Don’t do it because of someone else

The sole purpose of lives of certain people is to prove it to a certain ‘XYZ’. It is ok to be inspired because of a certain incident with XYZ which helped you realise your true calling but to live your life to prove it to this XYZ who doesn’t give a FUCK about you anymore is plain stupid.

Over bottles of beer when the conversation gradually streamed towards life aspirations and future plans, I drew a blank but some of them around me were full of confidence and surety and had the perfect answer to the typical HR question – ‘Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?’. He wanted to be one of the most successful entrepreneur who is talked about by the most popular financial newspapers. Perfectly Fine. But hold on. He wanted to carry that newspaper to the house of his ex girlfriend and throw it on the face of the woman whom he once thought would be his mother in law.

We all look for inspirations around us and many of us aspire to be like someone in one way or the other. The Indians of the last two decades  wanted to be the Sachin Tendulkar of cricket while many follow Virat Kohli today. The bollywood had the Khans ruling, we have the Elon Musk and the Mark Zuckerbergs in running successful businesses and then we have Warren Buffet and Rakesh Jhunjhunwala as investment kings. Maybe not be a replica but we try and follow what lot of these successful people have done in their respective domains.

On the other hand some of us are inspired by a failure to stand up and do well again. Way back during school days I had a friend who scored 1/5 in dictation test of a regional language. Technically he failed in the test – for the first time ever. He was heart broken because he was a ranker. But then he did not let that be the bearish phase of his life. That was the lowest he had ever been. He picked himself up from there and in the annual average he scored a 4.5 on 5.

Even circumstances at times hit us on the face and we are pushed to the wall only to come out stronger than before. Have read several stories on quora about a women coming out of an abusive marriage to take care of herself and her child, a child standing up to the sudden death of his/ her father to shoulder responsibilities of the household.

But revenge for a living can be disastrous. And I am not even getting to the political divide we see in our daily lives these days. All I am saying that living it out to prove it to a third person. Yes, third person because that someone is not part of your daily routine and yet they play a major havoc in your life. If you have seen 3 idiots, you’ll remember that bet wherein if Aamir went and proposed Kareena, Sharman would give an interview without those ‘lucky’ rings and Madhavan would opt for the Photography internship. And then the conversation that Madhavan’s dad made all the sacrifices for his engineering entrance and not the neighborhood uncle. They moved out of the cycle of being controlled by a third person.

How different is it from being possessed by someone else? All your actions are motivated by that. On a rather more common note in today’s life, it is about proving to the society that I am capable of doing this. Several people give multiple attempts of JEE to qualify into an IIT or maybe multiple attempts of the CA examination and spend years behind obtaining that paper degree. Yes, those degrees hold a lot of value but is all the mental stress and depression and years of exile worth it? Do it because you want to do it and not because SharmaJi kya kahenge.

Nobody is expecting you to do something drastically different than the general. We don’t expect every individual to stand out in the crowd. It is perfectly fine to be a commoner – aam aadmi (without any direct or indirect reference to the Delhi based political outfit) but do it because that is how you see yourself and fight it out if that’s not what you want to be. That Anu Aunty is not going to feed you when you’re unwell. She will not hold your hand and pick you up when you are fallen. That girl whom you broke up with half a decade back is probably going to mother a child with another man. Don’t ruin your life for someone else. That moment gave you that motivation to do soemthing in life and make something out of yourself. Everybody is not Salman Khan from Sultan to get Arifa after pursuing your dreams because she dared you to do so. Life is not a Bollywood film.We all should just try to be a human being.

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Image source: Google

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Do photographs serve as visual memories?

We were on a recent trip to Ladakh and during the 12 day tour we clicked close to 2400 photographs (and there were no females in the group) that makes it 200 per day. We were outside the hotel for say around 10 hours, that makes it 20 clicks an hour or say a click every 3 minutes. I am not sure what is the global average but in hindsight I think that’s really a big deal.

With the advent of high resolution front cameras, DSLR’s, Go Pro and let’s not forget the selfie stick, the current generation seems to be obsessed with capturing every moment in their photo gallery.

