Simply Living Hardly Thinking

Not Always
September 13th, 2015 by bkbirla

Obituary – Kamla Raju – someone who spoke to me in a language called love

She never spoke a word to me, but she communicated so much. We met just three times, and a fourth time after she had breathed her last,  but it means the whole world to me.


It was few months back when I met Gita Raju in a BBG meetup we were doing in an orphanage. She invited us to visit her home and also told us about her mother who is unwell and enjoys Mukesh songs. Shammas, Ekta and myself decided to visit her and do a show exclusively for her. As we entered the home, we see a frail lady lying on the bed and a face which had sorrow written all over due to her illness. As we settled in the home, we saw a family which made us feel so much at home. Srinath was making tea for us and Srini was cracking jokes. As Shammas started his songs, the mood transformed into a melodious one. Her face which was full of pain transformed into a happy one. She would softly tell us songs she loved and Shammas rendered them flawlessly and she rejoiced every moment. Ekta entertained her with all her “Drama Queen” action and she had a broad smile on her face. All I did was just held her hand throughout. Her skin was so smooth and shining and despite her bad health she held my hand firmly. A grip which conveyed so much love. No words exchanged but few glances which conveyed her love for all of us. It was tough for us to control our tears and as we left we saw her clapping and enjoying music.


The second meeting was very similar and third meeting even a bigger one as it happened in Shantla and Srini ( Gita Raju sister and her husband ) home and we celebrated BBG 5th anniversary as well as her birthday. We had lot more people ( Venkat, Shiva Priya, Kumaran, Bhuvana, Vikram, Sugandhi and family members of Gita ) and I did exactly what I had done in two earlier meetings. Just held her hand and sat with her. There was a special bond of affection between us as I used to feel so blessed to hold her hand and sit by her. And the end of this third meeting happened in a way that it will be etched in my memory for a lifetime.


She was tired so she had gone to rest as we continued with food and music. Before leaving I went inside just to tell her bye and she held my hand firmly as if she did not want me to go. She pulled my hand towards herself and her frail body towards my hand planted a gentle kiss. I cried, cried and cried even more. Her eyes conveyed so much love that it just moved me to tears. Little I knew that it was my last meeting with her.


She passed away on 11th Sep, 2015 and my fourth meeting with her was when she was no more. As I watch her vanishing into flames, there is sadness of losing someone I loved and a happiness of not seeing her in pain any more. The circle of life spares none.


I knew her only for few months but I know she had so much love for me. She spoke no words to me but I know her blessings will be with me all my life. Her memories will be with me till I breath my last as someone who blessed me with her love.


PS: If you know of any elders in your family or around who are bed ridden, please let us know if we can entertain them with music at their home. We at BBG take pride in spreading happiness via music and will be happy to come over and perform.

August 19th, 2015 by bkbirla

2nd anniversary of getting fired up

Yup. It is two years now. Precisely two years back I got fired from my own company – my Steve Jobs moment. The reason I write this is not to settle any scores or to vent out but I have realized over the years that this has helped lot of people to understand the startup dynamics better. So many of opened your heart to me and probably felt better after that.

For those who came in late read this before you go ahead

Goodbye from a Zhopper

Entrepreneur interrupted and then resurrected

Celebrating my Steve Jobs Moment


This has become a celebration point for me and probably it will remain so for rest of my life. I dedicate this day to hundreds of you who struggle every day to make a difference and not just money. This day is dedicated to all my fellow entrepreneurs who go through bad days in hope of shining sun. Feel free to wish me on this day. I don’t want to see anyone who got fired from his company or job to feel bad about himself but to fight back in life with energy but not revenge.


So here is what I have been up to in past one year

  1. Back at AskLaila and we have been able to redo our UI and launched it in 7 more countries. Lot more action happening so stay tuned.
  2. Launched a book Life on the rocks with Jaya Jha and struggling as I try to become a writer from a poet. You can read more about my struggle at –
  3. Launched first song of a music album Kaash with Mohammad Shammas and more coming soon –
  4. Launched an online music magazine TheSongPedia and it has already grown to a reasonable size. We have over 2000 stories on this platform and reaches out to over 2.5 lac people per month.
  5. BBG has continued to expand and prosper spreading happiness via music.
  6. Working on two more ventures where one is in the food-tech space and another one trying to solve a social issue using technology. More on them as we get closer to full launches.
  7. Have been mentoring hundreds of startups which has been a very satisfying experience.
  8. Giving talks ( aka bak-bak ) in various events and places trying to inspire people.



