I wonder why...

I loved writing. Specially my diary. Anne Frank is solely responsible for that. Unfortunately, after writing for almost a decade, more than a decade has passed since I wrote something in my diary. This blog is a desperate attempt to revive that - something I thought publishers would be queuing up for:-)

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Negative thoughts and a cricket match

One of the best ways to love oneself, I have realised, is to shoo away negative thoughts. They occupy so much of our mind that I would term them as the single most important factor for not being able to love oneself.
So how does one keep negative thoughts at bay? How does one fight the battle against negativity? It used to be very difficult f or me. I ystruggled a lot initially. Not to say that I do not struggle now. But I found an easy way to remove negative thoughts.
Most of our negative thoughts come when we are alone. Or idle. I tried a trick which I have started calling the cricket match trick. Imagine yourself as a batsman for whom the entire stadium is cheering. They want you to hit a six, they want you to score a century, they want you to succeed. And in between a fast bowler comes and bowls a bouncer to you. Since you are a very competent batsman and the whole stadium wants you to hit a six, you go on your front foot and hit the ball straight above  the bowler for a six. 
Now just replace the ball with the negative thought that has been bothering you. Every time it comes to you, go on the front foot and hit it for a big six. The stadium - in this case is the universe - which wants you to succeed come what may. 
Try this out. It really works wonders. I have tried this every where - at home, at work, while travelling in a Mumbai local and every time it has given me success. I could actually see the negative thought being hit out of the stadium for a six. And in came a positive thought in its position. 
Try this out! It'll work.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Baby steps to loving thyself...

As I had mentioned in my first post, Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life played a big role in healing my life. The first thing she taught me through her book was to love myself. It may sound like a simple thing for most of you, but for me it was very difficult at that point in time.
Somehow, I had always put others’ preferences ahead of mine and thus the things that I wanted to do was always pushed to a later that. Something I would do, once life started!
But ‘life’ just refused to start. It had almost reached a dead end. Almost. With my mother’s illness and botched up dream of relocating overseas, I had no hope in myself. That is when I started reading the book and that is when the book started working its miracle. Loving thyself was very difficult, but still I decided to give it a try. The first step I took was to list down the things I wanted to do. Or rather, the things that I thought would make me happy.
This was a really difficult task. Whenever I would get down to list something, I would not be sure whether that would make me ‘happy’. For example, buying a house in Mumbai was one of the contenders. The moment I listed it, I thought to myself – so what? Will that make me happy? Or will I get more worried about the huge loan I will have to take? Something inside told me that it would be the latter.
Thus continued the search for things that would make me happy. After almost a week long effort, I zeroed in on things that would make me happy. And most of those were simple things like learning to play the keyboard, having my own library of books, doing up the place where we lived, spending more time with family every day, carrying myself better, improving my wardrobe, eating at good restaurants, etc. Of course there were some apparently difficult things like saving a lot more for the future, but overall the list seemed pretty doable.
The next step was easier – put a target date to every activity that would make you happy. So I did that as well. Suddenly, happiness did not seem such an elusive topic after all. It was well within my reach! The moment that realisation dawned upon me, suddenly I felt a force within me urging me to complete the tasks.
And before a month passed by, I realised some of the tasks has already been completed. I was beginning to feel happy. I had started to love myself!
So my journey towards happiness continued. Though I have not ticked every item in the task list, most of them have been. And I am a much happier person than I was eight months ago.

Three cheers to loving your ownself. More about that in my next post.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Anger and aftermath ...

