Monday, 9 November 2015

Undiscovered Powers & Untapped Potentials

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It's not.​
- Dr. Seuss

I firmly believe each of us has the capacity to make a world of difference if we all contribute, in our own small way, to something we truly care about. But we're so caught up in the moment that we forget how truly powerful we are and time after time, act without thought. Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. 
I believe we're all much more powerful in ways we refuse to understand. I believe the insurmountable problems today can be solved if people sincerely put their heads together. I believe every small step we take in the right direction leads to something amazing. 
But somewhere in the relentless pursuit of good grades, high paying jobs and search for stability, many of us have lost the courage to experiment, seek new adventures and keep our passions alive. Not all hope is lost though, we only need to be reminded that while walking down the well defined path will lead us to a local maximum, it won't help us find the global maximum. 
As for me, I'm determined to find that global maximum. More importantly, I'm determined to help the maximum number of people I can, to find their global maximum. Because alone we can do so little, but together we can do so much more. 
Sounds crazy? Well, may be. But I'm optimistic about the challenge and believe in change, and as Steve Jobs once said, the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do!

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Autumn Joy


Joy walked across the park where a beautiful young woman was sitting with a yellow maple leaf in her hands. 
"You never cease to amaze me, Joy. One minute, you're following me around like a petty pot of glue and as soon as I'm out of the picture, you're onto conquering the next challenge."
"Look who's talking", laughed Joy, "While you last, you're a celebration. And then you're gone, for months on end. You raise desperate hopes and then leave a cold trail. And right when I'm recovering from the void you'd left behind, you jump back in, more beautiful and vibrant than before. How am I to help myself?"
"Stop chasing me", Autumn snapped mischievously. 
"I would if I could", Joy answered matter-of-factly.
Her laugh was crisp, like the raking of leaves. 
"You're always changing Autumn, you're in a constant flux. It's taken me many seasons to learn and accept that you'd be gone only to come back but you won't stay with me forever."
"Forever is too much to ask for Joy, but while I'm here, I'm yours, should anything else matter this instant?"
Joy gazed at her for a long minute before he said, "No. Nothing else matters at this instant".
"So what are we waiting for?", Autumn cheered, "Let's spread the smiles."
Joy laughed a hearty laugh that set the wind ablaze. The beautiful young woman sitting under the maple tree smiled radiantly, as the wind sifted gently through her hair, telling her not to worry. And at that instant, she looked up to find a smart young man walking towards her with a bunch of flowers. In his nervousness, he tripped over an untied shoelace and fell to the ground. The little boys playing near by, burst in to a fit of laughter but a small girl came to help him get back on his feet. He offered the bunch of roses as a sign of gratitude for her kindness as she blushed and giggled. The little girl's grandparents, observing this from a distance, were filled with pride and embraced her tiny figure when she ran back to them. The little boys went back to play, the grandparents resumed their evening walk around the park with the little girl joyfully hopping through the autumn leaves, and the young couple hugged under the maple tree. 
"Look what we've made", said Autumn vibrantly, "Together we're an unstoppable force for spreading happiness".
"Aren't we magic?", remarked Joy gleefully, watching their work of art.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

