Your choices are half chance!

Today as my Sunday coffee regime was happening on one side while I was mulling away on the other side, the words ‘Sunscreen’ lit up in my mind. Somehow I could recollect the title ‘Everybody needs sunscreen’ but Google corrected me out and also led me to the source of this song – ‘Everybody is free to wear sunscreen.It is actually an essay by Mary Schmich that was published as a column in the Chicago Tribune in 1997. Her essay was written as a commencement speech to graduating students, in case she ever got a chance to deliver one! Now this was news to me as I had connected with this particular song during my college days.

I can remember being swayed by it’s distinct style of musical wisdom, even faintly recollect being inspired and awed by its depth. Adoloscence has its own charm of belief and uncertainty, so a naive me related to only some of the parts in it. Then years morphed into decades and once again I found myself at the alter of this timeless classic today. And I was swayed again…

This time some more lines hit me. But the one that had me shaken all over the most is this –
“What ever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either, your choices are half chance, so are everybody elses.”

How true! This one came almost like a tight slap of loving advice. Since a month, I’ve been recuperating from a lower back sprain and this has opened up new opportunities to re-think my life. The stress I underwent in the past year either bawling away or jumping on cloud nine with every little step for the startup, had taken its toll.Had I been dispassionately passionate with everything, the  stress wouldn’t have built up. Had I enjoyed the journey without a care for the destination, even complex tasks would have been simplified. Had I believed that my choices are all half chances, I wouldn’t have worried about the money not flowing in. I would have given a damn to our performance dashboard, goals, content plans, and all that jazz.

Anyways, better late than never! This year I have embarked on a new path where I will strive to find a balance – To be anchored with my destination yet free to stand and stare. To believe in the divine plan and let go of all my worries. To surrender to the Infinite and find answers intuitively.

As 2012 draws to a close…

The year has drawn to a close and what a year it has been – we survived the ‘End of the World’!

I’m neither ecstatic nor gloomy though. The internal and the external have all collided into one big mass of chaos within me. I’m quite numb with what’s happening in my country right now. I’m scared I’m a woman. And then again, its also required a whole defragmentation process for me this year. It’s been 15 days that I’ve been lying unruffled… well, almost!

As I was getting ready to pick up tasks on my to-do list, I heard a faint tear like a tectonic shift in the middle of the Arabian Sea, but only it felt like it was within me. The next thing I know is that pain erupted like a volcano from my lower back and I fell down unconscious before which I had managed a feeble shout out to the hubby.

Probably 5 minutes later, I came back into consciousness to sense tremendous amount of pain shooting out from my lower back to all the neurons in my body.

Oversoul by Alex Grey

It was 9 hours of excrutiating pain as I lay on the floor motionless, having ended all attempts to fight back. But, those 9 hours were a God send. I don’t really believe in the idols or religions but a bright ray of hope hidden in the human spirit has to be God. It was this hope that served as my crutches – I began to crawl and finally walk with the hubby’s support and somehow managed to make it to the hospital. The verdict was clear – I had stretched myself too far this time!

I’m on medication and rest for a month now but I’ve realised that the duration depends totally on me. Every moment that I feel hope, I’m able to walk but the very moment I give up, the pain returns. It is like the Satan is just waiting around the corner for Hope to leave. I was so traumatised by the shock waves passing through my body that sleeping at night was a task in itself, but hope has opened a new door.

Incidentally, I’ve begun to read ‘Man’s search for meaning‘ by Viktor Frankl, which is a rather painful account of his stay at a concentration camp and how his search for meaning ultimately saw him survive unspeakable cruelty.

We, as a species, have survived for so long that sometimes it builds a complex and I don’t know whether I feel superior or inferior. But, every living moment has a meaning so I guess ‘Time’ – being the biggest teacher  – will tell!

2012 started off into the unknown. Me and hubby had decided to bootstrap our venture with a little savings and no viable business model. Today, at the end of the year, I can’t believe we made it through 12 months without a salary and heaps of multi-tasking. It is true I broke my back, but it is also true that I could manage to keep a little of my 2012 resolution of inculcating a strong sense of discipline in me. 2012 also saw our first marriage anniversary as well as the second one for the startup, so the year sums up as one of juggling between two unknowns – a marriage and a bootstrapped startup!