I am sorry but I have to change the topic of today’s post. While I had written earlier that it will be about how I started loving myself, a phone call from one gentleman made me change the topic. But trust me, this post will also help you love yourself.
So I was spending a happy Saturday of a long weekend when the phone call came. While I won’t bore you with what transpired in the phone call, it was enough to spoil my mood. It was enough to make me angry and it was enough to almost make the old me (who did not love myself) getting control of the new me (who loves myself).
The few hours left of the Saturday evening was spent in brooding, resentment and other expressions of anger.
How could he say something like this? How could they think like this? I have always been like this and have succeeded, so why should I change? Thoughts started polluting my mind. Refusal to change again put its head up and I got a resulting headache, which is still lingering as I write this post.
I was on the verge of letting anger take charge and pass on my power to the other individual.
The whole night was spent in frustration, resentment and refusal to change. After I woke up today morning, the scene was no better. Then suddenly I started rediscovering the new me in me. I asked myself – am I happy with what I did in the last 42 years? Well, not completely. Did I manage to reach where I wanted to? Definitely, No. Where am I on the Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? Have I reached the top parts of the triangle (Self Actualisation)? No. I am still grappling with the Love and Belonging part.
Then why am I refusing to change? If I want the rest of my life to be the best of my life, I cannot continue the way I did for the last four decades. I have to let the new me take control. Because I want my new life to be different from my old life.
So the magical change happened again. Just while I was starting this blog, I shot off an email to the person who spoiled my Saturday. The email was not from the old me, but from the new me. The new me who was confident, who liked himself and who did not want to let go of the power through expressions of anger.
And before I finished writing this post, the response from that person came. He was showing signs of calling truce as opposed to the war he was waging yesterday. Signs of victory were in sight for the new me!
I did this because I have started loving myself. I did this because I do not want to get angry and pass on the power to the other individual. I did this because I did not want my thoughts to be clouded by the negativity of the other person.

Here’s raising a toast to the power of loving myself!

Two fortnights that changed it all ...

I THOUGHT I was a very positive person, till I encountered the first real challenge in my grown up life. My mother – who had not been keeping very well for some time – was diagnosed with tonsillar cancer in August last year.
It took exactly 15 days to completely change everything that was happening in our family. And my life.
It couldn’t have come at a worse time. I was all set to make a big career move which meant relocating to a different country, working for a very large corporation and handling a role which would be a dream one. But those 15 days changed it all. I couldn’t do anything that I had planned, dreamt and wanted to.
I was shattered. I was cursing myself. I was resenting being stuck in the situation. All the dreams I had thought of coming true after I would relocate would now continue to remain a dream. Every day started looking like a curse. What made matters worse was the worsening condition of my mother due to side effects of the chemotherapy. Why did this happen to me? was the question I went around asking everyone. What wrong did I do?
That is when a senior colleague and friend of mine handed me a book – You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay. “A book at this juncture of my life? How could it even help me or change me?” was what I asked myself.
Reluctantly, and without any real hope of anything happening, I started reading the book. And that is when the miracle happened.
I could relate to every page of the book. Every incident, every anecdote, every situation seemed to be exactly what had happened to me. And that is when my process of change started.
The first change that happened to me was my love for myself. I realised that I did not love myself at all. I had a very not-so-good opinion of myself! If I saw a good music system in the store which was expensive, I would think this is too expensive for me. It is for someone else. If it was an expensive car, then it would be for the rich and famous! A good house, would similarly, be for the crème-de-la-crème of the society. Then what was it that was for me? All the bad things in life?
Little wonder I never managed to get the best and always had to be satisfied with the second or the third grade stuff.
The second realisation that dawned upon me was that I was always putting conditions to my dream. If I wanted to learn to play the guitar, the pre-condition was once I get ‘settled’. Because the definition of ‘settled’ was changing, I never managed to start learning the guitar.
Louise Hay made me realise why it was not getting completed – firstly because I did not love myself enough and secondly because I was putting pre-conditions to everything!
The algorithm was like this – once I relocate overseas, I will save enough money; once I save enough money I will move into a nicer apartment; once I move into a nicer apartment, I will decorate it; once I decorate it, I will start living life properly; once I start living life, I will learn to play the guitar; once I learn to play the guitar, I will be happier….The list continued. And every dream of mine had a pre-condition. Thus, nothing materialised. They remained dreams.
Just like a fortnight changed it all for the worse after my mother was diagnosed with cancer; the next fortnight changed it all for the better, once I started loving myself. My next post will be on how I did that.
In hindsight, I thank the Universe for making me go through this.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Looking at things - ab initio

I was re-reading one of my all-time favourites -- Surely You're Joking Mr Feynman. It's been a favourite for a long time -- ever since I got hooked to Physics. In fact, after Yakov Perelman's Physics Can Be Fun, this is perhaps my favourite book on my favourite subject. The first time I read Surely...was more than a decade back -- when I just started majoring in Physics. In the years that passed by, I must have read it at least a dozen times. But this time, it was different. I was reading the book after almost 4 years. And to my surprise and joy, the whole perspective had changed!

