Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Holy Merchants : Blog # 120

Holy Merchants

                 I was watching the day’s Stock market opening on NDTV profit. They ring a bell 10 seconds to the opening of market. It is then that it struck me, the amazing similarities between a stock market and places of worship. Both the places ring in a new day with the ring of bells or some sort of ear pleasing resonance.

             As the market opens for the day, there is a news reader who goes on and on about the day’s stock activity. So does a priest as we lesser mortals behold the God, interrupting our conversations with the almighty! It is amusing that most of us don’t understand what these two groups of people are going on and on about.

        There is a lot of hope attached to a stock market coming alive. So it is with the doors to the place of worship. People look at the Sensex and the idol with the some kind of fervour to get their hopes realized. At both the places, there are middle men cashing in on their anxiety and expectations.

         There are instruments at both places which empower us to make our future goals come true – or at least make us believe that we are empowered. At one place it is the divine offerings and at other, it is the ‘futures, options and commodities’ trade.

             There is no guarantee to the money invested in both the places. It is more of a belief that it will yield good returns. The assured aspect is that both are recession proof.

            The income at both places is driven heavily by the ‘wisdom’ of the crowd. People throng those divine destinations where the rest of the crowd goes to. Similar is the case with stocks. Everyone invests in the same or similar stocks.

            For many of us, these places are of interest only in extreme adverse or overtly happier times in Life. We mostly tend to visit places of worship when we have attained certain things in Life or are in pain from a loss . People invest either when the stock market has crashed and gone to the dogs or when it has scaled a new Alpine high.

            Both these places are part of our portfolios. We invest a certain amount of money in stock and a certain amount of our income goes to these divine places.  
            The divine festivals are akin to IPOs. Not many of us know why a festival is being celebrated or what the belief behind it is. Still we contribute. Likewise, when a company goes for an IPO, we invest in it with blindfolds firmly in place.

It is said nothing drives stock market like greed. However seasoned an investor a person is, no one is satisfied with the profits one make. Similarly, when have we all said “Oh Dear Lord, you have blessed me enough. Your devotee needs nothing more”! These two establishments will continue to thrive as long as this one emotion reigns supreme even though it continues to masquerade in the many forms of hope, fear and belief.
p.s. I am not an Agnostic. Neither am I an Atheist. This is just a satirical take on those people who commoditize Gods and who try to cash in on people’s beliefs.

            Arun Babu.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Sleep early, will you? : Blog # 119

Sleep early, will you?

            Why don’t you sleep early? Most of us have heard our parents ask that to us, haven’t we?

        Sleep - when and for how long,  is one of the earliest habits that are induced in us. For most of us, it would have been against our liking. Remember nap time at pre-school? That is exactly what we are talking about here. May be that is the reason why we take much pleasure in staying up late as the first sign of revolt as we grow up.

       For many of us now, staying up late has become a habit. We feel odd if we go to bed at the time our parents do. But more than the ‘cool quotient’ attribution, there is more to it. To begin with, If we go to bed early, we will have to deal with our thoughts. There are realms of thought which all of us do not want to explore. If we go to bed late and exhausted, we drift off to sleep in seconds. Neither is there any thought process involved nor are there any accompanying questions which we do not have answers to.

            Another reason is a misplaced sense of insecurity. Hasn't there been a day when you planned to sleep for say 2 hours and you wake up to find that an entire afternoon has passed bye? There is a sense of disorientation there. A feeling that we have missed out on some happenings when we were asleep. We think the world passed by while we were indulging in a siesta. A bit of it can be attributed to our need to constantly stay ‘connected’ with the world happenings, much thanks to the social media and the omnipresent cell phone.

          It is also during these dark hours that many of us indulge in some entertainment. This is when we find time in our cluttered lives to read a book, catch a movie or some good videos on internet. Strangely enough, it is in these wee hours that we catch up with friends and acquaintances too.

I envy those who have a regular sleep pattern. Their nights are not exhausted and their mornings are fresh. They stay wide awake in the day and sleep peacefully at night and not the other way around like most of us.

We take to all kinds of books and self improvement practices to bring solace to our wandering minds. Like for many quagmires in life, the solution is right in front of our eyes. But what we do not realize is that at times, we need to shut our eyes to find what we are searching for.
Arun Babu.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Life Overheard : Blog # 118

Life Overheard

       Most of life’s learning for me has come from overheard conversations and at times, passing remarks. It is not that no one has advised me. There have been plenty – from people worthy of it and from those who themselves had no clue how to figure out their lives.

            One of the earliest passing conversations was between my Grandmother and her friend. She told her friend “I have seen all the riches in Life. My father owned a car in the 1950s. Later on, I have lived the life of a middle class house wife too. What I have come to know is Money comes and goes, but people stay!”

            I used to stay at my uncle’s place when I was working in Bombay. One day, a friend of his came up and said that he was not keeping well but was still going to office. My uncle said “Listen, work will be there only if you are there”. That remains the fulcrum of my work life balance till date.

