Sitting with Myself: Uncovering Cultural Influences on Who I Am

Recently, I’ve embarked on a journey of self-reflection, something I never truly prioritized before. During these moments of introspection, I began to delve into the intricate ways I approach my tasks and responsibilities. This process uncovered profound insights, particularly regarding the cultural dynamics that shape our formative years, much like the food we grow accustomed to eating.

In competitive cultures, the narrative often starts early: to receive recognition, one must work twice as hard. Achieving an eight out of ten on a test is seldom celebrated; instead, the focus fixates on the two missed points. This relentless pursuit of perfection ties our self-worth to our achievements, overshadowing the importance of celebrating successes, especially those linked to our physical and mental health.

From a young age, many of us are conditioned to prioritize others above ourselves, even if it means giving from an empty cup. This ingrained mindset teaches us to suppress our feelings, to navigate our emotional landscapes alone, and to avoid seeking attention for fear of being labeled an attention seeker. Consequently, we learn to internalize our struggles, often at the expense of our well-being.

The nuances of these cultural dynamics run deep, profoundly influencing our mental and physical health. Addressing the mindset shifts required to maintain consistency in self-care is crucial. It’s not about rebelling against these ingrained patterns; rather, it’s about acknowledging the multitude of ways they shape our lives and finding balance.

What we need is education centered around fostering a positive mindset and promoting physical and mental well-being. By embracing and teaching these principles, we can begin to untangle the complex web of cultural expectations and create a healthier, more balanced approach to life. This journey is about learning to celebrate our achievements, understanding our worth beyond external validation, and prioritizing our health without guilt or hesitation.

JPS Nagi
May 21, 2024

Khoob Ladi Mardaani, or Bravely Fought the Warrior Queen

The sentiment of heroism in poetry has always been a profound and stirring theme, resonating through the ages. This literary trope, often steeped in grandeur and nobility, captures the essence of the human spirit in its most valiant form. Heroic poetry, from the ancient epics of Homer to the chivalric tales of medieval times, encapsulates the ideals of courage, sacrifice, and honor. These verses not only recount the physical deeds of their protagonists but also delve into the moral and ethical dilemmas faced by these larger-than-life figures. The lyricism in such poetry is not merely about glorifying battles or victories; it’s an exploration of what it means to be truly heroic – which often involves inner battles of virtue, selflessness, and the pursuit of a greater good. The enduring appeal of heroic poetry lies in its ability to inspire, uplift, and remind us of the potential for greatness that lies within each of us.

The theme of heroism in poetry has long captured the imagination of the young, myself included, especially in the pre-modern era. Recently, I’ve found myself nostalgically recalling one of the poems from my childhood that has remained etched in my memory. I took a journey back in time and revisited “Jhansi Ki Rani,” or the Queen of Jhansi. This poem stands out as one of my earliest and most vivid recollections of the poetry I read during those formative years.

It is beautifully penned by Subhadra Kumari Chauhan, who was born in 1904, in the Nihalpur village of Allahabad. An eminent Indian poet, Chauhan holds a distinguished place in Hindi literature. She is not only remembered for this poem but also her impassioned nationalism and poignant portrayal of women’s struggles. She was an active participant in India’s freedom movement.

“Jhansi Ki Rani,” an evocative and rousing ballad, vividly brings to life the bravery of Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi, a symbol of resistance against British colonialism. Chauhan’s poetry, marked by its directness and lyrical quality, often drew from her personal experiences and the sociopolitical milieu of her times. Her work resonates with the themes of patriotism, valor, and the challenges faced by women, making her an inspirational figure in Indian poetry and a voice of empowerment for many generations.

Enjoy the poem below in all its glory captured in Devanagari script, with a Romanized version to serve as pronunciation guide, and the translation.

झाँसी की रानी (Jhansi Ki Rani) or, The Queen of Jhansi

1
सिंहासन हिल उठे राजवंषों ने भृकुटी तनी थी,
(Sinhasan hil uthey raajvanshon ney bhrukuti tani thi,)
The throne got shook, and the tension erupted among the Raajvanshs, the royal heirs of the throne,
बूढ़े भारत में आई फिर से नयी जवानी थी,
(budhey Bharat mein aayee phir se nayi jawani thi,)
In aged India, a new wave of youth was spreading,
गुमी हुई आज़ादी की कीमत सबने पहचानी थी,
(gumee huee azadi ki keemat sabney pehchani thi,)
All the inhabitants of India had realized the worth of their lost freedom,
दूर फिरंगी को करने की सब ने मन में ठनी थी.
(door phirangi ko karney ki sab ney man mein thani thi.)
All of them had decided to get rid of the British rule,
चमक उठी सन सत्तावन में, यह तलवार पुरानी थी,
(Chamak uthi san sattavan mein, yeh talwar purani thi,)
The old swords started glittering again like new ones in the form of the freedom movement in 1857.
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
(Bundeley Harbolon key munh hamney suni kahani thi,)
From the mouths of the Bandelas and the Harbolas (Religious singers of Bandelkhand), we heard the tale,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वो तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी.
(Khoob ladi mardani woh to Jhansi wali Rani thi.)
Of the courage of the Queen of Jhansi relating how gallantly she fought like a man against the British intruders: such was the Queen of Jhansi.

2
कानपुर के नाना की मुह बोली बहन छब्बिली थी,
(Kanpur key Nana ki muhn boli bahen chhaveeli thi,)
She was as dear to the Nana (Nana Ghunghupant ) of Kanpur as her real sister,
लक्ष्मीबाई नाम, पिता की वो संतान अकेली थी,
(Lakshmibai naam, pita ki woh santaan akeli thi,)
Her name was Laxmibai and she was the only daughter of her parents,
नाना के सॅंग पढ़ती थी वो नाना के सॅंग खेली थी
(Nana key sangh padhti thi woh Nana key sangh kheli thi)
She had been with Nana from her early childhood, since she was a school student.
बरछी, ढाल, कृपाण, कटारी, उसकी यही सहेली थी.
(barchhi, dhal, kripan, katari, uski yehi saheli thi.)
Spear, knife, sword, axe (all different types of weapons used in her time) were her companions all the time.
वीर शिवाजी की गाथाएँ उसकी याद ज़बानी थी,
(Veer Shivaji ki gaathaayen uski yaad zabani thi,)
She had learned by heart the valorous stories of shivaji (a renowned king of Maharashtra).
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
(Bundeley Harbolon key munh hamney suni kahani thi,)
From the mouths of the Bandelas and the Harbolas (Religious singers of Bandelkhand), we heard the tale,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वो तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी.
(Khoob ladi mardani woh to Jhansi wali Rani thi.)
Of the courage of the Queen of Jhansi relating how gallantly she fought like a man against the British intruders: such was the Queen of Jhansi.

3
लक्ष्मी थी या दुर्गा थी वो स्वयं वीरता की अवतार,
(Lakshmi thi ya Durga thi woh swayan veerta ki avatar,)
No one could guess whether she was Laxmi or Durga devi ( Durga Goddess , also called Bhavani ) or reincarnation of Devi durga,
देख मराठे पुलकित होते उसकी तलवारों के वार,
(dekh Marathey pulkit hotey uski talwaron key vaar,)
Her expertise in using a sword made the people of Marathward (Pulkit) wonder,
नकली युध-व्यूह की रचना और खेलना खूब शिकार,
(nakli yudh-vyuh ki rachna aur khelna khub shikar,)
They learned the war strategy of how to attack the prey,
सैन्य घेरना, दुर्ग तोड़ना यह थे उसके प्रिय खिलवाड़.
(sainya gherna, durg todna yeh they uskey preeya khilwad.)
To ambush her prey and to break the vanity were among her favorite supports,
महाराष्‍ट्रा-कुल-देवी उसकी भी आराध्या भवानी थी,
(Maharashtra-kul-devi uski bhi aaradhya Bhavani thi,)
Maharashtra-kul-Devi (The goddess of the Maharashtra ) was as dear to her as Bhavani (Durga Devi )
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
(Bundeley Harbolon key munh hamney suni kahani thi,)
From the mouths of the Bandelas and the Harbolas (Religious singers of Bandelkhand), we heard the tale,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वो तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी.
(Khoob ladi mardani woh to Jhansi wali Rani thi.)
Of the courage of the Queen of Jhansi relating how gallantly she fought like a man against the British intruders: such was the Queen of Jhansi.

