Wednesday, January 30, 2008

When I learned to Admire...

One of the most useful learnings I have had in my life till now is the beauty of admiring people. I have often met people who loathe admiring others, especially their adversaries at school, work place, status quo or any other place where they felt they are competing. I won't say I was born to think differently the moment I was born: rather all the while I also saw my tendency to get bogged down feeling complex at the positive aspects and success of somebody who was doing as good as or better than me.

Nevertheless, time has been the greatest tutor! I have learned that suffering from any sort of complex is never the best thing to happen to development of personality. If an acquaintance of mine succeeded in something which I too wanted to do well in, I have learned to learn from them. Keeping a positive attitude, maintaining amicable relationships is the first step towards being a good human being. And the interesting part of learning from the success of your adversaries is that you learn to admire the good in everything. Of course everyone and everything has its pros and cons, the key lies in how we look at them. The ability to admire the good in others will never leave us morose in life.

And the most precious part of the learning: admiring others doesn't lessen your own achievements, hard work, will or ability. We always have to remember that if a person's act is good, whether or not you admire it or feel jealous about it, it won't make a difference to its acceptability. Truth, honesty and the best are universal. They won't change whether or you appreciate it! The wise take is therefore always to look at them so that we learn from them; and reproduce them in our own activities.

Whichever arena you work for, success is really re-inventing the wheel! Look around and learn to admire your contemporaries, you will get myriads of reasons to learn and put them in some way to make success your way!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A note on being "unsocial"

Today I was reading this post by a fellow blogger sodamncool on being unsocial. This is a response I wrote about my experience.

I came here for grad studies back in Fall 2005. It was everything new: new place, customs, work ethics, things that would streamline existence greatly! But ironically enough, things have not been so rosy on the social side. I am often unable to connect with the crowd here; just so much as I can't do the same with friends back in India. Despite having room-mates and other fellow MS / PhD students, I have not built up a large group. And this is not just true for me, I have seen the same for some of my other friends.

Sometimes I thought it is just me: my line of thought is just too different now to interact normally with others. To me hanging around is no more partying / discussing bf, gfs / bitching about other people / complaining about work / studies. I often look for something more creative: like going hiking somewhere, doing photography, discussing philosophy, appreciating Art, discussing nice movies, talking of literature, suggesting nice books to read, exchange cooking recipes etc. But unfortunately I find very few people with whom I can do these things. Neither can I run after getting jobs (as most MS students do) or start my drive to find a handsome guy to date (most ABCDs do). May be I am the odd one!

Monday, January 21, 2008

When You are Not Born with a Silver Spoon in Your Mouth

I have often heard of people who were said to be "born with a silver spoon in their mouth". They are the people to whom the world has mostly been generous enough to exonerate most of their wrong doings, to shower wealth and prosperity and to endow them with power which is behemoth in its measures. To many of them, the 'throne' has simply come as a primogeniture!

Nevertheless, such people are only a handful and the genre we frequent more around us are the commonplace people like you and me. Many a times this genre has to come upfront with the bare reality; a world which is often not very favorable, a place where you have to take all sorts of impromptu decisions amidst bright sunny days or bleak sunsets. Life just seems so much more difficult!

Will you attribute this to destiny? Perhaps many of us will. After all, everyone is not born with a silver spoon in mouth. It is true. But one of us has to bring ourselves that silver spoon. By hook or by crook we need to gear up the chutzpah to dictate our own destiny. And trust me, it is no chicanery, rather reaching that zenith needs perennial determination, enthusiasm and courage. Nevertheless, ironically enough, earning ourselves that silver spoon has a modus-operandi charateristic of everyone of us: and that altogether makes it all more challenging!

But as most wise men of our earlier times have said, that silver spoon is 'silver' only when we know the meaning of iron: it is all the dusk-long toil, midnight oil, sweat of our brows and the sacrifices we make to earn a sweet fruit that makes life worthy of living. After all, life has to be led in the full sense of its charm; a bit of whim, the ability to bring out the capricious self in ourselves leaves us merry and the rest of the world enchanted, enthralled and mesmerized! Often a spur-of-the-moment ad-lib act unravels a novel dimension to thinking, scope and joy. Who knows, that can earn us the "silver spoon"? However, a striking balance of whim and pragmatism is important to lead a life: the marathon after the silver spoon ought not to lead us astray for enjoying life to the fullest.

