Monday, August 29, 2011

My little fight against corruption

A sincere request to all Indians truly wishing to eradicate corruption (even though it may sound a little wishful and idealistic):

1) Let us stop bribing to get "preferential treatment". You might be the first one to make a clean system corrupt! If there is a queue, lets follow it. If we see people bypassing a queue, lets report it.
2) Lets always insist on receipts for any payment we make, be it a traffic police wallah or a state electricity board employee.
3) Let us stop encouraging the NexGen to pay up to get things easily done

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Expectations - The reason for life's disappointments

I picked this cannot-be-anymore-true statement from a friend Nitin's Facebook status and could not stop myself from blogging about the same. Having come across people of different age groups and discussing their "issues", I cannot help imagining that this would be true for most of us in most cases, if not all.

When I think of life, its immense beauties and limited flaws, it is difficult to avoid "expectations" in all forms as a reason for people holding themselves back from trying to be what they would like to be. The most startling aspect of this is that this negative force comes primarily from our own "support systems". "Expectations" can be as simple as a flower for your loved one on a special day to as pronounced as a life following a purpose of pleasing the people who "made you what you are today". The "joy of giving" in its true form would never involve any "expectation" in finding a return in some form, some day. Unfortunately, that is rarely the case.

I strongly feel that be it charity or the immense support and love for your kin or a surprise party for a friend or an organ for a dying relative, we do things that make us happy and satisfied in the end. Any "expectation" of a return would just take away all the sheen from the good job that you have done. Repeating, we all do things that make US happy and satisfied.
For instance, parents bring up their children using everything at their disposal with a constant happiness of winning smiles and success for their creation. Dreading an uncertain future once their babies became men/women, would any parents hold themselves back from doing what they do? Its an obvious NO. It is something that comes naturally and its something that makes any parent happy and proud. Its unfortunate how "expectations" surface and how they keep rising. Its unfortunate how, for many of us, our own "support systems" work against us at times.

It is all very complicated, as many of my dear friends would put and go on with their lives. All I can tell them is that if you let yourself slip into submission once too often in life, you'll always be taken for granted. Its a bad thing to be mean but its ok at times to put your foot down and let your "support systems" know that you feel your life is getting compromised and you don't feel like yourself any more. Lets not engage too much in wishful thinking and make too many promises just to make someone happy instantly and indirectly create "expectations".

Lets learn from dogs about basic simple living for a change; you love them and its certain that you'll get love in return. They won't ask for any more. They would continue loving you even if say you lose your mind some day and stop loving them.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The restless mind!

Not very long back did I realize that subconsciously I do a lot of introspection! This struck me a few days back sometime before midnight. What I realized just before going to sleep is that I ask myself too many questions and let my dreams answer them for me. In a way, I force dreams, even though it may sound weird, but I think I do. Just after hitting the bed, I force my mind to think about something that I wish to find answers about. I don't remember the answers that my mind generates (them being dreams!) but I remember most of those questions that I pose to it.

The questions are ofcourse affected by the immediate past but at times it gets into things long gone by. For instance, a chat with my girlfriend minutes before going to sleep leaves good ground for letting the mind (inside that head resting on the pillow) to hunt for details about each chunk of the conversation. The mind tries to prolong those thoughts because it is happy thinking about her but so very often there is interference with other things, totally unrelated things yet somehow interlinked. At times it gets irritating because the "half-awake me" tries to concentrate on thoughts about her but the "half-asleep me" interrupts and diverts my mind from focusing too hard on one thing. So often I force myself to suddenly open my eyes in such a conflict situation and start afresh. Sleep seems to be not that simple a process because the mind is never as tired as the body when I jump into bed.

Music relaxes my mind whenever I hear it during the course of the day but I am sure it disturbs me after I go to sleep. I hate pieces of songs that I just cannot sing however hard I might try. My mind furiously tries to get me into trying to figure out a way to sing those portions but at times it seems impossible. I really wish my mind learnt to "lose" at times just to give me a good night's sleep. My roommate hates it when I leave the bed singing early in the morning. He's convinced I am a psycho! Its difficult to tell him how hard I try to let it go but my mind just won't allow me to do it.

