Sunday, September 18, 2016

Where are you? Mini stories

1. The Cop

He checked the house. He visited every room personally for corroboration. His instincts did tell him to look out again. He barely found anything but was wise enough not to reach to any conclusion before-hand. Couple of days had passed, the victim's body was lifeless since then. Yet no hard-evidence to identify or narrow down the suspects. It could be the butler, the brother, the daughter, the gardener, or the secretary. Victim had quarrels with all of them for various reasons. The cop was fully assured that this was an inside-job. Family was hell-bent to term the act as suicide. He wanted to nab the killer badly. He wanted revenge. It was personal. He wanted to rush to his wife's grave. He wanted her shoulder to cry. With all the strength he had, he hollered: "Where are you?"

2. The Bride

She was carefully walking down the street. Fore-lines of her head were giving away the tension she was under. It was her first attempt at cooking and wanted to give it her best shot to impress the (to be) in-laws. Scanning through each and every vegetable vendor, she wanted to pick up the veggies at good prices and better quality to make that perfect recipe. The only thing left was a set of coriander for a great garnish. All vendors had coriander but not green enough. She was worried whether she'll be able to get it and get back home on time to prepare her dish. Disappointed with the options meted out to her, her mouth amplified her mind. She yelled to the (yet to be found) coriander, "Where are you?"

3. The Wife

She's running helter skelter. She's in tension. She wants to be comforted. She cannot still believe what she has heard. She seems to be anxiously searching. She's in tears. She is desperate. She's aware it's a pressing situation. She knows that the eleventh hour has as well passed and her attempts will be all but futile. She feels the destiny has given up on her. She's upset. She's angry. She's crying. She's the wife. She is searching for her husband. She wants to see his body. They told her he was martyred fighting terrorists. She cannot find him. The pained and anguished lady screams and shouts directed at him: "Where are you?"

4. The Fresher

She was carefully walking past the rooms. Her head was buzzing out anything but sanity. She was under a lot of tension. She wanted to impress her someone. The someone was her boss. A new recruit in the team, she had the responsibility to prove her mettle. This was her first project. Through thick and thin, she observed nook and corner of the house. While accessing a closet, she struck partial success! She had a final task to do. Judge the combination of the lock! Half an hour since her discovery of the safe, she was scrambling through the possible combinations to unlock the safe. Disappointed and frustrated, she realized she was yet to master the art. Depressed, she yelled at the (yet to be found) code combination: "Where are you?"

5. The Student

Prepared pretty well, he was ready for the examination. His confidence was beyond a shadow of doubt. He took great care in placing chits at various places! Few tucked in his pants, one rolled with the refill of the opaque pen, one in the hidden strap of his collar, etc. As he started his paper, he smirked looking at the questions. Many of the important answers located in his little torn shoe sole doubling up as a hidden storage cabinet. Time for execution of the plan. Now, he realized chits to be NOT present. He fervently looked again. The important notes were not there. Again, he checked. Sweat ran through his whole body. Did he forget placing them? They might have been tripped out while walking from home to school. He doubted where he might have left them. Did his companions pull a prank on him? A string of thoughts started in his mind. Desperate for a solution, he cried. He did not want to flunk. In agony, he muttered to the chits: "Where are you?"

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Second Chances... What If ?

An engineer's question:"What if I had chosen to do a psychology major?"
He could've been a clinical psychologist.

A DJ's question: "What if I hadn't risked my career and stuck with being a commerce graduate?"
He would've worked in firms for accounting.

A home-maker's question: "What if I had gone ahead with my dream of playing international women's cricket?"
She might have gotten selected in the national squad, who knows, might have won a world cup too.

A convicted criminal's question: "What if I hadn't committed that crime?"
He would have not been facing prison time.

A doctor's question: "What if I hadn't stopped pursuing my research to cure cancer?"
He would have been relentlessly determined in his research and might have found a cure as well.

A politician's question: "What if I hadn't got the votes?"
He might have to wait another term to come in power.

