In Search of Happiness

I sipped aromatic tea slouching in my rocking chair, aroma of rain drops mixing with dry soil and whispers of gentle breeze took me down the memory lane. Images of my childhood to teens, from my university days to my marriage, from my first job till few days back became vividly alive. All images conveyed me one thing in common, I had an extremely happy past, yet I wasn’t happy today…. In my present. It suddenly reminded me of the fact that at every stage of my life I had remembered my past and found that my past was happier and present wasn’t, rather present was sad at the least.

While a kid I had many good friends, we played, quarrelled, laughed and enjoyed to gather. We had almost everything, hand chiselled cricket bats rubber balls and a big playground to play. Yet I did not enjoy it, I wanted a real bat, a leather ball and pads to play and that all eluded me and so did the ability to enjoy those moments.

As I grew up I had a real bat, leather ball and pads too, yet I wasn’t happy. But I wanted to be a better player. Many more unfulfilled desires played havoc with my ability to stay happy. I must confess, I desired almost everything before the time was ripe to possess it.

While in class four I wanted to be in class six, I just could not wait to write with a pen. And pen was allowed only in class six. I simply did not enjoy what happened in class 4. I wasn’t happy while in class 4 because others, I assumed, were happier than me, simply because they were in class six. Nevertheless I arrived in class 6, already having realised happiness is not in writing with a pen, and real happiness was in being in college, after all it relieved me of the strict discipline of school. Freedom, I realised, was real happiness.

College was not far off, I got subjects of my choice, very good teachers to teach. I went around with my friends, we played music on canteen desks, we screamed, we yelled and we laughed a lot. But those in class six while I studied in class four had made to medical colleges and many had girlfriends as well. I wasn’t in a medical college, I assumed being in medical college was perhaps a precondition for a girl to fall for me. I wondered, what use this freedom is of if I don’t have a girlfriend.

I and my best friends would go out for strolls daily dreaming about a bright and better future. We would talk for hours on how happy we will be in years to come. The cups of tea and sumptuous servings of jalbis we had to gather, did not please us as much as their memories do today.

I realize today, my unfulfilled desires had good friends, comparisons and jealousy which made my life miserable.

I never went to medical college and never had a girlfriend as well. But I went to university, studied Management and lived in hostel. The days spent there still bring smile on my face. But I wasn’t in a best ranked university and my room did not have an attached toilet. There were hostel mates who could spend much more than me. And yes, I did not have a motorbike as well. I knew I will be happy when I have all this. Only once I get a good job.

I got a job, a motorbike, luxurious room and I spent generously. But those in class six had married by now, had kids and drove cars. I wasn’t happy yet, but happiness wasn’t far away, I assured myself. Dreams started becoming a reality, I married a loving girl, and have a daughter, own house, good income and two cars. Almost everything that the class six guys have, and almost everything much more than I ever dreamt of. But the cars are not big enough, after all my neighbour owns bigger ones.

By now drizzle had stopped, I had a heavy heart and I decided to go out for a long walk. As I walked by the nearby slum, I heard incoherent voices singing folksongs while music was being played with spoons and other utensils, scantily clad kids danced, everyone there was so happy. I stopped by and shook my legs with them. They offered me a worn out chair and a cup of tea. Chair did not rock but trembled, tea was too sweet for my taste and wasn’t that aromatic, but was much tastier. Ah!! Slum dwellers too were much happier than me as was my neighbour.

I perhaps am Sisyphus, the king of Ephyra….. the baggage I carry never lets me realise that happiness is now and here.

Beginning of Doubt is End of Faith

Krishn says in The Bhagwat Gita, fearlessness is granted to the ones who surrender in front of me. Fearlessness is not a tangible thing which one can have once he surrenders in front of God. Fearlessness for sure is a state of mind.  Then why at all do we need to surrender in front of God, He, for sure is no narcissist, and we can always get into that state of mind at our own.

It’s not that in case you surrender in front of God you will be absolved of all kinds of worldly sufferings and you can continue to live without fear of any suffering. If you are born you must go through the cycle of happiness and misery, brightness and darkness, hope and frustration, joy and grief, success and failure and so on.

Surrender makes you indifferent to such cycles. Your life becomes a straight line with no slope, nothing weavers it. The slope if at all exists is that of spiritual elevation, the realisation of more harmonious waves emanating from you. You keep deploying efforts but are indifferent to all that the efforts reap, good or bad, you keep aiming higher. Indifference does not mean you have no aim, you simply surrender desires associated with those aims.

