Sunday, December 29, 2013


People say that before death your entire life passes in front of your eyes. The veracity of this cannot be tested like most other life theories but I do believe it is possible. As humans we are hardwired into doing “postmortem” of everything in life, many times at the cost of efficiency and time but we love doing it. It has its benefits too but mostly where money is involved, not in life. In life what happened a second ago is gone. Gone for forever. Unfortunately we are still to develop ‘ctrl c’ button for events in life. Good in a way otherwise we would be in a ‘hang mode’ on most days. Well, I don’t intend to live for forever and so far has been good. Want the rest of the journey to be great as well.  

You can pull out a consultant from consulting but can never take out consulting from a consultant. So after achieving major milestones in life I tend to look back and do some introspection. On most occasions I can’t complain about doing so much and getting so little because whatever in life did not work, taught me a lesson. So turning 40 made me take up another of those self-realization sessions. Many things have been said in the past and thousands more will come but still I don’t want to miss my chance of being under the sun and enjoy the warmth. It is said that every soul is allotted 108 existences to achieve its true self-realization. I am glad I got mine in my first one itself. Thanks to the life lived and the people around me. Will atleast get to live the remaining 107 now.

I call my “self realization” outcomes – KLFS. In today’s world of instant gratification and short term memory loss, I had this daunting task to come up with something brief and sweet to remember. Let me take you through each one – step by step.

Its quiet amusing to see how quickly people say “I don’t know how to do this” for something they don’t want to do. It’s very easy to take sides but very difficult to take a stand. I honestly feel blessed are those people who either have no ambitions or are highly ambitious. Both will not leave any stone unturned to achieve their goals. The ones engaged in the balancing act will always fall and hurt themselves. It’s the middle path which is arduous and tricky. I have taken the middle road and tripped more than I have been able to walk. Every nook and corner, turns and crossroads on the road have tested my beliefs, my values - forcing me to rethink on priorities and the way forward, be it relationships, family, work, friends etc.        
So here is my KLMS.

Keep Quiet (K) – Whenever you find yourself in a situation where your beliefs are being put to test and any utterance in its favor will be held against you. Keep quiet especially during discussions – family or otherwise. There is no power greater than silence. You can never be held responsible for something you have never said but you are slave of those words that you have slipped anyhow. Speak where you know you will be heard and understood. Speak where it makes a difference. Choose your audience well. It matters. No point in barking up the wrong tree my friend. There is noise but no outcome.   

Let Go (L) – Nothing in life is permanent. Change is the only thing that I can depend on. So all that hurts me, I let go. What remains is what is required. Not every relationship or person needs to be held on to. This doesn’t come easily but it happens. I have realized over the years that most of the things I have let go were not critical to my existence. Important maybe, indispensable not at all. Many a times my beliefs have been shaken and ridiculed which left me battered and defeated. Best part is that in spite of all those moments I am still around – with my soul untouched. Just let go.  Not every parting is sad. Some are required to maintain your own sanity. Going down without a fight is not a lesson learnt very early in life. Thanks to the support system that I had in my family during my growing up years. Your parents matter.

Move On (M) - Robert Frost famously said - "In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on." Life goes on no matter what happens. Believe me there is no strength which can match up the indomitable spirit inside each one of us. You kill someone only when this spirit is crushed. This spirit does not require any reinforcement except love and respect. I have seen wherever you don’t have these two, not either / or, in a relationship, the relationship will not hold on for long. Look around and you will see the truth. Whenever I see the writings on the wall, I have learnt to just get up and move on. Not look back, they are not worth it. Not running; just walking away quietly while my dignity and strength is still intact. If they don’t need you, you anyway are not required there. Right?

Stay Calm (S) – The idea of calmness exists in a sitting cat. That’s where I want to be. That’s where I will be. Even when provoked just step back and have that calmness take you out of the situation that you anyway would want to get out of. There is nothing more infuriating than an opponent who is not willing to give back. Oblige such situations. Whenever thinking of fighting fire with fire, please remember even our fire fighters use water.  Just stay calm. What is the ultimate in life that I would want – peace. Calmness is a state of mind and peace is what I will get. Not very difficult to understand and the bargain is great.

Last but not the least the four for me move in a linear fashion. You can try them individually in different situations but I have tested on many occasions, it generally flows in only one direction – KLMS. All situations can be put through this cycle.

Nothing in life is more important than me. If I am there, everything exists. When I am not around, all is over. Honestly I am still in the process of mastering these elements but since the fire has started; it will burn down all that is not essential to a happy and peaceful living. There is something inside so strong. My ultimate aim, the last movie I plan to see before I die has to be great...a pure masala should have action, drama,  love, tragedy, fun....because after that I would want to have a nice sleep and sweet dreams.  

