Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Day Dreaming : Blog # 128

Day Dreaming

          During one of the Toast masters’ meetings of which I am a member, my friend Ashima from Calcutta told “I never thought I would walk down the streets of Mysore wearing Mogra on my hair.” That sentence somehow occurred to me as how we refuse to let our imagination wander about the endless possibilities and stupendous surprises that Life has in store for us.

day dreaming is good, I love day dreaming            We always limit our possibilities by frameworks – of distance, time, grit- the list is endless. How many of us at least wish to see the world in our life time? We think it is too much of distance to wish for!

            How many of us have the audacity to think that we will be at a much better position in life, say 5 years from now? We think it is too less of a time frame!

            We ourselves lack the will to aspire for our dreams to come true. If someone had come up to me a few years before and told me that I would be doing a job of my liking, I too would have gone on a laughing spree. May be this is where from people who have experienced Life derive their stability from. They have seen enough Life to know that we should be hopeful of Life. Only then Life will live up to that hope.

            We always look down  on day dreaming. I would say a fair amount of day dreaming helps. If we envisage a better tomorrow for ourselves, somewhere we start believing in it. Our actions, however small it may be will get aligned towards that goal. If there is no expectation at all, then what does one work towards?

What is there in expecting? We stand to lose nothing. On the contrary, even if one were to remain at status quo, the expectations will at least fill our heart and mind with some optimism. This positivity is powerful enough to take us a long way. It does bring a smile on our face or a spring in our step. Why should we let go of that feel good factor?          

And we must realize that there are not many people in the world who can afford to indulge in day dreaming. They are too caught up in sustaining their present. They are too busy making ends meet. It is a luxury not everyone can afford. Most of us are in a position to dream, to aspire, to hope. We should be grateful for this blessing and indulge in it.

                                                                                               Arun Babu.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Have a Life! : Blog # 127

Have a Life!

                    I remember talking to one of my uncles who retired as a Professor. During the conversation, he told “I wish I had a Life!” He went on to add as to how engrossed he used to get in his work and how oblivious he became to what was happening outside his area of work. The reality struck on the next day after his retirement. There was no meeting to go to, no phone calls to attend, no agendas to achieve. He regretted how he became more and more confined to his work that he began living around the demands of his work and not how he wanted it to be!
live life,liberate yourself
            Of course work is an important part of our life. But more often than not, we miss out the “part” aspect in that. Many a time, we mistake work for life itself. We begin surrendering to the dictatorship of work and our preferences begin to take a backseat.

There is this colleague of mine, Avi who is pursuing his interest in music in spite of our hectic work schedule. He has put together a band and is performing even. How many of us have that kind of grit? Forget about chasing one’s own dreams, how many of us take an effort to do things which makes oneself happy?

For many of us, salary is just a mobile message that shows up at month end. Yes, we are happy that we are living on our own and are building a future with it. But does the figure that show up make us happy, apart for the first couple of months may be? Ever wondered why is it so? It is because we are cherishing the experience of work that we are doing and not the transaction that happens at the end of every month.

Extrapolating that thought, the work that we do is just the transaction that we need to undertake to go through the experience that is Life. The moment we give undue importance to transaction, we will miss out on the journey of Life.

Work wise, there are very few people who get to do what they really like doing. That is a reality and we need to live with it. But who is stopping us from chasing our dreams? The work will be demanding and we will have to find time for doing things which brings us contentment or at least happiness. Years down the line, the day you decide to stop working, work being hectic will not be a good enough excuse to convince yourself that you did not do all those things you wanted to do with your Life.

Wouldn’t the canvas of life look much better with hues of various attempted ambitions than one with just a wide grey stroke of work alone?
                                                                                                  Arun Babu.                                                                        

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Rich & Proud : Blog # 126

Rich & Proud

                My friend Liz messaged me a snippet today which read “Money is not everything. But I will make enough of it before endorsing such one liners”.  The first part of the snippet depicts the general attitude towards money. I don’t think Money gets the respect it deserves in our society.”What will we do with so much of money!”. “Money doesn't have so much of value!” are the random rhetoric we usually come across.