As I bid adieu to 2012, I look forward to the new year and hope to listen more and talk less, to stop running and start walking, to just be in the moment and feel the meaning. And 2013 will hopefully ring in a miracle because that’s just what the world needs now!

Happy 2013 to all my readers!

The laughing club lessons and more

Every morning I’m awakened by an orchestra of sorts – a myriad of laughter sounds in various sizes and shapes emanating from the neighbouring ground. When we shifted home in the middle of this year, all we were in search of was a place with a good broadband connection. But, as luck would have it, we were blessed with much more.

I love the lush greens surrounding my compound walls and the colourful birds nestled amongst the branches. I love the hollering boys playing cricket in the grounds, while a few serious ones practise their yogasanas in the shade. I love the karate class kids too, especially the really little girls and boys. But, what I love most about the ground is the lessons I have learnt just by observing the laughing club members.

This group mainly consists of bright senior citizens – the politically correct term for elderly people – with a sex ratio of 1:1 and I find them really adorable. These guys start coming one by one to the ground beginning 6 am. Only when the entire group is present do they start and that happens in half an hour around 6:30 am.

Members of the Gateway to India Laughter Club in Mumbai

They quickly assemble in a circle with women and men forming half the circumference each. After the initial introductions and the calling out of consequent numbers by each member, the motley group is all energised for a session of laughter and joy.

The session begins slowly with soft giggles and then catches pace with a laughter barakhadi (ha-haa-he-hee-hu-huu-hey-heey-ho-hoo-houu-humm-hahahahaha) followed by bouts of weird body movements and sounds. Sometimes, they scare each other with a simple ‘boo’ or sometimes its a little startling roar by sticking their tongues out. Its adorable to watch the old men and women claw the air and play animal-animal. The session that started with frail laughter and gestures, then reaches a crescendo of sorts, to finally end in a full-bodied laughter, by which time the onlookers have also had a laugh or two.

But, it was never a cacophony of laughter. It had rhythm, it had style!

I remember in the beginning during my morning jogs, I was way too embarrassed to be crossing them. There they were, the wise old group laughing away to glory without a care in the world. And here was me with my extra tensed neurons and all, so conscious about my rising weight and striving to burn it out frantically as if that is the cure to all my ills.

Gradually, as the days turned into months, I developed an attachment towards them, so much so that if I did not wake up to their laughter, the day would feel incomplete. Come rain or chill, the group was always out there on the grounds, but it was only me who woke up late and missed them. I saw a month of summer followed by four months of monsoons with heavy showers welcoming the early mornings. Now, it is winter and really chilly. I don’t venture out in the morning; just a little verandah watching suffices me. But, the laughing club goes on!

As I sit beside my work table, adjacent to my large window, trying to concentrate on the smaller things in life, the things outside creep into my thoughts. More precisely from the laughing club. The discipline, the dedication, the sheer energy and will power of the group amazes me. Their approach towards laughter, the motivation they share with each other, the laughter sounds reverberating in the air is all so inspiring, that I’m all charged up and raring to go.

Yes, were it not for laughter, we would all go insane!

A solution to all our big problems

Eureka! Eureka! After deep research and many many years of observation, I’ve finally had a breakthrough as I woke up this morning. I believe I’ve discovered a solution that would eradicate all world problems. Injustice, Inequality, Inhumanity and all other ‘Ins’ that plague our world, would simply vanish if only we could build this device. Yes it certainly would! Read on…

The present situation:

Though we are always dreaming about a Utopian world, we somehow also conclude about its impracticalities before giving up altogether. We want to change our world and everything in it, but we cannot change ourselves. We all want to be human but we don’t know how. We buy ‘Be Human’ tee shirts but wear them only to conceal our souls. We give to charity so we could save on taxes.

We give to beggars but we do so by throwing a few loose change from a safe and hygienic distance. We push aside the elderly and the invalids so we could claim our ill-gotten victory. We abuse women and children and then open up institutions, NGOs and reservation schemes to satiate our urge to be ‘human’.

We create borders and then spend billions to find magical erasers to rub them off. We create weapons of mass destruction in the name of defence but use these to abolish helpless nations. We create wars so we could build a better economy for ourselves.

