Friday, September 27, 2013

For God's sake..

Few years back in Bangalore, rats used to cut the wires of my car. After paying several visits and repairs at service centre, infuriated, one morning, I bought some rat poison and kept that inside the bonnet. By the very next day, the rats started dying.
It was a peculiar type of poison that would choke a rat’s breathing; they would come out to get air, but the poison would eventually stop their breathing and heart. The idea was appealing, since that will bring out the rats in air and kill, rather than let them die in some corner or under the bed or wardrobe to stink.
Issue got resolved. But there wasn't happiness thereafter. The sight of dying rats kept coming back. Later discussions with some of my friends gave various perspectives, and a bit of solace, for I kept looking for some kind of penance. Several years have gone by, but till today I haven't been able to outgrow that bad feeling, notwithstanding the righteousness of what I did.
I have learnt that something that doesn’t leave you with a good feeling is ‘bad’. On the other hand, something that leaves a good feeling is ‘good’. And if we do not resolve an issue in ‘good’ way, the hassle continues. This is not about whether our thought or action was justified or not, this is about realizing that there could be a ‘good’ or the better way, that we might have explored.
The point is, both the good and the bad invite reaction. If we haven’t chosen a ‘good’ way to solve the problem; it may not only continue the hassle but may also initiate a conflict, sooner or later, depending on when the receiver is able to recover and retaliate. Sometimes it triggers a chain of conflicts; and eventually people forget ‘who’ or ‘what’ started it. The two continue the struggle and in the end both suffer. This applies almost everywhere and to everyone, be at home, in office or the world outside. I guess whether we are able to solve an issue in ‘good’ way or not, defines our real strength.
Let us look at the tussle some societies and countries in the world are undergoing today. Behind every political unrest, economic crisis or so called holy wars, the root cause that comes out is a human weakness, the greed for power, place or pleasure. Our history is testimony of the fact that in the end there is no victor or victim. That leaves us with only one survival strategy; to invoke our strengths; to apply mass strengths against mass hysteria. If our weakness has started a conflict; it has to be one of our strengths that can stop or further avoid it; and that most often, is not our physical strength.
Trying to imagine what God must be thinking. Most of the religious books convey that the God is almighty and he upholds ‘good’. He gave us strength. He had to give us weaknesses too; else there was no meaning or relevance of strength. But we appear to have missed the point; instead of coming over weaknesses, we let ourselves go for the ‘bad’ or temporary solution, or come back to God to seek help. We pray for mercy if we’ve done something wrong; pray him for justice when we are wronged. Pray him when we are afraid, pray him when things aren’t working our way. God has become a matter of convenience, and that must be very frustrating to him.
Recently a friend told me, “I do not pray any God. I am a free thinker”.
Curious I did some reading on ‘free-thought’. It's astounding to see the number of people (particularly younger ones) adopting the ‘concept’ of free-thought and pansy, in various parts of the world. It is becoming clearer that if the God or religions continue to be misused, the next generation which is evidently smarter, wiser and abler than us, will simply disregard the concept of religion and God. And if we believe everything happens for a reason, this could very much be the God’s very own exit plan from our lives.

Guess the time has come when we all start taking 'good' decisions. If conflicts are inevitable, we must invoke our inner strengths to resolve them.

Let us teach our kids the essence of all religions. It will help them take the ‘good’ or right decisions when times come; and it may also avoid the unnecessary confusion, some people create, in the name of religion. It may also stop the dislike or disregard our younger generation is showing towards the God and religion.

Let us begin with our homes, let us try at least...for God’s sake ?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Alter Ego..

Pic by Ajay Sudhanshu

“Tell me the name of the person you wish to be like”, asked John Williams. “You may also share why but that’s optional”.

“Al Gore”. I replied. “He is one of those who have taken up the fight against common human greed”.

We were attending a workshop conducted by John Williams, the principal and founder of an Australian consulting firm called JHW Pty Ltd. After replying I sat down, thinking whether it was necessary to share the why. It came out of spontaneity as I have been impressed with Al Gore’s contribution and the purpose he carries in life. Of course some of the participants immediately gave me that 'wtf ' look.

