Sunday 19 January 2014

I support power of the 'common man'

Being cynical, being disinterested in Indian politics, being hopeless about 'positive change' in governance...that was me being me! All this hasn't changed - but I am glad that the cynicism, the disinterest and the hopelessness are a bit overshadowed by hope.

For the first time, in my adult life, I am looking forward to a political change-of-guard. I am almost excited about what all can a single-minded vision potentially achieve and correct in this country. For the first time, I see a group of people who seem to be connected with something as basic as ground realities. For the first time, wheels of possibilities - to change & to improve - seem to be in motion.

I will keep this post quite short - though the subject is such that one could write endlessly - debate many sides and end it in ambiguous manner. The only reason I am writing this post is to share my support for the common man. I hope and pray that common sense prevails with both, people representing the common man and more importantly with the common man himself. I hope and pray that this opportunity to move ahead towards improvement in governance is neither wasted nor snatched away too quickly. I hope and pray for my cynicism, disinterest and hopelessness to be defeated!

Wednesday 15 January 2014

Six months without Facebook now...

It was an impulsive decision to quit Facebook, though the idea had been floating in my mind for few weeks. I have to give credit to my wife, who had already taken this step, for showing me that de-addiction was possible. The decision to quit Facebook wasn't a difficult started with deleting Facebook-app from my mobile and finally deactivating my account - all within a span of 2-3 days. The sense of freedom that I experienced in those 2-3 days was such a positive feeling, it made the decision to quit a no-brainer. Today I can't understand my own need to share where I was going, where I was eating, what I was doing, who I was with...what I like and when's my b'day!

I think I had signed up on Facebook sometime in 2006, until then Orkut was the BIG thing. Looking back now, I don't think Orkut was ever such a craze as Facebook went on to become. I give partial credit, for this change, to smartphones and mobile internet as well. When I upgraded from not-a-smart-phone to a somewhat-a-smart-phone...Facebook was everywhere and anywhere I went, it was literally in the palm of my hands...Facebook suddenly was available 24x7.

It soon came to this - I started seeing my life from eyes of others - via Facebook. It became important for me, in my own mind, to share my life with others...whether anyone wanted to know or not...whether anyone was interested or not...I simply had to. Crazily, in my mind, I was sharing a few things to show-off! The events I attended, the day I had, the places I went to, the people I met... If this wasn't enough...I started sharing what I thought...and at times, making up thoughts.

This wasn't the worst of it. I was so addicted to Facebook that sharing my life and my thoughts wasn't enough, I wanted people (sorry - 'friends') to react to what I had put up...I wanted them to 'like'! I suddenly started enjoying being wished on my birthday by many more people, than I had ever been. "How many likes did you get?" / "How many people wished you this year?" - these had become common talking points with actual friends.

Over a period of time, all of this became stifling for me. It wasn't difficult to understand that I had been sucked into this world of superficiality, just as much as I was hating others for displaying it. Most of this was against my core...things I was doing on Facebook were against my nature - having 200+ friends for a starter! I am a guy who can count friends on two fingers and close acquaintances on the remaining ones. I had started cutting down, forcing myself to reduce my sharing content...deleted Facebook-app from my mobile. Just with this much, I started feeling better...lighter actually.

One fine day in July last year, I just deactivated my account. From being wished by over 100 'friends' on my b'day in 2012 (90+ on Facebook, rest were kind enough to call / text) less than a handful in 2013 - because I had deactivated my account on Facebook by then and my 'friends' weren't notified that it was my b'day. I would take the latter scenario any given day - when I know I am truly being thought of by these few people. Making these few people special for me - and 'few' special ones I can manage...from my core!

Matter is not universal for me - I am not suggesting that Facebook has turned our generation into fakers...I am not making any statement that Facebook brings any ill to our entire post may read so because I got into a spiral-nose-dive, which was way out of my league. I couldn't manage it - allowed it to over-power me and finally I had to cut-it-out. As a fact, I am being truer 'me' without Facebook, than I had become with Facebook. If this makes me unsocial / unfriendly - at least this is who I really am!

