Tuesday, December 9, 2014

कितना खाएगा, फट जाएगा एक दिन… And are you a content greedy?

I am greedy. I am content too. Repeat this 10 times daily when you get up. You may not see any results, it’s not a self help chant.

greed |griːd| noun [ mass noun ]
intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power, or food.

content 1 |kənˈtɛnt| adjective
in a state of peaceful happiness: he seemed more content, less bitter.
willing to accept something; satisfied
verb [ with obj. ]
satisfy (someone)

this is what the dictionary has to say about the two words.
Looking from a more radical line of thought, I think content and greed go hand in hand. Rather they should. The more content I am the more greedy I get. As soon as my greed increases, I start on my path towards a higher level of contentment. My greed for quest has taken me far and across.
It would not be wrong to say that I consider myself, as being a content greedy. For everything around me. Some aspects more than others. I am greedy. But I also remain content with what I have till that greed is satisfied. Love, affections, care, Friends, what I already have in life, I wouldn't trade it for anything else, except for maybe more of everything.

But then enough about me. Lets bring this to the table and have everyone in the picture. Greed applies to all. We have traditionally attached such negative sentiment to greed that we don’t want to accept it even when it is good. Greed is a good leveller. It does not differentiate between caste and creed. Rich or Poor. Infact the more we have abundance of something, the more greed too we accrue in our accounts.

What normally happens is we forget to revise the level of contentment in us and eventually start running after greedy aims in order to close then gap quickly.
Confusing? Picture this, there is a contestant in KBC. I hope this is a fair enough example as this is one show quite familiar. It has very simple rules, the entry to it though is still a mystery to many. On the show, answer a set of questions and they give you reward money. They have set minimum fallback levels too. With number of questions answered the fallback amount goes up. Many a times, I have seen people stuck at a question, they can’t answer, have no lifelines too. They decide to quit the show. Accepted. They take their winnings till that point and move on. Content and happy that they have been rewarded for their efforts aptly.
Lets change on small condition in this picture. What if the candidate can only take back the last minimum fall back amount, even if they quit? Right. So the fall back gap increases to alot. People closer to the fall back amount and wanting to quit may still quit, but people higher up with more risk of losing will not. They just have to take the question even if they don’t know it. Why? Because with this clause their level of minimum contentment has gone way down. It does not matter to them, that any amount they get is winnings. Its is now a question of winning more or losing more. The mind gets tricked in to seeing the loss is bigger. This is human nature. When the risk and rewards aren’t equally balanced, we tend to become inclined towards seeing what would be more profitable.

We also have the well read and heard story of Ali Baba and the 40 thieves. Its been told and retold with minor changes here and there. Also been made into motion pictures and cartoon movies. I wonder if the actual learning did ever get carried on?
Ali Baba wasn’t too different from the 40 thieves. He was stealing from then, what they stole from others. He hadn’t been himself ever waylaid and robbed by them. It was his greed to go in to the cave and take the riches and head back home. In a version of the story, there is his brother Qasim. When he finds out of this way to be rich, he compels Alibaba to take him to the same cave. He gets so lost in his greed that he wants to carry more and more back. This is what led to him being taken care of. Taken care of here stands for being put out of his greed and misery once and for all. Alibaba’s level of contentment was far better than Qasim’s. Hence the different end. Though we never know what happened to the riches after Abu Hassan was taken care of by Ali Baba. Abu Hassan - Leader of the forty thieves.

In essence, greed is good. Just like friction, it is a necessary evil. But what is more important is to be content with certain amount of everything. Unless we upgrade our level of contentment, we shall never stop and rest. We will only see the ever widening gap between what was Ok for us sometime back and where our greed wants to take us to.

In the end the choice, as usual, remains in our own hands. We can chose what we want to be greedy for, it could be knowledge, learning, spending more time with loved ones. But at the same time we have to be satisfied too. From this satisfaction stems gratefulness. And unless we are content and grateful for what we have achieved, we will always be sad and unhappy about something.