4
हुई वीरता की वैभव के साथ सगाई झाँसी में,
(Huee veerta ki vaibhav key saath sagai Jhansi mein,)
With valor in a grand festival, she got married in Jhansi,
ब्याह हुआ बन आई रानी लक्ष्मी बाई झाँसी में,
(byah hua ban aayee Rani Lakshmi bai Jhansi mein,)
After her marriage, Laxmibai came to Jhansi as a queen with shower of joy,
राजमहल में बाजी बधाई खुशियाँ छायी झाँसी में,
(rajmahal mein baji badhai khushiyan chhaee Jhansi mein,)
A grand celebration took place in the royal palace of Jhansi. That was a good luck for Bandelos that she came to Jhansi,
सुघत बुंडेलों की विरूदावली-सी वो आई झाँसी में.
(sughat Bundelon ki viroodaavalee-si woh aayee Jhansi mein.)
That was as Chitra met with Arjun or Shiv had got his beloved Bhavani (Durga).
चित्रा ने अर्जुन को पाया, शिव से मिली भवानी थी,
(Chitra ney Arjun ko paya, Shiv sey mili Bhavani thi,)
From the mouths of the Bandelas and the Harbolas (Religious singers of Bandelkhand), we heard the tale of the courage of the Queen of Jhansi relating how gallantly she fought like a man against the British intruders: such was the Queen of Jhansi.
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
(Bundeley Harbolon key munh hamney suni kahani thi,)
From the mouths of the Bandelas and the Harbolas (Religious singers of Bandelkhand), we heard the tale,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वो तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी.
(Khoob ladi mardani woh to Jhansi wali Rani thi.)
Of the courage of the Queen of Jhansi relating how gallantly she fought like a man against the British intruders: such was the Queen of Jhansi.

5
उदित हुआ सौभाग्या, मुदित महलों में उजियली च्छाई,
(Udit hua saubhagya, mudit mahalon mein ujiyali chhayee,)
She came as a good luck to the royal palace of Jhansi and for a log time the palace remained decorated with lighting candles in celebration.
किंतु कालगती चुपके-चुपके काली घटा घेर लाई,
(kintu kaalgati chupkey-chupkey kali ghata gher laayee,)
But as days passed the dark clouds of misfortune covered the royal palace.
तीर चलाने वाले कर में उसे चूड़ियाँ कब भाई,
(teer chalaaney vaaley kar mein usey choodiyan kab bhaayee,)
She stopped wearing bangles for that was the time for a battle.
रानी विधवा हुई है, विधि को भी नहीं दया आई.
(Rani vidhva huee hai, vidhi ko bhi nahin dayaa aayee.)
The queen got widowed and her fate was very unkind to her.
निसंतान मारे राजाजी, रानी शोक-सामानी थी,
(Nisantan marey Rajaji, Rani shok-samani thi,)
The royal king had no children when he died and the queen was grief stricken.
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
(Bundeley Harbolon key munh hamney suni kahani thi,)
From the mouths of the Bandelas and the Harbolas (Religious singers of Bandelkhand), we heard the tale,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वो तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी.
(Khoob ladi mardani woh to Jhansi wali Rani thi.)
Of the courage of the Queen of Jhansi relating how gallantly she fought like a man against the British intruders: such was the Queen of Jhansi.

6
बुझा दीप झाँसी का तब डॅल्लूसियी मान में हरसाया,
(Bujha deep Jhansi ka tab Dalhousie man mein harshaaya,)
So the candle of the royal castle blew off and Dalhousie (a British governor) became very happy in his heart about the situation (that the royal palace had no king or someone strong to defend the throne).
ऱाज्य हड़प करने का यह उसने अच्छा अवसर पाया,
(Raajya hadap karney ka yeh usney achhaa avsar paaya,)
He thought that the time was right to usurp the kingdom.
फ़ौरन फौज भेज दुर्ग पर अपना झंडा फेहराया,
(fauran fauj bhej durg par apna jhandaa phehraya,)
He sent his soldiers to Citadel and raised the British flag on the royal palace.
लावारिस का वारिस बनकर ब्रिटिश राज झाँसी आया.
(lawaris ka waris bankar British Raj Jhansi aaya.)
The British rule came to Jhansi as the guardian of an orphan.
अश्रुपुर्णा रानी ने देखा झाँसी हुई वीरानी थी,
(Ashrupurna Rani ney dekha Jhansi huee birani thi,)
The Rani saw everything with tears in her eyes that how Jhansi got deserted.
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
(Bundeley Harbolon key munh hamney suni kahani thi,)
From the mouths of the Bandelas and the Harbolas (Religious singers of Bandelkhand), we heard the tale,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वो तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी.
(Khoob ladi mardani woh to Jhansi wali Rani thi.)
Of the courage of the Queen of Jhansi relating how gallantly she fought like a man against the British intruders: such was the Queen of Jhansi.

7
अनुनय विनय नहीं सुनती है, विकट शासकों की मॅयैया,
(Anunay vinay nahin sunti hai, vikat shaasakonki maaya,)
Strong (and Cruel) kings do not care about the cajoling.
व्यापारी बन दया चाहता था जब वा भारत आया,
(vyapari ban daya chhahta tha jab wah Bharat aaya,)
They (The British Rulers) came to India in the disguise of poor merchants.
डल्हौसि ने पैर पसारे, अब तो पलट गयी काया
(Dalhousie ney pair pasaarey, ab to palat gayee kaaya)
The British governor (Dalhousi) then extended his influence in India and so the fate of India turned over.
राजाओं नव्वाबों को भी उसने पैरों ठुकराया.
(Rajaon Nawwabon ko bhi usney pairon thukraaya.)
He insulted even the feudal and heads of state of India.
रानी दासी बनी, बनी यह दासी अब महारानी थी,
(Rani daasi bani, bani yeh daasi ab Maharani thi,)
The queen took the gesture of a maidservant; the maid was the real queen.
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
(Bundeley Harbolon key munh hamney suni kahani thi,)
From the mouths of the Bandelas and the Harbolas (Religious singers of Bandelkhand), we heard the tale,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वो तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी.
(Khoob ladi mardani woh to Jhansi wali Rani thi.)
Of the courage of the Queen of Jhansi relating how gallantly she fought like a man against the British intruders: such was the Queen of Jhansi.

8
छीनी राजधानी दिल्ली की, लखनऊ छीना बातों-बात,
(Chheenee rajdhani Dilli ki, Lucknow chheena baaton-baat,)
First of all Indian rulers lost the capital of India, Delhi and subsequently they lost the control of Lucknow.
क़ैद पेशवा था बिठुर में, हुआ नागपुर का भी घाट,
(Qaid Peshwa tha Bithur mein, hua Nagpur ka bhi ghaat,)
Peshwa was imprisoned in Bithur and then the Nagpur tragedy occurred.
ऊदैपुर, तंजोर, सतारा, कर्नाटक की कौन बिसात?
(Udaipur, Tanjore, Satara, Karnatak ki kaun bisaat?)
After the fall of Nagpur, it was not a big task for the intruders to take the control of Udaipur, Tanjore satara and Karnatak.
जबकि सिंध, पंजाब ब्रह्म पर अभी हुआ था वज्र-निपात.
(jabki Sindh, Punjab Brahm par abhi hua that vajra-nipaat.)
They already had the control of Sindh, Punjab and Assam.
बंगाले, मद्रास आदि की भी तो वही कहानी थी,
(Bengaaley, Madras aadi ki bhi to vahi kahani thi,)
The tale of fall of Bengal, Madras and many other states was also the same.
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
(Bundeley Harbolon key munh hamney suni kahani thi,)
From the mouths of the Bandelas and the Harbolas (Religious singers of Bandelkhand), we heard the tale,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वो तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी.
(Khoob ladi mardani woh to Jhansi wali Rani thi.)
Of the courage of the Queen of Jhansi relating how gallantly she fought like a man against the British intruders: such was the Queen of Jhansi.

