Thursday, February 28, 2013

Let in.....

A small poem inspired by some articles.....

"Happiness is really a deep inner satisfaction and approval" - Francis Wiltshire

Let in awareness,
Let in love.
Let in some compassion,
And let there be some forgiveness.
Let in laughter, for it enlightens the mood,
Let in that joy, for that's the gift we deserve.
Let in gratitude, along with its silence.
Let in serendipity, but don't close the doors on pain.
We truly let go...when we actually let in.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I am weak and I will fail you

Date a girl who doesn’t read. Find her in a wretched bar in the smoke, drunken sweat, and varicolored light of an upscale nightclub. Find her on one of those road side shopping complexes. Wherever you find her, find her smiling. Make sure that it lingers when the people that are talking to her look away. Engage her with unsentimental trivialities. Use pick-up lines and laugh inwardly. Take her outside when the night overstays its welcome. Ignore the palpable weight of fatigue. Kiss her in the rain under the weak glow of a streetlamp because you’ve seen it in film. Remark at its lack of significance. Take her to your apartment. Dispatch with making love.

Let the unwittingly written contract evolve slowly and uncomfortably into a relationship. Find shared interests and common ground like food, and folk music. Build an impenetrable bastion upon that ground. Make it sacred. Retreat into it every time the air gets stale, or the evenings get long. Talk about nothing of significance, but do little thinking. Let the months pass unnoticed. Ask her to move in. Let her decorate, your place. Get into fights about inconsequential things like how the the bed room needs to be organized so things are easy to find. Let a year pass unnoticed. Now, begin to notice.

Figure that you should probably get married because you will have wasted a lot of time otherwise. Take her to dinner on the 50th floor at a restaurant far beyond your means. Make sure there is a beautiful view of the city. Sheepishly ask a waiter to bring her a glass of champagne with a modest ring in it. When she notices, propose to her with all of the enthusiasm and sincerity you can muster. Do not be overly concerned if you feel your heart leap through a pane of sheet glass. For that matter, do not be overly concerned if you cannot feel it at all. If there is applause, let it stagnate. If she cries, smile as if you’ve never been happier. If she doesn’t, smile all the same. Eventually, get married to her.

Let a few years pass unnoticed. Get a career, not a job. Buy a house. Have two striking children. Try to raise them well. Fail, frequently. Lapse into a bored indifference. Lapse into an indifferent sadness. Have a mid-life crisis. Grow old. Wonder at your lack of achievement. Feel sometimes contented, but mostly vacant and ethereal. Feel, during walks, as if you might never return, or as if you might blow away on the wind. Contract a terminal illness. Die, but only after you observe that the girl who didn’t read never made your heart oscillate with any significant passion, that no one will write the story of your lives, and that she will die, too, with only a mild and tempered regret that nothing ever came of her capacity to love.

Do those things, because a life in purgatory is better than a life in hell. Do it, because a girl who reads possesses a vocabulary that can describe that amorphous discontent as a life unfulfilled—a vocabulary that parses the innate beauty of the world and makes it an accessible necessity instead of an alien wonder. A girl who reads lays claim to a vocabulary that distinguishes between the specious and soulless rhetoric of someone who cannot love her, and the inarticulate desperation of someone who loves her too much. A vocabulary, god damnit, that makes my vacuous sophistry a cheap trick.

Do it, because a girl who reads understands syntax. Literature has taught her that moments of tenderness come in sporadic but knowable intervals. A girl who reads knows that life is not planar; she knows, and rightly demands, that the ebb comes along with the flow of disappointment. A girl who has read up on her syntax senses the irregular pauses—the hesitation of breath—endemic to a lie. A girl who reads perceives the difference between a parenthetical moment of anger and the entrenched habits of someone whose bitter cynicism will run on, run on well past any point of reason, or purpose, run on far after she has packed a suitcase and said a reluctant goodbye and she has decided that I am an ellipsis and not a period and run on and run on. Syntax that knows the rhythm and cadence of a life well lived.

Date a girl who doesn’t read because the girl who reads knows the importance of plot. She can trace out the demarcations of a prologue and the sharp ridges of a climax. She feels them in her skin. The girl who reads will be patient with an intermission and expedite a denouement. But of all things, the girl who reads knows most the ineluctable significance of an end. She is comfortable with them. She has bid farewell to a thousand heroes with only a twinge of sadness.

Don’t date a girl who reads because girls who read are the storytellers. The girl who reads has spun out the account of her life and it is bursting with meaning. She insists that her narratives are rich, her supporting cast colorful, and her typeface bold. You, the girl who reads, make me want to be everything that I am not.

