Wednesday, February 01, 2012

See No Label !!!

Labels in society - I really wonder as to why labels have been so prominent in people's minds.
Labels based on caste, creed, language and religion are the most common labels which I come across in our country and if narrowed down further, labels based on language and religion predominate in most people.

Education does not seem to have had any effect. I guess labeling of some form or the other exists in every human society and in every level of human society.I really wonder why people don't form friends with others based on universal values rather than be influenced by what is the person's religion or language. It is a pity that people do not imbibe that language is nothing but a tool to communicate and religion is a way to inculcate human values. In fact there is always fear and suspicion when one label interacts with the other.

We seem to proudly say that we are a country united in diversity. But if you just take a simple example like the cafeteria at lunch time, you would most probably see people huddled in groups and these groups invariably seem to be grouped by label. Why do people identify themselves with labels? I have witnessed this in all places ranging from the most erudite of people to the less privileged. In fact the labeling seems to get more complicated depending on the increasing "sophisticated" nature of the people.

Labeling is definitely an evil when it is used as a basis for anything in life, be it friendship, networking or assessment. It is an evil when it blinds people and makes them not actually see the real human behind the label. Labels should never be used as a basis for anything in life.

When will we be able to see people as human beings alone? When will we be able to form friendships based on universal values? When will people assess or help another based on the person's merit?

How wonderful it will be if everyone interacts with the other just based on universal human values? Humans sans labels will definitely elevate humanity.Labels add color to our society and it should stop there. After all the dog should wag its tail and not vice versa !!!!

"See No Label !!!!"

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Everyone is a Medium

As we walk this earth, we have learnt many lessons, we are learning lessons and there are lessons that are yet to be learnt. As I ponder over the need, the reason as to why I exist, one of the most striking things which has come to my notice is that all of us in some way or the other is a medium. And no matter what the problem, there is always someone who comes to help us. No matter what the means, be it a word, be it an email, there is always that someone who comes to help us and make our situation better. And many a time we are led by some unknown inspiration to serve as a means of help.

This has led me to believe that one significant reason of our existence is to be a medium through which help can reach people. I have sometimes wondered as to how I could help some people inspite of myself, and it certainly was not because of my personal strength, it was simply because I allowed myself to act as a medium of help. I am sure all of us have had instances where we have helped or help has come simply because we allowed that "something" to flow through us. Intuitively we feel inspired to help.

It is almost like electricity. Electricity can flow from one point to another, but it requires a medium. The medium might never be as powerful as the electricity, but the medium simply acts as a means to transfer the power. So the medium becomes as important as electricity itself. Call it luck, call it grace, call it by whatever name, it is waiting to flow to us, flow through us and flow with us, only if we allow ourselves to be a medium.

I remember my school prayer, which goes like below:

Make me a channel of your peace:
Where there is hatred, let me bring your love,
Where there is injury, your pardon, Lord,
And where there's doubt true faith in you.
Make me a channel of your peace:
Where there's despair in life, let me bring hope,
Where there is darkness, only light,
And where there's sadness, ever joy.
O Master, grant that I may never seek
So much to be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved, as to love with all my soul!
Make me a channel of your peace:
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
In giving of ourselves that we receive,
And in dying that we are born to eternal life.

I think once we think ourselves as open channels and mediums and try our best to do what we can, and be humble, we will find our own lives becoming more meaningful. And needless to say what goes around definitely comes around.

And on a lighter vein, I have made this small quote "No matter whether you studied English medium, Tamil medium or malayalam medium, you are definitely a medium" :)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Marriage - the HUMDINGER??? !!!!

I don't know when I heard this word "HUMDINGER".
I think it has been there in my head for as long as I know :)
The Brittanica defines it as below
Definition of HUMDINGER : a striking or extraordinary person or thing
Example of HUMDINGER: The last storm was a real humdinger!

And yes there has been no event so far in my life to use the word "HUMDINGER".
Though I would say I have been fortunate to be associated with a lot of remarkable people.

The events of the past one month can probably be grouped into one as "HUMDINGER" particularly because so much has happened in so short a time.

A month back I was this bachelor looking back and wondering if I have been right all along with my decisions, my acquaintances, my friends and as a person. And also looking forward at life wondering if marriage was the next logical or illogical step in my life; and if so will I ever meet such a person who would consider me worthy enough and was willing to take that risk with me :) I had decided sometime back that I am going to leave the process of finding a girl for me to my parents . I was kind of convinced that there are not many girls who think/feel I was worth the risk and say "yes" to me!!!

