Lessons Learnt from 80Yrs

Here are some of the lessons from Blackstone’s Byron Wien in his first 80 years:

  1. Concentrate on finding a big idea that will make an impact on the people you want to influence.  The Ten Surprises, which I started doing in 1986, has been a defining product.  People all over the world are aware of it and identify me with it.  What they seem to like about it is that I put myself at risk by going on record with these events which I believe are probable and hold myself accountable at year-end.  If you want to be successful and live a long, stimulating life, keep yourself at risk intellectually all the time.
  2. Network intensely.  Luck plays a big role in life, and there is no better way to increase your luck than by knowing as many people as possible.  Nurture your network by sending articles, books and emails to people to show you’re thinking about them.  Write op-eds and thought pieces for major publications.  Organize discussion groups to bring your thoughtful friends together.
  3. When you meet someone new, treat that person as a friend.  Assume he or she is a winner and will become a positive force in your life.  Most people wait for others to prove their value.  Give them the benefit of the doubt from the start.  Occasionally you will be disappointed, but your network will broaden rapidly if you follow this path.
  4. Read all the time.  Don’t just do it because you’re curious about something, read actively.  Have a point of view before you start a book or article and see if what you think is confirmed or refuted by the author.  If you do that, you will read faster and comprehend more.
  5. Get enough sleep.  Seven hours will do until you’re sixty, eight from sixty to seventy, nine thereafter, which might include eight hours at night and a one-hour afternoon nap.
  6. Evolve.  Try to think of your life in phases so you can avoid a burn-out.  Do the numbers crunching in the early phase of your career.  Try developing concepts later on.  Stay at risk throughout the process.
  7. Travel extensively.  Try to get everywhere before you wear out.  Attempt to meet local interesting people where you travel and keep in contact with them throughout your life.  See them when you return to a place.
  8. When meeting someone new, try to find out what formative experience occurred in their lives before they were seventeen.  It is my belief that some important event in everyone’s youth has an influence on everything that occurs afterwards.
  9. On philanthropy my approach is to try to relieve pain rather than spread joy.  Music, theatre and art museums have many affluent supporters, give the best parties and can add to your social luster in a community.  They don’t need you.  Social service, hospitals and educational institutions can make the world a better place and help the disadvantaged make their way toward the American dream.
  10. Younger people are naturally insecure and tend to overplay their accomplishments.  Most people don’t become comfortable with who they are until they’re in their 40’s.  By that time they can underplay their achievements and become a nicer, more likeable person.  Try to get to that point as soon as you can.
  11. Take the time to give those who work for you a pat on the back when they do good work.  Most people are so focused on the next challenge that they fail to thank the people who support them.  It is important to do this.  It motivates and inspires people and encourages them to perform at a higher level.
  12. When someone extends a kindness to you write them a handwritten note, not    an e-mail.  Handwritten notes make an impact and are not quickly forgotten.
  13. At the beginning of every year think of ways you can do your job better than you have ever done it before.  Write them down and look at what you have set out for yourself when the year is over.
  14. The hard way is always the right way.  Never take shortcuts, except when driving home from the Hamptons.  Short-cuts can be construed as sloppiness, a career killer.
  15. Don’t try to be better than your competitors, try to be different.  There is always going to be someone smarter than you, but there may not be someone who is more imaginative.
  16. When seeking a career as you come out of school or making a job change, always take the job that looks like it will be the most enjoyable.  If it pays the most, you’re lucky.  If it doesn’t, take it anyway, I took a severe pay cut to take each of the two best jobs I’ve ever had, and they both turned out to be exceptionally rewarding financially.
  17. There is a perfect job out there for everyone.  Most people never find it.  Keep looking.  The goal of life is to be a happy person and the right job is essential to that.
  18. When your children are grown or if you have no children, always find someone younger to mentor.  It is very satisfying to help someone steer through life’s obstacles, and you’ll be surprised at how much you will learn in the process.
  19. Every year try doing something you have never done before that is totally out of your comfort zone.  It could be running a marathon, attending a conference that interests you on an off-beat subject that will be populated by people very different from your usual circle of associates and friends or traveling to an obscure destination alone.  This will add to the essential process of self-discovery.
  20. Never retire.  If you work forever, you can live forever.  I know there is an abundance of biological evidence against this theory, but I’m going with it anyway.