Sorry about being rich, Envy of rich, Rich people,money is not evil            Why isn't everyone around having an abundance of Money? The simple reason being not many people understand money. It takes skill to generate it and more importantly, to sustain it. By showing money in poor light, I think what we are trying to do is cover up our lack of competence in understanding this entity. It requires smart choices and wise, long term decisions to become rich.

            I do not understand why making money is such a bad thing after all. It is just a matter of priority. My priority might be to gain more and more degrees. Another person’s aim might be to visit many countries. When these two are not looked down up on, why attach a stigma to getting rich alone?

            One of the leading industrialists once said “I am not apologetic about being rich!”. Another corporate Czar proclaimed “I would rather build factories and give people jobs than do charity for them”. I see the first one as a very open minded, non- hypocritical mindset and the second one as a noble thought.

            I am of the opinion that many people who say that “Money doesn't bring happiness” has not seen enough of it. Money can solve many a life’s problems. Education, Sustenance, Comfort, Mobility, Health and many such necessities of Life can be made easier with money. Then comes the intrinsic problems – of relationships, of family and such issues which do not have any relation to one being rich or poor. All of us face such issues in life irrespective of what our financial situation is. So might as well make some money and find some comfort amidst such problems.

            Then there is the question of getting rich through un acceptable means. But that depends on the path a particular person chooses. There are academicians who buy out doctorates and then there are people who earn their degrees the hard way. Likewise, not everyone making money is a hoarder or a crook. There are people who work real hard to earn their riches. If one can be proud of a degree, one can be proud about being rich too. 

            I am not saying money is everything. There are things money can’t buy and yes there are things beyond the reach of Master card tooJ. The sponsoring thought here is whether we are giving money, the respect it deserves. More often than not, we resort to stigmatizing it with patronizing dogmas and that needs to change.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Arun Babu.  

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Private People : Blog # 125

Private People

           There has never been a time when the mankind has been more connected than today, thanks to the social media and Internet. All our dear and near ones are just a click away.

            In the realm of anthropology, there is a concept called Dunbar’s number. Defining it broadly is the number of people one maintains a social relation ship with. We might think that the recent advancements should have definitely enhanced the limits of our Dunbar’s number.  But have they?

  The irony is that these very advancements are making people more and more private. As much as there is access to each other, all of us are confining ourselves in to our own spaces.

            For instance, how often do all the members of the family sit together in front of the Television these days? The youngsters in the family will invariably have laptops and they will prefer the tubes than the channels.

            There was a time when the phone calls were shared between all the members of the family. Today, when even a school goer prefers his/her cell phone, there is no need to share a call.

            A family used to come together during the morning tea for the Newspaper. There used to be some sort of tug and pull at the paper and a subsequent sharing of viewpoints at various reports. Today’s news comes in Apps. Distributing the newsprint might look archaic.

            Earlier, people used to talk. There used to be soulful discussions. Today, we tweet! And there is much that is lost between the lines or worse, some of us read too much in to the lines.

          If one were to think on the lines of Kishore Biyani, shopping is a family occasion for us. In today’s world of e-shopping, how often do we go shopping as a family?

            All of these points towards the lack of touch points in all our relationships. We are all becoming increasingly private. For all the tall talk about technological advancements and the social metamorphosis we are going through, the ethos of human relationships remain unchanged. It requires interaction to sustain.

The intention here is not to envisage a life back in time where we go back to the Amish world so that we interact more.  But we should look at finding ways to interact more as human beings because personal interactions are more enriching than the digital ones, at least in our times.