My parents had given me the phone number of this person and I was contemplating if and when should I make that call. Then I thought its best to let this person decide and I heard she was teaching and I did not want to interfere in her classes. So I sent her an sms asking for a time when I could chat. And I spoke to her for about an hour or so and I started getting the impression that this person seemed to be more intelligent than me. Now any guy reading this would know how intimidating this is. I did not nurture any hopes that this person would actually want to meet me in person. And I was surprised that she did ask me as to when I am coming home to meet her and she had also added "with family". That was on 30th March.

After some consultations and "mutually" convenient time discussions my parents decided to come down to Bangalore on April 3rd a sunday and go to her house on April 4th which happened to be festival of Ugadhi - the new year - a "HUMDINGER" of hope :)

I met her on April 4th and after the meet I was convinced that I was completely fine with her and I was wondering if she felt the same...may be I did know that she would...and that added more anxiety and to have some peace of mind I decided to be pessimistic.
I told my parents "I am fine with her but never know what they will say....".
I went back home and had a good "troubled" sleep :) much to the annoyance of my parents.
Her parents had said "We leave the decision to our daughter and we will get back to you by evening".

And then that evening her dad called up my dad. I was right next to him and all I could see was my dad saying hmmm....hahh...ok...fine....and I was like ok so that means a thumbs down. May be my dad kept a deliberate poker face to add that extra bit...and after the conversation he turned to me and said "they are ok". I have never felt my pulse run so fast, my heart was beating close to bursting point and I was choking almost as if I had an attack of asthma.
Finally a girl had decided to say "yes" to me.

The elders then met and decided that the engagement is going to be on April 24th and marriage on May 18th considering our horoscopes :) Oops I never expected that my marriage just like other things in life would be amidst tight deadlines and short notices.I never took the engagement seriously and I don't know what people thought when I was keeping a great sense of humor and literally held her trembling fingers when I put the engagement ring.

It has been just about 2 weeks now. And next week is my marriage I wonder if I can use the word "HUMDINGER" to define or describe the event.
The best thing about the word "HUMDINGER" is that it can refer to a person and an event.
I think time will eventually decide if my wife thinks I am the "HUMDINGER" of her life
and whether the marriage itself has been "The HUMDINGER" for her !!!

But for now I am going to assume like all "wise" husbands to be :) that my wife is definitely the "HUMDINGER" and marriage is going to be "The HUMDINGER of the best things"in my life !!!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Social discipline of the people of Japan

The twin attack by Nature on Japan has left all of us reeling wondering if mankind can ever defend against nature's fury. But as I was reading articles, what struck me most was the articles which talked about how the people of Japan showed impeccable social discipline even in the face of perhaps the worst disaster in recent history. One article showed how there was just one grocery store and a single vendor managing the counter. The doors and windows were broken by the earthquake and there was a small makeshift counter put up. The people who came to get rationed groceries stood quietly in the long queue waiting for their turn without the slightest aggression. And there was no authority to control or regulate. People were just being socially disciplined. I really salute the social and personal discipline of the people of Japan.

It also brought me a painful reminder of what happens in India. While I fully respect my country, what agonizes me is the total lack of social and personal discipline in our country. There is no respect for fellowmen anywhere. Be it traffic, ration shops or even a marriage lunch, there is absolutely no self discipline.If this was in India, I am sure the grocery shop would have been smashed by usurpers, people would have hoarded food, there would have been a stampede, many would have got killed....and so on even if there were policemen watching over.

Believe it or not, most evils in our country happens because of this root cause - total lack of personal and social discipline. India was definitely a country known for the virtue of its people, but somewhere down the lane we have misused our freedom. India has to go back to its roots and get back its core values. Unless each person thinks that he/she should be morally and socially disciplined, no matter what there can be no real progress. Discipline and accountability should come from the person and then alone will the entire nation be accountable and disciplined.What we have achieved is just one-sided growth and this will result in social and political turmoil in the long run.

My prayers and salutations to the people of Japan. May they quickly recover from the disaster caused by this unreasonable fury of Nature. I am sure by virtue of their social discipline and work ethic, they will rise again and prosper.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Everything is Kung-fu !!!

I saw a beautiful movie yesterday - "The Karate Kid 2010" which stars Jackie Chan and Will Smith's son-Jaden Smith.