The Grey Area

For years, I’ve prided myself on the virtue that I do not make any judgments. That I do not judge a book by its cover, and a man by his nature- because each has a story of their own; collective incidents that shouldn’t be seen as anything but whole that have shaped the subject thus. Since I’ve never known their story and their motivations behind the actions, I practiced assuming the best of everybody I met. And while not always did I understand their reasoning, I never judged because everybody has reasons they steadfastly hold on to- who was I to decide their validity?
But time and again, we all have experiences which jolt us out of our comfort zones. That makes us question our basic assumptions- the foundations of our behavior, which we believe up to that point had always been just and fair. And we struggle to understand where we had gone wrong. We seek to know with impatience, in a haste to feed the rattled soul and nurture it back to normalcy, so that everything feels natural and nothing contrived.
Just how naïve are we? In our hurry to know it all, to know it now, we can stumble if we do not slow down and learn that this period of unrest with the mind is the teacher; that the journey towards the answers is significantly more important than the answer to the questions.
So let me then share the questions which have been gnawing at me. And I’d be so eternally grateful to you if you’d indulge me in a discussion where clarity is not the objective but perplexity and bewilderment.
Perhaps you’ve heard the story of Alexander the Great and the Gymnosophist. If you did not, let me take the pleasure of introducing you to the gem that I first came across in a TED talk by Devdutt Patnaik. 
Alexander the Great reached the banks of the Indus, after conquering Persia and found there a gymnosophist, or a naked wise man, who sat on a rock and meditated all day and gazed at the stars all night. "What are you doing?" asked Alexander. "Experiencing nothingness," answered the gymnosophist. Then the gymnosophist asked, "What are you doing?" Alexander replied, "I am conquering the world." Both chuckled and parted ways, each one thinking the other was a fool. Both thought the other was wasting his life.
The disconnect between the two men is a direct consequence of their different subjective truths constructed by the stories they were exposed to as a result of their cultures.
Alexander was told the story of heroes and that participation in battle ensured victory and withdrawal led to defeat. He heard tales of Achilles, Jason and of Theseus. These were men who made a difference to the world, who shaped history, who were children of destiny. Alexander was told he should be like them, spectacular. He should not be like Sisyphus who spent all his life performing a meaningless, monotonous chore, rolling a rock up a mountain all day only to find it roll down at night. When he participated in games, Alexander was told to win, for in the exhilaration of victory one comes closest to experiencing the ambrosia of the gods. Alexander was told to do something with his life, for there is only one life and when one dies, one has to cross the river Styx and if one has lived an extraordinary life, he will be welcomed to the heaven of heroes, called Elysium.
But these were not the stories that the gymnosophist heard. He heard about Bharata, who like Alexander , sought to conquer the world and having done so climbed Mount Meru, in the centre of the world, intent on hoisting his flag declaring he was there first. But when he reached the mountain top he found there hundreds of fluttering banners of kings before him each one of whom believed they had conquered the world first, only to find on the mountain top that it had been done before. And in this canvas of infinity, Bharata felt small and insignificant. The gymnosophists would have heard of heroes like Ram and Krishna who were not two heroes but two lifetimes of a single hero. For the gymnosophist, there was a river that separates the land of the living from the land of the dead and one goes to and fro endlessly.
Alexander had heard of a linear, one-life truth, the gymnosophist had heard of a cyclical, many-lives truth. Thus former is governed by a sense of urgency and the latter by a sense of repose.
Alexander had to achieve everything he could in one life while the gymnosophist saw no sense in doing anything while inside this infinite loop, so he preferred to just meditate and figure it all out.
According to his truth, Alexander was doing the right thing by waging wars, conquering kingdoms and killing thousands. To the gymnosophist this was futile.
Now what if there was a farmer in a far-away land, not exposed to either truths but guided by the simple precepts: to do no evil, to do good, to help all beings. How then does the farmer decide what is good and what is evil? If he treated the wounds of an injured lion and nurtured it back to health and if the lion went on to hunt and kill tens of defenseless deer for food, was the farmer wrong in helping the lion? And if you call that karma, that the deer had to die in the lion’s hunt for food, would you say the same about the girl who was tortured and killed in the most barbaric way at the hands of rapists? If the farmer saved, unintentionally and unknowingly, the life of a man who then went on to cause a massacre, on whom do you place the blame for those lives lost? If doing nothing is the solution to everything like the gymnosophist believes, then why are we told that the greater sin would be not to stop evil or wrong doers? How do we decide what is evil and what is wrong? Is it enough to have good intensions and not take the responsibility for the implications? If there was a higher power watching over our actions, supporting the good, why does bad happen at all? Are “good” and “bad” subjective? Is there no objective reality in them? Then, can it be said that there’s nothing “good” or “bad” but just difference in opinions? A duality exists, perhaps? And may be this duality needs to exist for the Universe not to implode. May be, this duality is the balancing force? That the bad cannot ever be gone and it will stay, just like the good, till the end of time?
My mind and soul are twirling through a mass of thoughts, and I find my fundamentals shaken.
May we all find what we are looking for, but are we ready yet?

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Random Ramblings-2



Yet another stream of thoughts interrupted, with the loud thundering noise outside.
As I look through the plain glass window, the gathering of the ominous clouds casting their shadows on the ground below, I firmly come to the conclusion that out there is where I belong, not in this stuffy classroom loaded with a monologue!
Out there, filling my senses with the smell of the wet Earth, kiss of the first showers, sight of the overcast sky and the strangely comforting sound of thunder, as of the pitter patter rain drops while tasting the pure drops of water from the heavens themselves—that is where I truly belong, feeling alive with every single passing moment.
Rains always evoked that excitement in me. Rains always held that mystique calling. They brought the smile back on my face and a pining in the lit up eyes. And though I may rave and rant about the summers and winters, the rains- whenever they come are most welcome. They have my heart and every feeling that is inspired in awe.
I’ve always thought of monsoons as a celebration of the Earth below and Skies above.  The clouds pour down upon the parched Earth which opens up in a welcome embrace to every drop that falls on it. These are the moments of reception- of opening up and of letting go. Of Freedom.
And that freedom, that openness is what my bridled soul craves for. It yearns not to be restricted; to be unlimited in thoughts, actions and experiences. To not be bound in chains to the societal norms, rules, people and relations. And yet, yet I know I cannot have what I crave for.
It may not even be what I would wish for if a genie granted me those three magical wishes.
It’s a far thought and it’s unattainable- and that’s where its beauty lies.
That friction between my rants and the reality drives me forward every single day...

