Archive for the ‘Random’ Category

Art of keeping it simple…

November 22, 2010

I am a great fan of the fine attributes of tolerance and grace, because I am not so well endowed with those. I see my mother and feel jealous about her as she has those in plenty. But no matter how hard I try, I blow my fuse at the slightest provocation. Bad habit, sooner I get rid off it, the better.

But despite the deficiencies as above, I am simple, straight as an arrow and a happy guy too. Coming to think of it, I keep my life simple like most men I know.

So this post is for my readers with a feminist slant…

How do men keep it simple…? I read a chain mail that got lodged in my inbox with the title “Why men are never depressed”…

Men Are Just Happier People– What do you expect from such simple creatures? Your last name stays put. The garage is all yours. Wedding plans take care of themselves. Chocolate is just another snack. You can be President. You can never be pregnant. You can wear a white T-shirt to a water park. You can wear NO shirt to a water park. Car mechanics tell you the truth. The world is your urinal. You never have to drive to another gas station restroom because this one is just too icky. You don’t have to stop and think of which way to turn a nut on a bolt. Same work, more pay. Wrinkles add character. Wedding dress $5000. Tux rental-$100. People never stare at your chest when you’re talking to them. New shoes don’t cut, blister, or mangle your feet. One mood all the time. Phone conversations are over in 30 seconds flat. You know stuff about tanks. A five-day vacation requires only one suitcase. You can open all your own jars. You get extra credit for the slightest act of thoughtfulness. If someone forgets to invite you, he or she can still be your friend. Your underwear is $8.95 for a three-pack. Three pairs of shoes are more than enough. You almost never have strap problems in public. You are unable to see wrinkles in your clothes. Everything on your face stays its original color. The same hairstyle lasts for years, maybe decades. You only have to shave your face and neck. You can play with toys all your life. One wallet and one pair of shoes — one color for all seasons. You can wear shorts no matter how your legs look. You can ‘do’ your nails with a pocket knife. You have freedom of choice concerning growing a mustache. You can do Christmas shopping for 25 relatives on December24 in 25 minutes. No wonder men are happier.

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Why I never felt like the Ferrari…!

November 19, 2010

When people ask me “Have you ever longed to have a better life, a better past and a better present…?” my instant answer is “No”. And they don’t believe it.
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They think I am either lying or am giving a very guarded response and concealing frustration. I tried telling them it is my nature never to regret anything in life and accept life as it unfolds, but they would have none of it. And they are not alone in feeling so.
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I go back and search my soul a bit. Why did I give such an answer…? Did I lie…? Should I be longing for what was never mine…? Should I load up my mind with “if I had that then, I could’ve been this now” kind of fallacies…?
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I am convinced I was honest. I had always been mentored by experience, never by another human or a guru. The reason being I had always trusted my instinct, my capacity to observe and learn and always felt a self-taught internal lesson lingers longer and works far better than an admonished external one. I use this pet metaphor often. What if a Ferrari that could race at a speed of 350 mph, had been driven at just 100 mph? How would it feel if it had an experiential mind of its own…? Either the driver was not enthusiastic or he was just way too risk averse. Perhaps the roads were not up. Perhaps he didn’t trust the machine. But the machine was sure it could do a 350 mph but it could do nothing to spur the driver to step on the gas. So what will it do except to despair over its helplessness…?
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If I were the machine, I would have felt helpless. But I am not. I am a human endowed with heuristics. I can think of ways and means to be the driver and the machine. This realization had gotten lodged in mind way back early in my life and had taught me never to despair, but to take a different route to hit the goal. And in 90% of the cases, I had succeeded sooner than later, and in much larger proportions than I had ever imagined. And as regards the 10% reminder, I had recognized that life never is about what you want, but what you need. Perhaps I never needed the 10% at all. The 1:9 sacrifice ratio has just been fair and nothing to be grieved over. What have I got to regret…?

That said, if I had a choice then and had not exercised it, I have room to regret. Or if I had multiple choices and had exercised the wrong one, I could feel remorse. But most occasions throw up just one choice and that having been acted upon led us to a later misery, we should learn to cope than brood over it. Again the wisdom dawns only in hindsight and not at the moment we choose to do or not do something. So never live to regret anything in life over which you had little or no control over.