What captured my imagination was how the movie has managed to capture the subtle intricacies of Kung-Fu. There is an instance in which Jackie Chan says "Everything is Kung-Fu". This one phrase has captured the essence of Taoism,Zen and Hinduism. In Taoism, the only reality that exists is the present moment. And to live fully and focus completely in the present moment is salvation itself. Zen itself means waking up to the present moment. In Hinduism, Karma-Yogam or "yoga through action" elucidates that verily the work or activity we do "now" is worship itself. In other words, whatever we do should be done as worship. It also goes one step further and says that the result is not the ultimate aim.This has also been captured in a beautiful Zen phrase "The reward is not in the destination. The reward is in the journey itself".And to focus one-pointedly on the present moment requires a still and a calm mind. All forms of martial arts and meditation practices ultimately aim to achieve this. Many western self-help books also extol the importance of living completely in the present moment and doing one thing at a time.

There is a beautiful Zen story wherein, a young man finds an old monk picking weeds from a garden. He sees him doing this same "mundane" routine everyday. He grows curious and asks the old monk as to what he is doing. The old monk says " I am picking weeds" and then the young man asks "For how long will you do this"? The old monk replies with a smile " As long as there are weeds in this garden". A simple story with a profound and deep inner meaning.

This is also from a very practical perspective: complete attention and love to the task at hand results in perfection. At the same time results of the action may not always be in our hands.We can only perfect the effort we put in the task at hand. So the only thing to do is to do what we do in the best possible way without worrying about the result. In fact the same principle applies to not just work, but to every action we do and that includes every moment of our existence.If we can live by this principle every moment,then whatever we do and everything we do becomes kung-fu !!!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Mother knows best

My dad told me recently - "I as a father has been mostly concerned with the whats of your life. What to get, where to put you etc. managing finances etc. But it has been entirely your mother who has made you into what you are, cause it is she who made you learn the hows of life. My mom did the same too"

Mothers have vision and that is something which has been proved time and again in everybody's life. God created mother as he wanted to make sure he is there to demonstrate His selfless love through a form. And every mother is an epitome of Godly love. Many religions worship God in the motherly aspect as the Divine mother who watches over all of us.

But there is always a problem, we sometimes never understand that mother knows and does certain things with a reason. I very recently realized my mother's vision. I never knew it was one of the most important things she did. In fact whatever I am today, I realize has been because of her vision and foresight.

My mom is an excellent math teacher. She has been teaching students for over 2 decades now. However when I was in school, whenever I used to go ask her help with some problem be it math or science or even tussle with my friends, she will say "Try to figure it out by yourself and if I find time I will help you". Most times she could never find time and I used to sit all by myself trying to solve the problem with a lot of cribbing that my mom could not find time for me. I became and expert at sitting and hitting my head over a problem, even if I could not solve it. Eventually I could solve it.I did score good marks and I sometimes used to boast to my mom that it has all been my effort. She used to sometimes give me a problem and ask me to solve it. She used to say "I know the answer, but I want to know if there is a better way". It never occurred to me as to why she did all that. I used to crib "You don't help me solve my problem and you give me more though you know the answer also". But then I would sulk and nevertheless try to solve it. I used to play cricket with friends in my colony and there would be bet matches with neighboring colony people and whenever I brought an issue to her, she would say "That's your problem, you must find a way to adjust and play with them. Either do that or you stop playing cricket. All this while my dad used to observe me and keep a studied silence or may be give a knowing smile.I could not keep away from cricket though, so I learnt to adjust with all those bullies".

Then I came to University and study computer science and there again independent problem solving and the tenacity to sit over a problem was one of the key requisites. I could sit easily(even if I could not solve the problem)and people used to appreciate my tenacity. Many of my friends used to get irritated that even if they tried to tell me the solution, I would still want to try solving it. A most common phrase they used was "Stop grabbing the keyboard from me". There has been times where I might not get a simple problem but would insist that I solve it rather than look up at a reference or ask a friend. I used to wonder why I was like that.

Even in life situations, whenever I told my mom about an issue, she would say "Nobody can deal with your problem, better than yourself. Besides do not repeat the same mistakes. She used to get particularly irritated if I repeat mistakes or if I have not behaved like a gentleman. She used to say "May be others can do the same, but not my son. I don't want you to be like that. If ever I come to know that you have compromised on your integrity, then that will be the last day you will speak to me. And she used to insist that I apologize to people whenever mistake was on my side ". When I used to turn to me dad, he used to give me the same knowing smile or be a silent witness depending on the gravity of the situation. It was like"I could not agree more with your mom". I used to wonder why my mom is being particularly strict with me. In addition to my problem, she used to add this extra bit too. And my dad was giving me that knowing smile or keeping that studied silence always.