Maate Malayadwaja – Carnatic Classical

One of the most iconic & classic rendition of this raaga/song. 

Mathe Malaya dhwaja pandya samjathe mathanga vadana guha
(mate – 5times)
Sathodari sankari Chamundeswari Chandrakaladhari Thaye Gowri
(mAtE – 5times)
da da ni da da ni da da ni da da ni pa ma
da da ni ri sa ni sa da ni sa da pa pa ma
da da ni ga ri ni ri sa ni da pa ni da ma
da da ma ga ma pa ma pa da da ni ni da ma
da da ri sa ni da ni da da ma da ni ma ni
da da sa sa pa da ni da da ma ga ri sa ni
da da pa da da ni da da sa da ni da
ma ga ri sa ni da ni sa ni ni da da pa ma

(repeat at speed)

thAmthAm thakajoNu dadanida dimithika | tamtam kukuthari thajaNutha dapamama ||
dAdA nigarini risadhimi tharikita | jamjam thakitatha kukuthari Namthari ||
dAthathin ginathari jEkumada nithaka | Namthasa sathimitha thomthadi mithakita ||
dAdapa dAdatha rEkusa dArijam | magari sanidA nisanini dadapama ||
(repeat at speed)
Data sakala kala nipuna chathura
Data vividha matha samaya samarasa
Data sulabha hrudaya madhura vachana
Data sarasa ruchira tara swaralaya
Geetha sukada nija bhava rasikavara dhata
Mahisha suranada nalmadi srikrishna rajendra nadaya
Sada pore mahitha harikesa manohare sadaya
(repeat at speed)
(mate – repeat 1time)
Shyame sakala bhuvana sarva bhoume sasi mandala madhyaga (repeat 5times)

MA,MA, pani dada papa magamapa MA,MA, nida MAsani dapadada

Shyame sakala bhuvana sarva bhoume sasi mandala madhyaga
nidanida dapapama PAPA nidapama gamaPA nidaMA sanidapa MAnida

Shyame sakala bhuvana sarva bhoume sasi mandala madhyaga
saSAsa nidanisa niDApa magamapa maMAma samagama pasanida NI (repeat 2times)
nidani padani mapadani gamapadani samagama padani samagari sasanida pada

Shyame sakala bhuvana sarva bhoume sasi mandala madhyaga

gani magamadani sama nigama sanima nidaga nigari dada rini sadani pada samagama nida nidamaga


composed by Harikesavanallur Muthiah Bhagavathar


O Mother! You are the daughter of the Pandya king Malayadhwaja,
You are the lady with the face glowing green.
O Mother! You have the beauty of the moon.
You have the great expertise in all the arts,
You allow equal rights to all the creeds,
You are soft and sweet spoken,
You express affection in music and rhythm,
You inspire us with your beautiful and expressive song,
You have gained fame for killing the demon, Mahishasura,
You protect and care for Sri Krishna Rajendra, the Maharaja of Mysore,
Even pray to Siva and the mother Parvati.
Mother! You glow with the blue colour,
You care for the whole world,
You glow like a full moon.

“Maate Malayadhwaja” is a prayer to the Hindu goddess Madurai Meenakshy Devi.



Paneer Jalfrazi

Paneer Jalfrezi is an easy & tasty paneer dish that goes great with rumali roti & biryani. This will not take more than 20mins which for Indian cooking is fast food!