In a normal day, the mind finds it very easy to let things slip off because there is so much else all around to divert your attention to. But, once your eyes are closed, avoiding what seems important is very difficult. So often, I get flashes of thoughts, something like changing channels on a TV set. It is like the mind forces me to choose among one of those "channels". It can be just about anything, a cricket match, a horseride in egypt, the broken leg of my dog when I was a kid, a singing audition, a naughty movie sequence, great food, a shaky flight back home or just about thousands of other thoughts. It is confusing at times because soon after waking up, most of these things suddenly take the backseat and don't appear at all in the full long day. I have realized it lately but I think the introspection has been going on forever. However confidently I might say I have the answers to all my concerns, my busy mind would keep telling me at night that there are few stones that I have left unturned. Its unfortunate I cannot ask my mind to shut up, be cool and go to sleep!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

It all comes back...

"You reap what you sow"
This is so utterly true! You love and you get loved back. You attack and you face a revolt. Even though this saying is true for most things, I notice a peculiar analogy of this when it come to human relationships.
It is such a good feeling to see people happy together. I like to see people in my day to day life who leave their misfortunes back home and live life king size! There exist another set of people who like to keep their lives complicated and maintain a constant frown even when they see happy faces around.
I see a reflection of these traits in the children from these different homes. Somehow, the happiness or the sorrow the child observes around him in his formative years, rubs on to this innocent kid who then grows up to be a reflection of his parents despite all the distance he maintains after leaving home and starting a family of his own.
Most of my friends are from these "happy homes" and their parents mean the world to them. They make sure they do no wrong that could make their family sad. They feel it somehow. They know what happiness means to them and they simply can't do anything to jeopardize that. Its a win-win situation for all.
Then there are these friends of mine from "unhappy homes". You can feel sorry for them but in this post I won't concentrate on that. Somehow it may feel weird but I think most of these youngsters see enough despair in those "could have been fun" years, that they are somehow never in that state of peace where happiness and sorrow balance each other out. It is not uncommon to find youngsters who aren't even shy about badmouthing their own parents. It is just that they try to move away from the receiving end now that they stand on their own feet. They just lose any faith in those storybook Happy Endings.
This just goes to show how important it is for families to keep away their complications from kids in their formative years. It can easily escape one's imagination but I feel kids are innocent and at the same time are very observant. Ideally they are happy if things around them are even OK. But any unpleasant situation leaves an imprint on their minds which is difficult to erase.
Parents cannot expect their kids to be nice to them if they don't fulfil their duty of keeping their kids happy and as far as possible from their uncomfortable internal issues. The time to share complications should be once the kid matures and understands that everything needn't be perfect for a happy life. But till that time, there has to be a wall that protects him from being helplessly involved. Only in such "unhappy families", one can expect a Happy Ending.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Small experiences....Massive generalization!

This is one tendency among most humans that is not highlighted too often - we tend to generalize our opinions about anything and everything based on what we experience in life.

I come across people everywhere who talk about the behavioral aspects of a particular community, one strangely different group of people in office, complications in relationships, things that make us happy, good and bad practices, the rules of attraction and so many other things. It is almost addictive. I meet someone else another day and hear another version of the same stuff with one added fact. Then, in a month's time, the buzz about this new fact is everywhere.
The addiction comes from the fact that people don't keep their concepts to themselves but make it a point to let them grow through others which in turn get imprinted even on a little kid who hears his mom and dad discussing it at home.

Generalization is a disease, a virus that spreads over days, years and generations.

Even as we usher into this super advanced age in a rapidly developing country like India, it hurts when I see people living as per rules (generalizations) that have been ingrained in them so deep that however hard one may try, its impossible for him to open up and use his own mind in dictating terms for his life. I have a few friends who have totally given up trying to get their point across to their families about how things have changed with time, how a few things that seemed to be of utmost important in their generation have absolutely no meaning in the world today.
Its difficult for the old guns to come in terms with any change in those things that have worked well for years. But isn't it the job of the new generation to educate them from what they experience and see around? And isn't it expected that atleast some of the many new life concepts would pass those steel gates built for themselves by the experienced folks? Experience comes by learning, so did these people actually stop learning once their kids grew up and started experiencing the new world?