One and all of us have hitherto led lives in hunt of something: many a times that silver spoon if in their lingua franca, we are not destined for. But the rocky terrains on the way often make us so morose that we seem to be lost somehwere. This reminds me of a few very famous lines by Robert Frost: it instills in my desolate self, the vigor and accrues for me the silver lining in a whole vista of dark dreary melancholy clouds:
"The woods are lovely dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep."

PS: The post uses the ten words (shown in bold); courtesy Partha and Satish.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

When will we learn from them?

Today I was just talking to a friend when the topic about the eastwhile poet from Bangladesh, Kazi Nazrul Islam came upfront. I had read his numerous poems back in middle school, had sang some of his songs and had also heard stories about how different-thinking he was from my grandmother who used to be a great fan of his works. I have known that he was much talented and used to write straight from his heart. A prominent poet and a thinker who was up for social justice for women and was rebellious against the strained relationship between the Hindus and Muslims in the then times: he has left a mark very differently in the sands of time, be it literature, social reform or culture.

I was flipping through Wikipedia when I found this translation of one of his poems.

I am the unutterable grief,
I am the trembling first touch of the virgin,
I am the throbbing tenderness of her first stolen kiss.
I am the fleeting glance of the veiled beloved,
I am her constant surreptitious gaze...


I am the burning volcano in the bosom of the earth,
I am the wild fire of the woods,
I am Hell's mad terrific sea of wrath!
I ride on the wings of lightning with joy and profundity,
I scatter misery and fear all around,
I bring earth-quakes on this world! “(8th stanza)”

I am the rebel eternal,
I raise my head beyond this world,
High, ever erect and alone!

There are some people like us, who are so much intertwined in the knick-knacks of life, trying to explore avenues to make our lives better, running after goals, competing with adversaries; and then there were, are and will be people like Nazrul who geared the courage, the urge, the passion to think differently and make a difference to the world, in their own manner for the greater humanity.

When will we learn from them?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

When Wisdom dawns...

There are two kinds of people you would ever meet in life: ones whose negative qualities come to your notice before their positive qualities. But probably in your urge to be a better person you would tend to appreciate them for their positive qualities instead. And then there is the other category of people whose negative qualities we are often blind to. All we notice ever are their strengths and positive qualities.

And this proposition follows from the fact that we attach ourselves differentially to people. We hate some people, just don't care about some and really love some others. And this probably reveals when they say, love is blind.

However, no man can ever be an epitome of perfection: good and bad qualities adorn him day in and day out. Should love really be blind then? Should a person lose his or her own judgment to critique the bad and embrace the better because he or she loves a person? Probably it will not be a great decision.

One and all of us seem to be running after attaining wisdom in life. Unfortunately we often fail to realize that wisdom doesn't come from religion, caste, academic degree, money or atonement. It is as simple as opening our eyes to the world: deterring the blind self in us. Whether it is a partner, a pet, a sibling or a child, we ought to execute judgment to distinguish the bad from the good qualities. I believe that is one way we could make the two ends meet: extreme hatred and extreme love. Life needs a balance; and therein dawns wisdom.

Friday, January 11, 2008

"The Happy Man's Shirt"

Many a times I find it placating to myself to re-iterate unto me one of the short yet profound tales I had read in one of my text books back in middle school. I was probably too young or not matured enough to interpret its beauty; but today, as I stand, striving hard to lead a life in this unpredictable world, recalling the tale often lends me peace, hope and joy.

Here goes the tale. I have written it in my own manner and a little bit maneuvered; because it was a poem and I don't remember it word to word- all I know its the plot and the moral of the story.

It was one victory after another; the kingdom was spreading its boundaries by leaps and bounds. The people who dwelt in that kingdom were reaching the peak of prosperity. There was a celebration at every nook and corner, in the wet air. But there was a King who was not happy.

Adorned in clothing of silken threads, rows of pearl beads around the neck, a beautiful queen, a host of servants pulling the string of the fan, the silver glassware overflowing with wine and champagne: nothing seemed enough to him. Artists, musicians, thinkers and men and women with multi-faceted bliss of talent and grandeur adorned his court: none-the-less, for the King, no one could satiate his desire to fill his own glass of happiness upto the brim.