Google recently announced that Google Photos hosts close to 24 billion selfies across 200 million users and stored around 13.7 petabytes of photos.

I come from the generation which has used those old film roll cameras and think 10 times before every click and we have over time graduated to this digital age quite comfortably. These days, every vacation ensured charged up cameras with extra sufficient memory space.

In a recent chat with a friend whom I was blackmailing not to share the photos, his only point of argument to receive the galleria was to retain them as memories. And that got me wondering, do photographs serve as visual memories? Why do we want to capture and record everything we do. It is like being under the watch every second and enjoying it just so that you can go back in time some day in future.

I am sure on the trip we spent much more than that 3 minute per click to get the perfect pose with the right setting, background and lighting and of course the retakes. And then at times I felt that how can we capture everything from being behind the lens while the real beauty of nature was in front of us. Is it to relive the days again in future? But then do we need to spend most of our time clicking photos? Will not a few photos suffice. And again how often do we scroll through the albums – I rarely do so.

I love clicking photographs (amateur clicks) and am rarely in front of the camera but that doesn’t justify anything for either parties. And I am sure this is not just with us. During the trip at most of the locations all we saw were people getting off their vehicle –> getting a few clicks here and there at the touristry location –> getting back into the vehicle and moving on. Nobody sits down in a corner and admires what the surrounding has to offer or the importance of the location. Isn’t that what a vacation is supposed to be or is it more important to be clicked at a location to be later updated on FB (fortunately net connectivity was poor during our trip) and boasting of your recent photo travel (and not vacation). We just jump from one spot to another, spend a few minutes (mostly taking photos) and move on.Vacations are supposed to be relaxing and not be stressed about clicking amazing photos of yourself or probably photo shoot for the next DP.

I am as much a criminal of this ‘click’ syndrome as I am a victim. During my solo trips earlier to different locations, I hardly clicked photographs. Probably the ‘click’ syndrome is contagious. Yes, I do check some of my photographs back in time to soak in the fun I had and the time I spent at those destinations, but that were just a few here and there.

My solo trips generally meant click a snap or two, spend a few hours at the locations, a few snaps again and move on. It definitely gives me a lot more ‘me’ time as well, time to sit back and think, probably over think. But on the photo travels I now feel like a walking photographer (with no offence to them) but it questions the whole idea of taking a vacation – we break free from our daily routine to jump into a ‘click’ cycle.

Just happened to read this on my FB timeline which probably answers the question – ‘I think part of the reason people take photos because they’re afraid that moment will never happen again.’

Leaving all of you with this and some glimpses:

“Sab yaadein tasveero mein ked nahin ki jaa sakti,
Tasveer toh murjha jaati hai,
Par ehsaas humesha ke liye reh jaata hai.”

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Previous Blog Post – The Second Best

The Second Best

Since my childhood there has been a quote which has driven me to do better and even a lot of crazy things which when I look back today seem stupid. A friend of mine had put this quote across to me and I seem to have never gotten rid of it all these years:

‘The person who stands second in a race is the first loser’.

How true it is? Isn’t it. We always strive to give our best but that is very different from always wanting to be the best. I kind of fell into the nerd category in school and was one of the toppers throughout my school life. And the only question I was generally asked at home after every result is – who topped? Ofcourse the reactions were worth capturing when it would be me but that is not what this is all about.

As part of the societal regime, especially in the Indian context, we are always taught to be the best of what we do. Settling for being the second is considered inferior. Even corporates like the General Group operate with a policy of being the first or second in the industry they operate in on exit the business. Profits unknown.

I have heard of lot of speeches that nobody remembers the second one. Like the second person to step on moon; the second president of India; the runner up at a recent competition, etc

What is this obsession of ours with being on the top of the category always and demean the person who comes second or maybe third or say 10th. While handling the placement cell for the educational institute I am currently associated with, I had a run in with one of the companies we were onboarding. They had an issue with people who qualified as professionals in a second try. Is it the case that you are not as competent as people who have qualified in the first attempt?