Monday 13 January 2014

Monday Morning Blues

Finally I get down to writing a post on Monday Morning Blues, on a Sunday-night / Monday-morning. Been thinking of writing one for sometime now - but somehow every time I thought of it, the day wasn't a Monday. It isn't fun to write about the most-despised-most-dreaded-day-on-the-week, on any other day.

It is fun for me to look at people, how they start cringing as Sunday evening nears its end - Monday Morning Blues clearly become visible on their faces and suddenly cheer and excitement of the weekend dies (prematurely, in my opinion). Fun part is how different people share their similar emotions towards Monday mornings. Some will shut themselves, focus on tasks of the week ahead...some will not refrain to show their animosity towards Monday mornings...some others will look & feel tired, bored and almost-tortured-out-of-bed.

Whether it is clearly written on someone's face, or hidden behind a small frown - whether it is spoken out aloud, or just felt inside...whether it is shared by one & all or just by one alone in a group...nothing seems to change the emotion "I hate Mondays!".

In recent past I have come across self help gurus and other 'enlightened' men talk about evils of today's work culture. Their take has been that most people are not doing what they love...what they enjoy. In their opinion, since people aren't happy doing what they are doing - they look forward to the weekend 3.5 days a week and then dread Monday mornings half the weekend. In the end, people are neither happy during the work-week, nor relaxed and at rest during the weekend.

These 'enlightened' men also talked about evils of the weekend for this group of people, which looks forward to the weekend to unwind. Problem cited is simply that of going-overboard-in-unwinding-activities.  

I partly agree with their view that this is indeed a vicious cycle - half the week is spent looking forward to the weekend and half the weekend is spent dreading the week ahead. This sort of cycle doesn't allow work productivity during work ween, nor does it allow people to relax / unwind as much as they wanted to during weekends. What I don't agree with are their views: 1) on people looking forward to the weekends only because they don't enjoy their work and 2) about evils of weekend unwinding. 

Looking forward to the weekend isn't just about getting away from work, it mostly about connecting with oneself...connecting with family & friends...spending time together and at leisure...doing household chores...doing things that are not necessarily structured and are not 'same'. Also, I can never see the harm in an old saying - work hard, party harder. If people want to keep 'work hard' bit from Monday to Friday and then 'party harder' bit for the weekend, so be it!

I am lucky, I guess, that I don't suffer from Monday Morning Blues. Lucky, I say, because of how my first trimester at TSM had classes all 7 days (yes, even on Sundays) first job required me to report to duty 360+ days in a year (circulation at TOI, newspaper is printed and circulated almost everyday). These three years completely removed any and all notions I had for weekend, holiday-no-work-day and thus, also about Mondays. 

Coupled with a tight work schedule, in first few years, is a fact that I have never had a 5-working-day-week. I have always worked on Saturdays, whether as a half day or even from home...I believe this relieved pressure off Monday mornings. Another learning I had during first few years of professional life was - not to wait for the weekend to enjoy life. This learning changed my view of working day and limitations that people attach with it. I have never heard my inner-voice tell me - "don't do this, don't go there...because you have to go to office tomorrow". I have learnt to live life for the moment and still be at work, fresh and beaming! Definitely lucky...

Saturday 11 January 2014

To My Much Better Half

How I thank the Lord for making you cross paths with mine
You made me the happiest when you agreed to be my bride

On my own, I am not much fun...gloomy really
With you, I am joyfully passing through life's grind

Navigating through life's maze isn't easy
Just what I needed - you came in as my friend, philosopher and guide

I am socially awkward, don't know how to pretend much
You always reach for me, help me relax and unwind

On the dance floor I wouldn't know my left from my right
Yet, I am dancing through this life with you by my side

I can be cocky and stuck up at times
You keep me centred, always manage to straighten my mind

My family associates with you more, love you as their own
You are everyone's pride...always so dignified

You make me whole, you are my much better half
I say this with absolute certainty - there is no one of your kind!