The occasion was my uncle’s wedding. An elderly lady walked up to my Grandfather and said “Let’s hope everything goes well in their lives”. On a lighter note, she added “Else, parents will be the ones who will have to bear the brunt!”. Pat came my Grandfather’s reply, “A wedding is between two families, But a marriage is between two people. It’s up to them and them alone”.  I couldn't agree more.

During my B-school days, my friend and I used to go on morning walks. One morning, I was in a particularly lethargic mood. He said “Babuies, your body feeling lazy is acceptable. But the day your mind starts behaving lazy, Beware! Come to think of it, if you could rein in your mind, you can rein in everything – Fear, Fret or Folly!

Let us all keep our ears open for want of not missing out on Life’s valuable lessons.

                                                                                                      Arun Babu 

Friday, 14 June 2013

At the same place : Blog # 117

At the same place

        Ever wondered how two people of different age groups become great friends? Ever thought why an old man falls for a young beautiful girl and she reciprocates the same love? Ever got surprised that you connect so well with people you least expected to do so? It is not the opposites attracting effect! Not at least to me.
at the same place in life, friends , support, understanding

I have never believed in that phrase, “opposites attract”! There might be an initial interest quotient due to the amusement that derives out of the differences. There is this urge to explore how the other person justifies his/her different state of existence. But in the long run, getting along with people of entirely different sensibilities might not be very easy. 

            I think the above mentioned happenstances occur due to those two people being at the same place in Life. I am not talking of the space defined by the longitudes and the latitudes. The place we are talking about here is the mind space a person inhabits at a point in time in Life.

            When two people happen to be at the same place in Life, there is a lot that the two can connect over. There is an effortless understanding which comes about. There is no need to tell the other person to think from your side. There is no need to ask them to step in your shoes. Reason being, they are wearing almost the same size J.

People of varied backgrounds and even age become friends at work due to the shared stress that they have to endure. Not many people outside work might understand the kind of pressure and competition one has to survive.

 At schools and colleges, in spite of the different family values, upbringing and even cultures at times, we find great camaraderie. At that point, all of us are in a more of a happy go lucky phase in our Life. So the more happy go lucky a person is in college, the more affable, he/she turns out to be for everyone. But, post college, if the person carries the same attitude, they are looked down up on as not being serious enough about their lives.  The reason being, the others have moved on to another mind space in their lives.

All the self help groups might be based on this very thought. People are under some sought of addiction and they get together and make a collective effort to overcome that addiction. Again, there is no one who understands their plight better than fellow addicts. The others can only imagine how it feels like. They share exactly the same mind space.

The same is true for the various interest groups that people join also. There are groups where people are working towards attaining the same goal. The fellow members understand how difficult the goal is or how much time it demands.

In this regard,the best thing one can hope for is for those people to happen to oneself at those instances in Life where they share more or less the same mind space.

                                                                                                Arun Babu.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Face book for dummies : Blog # 116

Face book for dummies

                Due to the omnipresence of social media in our lives, a new social order has emerged. There exists an emerging parallel world which requires a different kind of sensibility and protocol for peaceful co-existence. Let us have a look at the all pervasive 'Face book'.

how to use facebook?,what is facebook?                        Let us begin with a friend request. This is like the first meeting between two individuals. Even if we don’t like someone, we put up with him/her as a social courtesy. Likewise, the best you can do is delay accepting the request. If the person is smart enough, he/she will pick up the clue and revoke the request. If the other person is stubborn about it and is someone you cannot afford to turn away, you might as well add the person and put him/her in the restricted list where he/she will not be able to see any of your updates.

                        Then there is the all important ‘Like’. This is like a harmless smile that we all pass around. It is harmless but has some value attached to it. If you go around smiling at one and all you meet, people will start looking at you as if you were a joker. Similarly, if you go around liking anything and everything that pops up on you wall, it loses its charm. Also, it is a botheration for others who will get your 'like' as a notification. Asking for Likes is not a very cool thing to do unless you are asking very close friends of yours. Asking people to like a page of yours is still acceptable as social media is one place where you can spread the word about your initiatives. But asking someone to like your own pics is hinting at narcissism.

             Comments are a territory that is to be tread cautiously. Words might not give out the exact meaning that you intend to give out. This is especially true when there is some intonation involved. And putting up a smiley at the end of a rude sarcastic comment might not always work. More importantly, a comment is a public expression .This means whatever you comment is open to interpretation for everyone. A person who might not mind you pulling his/her leg when in a one to one conversation might not like you to do the same when a 100 people are watching.

            Now, about the sharing of posts and tagging pictures.. Sharing a post on to the wall of a fellow Fb-ian should be done only if the other person is interested in whatever you share. Or at least both of you should share a remote mutual interest in the topic. Same goes with tagging pictures. If the person is not there in the picture or if the album has nothing to do with the person whom you are tagging, refrain from doing it. If the person un-tags himself/herself from the picture, understand he/she does not want it to show up on his/her profile. It will be nice on the part of the person who is un-tagging to let know the friend before one does so.