The recent spate of articles on Flipkart vs Amazon battle on who is the best based on GMV or customer satisfaction or whatever. It doesn’t matter who has a better market share. The news should not be about that. It could be a good metric on who is performing better. It is definitely not the case that the other ecommerce giant is not doing their best. Again we have the Snapdeals, PayTm and shop clues of the world battling for the same pie of the cake and media quotes them as always in the catching up phase.

We should not forget that the person who comes second or say qualifies in an additional attempt may have also put in equal amounts of efforts as anyone else if not else. Probably the person who came last also may have given his personal best but just couldn’t scrape through as the best in a given situation.

But we only talk about the best. It is all about the rat race to reach to the top position and there is absolutely nothing wrong with having such aspirations. We want to be the best employee, the best parents, the child. But all this at the cost of stop being ourselves?

Why do you want to be the best of everything? And mind it that is very different from giving it your best shot. Remember the dialogue from 3 idiots – ‘Jab dost fail ho to dukh hota hai, par top kare toh aur bhi zyada dukh hota hai’. Why, because that person is not you.

Is it the fear of failures? Is it like log kya kahenge? It is because of these undefined ‘log’ that SharmaJi ka beta topped the school and did nothing else and all other kids in the society were apparently shamed. And this is why we hear about all those Kota suicides for instance.

Let’s stop being obsessed with being the best, working in the best company, eating out at the best restaurant. Let’s start delivering our best and being happy about it. You did not win the first prize at the project in college, people will forget it in a week but the psychological damage you do to yourself and people around you is not reversible.

You were not awarded the best employee, doesn’t matter. Don’t be jealous, don’t be let down. You are your own best. Strive to be better; don’t think to pull others down and in the process don’t burn yourself out.

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Image Source: Google

We could have been better friends

I am not referring to that best buddy of yours whom you are not in touch with. It is not your childhood friend whom you lost on the way to becoming an adult. It is not that girl you broke up with a year back.

It is someone with whom you have hardly spent time with. Do you remember that person you met on the train to Surat or Delhi or Chennai? You spoke for hours on the journey and did not realise the destination has arrived. For some reason you did not exchange numbers. All you know is the name which you could not find on Facebook. But you felt the positive vibe from that person.

Maybe that person you met on a camping trail on an relatively unknown lake and conversations began by the bonfire. You discussed life with them. And then you came back to your city to the regular routine. Some days of solitude takes you back to the night.

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That colleague in office with whom you shared your lunch. You met them only at the lunch table and once you left the organisation, no more lunches and no more lunch table gossips.

There are so many such people you meet in your everyday life. You meet them in random ways, say on a travel trek, on some journey, at the bar, a friends friend, or an acquaintance in a new city And that evening or night is lit up by a random discussion. It could be about life in general and you share as if you know each other since ages; it could be from history to mythology to politics to romance to bollywood to life aspirations. There is no set agenda. But the warmth in that conversation is profound. You talk about dark secrets about that missed bus about the mistake you made; the highs and lows of your life.

And mostly the exchange of words just end there. The conversation becomes your highlight for a while till you gradually get sucked into the daily chore. And then weeks later when you are again in a similar setting your memories gradually pull you back wishing things to be slightly different from thereon. But maybe its a different person this time; maybe just you yourself. Maybe you could have continued the conversations after returning to normalcy. Its probable that one of you did take the initiative and the other did not respond. But isn’t that how life is?

Some of these individuals just enter our lives to change the course of its direction, change how we think, at times simplifying life and at times complicating it. There are times when such people help you find answers to questions you have been avoiding for long; and at times questions the entire basis of your living. You may never meet them again, rarely strike a conversation again but that day is etched and between the two of you what is left is Facebook likes.

But its good to meet such people in such random settings. They don’t judge you for what you have been around in your regular day. They take you at face value and talk as friends whom both of you can trust for that portion of time atleast. You don’t have to pretend to be agreeable or disagreeable. And the best part is, it doesn’t matter what part of you they take back with them as you may never meet each other again. It helps you lighten down on your thoughts. And many times lets you talk about things you couldn’t even speak to your best buddy about.

Maybe you could have been better friends, maybe the universe felt it is better that the bonhomie was limited to that single conversation.

Somewhere we grew up

Don’t grow up. Growing up is a trap. And this all growing up has taken up all of my childhood and teen years already. And of course let’s not forget the quarter life crisis.