A writer's question: "What if I hadn't got any publisher on board?"
His love to write might have been dead and probably would have become a journalist or a copy editor.

A crying mom's question: "What if I hadn't forced my child to study a lot?"
Her child might not have taken a decision to end its life under such pressure.

A failed investor's question: "What if I had chosed real estate and not stock market?"
Things might have been different, him owning more properties and being filthy rich.

All of us crave for second chances. All of us want to find out *WHAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED IF* at crossroads, some other decision was taken.We have that peculiar tendency to imagine the best and the worst parts of other side; compare it to the existing choice made; and finally subsume ourselves into daily routine thinking(either being happy or regretting) about that. During conversations as well, this scenario tops the talk where a friend/colleague/relative advices/suggests/imagines how they did something than otherwise expected.
"If I were in your shoes, I would've done it the better way."
"Why are you ranting about that NOW, you should have thought that before doing xyz"
"Well hello, You ought to make some sense, learn from me."
and stuff.

If the choice was NOT made by you, then probably you feel more addicted to explore that area, trying to solve the jigsaw; how you would have done it differently, how someone better (or you) could have saved the day and so on. The little girls who are kidnapped and later exploited, have a very natural tendency to think in the fashion that what their life would've turned out; if they were not thrown into the flesh trade business; growing up with parents like other lucky girls. They were denied a life they deserved to live, and demand for a justification from the higher power who bestows life and death to all.

People curse decisions that screw up big time. People thank the decisions that are made right. Be it due to circumstances, sheer luck, dedicated efforts, technical brilliance, before-hand analysis, out of the box thinking, or many factors associated to the same.
Sports, one such area where a call made on false understandings or wrong timing can make the whole difference whether the sportsperson ends up on the podium or not.
Stand-up comedy, jokes where no laughs are generated; and the comic has to change the course immediately or feel disheartened at the end on the failure of the act.

We long for happy endings. We aspire to make our decisions right. We are ambitious. We loathe failure or defeat. But one thing we forget amidst the rationalization or replacement of wrongs that happened to us. Unless the scientists make path-breaking discoveries on time-travel, work their brains out on parallel universes and solve the inter-linked bootstrap/predestination paradoxes and stuff; the truth is, there's no second chances. The concept of Second Chances is like The Missing Goat Story.
Here it goes: 2 boys decided to play a prank in their school. They rounded up 3 goats from nearby; labelled them 1, 2 and 4 on sides; and let them loose in the school building. Next morning, authorities smelled goat droppings and realized goats had tresspassed the premises. In the search operation, they found 3 goats labelled 1, 2 and 4. They were now worried. Where was the Goat no. 3? The whole week was spent in finding out the missing goat no. 3 as there was panic and frustration amongst teachers, staff, guards, helpers, etc. The 2 boys watched in joy because the goat no. 3 was never to be found; it never existed.
Similar to the school staff, it is us, who are always trying to find out the unknown problems we might be facing, because we assume that it is bound to happen. We try to find mistakes in our own resolve, look for the elusive goat no. 3 because, sometime or the other, we have been wrong in past; so we assume we will be wrong in the future as well.

Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motors once said, "Most people spend more time and energy going around problems than in trying to solve them"
We have got to prove him wrong, if we want to be happy in life.
I am a happy person. I have been happy for quite sometime now and it has nothing to do with my under-flowing bank account or monotonous work schedule. The beautiful atmosphere I breathe these days is the sole reason behind this emotion. No, It’s not the weather – It’s the feeling!
The feeling that even if things go south, there will always be another time. Nope, not a second chance, but a new chance. A renewed energy. And the next time I enter a race, I ought to win it, coz I've learned from my mistakes in the previous ones.
Thomas Alva Edison, the 18th century science genius failed 9,999 times in creating the light bulb. A journalist asked him about this experience and he said, "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."
And that, is the fighting spirit with which I sign off on this topic.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Luck vs Effort

A simple scenario. An easy task. A plain job. An uncomplicated examination. A rudimentary situation. An uncompounded fundamental. A painless chore. An elementary activity. Whenever we come across any stuff/piece/business/quest that we feel is a cakewalk, at that time we do not consider any factors that relate to the ease of the task.

