
14yrs and above
Online Registration

Kids Ride(8-13 years)
2kms
8yrs and above
Online Registration

I have registered myself in the Amateur category i.e. the 24 kms race. Cycles are not available to lease though registrants were promised that it was a possibility that they would be provided.That would be difficult since cosmopolitan India does not have a cycling culture yet!

24kms should be a breeze! I’ve been doing 45-50 kms on my stationary bike at home! Have still not got around to purchasing one for the race, though I have made enquiries.

The website is http://mumbaicyclothon.topdoctorsonline.com

Have a great day!

Cheers!

_______________________________________________________________________________-

 

If you have a child who is seven feet tall, you don’t cut off his head or his legs. You buy him a bigger bed and hope he plays basketball. Robert Altman

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Dream Run – 17th Jan 2010

I completed the Dream Run (6 kms) in 45 minutes. I have been doing 10 kms in an hour and 7 minutes, 9 kms in an hour , so I ought to have finished in 40 minutes. But the first 2 kms was not a run, it was folks having a party with no space to run and elbows jammed in your tummy if you tried to go past!

Some pictures clicked at Azad Maidan and me, nearing the finish!

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For more photos from the official web-site http://mumbaimarathon.indiatimes.com/pgallery09.html

My photos are also online at http://www.marathon-photos.com/scripts/event_entry.py?event=Sports%2FCPUK%2F2010%2FMumbai+Marathon&new_search=1&match=44343

PS: Kindly don’t go nuts over the microphone! You know what I’m referring to!

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Mumbai – a state to itself?

With the latest controversy erupting with Bal Thackeray’s statement that Sachin Tendulkar should not dabble in politics – Bal Thackeray believes that a statement that says Bombay belongs to Indians is an insult to the Marathi manoos – I would like to ask – Do you think that its time that Mumbai was made a separate state , ala New Delhi?

Will it make Mumbai much more progressive? As an indirect benefit, will it drive the rest of Maharashtra to progress even faster? And set up alternative towns and cities, thus spreading progress and wealth?

What do you think? Is there a case for making our large metros responsible for themselves? More autonomy , more growth?

Sum Of All Parts

 

The Sum
Of All Parts

[Start by
waving hands in the air. Side to side]

How many of you realize
what that is? For those who didn’t , that was a part of a Mexican
wave. A Mexican wave is a movement performed by sports audiences one
tier at a time, by standing and waving and yelling, then sitting
down, with the next tier doing the same, in a sequence. I was once
part of a Mexican Wave , a long time back at Wimbledon in 1997. It
was People’s Sunday, Center Court and I was watching Tim Henman
versus Paul Haarhuis of the Netherlands. The rain kept coming
intermittently and during one of the rain breaks, the tier opposite
me exploded into action waving, standing and yelling. Then the next
tier and then my tier and I were doing the same. But while being part
of the Mexican wave is fun, you do not see the visual effect. Its
just a lot of noise. Later that evening when I caught the highlights
on television, the Mexican wave was exposed in all its glory , with a
birds eye view of the undulating wave movement. It was beautiful!

Fellow Toast Masters and
Guests, the whole can be much more than just the sum of its parts.

The Whole can be much
more Than Just The Mere Sum Of Its Parts!
How many of you agree
with this statement? And you are not at all wrong. Indeed, you are
in elite company.
You have just hit upon the underlying
principle behind an exciting branch of science called quantum
mechanics
. Now , quantum mechanics and its applications is an
interesting and deep topic. I do not profess to be well-versed in its
intricacies and neither do I intend to use this time to strive and
enlighten you. You may be even more in the dark , if I try.

A single
term that would describe the whole being more than the sum of its
parts is holistic. However, the whole being more than the sum
of its parts does not hold just in a branch of physics. We can see
its applicability in our daily lives as well.

