Thursday 31 December 2015

Happy New Year!

It is that time of the year again, when...
We bid adieu to yet another year gone by
And welcome the one starting next

It is that time of the year again, when...
We reflect on missed goals, broken resolutions
And still make new list of resolutions

It is that time of the year again, when...
We don't cry for what's gone
And cheer for what's to come

It is that time of the year again, when...
We want to forget what happened yesterday
And look at tomorrow with all its promise

It is that time of the year again, when...
We are happy with change
And not just seek status-quo

It is that time of the year again, when...
We start looking at same as different
And feel that new is better

It is that time of the year again, when...
We look forward to life to come
And not sit holding on to our past

It is that time of the year again, when...
We drown all our troubles
And soar high with new found hope

It is that time of the year again, when...
We all party, be merry, shout
And wish everyone a Happy New Year!

Thursday 26 November 2015

By My Side

I need you by my side...
Everywhere I go
Everywhere I see
Everything I think
Everything I do
Every night I go to sleep
Every morning I get up
Every dream I dream
Every wish that comes true
Every time I stumble & fall
Every tear I shed
Every reason to smile
Everything that I want to celebrate
Every hurdle I come across
Every step of success I climb
Every bright & sunny morning
Every cloudy afternoon
Every rainy evening
Every dark night 
Every breath, every moment, every day...
For the rest of my days...
I need you by my side

Wednesday 21 October 2015

We Define Ourselves!

Over the years I have formed "my way of life" - the way I think I am most comfortable living. Please note, I am not using emotions such as 'happy' or 'satisfied' rather 'comfortable'. It is primarily because happiness or satisfaction is likely to be a part of one part of my life, but equally likely to be not part of another. In either scenario, how I need to be - as a person, as a human...that, I think, is my decision. And I have chosen to be comfortable.

When one starts believing in philosophical statements, such as - "everything happens for a reason and for the good", a bit of complacency sets in. This complacency gets directed towards others. Anyone who finds life to be less than ideal and comes to me - even if not for help, but just to discuss - I relate to the situation in terms of "what would I do & how?" - not really as, "what should this person think about & how should this person deal with it?". Problem with this approach is obvious - the person leaves more hurt or more confused than he / she was before discussing things with me. I acknowledge this...

Earlier this month I saw a message online - which was trending on Twitter then...a cancer survivor had raised a question, "what good has come out of my getting cancer?" This cancer survivor was essentially challenging hollowness of words, which are thrown around when people don't know the actual pain someone is going through. Words that should sound comforting, come across as hurtful instead. 'Comforting words' are an example of complacency and lack of empathy, if coming from a person who hasn't gone through anything similar in his / her personal life.

Reading this message, of the cancer survivor, made me think & question my state of comfort. I couldn't answer her question: "what good has come out of my getting cancer?". This challenged my own state of mind, I began to wonder whether I was living in comfort of dealing with my share of 'less than ideal situations' OR was I living in state of denial all together (being an ostrich).

As life would have it - I soon found my answer in Andrew Solomon's talk on TedHe shares some of his personal experiences and some experiences of others - where life situation was far from ideal and how he now believes these experiences really make life more meaningful.

Though Andrew's talk is both, easy to understand & comprehensive, I will still end this post with my take from it: good & bad will come our way in varying measure, what we decide to do and how we allow ourselves to be led / burdened - that is our choice.

We define ourselves!

Thursday 8 October 2015

Why Are We...

Why are we constantly negative
Why are we unhappy with where we are
Why are we disoriented & lost
Why are we running blindfolded
Why are we in this rat race
Why are we not free
Why are we not ourselves anymore
Why are we fighting all the time
Why are we greedy for more
Why are we not in love
Why are we ignorant towards the answers
Why are we incapable to just accept...

Saturday 26 September 2015

Friday 11 September 2015

History Is Essentially Just A Story

"History (noun): the ​study of or a ​record of past ​events ​considered together, ​especially ​events of a ​particular ​period, ​country, or ​subject" - Cambridge Online Dictionary.