Monday, December 1, 2014

तू तो बहुत बड़ा शिकारी है… And what do others think of your story?

Picture this: 10,000 BC
You come home dragging a dead boar weighing nothing less than half a tonne. People back then used to be stronger, hence you had bigger and heavier boars. There is no proof of that, but if one assumption is true, the inference can’t be far away.
So back to the scene, there is a lot of excitement 10 caves up and down your lane. You have already attained a demi god status amongst your neighbours.
Here is an excerpt from a dialogue that ensues between you and your wife,
You : “ooga oogga ooga”
Your Wife : “booga boog boog ooga oog”
Wives back then too spoke a bit more than their husbands, or so it seems.
Here is the most probable translation for the above,
You : “I killed a boar”
Wife : “Honestly? You killed it or you just dragged it here?”

Goes a lot to tell the about the status of husbands back then too. Maybe nothing has changed so far, even after all these years.
Further in the evening, during a drink with your other cave dwellers, you confide, that you actually did not kill the boar, it died chasing you all over the jungle. Slipped and Flipped and fell on the very  spear you abandoned in haste. Eyes wide open, face forward.
There goes your chance of free rounds of drinks, your title of being an ace hunter. Anyone even in 10 generations of yours won’t be acknowledged as a decent hunter because of this deed of yours. Lets not even mention the angry wife back home.

Being the descendants of the same hunter gatherers, its still important for us to have good stories. Be it getting a job, be it being successful in any role. Even if it is a product you are selling, you are required to have a convincing story.
If its so important why not have a proper subject in schools where we are taught how to make good stories?
Its just like any other skill, but people who can lie are slightly better off in this. Maybe not outrightly lie, lets just say, creative people.
Now I am not suggesting that we should all start lying about our glorious past and ever conquering forefathers, but then maybe we already do that now and then. Without even realising that we are doing it. Every day we get to see privileged treatment being given to people who have had their past stories all perfectly made up. People with better social standing, people with political clout, people with money to spare.

So then, as of now, what is your story? And why is it for others to feel good about yours?
There is one common thing I noticed, in all human history. History itself is the biggest story telling activity. All the religions too pay a lot of emphasis on you life’s deeds. Well, if you sum them up together in the chronological order, what you get is actually your life’s story. Without this account of yours in place, there is no entry for you anywhere, heaven or hell.

A friend of mine, in our college days, would let us in on the major developments in the software industry. Coincidently all these developments were leaked to him, by his brother, who always seemed to be in the right company at the right time. Sometimes so there also arose a need for more than one brothers, then the cousins would take over. What was missed by most of other listening to these stories, was that they could have read them anywhere in a decent software magazine too. But then he was a good storyteller, that no one could take away.

I believe people connect to you more if they can connect to what you have been through or what you have already seen in your life. We are all on the lookout for one common thread to hang on to, to join us with each other, and our past. Deep down maybe we still have the need to be associated to a closed group.

Ever wondered then how to come up with interesting things to account for the time you have already spent in world? I have and I think it boils down to a few simple steps.

  • Keeping a journal - Pros - You can revisit it from time to time. Try and learn from your past. Its a lot more better if you record important events, in writing. The brain has a habit of deforming memories to suit its mood and emotions. Even if does you no good, your offsprings will have something to talk about from your days.
    Cons - Being exposed over the embarrassing situations.
  • Brag a bit - Exaggerate a bit. For the fun of it. Don’t fabricate all lies. But the magnitude can be made to differ. Maybe increase the intensity here and there. if x is your story, making x+10 doesn't seem so bad. We all do it all the time. Have been doing it since childhood days.
    The old stomach ache excuse for not wanting to go to school on a particular day.
  • Don’t just make stories. Tell them. Share them. Attach a fun morale, learning to them. Spread goodness through them. Spread them the old fashioned way. Not on what’s app and facebooks. Spread them in through the ears of people close to you. Why you have to do this? Unless you are the rare type, who overthrew a dictator, caused a revolution, exploded an atomic bomb, or found any other way to crawl into the history books, you will have to tell your own stories. While you are at it, why not make them contain the correct messages all around.