Welcome 2014….

Thursday, December 05, 2013

My Tipping Point...

According to Malcolm Gladwell (staff author for The New Yorker and author of some bestselling books) the “tipping point” is the magic moment when something small gathers steam and gains critical mass - it could be a fashion trend; social behavior or even an epidemic. Essentially something which might have started just like a small idea but owing to its sticky concept to the minds of people and the time at which it was brought out, gained momentum and proved to be a tipping point.

For me personally ‘tipping point’ would be when I would be able convince myself that my child has understood the essence of the unsolicited advices given by me and is able to live that “good life” that I have been dreaming of ever since I first held my bundle of joy. When she will start living and working for her dream - that magic moment would be my tipping point.

Few days back, I was caught in this animated discussion with the children in my family – all ages and sizes (size does not matter was one momentous lesson learnt!). By mistake I asked one of them “well, do you like studies?” Without anticipating I had touched a raw nerve, the Pandora’s Box was opened unknowingly. Apart from all the lessons on life, there came a volley of responses (centering on my temerity in asking this question). But one response that touched a chord was “I slog not because I love studies but because I want a secured future”. This declaration stumped me. In the end I surrendered knowing well that defeat was inevitable with this current lot. However, this particular response has lingered with me since then. It’s been playing on my mind like an ill-placed and timed re-mix number which just refuses to go even when I am in the most precarious situation. Anyway I thought of putting my limited thoughts and dilemmas down today to get it out of my system.

There are all kinds of parents – rich, poor, straight, strict, lenient, friendly, monsters, outgoing, introvert etc. – but parenting for each one of them has the same purpose – to make life of their child happy and successful. No one would agree that parenting is easy for one type while difficult for the other. I am sure rich parents must be finding bringing up kids as difficult as the poor ones. Poor lack means and the rich the techniques to teach values which they themselves have been brought up with.  This is more pronounced with the middle class working parents who have come into too much money by submerging themselves in work for making sure that the child has it all. Then how do we teach the children values of respecting money and time when they are not working for anything in their life? ‘Your wish is my command’ – philosophy for most of the upwardly mobile cool parents. Their notion is “after all this is what we are earning for”? Right? I seriously don’t know. I think children need time more than excess money.

There are these paradoxes which I struggle with everyday of my parenting. I fail to understand how by giving all can we teach the children value of differentiating between wants and desires? I fail to understand how by ignoring signs of disrespect, insensitivity and rebellion can we teach them the value of respecting things and people who should be respected (others time, old, under privileged, helps etc.)? I fail to understand how by not giving any responsibilities’ like budget, room, clothes, books etc. today; can we teach them to be responsible individuals and citizens tomorrow? I fail to understand how by letting them have their way all the time (for whatever reason like crying, stamping of foot, shouting back etc. –list is endless for parents looking for excuses to save their skin and time) can we teach the value of understanding that my rights end where others’ begin? Here when I refer to children I don’t mean 4-5 year olds. That’s a different set altogether!!

Coming back to the response plaguing my mind, I feel that it is very important to make the children understand that they are not studying or pursuing their choice of field for us. Their achievements and failures are their own. Their highs and lows in life are their own. Their life is their own. Parents are for support as sounding boards and good listeners. I guess parents are satisfied when children work hard because they know the child’s future will be secured. They will be able to live well and be happy.

I feel that the day this realization hits the children and then they start moving towards their goal in life, it will be our tipping point. It’s not impossible but it’s doable.  Not everyone has the skills but the understanding of what is right and what is wrong for my child should do the job for now. Otherwise simply read, observe and learn and then put into practice.

My tipping point will arrive when……..


Thursday, October 10, 2013

I have a dream....

I often wonder would Wordsworth have written a “Daffodils” or Frost a “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening” or Tagore his numerous works if they were living in our times. Armed with gadgets, latest apps and technology would they have felt bored enough to actually step out to experience what they did and more so over physically written it down? I have my doubts, serious ones. 

Where is the time to be just aimless and still? We are so busy filling up that unforgiving one minute with myriad activities that we most of the times forget living? Perhaps until and unless dreaming shows some extraordinary gains to make it into our daily ‘to do’ list we would never have time for that. It needs to be added as a subject in the school curriculum for parents to wake up to its importance.

The stillness of a cat; flowing of the river; random growing of the wild flowers along the road less taken; sudden showers in midst of nowhere; a smile from a total stranger walking on the road etc. are things which make me appreciate that not everything in life has to have a purpose. Some things are just meant to be, cherished for it being there. Just be.

