Nazia Amin Mohammad : A singer from across the border.

I first came to know her when she shared my brother’s song ‘Malare’. At first I couldn’t believe, the way she was singing the song. First time someone from Pakistan was singing a Malayalam song.  We became friends on Facebook and started interacting. She used to send songs that she had sung.

But on 13th August, she gave me a real surprise. She pinged me on Facebook and asked me to check whether the song was ok.  The song what she had sent was ” Aye Mere Watan Ke Logon”, originally sung by Lata Mangeshkar.

Nazia and her Brothers

Childhood Memories in Pakistan

Nazia started  singing from a very young age. “I have got my voice through my mumma that is why my voice tone has an Indian touch. My mumma is an Indian. From Adilabad in Andra Pradesh.” She says.  Her parents used to listen to songs of Great Kishore da… Rafi sir… Mukesh sir… LATA DIDI AND ASHA JEE… and thats how she started loving music.

Favourite Indian Singers!

I asked who is her favourite singers and she says without hesitation, “My Most Most Most favt Singer is Lata didi.. then Kishore da… Chitra chechi… Yesudas sir, ALKA JEE… Shreya ghoshal… Sonu nigam… Arijit Singh, Jagjit jee, srinivas sir, Kumar Sanu sir and Pankaj Udas sir too.

Music in Pakistan

I think… Music is treasure of India. Pakistan got it from India only. “We do not have musical schools and music is not being taught to kids in schools”. Says Nazia.

Nazia and her Mumma

Indian Roots

“My father was not a pakistani… My grand father was an Indian too… He married an African lady (Tanzanian). My father was born in Tanzania and then he got settled in Pakistan for business and studies. We have grown up listening to stories about life in India. My mumma came to pakistan afyer marrying my father in december 1983. Through her wedding, she thought of  building a bridge.

Looking forward to visit India

“My Mumma is dying to visit her native place and see her entire family…. Her last visit was in year 1988. I really wish to come to India with my mumma… Am going to apply for a visit visa,” says Nazia.

28 Languages and counting!

Nazia’s family is so much diversified and as a result of that she picked up so many languages.  “I knew several languages at a young age… Later… I started singing in different languages to build bridges and bring people closer”, says Nazia.

“I have sung in 28 lnguages as of Now… 4 more are in progress… I check songs on youtube and try to google the lyrics… Otherwise i jot down the lyrics after listening to the song line by line.”, says Nazia.

Malayalam Songs

Malayalam was difficult in the beginning, admits Nazia. But now she feels like none of the language is difficult. Till date she knows around 13 to 14 songs in malayalam. “K J Yesudas Sir… S Janaki amma, Chithra Chechi… And shreya Ghoshal are her favourite malayalam singers.

Why Aye Mere Watan Ke Logon?

Nazia shared how she chose this song. “I actually prepared Indian National Anthem for Independence Day… My mumma used to sing it for us all the time… Few days back When i sang it for the first time… It brought tears into my eyes… I got goose bumps… I shared the demo with my few Indian friends too It was a risky thing… Because of the sensitivity …I got scared and changed my mind… Looked for national songs.. I know almost all Indian National songs… Vande. Maatram… And few. More… But never thought to sing.

Independence Days Gift

But this was the right time to show my love and respect to all my Indian friends

One thing that i can never forget about this Indian National Song tribute… It made Me cry… It gave me goose bumps… I felk. Like i was singing my own national song of pakistan… There is no difference in the feelings of patriotism, whether a person is Indian or a Pakistani

Nazia’s message to India

I wish All my Beloved Indian Friends “A Very Happy Independence Day” in Advance.

Please accept a very Little Musical Gift on this Occassion.


Originally sung by My True Mentor, My Most Favt. Musical Angel, Grand Legend, Most Respected Lata Didi (15 Aug 1947)

Dear All!
India and Pakistan are like siblings who live independently! But, we belong to a Single Global Family! Borders are Men-Made! God created all of us in a Single Global Family!