Today we justify our actions only on a profit scale, and that too on the immediate profit. If there is no profit, any thought or action in any direction is considered waste of time and energy. Greed is justified and charity is a bad word. Resources or human resources, have to be exploited as their use may not be profitable enough; and just say to the world we leverage them, let people guess the meaning and intention.

A profession, to my understanding, was guided by method. I grew up thinking that teaching, consulting, medical, legal practices etc. are professions (guided by method) and not businesses (guided by result). Once I shouted at a friend who said sex is world's oldest profession and lectured him on not to confuse a trade with profession.

But over the years, the connotations have changed. We have changed. Despite we all aspired to be guided by method, someone's greed took over and made us all guided by result. Interestingly, at many occasions, it was our greed only that made us what we are; and not what we wanted to be. Today many of us have a split personality.

We like cost cutting in organizations where we are a shareholder, promoter or owner; but not in the organizations where we are employed. Till the time we are not impacted (as employees or otherwise), we prefer talking about profits, not about who may suffer; and so do the people who we consider responsible for global warming, terrorism, etc.

I like Al Gore because he is undeterred in his fight. Recent devastation at Kedarnath Dham has almost sunk my heart. Only those who've ever come to Kedarnath know how beautiful this place is or was.

Ancient Evenings and Distant Music

It is time, we bring method in our approach towards an end. I have taken that road and it is my personal performance criteria to keep the method alive. Our shadows also won't stay behind.

Pic by Bhawani

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Little bit of Monica..

On 4th April afternoon, we reached Pangkor Island, a relatively quiet place in the north-west coast of peninsular Malaysia. And it came out to be my most relaxing weekend of recent times.

We were off-season guests; and the guys at reception took additional care to explain the options and availabilities. I kept nodding for half-an-hour they talked; while Kuhoo and Adi romped around the place.

The chalets with the back drop of densely forested hills attracted me. But my water-addict better-half, had an eye of sea-facing ones. The resort appeared quiet and restful. Finally I agreed to take the sea-view chalet and we followed our sprinting porter.

Within minutes we reached our unit, and stopped, as we heard our neighbors greeting us (almost shouting). There were two Croatian girls. One of them wore a towel and the second some kind of beachwear.

“Now I understand why you agreed to take the sea-view chalet”.

“Nooooo… It’s just that I am lucky today”, I said with a smirk. “I don’t mind this view too”.

Our chalets stood in arched fashion with dense forest and hills behind. Our verandah almost touched theirs. They were drinking and sun-bathing. Through-out the day, they kept shifting their chairs in front of us. The only way to avoid seeing them was to close our eyes, which of course, I couldn’t.

By evening Kuhoo got bit skeptic. She found them drinking all the day and talking to everyone who passed by. The risk was, her husband for last ten years may get infatuated and they, disregarding all those semi-naked studs on the beach, will fall for her fat, bald and old husband.

“They don’t look nice”.

“Don’t worry. I barely look tolerable”. But that wasn’t enough.

“In India, no one will approve such behavior”.

“Yes. But they may be friendly by nature. Why judge them?” I wasn’t sure whether she was complaining about those girls or India.

We went to the beach and sat. I told her about one such ‘friendly by nature’ person; whose appearance or behavior may be misleading at times; but they are as truthful as we try to be. I told her about Monica.

In May, 2007, I traveled to Sydney to conduct a training course. The participants were a small team of 8 HR officers; Monica was the newest to that group. It was a 3 days training course starting from 9th May; however our kind client had arranged the fly-back on Sunday, which gave me a free day on Saturday (12th May 2007).

Monica is second-generation Indian (father from Chandigarh), married to an Aussie. She is amazingly pretty and gregarious. Every day after the sessions she would insist to come along for food; talk about bollywood movies; crack silly jokes and laugh herself. At times, she would appear like she knew me for years.

On 12th May morning she came with me on for the Blue Mountains Day trip, around 60 km west from Sydney. We traveled through the lovely town of Leura and reached at 3 Sisters view-point in Jamison valley.