All this of course does not mean you have to sell lies to everyone, inorder to accept you. You are great as you are. Be honest to that.

What I think to be important is, that when you mention your story of success or failures too, you never know who would be able to learn and move ahead in life because of that. Think about that, and feel content.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

सच सुन्ना है की अच्छा सुन्ना है..... And What is Reality?

Real and Reality are two different concepts. The pen and paper I used to put this rant on, is real. The meaning, which everyone will derive from the following lines, as per their IQ, EQ, what not Q, is their reality.
We are currently living in lavish houses, furnished and filled with magnificent pieces of art and comfort, all is real. But we don’t have time to share our experiences, most of the weekdays these, houses have empty people passing their time, missing the good ol’ days, is my friends our reality.

It seems to me everyone has their own version of reality. There could even be two or more than two versions. All correct and absolute within themselves.
Here are some incorrect versions too, which ran for quite some time until, things changed,
  • The Earth is the centre of the Universe. Most of us would have heard this one.
  • God when hungry starts drinking milk through their idols in temples. They don’t like the daily what nots offered to them, but then milk is special. That too full cream, polypacked.

Reality is what Reality is made to be. Similarly Life is what life is made to be. Hence we may say, Reality is what life is made to be.
B=C hence A=C. Remember what it was called?

Lets for the time being consider the reality of life. It mostly exists in two states, alive or dead. Any day anytime, the probability of you being alive is same as that of being dead. Simple mathematics. Although the probability of being dead, in a certain way, at a certain time, at the hands of certain someone is miniscule. Say by being pushed of the 40th floor of building in New Delhi, by Yetis, for making the glaciers recede. That is very highly improbable.
A very famous mantra on this note is, “Live everyday as it is your last day”. I recently heard it in a movie too. The main protagonist mentioned that’s how he lived everyday. Lets imagine the consequences of you trying the same thing in this real world.
Day 1 Wake up, don’t brush your teeth. I know at lot of people who don’t do it even if its not their last day. Take no bath. If you have a taste for alcoholic beverages, maybe gulp down a bottle or two of your favourite drink.
Won’t go to work, or any institution of study, or learning. What’s use of learning anything new when you won’t last the day.
Lastly but not the least, you would definitely want to break a law. Do something that you always wanted but never ventured because of a slight fear of prison/legal hassles. Rob a bank, kill someone, maybe some other vile crime, beyond the scope of this blog.
Rest assured by the day ended, you would be drunk, behind bars, broke and mostly probably just half dead. Far from the morning target you started your day with. Believe me. This will happen.
On the other hand, there is one more option. You still get up believing today is your last day. Yes there is a 50 percent chance it would be. You use common sense and do everything in balance, so that you can again wake up tomorrow, feeling the same way, doing things you enjoy doing. Making a better reality.

Using common sense does not reduce your chances of being dead today. But it does makes sure you don’t die by the kitchen knife while applying butter to your toast.

Keeping it simple, as unlike my other rants, reality is what you make of it. Make of whatever is happening around you. Whatever you are contributing in all your senses towards passing your time on this planet, world, home, office, park, park bench for that matter.
Its the care in your mom’s advice. Its the caution in your dad hmmph. Its the love in coo cooing of your name by certain someone. It’s not in just the good things, its also in the broken fender of your car, in the anger of the driver you just overtook without warning.

Reality is all that what makes you feel alive at the end of the day. On a particular day, if you do end up being dead, reality is no good for you anyhow.

Friday, November 14, 2014

उसका तो पूछ मत.… And what do you think of others?

How we think of others tells us a lot about us as well. For one, we most likely expect others to behave as we do when faced by the same problems. Unless of course, the other is our employee, junior or someone we think less capable. Then most of the time we are in for surprises.
Deep down we all know this is not the case, but it is our human nature that compels us to think otherwise. We try and put other’s action in our notions of right and wrong and pass judgements.

Though I haven’t been around for quite long, but whatever I have seen has provided me rich experiences to draw generalisations from. See that tells you something about me. Not only I don’t know much, I don’t stop showing off most of the times.