9
रानी रोई रनवासों में, बेगम गुम सी थी बेज़ार,
(Rani royee rinvason mein, Begum gum se thi bezaar,)
Rani(the queen) wept in her quarter for all that disaster. She was rather lost and was sick of the situation.
उनके गहने कपड़े बिकते थे कलकत्ते के बाज़ार,
(unkey gehney kapdey biktey they Calcutta key bazzar,)
Her ornaments and royal clothes were being sold in the markets of Calcutta.
सरे आम नीलाम छपते थे अँग्रेज़ों के अख़बार,
(sarey aam nilaam chhaptey they angrezon key akhbar,)
The advertisements for the sale of the royal stuff were being published in the daily newspapers of the British Government.
“नागपुर के ज़ेवर ले लो, लखनऊ के लो नौलख हार”.
(“Nagpur key zewar le lo, Lucknow key lo naulakh haar”.)
“Buy the ornaments of Nagpur, Buy the Naulakha locket of Lucknow” had been the highlights of such advertisements.
यों पर्दे की इज़्ज़त परदेसी के हाथ बीकानी थी
(Yon pardey ki izzat pardesi key hath bikani thi)
In this manner the honor of the royal ladies had to be sold to foreigners.
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
(Bundeley Harbolon key munh hamney suni kahani thi,)
From the mouths of the Bandelas and the Harbolas (Religious singers of Bandelkhand), we heard the tale,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वो तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी.
(Khoob ladi mardani woh to Jhansi wali Rani thi.)
Of the courage of the Queen of Jhansi relating how gallantly she fought like a man against the British intruders: such was the Queen of Jhansi.

10
कुटियों में भी विषम वेदना, महलों में आहत अपमान,
(Kutiya mein bhi visham vedna, mahalon mein aahat apmaan,)
The cottages of poor were full of grief and the royal houses were also full of insult (the royal ladies were maltreated and insulted by the British intruders whereas the poor folk were also in the clutches of the atrocities by the British rulers).
वीर सैनिकों के मान में था अपने पुरखों का अभिमान,
(veer sainikon key man mein tha apney purkhon ka abhmaan,)
Brave soldiers of India had in their mind the prestige of their ancestors.
नाना धूंधूपंत पेशवा जूटा रहा था सब सामान,
(Nana Ghunghupant Peshwa joota raha tha sab saamaan,)
The name of Ghunghupant and Nana, the titles of the great warriors and their weapons, they have lost all such treasure as well.
बहिन छबीली ने रण-चंडी का कर दिया प्रकट आहवान.
(bahen chhaveeli ney Ran-Chandi ka kar diya prakat aahvaan.)
The beloved sisters of Nana (queen of Jhansi- Rani) invited Nana to visit Ran-Chandi.
हुआ यज्ञा प्रारंभ उन्हे तो सोई ज्योति जगानी थी,
(Hua yagna prarambh unhey to soyee jyoti jagani thi,)
The ritual of the holy war of freedom started because they had to awake the divine spirit of the people of India, which had been sleeping so far.
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
(Bundeley Harbolon key munh hamney suni kahani thi,)
From the mouths of the Bandelas and the Harbolas (Religious singers of Bandelkhand), we heard the tale,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वो तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी.
(Khoob ladi mardani woh to Jhansi wali Rani thi.)
Of the courage of the Queen of Jhansi relating how gallantly she fought like a man against the British intruders: such was the Queen of Jhansi.

11
महलों ने दी आग, झोंपड़ी ने ज्वाला सुलगाई थी,
(Mahalon ney di aag, jhonpdi ney jwala sulgayee thi,)
The fire of revolt started from royal palace, which became hot like burning sun when reached to the houses of the poor or common folk.
यह स्वतंत्रता की चिंगारी अंतरतम से आई थी,
(yeh swatantrata ki chingari antratam sey aayee thi,)
This spark of freedom started from the inner soul of the people.
झाँसी चेती, दिल्ली चेती, लखनऊ लपटें छाई थी,
(Jhansi cheti, Dilli cheti, Lucknow laptey chhayi thi,)
It captured Jhansi first then spread in Delhi and also engulfed Lucknow.
मेरठ, कानपुर, पटना ने भारी धूम मचाई थी,
(Merat, Kanpur, Patna ney bhari dhoom machayi thi,)
The freedom struggle was also in full swing in Merat, Kanpur and Patna.
जबलपुर, कोल्हापुर, में भी कुछ हलचल उकसानी थी,
(Jabalpur, Kolhapur, mein bhi kuchh hulchul uksani thi,)
The people of Jabalpur, Kolhapur were also being inspired from others.
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
(Bundeley Harbolon key munh hamney suni kahani thi,)
From the mouths of the Bandelas and the Harbolas (Religious singers of Bandelkhand), we heard the tale,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वो तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी.
(Khoob ladi mardani woh to Jhansi wali Rani thi.)
Of the courage of the Queen of Jhansi relating how gallantly she fought like a man against the British intruders: such was the Queen of Jhansi.

12
इस स्वतंत्रता महायज्ञ में काई वीरवर आए काम,
(Is Swatantrata Mahayagna mein kayee veervar aaye kaam,)
In that great freedom struggle, many brave brothers lost their lives.
नाना धूंधूपंत, तांतिया, चतुर अज़ीमुल्ला सरनाम,
(Nana Ghunghupant, Tantya, chatur Azeemullah sarnam,)
Among them were Nana GhunGhupant, Tantya, great Azeemullah,
अहमदशाह मौलवी, ठाकुर कुंवर सिंह, सैनिक अभिराम,
(Ahmedshah Moulvi, Thakur Kunwar Singh, Sainik Abhiram,)
And many others like Ahmedshah Moulvi, Thakur Kunwar singh, Sainik Abhiram.
भारत के इतिहास गगन में अमर रहेंगे जिनके नाम.
(Bharat key itihaas gagan mein amar rahengey jinkey naam.)
Their names will always be shining in the heavens of the ancient history of India,
लेकिन आज जुर्म कहलाती उनकी जो क़ुर्बानी थी,
(Lekin aaj jurm kehlati unki jo Qurbani thi,)
but they were considered rebels at that time and their great sacrifice was considered a crime against the state of British India.
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
(Bundeley Harbolon key munh hamney suni kahani thi,)
From the mouths of the Bandelas and the Harbolas (Religious singers of Bandelkhand), we heard the tale,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वो तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी.
(Khoob ladi mardani woh to Jhansi wali Rani thi.)
Of the courage of the Queen of Jhansi relating how gallantly she fought like a man against the British intruders: such was the Queen of Jhansi.