But I am weak and I will fail you, because you have dreamed, properly, of someone who is better than I am. You will not accept the life that I told of at the beginning of this piece. You will accept nothing less than passion, and perfection, and a life worthy of being storied.

Its ok if you don't like me....

If my first goal is to make sure that everyone likes and approves of me, then i risk sacrificing my uniqueness, and, therefore, my excellence.(Source: an age old proverb)

Am i a people-pleaser? I am not sure if i am. I have felt like one at times. I generally hate arguments and debates and a lot of times, I agree knowing that the other person is wrong. At times, when i do come out and argue quite strongly, it often leads to disagreements of a different kind. Maybe, i have never learnt the art of raising my viewpoint, and yet make sure i respect the other person's viewpoint. No, that that i don't i do respect someone's opinion even though i may not agree to it. But a lot of times, it might appear otherwise. For these reasons, i stay away from arguments and maybe, i might be interpreted that i am a people-pleaser. At the end of the day, i want to be liked and appreciated, just like most others. Who doesn’t want to feel accepted, respected, and appreciated?

A major portion of my life has been spent in trying to "prove" things to others. It could be education or a job or a project well done or money or whatever. In these circumstances above, though most part was for self, a big part was for the alter ego, just to "prove" i could do it, because someone at some point had told me i couldn't achieve certain things. Most part of my life was fixated, and was never fixed. Why? Because, i wanted that him/her who made me feel low to accept that i did prove them wrong. In a way, they were forced to respect me and eventually like me(convoluted, but that's how it was). Hence, for a major part of my life, my need to be liked and respected, overshadowed all other needs. I was always trying to trick perception, and constantly adapting myself to receive "external validation". I believed(still do) that "external validation" gives rise to self worth which eventually transforms into internal validation. It always has been draining(personally and for my friends) and counterproductive. In the bargain, i realized, there are very few people who actually know me - the real me - and that became the prerequisite to liking me. And fortunately, a few of these people have been around my life for a while and i have realized very very  recently, if there are some who don't accept or agree with me, its a good sign.

I am not suggesting to be rude, inconsiderate or disrespectful. I am not writing about disregarding other people's feelings or opinions. This is about releasing my stress about other people's opinions. Its about getting comfortable with the feeling of being disliked by someone.

So, i started wondering and reading what could be some pros and cons to the above:

1. It allows me to be true to myself:  The biggest treachery i can do to myself is trying to please my audience. Its pointless. No one will get to know the real me. If they don't care about me, why would i care about them? By not doing the above, a lot of times, i have felt empty.

2. I am more comfortable:  I don't really have to pretend for someone else's sake. I am not saying one should get drunk and hit someone or shout in anger or disturb others. I am realizing that its perfectly ok to say "I am scared(or lonely or weak or struggling)" regardless of what people think.

3. I can freely express my thoughts:  I have often been told that i am a good listener. "Most" people think i don't judge someone when they are talking to me about something. I deserve the same kindness too, which i don't get a lot of times. I have realized that people will form opinions as i speak. Should i continue talking to these people? How do i even know someone i don't know very well is going to form an opinion anyway? I have realized that if they are interested in talking, then i shall continue talking. My words, should be kind but needn't necessarily be defensive or fearful.

4. Feel like a celebrity: Pick a popular artist and look up their profile on facebook or twitter. And check to see the harsh comments about their album or work or anything. The higher someone rises, the higher is the probability of receiving attention, both positive and negative. A willingness to be disliked is important in these circumstances.

5. Do what is right, not just for something in return:  A lot of times i have done things because i thought they were right. It could have been having a heart wrenching conversation with someone who i hardly know when they were sharing their problems with me or going out of my way in helping someone because he or she genuinely needed me at some point etc. Some of these have not even bothered to find out if i am dead or alive in a while. Some, have gone a step further in spreading word on what a distasteful person i am. I wonder then as i wonder now, if all these are worth? Why should i care for someone i don't know. But then again, if i don't care, how would i know the person? How do i stop constantly getting hurt and feeling used? Should i shut down? But then, will i be true to myself? My true nature dictates that i have always been a helpful person. Should i become completely self obsessed? I don't have answers to some of these. But the biggest dilemma i have is, should i change myself due to this insignificant bunch?

