Gift of Giving

The Gift of Giving is a privilege which only we humans have. Sharing is possibly something which animals and birds also do. But consciously GIVING is a capacity only humans have. That is why I have called the blog as “Gift of Giving”.

Take the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. What prompts Gates to do so much for society at large? Warren Buffet is well known for his uncanny investments, but he has pledged to give away 99% of his wealth to philanthropic causes. With The Giving Pledge he co-founded with Bill Gates they have got 200+ billionaires from 23 different countries to pledge giving to 50% or more of their wealth in charity. The signatories include David Rockefeller, Sara Blakely, Bloomberg, Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson, Bezos, etc. 2013, our Azim Premji became India’s first signatory to The Giving Pledge. Premji has raised his total lifetime giving to $21 billion; he became the world’s largest contributor (to charity), being named as Asia’s most generous philanthropist in the year 2019 by Forbes. Wealth wise, Ambanis have more!! One hears of their taking, but little of their giving. Obviously Mukesh has not heard Anne Frank’s ” No one has ever become poor by giving”.

Giving is considered noble, elevating; rather than the complementary act of receiving. In Giving, the needs and desires of the receiver are given precedence. A conscious effort is made to fulfill these needs, sometimes even to the exclusion & suppression of desires of the giver. The most classic example would be of a Mother making sacrifices and adjustments to see that her child does not want at all. Even the unspoken needs and desires are sought to be fulfilled, whatever personal or monetary cost it entails. A mother’ motives are tough to analyse and understand as they go beyond the realm of reason.

There is an old anecdote about a child stuck on top of a mountain and crying. Everyone in the village gathered, but the mountain was so treacherous, no one dared to climb up, to bring the child down. Even as all were standing around debating, the mother had reached the top and was walking down with the child wrapped on her back. Trained mountaineers asked how she could go up when even they hesitated, her one line reply was ” It was not your child”. All of us who have received a mother’s love will know, no one can give more than a mother!!!

Gifting and Giving go hand in hand in many traditions. Consider the simplest example of birthday party. You would never go empty handed. And if there is a child with you, s/he would expect to come back with a “return” gift, even if it is a mere chocolate bar.

Sudama, forced by his wife to visit his friend Krishna, went with a bag of puffed rice, as a gift for his childhood friend. The Raksha Bandhan festival is sealed with a gift to the sister, however old or wealthy she is. The Padva in Diwali sees the wife receiving a gift from the husband, the Bhaiyya Duj again rewards the sister. Pune even has a gift for the son-in-law as a part of the Diwali giving. During childhood, Eid celebrations meant receiving Sheer Kurma from Muslim friends and of course rich, almond laded lamb curry for Bakri Eid. Within Muslim households grown ups are expected to keep “Iddi” envelopes/gifts ready for distribution at Eid ul Fitr and would even be entitled to receive their own share of gifting for the occasion. . We will soon get into the Christmas season which began with the 3 Wise Kings who came to call upon the Baby Christ bearing gifts. This giving tradition continues till today. Immediately after Thanksgiving in end November, the “festival shopping” season begins for the X’mas giving. So Giving is a part of our experience & culture.

I am reminded of a story I had heard which is set in the Church context. As we know a collection plate is circulated after the Mass to raise resources for the Church’s activities. An over aggressive, enthusiastic young girl was asked to take the collection plate around. She pushed the plate under the nose of an old goat like me and said, Please give…. a big contribution….Give till it hurts” And the world-weary old-fogey replied with a twinkle,” The very thought of giving hurts!”

But jokes apart, when we give, we get a glow, a feeling of satisfaction, an inner peace. the power equation is also well defined, the giver’s hand is on top and full; while the supplicant’s hand is below and empty. This has been true from times immemorial. Remember the Michelangelo’ painting of Creation!

Often the giver falls into the trap of the God Game, thinking himself superior. Whenever I have felt such false pride, I recount for myself my favorite Zen story. During a time of famine, a Zen master went around the countryside begging for money, foodgrains and clothes from all to help the afflicted. He carried a jute sack on his back, & whatever he gathered through the donations of all, he would put in the sack; then go forward, to seek another donor. Once he reached the court of a King in interior China. He put down the sack he carried on his back & made his pitch. The king asked his minister to give a donation of 20 gold coins. When the minister gave him 20 gold coins, he put them in his sack, swung the sack back onto his back, and started leaving the court. The King stopped him and said,”Master, though I am a king, 20 gold coins is a big donation” “So?” asked the Master. “So should you not thank me for this handsome donation?” asked the King. “Why should I?” said the Zen Master,” It is the Giver who should be grateful!”. He swung his sack back, and left without a backward glance.

I love this story because truly I have understood, it is the giver who should be grateful. Grateful that he has enough that he can give. Grateful that he has a full stomach and can spare some surplus. Grateful that I have met someone with whom I can share my wealth! This truth is indeed sublime. Throughout my life I have tried to teach my wife and daughter that we have enough and more. Someone did not question my capability and competence and rewarded me disproportionately. So now why should I grudge giving to others? What right I have to judge their status & deserving, when someone gave me more than enough, with no questions asked. Take heart in Don Williams’ number, ” I have quite enough to live/And my mind is free..” So my living principle, always give more that what others expect, and give it cheerfully. Sometimes, the first half is relatively easy, but giving cheerfully, with a smile, ensuring the receiver does not feel small or burdened; not playing the God Game; accepting that the Giver must be Grateful: That’s real giving!

The Maharaja of Giving in Mahabharata was Karna. Daan-shur Karna. When asked for, Karna even gave away his divine breast-plate and earrings (Kavach Kundala) though he knew this was a trick to make him mortal & vulnerable in war.

A lesser known side-story is Arjuna became angry for Krishna praising Karna for his supreme generosity. Krishna told Arjuna he would prove that Karna’s generosity was indeed superior. Sometime later, Krishna gave a mountain load of gold to Arjuna. Arjuna said he has no use for so much gold, called the populace and started donating the gold, using a spade. Arjuna felt great he was giving away such riches literally spade-fulls. Later Krishna gave the same gift of mountain full of gold to Karna. Karna’s way was to call people, ask then to take however much they wanted. And he just walked away from the mountain of gold!! Proving thereby that he was a true Giver, supreme in generosity, far above Arjuna in this regard.

Remember, Giving is a virtuous cycle which will bring back for you, more than what you have given. That is the Law of Nature. As you Sow, so Shall you Reap. This is the Law of Feed Forward. What ever you have given to others, will come back to you multifold. Have Trust. Have Faith. Believe. Just Give.

At the end let me tell you a Hungarian children’s story, The Safe. There was a wealthy merchant who kept all his money in a safe. He commissioned the village mathematician and intelligent person to design a new safe, such that money kept in it would double!! Obviously the mathematician tried many designs, but money would not double in the safe.

Later, the Merchant was to go on a long travel. He summoned the Mathematician & threatened : by the time he comes back the Safe that doubles the money is made ready, else he will complain to the King!! He left on his travels giving the keys of his existing Safe to the Mathematician. The Mathematician opened the Safe and gave away ALL the money to the people in the village.

When the Merchant returned he found the Safe empty. He rushed out to confront the Mathematician. But en route every neighbour, who had been a beneficiary, called the Merchant to their house, treated him with lots of love & affection, heaped praises & food on him!!! The Merchant realised that though his paper money was gone, he had become much, much richer. He understood that “Everything we give to others will, sooner or later, returns to us, whether or not it be in a form we expected”

Remember, Always Give more than what People Expect & Do it Cheerfully : your friendly neighbourhood vikibaba

Letting Go

There was an old school-time joke we had: Question: How do Porcupines make love?

Answer: very very carefully

Life today has proved the veracity of this joke. Complexity and uncertainty has multiplied manifold. Unless we are very, very careful we will not even know what hit us. Spines and quills all around are ready to poke us & queer our pitch, vitiate the direction we have chosen! So indeed the basic question in front of all of us is: How do I proceed? Where do I go? and How to be successful?