13
इनकी गाथा छोड़, चले हम झाँसी के मैदानों में,
(Inki gaatha chhod, chaley hum Jhansi key maidanon mein,)
Well, leave the tale of the bravery of those great men and let us go to the battlefields of Jhansi,
जहाँ खड़ी है लक्ष्मीबाई मर्द बनी मर्दनों में,
(Jahan khadi hai Lakshmibai mard bani mardanon mein,)
Where Laxmibai is standing boldly like a man among the other brave men.
लेफ्टिनेंट वॉकर आ पहुँचा, आगे बड़ा जवानों में,
(Lieutenant Walker aa pohoncha, aagey bada jawanon mein,)
Lieutenant Walker reached there and proceeded further in the people’s army of the brave men,
रानी ने तलवार खींच ली, हुआ द्वंद्ध आसमानों में.
(Rani ney talwaar kheench li, hua dhandh asmanon mein.)
Rani drew her sword, the beating of the drums started in the heavens,
ज़ख़्मी होकर वॉकर भागा, उसे अजब हैरानी थी,
(Zakhmi hokar Walker bhaga, usey ajab hairani thi,)
Walker ran away from the battlefield as Rani defectively wounded him. He was astonished on the agility of Rani.
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
(Bundeley Harbolon key munh hamney suni kahani thi,)
From the mouths of the Bandelas and the Harbolas (Religious singers of Bandelkhand), we heard the tale,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वो तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी.
(Khoob ladi mardani woh to Jhansi wali Rani thi.)
Of the courage of the Queen of Jhansi relating how gallantly she fought like a man against the British intruders: such was the Queen of Jhansi.

14
रानी बढ़ी कालपी आई, कर सौ मील निरंतर पार,
(Rani badhi Kalpi aayee, kar sau meel nirantar paar,)
Rani preceded further and reached Kalpi after taking a hard journey of hundreds of miles.
घोड़ा थक कर गिरा भूमि पर, गया स्वर्ग तत्काल सिधार,
(ghoda thak kar gira bhoomi par, gaya swarg tatkaal sidhaar,)
The horse got exhausted and fell to the ground and the rider (Walker) also fell down immediately .
यमुना तट पर अँग्रेज़ों ने फिर खाई रानी से हार,
(Yamuna tat par angrezon ney phir khayee Rani sey haar,)
In the field of Yamuna again Rani was defeating the British.
विजयी रानी आगे चल दी, किया ग्वालियर पर अधिकार.
(vijayee Rani aagey chal di, kiya Gwalior par adhikar.)
The victorious Rani proceeded further and took the control of Gawalior.
अँग्रेज़ों के मित्र सिंधिया ने छोड़ी राजधानी थी,
(Angrezon key mitra Scindia ney chhodi rajdhani thee,)
The British thus left the Vsindia (capital of Gawalior) and their rule ended in Gawalior.
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
(Bundeley Harbolon key munh hamney suni kahani thi,)
From the mouths of the Bandelas and the Harbolas (Religious singers of Bandelkhand), we heard the tale,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वो तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी.
(Khoob ladi mardani woh to Jhansi wali Rani thi.)
Of the courage of the Queen of Jhansi relating how gallantly she fought like a man against the British intruders: such was the Queen of Jhansi.

15
विजय मिली, पर अँग्रेज़ों की फिर सेना घिर आई थी,
(Vijay mili, par Angrezon ki phir sena ghir aayee thi,)
Although the freedom fighters had won, the British army was again getting organized.
अबके जनरल स्मिथ सम्मुख था, उसने मुंहकी खाई थी,
(Abkey General Smith sammukh tha, usney munhki khayee thi,)
This time, general smith was in command but he was also being defeated by the brave freedom fighters – he had to be defeated.
काना और मंदरा सखियाँ रानी के संग आई थी,
(Kaana aur Mandra sakhiyan Rani key sangh aayee thi,)
Kaana and Mandra (the associates of Rani) were also accompanying her in the war zone.
यूद्ध क्षेत्र में ऊन दोनो ने भारी मार मचाई थी.
(Yudh kshetra mein un dono ney bhari maar machayi thi.)
In the battlefield they both were fighting furiously.
पर पीछे ह्यूरोज़ आ गया, हाय! घिरी अब रानी थी,
(par peechey Hughrose aa gaya, Hai! gheeri ab Rani thi,)
But a British commander, Hughrose came from the backside to help his soldiers – Alas! The British soldiers surrounded the Rani from all sides.
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
(Bundeley Harbolon key munh hamney suni kahani thi,)
From the mouths of the Bandelas and the Harbolas (Religious singers of Bandelkhand), we heard the tale,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वो तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी.
(Khoob ladi mardani woh to Jhansi wali Rani thi.)
Of the courage of the Queen of Jhansi relating how gallantly she fought like a man against the British intruders: such was the Queen of Jhansi.

16
तो भी रानी मार काट कर चलती बनी सैन्य के पार,
(To bhi Rani maar kaat kar chalti bani sainya key paar,)
Though Rani was deeply wounded, still she was fighting and had managed to get through the British army,
किंतु सामने नाला आया, था वो संकट विषम अपार,
(kintu saamney naala aaya, tha woh sankat visham apaar,)
But she got stuck because a sewerage canal was there on the other end and she was in deep trouble,
घोड़ा अड़ा, नया घोड़ा था, इतने में आ गये अवार,
(ghoda adaa, naya ghoda tha, itney mein aa gaye avaar,)
Her horse got stuck there – the horse was untrained, in the mean time, the British soldiers, riding on their horses reached there.
रानी एक, शत्रु बहुतेरे, होने लगे वार-पर-वार.
(Rani ek, shatru bahuterey, honey lagey vaar-par-var.)
Rani was all alone while enemies were numerous who were attacking her with their sword from all sides,
घायल होकर गिरी सिंहनी, उसे वीर गति पानी थी,
(Ghayal hokar giri Sinhni, isey veer gati paani thi,)
Rani, who was fighting like a lioness, succumbed to the wounds and fell down. She had to achieve a glorious death in war ( Martyrdom ).
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
(Bundeley Harbolon key munh hamney suni kahani thi,)
From the mouths of the Bandelas and the Harbolas (Religious singers of Bandelkhand), we heard the tale,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वो तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी.
(Khoob ladi mardani woh to Jhansi wali Rani thi.)
Of the courage of the Queen of Jhansi relating how gallantly she fought like a man against the British intruders: such was the Queen of Jhansi.

17
रानी गयी सिधार चिता अब उसकी दिव्य सवारी थी,
(Rani gayee sidhaar chita ab uski divya sawaari thi,)
Rani was martyred in the battlefield.Her departed soul was then riding a divine vehicle, moving towards heavens
मिला तेज से तेज, तेज की वो सच्ची अधिकारी थी,
(mila tej se tej, tej ki woh sachchi adhikaari thi,)
the Light of her divine soul met with the divine light in the heavens, she was the real heir of divinity,
अभी उम्र कुल तेईस की थी, मनुज नहीं अवतारी थी,
(abhi umr kul teis ki thi, manuj nahin avtaari thi,)
She was only thirty years of age. She was not a human; rather she was divine spirit (a holy being),
हमको जीवित करने आई बन स्वतंत्रता-नारी थी,
(humko jeevit karney aayee ban Swatantrata-naree thi,)
Who did come, in the gesture of a female freedom fighter, to give us a respectable life of light and freedom ,
दिखा गयी पथ, सीखा गयी हमको जो सीख सिखानी थी,
(dikha gayee path, sikha gayee humko jo seekh sikhani thi,)
She showed us the path of freedom, and taught us the lesson of courage, she taught us what we might have learned.
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
(Bundeley Harbolon key munh hamney suni kahani thi,)
From the mouths of the Bandelas and the Harbolas (Religious singers of Bandelkhand), we heard the tale,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वो तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी.
(Khoob ladi mardani woh to Jhansi wali Rani thi.)
Of the courage of the Queen of Jhansi relating how gallantly she fought like a man against the British intruders: such was the Queen of Jhansi.

