What if…?

From all kinds of questions that can be asked, ‘what if’ questions are the most interesting. It does not need a practical base, a backbone of reality as-we-know-it, and is generally free from the social, political, administration-al, religious, national, anti-national, survival, and all different kinds of norms or bans that have become an integral part of our lingo, thinking, or rather, being – all thanks to touch-me-not attitude that we have all developed. Cough. Cough. Intolerance. Cough.

One such interesting question is – What if Gandhiji were alive today? (Yes, nerd level – GandhiTopian).

My first instinct is that he would take a pillow, shield himself with a comforter, and pray that this is just a bad dream! I am sure Gandhiji’s worst nightmare is our reality – harsh or not – today!

And then of course, he would be thrilled to know that we have put him to such good use! I mean with his picture on our currency notes, which are daily used for wonderful acts of “kind”ness, and violating one of his most important principles – Honesty. Corruption and politics have grown to become the two sides of the same coin- more inseparable than ‘Saamna’ and controversies.

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This reminds me of something that Kumaraswamy had said during the Anna Hazare’s India against corruption movement –

“Today, politics and corruption are synonymous. If someone in politics says he is not corrupt, he must be lying. If Mahatma Gandhi was alive today, he would have had only two options: either stay in politics by becoming corrupt or to get out of politics and remain clean. It would take a greater movement than the country’s Independence movement to stamp out corruption…”

I was baffled when I read this. It had wiped out all the left-over faith that a girl in young 20’s had with the system or this country! (Not that I am any older today, but yeah, the faith – umm – completely wiped out).

It’s just ironical that India plans the surgical attacks in the birthday week of the one person who preached non-violence till his death-bed! I am not saying whether it’s wrong, or right, but it definitely is incongruous. I mean we certainly have come a long way from Swachch Bharat to Swachch Pakistan!

Having said that, I believe we wouldn’t have been so religiously intolerant in the first place, had he been alive today, and all through these years! Considering his intent to dissolve the congress (oh, how I love the sound of this!), or his opposition to bifurcate the states based on languages, may be the scenario today would have been a tad-bit different!

But alas, we can only think, and day-dream – because who dreams of a corruption-free India at night. Come on!

To sum it up, had Gandhiji been alive today, this is the meme that would do the rounds –

“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. Can’t you all see? Oops!” – Mahatma Gandhi, 2016.

Miracles of the moment

7:00 am – The PatRiot – is the headline of a newspaper flashing on my phone. Every tweet, every discussion is about the JNU incident. Wow, I fail to understand who is sillier in this situation – the media, the students, or the government!

Oh, what a beautiful sunrise! Wow, the colours in the sky are right out of an artist’s palette! So serene, so calm, so perfect. Nothing, nothing at all could have made this moment more special or better!

8:00 am – At the gym. (Yes, I leave no opportunity of mentioning this – it’s a cool gym thing you know!) I need to get these kilos of! While, may be, I cannot do anything about the mental baggage, I think keeping my body light will at least take some weight of me- Literally of course, and emotionally as well! Oh come on now! Don’t stop! Keep going, keep going! Phew!

Wow, this stretch feels so good! My body is so much more flexible now, and I am able to do so much more than I ever could! Good job, me! My muscles feel relaxed, body feels fit and I feel wonderful! Now, that’s what I call a great session!

10.00 am – Office. Too much to do, too little time! Get this sorted, and that fixed! Oh, and how could I forget to make the call! Mondays! Arghhh! Well, I should have taken it seriously when I was told – Be careful what you wish for! Now, I am drowned in files and folders!

Whoa, do I love my work or do I love my work! Looks like a great day ahead. I am just so grateful that I am so busy in my life! That’s what I always wanted, didn’t I? Blessed.

3:00 pm – Still, at office. Oh God, why did I have so much rice for lunch! I am so sleepy now. Tonight, come what may, I am going to bed at 10 pm sharp. Whatever happens, I am not stretching my mind and body anymore! I want a pillow! NOW!!!

Oh, the food was so good today- Instagram perfect, you know! This world is just constantly conspiring for me to have an amazing day!

9.00 pm – On Facebook. Look at him at Ladakh! When did she get married – oh, what a lovely dress! These guys are having the most amazing time of their lives. And look at me – I can’t even breathe with my own consent, let alone go on holiday!