Till one day, when the sun was overhead with its bright yellow beams penetrating the ground glorifying every sand into a marvellous golden hue, the birds chirping and the swan singing a melody, a smart man arrived at his court. The King who was as morose as he could ever be, could not be more eager to talk to him to ward his sickness of unhappiness off forever: a secret key which could unlock unto him the door of ultimate mirth, happiness and joy.

"My Majesty, I have a medicine for you which can make you happy forever! It is the secret key you have been looking for," said the man. The King was stirred to astonishment amidst his ecstasy so much so that he was ready to hunt down the man's medicine for happiness with as much as it could take. "I am glad there are smart men in my kingdom like you. I will reward you with a hundred horses, thousand shillings of gold and silver and a palace in my courtyard. But the medcine you suggested ought to make me happy forever," the King replied. The smart man bowed and accepted the King's words with utmost submission, faith and a smile.

The hunt for the medicine of happiness started from the next dawn itself. Courtmen, soldiers one and all engaged into the job assigned by their King, who was eagerly awaiting the miraculous medicine. The medicine was: search for the person who replies he or she is happy when asked; and get the King his or her shirt to wear for a day. The King would be happy from the next sunrise onwards, for ever and ever.

The King's men went door to door seeking that one "happy" person. They met an old woman who said, "I lost my son in war two years ago; I am not happy." Then there was a farmer sitting by a lush green paddy field who said, "They took my land, they took my toil." Another little boy crying by his courtyard mummed, "The other kid broke my toy!" When they met a beautiful young lady sitting in trance by the sea-shore, she uttered, "I am waiting with my woes for my husband to return who went sailing down this sea in hunt of treasure beyond seven oceans and thirteen lands."

The soldiers got tired seeking for the right person. Tired and pensive, sitting under a shady tree, a soothing wind was swaying them, caressing lightly their gloomy faces; when suddenly they heard a very sweet melody. Looking around, they saw a beggar sitting by the roadside. He was extremely lean and thin, almost the same width from the front as he was sideways. He seemed to be hungry for days together. His eyes had mellowed down into caves of darkness and the edges of his pants were torn with several threads coming out with holes in them as if it was an activity of notorious rats. He was sitting on a piece of newspaper which had turned pale yellow and was looking more like a parchment paper than anything else.

The soldiers were in no more enthusiasm to ask this beggar if he is happy. After all, they had met so many rich people and everyone replied in negative. Then how can this beggar who doesn't even have proper clothes, house or food be happy? Nevertheless, they had the fear of losing their jobs, should they be not able to get the King his much coveted medicine of happiness!

So they walked up to the beggar with the least interest, half asleep with exertion and depressed with the outcome of their medicine hunt. One of them asked, "Hello man, our King wants to know if you are happy." The beggar was singing anyway, but their question made him start laughing terribly. "Yes, Sir! I am very happy!" he said.

This reply dumbfounded the soldiers: despite his attire, they could see a bright hope behind those dark crevices in his eyes, a big grin stretching his dwindled cheeks and a slender body which though beaten bad by the cold, but not enough to beat the mirth emanating from his body language. They were in loss of words when they re-iterated the question, "Do you understand young man, what we are asking? If you lie, then the King won't spare your life." "Yes I do, Sir. I am telling you, I am very happy. I don't have complains against anything. Please go and tell the King if this reply can be of any service to him in anything," said the beggar.

"OK, if you are sure about your answer, the King wants to have your shirt. He will also reward you in emeralds, rubies and gold should you give him your shirt. A smart man says this shirt can make him happy forever," asserted the soldiers. The beggar's intensity of laughter knew no bounds. Trembling with a small sleek body, his white jaws were pushing out with the huge grin. The soldiers got angry and said, "Don't you see what were are asking for? Give us your shirt. Where is it?" The beggar calmed down, and to everyone's astonishment replied, "Sir, don't you see I don't have a shirt?"

The King woke up the next morning and learnt what the real medicine for happiness was.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Five Things I Admire...

Five things which I have always admired, and things which will always keep on revealing newer shades to me every morning and every night.

1. Art: The heart of the world since time immemorial. Something I have admired since I can recall my conscience. I still remember one of the dinner table talks with Dad when he said, "If it was some super-power which or who created the world, it is the artists who are closest to that power- a writer can create a character, a painter can imagine and build a landscape, a musician can develop a melody and a craftsman can carve out an object. All these creations are unique and are not limited by the constraints of the world created by that super power: they transcend all boundaries."