To keep it simple, follow the steps below:

  1. Take a non-stick pan, heat it, add a spoon full of butter and let it melt.
  2. Take a packet of Paneer, wash it and cut them into 1×1 inch cubes.
  3. Now add the paneer to the butter and let the paneer fry till they turn brown. Not fried but to make them firm.
  4. Now cut the following vegetables as big chunks and keep them aside – 1 onion, 1 bell pepper & 2 tomatoes. Keeping them big is key.
  5. Now take a deep/big pan and dry roast – 5 peppercorns, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, coriander seeds and 4-5 red chillies. Keep them aside to cool. After they cool, grind them for 10secs and take out half of the mixture. Finely grind the remaining mixture.
  6. Now in the same dish, add another spoon of butter and when it melts, add the vegetables and stir fry them rapidly. Now add the fine mixture to make sure it mixes with the vegetables. Add some salt to make sure it cooks faster.
  7. Now add the panner and on high flame, keep stir frying. You don’t need a lot of time here; you need the garnish to mix well.
  8. Turn off the flame and add the corse mixture on top, add some mint leaves and leave the curry covered for a few minutes before serving.

One difference between how I make this and what is traditionally made is the addition of tomato sauce. I don’t like it as it get too tangy and the paneer gets a tomato flavor & I like to retain the paneer flavor.

Mirchi ka Salan

Mirchi ka Salan is one of those dishes that you have to spend a ton of time making it and then it fades away as a side dish. But a biryani, especially a Hyderabadi biryani, without a really good salan is just a dinner incomplete.

Salan, either Mirchi or any other time needs time and patience. My order of making biryani dinner is to make the biryani first and set it up for 4hrs of slow cook & then start the salan. This will need about 2hrs.

To keep it simple, follow the steps below:

  1. Take a non-stick pan and heat it till its hot. Put the flame on a simmer and add a small cup of groundnuts. Roast them for 2mins till they become slightly brown and their skin starts coming off. Then add, using the same small cup as before, sesame seeds. Roast these for a minute. Now turn off the flame and add a small cup of grated coconut. Mix well and leave it on the pan for another 2-3 minutes. Now put them in a blender and let them cool.
  2. In the same non-stick pan, add a lot of oil. Heat the oil well and add a small spoonful of mustard seeds. When mustard seeds splutter add cumin seeds, red chillies, methi seeds. Let all of these cook for a bit.
  3.  Cut 1 big onion into small rings and add it to the mixture and let the onions sauté for a while. Onions don’t need to be brown but they need to get soggy. Now add salt, curry leaves and let the curry leave get soft.
  4. Now add a spoonful of ginger garlic paste cook till raw flavor is gone. Now add turmeric, red chilly powder, cumin powder, coriander powder. Mix all of this well.
  5. Now grind the groundnut, sesame & grated coconut mixture into a fine paste by adding water and add it to the frying ingredients. Add water till the mixture becomes really thin and has no lumps.
  6. Now comes the most important part. Put this on a slow flame, cover with a lid and leave it without touch for 60mins. No short cuts here, just leave it as it is. After 60mins and take a look. If you do not see oil separated out fully, leave it on for another 30mins. The whole taste rests on this step.
  7. Heat some oil in a different pan, slice big mirchi’s vertically; remove the seeds and fry them in the oil. The mirchi need not get deep fried but needs to be fried enough to hold shape.
  8. Slice mint and coriander leaves and add it to the simmering mixture. Now add 3-4 spoons of yogurt to this and mix well. At this point, the mixture may get thick. Add some water if needed. At this time, taste a little to check salt, spiciness. Add what is needed.
  9. Heat some oil, put a lemon sized serving of tamarind and squeeze the juice out.
  10. Add the tamarind juice to the simmering mixture and taste again.
  11. Now add the fried mirchi to the mixture, cover the lid and simmer for 10mins. This will get the mirchi to soak in the flavors.
  12. Serve along with biryani.

Sambar – Andhra Home Style

Sambar in our house is always made the same way. Non-complicated; non restaurant style but something that is light and good with rice/idly & dosa.