Bible describes Jesus saying during crucifixion, “God have you forsaken me.” He was distracted from his vision of God, while being crucified by the pain inflicted upon him, it was not that Jesus doubted that the God would forsake him, but what worried him was how worldly pain could distract him from God. The unfettered faith that he had in God let him go in for crucifixion without feeling pain for long, and that was fearlessness.

Guru Gobind Singh Ji let his three Sahibzadas (sons) get entombed alive, refusing to bow in front of a tyrant, that was faith he had on his mission, he surrendered everything to that mission, and that was fearlessness. That’s when ‘Khalsa- The Pure’ came into existence. If you haven’t surrendered completely and have a grain of doubt within you, you are not Khalsa.

Mahatma Gandhi, after he was thrown out of train, chose nonviolence as his weapon, that was fearlessness and that came from the faith in the strength of nonviolence. He completely surrendered to the idea of nonviolence.

Bhagat Singh, after killing Saunders and throwing bombs at parliament could have escaped, yet he got himself captured. He had completely surrendered to the idea of enlightening the fire of nationalism in Indians by self-sacrifice.

Fearlessness is complete faith in any noble idea, that noble idea is God and unflinching faith is surrender. The moment your faith weavers you feel the pain and joy of happiness and misery, brightness and darkness, hope and frustration, joy and grief, success and failure and so on.

Fearlessness makes one realise the futility of abundance and absence of worldly things. Once fearless you realise the futility of absence and presence of almost everything you desired.

A grain of Doubt in the thought process of Jesus while he was undergoing made him realise he was undergoing pain. A grain of doubt on the holiness of his mission would have made Guru Gobind Singh not so great. A grain of doubt in Mahatma’s mind would have left us devoid of the great philosophy he gave to mankind. A grain of doubt in Bhagat Singh’s mind would have left him as ordinary as anyone amongst us.

An incomplete thought, blanks to be filled in by you.

 

Online Identity- A Double Edged Sword

As a child I saw shopkeepers sell goods to us, we had a need and went to buy, say a shirt, and ended up buying not we were willing to buy but what the shopkeeper wanted to sell. Sales man typically meant a street smart person, who could sell a comb to a bald man. The shopkeepers typically shoved down our throats what they felt like selling. We bought a refrigerator because the shopkeeper said it was best in the market, I bought a shirt as the shopkeeper felt I looked really good in it.

It all largely happened as the choices we had were limited. One or two shops for each kind of product and all mutually exclusive. Buying services also was more of a forced sale on us. Buying Life insurance was always obligatory in nature.

Expansion of economy, an aware customer, more competition and the internet have changed it all. Traditional ways of selling and buying are dying a sure death, if at all they haven’t died yet. The introduction of multiple brands in 90’s and increase in disposable incomes of people made customer much more assertive. He had many places to buy from, no matter how small the town was. Treatment the customer got from shopkeeper suddenly became better, shopkeeper knew customer has 4 more places to go, margins for sellers started dwindling but at the same time volumes saw an upsurge. The surge in volumes was disproportionate when compared to the reduction in margins, this lead to increase in choices from same seller.

With the turn of century a great revolution happened, internet took centre stage. Almost everyone started having online identity, almost everything is talked about online. Online identities have a typical digression from traditional identities businesses and people had, traditional identities were built and maintained on one to one basis. The owner of the identity was solely responsible for building it. Internet and social media changed the process of building identities, you like it or not business and personal identities are built in collaborative manner now. Customers contribute in the way how you as a business will be seen by others. Your personal twitter, FB whatsapp etc accounts and reaction of people to you decides how you will be seen as an individual.

digital_identity_by_rainspeak-d4m28vz

E-commerce has typically leveraged it. You buy anything online which has positive reviews. The reviews are collaborative brand building for given product.

A customer before walking into a shop to buy a refrigerator or another white good does an extensive research on models he has shortlisted to buy. Again a collaborative brand building. Handful of negative reviews online kill the product.

No one is pushing a product down the customers throat now. Customers are buying now, buying what their opinion tells them to buy. Customer assists other customer. Almost all business entities have to have an online identity, if one does not have one he is going to get left out pretty fast.

The products or services which haven’t built themselves a digital identity are going to suffer. A typical example being the Life insurance products. The organisations which are offering lesser ‘buy online’ options are suffering loss of market share. If as a seller of life insurance you are conspicuously absent online you already are a looser. Life insurance industry typically suffered from this, it hasn’t grown in same proportion as the awareness about life insurance has grown. On contrary the Health insurance has leveraged its self online and the market for it is exploding. Life Insurance industry, partly due to regulatory framework and partly due to indifference of organisations remains a push sales industry, unfortunately push does not work now a days, its pull sales which happen.