Arun Babu.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Slaves of habit : Blog # 124

Slaves of habit

      We are all slaves of habit, aren’t we? Good or bad, we pick up habits early on in our lives and then allow them to enslave us. This might be the reason why we give so much of importance to the formative years. Once we get in to a habit in those years, we almost refuse to come out of them.

imprisoned by habits,try out new things            From the smallest of things like sleeping on the right side of the bed to taking the central seat at the dining table, we become creatures of habit. We become so addicted to our habits that we begin to think of it as our identity. Haven’t some of us told quite often that “I can’t start my morning without a tea” or “I can’t do anything without postponing it, even if it is for an hour, I am like that”!

            By becoming habitual, we are limiting ourselves from the endless opportunities of Life. I for one, whenever went to a restaurant, used to order only Dragon chicken, much to the dismay of my friendsJ. Then one day, I ordered Lasagne and then it dawned on me as to how stupid it is on my part to refuse exploring the variety of food available at my disposal.

            When we allow ourselves to be prisoners of habits, we miss out an opportunity to find out how things look from another perspective. It is like refusing to look at the other side of the coin. We may never find out how different Life is when approached in a different way. It might be good, bad or even ugly. But it will be different for certain.

                          If stuck to doing things in a singular way, we also risk stagnating. When we meet someone after a long time and they say “You haven’t changed at all”, it can be a good thing. They might be saying that we haven’t lost ourselves in the madness of Life. But if they mean “You haven’t grown at all” then what is the point of living itself?

                      It is said animals love certainty. They need a pattern to follow to make semblance of their existence. This is the reason why every single day of an animal’s life turns out to be in the exact same fashion. Apart from the lack of hunting and defending skills, this is also a reason an animal which grows up in a zoo finds it difficult to survive in the wild. They are just not ready to look at Life beyond the pattern of sleep-wake up-eat-sleep.

                      We all know Life at times, is wild in the true sense of the word. Getting ourselves accustomed to the confinements of a few habits will only make it difficult for us to survive its wilderness.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Arun Babu

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Seasons of a Lifetime : Blog # 123

Seasons of a Lifetime

        I remember going to Hamleys, the world renowned toy shop. It is a child’s paradise. As grownups, my friends and I found it difficult to get out of that shop. It was as if the shelves were stuffed with childhood dreams on sale.

enjoy life,youth,adolescence,oldage
There was a kid who came with his parents. He was so overjoyed that he started running from one section to the other – from Cars to Guns to Superheroes- across the shop. If I were a kid, I would have done the same. His parents asked him to go through each section slowly and then decide what he wanted to buy. He gave it a futile try and started running again J.   

Come to think of it, all of us are like that little kid. We are busy chasing Life. We are constantly aspiring – for a better education, a higher paying job, a better standard of living and what not. We are scared that if we pause and ponder too much, we will miss out on what is to come.

Before we finish taking first steps and exploring nature, we rush to school. From school, we start dreaming of the college life. Right from day one at college, we fret about finding a job. As soon as a job is found, we are looking out for another one. And this goes on and on and on.

In a candid conversation over tea with a friend or at a quieter time all by oneself, we all would have looked back and wondered – “How happy I was back then! How good those times were. Why didn't I realize it back then?”

It is not that we don’t enjoy Life . We all try to do that and would have known people who do an envious job at it – Living Life to the fullest. But even they fail to recognize the goodness of Life right when it happens to them. 

The impatience to get ahead leads to our failure in recognizing the seasons of Life and the bitter sweet memories they bring along. We become so myopic with our impatience that we refuse to understand that whatever is happening will turn out to be fond memories later on in Life.

 Much later, we look back and take stock of all that we failed to realize. – How happy the childhood was, How vibrant the adolescence was, How spirited the youth was! Why not acknowledge its goodness then and there?

We need to look ahead in Life for want of not stagnating. We should know where we are headed. But equally important is enjoying each phase of it.  If we are constantly worried about where we are headed, at the finishing line, all that we would have covered will be the laps with no memories of the blissful pit stops. It shouldn't so happen that we come to think of Life as being lived in a rush.