PS: Some of the above thoughts have been inspired from tiny budha articles.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The 3 goals of my life

I have always asked myself if i was really lucky. No no...this is not a comparison game where i am trying to see if i am lucky compared to someone else. I am just simply trying to ask myself if i was lucky at some point. More so, i was trying to understand a while back what the term luck meant to me. The dictionary definition of the term luck goes like this:


[luhk] Show IPA
the force that seems to operate for good or ill in a person's life, as in shaping circumstances, events, or opportunities:With my luck I'll probably get pneumonia.
good fortune; advantage or success, considered as the result of chance: He had no luck finding work.
a combination of circumstances, events, etc., operating by chance to bring good or ill to a person: She's had nothing butbad luck all year.
some object on which good fortune is supposed to depend:This rabbit's foot is my luck.

Note all the key terms in the above definition: force, good or ill in a person's life, circumstances, events, opportunities, good fortune, advantage, success, by chance.

Funny as it may sound, for me "good luck" amounts to happiness. That brings me to the next question: On a scale of 1-10 where does my happiness quotient lie? The day i joined one of the finest universities in this country, my first love, my first rejection, the days i was out of job, the day i got a job with one of the best internet brands, the day when my best friend betrayed me, the day when i started my own company, the day when i shut it down too, when i didn't know where to go or stay the first time i reached bangalore, the day when my dad died. At different points in this story, i might have been at negative sometimes and i might been at 9 or sometimes even at zero. Over the last few months and years, the good part is, this number is constant - am i getting content with life? But the bad part is, its not high enough - have i become a sad person?

What i have realized through some of the above incidents is that i get lucky when i stick to 3 simple goals:

1. I want to be happy
2. I want to eradicate unhappiness in my life.
3. I want every day to be as smooth as possible. I DO NOT want any hassles.

That's it. Am i asking for much? I need simple goals. Are the above simple goals to achieve? Most of us may agree these are pretty simple goals....turns out achieving them however is not as simple as it looks(well atleast for me).

There have been multiple times in my life where everything seemed so low that i would not even be able to achieve a single goal on any given day. Months would pass this way and there are many a times i have felt that the world would be better off without me. Other times, i was stuck at crossroads not knowing which road to take. Sometimes i bounced back. Over the last few months, bouncing back had become far more difficult than before - age, lack of motivation, lack of personal excellence, deteriorating interests from existing hobbies and passions are a few reasons for this. So every time i think of going for that long awaited run in the morning or visiting a temple, my only question to myself is: "What is the point?". It has become a negative feedback cycle of negative emotions fueling more negative emotions. Laughter has seriously become a luxury. Bottom line - I have become cynical, as someone pointed out today.

When i am looking at these incidents and points when i was low and i had bounced back, i am coming to realize that there is a common thread. Each time, there were 4 things and only 4 things that somehow helped me bounce back:

1. Physical Existence: Being in shape. Doing some form of exercise(sex included :)). This is not to develop those 6 pack absa or get to a size zero. Its just about staying healthy. They say you can't be happy if you aren't healthy.

2. Emotional Existence: Sometime back, if someone was a drag on me, i cut them down. If someone lifts me up, i brought them closer. Nothing or no one was sacred. Family, friends and people i care about - i was always there when they needed me. But i never got close to anyone bringing me down. Unfortunately, this rule does not exist in my life anymore. Energy leaks out if someone is draining you. And i have never owed anyone an explanation. I have always believed that explaining is draining. Don't get me wrong. This does not mean abandon those who might need you. Its quite the opposite. If you are a clean river, then people can drink from you. If you are dirty water, then people will get sick. Another important rule is honesty. Unfortunately, i am not a great communicator even among the closest of friends. I talk a lot but i am not necessarily good at communicating what i feel or think. Hence, my most honest opinions gets misconstrued most of the times. Should i stop being honest...sometimes i did that. But yet again, i wasn't feeling right about it. I have finally come to realize that this is the person i am. If people have a problem with my honesty, its their problem, not necessarily mine. So if someone gets into a disagreement because i was honest about what i felt, too bad, i don't know how to fix it for them.

3. Mental Existence: There was a time, every single day i used to write down ideas. For example the other day i wrote down about 25 alternatives kids could do beyond engineering, medicine and commerce. The next day i came up with another 10-15. When i started running out of ideas, i started memorizing all the 3 letter words i could use in the game of scrabble. Or just the other day i came up with about 25 chapters that should necessarily go in anyone's autobiography. All of these is like a cheap psychological trick. Most of us get a sense of accomplishment by filling up pages quickly.