We have ruined all of our natural resources and now plan to ruin other planets too. We have systematically exploited the food chain but still don’t have enough to feed our greed. We know how fickle a species we are when it comes to giving back to nature, but we rather prefer to roam around with a guilt conscience. We know we are doomed but we trust we would be saved. We know we are mortal but we believe we could take it all.

What if…
  • We build a device that could calculate when we would die, right at the time of birth. (When doctors can calculate when you would come out from the womb, can’t they also calculate when you would leave the body?)
  • We are able to ‘visually map’ all our actions in this life in real-time and also after we die? These could be put on our certificates, resumes and our epitaphs as well.
  • We could communicate with all kinds of flora and fauna and be amazed at everything big and small. We could live in harmony with an ‘intelligence’ exchange with them. Remember when we had that major tsunami attack, most of the animals had moved to higher altitudes days before!
If we are equipped with this kind of knowledge, we could be forced to be human. What say?

About being the wife and little else…

It was the deciding moment in my life four years back. I had rehashed the most useful template in my entire professional life of 8 years – the resignation template and presented it to the manager. I was freed the very next moment and remember walking away crooning Queen’s ‘I want to break free’. The manager, who should be severely reclassified in the ‘Invertebrata’ family, did however butt in with free gyaan but somewhere we both realised it was late – just too late.

It wasn’t about the analyst function anymore nor was it about glass ceilings, favouritism or other office shenanigans. I just wanted to feed my heart, listen to my own song; I wanted to explore me!

I had to start early in life – started at seventeen as a field researcher with a marketing and research group, then followed pretty much anything that came my way from writing certificates in calligraphy to painting t-shirts to writing term assignments for classmates. Then took the roller coaster ride on my way to career and self fulfilment.

Alas! A series of roles  – faculty, database administrator, data analyst, quality analyst, trainer, etc. etc. but nothing that touched within, nothing at all that I would carry a piece of when I transcend. And that’s how I found myself at the edge of the cliff four years ago.

looking beyond
Image courtesy: modernlifeblogs

Today even after four years of exploration, I’ve barely scratched the surface but I do know that I can design handicrafts, logos, brochures and wedding cards. It was an unknown path but the deeper I walked in, the familiar it became and the more I wanted to waltz around. Now it is the most delightful road to be on – one that smells of familiar flowers, one where I soak in the rich journey, without a care to where I’m headed!

Though it’s strange how I travelled in search of me and found happiness instead. A good measure of true happiness for me is the ones who are happy because of you. And we can only spread happiness when we are happy inside. And we are happy when we find ourselves. So I guess its a vicious pursuit every life we lead.

But then there is an external world – a society that attaches happiness to degrees, cars and promotions. A society that is constantly wanting to make you feel small and insignificant. A society that is defined by clout and gender inequalities. Perhaps, this is going towards the scale of melodrama now, but this is how it is.

These days I hardly get to design. But I’m filling up my days with blogging and reading up every little thing to keep myself updated. Remember I write a blog along with my hubby and this keeps us occupied 24×7. There’s never a dull moment for me as I love writing and to juggle it with cleaning, cooking, sorting and other chores in a regular day, is actually testing my multitasking abilities to the core.

It’s beyond my comprehension how the human brain reconfigures itself to learning new tasks and creating new patterns of thought for a specific task. It’s like you get into something that looks uncomfortable and soon it becomes your second skin. It’s almost magical. Thinking was never so much fun!

But…I’m the wife at the end of it all and not the co-founder – at least that’s how the majority thinks! I do a fair amount of brainstorming to generate new ideas. I think as our readers do and help improve upon the design aspect. I do a lot of research as one cannot create content unless stimulated enough, unless passionate enough or better still unless she is on the wings of fire!

But when I write an article, the hubby gets all the accolades for it – he is the face of the blog after all. Though he goes out all the way to clarify but one cannot blame the world for thinking it’s a one-man show. There is a certain lady – a sharp, intelligent, business-savvy one, who is very impressed with our content and confesses to spending a few hours reading us at a stretch. She knows about the two of us. But interestingly, I do not exist for her. All her feedback and suggestions are always addressed to the Founder.