To Go Ahead, we must Look Back! See the road travelled. And jettison what will not help us to move ahead. Reduce the bulwark, make the yacht lean, and then press ahead, full steam. Sorry for the mixed metaphor, but I have taken inspiration from our BMMC who has put up a board just before the Bandra Flyover: To turn Right, Stay Left!!! If you don’t believe me, see when you have crossed the causeway and need to take a turn to the WE Highway. BMMC cautions: To turn Right, Stay Left. Good advice for Life itself!!! So to be successful, Let Go and Move On!

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What I have realized is, in the hurry to get ahead, and reach the destination, often we are our biggest enemy in moving forward. And this is because of our natural tendency to Hold On. Clutching at straws, or well rooted trees, both have the same effect: they arrest progress towards the goal! We do not realize that Holding On is the way we stop ourselves from moving on, getting ahead, and reaching our target. To reach our true potential we must be able to dispassionately analyze and understand, what is actually helping us move ahead, and what is toxic or excess baggage which is actually holding you back. Robert Frost’s two roads will always beckon, but we must let go of one road, to progress on the other!

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In my professional career of 34 years in Corporate India, I changed 5 jobs. If I look back on each of those changes, they epitomise the Letting Go & Moving On gyan I am selling to you now.

My first job was with HCL I was reporting to the Personnel Director and responsible for Recruitment & Training. Since in a nascent computer industry in late 1970s, personnel turnover was high, Recruitment was an year long activity. Before HCL, I had sat in an aircraft twice…once when I was sick and had to be urgently moved for an operation and second time was for the HCL final interview from IIMC campus. Suddenly, in HCL, I was flying all across India, a flight every week, for campus recruitment and walk-ins. Every new product or software launch also required the Training guy to show all-India presence. Though by entitlement & grade, I was not allowed air travel, the high profile role with regular interactions with Shiv Nadar & Arjun Malhotra, besides being the blue-eyed boy of Personnel Director helped. After 2 years of limitless travel and heady recognition and compliments, my wife gave an ultimatum: enough of Delhi, let’s go back to Mumbai. Choose : Wife or HCL!!!

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Having to Let Go and Move on, I applied  for HR role in Siemens Corporate. 5 day week, 35 hours a week, 21 holidays a year. 50% higher salary. Recruitment & Compensation role. Started dabbling in Training, against the wishes of the Training manager, still enjoying the blue-eyed boy status of the Personnel Director, of Siemens now.  Enjoyed Siemens parties and get togethers, hardly any work pressure. The bug hit me again. Must let go! Must be challenged! Must stretch!! Must learn and grow experience wise. Asked for a transfer to the Industrial Relations role in the factory which had 4500 employees of the 7000 in Siemens India. Siemens had very turbulent and violent IR history. Everyone advised me against the move. To add to it, no one wanted me in Kalwa Factory. Was seen as a “Head Office plant” not to be trusted. Was stretched and pilloried. Rough shod and tested. Baptism by fire! But I grew. I learnt! Developed my own niche and acceptance!! Became the perfect double agent: accepted by both factory and Head Office as “their” man. After 5 years, wanted to go back to Corporate. But neither Factory Management nor the Union were ready to release me. Had no choice but to fly out of the golden cage. Let go my hard earned respect and position in the hearts of managers and workmen in Kalwa and moved to another Company. Atul Products, Valsad, Gujrat.

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6 years thoroughly enjoyed Atul & company township living. But after 4/5 years I realized I was not learning anything new. Challenges were past. Enjoyed great trust of the management, as well as the external Union leadership. But felt stifled because of repetitive tasks and experiences. Time to Let Go and Move On. Fortunately Siemens offered to take me back as a Head of Human Resource Development. Came back to Mumbai, but felt odd being the Boss of people whom I had reported to earlier. Siemens itself had significantly changed in the 6 years I was away. Took me a few months to realize this was not the company I loved in the past. Again a Letting Go, again Moving On to Johnson & Johnson India as Shared Services HR Head.

J&J after so many years in Chemicals and Engineering industry, was truly a breath of fresh air. Very professional and fast paced work culture. Lots of operational freedom. Multiple reporting, 3 Bosses in India (one per SBU) and the Functional Boss in the Region. The challenge was invigorating; culminating in national recognition at the hands of President APJ Abdul Kalam for Innovative HR Practices that drive Business Results.

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With lots of achievements and recognition under the belt, got a chance to join Global HR Transformation Project Team as an AsPac Director. Letting Go of the comfort of JnJ India where I was accepted. Moving on to make my name in the Global Team. Suddenly the person who had sat in a flight twice till the age of 22 was spending 20+ days abroad living off a suitcase and airport lounges, as the responsibility involved 14 countries of AsPac.

With such a hectic schedule, it was natural I missed many family events. My parents’ 50th Wedding Anniversary, My Father’s and Mother’s 60th Birthday celebrations, etc etc. One day my daughter Rashmi went to Vinita and asked, “Do you have Baba’s photograph? I have forgotten how he looks”. When Vinita told me this I decided time has come for me to Let Go & Move On again. And I took a simple desk job in General Motors India. Spent last 3 years of my parents’ life near and with them, serving and making up for staying away throughout my academic and professional life.

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The last Letting Go was when I retired from GM in 2014 and Moved On to set up Basil HR Advisory with 2 friends. It has been a great and memorable journey and now Letting Go and Moving on is on lower stakes as it involves clients and assignments. With consultancy projects, the roots do not grow that deep as the time commitment and the emotional connect is not at the same level as in the jobs earlier. One knows, that you are a midwife or a nurse, and not the real mother, so the contract is itself defined with Letting Go and Moving On.

Tony Robbins the best selling author of Unleash the Power Within & Date with Destiny puts it very beautifully: ” Will you live inside your story or Let Go and Move On?” Very important question to keep asking yourself as you live and grow? The attraction “living inside your story” are legion. Comfort & security. No new questions or challenges. The ship is safest in the harbour. But it was not built to remain there. Rough seas make skilled mariners. Move On and face the rough seas.

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Letting go is a process. You cannot do it overnight, especially if you have spent your life holding on to things you know and love – even if, deep down, you know they are sub-optimising your full potential. Focusing on moving forward and creating a new story for yourself will help you deal with the inevitable pain of conquering new territories. It will also help you gain confidence, develop empowering beliefs to live by and Move On with elan. The power of Letting Go helps you to Move On in your life. If you can not get out of the story you’ve constructed for yourself, then you cannot move on to bigger and brighter things.

So Don’t look back; the Grass is Greener on the other side: vikas

end DC

Nahi Udaas Nahi…

वाक़िये इतने अनगिनत हैं इस ज़िंदगी के…साहिब.!!

समझ नहीं आ रहा…किताब लिखूँ या हिसाब लिखूँ…!!!

The First Lockdown was declared across India on 23rd March. We received the news in shocked surprise, as neither Corporate India, nor  families were prepared. Shopkeepers big or small, offices, factories, even e-commerce sites all went into shutdown. Individuals were scrambling to organize daily requirements like milk and veggies, while large organizations were busy providing their employees IT support so that they could work from home seamlessly. In the starting days of lockdown, I wrote a blog : A Crisis too Precious to Waste (  https://vikasshirodkar.blog/2020/04/09/a-crisis-too-precious-to-waste/ ). In my early enthusiasm, I actually listed out 9 positive outcomes that we can all gather/learn from the lockdown. Even in my title, unknowingly I had echoed great men of yore e.g.  Winston Churchill, ” Never let a good crisis go to waste”.

Today is 27th June. We are in Lockdown 5.0. From 23rd March, it is 96 days most of us have been at home. A small number of us, from essential services, health care, pharma, policing or other security outfits have been working  through these nearly 100 days. And possibly working even harder, with more stress than before. Another group started going to work more recently in the last 8/10 days. Uncertain, scared what the exposure to external environment would do to our risk profile, leading to a doubt whether you should have risked going back to office at all!! An even larger majority is still at home. Some in conducive industries like  Technology, BFSI & IT/ITES are practicing the new norm of Working from Home,  for varying lengths of time. An even larger number, in Educational institutions, Retail industry, Transportation, Hospitality just waits for the next diktat … uncertain whether it will be extension of the Lockdown or lifting of it.