I watched the movie “Diana” and it made me sit up and think on what is that constitutes a happy life? Looking at the life of Princess Diana I would think she had everything that defines success – name; fame; beauty; power – but was she happy? No. She did not live a happy life and the death was even more tragic. So what are we running after? Like all middle class professional parents, I too have pushed my daughter to focus and study hard to achieve things in life that money can buy. But I forgot the basic dictum of life - money cannot buy happiness. So what should we teach our children to be – successful or happy? My vote as a parent would go to success but as a mother would go to happiness. The bitter truth of life is also that money cannot buy happiness but can buy all the other things which helps one live a dignified life. So where does success end and happiness begin or vice versa? Or are they something that go hand in hand?

It’s difficult to comprehend and even more difficult to answer but I have made a modest attempt at it as a parent, as a mother. I am not sure it’s right or wrong and honestly I don’t care either. Try on:
  • Getting up 30 minutes earlier than usual in the morning and having that “me-time” is happiness. Utilizing some part of that time to contemplate on important things to be completed through the day is success.
  • Making healthy choices in food is happiness. Improved health and efficiency at home and work are success.           
  • To create a home and life you always wanted is happiness. Getting the job you love is success.  
  • Going for that walk or doing yoga is happiness. Being in touch with oneself and understanding the self is success.
  • Reading the book that you love before sleeping at night is happiness. The wisdom derived from the reading and utilized in daily life is success.
  • Ability to make the child understand the importance of education at school/college is happiness. Children getting good grades and eventually landing the marks to pursue career of choice is success.  
  • Listening to music you love is happiness. Spreading the calm achieved from the music in all aspects of life is success.
  • Calling friends and family to know about their well being is happiness. Making the family and personal connect stronger is success.
  • Cooking for the loved ones is happiness. Seeing them enjoy and indulge is success. 
  • Switching off all gadgets with no care of the world is happiness. The renewed bonds at home are success.
  • Watching that movie which makes you cry or the one that makes you laugh your guts out is happiness. Develop understanding of emotions and knowing you are capable of enjoying both is success.
  • Doing nothing and being one with nature in whatever form possible is happiness. Making something out of nothing is success.
  • To have a dream is happiness. Making it come true is success. 

So I have a dream….for you….for happiness and success...only you can make it come true....

Love Ma

Saturday, September 14, 2013

To Life with Love....

Browsing through the shelves across book stores I see so many of them on survival tips and techniques under various labels – Motivation; Psychology etc. The so called “self-help” books. The market size for consumption of these books is nothing less than enormous.  The content of these books - impressive. The appetite of the people for reading such books is monstrous. To be honest I have read more than a couple myself.  On first read they are awe-inspiring and we are overwhelmed by the feeling that “Of course, I know this and can do this”. They enthuse us to move and create survival techniques of our own. Eventually with the passage of time or publication of new best seller on survival techniques and tools they fade away and we are back in the same rut. But my fundamental disconnect with this genre is to do with the word – survival. Survival is primitive. Survival is strain.

Why survival? We are born to live and die (when the living stops). So why bring in this negative connotation to such a positive experience called life? Survival appears to connote fight, struggle and ultimately over-coming a feeling which attempts to hold us down. Under all circumstances we seem to be fighting something. All these acts are energy exhausting and not conserving. Living is all about preserving that positive energy for best use not exhausting them.  

When we are kids everything is so simple and life is about here and now. “I did not get that toffee or he has taken my pencil or miss, she is teasing me or ma please let me go outside and play…etc”. There is no tomorrow to be thought for or to be planned. There is no care for a day called tomorrow.

Children don’t buy that promise of tomorrow either, mind it. If I have to buy a toy - it has to be now. If I want to eat an ice-cream - it has to be now. If I want to play with my friends - it has to be now. If I want to wear a particular dress - it has to be now. If I want to watch the cartoon - it has to be now. Whatever is to be accomplished it is all within the time frame of a day called - today. Not tomorrow - the word doesn’t exist in their dictionary. If you look closely all these small acts through the day is about living and experiencing now unlike struggle for survival for tomorrow. I have seen this in kids – rich; poor; smart; not-so-smart; privileged; under-privileged etc. You can try too and see for yourself. For children the time to live and fulfill their needs and demands is today. So how come with passage of time we start living in tomorrow? Nature is about this season and not the next.