What we think of others goes a long way in shaping our own destiny as well, it determines our actions as well as our reactions to different situations. I am no saint, but there have been lessons that I learnt the hard way at times, more often than not based on what I thought of others around me.

For example, lets take an athlete. Lets say you are an athlete. You would practice day and night, before a competition. You train yourself to strengthen your strong points. You study your opponents, to find out their weaknesses, you try to remove them from your armour. They may be doing the same at that very moment. Its good and healthy competition.
You being the smarter one, decide to pay off an assassin, to take care of the one you are afraid of most, before the competition. Eventually you win. You think this is a good way and make sure this happens every odd race or so. What is going to happen in the long run? One, people, commentators, sport fans, even your fellow athletes, may wisen up to your tricks and expose you. Legal hassles and what not. Two, sooner or later, there is going to crop up a fear inside you, whether your immediate competitor is planning the same fate for you as well or not. You will start getting everyone taken care of, infact even throw in their trainers and coach too for the good measure, just because they help them get better.
Ok maybe the example is a bit far fetched but we do get the point.

Something closer from my own life, I can use to illustrate the same. A very close friend of mine, had the a habit of doubting everyone’s intentions even for the smallest of the good they did. It was all a facade to earn brownie points, for whom, to what end, she may not know, but fake all of them were. I could see where this bias stemmed from, but to bring that up meant going to war with Athena. Just incase you don’t know who Athena is, search it up under Greek Goddess of strategic war.
Eventually, what happened, since she assumed everyone to be lying to her, she would lie to them, all the time, compulsively. This was as usual justified since everyone is already lying, and you don't speak truth to liars. This taught me a valuable lesson.
By far in the long run, I started becoming optimistic about everyone I came in contact with. Believing  that people are inherently good and have good intentions about you, it becomes slightly difficult to shoot them at first sight. I am able to give them at least a 5 min head start, before I start hunting them down and shoot them to hell.

I believe, there are only two kinds of people. Those who agree with you and those who don’t. Keep the ones who agree with you far from you. Let them spread your words of wisdom in distant lands. Ever wondered why kings sent off their messengers about anything new they wanted to promote?
Now about the ones who disagree with you, keep them close. It’s never a good idea to eliminate many targets over long distances, sniper rifles are expensive, they take a long time to reload and shotguns are so much fun. I sure hope you agree with me when I say so.

Being agreeable brings me to another variety of people we know of. Friends.
When it comes to friends again there are only two varieties available. The ones which last and the ones which disagreed with you at some point of time. The ones which did not last, may they rest in peace or pieces, depending on how you disposed of them. (For better learning about disposing not so close ones, see “Snatch”, particularly the “As greedy as a pig explanation”).
How you think of your friends, sets the tone of your friendship with them.
Category: Selfish Bastards - Good Friends
Category: How do I get to him before he does - Best Friends
Category: Shoot them on sight together - everyone else

For better Friendship examples, watch Sholay, Dil Chahta hai, Zindagi na milegi dobara, Go Goa Gone…etc. etc. in that order. That will teach you a thing or two on what to think of friends.

On another note. A slightly serious one. Day in and Day out we keep thinking about others. This may be happening to you as well, but just subconsciously.
Say you are a salesman, in your daily work, you tend to think so much about your customers. The way you think about them, analyse their purchasing trends, categorise them, you plan your sales pitch accordingly. That is how thinking about other affects you in day to day life as well. We may or may not pay attention to it. Eventually what we think of others, start reflecting in ourselves as well.

When we were kids, elders, usually grandparents, would warn us with a common adage.
You become what you hate.
Its not some illogical, threat, warning lest we end up growing hating everyone all along. I now start realising this was a very scientific statement. There is still a lot of logic behind it.
Science for me has always been what I could not easily understand. What begged me to question something. For example, Alchemy is science. Similarly, anything with more than 4 colours on it is science for me. I know it has something to do with optics, about light falling on objects and coming back into the eye at a certain wavelength, but somehow I could not understand it all.
I know it to be a proven fact thus. We become what we hate, I used to hate people who would talk using round about sentences, mix topics, take time getting to a point straight forward. Look at my writing now.
Just so you actually get the point, and to what extent I now believe it, I started hating everyone wiser than me, since quite sometime now.