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Meanwhile, number of cases testing positive continues to soar. Slowly,  surely.  We now know of cases in our friends’ circle, or in our Society, or even in our building who have tested positive. Buildings/Floors are being sealed and cordoned off by the municipal authorities. If the data shared on the many webinars I attend daily is anything to go by, there is an increase in the cases of depression, anxiety and, of course, stress in the populace.  Uncertainty of when all this will end is not helpful.  Mental Health is always a good indicator of overall satisfaction and happiness within the system. And so this is worrisome. There are some “hidden talents” in each one of us and hidden opportunities in the circumstances. Unfortunately, to paraphrase a comedian in recent times,” I do have many hidden talents. But it is hidden so well, that I can’t find it myself!!” That will not help. We need to plumb our depths and find them.

Against this backdrop, while I was walking yesterday (yes I am allowed to go down to walk in the open within Society’s premises) an old song popped into my head…

“नहीं उदास नहीं

बस एक चुप सी लगी है

नहीं उदास नहीं

कही पे सांस रुकी है”

Literally the world, & those of us affected by this lockdown await with bated breath to see how this whole scenario will play out. The frustration, at least for me, is the sheer lack of clarity on how this will end. Despite Lockdown for nearly 100 days, the no of cases keep increasing day by day. While I do not track numbers, as they are a depressive scoreboard to watch, nor do I watch the news, the SM does creep into your psyche and inform you the latest.  So is it all negative? Bad? Hopeless?

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Again the song plays in my head:

कोई अनोखी नहीं ऐसी जिंदगी लेकिन

खुब न हो

मिली जो

खूब मिली है

नहीं उदास नहीं बस एक चुप सी लगी है

You may be wondering whether I have fallen into the Stockholm Syndrome type of thinking where I am now falling in love with my social isolation, physical distancing, not stirring out of my home? “लज़्ज़ते_ए_आशिकी अब इस से बढ कर क्या होगी… रिहाई का वक्त आया तो, पिंजरे से मुहब्बत हो गयी !” Have I forgotten the joy of freedom, roaming aimlessly, going to malls & restaurants, shopping live, meeting friends & relatives, long drives?

No, I sit to write to you, and aver to myself…नहीं उदास नहीं. Rather, I thank the powers that be (China??) that made this happen. I am grateful that I got a radically different experience, compared to my earlier 64 years. I feel good that I got to stay home for 100 days, breaking the vicious cycle of my constant work-related travel, for the first time since I began working in 1980. I got a chance to do things I have never done.  Whether it was sweeping and swabbing the house, or washing utensils at one end of the spectrum to catching up on a lot of reading, getting on to Netflix for the first time (using my daughter’s account) and doing binge watching of serials and movies; which concept, I had only heard of. Why, we even celebrated birthdays & anniversaries on Zoom! And  had surprise treats for Fathers’ Day and delicious meals shared with family who live in same complex.  I actually learnt to have & enjoy long conversations with my daughter on phone, sharing daily tribulations and tensions of her life. Got close to my extended family on zoom platform, settling down into a rhythm of  weekly calls with the entire gang…..enjoying impromptu performances by grandchildren, hearing about cooking from my nieces, family politics & frustrations from cousins, and in other ways enjoying the “we” time. Getting on  more comfortable terms with my wife of 4o years, because suddenly we were shorn of all paraphernalia of activities & friends, relatives & maids… and rediscovering our joy of being together & doing things for one another after a longish gap.

सुनी हिकायतें हस्ती तो दरमियान से सुनी

ना इब्तिदा की ख़बर है ना इन्तेहां मालूम।

{ हिकायतें= stories; हस्ती = life, world; दरमियान= during; इब्तिदा= Beginning, origin, commencement; इन्तेहां utmost limit, end; extremity. }

Wayne Dyer tells us,” Accept life as it is or take the responsibility to change it!”. Yes, there are no paid consultancy assignments as even the clients are locked down. But that gave me an opportunity to learn new developments & the latest thinking in HR by attending & addressing a number of webinars & online meetings.  I fib you not… to take notes, I opened a fresh, new 2020 diary…one of those Demi sized ones with one page to a date. Given the amount of notes I have made….I am already on the Sept 29th page in that diary!! Listening to so many webinars and calls has kept me on track for my original dream….to be a constant learner.

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So, truly, I have enjoyed the 100 days. Would I be willing & ready to get into another lock down ? Yes and No. NO since we can’t call Rashmi over from Gurugram (where she is working at present) & spend time with her together without agenda…which I miss badly. That is the only NO reason. But for YES, there are so many. My family, first and foremost. My new learning. My improved relationships. My me time

I look back on what I wrote in the beginning of lockdown, and the suggestions I made on how to give a positive twist to this quirk of lockdown, home-locked fate. And I am proud that I have implemented most of the suggestions I made! The Dr has indeed tasted  his own medicine!! During these 96 days I have practiced frugality & learning to do with less; developed a feeling of gratitude for all that we have; sensed a closer bonding with immediate family, and extended family equally; grown closer and re-established contact with friends; done much better time management; sharpened my ability to adjust/compromise; imbibed  new skills; created a “stop doing” list for greater effectiveness to which I keep adding; and finally am leveraging & enjoying solitude. जीने को और क्या चाहिए!!!

Been there, Done it all. If & when the lockdown is lifted, I am sure you all will see a better version of me!!!

I end with this beautiful poem a friend shared, excerpted from The Weighing by Jane Hirshfield:

So few grains of happiness

measured against all the dark

and still the scales balance.
The world asks of us

only the strength we have and we give it.

Then it asks more, and we give it.

mother end

Stay Safe; Stay Together; Stay Happy: vikibaba

A crisis too precious to waste

The path breaking movie, Star Wars left us many learnings. My favourite? Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn’s  advice to Anakin Skywalker, “Always remember: Your focus determines your reality.”  In our hyper distracted world of today, we would do well to remember this seminal thought! 

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The volume of communication bombarding us from all sides, and our unfettered access to information & other people, fuelled by the ubiquitous social media & our smartphones, have made it more difficult than ever to focus. Despite this reality, there are opportunities to focus all around us. But we must recognize & seize them.  The faith that focus will benefit, both yourself and the people around you, makes this a priority. In other words, before you can help & lead others, the first person you must help & lead is yourself.

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The Global pandemic of CONVID19 and the consequent lockdown has forced us to remain in our houses. Analysts say this crisis is larger than what humanity has seen even in the 2 World Wars, or any other health scares we have experienced in the past  eg The Black Death (The Great London plague) in 1665; or the Spanish Flu of 1918; or the Asian Flu of 1957, in which an estimated 1 million plus people died. CONVID19 pandemic has the potential to overtake the estimated 65 Million infections worldwide & 25 Million deaths due to HIV/AIDS. The worldwide lockdowns & the desperate efforts afoot to find an inoculation to prevent the spread of Coronavirus, or to treat & cure patients afflicted, are well documented and within public knowledge.

When everything around us is breaking up, social networks  becoming purely virtual & digital, work from home is the new reality, manufacturing & supply chain are compromised,  and questions face us wherever we turn, it is easy to fall into despondency or worse, fatalism. Still, I believe tough times are an opportunity to ponder. To revalue everything in your life.  Nature and Industry is conniving to give you time, they have pressed the “Pause” button! You are getting a lot of time to reflect, and decide the next steps, or new turns, that you will take. Transmutation, Transformation, Change is rapidly intruding in our daily humdrum. “Business as usual” is clearly a matter of the foregone past.

I take heart in the words of Richard Bach: ” What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls a butterfly”. A new world, a new reality beckons us; and am sure it will be better than our past!

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So it is in this context I sit to write something positive, though the entire doomsday scenario has plunged us into negativity!  Many may call me foolhardy. But I do believe this crisis has thrown up some interesting learnings which we should take to heart, and blend into the way we will live, in the future.