To give
you an example, the Indian cricket team is made up of 11 players.
Sehwag, Gambhir, Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Dhoni,
Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma and Munaf Patel. Each of
them have an assigned role to play; they each do their part and
contribute to the team’s efforts. On their day, some more than the
others
. But without the gelling of the team as a unit, they would
just remain individual achievers and team success would be an elusive
grail.
The synergy achieved and the strategy employed makes for a
well-oiled machine. A machine that can beat all-comers.

Another
example of synergy achieved that makes the whole more than the mere
sum of its parts is our ToastMasters meet every Sunday. Each of us
have a role to play ; Can you help me with the various roles? The
sergeant-at-arms, the toastmaster of the day, the table topics
master, the grammarian, the ah-counter, the timer, the prepared
speakers, the general evaluator and the evaluators, the table topic
participants, the guests and last but not the least, Jeetu. Here too
the whole , when the parts fall into place smoothly, make for an
enjoyable , memorable experience. Who , among us, would claim that
just he or she is wholly responsible for the success of the meet?

So, it is
with firms. How many of you are familiar with Michael Porter’s
description of the value chain as a source of competitive advantage?

A
value chain is a chain of activities.
Products pass through all
activities of the chain in order and at each activity the product
gains some value. The chain of activities gives the products more
added value than the sum of the values added in each activity.

For
example, with a diamond manufacturer, first you receive the rough
stones, these are cut shaped and polished into diamonds, these are
then stored in warehouses and then sent to distributors, or end-users
such as jewelery makers and finally a product is provided such as a
diamond ring, /earrings  or necklace. At each step in the chain,
value is added but the final value is much more than the intrinsic
value of the stone at the start of the chain. So again the whole is
more than the sum of its parts. The synergy achieved creates much
more value for the customer.

Similarly
with the software development process; the process consists of first
eliciting the requirements, analyzing the requirements, a feasibility
study , an architecture that will meet the requirements, the design
, implementation and coding with unit testing. Finally integration
testing and delivery followed by production deployment and finally
maintenance. Now each activity in the process adds value but the
value created by the whole set of activities is much more than the
value added at each step in the process. So again the whole is more
than the mere sum of its parts.

So what does this teach
us? It teaches us that when we put aside our egos, our pride and
acknowledge that we are all cogs in the machinery called the
universe, that we are insignificant in the face of eternity, only
then can we acknowledge that we need to learn to live with each
other, for each other . And the microcosms where we can achieve this
synergy are 2 fold; At home , it is the family. At work, it is the
immediate team within which we do our part. When each role is played
well, then only can we find things running like clockwork. Teamwork
is the most rudimentary form of people synergy , where we achieve
more than the sum of its parts would. A good team can achieve great
things; a not-so-good team with great people will still fail!

So pull the yoke, shine on
and NEVER, NEVER forget to shine the spotlight on your fellow!

A quick link to Quantum Mechanics

Now, That’s Incredible!



Time
and tide
wait for no man; that sounds so trite, doesn’t
it? But what I am more interested in is what awaits the man left on
the shore? What is his reaction to the next tide, the events that
have occurred since his twiddling fingers and playing with sea
shells? Is his reaction so mundane , it matches the non-events that
have happened since? Or is his reaction to the earth-shaking events
since a more exclamation filled one, like say, “Now, That’s
Incredible!”



Fellow
ToastMasters and Guests, so what would you and I term incredible?
Incredible is an overused term; I say overused with no disrespect to
the ad line used by the Tourism Board of India, “Incredible
India!”
India is truly incredible and that is wonderful
copy!




The
dictionary defines incredible as too extraordinary and improbable
to be believed
. However, it is an accepted axiom that what seems
incredible now is so passe post the event.


For
example, if you had told the Europeans at the beginning of the 20th
century, that there would occur a war between half the European
nations that would last 5 years from 1914 to 1918, with the most
destruction to life and property until then, you would have been
labeled a crackpot, even a warmonger! But the Great War –
The War To End All Wars – did occur , and to compound folly ,
barely 20 years later, another great war on a larger scale, with even
more destruction to life and property, with the only ever explosions
of nuclear bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, followed. They are both
part of world history in the first half of the 20th
century. We now recognize those 2 wars as World Wars 1 and 2. Now,
that’s incredible, if only at the same time, they weren’t so
terrifyingly terrible!