Our Lives shouldn't resemble those years where one saw the beginning and end of it yet have no memories of it's entrancing seasons.
                                                                                                             Arun Babu         

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Blinders to the Soul : Blog # 122

Blinders to the Soul

        Someone has rightly said that eyes are the windows to the soul. I will go ahead and say that it is as much an extension of our soul itself. The reasons are varied. To begin with, they reflect exactly what is on our mind, as if they were mirrors. It is difficult to lie holding our eyes steady. It emotes what our soul feels with all its sincerity.

It is because of these reasons that we all use coolers more than what they are intended for. There are people who use it as a protection for their eyes or to enhance the way one looks. But there are people who go a step further.

why we wear sunglasses,use of sunglasses        It was in 8th standard that I realized how much a ‘shades’ can hide. One of my class mates slept through all of the Chemistry classes without getting caught. He would adjust his spectacles in a way where his eyes will not be visible. It was a day night glass! The slight darkness helped him to catch a blissful siesta when all of us struggled to stay awake.

            Then at many instances in Life, I found people using shades as a barrier. The moment one puts on one of these coolers, it acts as a veil of security – mostly a barrier of protection for one’s emotion.

           Many a time, people put on coolers when they get emotional. It helps in two ways. One, it hides the tears. Two, it helps in preventing tears. When there is this dark glass between two people, there is no eye contact. Two of them do not know what exactly the other person is feeling. This tells a lot about how we emote. Most of our emotions are dependent on what the other people around us are portraying at that moment. So by putting on glasses, all we need to do is rein in our own emotions. There is no affect brought in by the other person’s expressions – either positive or negative.

A cooler can appear as a hindrance to a social courtesy too. At times, if you keep on your coolers and talk to a person, they might get offended. The reason here again is the other person is not able to gauge what you are saying – the seriousness of it, the sincerity with which you are saying and the subtle sensibilities of what you are trying to convey.

          The best use of shades comes in to picture when one is lying. However seasoned a liar a person is, it is difficult to hide the reality from one’s eyes. We always tell “Believe me!” by looking in to another person’s eyes. The reason is, if it is true, it will show in your eyes. So the moment you put on blinders, you feel as secure as if you are behind a foot thick lead wall.

            Having said all this, we all put on blinders at some point or the other in Life and it is acceptable too. It becomes a problem when we begin needing them to avoid meeting one’s own eyes.
                                                                                                          Arun Babu.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Bedtime Stories : Blog # 121

Bedtime stories

      The other day, I went to bed with a disturbed mind. Something was bothering me. When I woke up the next day morning, I could find myself in the exact same frame of mind. It was very unnerving. It had a cascading effect on the whole day.

why tell a bedtime story?            If you wake up with an upbeat mindset, chances are high that the day will go well. You step out of your home with a spring in the step and you spread a positive vibe. It is important that we go to sleep without negative or disturbing thoughts for a good sleep and for a good wake up the next day.

May be this is the reason why we were told bedtime stories in our child hood days. Whatever happened in the day would go behind the veils of a good old story and the kids go to bed with a happy mindset.If you have ever told a child a bed time story, they will patiently listen to you through the entire story. But towards the end, they also speak along with you. They know the ending is happy and may be they want to ensure it that way.

I think it is with a purpose that most of the bedtime stories have a happy ending - to instill a positive spirit that even though life turn out to be  a tiring experience at times, in the long run, things will turn out just fine.

Same is the case with our Indian films. Most of them end on a positive note; at least it used to be so. There was a time when all the Malayalam films used to end with a last frame titled ‘Shubham’.

When we grow up and become too old or lazy for stories, we take to music, films, and sitcoms. But the intent remains the same – to sprinkle the mind with dews of positivity.

            I think it is exactly this that we search for in the finer things in Life. Be it a book that we read, a piece of art that we admire or musical performances we indulge in, we are seeking for a bout of positivity amidst the realities of life.

One of my uncles once told me “I never remember all the sadness that transpired in my life. I retain only those times when a tough phase came to a happy ending. If some phase did not end happily, I try and forget them”. He remains one of the most positive people I have ever come across.  Now isn't that the Bed time story philosophy at work?
Arun Babu