I do believe our lives will be the better,  in case we survive!! So here I go counting my chickens before they are hatched….imagining the great Indian Chicken Tikka Masala we have in store for us, just around the corner.

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So specifically what are the positives in this lockdown scenario?

  • We have learnt to do with less: unnecessary shopping, reckless eating out, entertainment till we drop, is gone. Less is More! Simple things give pleasure : the sheer availability of milk and veggies feels great.
  • Count your blessings: you enjoy a roof over your head, you are not worried where the next meal is coming from, essentials supplies are being maintained (hitherto). Life’s needle has moved just marginally for you, if you face the facts.
  • Families, teams & couples have come closer: you have only one another to look up to, celebrate, complain. Conversations have started on lunch/dinner tables, whereas earlier all were in a hurry to gobble food, and head in different directions, with no common agenda.
  • Time: the great leveller, has shown his benevolent side. Earlier a hard taskmaster, seemingly driving you relentlessly on a rollercoaster of tasks & activities, suddenly Father Time has shown his softer side. I see more time hanging on my hands now.  It gives me the joy of planning & executing at my volition. I feel more in command & can do more of what my heart desires.
  • Analyse your time spend. Think whether your short  & long term goals are best served with your “time spent analysis”. Develop a good understanding on where you want to reach, what you want to get done. Use the time-data to act on what needs change,  to get better alignment to your goals. Define priorities & focus on them.
  • In present times, we have learnt greater level of accomodation and adjustment. Our demands and desires have got tempered;  we are less strident about our needs & wants. “Marie nahi hai, KrackJack chalega; KrackJack nahi hai, Monaco ya Gluco  is OK.”  We are different now. I take joy in small tasks.
  • Starve your distractions. Social media, YouTube, NetFlix, and the limitless possibilities of the internet hang over our heads. They tempt us to click links that take us to another video or article. Understand & accept that the internet lures you in, & then take decisive action by logging out of your social media accounts and blocking websites during certain hours of the day. Recognize this is often a bottomless well. This is beneficial “Social Distancing”!

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  • This “quiet time” you have been gifted is a great time for you to take stock of your capabilities & competencies. Identify gaps in yourself and use this time to do online certifications, learning, webinars and training. Do not let the tempo of work get in the way of good development opportunities. Come out with a better version of You!
  •  There are only so many hours in a day. Reflect on where your time is best spent, which provides you with the clarity to decide which calls to take, which meetings to stop attending,  and which invitations you should politely decline. This is something that Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, has been advising people to do for many years. Create a “stop doing” list.
  • There is no silver bullet  for solving the complex problems of today. But there are some good places to start, and one of them is: solitude. Having the discipline to step back from the noise of the world is essential to staying focused. Know that whatever incites our emotions, causes the cognitive effects of distractions to linger. In their  book, Lead Yourself First, Ray Kethledge & Mike Erwin define solitude as a state of mind, a space in which to focus one’s own thoughts without distraction — and where the mind can work through a problem on its own. Leverage this to come up with sustainable & effective solutions to life’s challenges.

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If you see it in the right perspective, the present crisis has gift wrapped and brought all this to you, while you are sitting at home!! Sad will be the day, if we go back to our past ways as soon as this crisis blows over, & leave all these learnings by the wayside.

Now it is up to us to make use of this crisis time, and the power of our imagination, our faith & our trust in the ingenuity of our fellow human beings, our willingness to experiment and our ability to learn, our inner alchemy, if you will, to transmute the challenges & the mounds of coal that surround us today into streets of Gold, paved with our desires and dreams to move ahead and beyond. 

Believe, indeed it is possible, and it will come to pass!

In a Distracted World, Solitude is a Competitive Advantage;                                     Enjoy yours, while it lasts: vikas

Post Script: Gratefully acknowledge my debt of inspiration to Richard Bach’s Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah; as I believe we all are now.

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Stand & Wait

“जाने तेरे शहर का, क्या इरादा है;  आसमान कम, परिंदे ज़्यादा हैं ” sang Vipin Anneja in Jazbaa

John Milton believed (like most of us??) that he was born for a great purpose!!

miltonWhen struck by blindness, in the middle of his life, his anguish poured into the sonnet that began “When I consider how my life is spent…” Like many of us who are waiting for something, and get upset and angry when it does not happen within our time line, Milton too fought with his Maker in the Sonnet. Still, in the last/14th line of the poem, Milton reconciles & gives us that oft quoted epithet, “They also serve who only stand and wait.”

I, for one, often take umbrage to this “stand and wait” model of problem resolution. I feel it is escapism and fooling oneself, when you say that you are serving some purpose when you stand and wait. This is best exemplified  in the fast paced game of basketball, when the Coach  asks for player substitution and gets an active player out of the court, and sends another player instead to continue the game. This also happens in Kabbadi, Volleyball, Hockey, or Football. Think for a moment, the mindset of the player, who suddenly finds himself in the dugout, out of the match, becoming a spectator rather than a player of the game!!

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The Hall of Fame baseball commentator Vin Scully, made this Miltonesque quote famous by referring to the player not in the game, as “they who serve by standing and waiting out the game”. Would that player think he is serving? Or feel miserable that he is out of action, for now. The Navy Wives Club of America has their motto as “They also serve who stay and wait”. Really? what are they serving so far away from the war theater ??and how long do they wait?? Is it not better then, to take action & move on?

During my college days, a play become very famous & shaped our thinking. Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot was iconic in impact. Originally written in French, Beckett himself translated this into English and described it as a “tragi-comedy”. It premiered in English in 1955 ( the year that I was born…it that significant I wonder?). The entire play revolves around the discussions & dialogue between Vladimir (Didi) and Estragon (Gogo) as they wait for the arrival of Godot in the middle of a road to nowhere!! Godot never arrives till the end of the play!

This play was a jewel in the crown of absurd drama. The British Royal National Theatre in 1990, voted it as the “most significant English language play of the 20th century”. In a way, it typifies the modern man’s life: meaningless existence; we all stuck on a desolate path; with a companion who is equally confused; all the time waiting for Godot; who never arrives!! There are no answers in the play, & even the tree on that road is bare:  bereft of any greenery & new life. Where are we going? What are we waiting for? Who will make our journey a trifle less senseless? Questions that dog you, me, everybody, daily, regularly.

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I was fortunate to see this challenging play enacted at Chabildas School, Dadar by one-time superstars of the English theater Nasiruddin Shah and Benjamin Gilani;  and the quest and angst of Didi and Gogo have never left me since! Along with them, and a host of other unsatisfied souls,  I have been Waiting for Godot since then!! All of us who are hungry, are missing something, want more, await a direction, await the messiah, await deliverance, await the promised land, want a better future…. we stand and await Godot. And true to form….Godot never arrives! The search never ends! Our eyes continue to pine. Our hearts remain empty. Our waiting for Godot begs the question….Is there a Godot at all? Will someone answer my call? Will there be a resolution? Will I be delivered? Do solutions exist? Will the Messiah finally take pity on me & reveal himself? Questions sans answers. The human condition is to wait, wait and … wait for Godot!!

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We have heard often that “the mills of God grind slowly, but grind well.”  So a waiting period is visualized as an inseparable part of our desires.  And the process to achieve them!! If we get what we want very easily, there is a tendency to undervalue it. Moreover, it is in our nature that whenever we achieve the goal we have set for ourselves, no sooner the goal comes near fulfillment, our desires change and we then are hungering after something else, something more, bigger, better, grander. When you do that, the waiting time elongates. Every minute feels like an hour, every hour feels like a day, and every day feels like forever. Depending on what you are waiting for and how keenly you desire it, sometimes you are ready to wait forever and a day!

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It is rightly said by Mary Gordon:  Waiting is the great vocation of the dispossessed. And curiously, we all are dispossessed as we always want more, something better, something faster, something more sleek. This desire keeps spiralling even when we get what we wanted, as there are always new things to wait for! So often-times I think I am waiting, for something that will never happen, since it is a moving target anyways, a chimera that I chase.