2. Nature: The most amazing of everything in the world. Mother Nature unveils itself with its vermilion sunrises, the shiny water droplets, the flaky snow which tingles your skin, the bountiful oceans always aspiring you to hope for, the golden desert sands and the leaflets of rainbow. People say, beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. To Nature, every beholder perceives her beauty, delving into colors like a painter's palate, like a chef's new recipe and like an athlete's vigor.

3. Creativity: One of the most precious qualities of the civilized man; the reason behind where we stand today in the twenty first century. Thanks to men who could nurture it in themselves: Galileo's relentless faith in his theory of the Earth's revolution, Newton's connection with the falling apple, Wright brothers' realization of man's desire to fly, or Leonardo's creation of the eternal beauty of Monalisa. No one is born gifted, creativity is a quality inherent in all of us; we need to nurture it till the right trigger comes at the right opportunity.

4. Sincerity: The other quality I have always admired in men. There is no secret password to success after all: it has been people's perseverance and tenacity that has paid off: today we bear the fruits' of their toil and sincerity, through things that have streamlined our existence in every walk of life.

5. Parents: The other name for faith, trust and reliance. The whole world can fall apart, but there is one place you can always go back to: to mother's lap or father's arms. The relationships which I have valued most in my life, and would continue to do so forever. Right from my first step to walk, to the first spoonful of rice, to the first alphabet I learned, to the day and the place where I am today, I credit them. Whatever little I am able to think, do and cherish, it was none other than them always standing behind. Be the days be merry, be the nights be dark, they are the people whom you can always fall back upon: to the cave of recluse, hope and peace forever.

And my belief in these five things and the appreciation for them oozes from my desire for being a better human being tomorrow than what I was yesterday...

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Just One Resolution...

"Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man." -Benjamin Franklin, American Founding Father, Statesman, Publisher and Inventor.

This year I don't have many pin pointed goals to work for. Life and its experiences are diverse to teach me abound. I only wish to become a better person with this new dawn. Swimming through the tumultuous waters of challenges, excitement and sincere endeavors, I have only learned as Franklin would say: to be a better person: each new day starts with a bigger promise, a simple promise to do better.

Not only the new year, in fact every sunrise and every dawn brings scope as well as hope that the world can be made a better place to live in. Because despite all odds, there are still people who dwell in every nook and corner of the Earth who strive to be "better" people. Every move that they make, strikes a positive energy in the world around us. Nevertheless, we often seem to be morose by the feeling that the small inch of positive motive is offset by another five people's mis-doings. Yet, I would argue, it is worth the effort to improve our own life and advance the common goal of manifesting the best in ourselves round the clock. At this critical hour with the evil dwelling all admist the rare good beings and doings, we need to culture and cling to the faith in ourselves and in the world around us: the first step towards being a better man...

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Prelude: forest, food, faith, laugh and illegal

Today I got an interesting plan worked out with Arvind (his blog is here). We decided to suggest each other a set of any five words; and the other person would write any sensible blog post on each word. The article below goes as the prelude to those five posts. It contains all the five words suggested by Arvind. The five words are: forest, food, faith, laugh and illegal.


The modern man has moved ahead from being the food hoarder of the pre-historic times. Life now resembles more like a convoluted terrain through the most dense forest in the universe. Interestingly, this terrain does not give us rules to abide by: obviously no one peeks into an illegal crossroad! And that is what makes life challenging and yet so exciting. It is what has created the good and the evil. Because it is so easy to get astray and become the 'frog in the well': turning a deaf ear to the rest of world- the blind man trying to cross the road, the deaf child attempting to enjoy music and the penny-less beggar who had not had a meal since last Thursday.

However, history has been the eternal witness: the reason that the mankind has been able to traverse this long terrain is because the good has been victorious over the evil: the power of faith in oneself. Nevertheless, this voyage through this uncertainty is also often associated with a simple goal for one and all: the reason to 'laugh'- the desire to strike the word around you to mirth and ecstasy. This is the reason why in today's cursed day we still find people who help the blind man cross the road, people who work day in and day out to support the deaf with technology and the people who can spare a penny for the beggar despite having two in his own pocket.