Inadvertently, I have developed an interest in a particular part of Indian history - that of Indian struggle for independence. I must confess that my interest is centered around Mahatma Gandhi & his contributions. In the process, I have read (in greater detail than other people involved) about Mr. Jinnah, Mr. Hitler, Mr. Churchill & Maulana Azad - via either autobiographies or accounts written by historians (but not biographies). I am now on my fifth book that deals with the period of India's struggle for independence.

In my opinion, contrary to what most people say: "the more you read about a subject, the more you know; the more you know, the more you understand; the more you understand, the more command you have on that subject", history isn't the subject that can ever be understood in entirety - irrespective of how much one reads & knows.

It is my belief that no written word about history is the absolute truth. Different versions are available that either add to or disagree with the written word.

As far as different books add to the story and take it forward, reading the story continues to be interesting because the reader always assumes the written word to be true. In the reader's mind - story going forward falls under the general rule of "read more, know more, understand more...leads to more command". However, the first instance this reader comes across a book that starts questioning parts of historical records read earlier - it becomes difficult to see which parts to believe in.

There is another aspect that leads to inaccuracies in history books - the need to create heroes for following generations to look up to. If more books say person X was a hero, the more likely it is for following generations to have blindly believe in heroism of person X. Unfortunately - heroes have to be all positive, all conquering and all pure. Even the slightest mention of their negatives or failures is deemed blasphemous. This leads to incomplete & incorrect history to be written!

Allow me to share an excerpt from Arthur Herman's book, Gandhi & Churchill, to show how flawed recording of history can be:

This illustrates both my points: 1) written history is often misleading / incorrect, and 2) it is, at times, done to simply to create larger than life characters for following generations to idolize!

I can't agree that historians / biographers managed enough research to know the exact account of events and circumstances. In case of autobiographies, it is impossible to simply assume that the person writing about his past remembers everything as it actually happened. Since there is no real time record maintained, a lot of it finally comes down to memory. And this 'memory' can range from true to perceived truth to complete imagination.

In any scenario, one thing stands out clearly - history is essentially just a story. Like most stories, history is inspired by facts with varying dosage of fiction sprinkled to bring out the desired flavours. Stories, based on individual reader's interpretation, are source of information, entertainment and lessons - that's exactly what history should be treated as...and not as the absolute true account of past.

Doubts regarding recorded history are important, especially because it is for these doubts that one would learn to accept written words with a pinch of salt.

Tuesday 2 June 2015

Gifts of Life

When expectations are high, but confidence is low
Consider life is giving you a gift

When you are at a crossroad, but you are not sure
Consider life is giving you a gift

When the heart says go left, but the head says go right
Consider life is giving you a gift

When you need touch of good luck, but things still go wrong
Consider life is giving you a gift

When have you learnt a lesson, without making mistakes
That's life giving you a gift

When have you savoured a victory, without a fight
That's life giving you a gift

When have you striven harder, without being stretched
That's life giving you a gift

When have you become better, without being challenged
That's life giving you a gift

When you consider every failure as a lesson
You have accepted gifts of life

When you learn to pick yourself up after every fall
You have accepted gifts of life

When you look forward to living, no matter what
You have accepted gifts of life

When you smile more than you frown
You have accepted gifts of life

Thursday 2 April 2015

India has Freedom of 'Censored' Speech

This topic has been a 'hot' topic on social media, in the Supreme Court, in Parliament and, obviously, fueling the circus - that is the Indian 24/7 news channel.

Quite a lot happened for this one topic to become so 'hot'. I do not remember the exact chronological order, but I think the heat on the topic came from a BBC documentary, which interviewed one of the rapists involved in Nirbhaya case. Though, this is not a new topic by any means - entertainment industry has been fighting this case for a long time.

With the trailers of the BBC documentary, the entire country was suddenly woken up to the ghastly incidents of 16th December, 2012 - which we had conveniently put behind us. Now, the country was told that not only all of us, but rest of the world will get to see just how deranged is the mind of this particular rapist and equally demented are his lawyers. 

Fortunately, our law makers acted swiftly on this. Although the documentary was made after fulfilling all required formalities, can't just walk in the jail & interview a death-row convict, our law-makers in swiftest knee-jerk reactionary mode banned the broadcast of this documentary in India (have no jurisdiction outside Indian boundary, after all). Wow! 