18
जाओ रानी याद रखेंगे ये कृतज्ञ भारतवासी,
(Jao Rani yaad Rakhengey yeh krutagna Bharatwasi,)
The people of India will remember this debt of yours (O! Rani Laxmaibai), may you be blessed, dear Rani,
यह तेरा बलिदान जागावेगा स्वतंत्रता अविनासी,
(yeh tera balidaan jagavega Swatantrata avinasi,)
Your this life sacrifice will awake an indestructible soul of freedom in the people,
होवे चुप इतिहास, लगे सच्चाई को चाहे फाँसी,
(hovey chup itihaas, lagey sachchai ko chahey phansi,)
History may be made silent or if truth is hanged or killed,
हो मदमाती विजय, मिटा दे गोलों से चाहे झाँसी.
(ho madmaati vijay, mitaa dey golon sey chahey Jhansi.)
Or if the drinkers become victorious or if they destroy jhansi with cannonballs,
तेरा स्मारक तू ही होगी, तू खुद अमिट निशानी थी,
(Tera Smarak tu hi hogi, tu khud amit nishaani thi,)
You, by yourself be the memorial of Rani (queen of Jhansi) because you had been an eternal token of courage.
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
(Bundeley Harbolon key munh hamney suni kahani thi,)
From the mouths of the Bandelas and the Harbolas (Religious singers of Bandelkhand), we heard the tale,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वो तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी.
(Khoob ladi mardani woh to Jhansi wali Rani thi.)
Of the courage of the Queen of Jhansi relating how gallantly she fought like a man against the British intruders: such was the Queen of Jhansi.

JPS Nagi
January 2024

Leadership Lessons from Dungeons & Dragons

During my upbringing in India, Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) or role-playing games were unfamiliar to me. However, over the past five years, I have had the pleasure of immersing myself in this captivating game. In this blog, I am sharing some valuable leadership insights gleaned from my experiences with D&D.


Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) is a fantasy tabletop role-playing game that has captivated the hearts and minds of players for decades. While it’s known for its storytelling and epic battles, D&D also offers valuable insights into leadership. Surprisingly, the lessons learned in the imaginary realms of dungeons and dragons can be applied to real-world leadership situations. Let’s explore some of these leadership lessons from the world of D&D.

  • Collaboration and Teamwork:
    D&D is a team-based game where players form parties to achieve common goals. Leadership in D&D often means bringing together a diverse group of characters with unique abilities and personalities. Similarly, in the real world, effective leaders know how to foster collaboration and teamwork among their team members, recognizing that diverse strengths and perspectives can lead to success.
  • Adaptability:
    In D&D, dungeon masters create dynamic and ever-changing scenarios, forcing players to adapt and make quick decisions. Leaders must also be adaptable, especially in today’s fast-paced world, where unexpected challenges are common. Being able to pivot, adjust strategies, and make informed decisions on the fly is a valuable trait.
  • Decision-Making:
    D&D players face numerous decisions throughout their quests, some of which can have far-reaching consequences. Leaders are often tasked with making critical decisions that impact their teams and organizations. D&D teaches the importance of considering various options, gathering information, and making well-informed choices.
  • Communication:
    Effective communication is vital in D&D. Players need to convey their intentions, share information, and work together seamlessly. Leaders must also be skilled communicators, conveying their vision, goals, and expectations clearly to their teams. Moreover, active listening and fostering an open dialogue are essential leadership traits.
  • Problem Solving:
    D&D adventures are rife with puzzles, challenges, and obstacles. Players must think creatively and use their resources to overcome these hurdles. Leaders often encounter complex problems in the workplace. Learning from D&D, they can encourage innovative thinking, resourcefulness, and a willingness to tackle challenges head-on.
  • Empowerment:
    D&D empowers players to take ownership of their characters and decisions. Likewise, successful leaders empower their teams, granting them autonomy and trust to make decisions within their areas of responsibility. Empowered team members tend to be more motivated and engaged.
  • Resilience:
    In D&D, characters face setbacks, injuries, and defeats, yet they press on. Leaders, too, must display resilience in the face of adversity. It’s essential to bounce back from setbacks, learn from failures, and maintain a positive outlook.
  • Vision and Strategy:
    Dungeon masters in D&D create grand narratives and worlds for players to explore. Leaders also need a clear vision and strategy to guide their teams and organizations. A compelling vision can inspire and align team members toward a common purpose.

Dungeons & Dragons is not just a game; it’s a source of valuable leadership lessons. From teamwork and adaptability to decision-making and resilience, the principles learned in the world of D&D can be applied to leadership in any setting. Aspiring leaders and seasoned professionals alike can draw inspiration from the adventures of their favorite characters, both in fantasy realms and the real world. So, roll the dice and embark on your own leadership quest!

JPS Nagi
November 30, 2023

The Science of Flavor Profiles and Pairings: The Essence of Taste, Aroma and Health

Flavor is more than just the taste of food—it’s a complex experience that involves both olfactory (smell) and gustatory (taste) sensations. My journey with flavors in foods and drinks took me down the rabbit hole of flavors. Here is a short account of this journey from the last few months.

The Science of Flavor Molecules
At the core of flavor is chemistry. Flavor molecules are responsible for the aromatic and taste qualities of food and beverages. They are detected by our sensory organs, triggering responses that can be sweet, sour, salty, bitter, or umami. But these molecules do more than just provide taste—they can also influence metabolic processes, impacting our health.

Flavor Molecules and Health
Recent research has highlighted the importance of flavor molecules in metabolic regulation. Some of these molecules can influence digestion, absorption, and even the body’s metabolic rate. Understanding these effects can lead to healthier food choices and improved well-being.

Cataloging Flavor Profiles
Given the importance of flavor molecules in both culinary and health contexts, it’s valuable to have a detailed repository. Such a resource would include:

  • Natural Sources: Identifying where specific flavors originate, be it a spice, fruit, or herb.
  • Physicochemical Properties: Understanding the stability, solubility, and reactivity of these molecules.
  • Sensory Responses: Document the taste and aroma profiles they produce.

Pairing Flavors
Knowing the flavor profiles of different molecules allows for creative and harmonious pairings in cooking and perfumery. For instance, the earthy tones of mushrooms pair well with the umami-rich flavors of soy sauce, while the sharpness of citrus can enhance the sweetness of berries.

Two major resources that I reference for flavor pairings and combinations are FlavorID and FlavorDB.

FlavorID, the latest innovation from Foodpairing, is revolutionizing the way we think about taste and health. This groundbreaking app is not just about discovering new flavors; it’s a journey towards a healthier you. With FlavorID, you can easily check your health score, a unique feature that evaluates your dietary habits and suggests improvements. The app goes beyond generic recommendations by helping you discover your personal flavor profile. This tailored approach ensures that the suggestions for new flavors and healthier ingredients are not just good for you, but also align with your taste preferences. Imagine being introduced to a world of flavors and ingredients you never knew existed, each contributing to a healthier lifestyle. Whether you’re a food enthusiast or someone looking to enhance your diet, FlavorID offers a delightful and beneficial exploration of taste and well-being.

Exploring the Vast World of Flavors with FlavorDB
FlavorDB is an extensive repository that contains a staggering 25,595 flavor molecules, each encapsulating unique tastes and aromas. Within this collection, 2,254 molecules are specifically linked to 936 natural ingredients, categorized into 34 distinct groups. This rich variety offers a comprehensive look into the diverse world of flavors.