4. Spiritual Existence: No I AM NOT talking about god or religion. What i mean by spiritual existence is to indulge in one of the following spiritual exercises:

  • Pray: Doesn't matter if i am praying to god, or to dead people, or to the empty chair in front of me. Its just a means to be thankful and not taking all the credit for just a few seconds of the day
  • Meditation: Meditation for more than a few minutes is boring. Sometimes its hard to keep your mind focussed on "nothing". I generally use a simple technique of sitting on a chair, back straight and simply observe how i breathe. I slowly went from 5 minutes on this to about 30 minutes a day at some point.
  • Being greatful: I try to think about all those people to whom i feel greatful. Then i try to think of more people and more...till it gets really hard to go any further.
  • Forgiving: Harder to implement and easier to talk. I do tend consciously these days to let go of people who have done me wrong. I try and see if i can visualize greatfulness for them(not necessarily pity).
  • Studying: Sometimes when i read spiritual or inspirational books(not necessarily self help), i tend to feel good. This is not really as powerful as meditating but its a way to gain knowledge of some kind.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A walk with wisdom....

In that star studded night,
amidst the beauty of the stars and the stillness of the night,
she dropped by my bed and stood beside me staring.
Her name, well is spelt, WISDOM.

She looked upon me, like a tender mother looking at her child,
She wiped my tears,and she said,
"I am here to comfort you, my child.
When you open your eyes, i shall fill your heart with light.
And whenever you call out to me, i shall show you the way to truth and life".

And i said:
"Who am i, really mother?
Why did i come into this frightening place?
What are these thoughts of hope and despair, that pass me every day, every night?
And these moments, griveous and yet joyous,that embrace me and my spirit?
And what about the sweet music of desire,sung by delight?
This youth, playing with my longings, mocking my desires, forgetting yesterday's actions and mourning about tomorrow's sunrise?

What is this world, that leads me nowhere, nor here, nor there?
Why i am submerged in my own ignorance?
Why am i unable to recognize who is friend and who is foe?
What are these mother wisdom? What are these?"

And She replied:

"When the evening comes, the flower folds her petals, and sleeps waiting for the morning.
At the morning approach, she opens her lips to kiss the first ray of light that might fall upon her.
The life of a flower, is filled with longing and fullfillment, of tears and a smile.
So is the life of a cloud,parting and meeting,with a tear and a smile.

And so does the spirit seperates from the greater spirit,
moving into a world of matter,
and pass over the mountains of sorrows and the plains of joys
to meet the breeze of death and return to where it came from."

(Inspired from Khalil Gibran)

Monday, August 08, 2011

On Search!

A few days back something had upset me. One of my friends asked me what is bothering you. I said, i can't find something i am searching for. He casually replied "Life is a search". I didn't know the impact of this statement till i started wondering about it. At the outset, it is one of the casual statements all of us seem to have made or heard at some point in our lives. But somehow, this time around, when i heard it, it was having a far greater impact on me. Indeed, life is a search - a constant search, a desperate search, a hopeless meaningless search for something one knows not what. And then there is a deep state of our minds in which whatever we get is not going to give us any satisfaction. Frustration becomes a means to an end because whatever we search becomes meaningless after a few moments(i mean days/months or weeks) after we got we started to search for. Then another search continues.

The search continues, whether you have it not. The poor are searching, the rich are searching, the ill are searching, the well are searching, the powerless are searching, the stupid and the wise are also searching. Sometimes, we try to find our solutions in money, in power, in prestige, and sometimes, we seek it in god, bliss, love, meditation, prayer...but does the search stop?

One of my friends when i asked her what she wanted to do, she said, she wanted to become the richest women in the world. I actually have a problem with benchmarks, though i love perfectionists. Let me explain : when you say you want to become the "best", it essentially means you might need to outdo all the others in the field. Which means, you first need to search and find ways to outdoo them. And even when you do outdo them, you need to retain it. Not to forget, the rest of them will also find ways to outdo each other. So, on the battle of retaining oneself on the "best" bracket, one has to search and find ways to remain there. And the others, have to find ways to reach there. Hence, there is this constant battle happening on who is going to be the "best", thereby opening more doors to "search". This, indeed becomes an endless cycle, because each one of us in the field needs to constantly find(search) for ways to be the fore-runners in the field.