To keep it simple, follow the following steps:

  1. Take a palm full or toor dal, add water & pressure cook the dal. Make sure it is done well.
  2. Cut vegetables first. The technique of Sambar is that there should be more water and it should not be like a gravy. For this, use very few vegetables so that its wet. Cut 2 okra, 1 onion, 1 tomato, 1 brinjal & 1/5th of bottle gourd. If you have large green chillies, cut one. Cut all vegetables into huge pieces – not small.
  3. Heat some water in a small cup; take a lemon sized portion of tamarind; wash it and leave it in the hot water.
  4. Take a huge vessel and pour 4-5 tbs of oil. You will need a little more oil in this step. Heat the oil and when its hot add in the following order – Urad Dal, Channa Dal, Cumin & Mustard seeds. Let these turn golden brown. Lower the flame and now add dhaniya (1tbsp) and just 4 pepper corns. After they cook for a minute, add 4 red chillies and shut down the flame. Remove this onto a plate & let this cool. Leave excess oil in this vessel.
  5. In the same vessel, with the same excess oil, put in all of the vegetables, a few curry leaves and fry them. Fry for a while to make them mushy.
  6. After 10mins, squeeze the tamarind juice & without any pulp, pour the tamarind juice into the vegetables. Mix well.
  7. Now add 2 big glasses of water & let it come to boil.
  8. Now add the cooked dal and let it simmer for 10-15mins till everything mixes in well.
  9. Add salt as desired and add 1 tbsp of haldi powder.
  10. Lower the flame & when you are done simmering the mixture and 5mins before you are done; grind the tadka mixture very fine; add it to the vessel.
  11. After 5mins, remove the Sambar.

Vegetable Dum Biryani – Simple Style

In my series of mastering the various biryani styles from all over India, here is a recipe for a quick 1hr preparation.

To make it simple, follow the steps in order.

  1. Soak Rice first. Plan rice to masala ration. Make sure you keep rice to masala ration of 2:1. When rice is flavorful, the masala will become secondary.
  2. Heat a small quantity of oil. Make sure the oil is hot. Chop onions finely when the oil is heating. Mix the onions with corn flour and in small batches, fry the onions. The goal here is to fry them and keep them aside so that they become dry and crunchy.
  3. Marinate – Sour Yogurt, Salt, Red Pepper, Turmeric, Whole Masala & Bombay Dum Biryani Masala, Oil.
  4. In a 1:2 ratio, grind ginger & garlic to form a coarse paste. Add into the marinate above.
  5. Chop Vegetables in a slightly bigger fashion.
    • Mushrooms
    • Carrot
    • Potato
    • Green Beans.
    • Cauliflower
  6. Chop greens – Mint and Coriander. Make sure there are no thick stalks. Keep aside.
  7. Add in the chopped vegetables to the marinate; add in half of the mint and coriander and keep it aside for 30mins.
  8. Boil water. When boiling, cook rice up to 75%. Add in some salt and oil.
  9. Take a deep, big pan, put some oil and garnish the marinate+vegetables.
  10. Pour rice on vegetables.
  11. High Heat for 5 mins and low heat for 15mins with close lid.

Happy Cooking!

The Revenant

Disturbing, gruesome, hard to digest. Revenant as a visual experience is a tough watch.

But for what its worth, once you sit through the movie, there are questions that you ask yourself. Can we, the modern 21st century humans can deal with lack of material comforts and technology. Do we have what it takes to survive the elements and have a hunger to live. Maybe its unfair considering the advances we have made but makes you wonder if a story like this, how much ever  fictionalized, could have ever happened a couple of centuries back.

Tom Hardy was phenomenal and is lost in the character.  He does not stand out as someone who needs to be felt for or thought about even though the performance is stellar.

As expected, this is a Leonardo DiCaprio show. Does he deserve an Oscar for this performance – maybe or maybe not – but the suffering to make this movie and the determination to showcase the braving of elements deserves our applause. IMHO, he should have been given an award a long time back and I am wondering if he had one; would this movie have a different dimension to it; maybe we would have gotten to see the side of story that was less about suffering and more about the return from death – the revenant. And maybe, just maybe, Alejandro Inarritu would have directed a movie with a little more to it than just human ability to survive for revenge.

The Hateful Eight

And the 8th film does not disappoint as well. A story that can be summarized in one line but the whole 2.5hrs does justice to what all needs to take place to serve revenge cold!

A director whose filmography I go tend to go back to on those nights when you cannot sleep, the hateful eight adds a type of screen-writing edge that made me want to immediately re-watch the film to make sure I get to experience the intensity for a couple of more hrs.

And that it is 70mm is just the icing on the cake.