The platform is designed to be dynamic and user-friendly, making it an invaluable tool for various applications. Whether you’re a chef, food scientist, or just a flavor enthusiast, FlavorDB provides several exciting functionalities:

  • Flavor and Structure Matching: Easily search for molecules that match specific flavor profiles or molecular structures. This feature is perfect for culinary experts looking to create unique taste experiences or for scientists exploring the chemistry of flavors.
  • Ingredient Exploration: Dive into the molecular makeup of different ingredients. This allows users to understand the flavor nuances of various foods and how they contribute to overall taste.
  • Novel Food Pairings: Discover new and unexpected food combinations. By understanding the molecular basis of flavors, FlavorDB can suggest pairings that might not be immediately obvious but can lead to delightful culinary creations.
  • Molecular Essence Identification: Get to the heart of what makes each ingredient unique. This feature is especially useful for those in the food and flavor industry, aiming to replicate or enhance specific tastes.
  • Chemical-Flavor Associations: Link chemical properties with flavors, providing a deeper understanding of why certain foods taste the way they do.

FlavorDB isn’t just a tool for exploration; it’s a gateway to new discoveries. Data-driven studies utilizing this resource can significantly advance our understanding of flavor mechanisms. This can lead to innovative approaches in food science, nutrition, and even gastronomy. The possibilities are as limitless as the flavors themselves, making FlavorDB a key player in the ongoing journey to decode the mysteries of taste and aroma.

In conclusion, flavor molecules are a fascinating and vital aspect of our daily lives. By understanding their sources, properties, and effects on our senses and health, we can enhance our culinary experiences and make informed choices about the foods we consume. The journey of exploring flavors is not just about taste — it’s about experiencing the rich tapestry of nature’s bounty.

This exploration into the world of flavor profiles and pairings offers a glimpse into the complex interplay between our senses, health, and the natural world. As we explore this dynamic and delicious landscape, we open ourselves up to a world where taste and health coexist in delightful harmony. Understanding and appreciating this intricate relationship can elevate our experience of food and aroma, turning each meal or scent into a journey of discovery.


Learn More on these websites and books:

  1. FlavorID and FlavorDB
  2. Books:
    1. The Flavor Matrix by James Briscione and Brooke Parkhurst
    2. Art & Science Of Foodpairing by Peter Coucquyt

JPS Nagi
November 24, 2023

Everything in life is an RC Curve!

My mentor from my last job, David Lee Rutledge, held two significant positions as a head of R&D and later the CTO. Although I never had the opportunity to work directly under him, we collaborated for 15 years. One of the best lessons I learned from him is “Everything in life is an RC curve”.

For an ELT presentation, I realized that I needed to make some last-minute changes, but when I found out that he had already sent a copy of the presentation to the ELT members, I started stressing out. Observing my worry, he drew an RC circuit and curve on the whiteboard and asked me if I had ever seen one before. I nodded and he said, “JP, everything in life is an RC curve.”
“When you are charging, you charge at a much fast rate. It’s like efforts on x-axis vs. returns on y-axis. As you get closer to the getting fully charged, a lot more effort is required to get a good return. Sometimes you need to go the extra mile to get the last ounce of returns, and it’s essential to know whether the return is worth the effort.”
He continued, “So relax, you made a great presentation. The additional changes you’re worried about are just noise. Focus on the signal.”

That was one of my great moments with David. Since then, I always plan and think before jumping in to ensure that I put in the right amount of effort to get the right returns. I’m still learning and seeking advice from others when needed.

So, remember the RC curve, know when to stop, and when to keep going. When in doubt, don’t hesitate to ask. After all, “Everything in life is an RC curve.”

JPS Nagi
April 18, 2023

Hum Dekhenge, or We Shall See – A Nazm by Faiz Ahmed Faiz

Hum Dekhenge (We shall see) is a popular Urdu nazm, written by the Pakistani poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz.

Originally written as Va Yabqá Vajhu Rabbika (And the countenance of your Lord will outlast all), it was included in the seventh poetry book of Faiz – Mere Dil Mere Musafir.

The nazm was composed as a protest against Zia Ul Haq’s oppressive regime. It gained a rapid cult following as a song of resistance and defiance, after a public rendition by Iqbal Bano at Alhamra Arts Council on 13 February 1986, ignoring the ban on Faiz’s poetry.

In the Nazm, Faiz employs the metaphor of traditional Islamic imagery to subvert and challenge Zia’s fundamentalist interpretation of them; Qayamat, the Day of Reckoning is transformed into the Day of Revolution, wherein Zia’s military government will be ousted by the people and democracy will be re-installed. (Source: Wikipedia)

Here it is with transliteration (scroll down for my favorite renditions).


हम देख़ेंगे
Ham Dekheñge
We shall see the day
लाज़िम है कि हम भी देख़ेंगे
Lāzim Hai Ki Ham Bhī Dekheñge
Inevitably, we shall also see the day
वो दिन के जिस का वादा है
Vo Din Ki Jis Kā Va.Ada Hai
That was promised to us, decreed
जो लोह-ए-अज़ल में लिखा है
Jo Lauh-E-Azal Meñ Likhkhā Hai
On the tablet of eternity
हम देख़ेंगे
Ham Dekheñge
We shall see the day

जब ज़ुल्म-ओ-सितम के कोह-ए-गरां
Jab Zulm-O-Sitam Ke Koh-E-Girāñ
When dark peaks of torment and tyranny
रूई की तरह उङ जायेंगे
Ruuī Kī Tarah Uḍ Jā.Eñge
Will be blown away like cotton fluff;
हम महकूमों के पाऒं तले
Ham Mahkūmoñ Ke Pāñv-Tale
When the earth’s beating, beating heart
ये धरती धङ-धङ धङकेगी
Jab Dhartī Dhaḍ-Dhaḍ Dhaḍkegī
Will pulsate beneath our broken feet;
और अह्ल-ए-हकम के सर ऊपर
Aur Ahl-E-Hakam Ke Sar-Ūpar
When crackling, crashing lightning
जब बिजली कङ-कङ कङकेगी
Jab Bijlī Kaḍ-Kaḍ Kaḍkegī
Will smite the heads of our tormentors;
हम देख़ेंगे
Ham Dekheñge
We shall see the day

जब अर्ज़-ए-ख़ुदा के काबे से
Jab Arz-E-Ḳhudā Ke Ka.Abe Se
When, from the seat of the Almighty
सब बुत उळवाये जायेंगे
Sab But Uthvā.E Jā.Eñge
Every pedestal will lie displaced;
हम अह्ले-ए-सफा मर्दूद-ए-हरम
Ham Ahl-E-Safā Mardūd-E-Haram
Then, the dispossessed we,
मसनद पे बिळाये जायेंगे
Masnad Pe Bithā.E Jā.Eñge
We who kept the faith will be installed
सब ताज उछाले जायेंगे
Sab Taaj Uchhāle Jā.Eñge
To our inalienable legacy.
सब तख़्त गिराये जायेंगे
Sab Taḳht Girā.E Jā.Eñge
Every crown will be flung.
हम देख़ेंगे
Ham Dekheñge
We shall see the day

बस नाम रहेगा अल्ला: का
Bas Naam Rahegā Allāh Kā
Each throne brought down.
जो गायब भी है हाज़िर भी
Jo Ġhā.Eb Bhī Hai Hāzir Bhī
Only His name will remain; He,
जो मंज़र भी है नाज़िर भी
Jo Manzar Bhī Hai Nāzir Bhī
Who is both unseen, and ubiquitous; He,
उळ्ळेगा अन-अल-हक का नारा
Utthegā Anal-Haq Kā Na.Ara
Who is both the vision and the beholder.
जो मै भी हूँ और तुम भी हो
Jo Maiñ Bhī Huuñ Aur Tum Bhī Ho
When the clarion call of ‘I am Truth’ (the truth that is me and the truth that is you)
और राज करेगी ख़ल्क-ए-ख़ुदा
Aur Raaj Karegī Ḳhalq-E-Ḳhudā
Will ring out, all God’s creatures will rule,
जो मै भी हूँ और तुम भी हो
Jo Maiñ Bhī Huuñ Aur Tum Bhī Ho
Those like me and those like you.