Now swipe that with something that is mind-numbing, difficult to the core, impossible from the word go, sophisticated and a complicated responsibility, we start identifying bottlenecks to reason the improbability of the task at hand. And that's completely normal. Human beings are designed to reason. Human beings are designed to be selfish. In the end, if we succeed, it was our effort. If we fail, it was our luck that didn't work! Isn't it?
This is the point of view of majority of us, during the commonest times and it defines our perspective during trying times that we lay back on these 2 crucial factors (well, almost always). I am not saying that we rely on them every time, but, a general trend is to be cozy with that analysis. In my opinion, situations or their conclusions are not completely black and white as we think them to be. A Yes/No scenario is easier to be caught upto, but I prefer being in the gray area and sticking to logic rather than positioning my ideas on the basis of outcomes. Stuff happens! It doesn't mean it's the end of the world.

Coming back to our point, What really defines the success of an individual? Luck? Or Effort? Albert Einstein, the greatest physicist of the 20th century gave the world a very eloquent quote: "When the solution is simple, God is answering." At the very first instance, we feel *scientist believes in GOD? OMG, that's something new!* His underlying message, Einstein (being a pantheist and an agnostic) referred to "God" as a metaphor for the laws of physics. What's the best part, his statement appeals to every section of the society of believers/non-believers.

For all the religious people out there, it's a direct statement which focusses on luck of any situation (God is on your side, folks). For all the others, the focus should be on efforts you chip in, your perseverance and dedication in your work, the tenacity of practicality and implementation of laws (of physics, in this case). America's 3rd president, Thomas Jefferson stated: "I’m a great believer in luck and I find the harder I work the more I have of it!"
In a sense, I very much agree with President Jefferson. But (aah, hear comes the counter).
Lets see this.
97% of the water available on the planet is salt water. From the rest 3%, only 33% of that can be used for drinking. According to this Human Development report of the UN, 1.2 billion people (appr 1/5th of humanity) lives in areas of water scarcity with about 43 nations affected in all. If you are lucky NOT to be born there, you'll get a regular water supply with basic amenities. For those people, everyday survival is a challenge. And at that time, no Einstein or Jefferson quote can be of any frigging use for them.
Ok, so this does showcase that luck is really a very big factor to success. So is effort not?

Let's see why it is equally necessary!
This is in 1980s. Ramji is a 40 year old businessman. He is smart, caring individual, has a stable income, good marriage, and a textbook definition of a successful life. Ramji's office is 30 minutes walk from his home via a mini-forest. Yes, he has an ambassador car but prefers walking which also caters to his health requirements and tranquility while admiring beauty of the nature during his journey. One fine day, returning back home, on the route equidistant from his home and office, he hears screams of a girl behind few trees. A closer audible sense makes him realize that the girl in question wants to escape from some ruffians trying to take advantage of her in the loneliness of the area. Here's Ramji, a fragile bodied mid-40s individual, who hears a girl crying for help. He tries to get a head-count of boys, and gets an idea that they are at least more than 2. There couldn't be any immediate help in the vicinity.