So some thoughts for living collected over the years through reading, experiencing, observing and then simply existing:

·         I am alive today
·         Love your spouse today
·         Let go off that negative feeling today
·         Say I love you and how much you mean to me today
·         I am strong today
·         Take that walk today
·         Water the plants today
·         Pick - up the phone and call that someone special you have not called in ages today
·         Let me help you today
·         Sit and play with your child today
·         Make that special dish for yourself and family today
·         Pick up that un-finished book today
·         Laze around today
·         Listen to the songs today
·         Catch up with neighbours and friends today
·         Give a smile to a stranger today
·         Share a cup of tea with your domestic help and let them know you care today
·         Sit and chat with your teenager today
·         Give up on the fear ‘what if….’ today
·     Be with yourself today….
·     Thank life and all that it has given TODAY

Love Ma

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Give a man a fish to eat and you cripple him for life...

Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will have food on his plate for a lifetime. A saying which we were taught in school but seem to have forgotten like all the other good and simple things we learnt. Handing them is easy. Educating someone is tough.

Just look around to see the mad rush to equip children, adults, nations etc. with things which add no value to improve their current state of affairs or growth but since "we" deem it desirable/important we still go ahead and provide it. Not stopping to think and contemplate once about its consequences ~ good or bad. The current ambitious and I would say populist "Food Security Bill" is the latest in the line. We don't work towards generating avenues and opportunities for education/job to earn a living but are willing to dole out free food for the empty plates. Once you become used to being served things without having to lift your finger, in no time you will stop making attempts too and obviously the finger becomes useless. Whatever is not used over a period of time - erodes and eventually becomes weak for any use. Death occurs without having to work for it. This is what we are also doing to our children in this generation. Preparing them to face the eventful journey called life with limited strength and know-how to survive as winners.

This point of view is most fashionable in, mostly in metro India, with our current crop of "western-style-parenting-is-THE-best" mindset parents too. Come to think of it as a nation we are obsessed with anything that is “fair or white”. Why is my question? What’s wrong with our age-old, time tested, intense but resistant, result-oriented way of bringing up our children? Since when have we become afraid of our own children? Whenever I look around I am stumped by the change that has come about in the parenting style of “cool, emancipated-parents”. At the expense of sounding rude I guess these parents are too selfish to give up on their own life style to bring up kids the tough way. You have to be a role model in order to have them follow you. The traditional Indian way of parenting requires time and effort from the parent’s side too. Lots and lots of it but time kahan hai? I too have a life and career. Should I leave that and sit at home? No but don’t take the easy way out. It’s easier said than done but it is not impossible. It’s doable, and only needs effort.

When I push my child I know he/she has the strength to reach the potential. By accepting whatever is thrown my way I am essentially endorsing the fact that ‘my child is not capable of exploiting his or her potential to the fullest’. In my view the cool way is to first accept my child cannot take pressure, stress or is incapable of hard work and then start working with them. Latter is being negative about the child not the former. I follow the tenet “innocent until proven guilty.” If medically my child is diagnosed to be weak and incompetent I would accept but not till then (get the basics right and then work towards building the foundation). If we feared pressure and stress, we would never get diamonds. When I say stress, its positive stress - not the "uski kameez meri kameez se safed kaise" types.    

Let your kids follow their passion – have you thought through of how and how much will this add to the child’s future? Don’t pressurize the children – so what is the scientifically proven age for beginning to take pressure? Let them have their way – so when will they learn to be accommodating and responsible children - eventually adults? Don’t unnecessarily force them to listen to what you as a parent feel is right – so when does one begin instilling values that make you “YOU?”  Don’t stress them or be harsh in pushing the children to excel – so how do we appreciate mediocre performance and yet come up with successful individuals in the long run? Don't force habits on children - so when should they begin - once the wrong ones are formed - double effort for the child? These are some questions that I would love to be answered by the so called 'modern mindset parents.'  However there is a disclaimer - there are exceptions to all. I am not referring to extremes or gifted.

We are doing such a big injustice to our children by appreciating each and every act or output (no matter how commonplace and below standard) so that they end up as having high ‘self-image’. The breaking news my friend is that these kids are more likely to end up seeking psychological help to correct their frequent break-downs and negative self–image in the process. Why, because in the building years we never got them to understand that mediocre is not-great. Great work is great work. Appreciation at the right age and time gives desired results. Our kids expect a “aww”, “how beautiful”, “wonderful work darling” etc. for each and every result that they produce not thinking twice that when they are actually going to meet those “wonderful and exceptional” works in reality, then how will they manage their egos and self-image? Perfect recipe for disaster. Unfortunately we as parents are preparing it.