Are
incredible and terrible synonymous? Some would say so! Yet, did
anyone ever imagine that the very nations that bore the brunt of
World War 2 , the losing nations, Japan and Germany would by the end
of the 20th century be among the most economically
prosperous nations in the world? If anyone has seen pictures of the
carnage the war wrought and believe me with some of the
visuals you can actually feel the acrid taste of gunpowder and
shells
, you would have to say “Now, That’s Incredible!”




I was
born in an era when the Cold War was at its peak; you could cut
the frigidity with a knife; it was that palpable!
The world was
firmly divided into 2 halves, you were either Red or Free.
And for non-aligned nations such as India, navigating the treacherous
diplomatic waters was like treading a path littered with
land-mines!
The arms race was at its peak; and yet by the end of
the 20th century , communism was in its death throes. The
Soviet Union no longer exists, not because of any conventional war
but simply because the arms race bankrupted it; Russia now
marches to a different beat; the Berlin wall has fallen and the
European map has reverted back to what it looked like at the
beginning of the 20th century. I cannot even start to name
all the newish old Central and Eastern European nations! Now,
that’s incredible!



I was a
young man of 19 when Dr. Manmohan Singh as finance minister of the
Narasimha Rao government, flung open India’s gates to foreign
investment and jump-started the economic reforms program.
Since then India has grown steadily and at an increasing pace, and
the prosperity we now enjoy is the result of those initially
vilified reforms
. Now the changes we’ve made are incredible! So
if you had told me 16 years ago, these changes would have occurred so
quickly and all in my lifetime, I would have said ‘No, that’s
improbable, even impossible!” Today, I say, “What an
incredible journey! Bless the IMF! Now, That’s Incredible!”



The shift
in the priority from being a nuclear superpower to an emphasis on
becoming an economic superpower is the greatest change in the mindset
of developing nations, and this includes India and China. China has
truly become an engine of growth and if India can unshackle itself
even further, then by 2025 , India can truly be pushing to be the
No.1 economy in the world. Now, if you were living 30 years ago,
just when China began its economic reforms, such a scenario would
have been considered inconceivable, improbable, even impossible.
And yet, you and I may still be around to say “Now, That’s
Incredible! The Impossible Has Arrived!”




Nassim
Nicholas Taleb, in his book, The Black Swan, has described such
improbable events as Black Swans. A Black Swan seems highly
improbable to us who have been exposed only to white ones so termed
‘normal’ ones. But a Black Swan event has a dramatic impact both on
history and on people’s lives. The Great Depression of the 1930s, the
Black Friday in 1987 and the current Global Meltdown are all Black
Swan events. They seemed highly unlikely but they did occur. Now
that Taleb wrote a book about such Black Swan events is incredible.
That it is a bestseller is not so incredible.


My
friends, let’s admit that there is nothing that is truly
impossible, or improbable. They are mostly Black Swans waiting to
happen. So when they do, let’s accept them in all their improbability
and say “Now, That’s Incredible!” and thank you
for listening! You are truly incredible!




Over to
you, ToastMaster!



Disruptive Innovations

 

 

English: Disruptive Technology Graph

English: Disruptive Technology Graph (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

The speaker is
an IT professional with more than 11 years software development
experience. From cultivating a healthy skepticism of management
practices in the workplace, he has now come full circle with an MBA
from the Cyprus International Institute of Management. The speech is
about Disruptive Innovations and is culled from varied sources such
as the now definitive source of knowledge, the online Wikipedia,
articles by Clayton Christensen and Scott Anthony and a NYTIMES
article on ZipCar.

 

Disruptive
Innovations

 

How many of
you own or use a digital camera? Quite a few! And yet not less than a
decade ago, we were using mostly film cameras.