Monica shared the legend of the Katoomba tribe, about Lyre bird searching for the magic bone, etc. She talked like she wasn't heard for ages. And then she held my arm and asked, “Do you ever feel alone?”

“Why?” I wasn't prepared for such question.

“You don’t laugh too often”.

"Does that mean I feel lonely?" I tried to laugh and appeared more stupid.

She perhaps had made her point. “I feel alone. And therefore I laugh as much I can, even over silly things. And talking to people makes me feel better”.

“Monica, you hardly know me. How can you trust a stranger?”

“I trust myself. I think that’s more important. I felt if I come along, you won't feel alone. And you aren’t a stranger”.

I came back to hotel; laughing at my thoughts.

Around 8 pm while I was packing, the house-keeping guy came in and handed over an envelope. It had a couple of photographs Monica had taken during the day and two small pieces of Legos which didn’t fit each other. On the back of a photograph, handwritten was, “I enjoyed the day. I promise you friendship and expect the same, nothing more, and nothing less. Do well. Stay in touch”.

“Why did she send the Legos those didn’t fit?” asked Kuhoo.

I think that said all. This is what I learnt of Lego-block philosophy of life from Monica. We all are parts of a big construction set. One which is good fit to you, need not be the best fit overall; actually you could be its only fit. So we shouldn’t conclude over any person based on our own fitment criteria. Remember all lego-blocks will eventually fit as per their shape and size. There is a rule of construction between us, and if that works, we may forget the rest”.

As evening fell further, we saw Adi playing in sand. The Croatian girls found more guys on beach, and I found my worrying baby back in arms. There is a little bit of Monica in her now.

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Second Chance..

“Buy one of these; I want to keep it”, I heard Adi pleading.

“No. They are dead. And these are not the type of fish you can keep as a pet”, Kuhoo explained while she tried hard to stop me from galloping past that fishmonger’s shop. She had caught sight of the ‘Rohu’ fish and I had caught that obnoxious smell.

Promising Kuhoo to buy ‘Rohu’ on our way back, I managed to move ahead, but my perseverance test followed.

“That fish has come from India ?

“May be.Yes”

“Like Nemo. Right ?”

I was thinking what to answer. Adi continued, “But it is dead now. If it had a second chance, it could have survived like Nemo”.

I spent next half an hour explaining him about the food-chain, about several things which aren’t exactly like what we see in movies etc. etc. And we bought vegetables on our way back.

Later in evening the point about ‘second chance’ returned.

“Papa, I will write this again. OK?” Adi looked at me.

I didn’t reply. Although I was a bit unhappy with his writing speed, I didn’t expect him to write it over again. I do get annoyed at times with the video games philosophy of second life, second time or second chance. I believe they have been somewhat spoiling the kids; as I hardly see them understand the importance of doing things first time right.

After an hour, Adi came back. He had written the whole chapter again; just to see me happy.

God I was happy. I explained him about examination, importance of practicing, and keeping focus during the exam hour etc. But I saw the place of second chance in my world, which not only established his writing ability but also his willingness to do better.

The second chance implies hope, optimism and readiness towards correction.

I can see why it exists in a kid’s mind, though I can’t see why it doesn’t in our minds. There are times we easily get caught by our obstinacy. Even when we realize that we may have made a mistake, an odd resistance within does not let us start over. We continue on the mistake until everything falls apart towards desolation. We just don’t give ourselves a second chance.

Interestingly in today’s adult life we find it very difficult to even realize our mistake. But the second chance doesn’t necessarily relate to the mistakes only we make. It also applies to our response to others mistake. Is it hard to forgive and give someone a second chance? Does that change our righteousness?

Perhaps the heaviest thing we carry in our lives is grudge. Absolving ourselves is as important as absolving others. There is no point carrying such burden. There are multitude of perspectives and preferences that have actually contributed to a complicated society today. So even a right step may only be relatively right.

Pic by Ravi Garg

At least once in our lifetime, we all have been prisoners of our love, hatred and prejudices. And I do not see world becoming any simpler. There will always be one who will let you down, one who will break your heart, one who won’t come back.

So why not live life without regrets? Why not give ourselves a second chance?