Just Imagine – millions and billions and trillions of atoms have undergone tremendous change, the weather, the world, the evolution, big bang – all of this just so that I could experience this moment this way! How can I ask to be anywhere else at this moment?!
Doesn’t this post sound more like the reality vs. our social media posts? While our lives on social media are so happy, so perfect – we are one thought away from making it a reality! Amidst all the terrorism, politics, corruption, discoveries, science, technology – we have our own universe, which is filled with such miracles in every moment!quote-every-moment-of-light-and-dark-is-a-miracle-walt-whitman-197558

Dear Karma,

148244_20130918_164325_tumblr_mje5i0r02U1rzkceno1_500I don’t need to ask you how you are doing. Witnessing things around me, I know you are having a ball of a time! We need to talk.

We are in December 2015! Yes, the year is ending already. You were more rotten this year than the stinky cheese that’s forgotten in my fridge! Why is everyone else’s life perfect! At least, Facebook says so. From getting the flawless candid profile picture in 2347th take, with a scenic background (of course, of another country) to eating that picture-perfect blueberry cheesecake, everyone seems to have everything. While I am stuck here gulping my own version of cheesecake: low-end-cheese-slice-sandwiched-between-brownies. True story.

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Unfortunately, the cheese slice between brownies is true. Sigh.

Well, this is what Karma has come down to. Karma is one of the more popular words used today, and more so for vengeance! People mostly use it in terms of cosmic payback! On any other day I don’t believe in God, or supernatural power or anything like that, but if you mistreat me, universe will pay you back! Wow.

Instant money, instant noodles, instant information has spoilt us, and has made us impatient. Hence, we want everything instantly! If you give someone five sweaters this winter, by general logic, you must also get five sweaters back! Do you see the flaw in this? It rather is if you help someone in “their” need, you will receive help in “your” need. And these two needs can be completely different. Having said that, if you help someone with the intention of increasing your Karmic account, you have lost the trail!

A very common way of giving solace to a person in anger or any other extreme emotion is- Karma will do its work. But Karma IS work! Karma means action.

“Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.”

This view of karma makes a lot of sense to me. It isn’t about payback, or evening scores. Rather it sings out of the mystery of interconnectedness, about choices, and consequences in a way that seems true.

Each thought, each action, is something like a brick in the edifice that we think of as ourselves. And out of each thought and actions something is built. And a lot of it by our own hand. But, it doesn’t lead to fortune or poverty. It is more fundamental.

Action. Habit. Character. Destiny.

So, if I do something, whatever that something is, it is unlikely it will lead to a simple reaction or response. The universe is too big, and too many things are going on at the same time. Very few things, particularly in our human lives, can be traced to a single action. So, that thought, that action, to shift the metaphor, is a thread we add to the weaving of our lives.

By itself, not so much. But then add another thread, and then another, each woven into the great fabric, it begins to matter a lot. Perhaps even for everything.

Rather more important, I think, than dreams of just deserts.

50 shades of Ban

No one told me when the Make in India was replaced by Ban in India. It is not even funny the number of things we have banned in the last one week.

The only thing that is common in all these bans is our inability to tackle sensitive issues. Banning is running away from the scenario. It is a reflection of our hypocrisy, narrow-mindedness, bias, and cowardice. It shows that we have no faith in our thousands of year old culture and value system, that we are questioning its sustenance.

Having said that banning does not deter the fact that we are what we ban.

I mean if we have to ban anything, implies that it exists, that it is our value-system, a trend now. And banning a video doesn’t change that! Whom are we kidding? Do the policy makers really believe that banning products, actions, videos, and words really curbs their use?  In fact, all it does is people looking for more illegal ways to do “it”, eat “it”, watch “it”, and all this while saying “it”.

Seriously, don’t we all know where to find alcohol in Gujarat? And by now, beef in Maharashtra? Don’t we all use cuss words? Haven’t we seen the AIB Roast or the documentary? In fact, banning the video gave it more popularity, and all the people who did not even know AIB exists, have access to the aforesaid video. And don’t even make me question banning 50 shades of grey.

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I think this simply shows the power of the words don’t, no, ban has. We just have to do it. Cannot explain the psychology more simply. That exactly is how it works, government! “Ban” is not the solution.

There are 50 shades of our mentality to be tackled, and putting even a fraction of our energy in that direction will get a lot more achieved than banning these things.

PS – Let me know when we Ban Janata Party!