And here is a song which always inspires…





July 27th, 2015 by bkbirla

APJ Abdul Kalam – क़ौम का बंदा

APJ Abdul Kalam

APJ Abdul Kalam


वो गीता भी पढता था
वो कुरान पढता था
मज़हबों से कहीं आगे
वो इंसान पढता था


मिसाइल के मसाइल से भी
वाक़िफ़ था बहुत वो
पर चैन-ओ-अमन का कलाम
वो सुबह-शाम पढ़ता था


ना उत्तर से ना दक्षिण से
ना पूरब से ना पश्चिम से
वो क़ौम का बंदा था
वो हिन्दुस्तान पढ़ता था


वो गीता भी पढता था
वो कुरान पढता था
मज़हबों से कहीं आगे
वो इंसान पढता था

July 7th, 2015 by bkbirla

Poem: ऊर्जा और परिभाषा

Rising Sun

देखा है कभी

सूरज को

उगते हुए

और डूबते हुए

क्या फर्क होता है

थोड़ा रौशनी का

और बहुत कुछ


निकलता है सुबह सुबह

एक जोश के साथ

बहुत ऊर्जा लिए हुए

सुबह का संचार करते हुए

हर कण कण में

एक स्वर्णिम चादर

बिखेर तेता है

प्रकृति के

हर आयाम में

प्राण भर देता है

अंधेरों के भी अंधेरों में

पर ध्यान से देखो

उगते सूरज की

परिधि को

कहाँ सीमा है उस की

ज्ञात ही नहीं होता

एक प्रकाश की आंधी

अपरिभाषित सी

ऊर्जा का एक

विसरण करती है


पर दिन को अगर

निकलना है तो

ढलना भी है

नियम है

जीवन का

क्रम है

जीवन का

सूरज भी इसी क्रम से

निकलता है प्रतिदिन

क्षितिज के उस ओर पे

ढल जाने के लिए

पर ढलते वक़्त सूरज का

रंग ढंग ही कुछ और होता है

कुछ गाढ़ा सा

कुछ नारंगी सा

दिन भर की थकान को

अपने भारीपन में समेटे हुए

विसरण की सीमायें

कुछ अधिक परिभाषित होती हैं

ऊर्जा और परिभाषा के

पर्वतों के मध्य में बहता है जो

निरंतर और सतत

वही जीवन है

वही जीवन है


June 17th, 2015 by bkbirla

BBG at 5 – the story so far and the road ahead

BBG First Post

BBG First Post

It happened approximately 5 years back. A usual day at office sparked off the idea of starting a FB page to share songs. Songs which I used to hear with so much as a kid and teenager, and I had not heard in recent past. The vision was very simple. Just share songs with friends which probably they also haven’t heard for a long time. There is something about songs that they are sweeter when you listen to them with friends and that was precisely the idea.


We grew and grew fast. People had memories with every song and those memories were shared and commented on. Slowly we had people who regularly commented on our posts and lot of us started interacting with each other also. By the end of year we had many more people in the admin team as well a community of music lovers.


But we were still a virtual group. In 2011 April, we had our first meetup. Music lovers in Bangalore gathered together and sang for 5-6 hours. It was almost impossible to stop and everyone participated in the event. This event was followed by similar events in other cities. These events helped us to transform ourselves into an offline community also.


The next step we took is when we organized a music event for elders at Adhar old age home in Borivili, Mumbai. The happiness we saw on the faces of elders gave us a new direction and motivation. We discovered our moto as an organization – Spreading Happiness via Music. And we continued doing music shows for various causes across the country touching many lives.


We have emerged as one of the largest music community on internet and it has become an extended family for us. We enjoy music together and music and purpose is what binds us together. We are fiercely non-commercial and we do things with love. We have also launched a music magazine TheSongPedia which reaches out to over 2 lac music lovers every month.