Glossary:

लाज़िम / Lazim – must/binding/certain
वादा / wada – promise
लोह / lauh – slate/tablet /title page
अज़ल / azal – eternity
लोह-ए-अज़ल / lauh-e-azal – slate of eternity (destiny)
ज़ुल्म / zulm – abuses/victimization/tyranny/oppression
सितम / sitam – injustice/oppression/tyranny
कोह / koh – mountain
गरां / garaan – massive/enormous
महकूम / mehkoom – enslaved/subject
अह्ल / ahl – people
हकम / hakam – ruler/master
अर्ज़ / arz – appeal/request
सफा / safa – clean/pure
मर्दूद / mardood – accursed/outcast/barred
हरम / haram – sanctum/holy site
मर्दूद-ए-हरम / mardood-e-haram – the faithful who were banished from Mecca to Medina
मसनद / masnad – throne
मंज़र / manzar – scene/view/visage
नाज़िर / nazir – spectator/overseer
अन-अल-हक / an-al-haq – I am the truth
ख़ल्क / khalq – creation

Here are audio and videos of Iqbal Bano’s live version, and a few other favorite versions along with a modernized Coke Studio rendition from season 11.

JPS Nagi
February 9, 2023

How to Learn Almost Anything, Part 5 of 5 – Mind

Links to all 5 parts in this series
How to Learn Almost Anything, Part 1 of 5 – Introduction
How to Learn Almost Anything, Part 2 of 5 – Time & Plan
How to Learn Almost Anything, Part 3 of 5 – Space & Goals
How to Learn Almost Anything, Part 4 of 5 – Consistency & Retention
How to Learn Almost Anything, Part 5 of 5 – Mind


Learning something new can be intimidating. With so much information out there, it can be hard to know where to start or how to approach the task of mastering a new skill. There is an efficient way to get started that often yields fast results. In this last post on this topic, we look at how our Mind and how our state of mental health will affect learning.

Mind, or Your Mental Health
If anything, the pandemic taught us that it is important to take care of your mental health. And this also applies to learning. Learning new skills can be an intimidating process, and it’s easy to get in our heads when we’re learning something new. It can seem like everyone else is so much better than us and that we will never measure up. When I am asked, I am not competing with anyone – I am competing with myself. I often ask myself this question to myself – What can I do to become a better version of myself? How can I be a better listener, or how can I play those difficult barre chords on my guitar?
Like anyone else, I get those negative feelings too. I found that there are ways to combat these negative thoughts and stay positive during the learning process. I often just stop what I am doing, and start cooking – which relaxes me. Find your relaxation and your comfort zone; go there, and do what you like. And come back with a fresh mind. I found that my actions are three-pronged.
First of all, it’s important to validate your (negative) feelings. It’s okay if you feel inferior or like you’re not good enough or never going to make it; those thoughts happen to all of us at some point during the learning process. Acknowledging that these thoughts exist is the first step towards overcoming them.
Secondly, it’s also important to remember that you’re not alone in this process. Everyone experiences self-doubt; even those who seem like they have their skill mastered have probably had moments where they felt like they weren’t good enough. Remind yourself that everyone has been where you are right now and that everyone experiences these feelings at some point in their life.
Finally, celebrate small wins. It is important and it helps us stay motivated throughout the learning process when we celebrate small wins along the way. Like singing that song you have been practicing – record it, and send it to your family, and friends. You will be surprised to hear back from them and how tough you have been to yourself.
I always look at how long I have come from when I started, or from last week. Sometimes, I call my mother and play that song that I have been practicing. She tells me how well I am playing. Find that support group among your friends and family. They will help you see your accomplishments and keep you motivated as you continue on your journey.
No matter how difficult or overwhelming the learning process may seem, it’s important to remember that everyone has gone through similar struggles and experienced self-doubt at some point during the journey. The key is staying positive and motivated by validating our feelings, knowing we’re not alone in our struggle, and celebrating every small win along the way! With this mindset, anyone can become an expert on any given topic with enough practice and dedication.

Conclusion
Next time you need to learn something new, use these techniques. By breaking down the task into small, manageable steps and then teaching it to someone else, you can quickly gain a deep understanding of the material. And this is a blueprint for you to adjust and make it your own.
What other methods have you used to efficiently learn new things? Share your tips in the comments below!

JPS Nagi
January 12, 2023

How to Learn Almost Anything, Part 4 of 5 – Consistency & Retention

Links to all 5 parts in this series
How to Learn Almost Anything, Part 1 of 5 – Introduction
How to Learn Almost Anything, Part 2 of 5 – Time & Plan
How to Learn Almost Anything, Part 3 of 5 – Space & Goals
How to Learn Almost Anything, Part 4 of 5 – Consistency & Retention
How to Learn Almost Anything, Part 5 of 5 – Mind


Learning something new can be intimidating. With so much information out there, it can be hard to know where to start or how to approach the task of mastering a new skill. There is an efficient way to get started that often yields fast results. In part 4 of this journey, we look at how Consistency and Retention Strategies can help your learning growth.

The Power of Consistency and Discipline
We all have goals we want to achieve. But sometimes it can feel like a daunting task even when you know where to start. You need motivation and discipline to create sustained success in the long run. Let’s talk about why consistency and discipline are important, and how they can help you reach your goal. The foundation of any successful goal is having a strong “why” behind it; finding out why you want to do something is the first step in reaching that goal. Your “why” should be bigger than just yourself and should make you excited for the journey ahead. Having a clear understanding of why your goal matters will help you stay motivated when things get hard.
When I started playing the guitar, I did two things. Once I placed the guitar on a stand in my office, so I can just turn and pick it up and strum it; and two, I would make sure I do pick it up, every day, multiple times a day. In the current world where we all have limited time and patience, we easily give up. Sometimes we give up when we tackle something hard.
Motivation is great, but it won’t always be there – that’s why discipline is so important in achieving success. It’s like building muscle; the more victories you have on days where motivation is lacking, the stronger your ability to handle those days will become. And if you mess up one day, don’t let it derail all your progress – one mistake shouldn’t define your success or failure. Consistency and discipline are about embracing mistakes as part of the learning process, and using them as an opportunity for growth!
Another key element to reaching success with consistency and discipline is having a plan that works for your lifestyle and schedule. Make sure that whatever plan you come up with fits into your daily routine – this way it will be easier for you to stick with it in the long run! It can also help if you break down larger goals into smaller chunks; this will allow you to track your progress more easily, making each task more manageable along the way.
Consistency and discipline are essential when working towards any goal – big or small! Find out what drives you, break down larger goals into smaller tasks, create a plan that works for you, and use mistakes as an opportunity for growth! With consistency and discipline by your side, anything can be achieved!

Improve Your Retention and Learning Abilities
Retention is an important part of learning; it allows us to remember information and use it to our advantage. However, it can be difficult to retain information if we don’t have the right strategies in place. Let us look at three strategies that you can use to improve your retention and learning abilities.
The first strategy is doing a cursory pass of learning – it could be watching a video from start to finish, going over the notes from your class, or just looking at all the chords, and progressions from your guitar instructor. Go from start to finish without any distractions. Get an understanding of the material, which will make it easier for us to retain the information later on. This helps you understand what are you learning.
Take a break, and start the next step in the process. And this time, taking copious notes while watching the video. I also read them aloud in my voice; it helps me internalize the concepts. Or when I write in my hand, I tend to learn more quickly.
The second strategy is to practice as much as possible. Practicing helps you solidify your knowledge by giving you hands-on experience with the material. If you’re trying to learn something new, try practicing it as often as possible until you feel comfortable with it. This will help ensure that you not only understand the concept but also have a better chance of retaining it in the future.
The third strategy is repetition. Repetition helps us commit information more firmly into our memory because we are constantly revisiting and reinforcing it. If you want to make sure that you remember something, try repeating it multiple times throughout your day or week so that it sticks with you better over time.
By implementing these three strategies—watching tutorial videos, practicing as much as possible, and repetition—you can significantly improve your retention and learning abilities. These tactics will help ensure that you remember what you learn more easily and can use it effectively going forward. So why not give them a try today? You may just surprise yourself at how much easier retaining new information becomes!