Thursday 9 January 2014

Recognising and Accepting Mediocrity

Let's be honest, absolutely honest - how many of us are high achievers? We may feel good about ourselves, we may even say to ourselves that we have done well, we may have done well actually - but, how many of us are high achievers? Almost everyone I know if a mid-level achiever...and that's not a bad thing! It is us - the middle class of professional world that keeps things rolling.

In not accepting our mediocrity, we create a few problems for ourselves. We, mediocres-lying-to-ourselves-people believe in our individual greatness if not brilliance, without realising how loaded and relative this 'greatness' is. We may be good in our eyes, in eyes of our peers...we may actually also be better than most people we work with, but nothing of this makes us high achievers. Friends...wake up and smell the coffee!

In recent few months, I have been churning this idea inside my head and I think I have come to accept my mediocrity. I am not ashamed of it...why should I be? I at least now know a bit more about myself...have stronger understanding of my current assets & faculties.

The question I have been debating and churning inside my head is simply this: "why being a mediocre is looked down upon?". Today, I have understood that the answer is more societal than anything else - we belong to the famous / infamous middle class of India. In our families, each generation has outdone the previous generation - but still we belong to the middle class. Our generation has definitely moved up, something that prompted coining of terms like - 'upper-middle-class' / 'upper-upper-middle-class'.

Glass ceiling of upper-class hasn't been breached by many - who managed to grow out and actually become members of the upper class.

If everyone was just as good, everyone was a visionary and a trend setter - would there be any value left in being one? In my view, these are the type of people who can be termed as high-achievers - but none of them could have reached the summits and saw their visions-about-future come true, without tireless working of the upper-upper-mediocre-class & upper-mediocre-class.

It is this middle class chip on our shoulders that makes us believe (to our core) that being mediocre is equal to being a failure. We somehow equate mediocrity with lack of substance, lack of ambition and lack of brilliance-in-parts. When in actuality, this view is nothing close to truth. We mediocre-class are the people this world thrives is our ambition & hard work that provides wings to dreams of is our ability that allows visionaries' visions to come true. We just need to accept who and what we are and then enjoy the ride from there on.

Wednesday 8 January 2014

Doubts & Fears

Emotionally stable and centered, absolutely
Living a good life, in love madly
Treat parents and other elders well, respectfully
Doubts & fears still creep in, honestly!

Carry a positive outlook, normally
Look at good in things, mostly
Believe life is good, totally
Doubts & fears still creep in, honestly!

Confident in thought and approach, usually
In no rush, make moves carefully
Happy in present, think of future almost casually
Doubts & fears still creep in, honestly!

Doubts are real, attend to them carefully
Fears are crippling, have a support system thankfully
Doubts & fears will always be there, learn to grow stronger; essentially
Not perfect, not an extreme, still learning - submit this humbly!

Tuesday 7 January 2014

New Year - Ray of Hope

A toast the New Year!

2013 has been a bit more interesting for me than previous few years. There have been events, there have been emotional challenges, there have been spiritual experiences, there has been excitement and adventure, there has been heart-burn too, there have been challenges and! When I look back at 2013, I can't think of a year that was packed with as many variations, in a long time.

This was also a year for quite a few first time activities, in life or in many many years. My first hospital stay, my first view of sunrise in a decade (saw the sun rise for 6 consecutive days from my hospital room - a first again), my first call to someone in many years, revival of my interest in purchasing music, of-course my first set of Bose headphones, a resolution maintained (almost) - that's definitely a first, losing friendship of someone once again (for reasons unknown), revival of my blog, my first poem shared with anyone other than my wife (a few written and shared since), my first touch phone (I finally ended my relationship with BlackBerry and QWERTY)...and the BIG ONE: my first skyjump (from 13000ft.).

There is so much more to the new year than just changing the calendars. We are conditioned to look at the new year with hope, with positive outlook and renewed belief in things to become better, even if past year wasn't bad - we want the new year to be better than past still. For many - start of new year is considered as start of a new 'me' - a better 'me', an improved 'me'.

With that hope, I bid adieu to 2013 and eagerly look forward to what this year has in store for me. Wishing everyone the best for a brand new phase...2014!