Let’s Love eachother more and more!
I, being a Pakistani Citizen, respect you All amd Love you All!

God bless both our Nations!

Love and Prayers

VOCALS: @nazaminmohd, @naziaaminmohammad


An Evening with Jeffrey Archer!

On 8 March 2011, Jeffrey Archer was at Odyssey, Express Avenue as part of launch of his latest book ‘Only Time Will Tell’, first of the five parts of the upcoming Clifton Chronicles. As soon as he arrived, Archer thanked the crowd for the warm welcome. Archer is the only author ever to have been a number one bestseller in fiction (14 times), short stories (4 times) and nonfiction.

Archer spoke about the latest book. How he manages the busy schedule (this time in India, he is covering 5 cities in 6 days, in Chennai alone 11 interviews in a day!). Archer shared lot of interesting trivia about him. He can’t use any of the latest technologies while writing, so he literally writes all his books, takes almost 50 days to finish the manuscript. Take 2 hours of break after every 2 hours of writing.  He spends almost 10 hours for the first page of the book and 15 hours for the last page, shows how important to have a great beginning and a fantastic end.

While answering to one of the questions from the audience, Archer said as a storyteller he does not need a specific place, a special environment or writer’s desk to write and that any place would do. His advice to the aspiring writer was “never wait for a special time or place to write otherwise it might never happen.” Archer praised the Indian people’s passion for literature. Only Time Will Tell had gone to number one on the bestseller list in India after just two days of its release. Archer was happy to share that readership for his books were higher in India than anywhere else in the World. As per a survey, in the Unites States and Europe only 2.5 people read a copy whereas in India approximately 25 people read one copy of a book.

Archer said he has no plans to write a novel set in India because if he did so people here would undoubtedly say he had “got it wrong” as he has not enough knowledge about India. According to him one should write about what one knows intimately and he cited his latest book as an example as the protagonist is born 15 miles for where he himself was born, goes to prep-school and finally to Oxford like he did. Jeffrey Archer was full of energy at this age of 70. He stressed the importance to be physically fit. His talk was a great mix of wit and wisdom. Archer talked about the authors that inspired him, about the ongoing Cricket World Cup (he predicted, of course he was not serious, an England Vs Ireland final but said An India Vs South Africa final would be great).  He was little bit worried about the book piracy. Archer joked that the day is not far away when a kid would knock his door and ask whether he wants ‘the latest Jeffrey Archer’. The evening with Jeffrey Archer concluded with book signing and photograph sessions.

Meeting MohanLal


Being a Malayalee, an avid film buff and part of a generation that had grown up watching best of Malayalam cinema where the Padmarajans, Bharatans and M.T Vasudevan Nairs used to rule the Industry, I did not hesitate when my cousin brother called up and asked to pack the bag to Pondicherry. The only reason was Lt Col.Mohanlal was shooting at Pondy for his latest film ‘Angel John’. Mohan Lal was lucky enough to portray so many evergreen characters made by the above said Legends of Malayalam cinema.

The opportunity to meet him came in the form of a cousin of ours, Saseendra Varma who happened to be co producer of the film. We knew that it was a rare opportunity and we left Chennai.

The shooting was in progress by the time we reached Pondy.

Shooting was boring except for Lalettan’s presence 🙂  As we sat opposite to Lalettan, like a kaleidoscope, various characters potrayed by Lalettan came to my mind. Jayakrishnan in ‘Thoovanathumbikal’, Doctor Ram Das in ‘Amrutham Gamaya’, Solomon in ’Namukku parkkan munthiri thoppukal’ to name a few.In front of me, just a couple of yards away, was sitting the man who has been ruling the Malayalam cinema for past three and half decades!

After a while my cousin introduced us to Lalettan, I had the script of ‘Padamudra’,a film released in 1988 which won him best actor(Kerala film critics) award, Special Jury (State award) and The Filmfare.