Jokes apart, compassion is what is needed at the hour. There is already a lot of mistrust flying around in every direction. Better to look for compassionate fools and plan to rip them off their inheritance with false money making ventures.
Better yet, think of others as you would want them to think of you. This was one of the original truths we were meant to keep in mind. A lot many forgot about it, a lot further just didn't care about it much. Personally, I don’t care what people think of me.

I just wonder if the downfall of morals we see today, is a cause or an affect of our getting away with being not so thoughtful in our past?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

तू है कौन.... and Who do you think you are?

“I have heard this before,  मोटे आज तक तूने कितने प्लान बनाये होंगे, और कितने पूरे हुए?”
“एक और पिलान, अबे कभी तो ख्वाब देखना बंद कर |”
“करो एक बार, अच्छा experience रहेगा तुम्हारे लिए।  मगर कुछ नए ढंग से करो तो सही है, कर सकते हो तुम। तुम्ही कर सकते हो भाई!”

Some of the above lines, I was so used to hearing all my life, that even I started somewhat believing in them. What could be so so bad about taking an off for 6 months from your existing life? I agree its an absurd question to ask, how can someone take a vacation from life itself? But then the vacation is not from life, its from the way you are currently living.

What I kept asking was why shouldn’t I do it? More so, the most important question was Why should I do it? Reasons…

About an year back, I started getting tired of the life I was leading. There was more to what I should have been doing, there was more to what I should have done, and this feeling kept eating me day and night. I was tired.
What we tend to see of ourselves is how we are feeling at that very moment.
Don’t give a bloke something to eat for a day, and ask him the next day, Who are you? To hell with human, traveller, monk, friend, father, son, husband… his answer is going to be I am hungry.
So the answer to this question is not always who we actually are, but we have been feeling lately. Seldom do we give chance to our inner self to answer who we are. We start living the facade we put up to make our end meet.

Almost 11 months back I took a small vacation and went to meet some college friends. Those 8-9 days made me realise I was actually a Wanderer. Some where in the years that I lived, I had killed my wander lust, and forgotten about that murder. During those 8 days made me realise, visiting new places made me happy from within, made me feel giddy as a schoolboy, everything new I saw I could awesomeness in that. Every old thing I saw, I saw it with a new vision. I began to think, if 8 days could do this to me, what would 6 month do to my life?

Some people and their books suggest follow your passion and make a career out of it. Good advise, keep it to yourself I say to those mortals.

For one, your inner-self may not get all that gung-ho about your passion once you start making money out of it. Eventually all passions turn to mundane jobs, once you start earning from them. Ask any scriptwriter. Their passion is writing, every one wants to write good, except maybe me, I want to write to confuse everyone about what I want to say. So the script writers, they want to churn our good stories, but eventually do they get to? Writing was your passion, writing what is economically viable, your job.