The last few times I read the book, it was more to know about the curious adventures of the Physicist-cum-drummer-cum-teacher and to laugh and enjoy. But this time the feeling was about relating to the thoughts, finding analogies in my own life and, of course, thanking my decision of studying (whatever little it may be) the world's best subject - Physics.

Not sure how many of you feel this way, but somehow I have always been interested in looking at things from the very basics. So if it was the prized record player that my father had, I head to open it up and fiddle with the amplifier and stylus. If it was our car, I had to open the bonnette and see what was inside. And if it was the television, I had to know how it operated. And this was not limited to gadgets -- even simple stuff like a tap, a valve, safety pin...the basics of anything and everything appealed to me. Back in school, I was not able to figure out the exact science behind everything, but I could at least find out how it happened. So while I couldn't understand how the petrol engine operated, I could at least figure out how the petrol reached the engine from the tank, how the spark plugs set fire to the engine and how the brake shoes stopped the car!

When I started studying Physics, I got a scientific explanation for all those things. So I started applying Physics to everything in my life. If I had walk on two arms of a rectangle, I would rather walk diagonally. Why? That would mean the least distance travelled and thus less energy spent. In other words, I would be reaching my destination with less work! Similarly, a look at the exhaust fan in the kitchen would leave me wondering about the applicability of Bernoulli's Principle! About how any fluid would be drawn towards an area of low pressure. And why red lights were used in traffic signals and tail-lights of vehicles! Since the wave length of the red light was maximum, it could travel the most distance!

And of course, MLT -- the basic formula of anything and everything under the sun.

And, standing today 34 summers after I came to live, I am proud that I studied Physics. I am thankful that I read Perelman and Feynman. And, I am happy that I look at things ab-initio.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Seductive Sedan

It's been more than a year since I updated the blog. No specific reason as such - apart from the competency that I have mastered -- procrastination. In this last year, a lot of happened -- I went to the US on an assignment, stayed there for 9 months, came back to India, went to Kolkata on a three-week leave and then have re-settled in Mumbai. Now that I am back with a broadband connection, expect frequent updates from me.
As of now, what has completely taken over me is the car that I want to buy. The first decision was to decide whether to buy or not. Procrastination couldn't get the better of me because of my love for cars right from my childhood. Sitting behind the wheels have always given me a kick which few other things in life could've. In fact, in all the 33 years that I have lived on this Blue Planet, only the last three years have been without a car. Please don't misunderstand me -- it's got nothing to do with status or showing off -- it's just the love to have something that you love!
But the next decision was something that could be procrastinated -- which car to buy. But even that, surprisingly, did not take much time. The loyalty to my employer -- the TATA group -- made me convinced that the car had to be from TATA Motors.
Now the decision was that of whether to go for a hatchback or a sedan. The hatchback seemed more logical considering the road conditions in Mumbai, but the sedan seemed more seductive! And I did fall prey to the seduction of the Indigo -- those perfect curves where impossible to resist!
But that is where procrastination took over from. Now when every thing has been decided -- I am waiting for the right deal and the best offer! Going my previous experience, it's going to take quite some time before I sign on the dotted line for buying the car.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

The elastic limit of honesty

I wanted to write something on this ever since the ‘sting operation’ struck the nation. The nation’s hundreds of crores of viewers and readers bored from the staple diet of 70 plus Leftists protesting over the invasion of multinationals immediately latched on to what looked like a sneak preview into the bedrooms of people we iconised.

India TV deserves credit for that. Apart from the fact that they managed to skyrocket their TRPs in a single day. And, last but, definitely not the activating the thought process in fellow journalists that the Fourth Estate was still responsible for investigative journalism and not just for publishing a glorified corporate brochure.

India TV made me proud for that reason. It made me repose my faith in investigative journalism – something that is practiced by few newspapers in the country today.

Unfortunately, I belong to the old school of journalism which thinks there is much more to it than just working for a salary. It is a social responsibility that you are carrying on your shoulders. It is a passion you were fulfilling. How else can you justify 16-hour workdays for a pittance?

My allegiance notwithstanding, I do have my reservations on the way the whole sting operation was executed. Six months, you continue calling a person, forcing him to fall into the trap and be infidel. Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying that the casting couch doesn’t exist. Forget Bollywood, the couch perhaps exists in every industry in its own veiled and hush-hush fashion. It’s just that Bollywood is always under the public scanner and thus we come to know and love to read about such scandals. I am just questioning the manner in which India TV did it.