I have a very simple query – if you don’t equip someone with the tools and the mental strength to cope with the downs of life in the growing up years, you have no right to expect the children to grow-up into an accountable social and individual person. This I guess is what is plaguing our society today. Society is made up of you and me and not residents of Mars or Jupiter.

A generation of parents has been brought up thinking that the way to being an excellent parent is to be friends with your child. No harm in it. An excellent piece of advice no doubt if you understand the true meaning and responsibilities associated with the role. Come to think of it like blindly following what is ‘in’, how many of us really understand what exactly constitutes ‘being a friend” to our children? Is it “a friend in need is a friend indeed” – which essentially means being there for everything - right or wrong? According to me that is not being a good friend. Someone who agrees to all that you say and do is the worst possible friend one can have. Parents as true friends need to be that person who is both an absorbent sounding board and a mirror to the child and his or her activities / thoughts. By being “yes-men/yes-women” we are royally shirking our responsibilities as a parent. Yes is the easy way out. No requires devoting time to make the child understand the right. But where is the time now-a-days? We seem to be perfectly content to let the children have their way as long as they are not coming in ours.      
Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will never go hungry in his life time. Food for thought.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

If only....

How will my life be “if only…” I wonder? How others would feel or react “if only…” I wonder? Will people start liking or hating me “if only…” I wonder? Believe me it’s never ending. That phrase “if only…” hangs at the end of all our doings and thinking.

Nothing novel or path breaking about these thoughts but still they intrigue me to the extent of making me restless. I am sure for 90% of the decisions we make, we start regretting it the very next minute. (Some day research may prove it or maybe it’s already proven...I am not sure) Any way mind functions like a super highway with thoughts zooming at the speed of 180 km/second beginning with “if only…” It drives me nuts at times. After all the education and trainings received from childhood, mind still proves to be more a consistent persistently nagging master than an obedient servant to me. Meditation is touted as being ‘the’ solution to all this mental frenzy but then what is the % of people who are actually able to achieve it? Practice is the key, I know and I practice. Sometimes if I am extremely lucky I have these few seconds of complete mindlessness but then again the traffic rush time begins. I need to practice more.

Moreover, it feels extremely strange that we are able to comprehend or understand so little of our body part which controls our complete existence. The way we talk, laugh, cry, react, emote, run, sit etc. is all controlled by this few grams of “mass”. It is a humbling experience at times and challenging during others. Creativity says let it loose. Common sense says control it. Practical sense says forget it. So which sense to follow? If only we had one single correct answer to all these predicaments. Any scientific or spiritual or emotional community will never have one correct answer to a question. It’s always “while on the one hand you could……, on the other hand you could…..” and then when we fail in the examination of life, we get to hear “if only….”     

I feel that this poem by Rudyard Kipling, to a great extent, has been able to throw some light on how one can at least look at designing one’s own life plan. It surely inspires me. 

As the philosophers and great thinkers have said there is no right or wrong answer to life questions. Each day is a new day with new dreams to live and create. Mind will still work at its crazy speed but we could still find our few seconds of happy mindlessness, if only we practice. 


IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
' Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

-          Rudyard Kipling


Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Not many take the road less travelled....

I have many times experienced that there are certain works which simply crop up in my soul and mind when I don't even try remembering them. But I must say the timing is always impeccable. It’s like there is some force which figures out my need and just digs it out from my memory and plants in my heart to give me the will to carry on. In my personal life, I have most of the times been one of those people who would rebel without a cause or would plunge into something without thinking just because the heart says “go on.” Can't say that it is a very successful strategy or has always given me the desired results but yes it has given me n number of chances to take the road less travelled. Finding something you know does not provide the same thrill but then these “digressions” always come with a caution tag. There is a liberating feeling and you do get to understand yourself better. No company can beat your own. No decision can beat your own. No love can beat your own. So take the road less travelled and perhaps you will find yourself. This poem by Robert Frost just sums up the feeling. There is no room for regrets though.
The Road Not Taken By Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost

Let me know how you feel......


Sunday, May 26, 2013

How much is too much.....

I would say that how much is too much can be explained with the help of difference between proactive guidance and control. I personally feel that there is a very fine line dividing the two especially in our minds. On most occasions when we think that we are guiding or helping, others perceive it as control. When we feel we are doing so much for others, they feel what was the need? Not really our problem. It is their problem. Or am I missing the link somewhere? I cannot say with authority. Let’s see if we are able to understand this ‘sticky situation.’

I have tested all my personal relationships for this hypothesis. Not surprisingly the answers have been very similar. As a mother when one anticipates needs and proactively satisfies them, the child feels "why did you do it." As a spouse one takes steps to ease out the problems for the partner, the partner feels "what was the need." As a family member one makes all attempts at creating an atmosphere where life is smooth for the co-inhabitants, others feel "why are you doing this much." As an employee one goes beyond the call of duty, the superior or peer quips “was it really required.”