"Able-bodied youngsters who are in their prime of their age, who knows, they might be armed as well, they will be completely ruthless to whoever person that interferes in their dastardly act of quenching their lust. If I go there and try rescue her from them, who knows they might be successful in hurting the girl and killing me as well?" A logical approach would be to ignore the act, proceed back home and let the girl suffer whatever that's written in her destiny! Destiny, you heard it right. Ramji thought to console his conscious by pointing the incident to the girl's luck, rather than risking (or worse, losing) his life and anyway being unable to save the girl. Ramji had very little time to choose from luck (of the girl) vs effort (to go and try to save her).
He thought *even if I die saving her, at-least I won't regret I didn't try*. In case if the boys are too stupid and are just intensified at the moment, they might even get scared and run away from a sight of another person finding out what they are about to commit! He pumped himself up, gathered his gut, cracked up an idea of sorts.
Ramji collected few stones and twigs, started running towards that direction shouting "Leave the girl alone, run away boys, we are from the police. If you stay there and we catch you, none will be spared. Trust me, we will devastate the next 20 years of your life." Voila, that trick worked. There were 4 boys and all of them vanished like water getting evaporated at 100 degree Celsius temperature. The girl was on the ground bruised, tired of struggling, face on the other side, crying in relief. Reaching out to the girl, Ramji said, "Everything will be alright sister, you are safe now". As he turned to take a look at her face, horrors of the horror shook him. It was his daughter! Ramji was intrigued by the turn of events, the consternation on his face was quite visible. What if he had walked away from her? The thought itself sent chills down his spine. He thanked the lord above. His and his family's life returned to normalcy. Was it luck that saved the girl? Was it the courage and effort Ramji put in? The odds were staked against him, still he came out victorious.

If we carefully check out the angles involved, we can swing the factors to both sides. Believers in luck will say, "It was destiny, was bound to happen." Believers of effort would say, "It was his attempt, that made him save the day". You may be free to agree or disagree with any perspective, but one thing cannot be neglected. Fortune and endeavour go hand in hand. Both are equally important. Both of them are like the wheels of a bicycle, without which it cannot function properly. It's like salt and pepper, adequate and optimal amounts of both are required for a successful recipe.

Complete reliance on luck may prove dangerous as the person will always believe in destiny and will never work effectively. An individual without right circumstances and environment to flourish will never be able to succeed regardless of his/her tries and attempts. If you want to be successful, make the relevant trade-offs. When your inner self becomes the enabler, then the combination of hard work and luck becomes possible and happiness is achieved.
It's up to you and your brains whether you are an early bird or a second mouse :)

Any fool can have bad luck, the art consists in knowing how to exploit it. - Frank Wedekind

Sunday, November 16, 2014

10 reasons I look forward to fall in love with you

So you say that Love is blind. You say Love has no boundaries. You say Love is pure. You say you need selfless Love.       : )

Love, is an emotion. Love is an addiction. Love, is described umpteen times in various movies, novels, stories, poetry, plays, personal experiences, affairs, live-in relationships, etc.

Many experts debate on various aspects of Love.
Do we really fall in love with a person just because we have a liking for her/him?
Is it some internal tuning managed by mother nature that makes us naturally search for a partner with whom we share and care for our lives?
Is it something based on lust?
Can we reason the love for a person?
Can it be better described by linking certain affections for a person?
Can we love more than one person?(Context: partner)

Here's my take on Love. What are the 10 reasons I look forward to fall in love with you?

  • We are walking together. Out of nowhere suddenly, a bird does his business on me. Cherishing that moment to see you chuckling, I feel, is love.

  • Both of us express ourselves to each other without getting judgmental. Always know, I have a sensitive side in my mind; just for you. 

  • Our love is the reciprocation of goodwill. I'm blessed to have you in my life. Take me, I'm yours. I am lost without you.

  • I am the thorn, you are my rose. I love you so much that I prick the finger that dares to pluck out the petals.

  • You presence takes me in trance, the mystic look in your eyes just pours me down. Bliss is here, with me, with you.

  • A strand of your hair, a pic of us together. No one said I have too much coin, but my wallet is rich.

  • A lazy Sunday afternoon. We both are enjoying a cricket match. Innings break, and I sneakily bring the popcorn in and switch the channel to your favorite movie that is about to begin. 
  • Love is not when both of us have all the answers. Love is when we are ready to face all the questions together.

  • Devotion, attraction, emotion, desire, familiarity, addiction, pleasure, attention, friendship, physical, inspiration, kindness, lust, hope, selflessness, attachment, bond. The harder I try to understand, the more difficult it is to ask myself. So I'll follow the ground logic: Keep It Simple, Silly.   :)

  • Quoting anonymous, I believe, Love is Trust. We can always love the person whom we trust.