Money, power, prestige and all the others above only satisfy us with a feeling that we are searching for something. That "something" is still undefined. It still seems vauge in most cases. So richness, power, prestige, respectability is not going to help. Is it to do with man's greed to amass more out of life or amass more out of his search for search? Is man ill with search?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Avoiding Fights and arguments

Some recent experiences have taught me some new lessons on the above subject. Have been trying for a while to sort of assimilate the information. Here are a few tips for avoiding fights and arguments:

1. Delay: This gives you time to think (of the effect of your words) before you speak. Use a niceness filter.
2. Never attack a weak-point : Every person has a shortcoming that he/she is aware of. Never hit the chink of their armour. For example never tease a short guy about his height or a dull girl about her intelligence.
3. Let go of your ego: If you stop caring about your own "importance" then you will hardly pay attention to any "affronts" to you - real or imagined. Then there will be no need to retaliate. This is actually the secret to never having quarrels/fights: Not minding.

1 is hard to do and requires a lot of practice.
2 requires that you know the person well. You might be unaware you are hitting on someone's weakness.
3 is hard even to accept; it is so contrary to what we hold on tightly to. But imbibing it will make you a much happier and friendlier person.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

TheAtrix - The real germination

I had the pleasure and the opportunity to watch some of my friends(and well, part of the MISF!T family), perform an in-house play titled "The strangeness of reality". The script was written by amit, who also played the protagonist and he also directed the play...whew! That's in itself a lot. Unlike the traditional MISFIT plays, this was the first time without any involvement from anyone outside the cast. The 35 minutes that the play ran for, went on just fine, pushing the audience to their seats with the right amount of suspense mixed with emotions, that made the evening quite enjoyable.

The story starts with an actor(amit), shooting for his movie, where he realizes that he had actually participated in the shoot even before it had started, in the exact way it was about to happen. Similar incidents follow at home when he meets his wife(rency), so it kind of leads the audience into believing that the actor, has some kind of an ESP. Soon, he realizes he isn't normal and meets a doctor(ankur), who happens to be his friend. There again, he foresees that the doctor is about to get a call from his wife and also tells the doctor the prescription given to him, even before any of these occur. The doctor advises him to consult a psychiatrist, which in a way alarms the actor. As the actor steps out of the hospital, he realizes he sees multiple events that are about to happen at the same time. On one side is his elder brother(praveen), a failed actor, who is frustrated with life and his brother and attempts to commit a suicide. On the other side is his aged dad(praveen again), who is again about to die, due to his old age. Another side, he sees his sweet and innocent wife, plotting a devious ploy with his director(karan) to kill him. Will the actor be able to stop any of this? Will he save his brothe? his dad? Will he be able to save himself? Are all these real? These questions and their realities form the strangeness of reality, leaving the audience in a completely different end(which i don't think i should reveal now, just not to disturb the future viewers).

Now, getting back into the stagecraft and associated mechanics, each and every character, completely fit the part. The cast had a mixed set of actors, 3 of them from MISF!T, who had done the level 1 and the level 2 workshops and 2 others(karan and akshay), who hadn't undergone any formal training. But whether it was akshay playing the DON in the initial scene as amit's co-actor in the movie, who immediately switches to this nervous first time actor when the scene is over, or karan as a very understanding director in the first scene, suddenly switches back into this absolutely devious person towards the end, there wasn't any difference from the rest of the cast. The interesting part to observe is each character had multiple shades to them, which was portrayed beautifully by the actors. Whether it was rency, switching between this absolute trophy wife in the first scene to this devious vamp towards the end and then finally the caring wife or Praveen who switched between the elder brother to the father, so effortlessly, or the doctor, who was caught between being a friend and executing his responsibilities, each one had done their job brilliantly. But honestly, my personal favourite, is the protagonist, simply because he had to handle a gamut of emotions, ranging anywhere between a state of insanity to helplessnes to fear to anger to joy and amit handled it beautifully.

There was nothing to complain about the story or the play, except a few things:

  • The end came in too fast and a little abrupt. Maybe, the end needs a little more work and maybe a more concrete ending, not leaving too much room for interpretations.
  • The last scene with the father's monologue could have been positioned better, since the father was lost and the audience could only hear his voice. Also, in my view, the father's role did not add any specific value to the entire script.
  • The point where amit sees these events at the same time, he was completely upstage. Hence, the focus kept switching between amit and the rest. Maybe, it could have been positioned better.

Besides these minor issues, the play was worth watching. And as someone said, i would have definitely paid to watch the show(Yes! you read it was a non ticketed show:) ). Overall, it was a very very enjoyable experience for me and it kept me completely engrossed. I would love to watch this play getting done once again. In "reality", the play was far less "strange" and far more entertaining. Hats off amit and your team for putting this up. Hoping to see more....