I have often faced this dilemma in terms of how much is too much or where should the ‘lakshman rekha’ be drawn? I am also cognizant of the fact that many people may not be faced with such predicaments. Blessed are those individuals. I truly feel that.

But for others I have my sympathies and some thoughts. Like value proposition in a business relationship is defined by the user or customer. Similarly value of what you have to offer in any relationship cannot be defined by the giver. It has to be the recipient.

Anytime that one is doing anything proactively for someone else, stop and ask yourself some basic questions. Did the person ask for this favor? Will my child appreciate my efforts? Will my partner be able to understand the feelings behind all that I am doing for him or her? Will my family members feel that I am doing this for nothing else but maintaining a positive atmosphere at home or that one genuinely cares for others? Not very difficult or superficial questions but answers to these can put most of the things on track for us. It will help us in being sync with our core self and at the same time get away from the haunting question – how much is too much.

Anything done for others when asked for or implied is what is appreciated by others. Only when you are with people with common interest and values that you stand the chance of being appreciated for proactive thinking or doing. But then world is not made of exceptions.

So go with the flow. Provide guidance when asked for and you escape the tag of being forceful or tending towards exercising control. How much is too much when you fail to let the recipient experience or acknowledge the need for your service or support. Bitter but true for most relationships.



Thursday, April 04, 2013

Experience in life

I feel that very often in our everyday life we confuse things like knowledge, skill, incident etc. with the word experience. For me experience is way beyond these nouns. No particular incident or encounter or familiarity can truly capture the essence of this word. It is more than just the total of its parts. All that we have in life, once pushed to the past tense becomes experience for us. Experiencing experience in the present tense is difficult but not impossible. To add to the twist we have relevant and irrelevant experiences.  Even after all these years I have failed to understand the relevance of irrelevant experience. I went, I saw and I experienced. I did not go, I did not see and I did not experience. Will the second scenario construe to be irrelevant experience?

Over the years in all that I have read or seen or heard or felt or tasted, one fact is crystal clear - all the experiences are relevant. We are much more ‘relevant’ than the sum total of all our experiences taken together. Experiences are never good or bad. It’s the result that can be slotted into the different categories. We are what we are because of what we have experienced so far. The result of the experiences shapes us. The product that is me today is a consequence of all my deeds; thoughts; actions etc. The person I am today is the conclusion of everything that has happened or not happened in my life till now. If I am relevant then how can my experiences be irrelevant?

Having relevant experience supposedly equips us to take decisions or be proclaimed as being a person with rich experience. I believe that any experience to be termed rich must have a far reaching influence and cannot be bereft of feelings or emotions. Being experienced or being responsible is not just about making decisions. It’s about sticking to the decisions you have made.

I would only call a person experienced if s/he has the guts to stick or live through the decisions one has taken. Acceptance is true experience. You can only do so when you know deep down that no decision is bad or wrong decision. The consequences may be good or bad or as per our instinct on which we based the decision or otherwise. This consequence should never stop us from taking decisions. The end should never influence the means. Decisions can never be dependent on anxiety or the possibility of what might happen or not happen. They have to be taken, so take it.

When we stop taking decisions, we stop thinking. Running away from being decisive is also a decision. Not taking decisions will stop one from growing and eventually turning out to be the person one could have been.  If we respect our decisions, so will others. This thought reminds me of a prayer from an old hindi classic – "हम को मन की शक्ति देना मन विजय करें।। दूसरों की जय से पहले ख़ुद को जय करें।।"
(Hum ko mann ki shakti dena, mann vijay karein. Doosron ki jai se pehle khud ko jai karein)  

Every cloud has a silver lining. So why hesitate? Gather inputs from all but take your own decisions. Gut feeling is a decision too.

Decide about this.


Monday, March 11, 2013

You can only beat the system...if you are a part

(wrote this on topic very close to my heart....a  few years back...but find it relevant even today)

In last couple of days I saw some movies and two of them caught my imagination. Though there is nothing common in them starting from the era when they were made to star cast to the directors to the story line. I mean nothing in common. Nothing at all. Yet they told me the same thing.

The first one was "Satyakam". It is directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee. Well he is more commonly associated with movies about common man and his life. The villains are the situations and not some paranormal beings..anyways..the protagonist was played by Dharmendra [and his name was not "Satyakam" but "Satyapriya"]. The movie revolves around his idealism and how he wanted to stay in this society being true to himself.

