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15 February 2014

Meeting Sekhar Kapur at Blogadda...Wow!!!

As I grow older, I realize two things...

1. It is very difficult to find people who are intellectually superior you. As you grow older, you tend to learn more and more and somewhere along, you end up meeting only people you know, thereby limiting ingress of  new ideas in your mind. You have to be lucky if you are in a position to meet up and interact with people who are intellectually superior to you. Most of us are not lucky enough to regularly refresh our intellect by coming to contact with intellectually superior people.

2. Same goes for friends. Over a period of time you tend to limit your friends and that leaves you with no exposure to different ideas and new opportunity for emotional connection.

Both of the above tend to regress you over a period of time.

The worst part about the above is you won't even know what you are missing. It is like something that is happening out there and about which you are not even aware of. So who cares?

Why am I talking about this?

The other day, I was attending a session by Sekhar Kapur, the noted film director, and I was so overawed by his intellect and his elucidation of complex ideas. The occasion was a conference of bloggers in Mumbai organized by the Blogger Group That is when I realized that I am missing that intellectual stimulation that every person needs. I was navigating the Sahara of my life with my minimal ration of Intellectual Nourishment, when somewhere out there a huge supply of Intellectual Stimulation was waiting to be tapped.
Sekhar Kapur

I consider myself to be of above average intellect. I have a degree in Mechanical Engineering, hold multiple Masters in Business Management and am working as a senior manager in a leading Food Processing Company. So intellect wise, I have it.

It also means that when it comes to impressing me with ideas, the ideas have to be good and they should be presented very logically and in very simple language. Which means that I have not come across many people whom I can consider intellectually superior. 

Intellectually equal? Yes. Superior, No.

(I realize that I am coming across in this post as an arrogant moron. I have a bit of editing to do in this stuff before I publish it, I guess)

To say that Sekhar Kapur impressed me with his intellect is an understatement.

There were a couple of points that Sekhar Kapur mentioned that impressed me. Sekhar Kapur, if you don't know, supports the current transformation that is going on in the country. He is a supporter of Anna Hazare and took part in his agitation. During the QA session, someone asked him his opinion on the chaos that the country is facing nowadays. There was agitation against corruption by Anna Hazare, Delhiites have voted Kejriwal to power, there was mass public upheaval against Delhi gang rape....

Someone asked him if these chaos were good for the country.

Sekhar Kapur took some time to marshal his thoughts.

"Let me put it to you in the language that I know. I am a movie director and in many a movie I have to shoot the waves in motion. As you know, waves reach a top called Crest, and a bottom called Trough. These Crests and Troughs alternate in regular interval which we call frequency.

Suppose I am shooting a wave. By modifying the number of frames that I shoot per second, I can changes the speed of the wave. For example, if I increase the number of frames to 400 per second, the wave will appear to be moving in slow motion. If I increase number of frames to 160000 per second, the wave will be virtually standstill.

On the other hand, if I decrease the number of frames to lets say, 4 frames per second, you will see waves moving very rapidly giving an appearance of chaos.

In either case, did the speed of the wave change? No. Did wave really stop or go fast? No. Then what changed?

What changed is the perception of the movement of the wave in our mind. The perception got altered when we saw that either waves were static, which gave the idea that 'Nothing is Happening' or waves were moving too rapidly, which gave the idea that there was 'Chaos all around'.

In real life, the number of frames per second can be equated to time. The change was always happening, much like waves never stop. However earlier the time frame was much larger, say years and decades, which gave the impression that 'Nothing will happen in India', and now, with the advent of Social Media and modern communication, the time frame has shortened to days and months, much like shooting a wave at four frames per second, and this gives the impression of Chaos all around.

Let me give an example. The people of Egypt tried 30 years to overthrow a dictator and they did not succeed, and in the age of Social Media, what started as a post in Facebook led to his overthrow in just 10 days !.

This means that Social Media has led to what is known as 'Time Compression'. The time it takes for events to happen has shortened and this gives an impression of chaos"

Wow ! what a lucid explanation...

Intellectually superior people are able to give a different perspective to the issue at hand. They are able to ask a different set of questions which will provide much better clearer perspective to the issue at hand. Like Mr.Kapur did above.

There was one more instance when Mr.Kapur came out with a different perspective to the issue at hand.

Before Mr.Kapur's session started, there was another session by Mr.Ravi Subramaniam, (author of the 'Banker' series of books like 'If god were a banker', 'Bankster', 'The Incredible Banker', 'Devil in Pinstripes' etc) and Mrs.Kiran Manral, author of the book 'The Reluctant Detective'. Since the attendees in the session were all bloggers with interest in getting their works published, question was asked if a blogger can aspire to become a published author and what it takes to reach the goal.

The response from both the authors was negative. The recommendation was (and Ravi couched it in Mathematical Terms) was that writing cannot be a full time career option and that at best it can be a part time option. 

The argument went as follows.

A good author sells about 20000 copies of his books in a year. He gets about 7% of the sales as Royalty from his publication. At a cost of about Rs.200 per book, the author can expect to get about 280000 rupees per year from the book. Which is peanuts. 

Suggestion was that if you are passionate about writing, do continue writing. However, do not make it a career option. Do not put all your eggs in one basket.

The audience of wannabe writers were disappointed by this blunt assessment, as you can imagine.

Someone asked the same question to Mr.Kapur. Can a blogger transition to a published author?

Mr.Kapur said that we have to break the question into two parts. One, can you become a published author? and two, can you make money out of writing?. He mentioned that the definition of publishing is to put out your ideas out there for your readers to read and connect emotionally. He pointed out that every time you post a blog post or you post a tweet, you are publishing. So as bloggers, we are already 'Published Writers'.

As you can imagine, this lifted our spirits significantly. We were not just bloggers, we were 'Published Writers'. Wow !!

The second question is how do you make money out of writing. As published writers, it was our job to market our product, get people to try out and come back again and again to our blogs and try to 'Monetize' our blogs.

How to do that was a different question for a different time.

But for now? We were all 'Published Writers'...


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