Wait, what, are you still counting..?    : )

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Today's Shravan Kumar

        The two ends of a strong bamboo were tied with equally strong ropes. A basket each, was suspended on both the ends. Father sitting in one basket, mother in the other, he simulated the weighing scale in his own unique way. Aged parents wanted him to take them to pilgrimages. Motion and transport was scarce and very costly those days. He had the utmost respect and sincere love for his blind parents. So he started their journey so that he could fulfill his parents wishes. After many successful visits to many holy places shrines in this manner, they reached the banks of the river Sarayu. While his parents were resting, Shravan was searching and picking fruits in the nearby areas for food. King Dashratha on his hunting journey, misunderstood Shravan for an animal from a long distance and shot him and killed him only to realize later that the King had committed a grave mistake. Somehow he found out about his parents, and he brought dead Shravan's body to his parents and seeked an apology for his action. Shravan's blind parents cursed Dashratha, they were devoid of their son's love and even he would face the same. Rest we know is history.
Since then, Shravan Kumar became the symbol of exemplary and unconditional love for parents and the responsibility we need to show towards our parents.

In an India of 2014, I present to you a real life story of a man who I perceive as a modern day Shravan Kumar. Here we go with the story of a person I know. I don't want to disclose his real name. So let's just call him Shravan. Sounds apt for the context. : )

Shravan swore that he will never ever get married. Shravan never questioned the intentions of his small brother Raman, but his sister-in-law Lekha used to ruin the sanctity and decorum of the house and used to create ruckus out of petty things, specially money matters. She never trusted parents with Raman's earned money. She treated the parents with utter disgust and never acknowledged the presence of Shravan. If not quarreling with family members, she would be found spending her time on facebook and giggling at forwarded jokes on whatsapp. Raman tried pacifying the showdowns with the parents but he was also slowly slipping out. They wanted to move out.

Later on, Raman also started doubting his parents over many issues and sought answers from them on various occasions. Shravan used to quell these heated arguments. Mutual understanding lost grip of control. Shravan had a word with Raman, Lekha and parents to decide the end of this commotion. All of them came to agreement that, in the best interest of the family, Raman and Lekha move out of their home and live life separately.

A doctor by profession, Shravan contributes to the society very delightfully. Despite hefty and lucrative offers from private hospitals, he continues to practice medicine in a public funded medical institute. Shravan has a pact with his employer that if he dies in any circumstances, he wants all his organs donated to the institute, and in turn, the employer take care of his parents. Apart from that, Shravan has also put efforts to set up an internal committee for patients above the age of 50. The committee monitors the ailments given to these patients and also helps them in monetary relaxation if they are unable to pay for their treatment. Shravan heads this committee himself and monitors the status everyday. Shravan devotes 4-6 hours for the hospital. He draws a very simple amount that is sufficient to make ends meet.

Shravan wakes up at 5 in the morning. He escorts his parents to a nearby park. They are joined by a group of elders who live in the vicinity. All of them then visit the Krishna temple and recite melodious verses and bhajans. He puts a 5 rupee coin in the donation box and accompanies his parents back home. While he is preparing lunch, he loves to listen his mother recite the excerpts of Bhagawad Gita. He feeds his mother and father very graciously. After they finish the delightful meal, Shravan has his lunch in whatever remains in his parents' plates.

Shravan heads for work where he is highly praised by officials and staff for his selfless and efficient work. They say, they are very happy to work with Shravan as a colleague. Early evening, he returns home where he immediately prepares dinner, then gives his ailing father the prescribed injections and medicines. After food, they again visit the temple for offering evening prayers to the lord. This time, after recitals and bhajans, the elders have a stroll in the park while Shravan catches a comfortable place in the meantime.

Shravan very happily gazes at his satisfied parents, the beautiful atmosphere and pens down random poetry for a local magazine which pays him a stipend helpful for his savings for his parents. He again sees his parents, cherishing their joy and seizing the moment. At night, he thanks the almighty, he thanks mother nature, he thanks his parents, for everything given to him. Very emotionally, he touches their feet as a mark of respect and quietly goes to bed planning for the schedule of the next day.