We always thought that get these schools, books and exams out of my life and life would be so awesome. But then we always forget the rule – the world is round and so is Karma. To get something, you give up something. We gave up on our school to become working professionals and all we got is the laptop, cubicle and the boss.

It’s like resources – they just take up another form; but never cease to exist. Life is a vicious cycle and not heard of many who have been able to tread past the same successfully. From our childhood we have been trained to put on blinkers and think in a particular manner; that life is all about the bank account credits on the 1st and bank account debits on the 2nd and low on balance on every 31st.

In school we used to dream a new career choice every few months. From being a fireman to an astronaut to being a doctor or a pilot or a police officer. A new chapter in class would give us new hopes in life. Most of these would end with the terminal exams and we would be back after the summer break with new stories and ready to live another dream. Now we just click on the HR portal to check the accumulated  leave balance and hoping to utilize them some day. Somewhere in between those four barriers of the cubicle, we stopped dreaming. We stopped believing in a world outside office and home; and travel means from your home to office and dreams started limiting themselves to the annual vacation at the discretion of your boss.

The monthly pay checks – the bills, the insurance, the EMI’s clipped our wings and we thought that the teachers and parents were the main cause of all our life problems in those days. We still love to fight for that window seat. We still get excited by looking at a plane take off or land. But now the emotions and feelings are stark apart. From dancing in the rain to looking for a roof during rains; from swimming at the beach to a stroll down the beach – we all grew up.

But that’s how life is right. Never happy and satisfied with what we have. We always want something that we do not have. That’s what we live for and hope to achieve some day. If people ask me what decision I would like to rewind again if given an opportunity to – it definitely would be the idea of becoming an adult. Get me those books, teachers and school all over again. Get me those boring school uniforms and let me play hide and seek with my childhood friends all over again. But like some dreams are never fulfilled and they have a crash landing; the dream to be a child all over again is just going to be in my diary.

Somewhere between those break ups and failures I realised that the scratch on my leg while playing football wasn’t all that painful. Somewhere in trying in to fit into the shoes of our parents we stopped being a child. Somewhere while trying to fit into these societal customs of the world, we stopped being ourselves.

And then somewhere between ‘kya karoon’ to kab karoon’ – life just changed. From talking without thinking to thinking before talking –  our priorities changed. From the long gossip sessions at the back of your building to the coffee break gossip sessions – some moments did not change but the intentions did.

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In the quest to grow up, life took a back seat.

Somewhere between ‘Let’s meet and plan’ to ‘Let’s plan to meet’ we all grew up. Somewhere in between all those jokes, a child inside me is dead but we have grown up now.

Image source: Google

The Choice

I was recently reading a book by Nicholas Sparks – ‘The Choice’ – yes by the same name as this blog post. In the book there is a point in time when the female protagonist needs to make a choice between her current boyfriend and the man she fell in love over the weekend.

And in the later half the author had to make a choice between snapping the feeder tube from her wife who was in coma or hanging on till eternity maybe.

We live most of our lives just tossing a coin and wanting to know whether Heads is the way to go or Tails it is.

The option was to take Commerce or Science.

The option to study in the same country or abroad.

The option to chose a Job or Entrepreneurship.

The option was of Love Marriage or Arranged.

Some of these are simple right. We all have been in that situation and pointed in a particular direction and rarely looked back.

Now how about someone wanting to pursue Chartered Accountancy after failing all the engineering entrance exams?

How about a divorce after 10 years of marriage?

To quit your current high profile job to start your own dream cafe?

Most of our epic life decisions are always about choice. You choose between several options that life throws at you. Some maybe obvious choices that you don’t realise that it was a choice you made subconsciously. And let’s limit to actual regular decisions and not about impulsive decisions.

To read this post further or not to read it at all. To be friends with someone or not to be.

Its a choice we need to make between taking the path usually traveled upon or the unknown.

The choice to be or not be in a relationship. You need to decide whether you want to try harder to get to where you want to or just stop by and let it go. I’m sure most of the people would say ‘Try Harder’ but sometimes it is better to ‘Walk Away’ and that could be a tougher path to go down on. As someone recently quoted, ‘Moving on’ is not forgetting, it is being able to remember without being hurt.