Nothing can be achieved by a single person. It requires a team. Over the years we have grown to a large multi-city family. When we meet, the topics discussed are mostly music and food. A common passion of spreading happiness via music binds all of us. Some of us have grown in our capabilities by organizing such shows, some of us have found happiness and purpose and beyond everything, we have found friends for a lifetime. It will be impossible for me to mention all of them but my heartfelt thanks to the entire team.


Just to summarize all our activities

1. We run a FB page  which reaches out to a large number of music lovers – This works as a social radio.

2. We organize gatherings of music lovers where all of us sing and enjoy together in a very informal environment

3. We have done professional shows where we raise money for various organizations

4. We visit various NGOs and fill them with music

5. We visit bed ridden elders and do personal music shows for them

6. We run an online music magazine – TheSongPedia. We are writing lot of interesting content around music on this platform.


While past has been a happy one, we have challenges for future also. The love and affection which we receive from each one of you also puts the onus on us to expand our wings to spread happiness to more and more people. We are determined to continue on that path.


Few lines which always inspire.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.


PS: Although first post was on 13th Jun we celebrate 18th Jun as our birthday as that coincides with marriage anniversary of one of our admins.

May 2nd, 2015 by bkbirla

Poem: Tum kaun the

तुम कौन थे

जो आये थे मेरी जीवन में
एक झोंका हवा का बन के
कई रूप में
कई रँग में
कभी एक मित्र बन के
कभी एक दार्शनिक बन के
वो सब कुछ बन के
जो मेरे अधूरेपन को
भर देता था
कुछ सुन्दर पलों से

तुम कौन थे

याद है मुझे तुम्हारा चेहरा
जो चमकता था एक समान
अँधेरे में हो या रौशनी में
उस रौशनी में मैं भी
कुछ पल को
अपने अँधेरे भूल जाती थी
वो हाथ जब मेरे काँधे पर
एक विशवास का स्तंभ बन कर
एक प्रेम भरी थपथपाहट के कंपन से
मेरे दिल में धड़कन संचारित कर देता था

तुम कौन थे

और आज मैं बैठी हूँ
तुम्हारे सामने
जब तुम चले जाते हो
जहाँ से तुम मुझे देखोगे
और मैं भी तुम्हें
भौतिक रूप में ना सही
एक आत्मिक खिड़की से
उन कदमों के चिन्हों को
जिन की परछाईयाँ मुझे
प्रेरणा देंगी क्षितिज के उस ओर तक

तुम कौन थे

This poem is dedicated to Prema Attai, aunt of Yamini Kunder

April 10th, 2015 by bkbirla

The curious case of mobile strategy

So who is right. Myntra or Facebook/Whatsapp. As we speak, Myntra/Flipkart are rolling total mobile app strategy and FB and Whatsapp have launched web versions of their popular mobile apps. It is simplistic to look into strategy of large organizations and derive industry trends from that but it is not that straightforward always. Industry players who have achieved a significant marketshare are able to take a very different approach because of their traction, brand and availability of funds. Copying strategy from a large player can be one of the costliest mistake you can make.


Let us go through each of them and understand why they would have probably done it.

Myntra/Flipkart –

They are are already doing over 70% business via mobile as per media reports. But then why kill a channel. I guess the choice to kill the mobile sites is very straightforward. The customer dynamics on an app will be significantly better compared to mobile browser. And they would have analyzed that data and came to conclusion that the loss of revenue will be well compensated by the increase in average basket size as well as customer loyalty on app.

Mobile hardware might have improved but we will still have few limited apps on our mobiles ( unless we build search engines to wade through the apps we have on our mobiles ). Users tend to uninstall stuff they don’t use. Getting a permanent slot on users mobile is what companies are fighting for. That is extremely important for eCommerce companies as they are highly dependent on impulse purchases. If human beings were rational about shopping, the cupboard industry would be dead.


So first think to remember is that they are primarily messaging apps. The users engage with them when they receive a message from friends. And that is the basic re-engagement model. So the case for a mobile app is an easy explanation but what about web. One of the big reason IMHO is that messaging has become so intertwined in our lifestyles that a bigger keyboard is need of the hour. Besides that enough users send large enough files over the messengers which can not be handled by mobile networks.