I used to attend events along with him but I’ve stopped those now. It’s like daddy has brought his little darling to office and everyone in the department wants to greet her. Of course! I’m to be blamed. I had introduced myself as ‘Wife’ and then ‘Co-Founder’, because in my mind I was only playing the supporting actor role to help my hubby – the Hero! The blog is his dream; he has spent the whole of last year writing articles every day along with his day job. I’ve come to terms with this and strangely am finding my place in his dream. When I look back to connect the dots, I see everything that I ever learned to do is now finding its rightful purpose. Much like the random, meaningless pieces of a puzzle that align themselves to finally give meaning to it. So never mind the external identity crisis as long as I am in search of ‘me’!

“It is not in the pursuit of happiness that we find fulfillment, it is in the happiness of pursuit.” ~ Denis Waitley.

‘Me’ reloaded!

Image courtesy: Yay images
I wanted to rename my blog as Satyameva Jayathe, but I didn’t. Because I couldn’t. Firstly, I do not have the means to tackle the legal notice by the biggest Khan and secondly I find the phrase quite ambiguous. It looked better in the Upanishad itself; certainly not meant for these times where the champion of the TV show translated as ‘Truth Alone Prevails’, takes a whopping sum to do so! Besides, the outrage from blogosphere for associating the phrase with a wily ‘oldfox’ surrounded by barely clad pin-up models, is absolutely beyond my tolerance threshold.

So, here I am, back again to my good old friend, philosopher and guide – my dear diary, my personal blog – oldfox004 not Satyameva Jayathe. This is the one place where I’m sure to find a listening ear and some occasional eavesdroppers too. It’s been nearly four months after the chicken pox woes and fortunately for me, the scars have faded except for a few stubborn ones that have actually darkened. The problem however, is that I can’t seem to overcome this pain of having lost my brother all of a sudden. But I am ready to talk about it now.

I wasn’t ready for this just three months after my wedding. And we had plans – he wanted to do a complete Vaastushastra study of the house we had rented, wanted to see how he could help in our business venture and so on. But Final Calls’ do not come with a reminder, do they? It’s the tenth month now that I’ve been trying all the tricks in the book. I kind of joke about him but it backstabs every time. I have inherited his Macbook, his Blackberry and all the art and design materials and I’m really happy about that. But at times, it gets to choke me up, especially when I’m whiling away. I have stopped whiling away. I try to find something to do, anything that does not involve Illustrator or pencils and colours. I learnt this technique from my mother. You see mums are always right!

Coming to the blog, I had started this with the intention to pen down my life after marriage. I did manage a few posts even with the new and alien environs. But it had started to get really difficult. And when blogging was no longer fun, I decided to quit. I tried fooling myself with micro-blogging. But Twitter is a chaotic fish market and I had nothing to sell. I even had a couple of posts typed in notepad that got deleted accidentally. And so, I became lonely again. This year, post the chicken pox, I gave it a shot once again and it was fun, in fact it was healing. But finding the time to blog as well as read other blogs became tough. I couln’t juggle around with two blogs.

As I had said earlier, my hubby and I maintain a professional blog and this takes up all my time, along with other chores. Even when I’m absolutely done with everything, the most I can do is sleep with a book, yes a book is man’s best friend after all! I just can’t relax to blog personally and whenever I had found the time, we had no internet. My internet woes could take up another post

Well, you may wonder why I’m attempting to blog again. For starters, I have organised and set up my home-office schedule. It’s been a year of learning, de-cluttering, organising and surprisingly, finding some ‘me’ time. Also, its been a year of plans getting busted and mortality getting tested! I am now very hopeful about this blog and this time around I have my nieces on blogger too!

The little Big Fight

it creeps up on me
as slimy as ever,
i writhe in its touch
entangled in its gossamer,
then it pops up a question:
“when will you, my dear?”

i jostle around
in my wonderland surreal,
juggling the question
not believing i’m in peril
i pretend to have not heard –
the omen that is now so real

the writing is etched on the wall
its naked elements exposed
i give it one last shot
perhaps it is all I’ve got
alas! the will is lost in vain…
and my conscience wins again!

P.S: every morning my conscience teases me – wake up at 6, huh?