 

Fellow
Toastmasters and guests, what I just described is a wonderful example
of a disruptive innovation. What is a disruptive innovation? A
disruptive innovation is firstly a technological innovation; it
improves a product or service in ways that the
market
does not expect. It ignores the current definition of quality in a
product or service and creates a brand new definition.

 

There
are 2 types of disruptive innovations : Either
lower
priced
or designed
for non-consumers
.
The term was first coined by Clayton Christensen in his book,
The
Innovator’s Dilemma as disruptive technology and later modified to
disruptive innovation.

 

To
quote Christensen
“Disruptions
often don’t involve big technological breakthroughs. Rather,
they involve mastering the intricate art of the simple solution. “

 

 

 

In
low -end disruption, the innovator targets the lower -end of the
market I.e. The customer who is least profitable. The innovator
offers a product that is good enough to meet this segment’s needs;
and is able to keep its costs down and enjoy higher margins than the
incumbents. As time goes by, the innovator improves his service and
product and moves up in the value chain , now targeting the more
demanding customers. He is able to do this and at the same time
maintain a higher profit margin than the existing players. Finally,
the innovator closes out his sale to the most demanding segment and
thus drives the existing incumbents out of the market. This is how a
low-end disruption strategy works.

 

“New market
disruption” occurs when a product or service creates a new
market ; Either this market was not identified or was not considered
worth targeting.

 

To
quote Christensen again, Disruption is not just about technology.
Successful disruptors have the ability to make money at low price
points. Or they have low overheads that allow them to start small and
adapt. Or they play in a very different value chain, with new
partners, suppliers, and channels to market. It is these business
model differences, and not technological prowess, that so often throw
incumbents off balance.
Disruption
is about trade-offs

that the customer can live with.

 

Disruptive
Innovation
Displaced/Marginalized
Technology
Type Notes
Digital

photography

Film photography Low-end
disruption
Early digital
cameras suffered from low picture quality, low resolution and
long shutter lag. But as the technology improved, quality and
resolution were no longer major issues and shutter lag has
reduced. In addition, memory cards and portable hard drives helped
drive the growth in adoption.

 

Google Docs/Zoho Microsoft Office Low-end
disruption
MS Office is now
being revamped into a web ‘avatar’. Or at least, that’s what they
keep promising. I , for one, don’t really know since I now make do
with Open Office. However, Google and Zoho have targeted the cost
conscious customer such as schools, universities, colleges, home
and SMEs with their redefinition of a good enough Office Suite.
I.e it is good enough for low end use.
Easy Jet British Airways New market
disruption
Easy Jet with
their low cost, no-frills approach was able to cater to
cost-conscious European customers. And flying out of smaller
airports was a key part of their strategy. They targeted a segment
that would previously travel by car, bus,sea or rail. BA attempted
to compete with a low-cost airline of their own but were unable to
build a cost-conscious culture and ultimately sold the business.

 

ZipCar Vs
Hertz,Avis and Enterprise [New Market Disruption]

 

Another more contemporary
example of a New Market Disruption is ZipCar. Some salient features
of their offering are as follows:

 

  • membership-based car-sharing company
  • Billing hourly or
    daily.

 

This is a change
from the existing incumbents who charged for a minimum of a day,
irrespective of the hours actually used by the customer.

 

  • view available cars and reserve them
    either by internet or phone for the no. of hours you wish to use the
    vehicle. You pay only for the time you reserve.

 

For instance,
you could reserve a car for 2 hours over the weekend and do all your
grocery shopping within that time for a month. Much cheaper than
hiring a taxi and more flexible too! Now you see why it is a new
market disruption; some of the cab riders are now converted to
Zipsters.

 

  • For your
    convenience, each vehicle has a home location: a reserved parking
    space located on a street, driveway, or neighborhood parking lot in
    the member’s area, usually within walking distance from where you
    live.
  • access card, called a “Zipcard”,
    which will open the vehicle they have reserved only at the time they
    have reserved it.
  • Each vehicle
    records hours of usage and mileage, which is uploaded to a central
    computer via a wireless data link.
  • “kill”
    function that allows the company to prevent the car from starting in
    the event of theft.
  • reserve and use a
    Zipcar in any Zipcar city.