Indian law-makers so well understand that the average BBC / YouTube audience in India cannot decide for themselves what they wish to see and what they do not. Also, these law-makers know so well, what the average BBC / YouTube audience in India cannot digest. After-all, we can only digest rampant rapes to continue - not an interview of the deranged rapists and their demented lawyers!

In this country where these law-makers have the right to get away with saying anything (literally, anything) - freedom of speech is quite a uniquely understood concept. There is a unimaginable law - section 66A of the IT Act - which until recently said people making derogatory statements online against someone else, could be imprisoned. Another wow! Literally, I understand this as - one can go ahead and print offensive stuff on paper - but cannot put it up on his / her blog, or share it on social networks.

Somehow - the Supreme Court saw the absurdity of Section 66A and stuck it down on 24th March, 2015. It took them 3 years to really get a ruling on this - that in itself shows how important is the matter in this country.

There are innumerable instances of Indian entertainment industry fighting for their right to freedom of speech - from getting to removing words, dialogues, scenes to changing story to actually banning material.

Yet again, there is someone (or a group of people) who understands the entire length, width & depth of this country's population to know what is acceptable by the audience and what is unacceptable. Since there is no way to enforce age-restrictions simply via certification (U / A / U/A) - we have to submit to censorship and at times, ban things. 

Of-course, that is so understandable for a country that is run by the law-makers & for the law-makers. Exactly what a democracy should be - power not in the hands of one, but many tyrants!

After venting out - I must give credit where it is due. In our neighbouring country, Bangladesh, 2 secular bloggers have been hacked to death in recent times. Even when Section 66A was enforceable - it didn't mean death to the blogger. I also realise that I am absolutely fearless while writing this piece - not because I am a fearless person, but because I know certain limits within which such attacks on law-makers and systems are acceptable by one & all.

The point I want to end this post with is - no country, no system is perfect - however, some are worse than they appear to be. If only we can just lighten up a bit, accept humour as humour is, and learn to laugh at ourselves - our country would benefit immeasurably.

Sunday 15 March 2015

Mahatma Gandhi - A Great Soul & A Great Concept

When it comes to history & historical figures, I believe that neither school text books nor movies based on history are the best source to build opinions on. Essentially, both these give larger-than-life / more-than-true importance to people & incidents. Unfortunately, these are the only available source with most of us while growing up. I was no different!

I remember, while growing up, watching Sir Richard Attenborough's Gandhi on 02nd October for many years...year after year. This was my first touchpoint with Mahatma Gandhi - the concept. School text books provided nothing more to this concept than what the movie had already imprinted on my mind, but they did strengthen the concept. For me, he was definitely a Mahatma - because I believed he had no flaws. A kid's mind, after-all.

As the years passed, somewhere / somehow I began to lose my blind patriotism & love for India & Mahatma Gandhi - the concept. Not only that, I happened to buy a book on Shaheed Bhagat Singh (by Mr. Kuldip Nayar). This book, for the first time made me see a side of Mahatma Gandhi that couldn't have been of a flawless man. Mahatma Gandhi - the concept, took another step back in my mind.

Until last year - I moved along paying little to no attention to this concept. Then I chanced upon an interesting book title: Jinnah vs. Gandhi. There was no way I could resist purchasing the book.

This book rekindled my interest in Mahatma Gandhi - the concept. Essentially, it started a line of thought in my mind that I need not see Mahatma Gandhi in just black or white, rather see him with his shades of grey.

Finally (after months though), I went ahead & bought - The Story of My Experiments with Truth.

Although I have completed only about 70% of Mahatma Gandhi's autobiography, but one thing has become clear to me already - he was a great soul indeed, a Mahatma, as he was rightly titled.

For the first time, I am reading about M.K. Gandhi - the person. Not "father of the nation", not a Mahatma...but just a person - in flesh & blood. Someone who was as human, in many ways, as rest of us. "To err is human" - well, as per his own words - he was a human who erred, who went through phases of lust, passion, jealousy, anger...

What then makes me say that he was a Mahatma, indeed?