Recently my mom posed a math problem to me and said "If you want I will give you the final answer. Just figure out the approach. I said no don't tell me the answer, I will try to figure it out. And then when I called up my mom and told her :"Mom I am not sure but is this the answer,she asked me the steps and then my mom told me:" I knew you would one day become better than me. I am proud of you". And then I realized...All this while she had been nurturing me to grow into an independent problem solver. Not only that in making me face up alone to life problems, she was teaching me the art of living. Today when I look at whatever little I have accomplished in life, whenever I try to sit that extra hour, try going that extra mile, face up to adversity, or apologize to my friends for mistakes, I realize that it has all been because my mom trained me that way. Tenacity, independent problem solving, perseverance, facing adversity without compromising values are virtues which every management schools talks about. Those are qualities required for any profession. Those are life skills and my mom knew whats best for me.
I now understand the meaning of my dad's "knowing smile or his studied silence". He knew it all along that my mom was teaching me life skills.

So the next time you think you mom is saying something which does not make sense to you and your dad simply smiles or becomes a silent witness.Think again. Because "Mother knows best".

Proud of you mom. Proud of you dad.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A life without failures is like a poem without punctuations!!!

Failure - now that's a dangerous word sometimes makes us feel chill and we keep running to make sure we avoid failure at all costs. I too like all mortals has been like that. Saari umr ham mar mar ke jee liya har pal tho ab hamen jeene dho jeene dho(that's a lyric from a song in 3 idiots). Implies all our life we die to keep living !!!!In the process we keep accelerating with the brakes clenched tight. We are afraid to let go. We are afraid of losing.Result is burnouts!!!

Of late I have realized that it is the failures in life which has taught me a lot. Without it I would never know who I actually am rather than mere perceptions about me. It is like a litmus test.
Every failure is an opportunity to know oneself better and more importantly correct mistakes. Failures help us evolve into better and stronger beings. Failures help us grow. You cannot be a good singer if you always sing a simple song you know well !!!

Just like the toss of a coin yields 1/2 sides so does every action yield a success or a failure.
Success does not matter cause anyway it gives a good feel. But what happens is success is also a loss in one way. A person who has been successful always runs a huge risk. He has not learnt to deal with failure. I found this by my own experiences. Success is definitely an imposter and it makes us chicken out and always play defensive. I guess failure is more honest cause it tell you the truth on your face and whip you. But only a torn muscle shapes better :)

How do we treat failure?

Let me share a personal experience.
When I was in school, we used to play cricket with just a bat and a cricket ball. No guard nothing whatsoever. I used to be a fast bowler and was a pretty good one down batsman as well.There was this guy called yusuf who was one of the fastest and the best of us. I would always look for opportunity to avoid Yusuf more out of mortal fear. I used to make sure that I defend the last ball of the over previous to Yusuf's so that I stay at the other end and every opportunity for a single I used miss for fear of Yousuf. One day it so happened that I had to unfortunately take a single the last ball of the previous over and I did not know Yusuf was to bowl next. A chill ran down my spine when I saw this guy coming to bowl. For some reason grit overcame fear. That moment I clenched my teeth to face him cause either I hit out or get out. What happened was history. I had an estimate of where he pitches and it usually was just short of length. I played it on the up and hit the first six anybody has hit of Yusuf. Everyone was taken aback for nobody had ever hit him for a six. He came back with vengeance with a bouncer. I smashed it for a four. And then on I was always looking forward to face Yousuf. Best is it changed me from being a defend sheet anchor batsman to be a hit out or get out guy :) from Dravid to Veeru in a single six.

The most important thing to understand is no success or failure is permanent. And success in something or failure in something does not mean we succeed or we fail in life. Never take it personally. All of us are winners in the final reckoning...always!!!The key is to take every failure as an opportunity to analyse what went wrong and take impersonal logical steps to correct it. We must have the attitude of an impartial witness. I do agree that sometimes we fail due to no fault of ours. Then it is time to just let go.

Life is a 20-20 match. Instead of sitting in the bench for fear of facing Shoaib Akthar, lets go and bat right in opening. Face the Shoaib akhtar of life, you never might hit a six like Harbhajan, even if you are clean bowled how does it matter is better to be bowled for a duck than to never bat at all !!!

I remember the lyrics of a superb song in "Kal Ho na Ho" by Sonu Nigam....
Har ghadi badal rahi hai roop zindagi Chhaaon hai kabhi kabhi hai dhoop zindagi Har pal yahan jeebhar jiyo Jo hai sama kal ho naa ho
translates to=> the clocks is running and constantly life to the never know if there is a tomorrow...