Shravan is content. Shravan is very happy. Shravan is smiling. Shravan is satisfied. Shravan is today, being cremated by his parents, who are crying profusely. "There lays your son, who had a cardiac arrest this morning. He sacrificed his whole life for others. For him, it was never himself, but parents, elders and others," Said his employer to his wailing parents. Neither Raman, nor Lekha have responded to the news. Probably, Shravan's existence does not make any radical change in their life. They are happy in their life, earning loads of money. Today is no different day for them.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Sketches of love (Part 2 of 2)

"I have coal, I have art" confidence seeped in me
"Will draw, will earn" I said in dignity

"My daughter is smitten, but You are poor.
She will need luxury, love is only what you offer"

"Will create fascinating magic on canvas; impress monsieur
Will return with truckload gold; give me a year"

He raised his eyebrows, thoughts in his mind,
~"Such a trifle lad, let destiny be his find."

"If that is your wish, prove your mettle,
You won't win, that's there to settle"

She held my hand, embraced and kissed amour.
The king took her back, "later you adore"

Travelling in nearby kingdom, I saw a dragon
Majestic as ever, none had ever seen one

The flames of his nostrils and the draconian eyes
I couldn't miss the sketch of the wonderous guise

His wings were gloomy, and he showed gait
I captured it exact, in my coal portrait

In bringing life to the art, I was so much engrossed
Amidst my sketch, our eyes crossed

Flaring up to vanish away, the dragon made an act
Whooshed above in the blue skies, a skill that I lacked

Awed was I, completely mesmerised
"THIS will nail it" said my inner voice

Rushed to the emperor's court, was excited a ton
"Your grace, I witnessed it; yes, I drew a dragon"

Said the king in his hustled voice
"Too good to be real, this sketch is"

"If true, this sketch is a very good perception,
If false, then it is an appropriate deception"

Counselled a wise courtier to the king's view
"My lord, dragon exists, is always seen to few"

"Astonishing, marvellous, impressive, no mistaken trail
5,000 livres I award, for cause of my kingdom, travail."

esteemly honored was I, my life coming to track
Worked patiently for a year, and then returned back

Ran to her home, to meet her and my to-be father-in-law
He was there at home, expecting me to come, waiting in awe

"She waited for you, prayed for you, destroyed her existence"
He took me to her grave, "She cried in your absence"

With tears, I gazed at her sketch, I brought with me
Viewing her grave, "You died for me, I live for thee"

Monday, May 13, 2013

Sketches of Love (Part 1 of 2)

Her beauty mesmerized me, her smile made me glad
Spellbound was I, by the charm she had.

Hours and hours, my heart used to play,
She crossed my thoughts, night and day.

I was just 18, an active young lad,
Pursuing my dreams, the journey like mad.

Her lustrous lock of hair drove me nuts,
I couldn't ask her out, didn't have the guts.

I sketched her pictures, with charcoal on my pad,
Pink were her dresses, a good taste she had.

"She won't marry you, you'll end up alone dead,
She's a princess, you're a pauper" that's what people said.

"Be afraid, the king is her dad",
They said to make me more sad.

She saw my sketches, seemed to amuse,
"Your drawing is very nice, very cute muse."

"You are an artist, not so bad,
You made my portrait, I am very glad"

She laughed at her joke, seemingly witty,
I glanced at her, Very very pretty.

She welcomed me home, an idea not so bad,
I was curious enough to meet her dad.

As I said "Sweet my love, I live for thee"
dignified was I, quite impressed was she.

As he entered, I felt snow clad,
My spine chilled cracked, yes, he was Her Dad.

"Hello monsieur, I am honored to meet,
I am here to marry you daughter too sweet."

"What do you earn, I ask you as a dad,
Frankly I am amused, not more but tad"

"Sire I have potential a lot,
I make sketches, live in a yacht"

"I feel you are insane, have gone mad,
coz she's a princess; the king, I am his dad.

How can I allow her to marry you,
she has a lifestyle, you cannot afford to?"