I was convinced I’d given the honest answer. Worrying would have gotten me nothing. Regrets lead to disappointments and later frustration. I must thank my super set of genes that made me look inside more for answers than to look outside and seek them out from externalities that I knew I could never have controlled anyway.
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So I never felt (desperate) like the Ferrari.
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Destiny – a key to success (Speech for my daughter series)

November 11, 2010

Destiny (or Fate) refers briefly to an event or a course of events that will inevitably happen in future.
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Many believers buy the theory that no matter how systematically we plan our affairs, the end result is determined by the randomness of destiny. Be it in topping the class test or winning a Formula One car race, fate plays a major role. You could be a hard-working student with straight A’s in class tests, yet your answer sheets could be misplaced. The car tyres of a well trained and experienced Formula One motorist with an all-win track record could as well burst, costing him the race !!!
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Success – when seen as an outcome is closely linked to destiny. But does that really mean we should thump down our creative instincts and surrender to destiny completely…? Should the student stop working hard at his subjects…? Can that Formula One motorist pull out of his training regimen and bank on his luck to win the next race…? That could be disastrous.
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The difference lies in our perception of the sequence of events that is in our control and those that are not. Destiny, by its very nature is not entirely within our control to manipulate. We shouldn’t waste time figuring out how destiny will shape our future. As we all know, besides destiny, there is always an element of predictability, a cause and effect relationship in all things we do that are directly influenced by our efforts. If you buy the right ticket, reach the airport early and board the plane headed for New York, you don’t land in Khandahar unless you are hijacked. In effect, it means destiny to a significant extent is controllable. It could be a seen as a “demanding friend” and not always an arrogant big brother.
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Why did I call destiny a demanding friend…?
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If everything is pre-determined, living beings need not be endowed with the fine powers of creative thinking. Just as the course of a natural event like a sun-rise and sun-set, we need only wake up each morning, leave things to destiny and go back to bed at night – a clear no-brainer. Had that been the intent, why have we been gifted with a brain that is wired to think, plan and execute…? If we know to swim we control our destiny by not drowning even if the boat we are in springs a leak. I can say with conviction that destiny is not some omnipotent external engine, it is just a cog in our wheel. It resides within us and depends on us to do our part of the job so that it can take over and play its role to perfection. It is demanding to the point that we use our brains and do what is within our control so that like a true friend, it can influence the outcome by taking care of what is beyond us.

And success, like someone said is not a destination, it’s a journey. We should keep striving hard, the destiny will play its role and we could end up as victors in all that we set out to do.

The moral quicksand

October 13, 2010

Worst moments of life sometimes are not so personal. Journalists documenting a war, rebellion or such crisis may hate to see suffering, but that’s precisely what makes a good copy. Here’s Paul Reyes of NYT on the constant conflict of personal values with career imperatives that quietly consumes and sucks you into the quicksand of minding business other than one’s own. He covered the mortgage crisis since it blew up in 2007 and had to enter several houses deserted by vanquished owners, looking up letters and images that conveyed deep sentiments and personal anguish, not without riding a guilt-trip of gut wrenching invasion of privacy that was never intended.

Documenting a foreclosure requires invasion of privacy—an embarrassment shared by the sheriff’s deputy, a trash-out crew, a journalist or photographer. Having spent the last couple of years writing about this crisis myself, I can say that the embarrassment never fades. The sentiment in letters and photographs long abandoned never evaporates completely, no matter how moldered. This sense of invasion, oddly paired with an uncomfortable intimacy, is part of the voyeuristic tension of documenting the homes that people leave behind—sometimes in a rush that scatters toys and trophies and love letters, sometimes with the kind of order and neatness that speaks to a stubborn pride.

Boarding choice

December 2, 2008

The recent siege of Hotels (Taj and Oberoi) by Terrorists in Mumbai have sparked off several quirky foibles.

Jeff Goldberg writes in the Atlantic blog – How to stay alive in a terrorized hotel.