Online identities and collaborative brand building have assisted transformation from push sales to pull sale. But this advantage comes with a dangerous drawback. Your collaborative brand building might not always build your brand the way you might have intended. And once online brand building goes into a negative spiral it’s very difficult to stop the negative impact it brings. Even more, the online brand building will remain online always, its nearly impossible to get rid of it.

It’s high time we transform from pushing sales to pulling sales. Only way out to do it is collaborative brand building.

In my early science lessons I was told- It’s easier to move an object by pulling it than by pushing it. It indeed was an important lesson.

 

 

 

Not A Legal Tender

I was reading through a masterpiece by Rabindra Nath Tagore- Nationalism, that a tinkle on my phone informed me of a whtsapp message, a message informing me about a happening which world will talk for days or months to come, and my country will talk, may be for decades to come. It was from my cousin (a retired army man) urging me to switch on TV and watch news. It wasn’t a motivation for me to do so, I rarely watch TV, to dissuade me from watching TV was the sequences of events happening around me.

In last few days I have been reading a book on Bhagat Singh and Nationalism both, simultaneously. The books have been a great source of inspiration, The Gandhian thought, views of Gurudev Rabindra Nath Tagore and unique Revolutionary grit of Bhagat Singh coupled with the tense Line Of Control with Pakistan has left me wondering on how the nation was built and how our soldiers have been protecting it.

Coming Back to the Whatsapp message, it was followed by a phone call, bubbling with excitement and perhaps a pinch of uncertainty, for sure excitement made larger part of it. My cousin urged me to switch on the TV and watch PM Modi address the nation, I wondered if we were at war with Pak. By now the chats on whatsapp were talking of PM Modi only.

The current currency had been almost completely demonetised. The currency notes I held were no longer of any value. The banks and ATM would remain closed for next two days, we virtually had no money. My wife rushed to fetch her hand bag and my 7 yr old daughter rushed to fetch her Piggy bank. Wife was looking for Rs.100/ notes which were still a valid tender and my daughter was looking for how much of her wealth had become invalid. My wife had three Rs. 100/ notes and my daughter had two. That’s what we had for coming few days.  My wallet with nothing in cash but credit and debit cards gave me assurance, we will survive tough days ahead.

The Banks and ATMs opened up to long Qs. My wife has prodded me to visit a bank and get valid currency, I do go to bank, have a look at long Qs, and return back. Will have to do without cash for few more days.

The sufferings for me and likes of me are too small to be considered, sufferings for the worst sufferer too are small, I must say, but only when we juxtapose them with the thought and philosophy we inherit as the history of our great motherland. When we juxtapose them with the philosophy of NATIONALISM, when we juxtapose them with unshakable grit and commitment of Gandhi and Bhagat Singh, when we juxtapose it with what the inconvenience solider is facing at the border with Pakistan.

While contrasting the evolution of the values in India with those of west, Tagore brings out very emphatically the power of sacrifice, self-control and empathy for others over the great quest to achieve ability to build efficient organisations, which produce efficiently but wilfully squander the power of spiritually and morally evolved nation. The present day politicians who criticise the great move of demonetisation are falling in trap of greed for wealth and political power. They argue that the inconvenience caused to the people in unforgivable. I quote Tagore here-

“For greed of wealth and power can never have a limit, compromise of self-interest can never attain final spirit of reconciliation. They must go on breeding jealousy and suspicion to the end- the end which only comes through sudden catastrophe or a spiritual rebirth”.

I wonder if we had modern day politicians during our freedom struggle, would Bhagat Singh have gone to gallows singing joyfully. I wonder if such pack of politicians would have allowed Mahatama to give this world what he did. I think such opportunistic politicians are worse than the external adversaries, they are killing the spiritual and moral fiber of this great nation.

After throwing bombs in the parliament Bhagat Singh and his comrades made a statement, it follows

“We humbly claim to be no more than serious students of history and condition of our country and her aspirations. We despise hypocrisy”.

Bhagat Singh and his accomplices’ could have run away after throwing bombs, yet they surrendered, just to send a stronger message to masses, a message to be sent by going to gallows. And today we refuse the inconvenience of standing in a Q. It’s really sad. We belong to a country where inflicting misery on own self to send a strong message has been way of life for Mahatma and Bhagat Singh. We are a country in constant conflict with our neighbor for 3 decades and soldiers have been sacrificing lives for us. And we are becoming a country where for ulterior political motives we refuse to recognise all what has been done to build this great heritage of culture of- nation before self, word before nation, universe before the earth. We are country where the value system gives last place to family, when it comes to protecting interest universe, world and nation.

If this country had to become so intolerant to inconvenience, I wonder why at all we had the rich cultural heritage, why at all freedom fighters sacrificed lives for us and why at all the soldiers take inconvenience of protecting borders at -40 C temperatures.