He was surprised to see the book and asked whether I liked the film. He wrote ‘With Love Mohanlal’. We discussed about the film he had acted way back in 1984 (Akkare)based on my dad’s story.

Sitting there I noticed that throughout the shoot Lalettan was active, talking to almost all the technicians, giving tips to co stars. So involved and dedicated to his work. In between talking and posing for pictures with the fans, ever smiling, no wonder he is a Legend I thought.

It was almost 11:00 p.m and my brother said he had never imagined sitting in the middle of one of the main roads in Pondy at midnight and having tea. I thought all this only for a man, Lt Col Padmasri Bharat Mohanlal and there he was getting ready for the next shot.


Dabbawalas Of Mumbai

One of the very interesting talk at  TEDxSSN  was of Dr, Pawan Agarwal, CEO of Dabbawalas of Mumbai. Dabbawalas, meaning “person with a box”). Now what Dabbawalas does is they collect freshly cooked food for lunch from the residences of the office workers and deliver it to their respective workplaces and return back the empty boxes by using various modes of transport. The reason behind why these office goers not carrying their lunch is that during peak hours it is very difficult to even travel in suburban trains, forget about the lunch boxes.

120 Years, 0 attrition!

The system started more than 120 years. Most of the Dabbawalas are illiterate. They segregate and carry out the activities based on various colour codes and make sure that there is no error and each one receives their lunch. The error rate is astonishing in the case of Dabbawala, one error in sixty million transactions. The education level of the Dabbawalas makes it more special.

Some interesting facts about Dabbawalas!

  • Dabbawalas are not employees but each one of them is an entrepreneur and are shareholders in the Dabbawalas trust.
  • They earn Rs 4000 per month.
  • One Dabbawala carries around 40 Dabbas, almost 60 kgs and cover a distance of 70 Sq. Km in and around Mumbai
  • They on a daily basis carry out 400,000 transactions.
  • During their 120 years of existence not a single customer complaint has been raised and not a single person left the group, that is Zero attrition in the last 120 years.
  • Dabbawala is the only group to get six sigma without applying for it.

Customer is far bigger king than Prince of Wales!

 ‘Dabbawalas’ were one of the only three guests from India invited for Prince Charles wedding. When he visited India and showed interest in meeting the ‘Dabbawalas’ team, he was asked to plan his trip in accordance with ‘Dabbawalas’ rest time and asked to come to place where they meet for mid day .



The service is almost always uninterrupted, even on the days of severe weather such as monsoons. The local Dabbawalas and population know each other well, and often form bonds of trust. That’s the reason why they are so successful and trustworthy.



Paperman! The Wonderful World of News Papers

Being a journalist, R.Vaidyanathan (retired as Assistant Editor- Sports, The Hindu) was always interested and wanted to collect newspapers. When of one of his friends’ introduced to him, there started an interesting journey of collecting very old and rare newspapers. Vaidyanathan has been collecting rare news papers for the past 10 years and he specializes in Indian History, mainly South Indian. He started collecting newspapers related to Indian Mutiny of 1857 and later Carnatic wars as these two events were recent in history. His interest in History helped him to concentrate more on last days of Mughal Empire. He has papers reporting the Anglo Dutch war of 1760, Aurangazeb’s attack against Sivaji’s son, Sambhaji and ‘the seizure of Goa’. The paper describes in detail the arrangements made by Aurangazeb for the war. His collection includes the National Herald dated 1857, the day the mutiny started, featuring the Portrait of Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal Emperor. 1858 when the mutiny was suppressed and later, in 1862 when The British Empress seized the Mughal Empire that resulted in sealing the British rule in India. Now he is doing more research to write a paper on the Sepoy Mutiny as it had happened. Lots of scholars and journalists come for reference says Vaidyanathan. He also has the paper featuring Nana Sahib on the cover page. There is a impressive collection of news related to Major General Robert Clive, as his contribution to Madras presidency was innumerable.