To begin with - in my view it is great for a man to list down & share his flaws, his learning from those flaws and his experiments to master them. It is great for a man to see inside first, searching for his failures before looking outside. It is great for a man to see & treat every human as a human - as an equal. It is great for a man to believe he is just a man, doing the best he can and setting the highest standards for himself. It is great for a man to be truthful, even if that means people see his shortcomings. It is great for a man to believe in himself, have faith in God and have courage to walk on a path that only he believes in.

Everything that Mahatma Gandhi achieved in political arena & on world stage is just outcome of what he had prepared himself for, thus not really a cause for him to be called a Mahatma. Unfortunately, these achievements are the only bits known & remembered now. The title Mahatma, if understood only for his political victories, is incorrectly placed and thus not appreciated by many.

I urge everyone reading this post to read Mahatma Gandhi's autobiography. This is neither to become his follower, nor walk on the path suggested by him...rather, to simply know the man a little better than we do (via text books, movies & other sources). His life story is worth many movies, many awards, many medals - but his autobiography doesn't talk about all this. It merely shares with its readers why he was the way he was - how he shaped his mental, physical, moral & spiritual self - his motivations & dreams and his failures & lessons in different spheres & phases of his life. Read his autobiography to at least know the real person, behind the title Mahatma.

Come to think of it, Mahatma Gandhi - the concept is valid, even now. Much like any concept, there will be some changes, some tweaking required in today's day & age for this concept to become appealing, but a lot of it has applicable meaning even now. This has already been shown beautifully by Mr. Rajkumar Hirani in his movie - Lage Raho Munna Bhai. Gandhigiri / Gandhism as a concept can be picked up in some extent by all of us.

Sunday 22 February 2015

There is Strength in "Why Not"!

Inspiration can come from anywhere - one just needs to be receptive. Attending my cousin's wedding, who is six years my junior - I got a chance to speak with him about his new job, in a new city at that...add to the list of 'new' - he was getting married, a new life all together. I asked him if he was feeling confident managing all this 'new' happening all at once - to which he simply said - his motto this year is: "why not". I was impressed by the honesty & depth of my "younger" brother's thought - thus the inspiration.

This got me thinking - and following is my take at the concept of saying "why not" - a concept that we don't follow often, a concept that has the potential of turning around our lives for the better, a concept that has an almost magical healing power (for the mind).

Obviously, much like all other concepts of self-help / self-improvement, this one is a difficult one to perfect. It isn't in our nature to slap "why not" in the face of difficulty & carry on. We get burdened by "why me" instead. Most of us, most of the times, are found asking "why" - why me, why should I , why? - all such reactions are stemmed from deep rooted unhappiness and inherent unwillingness to go along with the flow.

However, "why not" works as a healing tonic when things don't go our way - it provides us with the impetus to still move ahead. "Why not" allows us to accept situations we find ourselves in. This concept, once understood & practised, leads to confidence & opens new doors - simply by the fact that the practitioner is willing to work at it, rather than whining about it.

Come to think about it, "why not" is not to be said to anyone else. It is something that we just need to keep reminding / repeating to ourselves. It is an inward tool - not really as much of an outward tool (if it has to be used as a tool of strength). I consider "yes" to be an outward tool, which definitely has its own set of positives.

I would like to quote tennis legend, Arthur Ashe - whose words fit perfectly well with the context of this post: "If I were to say, 'God, why me?' about the bad things, then I should have said, 'God, why me?' about the good things that happened in my life." - just in case people reading this post don't know who Arthur Ashe was - well, he was the only African American player, ever, to win the singles title at Wimbledon, the US Open, or Australian Open.

Saturday 31 January 2015

Past & Present

Looking back has its benefits
Looking back is a punishment too

Past is a lesson that we have lived through
Past is the stepping stone, without which we wouldn't have a clue

Checking & introspection play an important part
It tells us about ourselves & about others - who is who

Some pain will always accompany this exercise
But we will come out stronger, if we are only true

There is a lot that we wish we can change about actions of past
We must realise, things happen as & when they are due

Time doesn't wait, doesn't stand still
If we sit by, it will pass through

Our present will soon be our past
I am beginning to live in present, hope you can too!