JPS Nagi
January 12, 2023

How to Learn Almost Anything, Part 3 of 5 – Space & Goals

Links to all 5 parts in this series
How to Learn Almost Anything, Part 1 of 5 – Introduction
How to Learn Almost Anything, Part 2 of 5 – Time & Plan
How to Learn Almost Anything, Part 3 of 5 – Space & Goals
How to Learn Almost Anything, Part 4 of 5 – Consistency & Retention
How to Learn Almost Anything, Part 5 of 5 – Mind


Learning something new can be intimidating. With so much information out there, it can be hard to know where to start or how to approach the task of mastering a new skill. There is an efficient way to get started that often yields fast results. In part 3 of this journey, we look at advantages of a Distraction Free Space and Setting Realistic Goals for yourself in your learning journey.

Distraction Free Space
It’s no surprise that distractions are a major hindrance to our productivity. Whether it’s the urge to check our phones, notifications from social media, or even simple things like leaving the window open and hearing cars go by, distractions can have a huge effect on our ability to focus and learn.
Removing distractions is important because it allows us to focus on one task at a time. When we try to multitask, we end up jumping from task to task without completing any of them. This results in wasted time and energy that could have been better spent focusing on just one task at a time. Additionally, when we are constantly bombarded with distractions, our concentration decreases over time and it becomes harder for us to focus on what matters most.
The first step in removing distractions is being aware of them. Our smartphones are smart enough to give us that weekly summary of how we spend our time on our phones. I encourage you to check it out. See how much time you spend on social media, productivity, or entertainment apps. They are important, but be aware of them. Spend some time analyzing what triggers your distraction; are notifications popping up on your phone? The sound of people talking outside? Once you identify these triggers, you can work towards eliminating them or finding ways around them. Most phones nowadays allow you to have focus options when you are driving and sleeping. Create your custom focus options for learning (and even one called work). Configure it so you do get notifications when sent by your VIPs. Silence everything else. If noise distracts you, invest in noise-canceling headphones or close the windows in your study area. There are many options available in the market, and I use them often.
The second step is setting boundaries for yourself – both physical and mental boundaries – so that you can protect yourself from getting distracted easily. Make sure that the environment around you helps you stay focused. For example, I also turn off applications or even turn off secondary monitors for my home office setup and avoid activities that will take away from my concentration.
Removing distractions and setting boundaries are key elements of optimizing learning processes for many individuals today. By being aware of potential triggers and taking intentional steps towards eliminating those triggers (or finding ways around them), we can create environments where optimal learning takes place without interruption or distraction from outside sources. Even if it takes a while, I can tell you, you will be able to train your mind to get there.

Setting Realistic Goals
It can be overwhelming at times, but if you take the time to set realistic goals for yourself, you can break down bigger objectives into manageable steps that will help you feel productive and satisfied with your progress. Let’s look at how taking small steps can help you reach big goals.
The first step in setting realistic goals is to start small. Instead of setting an exorbitant goal like reading five hours a day, break it down into smaller chunks such as reading for 30 minutes every morning. This way, you can focus on making incremental progress without feeling overwhelmed or discouraged by a huge goal that seems impossible to achieve. Starting small also helps build confidence and momentum as you start accomplishing your daily tasks, which will encourage and motivate you to keep going until the larger goal is reached.
Another important factor when setting realistic goals is flexibility. Not everything will always go according to plan and there will be days when things don’t work out as expected. When this happens, don’t beat yourself up; instead, adjust your goals accordingly so that they are still achievable within the timeframe you have set for yourself (or even earlier). This will help prevent burnout while still keeping you on track toward reaching your objectives. Don’t be afraid to take a break, clear your he because that is equally important (we will cover that in the Mental Health post).
Finally, stay motivated! Remind yourself why these goals are important and what the result will bring when they are achieved—this could range from improving your job prospects or gaining new skillsets—and celebrate each milestone along the way no matter how small it may seem. Staying positive and focused on what lies ahead, not only will it make reaching those bigger goals easier but it will also give you something to look forward to each day!
Setting realistic goals is key to staying productive and motivated throughout the day/ week/ month etc. Start small by breaking down larger objectives into manageable tasks that won’t overwhelm or discourage you too much. Be flexible when things don’t go according to plan and adjust your goals accordingly so that they remain achievable within a certain timeline or even earlier! Finally, stay motivated by reminding yourself why these goals are important and celebrating each milestone no matter how small it may seem. With these tips in mind, turning big ideas into reality can be simpler than ever before! I set a goal of reading for 60 minutes throughout the day. It can happen in the morning, or late in the evening, or it could be 10 minutes spread throughout the day.

JPS Nagi
January12, 2023

How to Learn Almost Anything, Part 2 of 5 – Time & Plan

Links to all 5 parts in this series
How to Learn Almost Anything, Part 1 of 5 – Introduction
How to Learn Almost Anything, Part 2 of 5 – Time & Plan
How to Learn Almost Anything, Part 3 of 5 – Space & Goals
How to Learn Almost Anything, Part 4 of 5 – Consistency & Retention
How to Learn Almost Anything, Part 5 of 5 – Mind


Learning something new can be intimidating. With so much information out there, it can be hard to know where to start or how to approach the task of mastering a new skill. There is an efficient way to get started that often yields fast results. In this post we will explore the idea of Creating Time and Having a Structure or a Learning Plan.
Create Time
The very first thing you need to learn anything new is time. Some of us have a lot of time, while others have no time throughout the day. However, if you look at it, you may be able to find a little bit of time here and there. And you should be very cautious about giving because you are not getting any of it back – protect it at all costs.
I (used to) have a very short commute to work, and I enjoy reading. I combined the two and started listening to audiobooks on my way to and from work. most of the time, I would even come home for lunch. So roughly four 10-minute trips a day, means that I would have read for 40 minutes every day (an hour if you like to listen at 1.5x speed).
Find time, even if it is a small amount, in between meetings, during lunch hour, and spend it on what you wish to learn. In the beginning, those small 10 minutes may not seem a lot, but I was finishing a short book every week, and a long one in 2 weeks, by just listening on weekdays.

Have a Structure or a Plan
When it comes to learning something new, structure is your friend.
Something I learned the hard way when I started to learn to play guitar. Having not even touched one before, I started watching multiple YouTube videos for beginner guitar players. I was not making progress, and there was a reason for that. First, I was moving from one teacher to the other and each tutorial video approaches learning differently. I was moving from one method to the other. Second, having learned a couple of chords, what was the next chord to learn? There was no structure in my learning.
A structured approach will give you direction and focus, helping you stay on track and avoid feeling overwhelmed by too much information. Having guidance from an expert in the field also means that you are more likely to learn the material correctly from the beginning, which will save time and effort when building on what you’ve learned later on down the line. Additionally, having someone else provide structure for you in terms of assignments and deadlines can help keep you motivated and accountable for your progress, as well as give you a sense of accomplishment as you work through each step in the process. This can be especially helpful if your goal is to learn something quickly; breaking up the process into manageable chunks with clear milestones makes it easier to stay focused and motivated while working towards your end goal.
The way to fix that is to either find a professional or a guide, who can help provide a structure. If you are going to use something like YouTube, then find a single learning source and just follow through with that. In my case, if I would have followed only one of the guitar teachers, that would have given me the structure I needed to make better progress. I got myself a guitar instructor and he provided me with the structure I made more progress in the first week with him than I had in a month learning on my own.

JPS Nagi
January 12, 2023