Anti-(alcohol)-climax

Saturday Night! Wohooo!
We all know what it is, right? We sort-of struggle through an entire grilling week with this meek ray of hope. It absolutely is that time of the weekend, where we make grounds for a terrible Sunday headache. Those few hours are just so magical, they are such a bliss, that we voluntarily invite the hassle of next day, in a life that is a hassle anyway.

But I really do not understand the entire hoo-ha around it!
I mean we all have that one friend who is against alcohol and suddenly starts drinking – the ceremonious welcome they get and all the cheer from others who live in a beer drum is priceless, just like a proud father watching is son all grown up! Suddenly, this friend becomes “cool” enough to “party” with, as well now!

I don’t get any combative reactions when I tell people that I do not have coffee, while sitting in a coffee-shop. Or that I do not like the taste of raw onions, while at a chaat-stall. But try telling the same people I do not have alcohol! Woah! The expression on their faces change and every single of their muscles is yelling, “WHAAAAAAT?”

And generally it follows with an hour full of trying to understand why do I have such “offensive” behavior. Yes, offensive. They see it as offence on my otherwise modern attitude, an offence of their preset judgement of me, an offence on their idea of our beer-date, an offence on my liberal and urban upbringing, an offence on me attending SulaFest, or even coming from the Wine capital of India! Some of them even start doubting their choice of friends, since a non-alcoholic, a teetotaler is on the list! This ends with them taking the responsibility on themselves of showing me the world on the other side! (PS – None of them have been successful, just FYI!)

There are a lot of judgements, a lot of labels attached to the drink that you are holding. Not that it matters to me. But writing this post in the hope that it stops mattering to everyone as well, and the jauntiness around alcohol mellows down. It signifies absolutely nothing else, but that you don’t like drinking, and I hope the subject becomes as irrelevant as a person confessing that he doesn’t like lauki-ki-sabzi.

PS- Let a few of us be. After all, we take you back home in the night! 😉

Checklists.

powerpoint-tips-checklist-graphic-2a-255x300Harish was absolutely content, staring the piece of paper neatly pinned on the pin-board at his table. At 34, the promotion bought with it a revised list of desires. Life had not only turned out well for him but also looked great ahead!

A bright kid, Harish was an apple of his mother’s eye, he was his father’s pride, his little sister’s superman and a one-stop solution to all his friend’s problems! He was this perfect kid any parent wanted- exactly the kind of boy that other kids detested.

His scores guaranteed him a place in the best institution in India, and then like any other brilliant Maharashtrian boy, he packed his bags and went abroad for higher education. Obviously, was immediately placed in a job, which paid enough for his need, and more than enough for his greed as well.

The piece of paper on that board was testimony of his success with efficient planning. Promotion. Check. Put Bittu in International School. Check. Buy Anahita a Satya Paul. Check. Book a holiday in Switzerland. Check. Spend an hour with Aai on every Sunday. Check. Meet… Check. Check. Check.

*******

Parth, or Patz as his friends called him, was scared! Nervous! Excited! Thrilled! Panicked! His life just flashed in front of his eyes. With a lump in his throat and a pit in his stomach he was staring at the beautiful river 43m below him. The next 10 seconds were going to be the longest 10 seconds of his life.  Bungee Jumping is not all that easy, you know!

New Zealand is pretty. Shit. Concentrate. You won’t die. C’mon! Oh good lord! Why?! “Ready?” NO!!! Okay! I HAVE to do this. One deep breathe in and slowly, “5.” out. In. Out. “4.” Why did I go to the bar that night? Bloody bet! “3.” SHIT. God, why are you doing this to me?! “2.” Okay! Thank you Mom-Dad for everything. Love “And Bungee!!” YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!! *Silence*

Opens eyes. Wow. Swinging. Alive. Wohooooo. Woah, it is pretty!!!! I am alive!!! You’ve got to do this once in your life man! Best. Feeling. Ever.

That night. Update cover picture. Tweet. Upload video. Facebook Status – “Bucket List item no. 73: Bungee jumping in New Zealand. Check.”

*******

 “Dad, are you free on Friday?”

“I have a conference over this weekend.” he replied, disinterested.

“How about Monday?”

“You know how Mondays are, don’t you?”

“Let’s go have dinner together sometime next week?”

“I’d rather eat at home when in town.”

“Okay, let me cook dinner for you then!”

“What is the fuss for? What is it that you want?” said Dad, impatiently.

“Your time.”