            A poke is a harmless way of saying you remembered the other person and it is the most un-intrusive. However a message or a ping is not like that. So if you are busy, and someone messaged you, avoid clicking on that person’s message tab. Once you click, a message goes to other person saying ‘seen’. You can always tell you were away and you did not see his/her message J. If you don’t click on the message tab and go ahead and comment and like or do some public activity, again the truth is out.

            In spite of being a self confessed FB addict, I still believe in the charm of the real world. Meeting people live is much more refreshing than meeting them on a 14” screen. Also, taking an effort for doing something worthwhile for a close one even if it is having a lunch together will leave you a memory much more lasting than giving him/her a couple of virtual interactions.

            Towards the end, when you near logging out, no one is going to remember the statistics on your virtual interactions. In those days, what will be fulfilling and enriching for your mind space will be a memoir of real world moments.
                                                                                                            Arun Babu.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Why say Sorry? : Blog # 115

Why say Sorry?

          Many a time, I have heard this highly romanticized concept of “No Thank you and Sorry in friendship”. I do not understand why. I would rather say it is more needed in a close relationship. May be there is some credence to not needing to say thank you as the expectation is that the other person will be there for us, but sorry is non- negotiable.

why say sorry?,why should we say sorry?         We say sorry primarily to acknowledge a mistake. But there is more to a sorry than just an apology. It shows the presence of a genuine intent. For instance, we wanted to attend a friend’s wedding and due to some unavoidable reason, we couldn't.  When we send across a regret note, it shows you had an intention of going which due to some reason you couldn't live up to.

             When we say sorry, it shows respect for the other person. If we had promised a person that we would arrive at a place at a particular time and if we couldn't and when we say a sorry, it means you respect the other person’s time. You respect the effort the other person took to keep up the commitment he/she made to you.

          A sorry also shows concern. If you express regret when you doubt that you have unintentionally caused someone some hurt of any kind even the size of a sand grain, there is this feel good factor which plays around in the other person’s mind. The person feels good because you are perceived to be concerned about the other person’s feelings. This takes away the possibility of the other person taking offence to a great extent. The Brownie point being you are perceived as a well mannered person.

            And then there is the grave danger of feeling taken for granted. The absence of a sorry might instill this thought which leaves a person feeling like a door mat or a push over. Thus begins the affected person’s struggle to prove one’s importance and identity which invariably brings friction in a relationship.

Some of us unnecessarily attach one’s ego to saying sorry. Saying sorry only shows one’s ability to accept one’s own mistake. Even if you accept or not, the other person involved will perceive it as a wrong doing on your part. So in an instance where you know you have committed a wrong doing, why not go ahead and admit the mistake and save whatever little grace that remains?
                                                                                                                   Arun Babu.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

To hell and back : Blog # 114

To hell and back

        There is this friend of mine who met with an accident recently. We all used to tell him to not to drive recklessly. But he never paid heed to our words. Finally, after this happened, he has decided to take it slow.

            After all, there might be some goodness to bad things that happen to us. There might be a reason. I think we all need some unpleasant incidents in our lives. Only then, we appreciate and understand the value of the blessings in life – however small or trivial they might appear to be.

There is this perennial tendency of taking a good life for granted. We conveniently overlook status quo of the ‘going good’ state in our lives. Quite often, we say life lacks excitement. Only when the status quo is negatively disrupted, do we look back and say those days were peaceful and we forgot to enjoy them. This might explain as to why people who have recovered from a terminal illness begin to appreciate Life much better.

Ever wondered why some among us end up being rich spoiled brats? One of the reasons may be we end up leading such extremely protected lives that one loses touch with reality. The reasoning that Life is a mixed bag begins to fade. It is like trying to look at a tourist destination from the French windows of an ultra luxurious hotel. One never gets to see the reality and experience the essence of the place. There is such abundance of money that one begins to look at life stubbornly as a bed of roses devoid of thorns.  From this, comes an arrogance and a naive belief that one can dictate terms to Life.

Then there are those who become obsessive whiners. They begin to fret and faint at the smallest of Life’s quagmires. This may be because of lack of exposure to bad experiences. Unless one has come across some disappointments and despairs in one’s growing up years, one finds it difficult to adjust to adversities. This is because of the simple reason that he/she doesn’t know how to tackle a rough patch. There is no learning from the past that it is just a phase and there is a silver lining around the corner. We all have seen people who have been high achievers all through their lives struggling to cope at the first hint of failure.

Bad experiences are lessons learned. One need not wait for bad things to happen to one self. There is always the choice of learning from others’ mistakes. But if you are recklessly determined on ringing the bell to the hell’s door, Life does oblige.

                                                                                                Arun Babu.