My second reference is a more recent National Award winning movie "Page 3". The director is the well known Madhur Bhandarkar who again is associated with movies of common people and their life. The protagonist was played by Konkana Sen Sharma.

I guess now that I am writing I can draw a parallel between both the directors. Both tell their stories about people like you and me but the difference is in the way they tell it. While Hrishikesh Mukherjee's portrayal was more light hearted and made you feel good when you come out watching that all is not lost in life after all. Madhur Bhandarkar is more hard hitting for he forces you to see things which we generally want to get away from.

Anyways coming back to my experience of watching these movies. I had watched both the movies earlier also but never in succession. And it is perhaps this co-incidence which made me sit up to something which I had missed on earlier occasions. Both movies had protagonist who believed in truth and only truth. Who perhaps felt that there is perhaps no other way of living but the true way. Both the protagonists had their own belief system and were not ready to give in...easily to the pressures of our society. While in case of Satyapriya of "Satyakam" he died but did not break, Madhavi of "Page 3" gave in only to save her soul.

What really put my thought process in motion were two dialogues from these movies: first from "Satyakam" where Satyapriya's wife Ranjana [played by Sharmila Tagore to perfection], on one occasion, tells his more 'worldly' best friend Naren [played by Sanjeev Kumar] that "sone ke zevar banane ke liye thodi toh khot milani padti hai". Second from "Page 3" where Madavai's male journalist friend tells her that "you have to be in the system to change the system". Beautiful lines. Aren't they???

Both these stories were written in different eras by different screen play writers and told to the world by different directors. Yet when you look at the two at a deeper level, they had the same soul. The soul of truth, interpreted in diffrerent ways against different backgrounds. When you look at both these dialogues one can't help but feel that "is truth so difficult to handle in its pure form"? Can we present something as pure as truth in any other form but the truth?

All of us want to be told the truth and nothing but the truth in all that we do in life, in all our relationships, all our dealings...but when it comes to giving truth to others we shield ourselves against statements like one cannot handle truth, "how can I tell you the truth you will not be able to take it", there is more to it than the truth...

It really makes me wonder when there is something we love receiving why can't we give it to others in the same form. Some people say that one can lie to the whole world but not to oneself...while to counter this there are others who feel sometimes we are actually able to achieve a level where one perfects the art of saying distorted truth to oneself. I really don't know which is a better state to be in..whether to be true to oneslef..or to save oneself from the truth....but yes the thought process has been set into motion yet again...once again....


Monday, February 25, 2013


If you want to enjoy what you have, never look at people above you, look at people below. If you want to count your blessings look at the under-privileged and not the privileged. If you want to succeed look at your own failures to learn from them and not at successes achieved by others. If you want to be loved never look for people who could love you, look for people whom you can love. If you want to be happy never look at what you don't have, cherish what you have. If you want to spread peace and joy, just go ahead and do it. You will be at peace and full of joy.

Invictus" is a short Victorian Poem by the English  poet William Ernest Henley (1849–1903). At the age of 12, Henley fell victim to tuberculosis of the bone. A few years later, the disease progressed to his foot, and physicians announced that the only way to save his life was to amputate directly below the knee. It was amputated when he was 17. Stoicism inspired him to write this poem. Despite his disability, he survived with one foot intact and led an active life until his death at the age of 53. This is the poem which kept Nelson Mandela going through his prison years during his walk to freedom. 

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishment the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Whenever my mind tries to list the things that I do not have, this poem reminds me of the greatest gift of all. Being the way that I am, a sound mind and body with a beautiful life full of people to love and share with. 


Friday, February 08, 2013

Life's most beautiful things come for free....

There are days that I believe no Gods. There are days when I believe in all Gods. Believing or not believing, I feel, have got nothing to do with actually experiencing God or any of his miracles (if any happen). It’s just that when I believe in God, I believe in all that is beautiful and peaceful in his creation.

How often in our busy or not-so-busy day do we set aside a few minutes for just trying to experience God? Very few would have actually thought of it. When I say experiencing God, I mean appreciating myself. As an adult woman or man we are so caught up in our daily grind that we never ever stop to say “thank you” to ourselves…Gods’ greatest creation. I sincerely believe that we are born pure. As we grow, we pick up things that attract us and become the person we are today. We inculcate those habits which are more convenient over those which would require some efforts to develop. How else do you explain the variety in human beings?

No parent would ever want his or her child to be a criminal or a serial offender or an anti-social element etc but we do have such people in our society.  It’s been the same ever since the evolution of man. Good and bad is what makes our world go round. Yin and yang have to live together. Blacks and whites have to go hand-in-hand to create all the colors that we enjoy in life. We need bad to appreciate what is good. We have all Gods and so is Satan around. Isn’t it?  