Anyway, upbringing is just one of the mediums for the propagation of generalizations. A few of my college friends would tell me that love marriages are unacceptable in their families. Period. I ask them, "Any reason?". Then they talk of all they have heard about the instability arising out of love marriages as they read about everywhere, about their parents telling them about that distant relative whose wife left him in troubled times etc. Some are pretty optimistic that the system has worked great always and there is no reason to disturb it. Love would develop after marriage as it always does. At times i feel they are trying to justify something that they themselves don't believe in. They have all the education behind them that tells them to free their mind but they are too afraid to break the shackles, the system.

Generalizations are not limited to families, they go on to affect big entities like communities, states and countries. We are all divided because of generalizations about a particular segment being the good community and the other being the nasty one. I have heard people talking about how cunning people from a few states can be and how one particular community can not be trusted because of the numerous cases running against members of that community for bloodshed. One is made to believe that it is better to maintain safe distance from the person living even next door belonging to that community. "How does it matter if our kids have grown together and go to the same school and take the same bus home? Its time to maintain caution n let our naive kid know too." In most of these cases, most of us don't even care to learn from our experiences. "Afterall, all our people couldn't be wrong". One fails to spare a thought that most of these people they have learnt from have in turn heard things from other people.This is the worst form of generalization that I have observed. It only propagates hatred in a world that is hungry for love. As one of my very close friends once said "But all they write in newspapers can't be wrong". I could only say, "Yes my friend, but tomorrow if my community is in news for something bad, would you start doubting me too?". It is common sense but more often than not, it goes unheard.

There are going to be occasions when people experience something bad, there would always be people who feel betrayed and helpless, there would be marriages that would go bad, there would be breakups and wars. If these are experiences that are shared that lead to all the generalizations, all we are doing is propagating hatred and misconceptions. There is nothing in the world that can be generalized in the true sense. Every person has a right to be his own self, lead a life that he finds appropriate. The need for education is not limited to the ones who haven't attended school. There is no school that runs a course on 'Common sense'. Staying happy and satisfied is an art and spreading that little bit of happiness in your life with your loved ones and that neighbour next door is the human nature that the Creator might have actually imagined. If every person just makes a conscious effort to overpower the forced misconceptions brought through the system into his family with that sheer human power to think and act in the right, uninfluenced and constructive way, our short lives could actually be much more merry!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Stage Fright

It seems fear comes naturally to us. It also seems fear grows with maturity. The more we mature, the more scared we are. Sounds funny, doesn’t it? Imagine a kid who has never fallen and got hurt, one who’s never got a scolding or heard a horror story. What would scare him? His growth (maturity) starts with school, where he is taught what good people are like. The kid learns that the good people are the ones who are respected by society and he ought to be like one of them one day. In other words, it’s the beginning of him getting scared of becoming anything else. Even the smartest of the lot who are loaded with ‘Distinctions’ and have topped for years together are scared that they might not top in the coming year. They get used to being loved by friends and family for their ‘Distinctions’ so much that the very thought of losing it anyway anywhere scares the hell out of them. In my opinion, if one has a defense mechanism at that tender age that could beat that fear off, he would never ever face something like “stage fright”. Alas, many of us haven’t been that strong or lucky in those years. Its just because we are among the fortunate ones to have received the right education that has taught us that being good is synonymous with being successful.