In the beginning, I  quoted the song “Jaane tere shehar ka kya iraada hai” from Jazbaa.

jazbaa

Irrfan Khan plays a down & out corrupt police inspector in a one-sided love affair with Aishwarya. She comes to his bachelor’s pad where naturally everything is in a mess. – इस मेस में कैसे रहते हो?  she asks. And Irrfan’s answer is iconic and memorable  – “मैं कहाँ रहता हूँ  यहाँ ? यहां इंतज़ार रहता है.”

Words which apply to each and every one of us and our lives – मैं कहाँ रहता हूँ यहाँ ? यहां इंतज़ार रहता है. When we will grasp this truth?

Are we stuck in this absurd drama then? Is our human condition just to wait? Will the wait ever end? Is there hope? Remember what AA Milne tells us: Rivers know this, there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.

I end with another fantastic line spoken by Irrfan in Jazbaa when Aishwarya comes to visit him. His assistant: ” कस्टमर आया है”…he replies: आज उम्मीद आई है …  When she bids good-bye, and his assistant asks – क्या सर, जाने दिया आपने? – He says : .   अबे मोहब्बत है इसी लिए तो जाने दिया, ज़िद्द होती तोह बाहों में होती.

I see a great parallel between what we are discussing and Irrfan’s advice. Irrfan too was waiting for Godot…the unrealisable Aishwarya. And when she does not stay, his response is …..keep the faith……Love life…. उम्मीद रख…..do not try to imprison life and its solutions…ज़िद्द न कर……..Trust the process…..मोहब्बत है इसी लिए जाने दे…..Indeed they also serve, who stand and wait!!!

Patience is bitter, but it’s fruit is sweet said Aristotle long ago.                                     So let us stand & wait and enjoy sweet fruit says vikas today.

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No, Not New

Let me confess at the outset that this is an iconoclastic post. I mean, but really, what is NEW about 2020? It is just another year, no?? and how will it be HAPPY I wonder? By wishing? Please…I have seen more of life to believe that!!! So I say again, No, there is NOTHING NEW in 2020. And to make it HAPPY my friend, we have work to do. Mere wishes will not help. Nor the implicit belief in what Lord Tennyson wrote ages ago: “Hope
Smiles from the threshold of the year to come,
Whispering ‘it will be happier’…”                                                               Don’t know about you all, but I have had it with the sugar syrupy, cloying New Year messages. Enough already!! Let us get on with our living!!!going on

Really, think what is New about 2020? Yes, the date changes. Possibly will lead to errors on important documents and cheque leaves being torn up, as you can’t make corrections. Besides the date change, does the life not go on as usual? So why the hype? Whenever I hear a cheery, Happy New Year, I am reminded of the stand up comic who quipped….Have told so many friends, “Happy 2020…don’t worry, the next year will be so much better than the earlier years”; I love misguiding people!!

Actually, as thinking adults, we should remember that the future is built on the past. Every new beginning, to be rock-solid, must be built on the fragments of the past. The remnants of our experiences will create the strong anchor for our uncertain future. I, for one, believe that the new year should never be based on the abandonment of the past. Child is the Father of Man, Wordsworth told us long ago. In a similar vein, our future must be rooted in our past. What we have done and achieved in 2019 and earlier, should speak to what we plan for 2020. That is why the Turkish playwright, Mehmet Murat ildan tells us, “In the New Year, never forget to thank to your past years because they enabled you to reach today! Without the stairs of the past, you cannot arrive at the future!”

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Yes I agree that the unknown future is full of potentialities and possibilities. Every Hero journeys from the Known to the Unknown. To that extent, the New Year promises potentiality unlimited….it is always brighter at the horizon and the unfulfilled promises beckon to us from yonder. The Italian poet Giacomo Leopardi (1798-1837)  captures it well in his Operette Morali (Small Moral Works) thus,  “Life which is beautiful is not the life that is known, but that which is not known; not the past life, but the future. With the new year, chance will begin to treat you and me and all the others well, and the happy life will begin. Non e vero?” Is it not true? (Translation using Google)

So come January, and the turn of the year, we are overwhelmed. Excited with the chance to turn over a new leaf. Do things differently. Feel that this new threshold will take us into a new trajectory, where magically the world will be congenial,  and life will be much better. But the fact is that we cannot see into the future, we cannot predict how it will treat us, where will be at the end of 2020. Only thing we can be certain is that we will again wish at the end….2021 will be Happy New Year!!!

anatole-france-new-years-quote

As we go through life, many things are thrown our way. Challenges, Achievements, Failures. We need to make our way through all of these. How you deal with both your successes, and your failures, shows your real character. None of us is born with the Magic Key, or possesses the Silver Bullet, to solve all problems & come out always successful. Life forever presents a mixed bag of results and disappointments. The true Hero does not get vibrated or vitiated from his path, come what may. S/he continues onward and forward with hope and joy, adding to  learnings and experiences, with every result… be it positive or negative. So as you prepare for the new challenges and goals, review your past achievements and failures to learn from them: what you need to do more of, to increase your “batting average”;   and what you need to do differently, to avoid “run outs”.

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Walk through all the rooms of the past, not to look for  cracks & peeled paint, but to review the chances you missed, the potentialities you did not capture, the low hanging fruits that you could have easily gathered in your bag. Don’t look for flaws, but focus instead on the possibilities and potential that the future holds. After all, how many of us get a chance to play our innings all over again, bat once more to overcome the mistakes you made earlier and end with a better score on the scoreboard?

Let us take inspiration from the hoary essayist G K Chesterton who guides: ““The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. … Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.

Having said that, I will not repeat the cliche every New Year is like a new diary, a new page opens up for you to write new dreams, expound fresh aspirations or make new resolutions. Rather I will say to you….I hope you have the strength to break your New Year resolutions early!

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Be open to new trajectories life wants to take you into, face every new day as though it is your last, and work to leave a positive impression and an impressive trail behind. This you can do by remaining focussed on Today, Here and Now. Don’t second guess your future. Remain open to new experiences. Seek out fresh and newer pastures. Expose. Expand. Grow. One day at a time.

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Do not pre-commit to paths that you may not enjoy. Live every day as it comes. And if you are positive and exploratory, you will win. No one has a manual for Life. You are the only Pilot  you should trust with this Flight of Fancy and Journey of Finding your potential. Enjoy, 2020 and beyond. (Remember, years are just numbers!)

To end: “…last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.” – vikas, the idiot;                              echoing TS Eliot, the wise

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Con.sid.er.a.tion (noun)

Showing care and concern, consideration for others is fast becoming a dying skill. Today it is all about I, me and myself. Who has the time to focus on others? to abnegate oneself? and put others before self ?? what are you talking about, bro? which world are you from? Have you lost it? If I show consideration, I will be seen as weak!! People will take advantage of me. I will be left behind. Others will move ahead of me. And worst thing is….I will be seen as a wimp, someone who does not have the “balls” to get ahead in the competitive world. Goal achievement today is seen as a zero sum game! For me to win, you must lose!! I must ride roughshod over your agenda, if I have to achieve mine.

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Sounds familiar? Are we all not facing this day in day out?  Either as aggressors ourselves, as we pursue our own dreams to the exclusion of others! Or as sufferers who see others play out this, and we remain at the receiving end!!

So is this a right time to blog on  “consideration”? Vehemently,  I say yes!! this is an important skill which we all need to imbibe and hone, if we want to collaborate and succeed in today’s dog eat dog world. Let us understand this more.   

Lexically, consideration is defined as: careful thought, typically over a period of time.  A para-legal meaning of consideration is a payment or reward: discussed threadbare in the Contracts Act;  as a contract cannot be binding unless consideration has changed hands.  And the consideration, I want to talk to you about is possibly a combination of both of these meanings:- after deliberate thought, you go out of the way and show care and concern, affection and empathy: genuine consideration for the other person’s point of view. This can be oil that lubricates the societal machine to go around, easier.