 

Now this service
is the result of an innovative use of technology to disrupt the
existing market.

Hertz and
Enterprise have launched copy cat services ; time will tell if they
can displace the pretender to the throne.

 

Technology
acts as an enabler
.
It is the identification of the customer need and market segment,
creation of a sustainable business model and the flawless execution
of strategy that completes the success story.

 

Business
Implications/Defense Strategy

 

Disruptive
technologies are not always disruptive to customers, in fact, I
consider them a boon to consumers, because if you will have noted
from the examples, Quality is provided at a lower price. Disruptive
innovations are often ignored by existing players because they are
stuck with the Entrenched Player’s mentality; that is, they have made
a significant investment in a technological approach that is
currently paying them rich dividends, they have grown big and fat,
the flab makes it hard for them to move quickly and challenge the
innovator, also they are reluctant to cannibalize their existing
product lines and make way for the disruptive technology.

 

Christensen
recommends that
existing
firms

 

Watch
for these innovations,

 

Invest
in small firms that might adopt these innovations,

 

and
continue
to push technological demands in their core market

 

so that
performance stays above what disruptive technologies can achieve.

 

CISCO has
adopted this defense strategy very successfully and thus have
retained their edge in networking products.

 

Can
Established Companies Disrupt?

 

Yes,

 

  • Customer
    – Put the customer, and their important, unsatisfied , often
    unstated needs at the center of innovation. Think like the customer.
  • KISCA
    – Keep
    it simple(easy to use), convenient (available) and affordable(not
    pricey)
  • Create
    organizational space for disruptive growth businesses – think
    like a start-up
  • Look
    beyond features and function – create a differentiated
    service.
  • be
    W
    orld
    class at testing, iterating and adapting – don’t try to be
    perfect,just good-enough ; get it out there, the customer will
    perfect it for you.

 

To
sum up, adopt agile business practices and models. Agility is key.

 

 

Some
examples of established companies innovating in this generation
include Tata with its Nano, Apple with Ipod and Iphone. In fact, 35%
of disruptive innovations in this generation (2001 – ) have come from
established companies.
So
elephants can dance too!

 

Why should
established companies disrupt?

 

To create new growth businesses
, period. That is a good enough reason , by itself.

 

GE has invested in new growth
businesses. Time will tell if it succeeds.

 

Implications for
Developing Countries

 

The US
government takes disruptive innovations very seriously so much so
that it defines it as something that has the potential to
significantly degrade or increase US national power, even if only
temporarily.

 

Developing
countries can accelerate their development by skipping more
expensive, more polluting, less expensive technologies and adopting
disruptive technologies. This has the potential to change the balance
in the competitive advantage of nations.

 

India for one has
leveraged IT to be one of the pioneers of e-governance in the world.
African nations have skipped landline telephony and embraced mobile
phones as the main modes of communication.

 

Conclusion

 

Disruptive
innovations are here to stay. For customers, the market has never
been better. For businesses, change drives disruptions , so
adaptability and agility is key to continue in the game.

 

Over to you,
Toastmaster!

 

Dance, The Body Music

The following is the prepared text of my Project 2 Speech at Mumbai ToastMasters:

Dance, The Body Music, Music Makes You Happy. These lyrics from the song Dance, The Body Music, by the famous Afro rock band of the seventies, Osibisa, ring so true and make so much sense!

Fellow Toastmaster, Members and Guests, if music be the food of life, play on / dance on/ sing on. Dance is the expression of our souls through our feet, our hands, our whole body. And the best way to dance is like no one’s watching. Are you watching me? Look , I close my eyes and I dance.(waltz step)

Yes, I love to rock. And why not? Life may not be the party I hoped for , but while I’m here, I ,sure as hell, will dance.