Other reason is that chat as a feature serves a different purpose compared to Social Network and Facebook might be trying to build them as seperate destinations. Raise your hands if you do want to see messages from your friends from your facebook but do not want to receive notifications about someone’s cat’s birthday which you liked by mistake.


So moral of the story is that you will have to figure out your mobile strategy based on what is right for you. Blindly aping the large brands might not work for you. And always remember that these brands took these decisions when they were at a different scale not other way round.


April 3rd, 2015 by bkbirla

Detective Byomkesh Bakshy – Unprofessional movie review

First time I watched a movie on the day of it’s release. The credit has to go to Lalit Suri who has been writing movie reviews for AskLaila and I have been following them closely. Next credit goes to friend Geetika who agreed to come along. That ensures that even if movie is not good, you can at least chat in the show. My daughter Srashti is my usual company for movie watching but that ensures that I watch mostly kid’s movies.


So let us come back to the movie. The banner is big but actors are rather unknown. Sushant Rajput was the only known guy for me. This movie takes you back by seventy years and set in Kolkatta. You look at the dresses, the vehicles on the road, the ads on the walls, the way vessels are all over the place in a courtyard, the constant smoke all over the place, the changeover of time is detailed as well as accurate ( not that I was born in those times ).

Coming to story, this is a well knit story. It engages you every minute and you will not even realize how over two hours go. It gives you clues to guess the next move and then something unveils to break all the assumptions you would have made. It invites you to become curious and then it just surrounds you with lots of characters and some characters which might take you an orthogonal direction also. Overall a very engaging plot and it grows on you as the movie progresses.

One of the best part of this movie is that it sticks to it’s topic always. No item numbers, no love affairs to take your focus away from the main story. Something which is mostly lacking in Indian movies. Background music adds on to the story but in some patches it used english language which made it sound out of context. But background music plays an important role in maintaining the pace of the movie. All the actors have done good justice to their roles though it was a bit of over acting by lady playing Angoori Devi. Sushant fits into the role very well. Another interesting aspect is that the background is Bengal but most of the characters are shown without the accent.

The movie ends on a rather violent and non-inspiring way. I think they could have come up with better ending. It does leave scope for a sequel though.


PS: It is a good idea to go with a friend and play the guessing game on what might happen next. Atleast that is what I did during the movie and it was fun.


PPS: Highly recommended for sure

March 13th, 2015 by bkbirla

10 steps to get Whatsapp calling feature on your mobile phone












Here are the steps


  1. Check your Whatsapp version. It can be checked from Settings->Help->About. It should be 2.11.561 or above.
  2. Find out a friend who already has calling feature enabled. If you don’t have any then leave your number in comments and I can call you.
  3. Ask your friend to call you via WhatsApp.
  4. Talk to your friend for a minimum of 30 secs. If you talk less than that the feature will not get enabled.
  5. Close and start Whatsapp on your mobile
  6. You should have call feature enabled by now.
  7. And you would have also realized I don’t know how to count.
December 24th, 2014 by bkbirla

Poem : ज़िंदगी के धागे

ज़िंदगी के धागे
बहुत कमज़ोर हो चले हैं
टूटते तो हैं
पर जुड़ते नहीं
उलझ जाते हैं
एक दूसरे से
कभी लगते हैं
मिलते हुए
कभी लगते हैं
एक विरोधाभास
खुद से ही खुद का
कभी कोई सोच
और कभी कोई और
मन का अंतर्द्वंद
और वो भी अंतहीन
कटुता के प्रतिबिंब कभी
तो कभी लाचारी का प्रवाह
कितना विशाल कितना अथाह
एककीपन के गहरे घाव
अग्नि से जलते हुए भाव
शीतल तट की आस में
अपने ही अस्तित्व को
अनगिनत टुकड़ों में तोड़ते
ना उद्देश्य कोई है शेष
ना शेष है कोई लौ यहाँ
बस है बचा है कुछ
तो अवशेष हैं
स्मृतियों की दीवार हैं
और एक कोने में हैं बचे
कुछ बुने हुए
और कुछ अध्बुने
ज़िंदगी के धागे
बहुत कमज़ोर हो चले हैं