Think about the times when you are standing in a queue, at a bank or a ticket  or an enquiry counter. As you await your turn, suddenly someone comes officiously and goes to the head of the queue; and demands immediate attention. Obviously s/he is showing no consideration to the others in the queue. What do you do in this situation? Do you assertively go forward, tap him/her on the shoulder and say, ” Excuse me we are all standing in a queue here!”. Or do you, like most would do, curse the boorish fellow who jumps the queue;  but reconcile that it would take just a minute more and so remain quiet, and await your turn? If you allow the intruder to get away with his jumping the queue, are you being considerate? I think, no: as consideration makes both parties happy.

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Now a days,  I am impressed with the host, who along with the dinner invite sends you a Google map location pin of the address of his home or the venue you are to meet. Just shows his considerate nature, and desire to go that extra mile, to make your reaching the venue easier. Consideration is the host calling you up and asking your brand of beer or the liquor you prefer. Consideration is the hostess checking whether you eat fish, or shellfish, or what meat you prefer. All this signals that you are an important and valued guest; and your comfort is paramount to the hosts. Consideration for others requires you to put yourself into the other person’s shoes, think from his perspective and act keeping his comfort & convenience topmost. Consideration stems from the belief that that caring and concern make the social wheels move smoother. We are bound together a la Siamese twins, and so your comfort and happiness rebounds, and makes me happy and comfortable. Consideration is the hyphen in win-win relationships!!

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In social dos, one sacrosanct rule I follow is : never get dragged into discussions around religion and politics. Not that these subjects are not fundamental to human existence and the social fabric. They indeed are. But both religion and politics draw strong lines. You are either with us, or you are against us. Both release such strong opinions, that there is a very thin line between discussion and hard stands. Quickly, the seemingly intellectual discussions end with daggers drawn, both verbal and virtual.  ” How can you be stupid that you cannot see my point of view?” “This is so obvious that even a child can see the logic of my argument”  is the approach… from both sides of the table!!!! As Samuel Smiles puts it so well above dogmatism grows to “puppyism” & both sides are barking on two sides of the tree, firmly entrenched in their opinions and trying to win the argument with the power of arrogance. What suffers in this heated exchange is consideration! Modi baiters and Modi supporters can never agree. And Rahul Gandhi opponents will never understand how he can get elected, even in a Wayanad,  with 12 lakh 76 thousand votes, in the most educated state of India!!

Consideration of the other is politely accepting that however  close I am to my side of the arguments, facts, opinions…..they are after all only one side of the coin. There is an equal and countervailing “other side” of the coin which I must acknowledge and handle, even if I do not accept. Multiple indeed are the ways to reach Allah!!!!

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The best advice to live and love in a multifaceted, plural world was given by that venerable philosopher Plato long, long ago. It is good to remind ourselves of what he said….“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle”. We need sensitivity to appreciate the pressures & compulsions of others and what they are going through.  Only thing which can truly help is “consideration”. Consideration for others will smoothen social intercourse. Difficulties which come in between will get easily resolved, if there is a bond of mutual consideration.

We all have experienced heartburn and the harsh grinding and gnashing of teeth. Often we feel wronged, misunderstood, under appreciated and pressured. Sadly we seek solutions outside of ourselves, while actually the answer lies within. The ancient Greek dramatist, Menander of Athens tells us : “There is but one genuine love potion – Consideration”. This secret key can open all doors, to all the hearts, in the world. That is why  Henry Link tells us that “….with consideration, the effects on us and on society as a whole would be amazing”.

Oftentimes we appropriate the role of being the General Manager of the world!! We think we know best & it is up to us to correct the world, and pilot it to the “right” path. This is where genuine and true consideration of others could set us into a different orbit.  To quote Michal Rovner, ” I carry some kind of consideration and weight and observations about what is going on in the world, but I don’t go to execute it”. This holding back, this letting go, this acceptance of a contrarian view is real consideration!! Unfortunately, the truth is, I never take into consideration the consequences of my actions until it is too late. It would do good for us to remember the golden words of Kevin Anderson, ” A moment of consideration often prevents a thousand apologies”. More positively stated, remember that within the hearts of men, mutual love and consideration are valued greater than success.

So… Consideration or No Consideration, the choice is yours!! Mae West said it very well: “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”

 

*जरूरी नही 💫हर गिफ्ट कोई वस्तु ही हो,*

*प्यार, परवाह, ✨रिस्पेक्ट भी बहुत अच्छे गिफ्ट हैं।*

*कभी किसी को देकर तो देखे.*🌟: vikas

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Saints & Sinners

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My dearest father…may his soul rest in peace…taught us many great truths. One of his favorite quote was “Every saint has a past….and every sinner a future”. And this, while he was counselling me when I had sinned. But let me begin the story at the beginning…a good place to start!!!

I have always been a strong movie buff….the large screen, the love stories, the beautiful heroines, the suffering heroes, the convoluting twists and turns of fate held great fascination for me. Mine is a serious case of Bollywood addiction!!! Every movie which released, must be seen by me!!!

But in school times, I  was on a small, monthly pocket money. And that did not last very long in front of my burning desire to see each & every movie. So I took to stealing. Maybe stealing is a big word, it was more like pinching pennies….a 2 Rupee note here, a 5 Rupee note there: pinched from my mother’s kitchen purse, or my father’s trouser pocket. Maximum was 10 Rupees if I felt very adventurous!! Never large sums, as I felt that would get too much attention. But small amounts which, I hoped, would go unnoticed. All to fuel my movie mania. (As I write, I just realised this kleptomania may have run in the family. A cousin took this to a different level, and started skimming money from bank accounts…where he was working…and nearly landed in jail!!! But that is another story!)

Let me get back to my small thefts. As happens often, Truth Prevailed… I got caught & exposed. Fortunately, only by my loving Father and my doting Mother. I was crestfallen & crushed, guilty like hell, totally low & self-humiliated. And while telling me to rise above such petty tendencies, my father gave Wilde’s words of solace…Every saint has a past….and every sinner a future!  They supported and counselled me out of my bad habit, and brought me up to be an upright and honest adult, who takes great pride in how he changed for the better.

History is replete with examples of sinners and saints who have walked on both sides of the line.

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In Hindu mythology, the most illustrious case must be of Valmiki. Valya Koli was a bandit looting and killing people in the jungles. He accosted Sage Narada once. When challenged by Narada, as to why he is sinning against humanity and whether anybody will share his guilt, Valya Koli had the realisation that he alone was answerable for his misdeeds. He decided to mend his ways, in the process becoming a Sage himself! As Valmiki, he went on to pen the Ramayana. Known as the “Adi Kavi”, the first Poet,  he composed India’s premier epic.

Angulimala

Angulimala, the bandit thief who wore a necklace of the fingers he cut off from his victims, is another story which teaches the lesson that everyone can change their life for the better, even the least likely people. Aṅgulimāla (Pali literally ‘finger necklace’) is an important figure in Buddhism.  In childhood, he was a scholar and a favourite of his teacher. Due to the jealousy of fellow students, his teacher was provoked into asking him to get 100 fingers to complete his study. Angulimala became a ruthless brigand. Yet he completely transformed after conversion to Buddhism. He is seen as the example par excellence of the redemptive power of the Buddha’s teaching and the power to change. Under Gautama Buddha, Angulimala gave up his old ways and became a monk himself.

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Judas Iscariot exemplifies the other half of our basic proposition. Here we have one of the original Twelve Disciples, who betrayed Jesus Christ by kissing him and revealing his identity to the crowd who had come to arrest him!! While the motive for Judas’s betrayal is still debated, Jesus himself had predicted the betrayal at the Last Supper. According to the Gospel of Matthew [26:15] Judas received 30 pieces of silver. Gospels of Luke and John say he was possessed by Satan. Whatever the reason, in Judas we see illustrious follower & “saint” fall from grace and become a “sinner” in the eyes of posterity. Interestingly, we must accept that the betrayal of Judas, set in motion events that led to the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, which in turn brought salvation to humanity!! Good or Bad? Saint or Sinner? Debates rage on as The Gnostic Gospel of Judas – rejected by the mainstream Church as heretical – praises Judas for his role in triggering humanity’s salvation and exalts Judas as the best of the apostles.