We commonly associate the term stage fright in a literal sense. A schoolboy might be reluctant to stand up in a morning school assembly to read out something as simple as the 'Thought of the day'. A singer could be sweating at the thought of messing up the lyrics or a high note on stage. A dancer who has practiced the same steps 'N' number of times could find his leg shaking out of fear even before getting on the stage. The list is endless. Yet I feel this physical 'stage' is not the 'stage' that worries the kid, the singer or the dancer for that matter.
A famous Shakespearean quote says "All the world's a stage". I don't feel there's any better interpretation of a stage. A new born has no fear since he hasn't experienced the 'stage'. But before he comes to his senses, he is already being moulded into becoming a reflection of his parents. Then follows school and college and work and the various 'stages' of his life and he is constantly 'frightened' at each 'stage' of him turning out to be anyone but the loved and cherished person he is at that 'stage' of life.
I recently had the privilege of competing with a few top notch singers in a reality show. I also got to share my room with this superbly talented guy from Himachal Pradesh who has performed on stage since he was a kid and had also made it to the top 12 of Sa Re Ga Ma (another reality show) in some previous season. He oozes confidence and his singing is flawless. He has years of training in classical music and wishes to make a career in music which he most certainly would sooner or later. Everything was fine till the day came when we were supposed to sing in front of the judges. Of all people, I saw this very experienced stage singer falling prey to stage fright. Before getting on stage, he told me that every single time he sets feet on stage, he has that fear of failing. The fear of not being admired as much as he is now and deserves to be. What I learnt from him is that its certainly not about being alien to a 'staged atmosphere' that freaks out people, the fear is innate. It cannot go just by years of practice or performance. If it is within you, it would stay forever unless you deliberately kill that fear.
The only way I feel stage fright can be eliminated is by introspection. This would sound much easier said than done but I feel it is not that tough either. As you step on any stage, just look around at a few faces in the crowd and tell yourself that these are the people who have come all the way to watch you perform. The very thought that you might have been sitting in the audience rather than standing there on stage had you not dared to showcase your talent should make you feel very proud. This proud feeling can eliminate most of that fear. It is pessimistic behavior to think of all the ways things could go wrong for you. A stage gives you the opportunity to fight out of that web of fear. Once you succeed in eliminating that fear, you have won more than just that one battle. You have brought that kid in you back to life who isn't scared of trying something new, something that makes 'him' happy.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Canine Connection

I have always wondered what makes dogs so lovable. What is it about a dog that makes it man's best friend? The breeds of pet dogs may vary from the rich to the poor but the reasoning given by most people is the same. They say a dog is very faithful to you and remains by your side throughout its life. There is certainly no doubt about that. But is it that simple?
I have always been very fond of animals, especially dogs. Very often I wonder whether the pet needs the man more or is it the other way around. A man who has picked up a stray from the street and takes care of it providing food and shelter might feel he's done a favor on the little unprotected thing that could easily have been trampled by a speeding truck. But why is this poor thing so very often a dog? Why not a poor person without shelter and food? My understanding to this is that there is a definite connection between man and the canines. We just love this species. We love these four legged creatures which follow us when we walk, which somehow manage to relate to your feelings without uttering a word and without fail are the first to reach the door when you come back from work.
People who haven't kept pets find it 'amusing' how a family grieves the death of a pet. Its like losing a child for the grown ups and like losing his best friend for a kid. I have experienced both these feelings. As a kid, when a neighbour broke my adopted stray friend's leg while reversing his car, I kind of developed a huge hatred for him even as a kid. The poor thing had to go because the injury was very severe. When another of my pets, Zen passed away, the absence of the four legs made home look so dull. When you ring the bell and suddenly when there's noone to greet you with wild celebration that you've got used to, that's the time you truly realize the importance of that little creature.
Dogs don't take much time to judge you. Either they like you instantly, or you are a reject straightaway. I still don't understand why one of my pets doesn't like the subziwali's loud voice and the other which can still not tolerate just one of the servants at my nani's place. In that little head, they have a big enough brain to form opinions about people it seems. You simply can't give a dog a bath or touch its tail if it doesn't like you.
Another thing, you may be possessive about your pets but they are much more possessive about you. They just don't like other people getting closer to them and diverting the owner's attention from them. The best thing about dogs and the biggest difference between them and humans (according to me) is that they never crib. They might be a little choosy when it comes to food but you won't see a dog giving you a dirty stare because of that. They are surely among the most adjusting species known. Humans should actually learn to stay happy from animals. Alas, little pretty things in life don't seem to satisfy us smarter beings.
This blog is actually dedicated to all my canine friends with whom I've shared a relation which I can never express entirely. Thank you friends for all the energy you brought into my life and the immeasurable sweetness that I'll always cherish.