I remember a similar incident that happened during my journalistic days. The local metro page was running out of stories on that day. The crime beat and police control room failed to produce anything and the political correspondent was the last hope. So what does our man do? He calls up top leaders of two factions of the same political party. Talks to the first one and coaxes him into making a statement against the other leader. And once the correspondent gets that, he calls up the other leader and tells her about the kind of statements being made against her by the other faction leader! And, in return gets another quotable quote. The result? A Page 1 story on two factions of the same political party fighting with each other.

Now would you call that investigative journalism? I wouldn’t.

You might ask, what has that got to do with the sting operations? I feel, like in the above example, in the sting operation too, the desired end result was sensationalism. But that’s not what I want to write in this blog.

Correct me if I am wrong, but for the last few weeks I am constantly having this feeling that we humans are like elastic strings. The moment you cross the elastic limit, the string breaks. Perhaps, our conscience has an elastic limit. And, probably, our honesty too.

Take the example of the traffic constable we all love to make fun about. Violate a traffic rule, and you can get away with a 50 buck bribe. If you are caught by an officer, 50 won’t do. You would probably require a 100 rupee note. And the elastic limit increases proportionately with the rank.

If you commit a larger crime, you would probably require hundreds, thousands, lakhs or even crores. The fact of the matter is that everything has a price tag attached to it. Be it in our country or any Western model country.

The point I am trying to make is that all of us have probably become elastic. The limit is what changes from person to person and distinguishes an honest person from a dishonest one. A loyal human being from an infidel one.

Aman Verma and Shakti Kapoor succumbed of six months of seduction. Probably a die-hard loyal guy would need six years. But eventually he too would succumb.

What do you think?

Monday, March 07, 2005

You've got mail...

I still remember the day I opened my first email account. It was a hot and sultry afternoon in the summer of 1997 and I was surfing the Net at the British Council Information Centre. In those days, BCL hosted one of the few cybercafés in Kolkata.

Having an Internet connection was a status symbol that the rich and famous liked to showcase. And why not – one had to pay 10000 bucks for a 500 hour connection! And I had to pay 100 bucks for surfing the Net for an hour in BCL. Sounds unbelievable today, almost a decade down the line, but that is how it was then.

In those pre-Google days, one had to depend on the good old Yahoo for searching the Net. And Sabeer Bhatia and his Hotmail was the coolest thing on the terra firma.

But yours truly had to be different! Because of which I chose a career in journalism despite a degree in physics. And because of which I preferred to open my first mail account with Yahoo and not Hotmail.

It was nothing short of a status symbol, when I went back to office and told my colleagues about my latest acquisition. Till then most of us were using the common office ID. I was one of the first few to get a personal email ID. Immediately I contacted my administration department to get the same printed on my visiting card. But, sadly enough, to be rudely told that it was against corporate policies to print such personal mail IDs on business cards.

The eagerness with which I used to wait for a mail – albeit a spam– in my mailbox seems so ridiculous now. I would make it a point to go through every line of all spam mails to make myself feel more important. And if it was a personal mail from a friend, no one could stop me from skyrocketing to cloud nine – such was the ecstasy. And on days when my colleague got a mail but I didn’t – it was agony raised to the power of infinity!

A year passed by. Cupid struck and spam mails lost their significance. Expectedly, something else took the place. The long wait for a mail from someone special was a very soothing pain (if there is anything like that). Every comma, every full stop and every word weighed so much. One could read it over and over again. Find newer meanings every time he went through the same old words. Get excited at the slightest hint of the four-lettered word that we all want to hear during such times.

Another couple of years passed by. Cupid disappeared in the midst of harsh realities and infidel genes.

But the omnipresent (web-based) office mail ensured that the significance of emails still remained. Initially it was welcome. As always, the number of mails you received determined your seniority and position in office. But slowly the want for receiving mails nosedived. The fear factor crept in. Every time the new message flag stood up, one would get scared.

Was it another stinker from the boss? Was it a forwarded joke from the friend you tried to avoid? Or was it from someone you really want to get a mail from?

Keep watching this space till the next phase of email bug hits me.