Life 2.0

It is not often that you sit back and wonder, thanks to the paucity of time or I’d rather put it as disrespect of time. But then, some days you got to slow down. You got to ceasefire the fury of the moment and just be. Today was one such day. I asked myself ‘Where are you going?’ I’m afraid to admit though that I had no answer to that. Then I remembered a little story of two streams and found my answer.

Once upon a time, there were two streams that were flowing towards the edge of the valley. Said one stream to the other, ‘Friend, I’m afraid of the falls ahead. Why should we keep flowing like this?’ To which the other stream replied, ‘What are you afraid of? The falls should be exciting!’ The first stream said, ‘Exciting? There may be sharp boulders or slippery moss or strange creatures ahead.’ The second stream had a hearty laugh. Then as they were nearing the edge, the first stream stopped to turn his flow.

Years had passed and they say that the first stream is now a muddy mess of water infested with strange creatures. The second stream who joyfully took the plunge, faced sharp boulders, brushed through slippery moss and made friends with strange creatures, has now grown into a clear pond!

Well! Although it may seem easy, you can imagine the pain the second stream had to go through. But such is life – you got to flow to be able to grow. In this second phase of my life, which I lovingly will refer to as ‘Life 2.0’, I wish to write a little more, read a little more, be kind a little more and flow a little more.

Keep flowing. . .

Ithna sannata kyon hain bhai?

the bells have now begun to toll
the eagles above are still midair
where have all the bloggers gone,
is Twitter and Facebook, their new lair?

Now silence ain’t generally my kinda thing. Not that anybody needs to call the cops despite threats to keep me mum. But a silence of nearly a year and a half, now that IS by far a personal record! This silence (read exile) from blogosphere is like the story of the mouse that never got caught in a roomful of mousetraps and then one fine day a hungry cat spoilt the day. But I am the little mouse that never gives up, no matter how frail my chances are! With my ever piling fiscal deficit issue coupled with non-performing assets (pun intended), I guess HE has been too kind thus far.

Well, this exile has done me a world of good and most certainly raised hope for blogosphere. What with fellow bloggers and my million plus readers falling off chairs, bouncing off walls and ceilings, jumping off their roofs and threatening to file PILs at Indiblog BUT I had no such luck. Peace reigned as usual at blogosphere and my absence was appreciated. Not that I am bawling but still a little hunger strike would have been KIND, guys.

All but one – you know there’s always an egghead – egghead meaning ‘I’ll not eat till you eat’ types. Sometimes all you need is a tummy full of words, a loosening glottis and the heart melts as if it were made of candy floss and out pop the words bringing relief at last. That’s ‘blog-o-mania’ for the uninitiated. So here I am for you, you, you and the egghead of course, my kindest four! I cannot promise to be regular though – the last time I wasn’t regular, my doc suggested de-stressing!

P.S.: Thank you all for being there! Now try saying this line 10 times: ‘A cup of coffee in a proper copper coffee pot’. And yes, we could meet over coffee as soon as this damn tongue of mine gets untwisted. Cheers to 2011!!!

Will the real fat cat pls stand up?

Disclaimer: Dont read this post if you do not have any kind of personality disorder.

Will the real fat cat pls stand up?
Please stand up. Please stand up.

As u crawl thru the cables, the routers and towers
As u creep in thru the network of flyers
U burn much of ur fat-ass, n the gang’s too!
U fat old cat, clearly an imposter, aint u?
So care to stand up for who u r
Who u were n ought to be…
Will the real fat cat pls stand up?

Coz I gather, u have a life as much as I do
Go live it fatty – coz It may end soon
What? Stop staring n shut the fuck up
U r the real fat cat- go on, admit it
So will the real fat cat pls stand up?
Please stand up. Please stand up.

U’ve messed up big time, u’ve lost face, he he
U’ve only begun the realisation, oldfox, aint he?
That sly n shady, rickety old fox
N sometimes the pooh in mask
Who aint got a shot!
So care to raise ur hand at least
Tomorrow u may stand up, a lil shaky beast

Tear off those masks, burn the muti-dimensionalities
Come on, admit it, u wanna break free
Will the real fat cat pls stand up?
Please stand up. Please stand up.

P.S: Dedicated to me and my million n counting readers, who wanna break free from self-illusions and identities!