So is being a Saint or a Sinner separated by a very thin line? Can we truly differentiate?

दिल की आवाज़ भी सुन मेरे फसाने पे न जा

मेरी नज़रों की तरफ देख जमाने पे न जा……thus sang Mohammad Rafi in Humsaya. And that is indeed true for all Sinners….and also all saints, past or present.

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In modern times, look at the industry icons, the New Age Apostles!! Have they reached pinnacles of success purely following a pristine path? Behind every commercial success, there are many skeletons in the cupboard!! Who will judge Dhirubhai Ambani: Sinner or Saint?  Histories of large business empires are replete with stories  spoken in hushed tones in mixed company. How will you judge Mukesh Ambani? or Anil Ambani for that matter, who frittered away all he had received on a platter? Akash & Isha Ambani may have come with shining degrees from US business schools. But can they stay away from the shadow of corruption and manipulations of the Reliance Industries’ past? This is just one industrial house I quote, as it has been most hotly debated publicly, for years. But who comes with totally clean hands? Saints or Sinners?

The debate continues. The recent case of V G Siddhartha of CCD committing suicide is another classic example. Reports yo-yoed from calling him an epitome of humane corporate leadership to talks of blatant gangsterism in acquiring the coffee estates & building his plantation empire. Beginning with calling the IT Departments and Banks as villians in ruining a good entrepreneur, the tone soon changed to how political pressure was used to get soft loans and then defaulting on repayments. The web is yet to be unravelled and the jury is still out to conclude decisively whether VG Siddhartha was a Saint or a Sinner? Or take the case of our P Chidambaran – one time Finance and Home Minister who was hiding from the police & authorities. Kartik Chidambaran disproportionate assets makes the word disproportionate pale into insignificance. Harvard educated, Chidambaram was revered once. But now?? Saint? or Sinner? 

The example I quote often is Alfred Bernhard Nobel. Engineer, Chemist, Businessman and Inventor : 355 patents to his name! The synthetic element “nobelium” is named after him!!!

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Today’s generation will know him for the Nobel Prizes in Pure Sciences and Peace Prize. And thereby hangs the tale. The Nobel fortune was founded on his patent for Dynamite. Bofors was a iron and steel company, before Nobel transformed it to a maker of cannons and guns ….weapons of destruction!!! Reading an premature obituary which blamed him for making a fortune from selling arms, he bequeathed his entire fortune to institute the Nobel Prizes. This is how he is remembered today. Saint? or Sinner turned Saint? You decide.

So I come back to the basic thing my Father taught me. All Saints have a past. They have done things they may not proud of. And would rather forget or at least, gloss over or embellish when history is written. Similarly, all Sinners should have the faith that Tomorrow is yet another day. The new Sun will come with other potentialities. And newer endings to the story of life, which is still being written. As King Khan reassured us in Om Shanti Om…if Happy Endings have not come, then  do not lose faith….पिक्चर अभी बाकि है मेरे दोस्त. Things will change. And you can choose a different future….or a different past, a la Richard Bach.

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If you keep the Faith, then the following concluding lines of the Humsaya song ring true… मैं हक़ीकत हूँ, ये एक रोज दिखाऊँगा तुझे

बेगुनाही पे मोहब्बत की रुलाऊँगा तुझे

So Learn to Forgive and Keep the Trust, the cycle will turn: vikas the hopeful

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Procrastination

आज नहीं दिल कल देंगे भाई ऐसी भी क्या जल्दी है,

अरे, ऐसी भी क्या जल्दी है अरे, ऐसी भी क्या जल्दी है….

So sang Dev Anand, my favourite chocolate hero, even about the most important task of giving his heart to his beloved, his heroine, the Dream Girl!! Is it surprising then that this movie was titled Shareef Badmash? That is really what procrastinators are….Shareef Badmash…..decent crooks, naughty but cute. And you have this on authority. The authority of a high ranking, self-appointed, senior Office Bearer & Life Member of the Procrastinators’ Society of India- Yours Truly, the most Hon’ble Vikas Shirodkar, Esq.

For the procrastinators, who thrive and feed on postponement and avoidance, tomorrow is the BIGGEST TIME & EFFORT SAVING DEVICE invented by mankind. The only thing you need to do in the here and now, today is to think about what is to be done, and….push it away, like a bad, bad influence, deciding to do it tomorrow instead. The motto of the Procrastinators’ Society is captured by the jingle:

आज करे सो कल कर, कल करे सो परसो  इतनी जल्दी क्या है भैय्या, जीना है बरसो

When the whole life stretches in front of you, why do today ?… what can be done tomorrow, or even the day after!!! This jingle (which twists the conventional wisdom) may well be the Motto emblazoned on the Coat of Arms of the Procrastinators’ Club.

Margaret Mitchell said in the iconic Gone with the Wind, “After all, Tomorrow is another day”. Shorn of it’s positivity and hope, that has been widely interpreted as  an license for pushing today’s tasks ahead, a passport for laziness, and a way to side-step today’s responsibilities. The procrastinators forget that we create our future by what you do today, and not tomorrow. And yet, so many of us fall prey to this sweet devil of procrastination, postponing for tomorrow, or later, what we could have accomplished today. Tomorrow has been THE greatest invention of mankind per the procrastinators and the post-poners; since it enables pushing away any, and every, task on hand to the inglorious future. Later, Tomorrow, Day-after and “when the time is ripe” are all rich catch-alls, bottomless pits indeed, into which much work can be pushed, and promptly forgotten.

tomo

In my childhood I was fortunate that I never took good teachings seriously. I always thought such learnings would corrupt my impressionable young mind!! And so I steadfastly resisted attempts of well meaning (but misguided) elders who tried to teach me conventional wisdom. There were people around who cautioned that our future is created by what you do today and not tomorrow. There were others who tried to teach that preparedness is the cure for procrastination. They taught that the heart must be properly prepared to complete any task. Challenges must be faced head on. Procrastination is only postponing today’s issues to a later time. Things pile up and then that creates panic, they taught me. Don’t handle the same paper twice, or think about the same issue multiple times: Handle it first time right and move forward to save time. And we all know time is money. Bombarded with all these well meaning thoughts, I decided to make a poster to stick above my bed with the blurb…”Procrastination is a thief of Time”. It took me one week to make this poster; and am still to find the double-sided tape to put it over my bed!!!!

not a

Soon I realised that the voices in the past were right about one thing. If you go on procrastinating and postponing things, the deadlines come and they go, and what might have been a simple task a week ago, suddenly acquires ominous proportions.  And then the last minute scramble, the late late nights, the staying awake with coffee…. All to somehow manage to catch the deadline and turn in the assignment; with the lurking feeling that you could have done it better, given more analysis and data, drawn richer insights and conclusions, if and only if you had started earlier, managed time better, worked more diligently, followed timelines and warnings enroute.

reaso

Well, what is done is done. Can’t be changed now, But from tomorrow, from the next time I will…. Sounds familiar? Welcome to the Honorary Membership of the Procrastinators Club. Come Hither….Come Hither…Come Hither…..Here you shall find no enemy…. As Wordsworth sang. Of course it is the nature of the beast that you as you sow, so shall you reap…what seeds you plant will catch up with you later. The best intentions of men and mice often go awry and all your good resolutions come to nought in the immediate next activity/project.  Maybe it is your membership of the Procrastination Club which is to blame. But again things slip, pile up, do not get done on time as you are comfortable in using the labour saving device of postponement.

crown

I remember my venerable uncle, god bless his soul, ask him anything and his standard answer was: बघुया. Whether you asked about going for a movie or a dinner outing or even buying something or planning a holiday , his answer was “बघुया ….let us see”. Never a resounding “yes” or a redoubtable “no”….just a Let us see or “बघुया”. I worked for a long time in factories on the industrial belt of Thane Belapur road. There all HR managers had a common epithet: मी बघतो  I shall see, I will let you know later. Workmen and Unions used to come with burning issues of admission to a hospital or school fees to be paid immediately, requiring the sanctioning of a loan, as per company policy. The HR manager would not review the case and give an immediate decision. The answer was always: मी बघतो I will check and let you know. Till the cart can bear, till the opposite party will allow, till the water does not over-run….I will push the decision forward. Postpone, Postpone, Postpone.