So far Vaidyanathan has spent Rs.25, 000 to 30,000 for his collection. The value for a paper depends on the condition, says Vaidyanathan. A non circulated paper, in a very good condition may cost $200-300.

The beginning of News collection

Vaidyanathan shares an interesting story of how collecting of news began. Way back in China, they had a tradition where one person, in a note book would record the various news or events happening in and around his village, once he is done, he would pass on the book to another person in the neighbouring village and that person would in turn continue the same process. The book would travel the entire province, and once filled with news, would return to library where anyone could read and refer it

Authentic papers

Vaidyanathan explains how to find the genuine news paper.” Earlier news papers were printed in Laid papers, a paper made on wire molds that give it a characteristic watermark of close thin lines (10, 12 or 16 lines per inch). The pattern could be seen when one looked through the sheet. Nowadays this technology of printing news papers is no longer in use and nobody can duplicate this. These lines are the proof that the paper is not a duplicate one.

Learn History through News Papers

These news papers show the true picture about the incidents of the past. The reporting was unbiased. Sir James Campbell attaching the Marathas and vice versa were reported with same vigour. How Lord Cornwallis treated the sons of Tipu Sultan. “The best way to learn History is by reading news papers and not through text books, says Vaidyanathan. First, what news papers do is reporting of an incident that happens as it is there for there would not be any bias. Second as in the case of text books or History related books, the events are recorded after so many years and it could be biased.

 Dedication and Passion

The news reporting of yester years were more authentic and there was lots of passion, says Vaidyanathan. He cites some examples from his collection. The special edition celebrating the Coronation of Queen Victoria in 1838 by London Chronicle has a huge six column at picture of The Queen and on the reverse side it is blank so if somebody wanted to frame the picture, you could cut the picture and no news would be lost. Another one being a detailed sketch of the Procession of Queen Victoria during Diamond Jubilee celebration of her coronation. The News Paper appointed an artist, who sat on top of the St Paul’s cathedral and visualise the entire procession. These days nobody takes this much pain but you just take some stock image and print it. Another example shows the level of detailing has gone through while reporting. This being the map of India in Harper’s Weekly, published from New York in 1857. The map is 3D map, where Himalayas were shown as high altitude areas, sea coast are shown with low altitude, in that Calicut is much higher when compared to Chennai. Mumbai and Kolkatta are shown like Islands. His collection also includes the news on invention of motion picture exhibition device, Kinetoscopic picture by Thomas Alva Edison, The copy of Illustrated London News that featured the first official cricket team photo in India when a test match was played in 1864, Jan 5-7 between Madras and Calcutta and Madras won the test match.

Maps, Autographs and Coins

News papers are not the only thing that Vaidyanathan collect. He has an impressive collection of rare maps, autographs of well known personalities and rare coins. His collection of maps includes one from 1862. “In earlier days various crimes were committed for maps as those who were in possession of the maps were the one who knew routes, mainly sea routes”. Another passion being collecting Autographs of people who are first in their fields. Be it the first president and Prime Minister of India, Presidents of United States of America, first woman to go on space or first man to land on moon. Vaidyanathan is also the president of Madras Coin Society, an organisation of coin collectors.


So what is the message of Vaidyanathan to people who are passionate about collecting various things? Select a topic and start collecting. Apply the basic principle of research. Everything has a beginning, try to go back to the roots. “For example if one is interested in Films, start collecting from the first film way back in 1892, then go further down, to theatres and you will end up in Rome”. With the advent of internet, it is easy nowadays to collect things, what you require is passion and perseverance.

Sound Factor: The Sound People Of South Indian Cinema

With two real ‘PULIs’, Vishnu Govind and Sree Sankar of Sound Factor, leading sound designers in south India. Their notable works are Pizza, Neram, Premam, Soodhu kavvum, Jigarthanda, Oppam, Kali, Take Off to name a few. Within a very short span of time ‘Sound Factor’ has done quite a few memorable films and become the most sort after Sound designing company.