 

Goldberg suggests some practical tips to stave off hostile situations.  Check it out. Avoid staying in big hotels,  stay in 4th, 5th or 6th floor rooms so that a fireman can easily reach through his ladder, stick to room service and avoid being seen at the lobby 😦 , map your escape route soon after you check in, fill your bathtub with water to put off fires, stay in already bombed hotels etc.

 

My reaction after reading that was mixed. Is it not some kind of an extreme to try and plan everything to the T?  What is the probability of one being in the wrong hotel?  Aren’t you ruining your vacation by imagining dreadful things and preparing for it?  I have a better idea – never leave home 🙂

 

I am loath to pedantic existence ; might as well believe in destiny.  By pulling the randomness out of life, the thrill and cheer of surprises in life is sought to be deprived.  It turns pretty mundane and hardly there could be anything worse. Whatever is bound to happen will happen. A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it. To be too conscious is an illness. Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through.  Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it.  Isn’t it kind of death? 

 

Truth hurts – not the searching after; the running from!  Also there is no point in leading a crippled life after jumping from the 4th, 5th or 6th floor in case if there were more people to be rescued than ladders around…

Cleaning-up

October 28, 2008

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Too much of bad news, depressed sentiments and the all round talk of slowdown was bad enough for me to plan a getaway in the serene hills of Mussoorie in Northern India… Family was so happy and now I am totally consumed by the beauty of the hills, some fantastic weather and too much of good food (Tibetan and Chinese restaurants galore here!) to think of anything else and that includes business.

Will be back by first week of November and then readers, let’s pick up the gauntlet of surviving lean times and fine tuning the art of swimming upstream… Look forward to some superb shots of the hills as well 😉

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Dream list and Wall Street mess

October 1, 2008

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Busy looking up Forbes Fab 400.  Grrrrrunt….sighhhhhhhh… my name is not yet on it.  And you’re not on that list either (unless someone is reading it to you! 😉

 

How do people get in there?  Simple. Notch up $1.3 billion minimum networth.  A task made slightly easier because of a falling dollar in case if you happened to work outside US.  I scan each one of them (and let my imaginations run wild – it’s easy!).  Not all have earned it.  Most got there because their rich dad dropped dead.  Good Luck to the fortunate few!

 

Coming to think of it, the entire Wall Street mess can be fixed if these 400 guys donated half their wealth (averaging $3.5 billion) to that $700 billion kitty. No need for congressional approval or for Hank Paulson to go down on his knees.  No need to tax the poor guy setting off moral hazard alarms. He is not going to stake claim for the riches that Wall Street may offer (if and when it turns the corner), so you guys can split it back again in the ratio of your contribution.

 

I can safely say this as long as I don’t figure in that list.  When I do – no marks for guesses.  This is how I will likely go — “Sure lets give more money to people that just finished ripping us off! I tell you what… the best thieves in the world can make stealing 700 billion dollars look legal!  This bail out “plan” was in part initiated by a man, Treasury Secretary Paulson, who was paid $42 million in his last year on Wall Street and helped engineer this fiasco. America, you have a man in charge who was part of the problem and not the solution. To him your few thousand dollars share of the bail out is pocket change – so why raid us?”

 With that, I’ll tuck away my wallet 🙂

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Random flotsam

September 29, 2008

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Bitter times make way for wry humor.  I can’t spend the rest of my life griping about deals that have slowed down, decision makers dragging feet.  It just is part of life. The other extreme is despair, clearly not an option for one with my supersized ego.  I have already taken three fortnightly vacations (to shake off the blues and to get some creative distraction) and the fourth is commencing by mid Oct and will last thro to its end.

 

Getting a lot of time to read and reflect.  Stock market, across sectors is going one way, that is down.  S&P Nifty closed 5% down today. Natural gas is puffing up, Steel is slimy. Paper is stationary. Retail is just left with a  tail. Pencils lost a few points. Power equipment is weak. Infrastructure is fluid, while refrigerators freeze. Light switches were off.  Iron ore mines turn empty craters. Diapers remained unchanged. Shipping lines stayed at an even keel. Consumer goods are bad because soaps don’t wash. And batteries exploded in an attempt to recharge the market.