*******

We all have checklists, things-to-do, wish list, bucket lists, memo – whatever that we like call them. For some it is planning, some others it is ambition, and a lucky few who make a list of the things that can be put off for later! It motivates some, it is a reminder for some. But from where I see it, they are bars of the cage we have put ourselves in. I am not suggesting that there is anything wrong with making check-lists, all I am saying is that it is great to sometimes let the whimsical spontaneous kid in us loose, and break-free. May be something that we can’t even fathom happens.

PS- In the meanwhile, write a column for a newspaper. Check.

Same Day. Four years back.

I had written this for my dad’s 50th birthday- 4 years back! Ironically, it makes much more sense to me today! That time it was a sentiment, but today it is vehemence to be – him! Here goes it…

 

Because you are so full of respect for your elders…
…I have learnt that the best classroom is at the feet of an elderly person!

Because of your practical approach to life…
…I have learnt that ignoring facts do not change the facts!

Because of the naughty side that there is to you…
…I have learnt that it is not necessary to “Be Serious” to be serious about life!

Because of your living-by-the-minute attitude…
…I have learnt that expectations and apprehension of the future lead you nowhere!

Because of your perfect playing of roles – “Sir” and “Dad”…
…I have learnt that to fly high, you need to be firmly grounded!

Because of your strength and firmness in any situation…
…I have learnt that fear is nothing but False Evidence Appearing Real!

Because of your child-likeness…
…I have learnt it is still possible to be 5 when you are 50!

Because you are YOU…
…I have learnt that i still have a lot to learn!

Womanhood or Woman-hudd?

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A friend of mine, recently, shared a status on a social networking site (whom am I kidding? – Facebook) outraging about a page – Charming faces in Nashik. A lot of comments posted below suggested, that are is not one but many such pages, only for Nashik. I am sure there are enough for each corner of the world.

It got me thinking.

Frankly, I found it really stupid. It did not stir strong emotions in me, unlike many others, detesting the existence of such pages. Also, some others said there is no point in fighting a battle you cannot win – so ignore and move on!

I think it is a deep-rooted mind-set, that is common in every nook and corner of the world. It manifests in different ways, subtly sometimes and boldly most times. While woman are not entertainment packages, the need to be universally liked, the longing to be “longed for”, the kick that one gets on appreciation leads to them themselves exhibiting their “beauty”. While such pages must be administered by few, I am sure they work and exist because they have a demand from so many subscribers and supply by equal many “charming faces”.

Outraging over it, means fighting for people who don’t want you to fight for them. It’s like a forced service. These are the same people who celebrate Woman’s day! How can one not see the hidden mock that woman’s day is all about. Point being, we need a major attitude shift. How many such pages can we remove? How many songs can we ban? How about beauty pageants? How many jokes can we ignore, or not forward?

But just that one change in our thought – collectively, and making the whole idea of rating uncool, will do the trick! Amen.

 

Make a difference. And it will summate.

Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does. – William James

So obvious, isn’t it? When I first read the quote, I was like “D’uh! Obviously, every single thing you do impacts someone!”

But when I reflected, I realized that may be we do the “bigger” things with this attitude – like working our ass off for someone else, stressing over their judgement about us, analyzing if the world would approve of our actions, being politically right, charity of money or time (because it makes me feel worthwhile), etc.

In doing all of above, we put forth our best behavior for the entire world, and save our worst (including what we get from others), for probably the most important people in our life. This is because we take them for granted, ourselves for granted.

Things that actually make a difference, like smiling to the mirror in the morning, will make a world of a difference to the most significant being to us – OUR SELF. And if we are able to do that, the rest is taken care of anyway!

 

Inspiration

The first thing that really fascinated me when I started writing was the “inspire me!” option. The word inspire has so much power that without even hitting on it, I am already inspired! 🙂

Seriously, coming to think of it, the one thing that is common to all our achievements till date is – Inspiration! Sometimes all you need is to see that one image, read that one line, meet that one person, visualize that one goal or take that one deep breath, and it, as though, magically lifts you up. All the tiredness, baggage, negativity, frustration, stress disappears into thin air. That is the power of inspiration.

Inspiration is more important than perspiration. Rather, perspiration becomes a cake-walk for the inspired ones. It is what keeps us going. There are various facets to it, but it is important to identify what inspires you the most, and cherish that. THAT is most vital aspect to your living.

And be inspired enough to probably lead a life that is so inspiring.