Monday, 3 December 2012

Random Rambling #1

Twenty minutes.
Twenty minutes was all it took me this time to escape from the shackles of the real world and wander in the boundless imagination of the restless mind. The burly lady’s voice smoothly resonates in the otherwise noiseless background, with no more significance than a hum of a song or the purr of a kitten, and her words fade away even before they fall on my ears.
As I jumped gaily from one thought to another, held only by a very thin string of connection, my mind was active and wandering, though, the body was still and seated in a classroom of 50 ambitious young MBA students.
I nod my head, put on a profoundly quizzical expression on my face and look down in to the notebook, penning my thoughts- at least on those that don’t drift away before I make a mention of them. To someone on the other side of the classroom, teaching with all their might, this simple act is enough to convince them of my sincerity and interest in the subject.
Deception? Yes. But where did this come from? Why did it have to come at all?
When I enrolled into this course, it was with the hope of learning it well, not with a conscious decision to deviate from the main line. Then why, why would I do something that isn’t logically or morally expected of me? Why did contemplating become more necessary than concentrating?
I don’t know the answers to these questions, or may be deep down I do.
Or may be, asking the questions and seeking the answers is not the prerogative this moment.
I enjoy bouncing on the thoughts, creating them, pondering over them. And with each thought, I evolve. With each thought, I develop a new perspective and may be it is this that truly matters.
I think of the summers and the flapping of a butterfly’s wings. And I think of the winters and the snowflakes dancing in the crisp chilly air. I think of life and death and whether one is part of another. And I think of the color orange and if it suits me well. I think of my grades and I think of inner peace. I think of truth and lies and matters beyond the control of human heart or mind. I sometimes think of the past and other times of the future.  And though not all these thoughts make sense, they do make me happy.
So the thought that today enveloped my mind, occupied it completely was-
Seven Billion people on the Earth and only Seven basic archetypes for stories??  
The thought began when I was in a train to Hyderabad sometime back and couldn't stop myself from overhearing the conversations of my co-passengers (No no, I wasn't eavesdropping- They were just too loud!!) And I was immediately struck by how everyone had the same stories to tell- A pair of young siblings (twins presumably) were traveling together and rumbling over how their Aunt mistreated them in their short vacation, a newly wed was conversing on phone about the atrocities of her sister-in-law, an old couple discussing about the inappropriate behavior of their daughter-in-law, parents of a 10 year old pampering him to an unreasonable extent and many such family circus stories...
Isn't it amusing that the problems you have are shared by all those around you at some stage of the life? You lose your job today and feel the universe has conspired against you. Tomorrow somebody else will lose theirs while you may have comfortably settled in a better position by then. Today you’re the unruly child, tomorrow you’ll be the unrelenting parent.
And as these thoughts formed and evolved, there was a flashing memory of “The Lion King”, the concept of “Circle of Life”. Yes, that makes sense now!
As Hunter S. Thompson simply put it- “As you were, I was. As I am, you will be.”
So we all pass through the same stages, go through similar problems, faced with the same choice- fight it or succumb to it, and in the end we are all determined by the choices we made. The stories are the similar, so are the happenstances and yet we feel unique and different. Unparalleled and special… Such vain species are we…
My train of thought is pulled to a halt when the students noisily move the chairs and heave sighs of relief at the end of the lecture.

As I walk out 2 hours later, there are some that wonder why I look fresh and happy, little do they know it all begins and ends in the mind. 