So what is it about dancing, makes us suddenly enter a different world, and exhibit a completely different dimension of our personalities? How is it that suddenly that overweight gentleman glides around on his toes oblivious to the stupefaction engendered in the people around? And the shaking of his belly adds to the poetry of the moment? And that quiet mousy girl, who wouldn’t speak to a fly, suddenly floats around like a professional ballerina with the most dazzling smile lighting her face?

Love, poetry, music and dance, o how intertwined are these? What beauty would a song have if you could not tap your feet to it? If love is about first sight, why is it that most life contracts are sealed on the dance floor? And to paraphrase a French proverb, Love teaches even asses to dance!

I learned to jive, (jive is a type of swing dance) because there was this girl I wanted to ask out to the college prom but I couldn’t dance ; oh yes, I could shake a leg or two, but waltz and jive were beyond me. I remember begging and cajoling a friend to teach me a few steps, and I still remember my elation when I was able to reproduce my form at a party. So yes, love or infatuation taught this ass to dance too!

What do we know about the history of dance? Dance doesn’t leave behind clearly identifiable physical artifacts such as stone tools, hunting implements or cave paintings. It is not possible to say when dance became part of human culture. Dance has certainly been an important part of ceremony, rituals, celebrations and entertainment since before the birth of the earliest human civilizations. Archeology delivers traces of dance from prehistoric times such as the 9,000 year old Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka paintings in MP, India and Egyptian tomb paintings depicting dancing figures from circa 3300 BC. One of the most famous dance rituals , and this seems to be common across many cultures, is the famous rain dance. The rain dance is a ceremonial dance that is performed in order to invoke rain and protect the harvest. The most famous culture that performs the rain dance is the Native American one. Interestingly , the rain dance there got its name because the Sun Dance along with the war dance , was banned by the government. The Native American Indians fobbed off the authorities by renaming it the Rain Dance. Our Indian movies have their own modern version of the rain dance where the main protagonists prance in the rain trying to look as love-lorn as possible.

Now that I have mentioned movies, how many of us have been enthralled by a dance movie or musical we have watched either on the silver screen or from the comfort of our arm-chairs? I still remember being thrilled by Footloose the eighties dance hit about a small American town where dancing was banned. The movie was based on Elmore City, Oklahoma where dancing was prohibited for over 100 years until 1980. Imagine that! Footloose got me moving to the rhythms of life. And how many of our generation and the next can ever forget Michael Jackson and his fantastic break moves in Thriller? And more recently the melodramatic Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge? And then there are our very own Hindi movies with their innumerable dance sequences that either entertain or drive you up the wall!

Another very entertaining dance form is figure skating. Have any of you ever watched a figure skating competition? The pairs event is sheer poetry in motion. It is rightly called ballet on ice. Two people moving in unison, floating on ice ; the sheer difficulty and the awesome talent overwhelms the viewer. And to watch them interpret their chosen music is awe-inspiring. You cannot help but doff your caps to these masters of dance,music and the rink. If you have the opportunity to catch a figure skating competition, I suggest you do so as soon as possible and you will be truly amazed and delighted.

So you think you can dance? There are several types of dance that might interest you, ranging from the classical ballet style , the exotic belly dance, the Spanish flamenco, hip-hop, swing and even tap. You can pick the type and style that suits you and your sensibilities best. Or if you are one of those macho types that feel real men don’t dance, you could choose the Punjabi ‘bhangra’ , where ‘men dance like men’. Or if you wish to go ethnic, you could explore the traditional forms like the Kuchipudi, Kathakali, Bharat Natyam, and Odissi. The choice is yours; unleash the poetry in your soul.

I would like to conclude with a quote from Yoko Ono, the wife of John Lennon, You can’t dance if you got too much muck in your head. So my friends, lets twist again, like we did last summer, lets twist again, like we did last year.After all, life may not be the party we all hoped for, but while we’re here let’s all dance.