 

I could focus a lot more on what’s happening around. Parents play a lot lesser role in bringing up kids. I see them bringing kids up only in elevators at the supermarket. In real life kids get what they want (unlike our times) and do what they like.  In effect, they raise themselves.  My daughter just got herself admitted to a keyboard class and asks me to finish the other formalities – to pay up !

 

So I settle down to talk to her about the importance of saving money early.  (No, she hasn’t shot back “Did you?”)  But how can I tell her to put her money in that big Bank because piggy banks don’t pay interest?  She reads newspapers and is already asking why big Banks go the Big Bang way?  Silly me, talking of trusting banks to the 13 year old that reads papers and watches TV.  She just told me her piggy bank will never go down with her money nor would she let Wall Street `uncles’ raid her nest.  I am buying her another piggy bank – capital protection comes first!

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Junk’em !!!

September 1, 2008

The irrepressible urge to do justice to one’s own intellect differentiates the great from the good.  It’s like that inner voice that won’t leave us alone.  Something that tells us from deep inside that we are cut for a higher purpose that is being currently denied unjustly.  Go, get it!

To know that purpose, we will have to cut through a lot of clutter.  There is way too much garbage – in the form of irrelevant information – that clogs our minds. Sherlock Holmes’ concept of not allowing even particular knowledge, which may not be useful, to be accumulated needlessly, is a guideline.  Then there is Lin Yutang: “Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials”.  Free up memory to store much needed stuff.


Those of us who dare to be different and desire to rise above mediocrity, would also not fight shy of side-stepping from and eliminating needless relationships, commitments, transactions, social visits and such issues that are no longer meaningful, once the vision is set clear.  It’s likely that this approach may meet with hostility, scorn or even ridicule. The spirit of the injunction in Taittiriya Upanishad is to be involved only with those which are necessary and not any other.  Learn to junk stuff and just deal with essentials – what is to be done today. Knocking stuff off relieves a lot of you.

When you’re done, see whether the sky has fallen. See whether you’ve terminally fallen behind competition or lost ground in your career progression.  Check out if your worst fears have come to pass. 

They must have.

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Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing

July 6, 2008

 

Winning as a commodity is in desperate short supply in our lives.  It isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.  That’s the reason why I liked the U-boat metaphor in the expression “if you sink, sink like a submarine”.  It exhorts us to triumph against all odds and resurface.  While winning is important, we should build resilience to face defeat.

Winning is important because it validates excellence.  It blunts the naysayers. The winner displays an energy that only he knew existed.  While in the trenches, skeptics stare him down with the spiteful expression – “what makes you think you are unlike the rest of us, you idiot”.  The mainstream majority is so awash with egomania that doesn’t easily recognize the winner’s right to be different. All is fine if he joins them, loses all exclusivity, never rises above mediocrity.  Trudge along – is the norm.   

Achievers don’t really conquer anything more than their own worst fears and self-doubts. Winning needs a good combination of gut instinct as well as strategy with dollops of positive outlook and self-estimation. They start on some impulse that gets iterated gradually.  The scathing derision from all around can hurt while starting out. Face up to it and it fades away.  Then you are on your own, on the path to victory leaving all else behind, way behind.

That scares them.  Know why? Short-term thinking and risk aversion dominate this planet.  A person like me who embraces intelligent risk and thinks decades ahead doesn’t fit in very well here.  That was a bit of a problem for me when I was younger, but now I just embrace it.  It’s simply who I am.  I get all the support I need from my connection to my purpose and from feeling a sense that I’m working to serve all that I believe in.  The whole world could turn against me, and it wouldn’t make me want to give up.  It would probably just inflame me more.  I never get discouraged because I believe my approach to life will produce some amazing results in the long run.  It’s only a matter of time. I overcome fear of risk by tapping ever more deeply into what I love most.  The thought of taking a risk produces excitement instead of anxiety.

Go find an intelligent risk you can take today.  Most likely it won’t pan out.  But what if it does?  Celebrate either way because no matter what the outcome, you’ll gain courage just by making the attempt.  Recognize that there is no safety in passivity either.