Lets take another detailed example, A boy, say a teenager say 20 years ago, as of now, would be in his late thirties. This youth felt real happiness in helping everyone around him. Care and Nurturing were his pet peeves. He was lauded by all for his qualities. Eventually time came for him to choose his career, people, family, friends started suggesting various options. Since he wanted to help everyone so much, he decided to make a career in medicine. He started preparing for the entrance exams, got admission eventually in a reputed college, studied, got excellent grades, did everything to become a good doctor and fulfil his passion. With each successful passage of milestone, he also kept on piling on him, targets and expectations. Education loan, social pressures, family expectations. Somewhere deep he still wanted the same things he wanted a decade before. Studying medicine is not as easy as it seems, no way as easy as say Engineering. So when he was done with his graduation, he joined a specialisation course to further his chances of better employment. This whole time period of preparation, and finally landing up with a hospital or a private practise, say took him 15 years. Once he was well settled, he was asked to start a family, settle down socially as well. Being a good son and well trained, he gave in. Two decades since he first felt his passion, he is a successful doctor, has a flourishing practise, a good social position, is visiting a couple of well known hospitals, making money, treating patients to the best of his abilities. On the other hand, he has targets, monthly installments to be paid, fees of his children, shopping of his wife. Personal Targets. He gets tied down so much in these that these become his life. His hospital gives him monthly targets, he has to see x number of patients, has to bring in Y amount in revenue for them. His expenditures are Z, which he has to meet anyhow.
That is what his life is now. That has what happened to his passion. Treating everyone is just another activity he does, he isn’t finding actually happiness in it. He is starting to get tired. Eventually say 5 years down the line, he would be very far off from his initial reason to become a doctor, but he would be successful, maybe unhappy down within, but very successful as per everyone.
I know this is not a typical story, for each such an episode, there are thousands of doctors, who would not have reached even half of this. But then a lot more people can identify with this situation. I can see around, there are many people likely to find themselves in a situation like this.
The original passion got lost somewhere, under the burden of very life, he chose because of his passion.
What starts as an Idea, ends up being our unwanted responsibility, slowly and steadily, inching towards unbearable.

It was a dream job, dream office, dream colleagues, that I was planning to leave behind. But then I was sure enough I wan’t killing those relations. What I would propose to the very people, would be childish for some, foolish and maybe a great idea for some as well.
What was important was, what was it for me? It was something that I wanted to be, I wanted to do, because deep down I was a simple little traveller, since long forgotten to walk the new path. And now the more I think about it, the more I realise, this was what I was meant to do.
What started as a feeling of running away, gave way to the actual realisation that I wanted to see new things in life, look beyond what I was being shown, go the distance to find what mesmerised me.
Just so the running away, looking beyond and all the realisation scares you, its not about euthanasia, actually running away as in the 70’s cinema, or joining some religious cult etc, this was a simple running away from the existing days I was spending and how I was spending them.

All I am talking about it actually asking ourselves the question, Who am I? Time and again, and rising up from what we are feeling currently, and sinking deeper into our true self.

रहने दे, तुझसे नहीं होगा .... And other truths in life...

Life’s lessons can either be learnt or be forgotten. They aren’t for sure easy to unlearn. But then that is the only purpose worth mentioning in life. Unlearn. To re-learn what we have till now garnered in the name of knowledge.
If we get good at changing our learnings from time to time, and this is applicable to everyone, I think we may be able to keep ourselves alive within our own-selves a lot more longer. We may even be able to keep our thoughts and actions relevant in this ever changing world.
Too many of us are bound, chained, downright shackled, to long twisted ideas and passions, jobs, taste etc we would have gladly abandoned had it not been for some secret unknown unseen situations that keep us like we are, day after day, life after life.

Since this is not a how to text so don’t go about expecting some miraculous way to change your life from these words. I am no authority on life changing lectures. I am not revealing any secret here that would help you get your life in line, I just used those self help type sentences to get you reading whats to follow. These days its quite easy to pull people’s attention towards any crap by adding words like Passion, Secret, Life to even guavas and apples.

But nonetheless, over a period of time, I could fathom that if we are still asking the correct questions, there is a chance of making sure we keep unlearning and relearning what we are here to actually live.

This is not a exhaustive list of questions, you are free to ask any you would like to ask yourselves, Yourselves, is the catch, don’t put questions to me, I barely know answers to the ones I am about to post, what would I do with yours?

  • Who do you think you are?
  • What do you think of others?
  • What is reality, actually?
  • What do others think of your story?
  • Are you a content greedy?
  • What if everything in the world was awesome?
  • How important it is to feel unhappy over any situation?
  • Are you truthful or a compulsive liar?
  • What do people feel like when they see you smiling?
  • Is your life actually so different from everyone else?

These questions, if we keep them asking ourselves from time to time, it may be possible that we don’t miss out on the important things in life, and keep running after things which we feel are important.