Can you all stand up please? We’ll do the boogie-woogie. Put your right hand in, put your right hand out, put your right hand in, and shake it all about. Do the hoogie-boogie, turn yourself around, that’s what it’s all about. Put your left hand in, put your left hand out, put your left hand in, and shake it all about. Do the hoogie-boogie, turn yourself around, that’s what it’s all about.

IceBreaker Speech at Mumbai ToastMasters

I am now a member of Mumbai ToastMasters and have completed 2 project speeches with them.

This is the prepared text of my first speech at MTM:

Mr./Madam Toastmaster, Ladies and Gentlemen,

“What is this life , if full of care, We have no time to stand and stare”. These lines from the poem “Leisure” by W.H. Davies struck me as an apt way to introduce myself. Because I AM A MAN OF LEISURE.

Why do I say so? If I were standing before you, 3 years ago, I would have introduced myself as an IT professional working for so-and-so company. If it were 2 years ago, I would have introduced myself as a full-time student at the Cyprus International Institute of Management. But since receiving my degree in the beginning of March, this year, I am at a loss as to what should I designate myself to be. Would it be a job aspirant, a Singles for Christ , a CIIM alumnus, a ToastMaster member or something else? Or would I introduce myself as a software developer, a part-time activity to fill the hours? And keep the trade skills honed?

I am sure that some, if not most of us here, would have faced the very same question at some point in their lives. And why not? All our lives have been filled with a certain identification, a certain structure. And that’s what we seek to create and reinforce in our lives, whatever we do, wherever we go. We seek structure. I could elaborate on the need to find structure in our lives but that is not the topic of this speech. I am.

I call myself a man of leisure but this term has some awkward connotations. A man of leisure is assumed to be relatively well-off and of independent means. But I am neither of the two. It also has some other associated negatives but I choose not to dwell on those. But I do have the time to stand and stare! Literally so!!! (Stare)

Returning to the subject matter, that is , me, Linus Julian Fernandes, I was born the second child of 3 , well over 30 years ago, in Bandra. I have 2 siblings, an elder sister and a younger brother. I have lived most of my life in Vakola, Santacruz where I schooled at St. Anthony’s High School. I had a very sheltered or even insular childhood. I was a very good student. My childhood was spent either playing cricket or other sports in the building compound or reading comics and novels. I was a voracious reader, a habit that I have retained to the present. My reading now though consists of mostly non-fiction. My college education was completed at 2 Catholic institutions , St. Andrew’s College and St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, I was a very good student in school but I sort of drifted through my college years. It was only in my final year that I buckled down because I realized the need to prepare myself for a career. I completed a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics with a first-class.

Post-graduation immediately followed with a Master’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Mumbai. Lectures were on the sprawling Kalina campus. I started my first job with Mahindra British Telecom, now known as Tech Mahindra through campus placements. Work has provided me the opportunity to travel and work abroad, both in the UK and the US. In my capacity as a software consultant, I have worked for organizations such as British Telecom and IBM. It has also provided me the opportunity to meet interesting people wherever I go. For instance, one of the managers at IBM, Santa Monica was a bartender before she drifted into a career with IBM. How utterly fascinating!

Besides reading, my other hobby is writing poems. However, I do not consider myself a talented poet nor do I have the patience to sit down and pen lines. Most of my writing is very sporadic and occur when I am having the blues rather than in moments of elation or joy! I need the feeling to make my poems really expressive. At least, that is my belief!

The other activity in my life is regular exercise. This is something that I have tried and instill over the past 3 years. Since I was a teenager I have been interested in building a strong physique especially since I was rather a fragile child suffering many ailments and always sniffling with a runny nose. I now try and run 3 times a week , to build my stamina and keep myself fit. I also love most sports ; I am a decent badminton, tennis and table-tennis player. But most of all I love to run, FAST, AS FAST AS I CAN! A healthy mind in a healthy body!

I would like to end my speech with a little Spanish I learnt a few years ago, Buenos Dias, i.e. good day and Gracias i.e. Thank you.

Over to you, Toastmaster.