Monday, 12 November 2012

The Hackneyed accounts on Diwali


It’s interesting that though people have different perceptions, sometimes they are easily led in herds. As the mood of the season calls for, much has been written about Diwali- different people but same structure of write ups. First they all begin by explaining “what is Diwali”, the etymology as well as the mythology. Then they grimace on how the youth of today has forgotten the true meaning of the festival, how the “good over evil” is just a phrase known but not followed and finally ends with sermons over why not to burst fireworks- environmental issues and all.
Now this raises a few questions in my mind- why reproduce the history in a flowery jargon- you’re not offering a fresh perspective, just rephrasing sentences, jumbling words and putting the same content ! What fun is that?
A rose is a rose is a rose- whoever calls it by whatever name!
So stop writing about the history just because you want  to write something! Anything!
Write only if you can offer something in your writing that others already haven’t! Write about the customs less known, the stories rarely told and the myths barely heard about. Write about what the festival means to you!  Stop rehashing wiki content!
Second issue at hand- youth of today and festival of lights- Oh, how empathetically is this written!  Seriously, you have a problem at hand and all you care about it is to write an article and do nothing? Who is to be blamed if the younger generation isn’t aware of the significance of Diwali? Whose responsibility is it to correct their path? No one answers! Just write your hearts out and forget all about it seems the mantra! Educate them, talk to them, tell them. Don’t act as though you are helpless and all that’s happening is inevitable! There are some sensible youngsters out there, willing to listen in awe. Instead of giving them iphones or pods or plants-whatever they are called, give them books- Ramayana, Mahabharatha to read! Make the kids understand why they are dressed in new clothes, why they eat the special food on a festival. Do that instead of blogging out your grievances!
Oh and this is my favorite part- Fireworks. Much has been written discouraging children from playing with fireworks. I get it completely that it has a very negative effect on the environment but what good does your gas emitting car/motorcycle do to the environment? Now you will tell me that the measures of pollution are far greater on one day than the rest of the year. So that’s how you justify yourself? Great, nothing left for me to say here hypocrites.
But what about the children whose life is lost in making these cursed crackers, you may ask. Then what about child labor, I ask you. What have you done with respect to that? Do you actively oppose it? Are you sure you never used a child laborer in your house before or haven’t known someone who has? Those children work there, at those factories because the custom of child labor in prevalent everywhere in the country! you are responsible for their death as much as any of those factory people.
And fireworks finds a mention in the history too. They say lamps lit the streets and fireworks lit up the sky in celebration of Lord Rama’s return. The essence of Diwali is all the lessons it carries as well as the fireworks! For kids, its one of the most awaited festivals of the year, at least, not so long ago, in my age it was! How hilarious that you should think an ipad in their hands isn’t half as dangerous as a cracker? I feel sorry for the kids who are robbed of their childhood this way.
There’s got to be a way out, a way around? Find that way and let the fun persist!
Ah, who is listening to these ramblings anyway?!
Go on, explain Diwali- mutilate it letter by letter, let the hackneyed hypocrites speak up yet again, and let the sermons over crackers continue...
Oh forget, it's Diwali!!

Have a crackling one!
:)

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Live…Laugh…Love…



A bright ray of light infiltrated through the small crack in the translucent window and perched itself stubbornly on my shut eyes, urging me to get out of my bed and enjoy the marvels of the sunny morning. I smiled, yes, because I believe in starting my day with a smile in the heart and a song on the lips. Last night, I had gone to bed listening to Taylor Swift’s “Love Story”, so now the song began playing in my mind automatically, on a loop.
I welcomed some more sunshine into my room and walked out to the sprawling terrace, to warm up to the day that lay ahead. A cool breeze blew a few strands of my unkempt hair and I stood there, while happy birds were chirping, singing their hearts out, calling out to their mates, flocking together in the blue skies above.
The fog was clearing slowly and steadily. And the path was becoming clear. The nights were cold and chilly but along came the mornings that warmly cuddle you with boundless hope and a silent happiness.
In the past few months, there have been rough times and I did silly things alright, but there were also moments that made me laugh my heart out and conversations that were deeply insightful.
There have been moments of despair but there were also those moments that brought about a deep sense of satisfaction.
Life is about collecting memories, cherishing the precious people, looking within and bringing the change out. Life is about laughing and falling in love- with all the good people you’ve known but most importantly, with yourself.
I Love Me!
Oh, yes I do! With all my imperfections and ridiculous whims, for all those silly actions and compassionate times-I do love myself. Sometimes I introspect, concentrating on accentuating my strengths and finding ways to curb my faults. I’m not afraid that I might do something really stupid- I’m very much afraid of not learning from what went wrong. I don’t care about people judging me, I care about protecting meaningful relationships.
Life is about people- people who you care for and who will return your love. It’s not about those who stand and gossip on you. It’s not about pleasing people who don’t matter.
Life is about moments- good and bad, not about the times you did something to fit in to others’ definition of ‘cool’.
Life is about “you”, so stop being somebody else. You are your dream and you have a story of your own. Break the shackles of your false perceptions and experience reality- it’s not that scary, really!
Don’t dismiss your fantasies; they are not that impossible after all. Like our good old Napolean told us- where there is a will, yup, there’s a way. So find your way through those insurmountable problems, through tricky situations, through ruffians, through odd circumstances. And when you try hard and still can’t find a way through them, try finding a way around them. But find it never the less and take it- take the road you want to travel- less traveled/more traveled doesn’t matter as long as you are sure you’ll enjoy the walk. There are no good choices, bad choices- it’s all about owning up the decisions you make. So go ahead and make some life changing decisions- what to have for breakfast today? which shirt to put on? how to style your hair? Contrive ways to amuse yourself! You deserve it!
A motto to live by? 
"Hakuna Matata"!!!