PV Narasimha Rao, the ex PM of India, was fabled never to decide. Political analysts and papparazi had a field day saying his faith was that if you delay a decision long enough and go on postponing taking a stand…due to sheer efflux of time, the problem will go away, or solve itself!!!! A joke did the rounds then… Narasimha Rao’s eldest son was unmarried at the ripe age of 42. It was whispered that he had asked his father Narasimha Rao for permission to marry when he was 30….and was still awaiting the answer from his father…a yes or a no….for 12 long years!!!! Narasimha Rao was famous for his non-decision making ability!!! The political variation of मी बघतो will check & let you know!!

The problem of this approach is captured here:

cc

Life demands answers and the proverbial stork with head in sand approach only ends up with missing the sand storm looming on the horizon, till the time the storm is on him and engulfs him. Procrastination is like sitting on a wooden rocking horse….it does not alter the situation, or take you anywhere ….however hard and fast you make the rocking horse go. What differentiates the doer and the procrastinator then?

pro brainnon pro brain

So friends the answer is clear. We need to take charge and move ahead when we delay and postpone the issues we are living through the same issue again and again. Till it is resolved, it will not go away. By burying our head in the sand, we are only postponing the conclusion and working for a solution. Remember, even the powerful Krishna did not fight Arjuna’s battles. He only counselled and guided Arjuna to face his sea of challenges and dilemmas, raise his head above the confusion and doubts, take his Bow and Arrow in hand and Fight. And Fight we must. And if we don’t, the writing on the wall is clear….forgive me the unparliamentary language here, but the following picture says it most graphically:

procrastination      So take up the cudgels & take the battle into enemy territory, by action and not postponement.

Hope you realize, I write this to convince myself, as much as to convince you:      Best always, vikibaba punter, Procrastinator par Excellence 

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Loife, they sez is sweet

Inspite of so many colors and hues… Black and White is considered classy. Inspite of being constantly surrounded by so many voices, words and sounds…Silence is considered as Ultimate. Inspite of so much variety to eat…Fasting is considered healthy. Inspite of so much to travel and explore…Meditating under the trees and near mountains is considered superior.  Inspite of so much to see…Closing one’s eyes and looking within is considered Epic. A recent WA message doing the rounds reminded me yet again of our peculiar human predicament…Man (or Woman, for that matter) is NEVER satisfied, never happy, never contented. There is always a stretch, a desire, a hunger for that elusive something…something more! The search never ends!!!!

favorite-drinkWhen my daughter Rashmi was in her teens and we used to travel together in the car both of us wanted to hear some nice music. The daughter would take control of the radio and start surfing. As soon as she hit a known song, I would go, “Wait , wait, that is a nice song”,  Rashmi would pause for a minute, or half, and then turn the dial to another station. Again the story would repeat. Unknown songs I was ok to pass. But in her model, even known songs were on for a minute at the most! Then the station would compulsorily be changed!!! This led to much angst from me, which was stone-walled with a “devil-may-care” response. I never understood and had many arguments with her in those car journeys. She remained unfazed. And when I sought the logic of why she kept changing the stations, she had a perfect logical rationale,”How do I know Baba which song is playing on the next station? It may be a better one. So I have to keep flipping and keep checking“. Only in retrospect I realised Rashmi is not alone….we are all searching for the next elusive one. The next one may be better!!!!

chasing-rainbows

In Marathi there is a saying which captures this mindset…..हातातलं सोडून पळत्या च्या  मागे  लागणे. This loosely transliterates as “the  bird in the bush is worth two in the hand”….hankering for what you do not have and under-valuing what you do possess. We see this regularly at the time of college admissions or entrance into professional colleges/ specialization streams. We all know many parents and students who tell you I have got admission in xyz college , but I am waiting for the abc college list. I have got Electrical in Somaiyya but I am waiting to see if I get Mechanical stream in Bhavans. And so it goes on. We who have worked in Corporate and have got frustrated with our roles and responsibilities at some time point. Soon you feel, there is no appreciation of your contributions and the hard work you put in. The boss is always to blame ….he is invariably a cross between Hitler and Gaddafi. So after much thought you applied for jobs outside our company, are again waiting to land the dream job….the job which would give exposure, freedom, excellent perks and benefits. As you seek your dream job and are appearing for interviews, inherent in the process itself is your becoming progressively convinced what a stupid company you are stuck in now, and what a dumb boss you have drawn. This brings you to a point where you just want OUT…and tell yourself anything would be better than remaining in the present job. Lo and Behold, you finally get an offer from one of the company you had applied to. As soon as the offer is in hand, you start having dissonance, regardless of the efforts you made in the interview/s to impress that you are THE BEST candidate they can consider. Having got the offer, you are already disillusioned and wonder about all the other interviews you have faced. Could the other one better? Lesser commute? Better team,? Much better facilities? Lovely Office. And the Boss also seemed a very decent chap in the interview. So you wait for the next offer. And then the next…

noah

Sounds familiar? It is very much like the apocryphal fishing joke, where the angler lands a huge trout…it gets measured…and he is awarded a First Prize for landing the Largest, Heaviest trout that season. The Angler’s response….” Well that one was big……but you should have seen the one that got away!!!!….” Remember, हातातलं सोडून पळत्या च्या  मागे  लागणे is our human condition. We forever believe “the  bird in the bush is worth two in the hand”. The chimeral “next”, the proverbial “one that got away” is always bigger, better, smarter. A la Wilkins Micawber, in David Copperfield, the iconic Charles Dickens’ novel, we are perpetually in a state of want. We desire much. We try and make ends meet. But satisfied we are NOT…..NEVER. we are always waiting with the belief “something will turn up” . And then, when the harsh realities of life set in, we are always over stretched….”Income 20 pounds….expenditure 20 pounds, ought {shillings} and six {pence}…..result, misery

This outward strtech, this desire to exceed and expand is captured best in this anecdote of Samuel Gompers, the longest serving President of the monolithic American Federation of Labor & Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), who put it brilliantly way back in 1920s what does AFL-CIO want. The national trade union federation was so large and so influential that President Woodrow Wilson himself was dealing with Sam Gompers to defuse a nation wide strike call. After a series of frustrating negotiation meetings where no common ground was emerging, President Wilson asked, “Sam finally, what is it that you want?” To which Sam Gompers made the now famous reply, “ More!”, he said, ” That is all that we want…in one word…More!!”. Does Sam’s reply not catch the predicament and mindset of all of us in all that we do? We always want more! We are never satisfied!! We are always chasing the bird in the bush, the fish that got away!

more

Nevertheless i do not think it is all negative. Yes we search, we hunger, we are dissatisfied. But in that hunger, in that search there are some unique potentialities. When one door closes, another opens. And often if you follow through that new door, you mostly get what you have not bargained for….and it may be better than what you were seeking!! Only your eyes must be open. You should be ready to accept the turn of fate…the way the dice has rolled!! And be ready to face the new reality. Oftentimes that is better or at least as good as what you were hankering after. Only you should be ready to accept the changed circumstances.

trouble

It is much like what Asha Bhosale sang in Umrao Jaan long ago, ”

जुस्तजू जिसकी थी उसको तो ना पाया हम ने

इस बहाने से मगर देख ली दुनिया हम ने” which translates as …. “We did not get what we wanted But with this excuse, we got to see the world ” So we need to keep our eyes and heart and head open and keep moving. There are many adventures and surprises out there.

I end with the words of Robert Frost in Kitty Hawk..”Mind you, we are mind.
We are not the kind
To stay too confined.”

 

Enjoy the journey…indeed, Life is sweet : vikas

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