However I wonder, what stops black from enjoying white; wrong to enjoy right or for that matter bad to enjoy good that is there in our life? Everyone has 24 hrs in a day. No reservations or extra helpings here.

Every day we are provided with an opportunity to pick up what is beautiful and cherish it. Every day we are given a chance to bring a smile to someone’s face or make their day. Every day we are exposed to occasions where our helping hand can make easier for somebody to get up or walk or sit down. Every day we end up situations where one pat-on-the-back from us can motivate somebody to give their best. Every day we get windows where one kind word from us can give someone the will to survive or fight against all odds.  It goes on and on and on. We just need to be more alive and creative to do these. Happiness runs in a circular motion. What we give has to come back to us. What goes up has to come down.

Just look around and I am sure you will find at least one opportunity for bringing a smile to someone’s face; make someone feel wanted and respected. Every day one action to spread what is good in all of us. Push yourself for it. It could be something like a “thank you” to your wife or husband or parents or neighbors for being there; helping a friend finishing an assignment when s/he has run out of deadline; giving your cook off on a Sunday etc. Try out any one act, each day, when provided with an opportunity or better still create one, everyday, for the next 30 days. It will become a habit by then. 

Life is for free and so are its most beautiful things.

Share with me how you felt. It will make my day for sure.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Die every night and born everyday

Every night when I go off to sleep, I die. Every morning when I wake up, I am born again. Not easy to understand and even more difficult to practice. Most of us would think that this is a philosophy that can be exercised only by the ascetics or at best people who have renounced the world for “far greener spiritual pastures” beyond the physical.

For me this thought of daily death and being born holds a much deeper meaning than most covert ones. 

Ever since we are born i.e. coming out of our mother’s womb, we are moving towards one imminent end – death. Whatever we are able to accomplish is between these two states. Then how is it possible that we die and take birth every day? 

As you think so you become is a mantra enunciated by Krishna in the Gita. We are nothing but a result of our thoughts and convictions and subsequent actions. We do what our mind says and heart desires. So the need is to train the mind or heart and not your actions. As a joint effort, both will take care of the actions!!

When I say that we die every night, we are actually telling our mind, “boss everything that you created today is going to come to an end as soon as I close my eyes and enter the world of sleep. I am going to be dead tonight.” It’s being dead to the world as well. Sleep is an amazing facility that nature has provided to all it living creatures. It’s a state with infinite capability and capacity for our mortal existence. Internally, it provides the tired nerves and other organic systems within the body to rejuvenate itself. The mind gets the much needed break from all the atrocities and demands that we subject it to, through the day. Externally, our body parts are in a state of meditation. No movement. No stress to perform. There is deathly stillness and yet breathing. Come to think of it, maybe nights are dark so that, neither we nor anyone can see our sinister and gloomy thoughts disappear as soon as it leaves our psyche, while we sleep. Nature takes care of everything.

When I say that we take birth every morning on waking, we are telling our mind, “boss rise and shine as we have a lot to create today and live it too. I am going to be alive from this moment on.” We are born again to ourselves and to the world at large. Waking state has substantial and considerable capability and capacity to embark on whatever we desire or create what we design. Now this creative process can function anyway that we want. Choice is ours. Being alive is not breathing. It’s being one with what we are and plan to be today. There is no stress or demands of yesterday as it’s dead and gone. There is no anxiety for tomorrow as we just have today to live. Being alive is also a meditation if you observe it closely. If we are busy with putting together our thoughts to act and heart to loving what we do, we are living but oblivious of the external distractions. Our mind is focused on achieving the goals that we have set for the day and heart is set on enjoying what we can. So where is the time to wander? Nature takes care of everything.

Most of the pains that we inflict on ourselves have got a lot to with the fact that we have forgotten the art of living every day and embracing death every night. For anything to become a habit we have to practice it. If every day when we are born, can we pledge to be a good human being? Not better than yesterday as that person is dead. Being useful to ourselves, to our family and then society at large is a habit which I am sure is not very hard to practice. Being sensitive does not mean that we take care of only our needs and pains. We are sensitive when we can empathize with that someone who cannot benefit us in anyway but we still aim to accommodate his/her needs to make that one person happy.

Do one thing nice for at least one person to make his or her day, everyday that you are born. Pray that it has a ripple effect.  

The best part about being born today is that there is no yesterday to cling to or carry the burden of. The best part about dying today is that there will be no tomorrow to be anxious about.