Recently they were awarded for their work in the super hit Tamil film ‘Irudhisuttru’ by  Behindwoods.

They have a handful of exciting projects coming up both in Tamil and Malayalam.





Devil Does Care: More Bang, Less Bucks! By Pravin Shekar

My good friend and an outlier himself Pravin Shekar has come up with a wonderful book on Marketing techniques mainly targeting Startup Entrepreneurs

An easy and engaging read with full of wit and wisdom. Book has the right mix of Interesting illustrations and examples that makes the subject easy to understand

The concept of Outlier Marketer is clearly described

Another highlight of the book is the witty one liners or quotes. Here is one for sample,

Opinions are like armpits. Everyone has at least two! And sometimes they stink!

A must read for those who want to excel in their fields, those who wants to become outliers.

The Kindle version of the book is available here

DR. M.M Alex

Premam running to packed houses throughout Kerala and outside. Feeling so proud to be part of this wonderful movie. But then, this is the time success shouldn’t get into one’s head. What better way to be humbled and be grounded than be in company with people like Alex Uncle.

Dr.M.M Alex needs no introduction for the people in film industry. But for the sake of ‘New Gen’, let me try introducing him. Alex uncle has acted in more than 80 films, covering several languages. He has worked with legends like P. Padmarajan and Bharatan. His most memorable role is of “Babu “, the bus owner in Padmarajan’s cult movie “Thoovanathumbikal”. Remember the dialogue ” (ദേവി ഇലട്രിക്കൽസൊ? ദേവിക്ക് ഇലക്ട്രിസിറ്റിയോ?? ) and the epic bar scene where he throws up the empty beer bottle into the ceiling fan. When he was at his peak, Alex uncle left the films and the glamour attached to it.

With Alex uncle

Dr. M.M Alex made close to 250 documentaries, he was the first person to document the rituals at Sabarimala temple. He is the Director of Ancient Integrative Therapies and Vedik India Society. He is full of path breaking projects and relentlessly working towards realising them.

And when I am with Alex Uncle, I am firmly grounded myself and realise that there is so much to be achieved and have miles to go.

P.S: Alex uncle passed away in 23 June 2015. Just 2 days prior to his demise, I spent an entire day with him discussing about cinema, his writing and the book he wanted to write. The selfie was taken on 19 June 2015.

Here is a short interview did by Mathrubhumi channel




Kiruba Shankar: The Book Coach

Its a full circle!

In 2010, when I was working with good friend Kiruba Shankar, I shared the idea of travelling through Malabar region and capture the football frenzy. He encouraged me to go ahead with the plan. The idea was to write a series of blogposts. Later in 2013, Kiruba conducted a “Book authoring retreat” at his lovely farm house Vaksana Farms.

Book Authoring Retreat!

Kiruba organises Book authoring retreats for wanna be authors. This is a 2 day intensive, fun filled programme organised at his farm in a village called Rettanai, 150 Kms from Chennai.

The highlight of the farm is there is no net connectivity, no TV and very feeble mobile connectivity. You have no other options but to interact with the people and animals around 😀

No Google so you are forced to think ( I enjoyed this part )

Kiruba encourages the participants to write down ( not type in the laptop or pad) , draw or sketch. The idea is to bring out the idea inside you. there will be interactive sessions with authors who are already published many books. Kiruna himself have authored close to 10 books.

Evenings are filled with games and fun. Food is homemade (another highlight) His family also helps him in this retreat.

Its a great place to unwind, to meet interesting people and more over to be close to the nature

I have heard that the farm is more greenish now. Eagerly waiting to visit the place again.

There i decided to make this as a book. Atlast in 2014, I met Kiruba with the book.

The name of the book is FIFA World Cup: Festival of Malabar! Here is the cover design!

The Kindle version of Book is available here