Its a girl who decided to stay in an abusive relationship. Its a guy who decides to be emotionally strangled by someone else.

A lot of our choices also influence lives of others whose daily chores are intertwined with ours.

For a women to decide whether she wants to be a mother or not?

I happened to see Ki and Ka recently. It was his choice to be a house husband and her choice to have a successful career. It is not necessary that the path taken will always be right and not even necessary that people around you would be happy with what you choose. But its your life and you need to take shots on where you see it taking off the runway or running down the drain.

We have all heard of a couple shifting cities because the man got a promotion. But there are instances when the coupled moved because the wife got a promotion. He followed her. It was a choice both of them made.

In life there are instances when we have to make a choice whether other people like it or not. Choice to never get married? Choice of not being a part of the rat race? Choice of not conceiving? Choice to give up all your worldly possessions to live life like a Nomad? Some decisions are difficult but that doesn’t mean the end of the world.

The choice to leave behind all that you have to experience something you have never done before to explore the unknown route not being sure whether you’ll come back.

The decision to chase your dreams or sacrifice everything you own. Some choices come easy, some decisions are definitely hard.

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Our lives revolve around that Head or Tail. And it’s almost never that ‘Jis Din Apni Kismat Ka Sikka Chalega,Us Din Heads Bhi Apna Aur Tails Bhi’

The Choice to hold that hand and walk side by side or the Choice to grab the hand and lead or the Choice to leave that hand behind and move on.

Photo Credits: Haranish Mehta

Talk and Listen at the same time

Standing up and speaking takes a lot of courage.

Sitting down and listening takes more than that.

Everybody has a story. Some do not talk about it. Most of them are not heard by others because we are all too busy in our ‘me too’ storytelling.

How often we have felt the urge to talk but then soon set aside the thought because you’re not sure if anybody would be willing to listen. And then the cliched – ‘Some will not care, most people will be happy that you have a problem’.

Is it that we talk only about our problems. There is so much that forms part of a conversation. But more important is to have a conversation. There is so much exchange of thoughts and ideas that can take place in a conversation as opposed to a monologue.

Listening is not limited to your daily chores and personal life. It could be related to anything, maybe your business idea or maybe the next international tour you’re planning. Maybe some inputs somewhere could change the course of action. Maybe just a talk and it does nothing to you but for the joy of the talk.

But unfortunately, we are all so vested with our thoughts and opinions that many a times we do not care about what the other person is saying and just ignore it.

We all have had that 3am craving right?

Sometimes its good to slow down and listen to what the other person is saying. I have had some of my best conversations over a bottle of beer at a bar in Jaipur or on the hills of Chail or at a rooftop hotel at Dubai Marina. The setting doesn’t matter. I probably meet them once a year and are hardly socially connected but then the feel good factor continues.

Ideally, for awesome conversations – just to talk or listen, it just has to be the two of us. Those conversations have lasted for hours where from speaking about the family issues to your heartbreak to marriage to personal ambitions.

You don’t need to be prompted to talk or listen in such situations – it just flows out. You cannot and should not force a person to talk or listen – if it has to happen, will happen – you cannot plan around a conversation.

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But the best part is those conversations just end there. It is never brought up again neither in public and rarely in private. But those conversations have an everlasting impact on your relationships. Conversations build a bond and lack of them develop cracks. And you know that someday if you need to pick up the phone and talk to someone, it has to be one of those people itself.

Everybody has gone through a roller coaster in their life. Some people know how to sell it. Some just manage to live with it.

What is important is your inclination to talk and listen. A person does not feel comfortable talking to you if you’re not willing to let your guard down. How many times we have prepared ourselves for a talk and realize later that none of those points ever came up.

Let it be a free flow of feelings when such moments happen, don’t be deceptive; let down the mask. These may not happen with your colleagues or best friends – it can happen with acquaintances in random daily life situations. Don’t stop yourself, Don’t hold yourself back.

It’s good to talk your heart out; it’s awesome to listen as well 😉