Just ponder do the opportunistic politicians need intolerance from the collective national conscious.

I quote Tagore again-

“The real power is not in weapons themselves, but in the man who wields those weapons; and when he in his eagerness of power, multiplies weapons at the cost of his own soul, then it is he who is in even greater danger than his enemies”.

 

 

Tit For Tat, Hit The Hat & Ugly-The- Fugly

Ugly-The-Fugly (UTF), 30 IQ younger brother of mine, he was given an apt name, he masters the art of asking the ugly and fugly difficult questions. Solving extremely hard Sudoku tires me less, than having a daily ‘after office tea’ with UTF. Yesterday too UTF ripped my brains apart, here is what transpired between me and UTF.

Me :- This time our govt. has given free hand to armed forces to give bloody nose to Pakistan. Forces have crossed the LOC and killed many terrorists. LOC firing too has inflicted heavy causalities on the Pakistanis.

UTF :- Whats the proof?… means…. do you really believe it?

Me :- what do you mean “do you really believe it?”

UTF:- I meant why did we not do it all the past years, we had 26/11, we could have flown our fighter planes to raze terror camps in Pakistan that time.

Me:- Hummm.

UTF:- I truly mean it, come on, I mean, why those who didn’t act after 26/11 question our courage now, when we have acted.

Me:- Disbelief UTF, they can’t believe we have that much of courage.

UTF:- Courage? Our forces were always courageous, courage was never a missing link.

Me:- Political courage UTF.

UTF:- Why are they selective, will they question everything which they are not sure of…… I am taking of genetic lineage for themselves.

Me:- I can’t answer on their behalf UTF, but I can say you doubt only such things which you are not capable of doing.

UTF:- (unable to comprehend changes the topic) SIMI guys?

Me:- Stop it UTF, I am done with my tea.

UTF:- But police should not have killed those guys.

Me:- Ok, thanks for advice.

UTF:- I mean while people in general are happy, yet politicians are correct in asking questions. Its absolutely fine to feed biryani to terrorists. Will they question the Armed forces killing terrorist in Kashmir?

Me:- Democratic process UTF. Now I am leaving.

UTF:- You may, while I ponder upon the suicide of a retired army man at India Gate. By the way, army man committing a suicide is strange, isn’t it? You told me only feeble hearted commit suicide.

Me:- keep pondering, that’s better.

UTF:- Army men are disciplined and bighearted brave men, how could he commit a suicide?

ME:- For OROP.

UTF:-How can one who agrees to die for nation without asking a question kill himself for issue like OROP. I don’t have sympathies for him.

Me:- Neither do I have, but am sad it happened.

UTF:- (shuffling in sofa) I think even politicians don’t have sympathies, I saw those guys smiling on TV, presumably while showing solidarity for him. They aren’t sad either.

Me:- Ugly I am done with you, play with your toys, the battery operated car I got for you yesterday. (I bang the door behind me).

UTF:- Last thought…………….. ok my car. (Raising his voice) But how can a person committing a suicide be a martyr? Committing a suicide is bad in law, how can we give him 1 cr compensation?…… battery of my car is drained… help me put it to charging.

Even The Goddess Bleeds

Talaq, talaq, talaq and its over. Not happy with this, beat her, burn her alive for dowry, don’t talk to her for days, when she menstruates call her impure, ask her to kill her own image in her womb ………. You can do all this and much more, and she will take it all silently, rather with a smile. If she resists all this, you can call her many despicable names and people are waiting to buy your thoughts and look at her from corners of their eyes and with a deplorable grin.

Who allows triple talaq, its her, who lets you beat her, its she herself, who allows you and your family to treat her like an unwanted piece of old worn of piece of furniture, none other than herself. Once a woman is divorced, widowed or despised by family, the society looks at her with lustful eyes, calling ugliest names, she meekly and silently endures it and we shamelessly continue to do it.

This is how the society is, it accepts even the most inhuman behaviours, and over a period of time such things become new normal. Such normal won’t change till the time victim herself stands up against it. Such beliefs get the stamp of authenticity when they are coloured in religious colours.

An oppressive belief is if a woman is bleeding and prays the deity can get annoyed with her, let it be so. Finally, it’s between the woman and the deity himself. It’s been argued, the serenity and tranquillity of sanctum sanctorum get vitiated with her presence, but, none argues that the same serenity and tranquillity gets even more vitiated when a man with lustful eyes looks at the women in same sanctum sanctorum. It gets vitiated when you enter the religious places with all kinds of vices in mind. It also gets vitiated when you pray to the deity for some material things than being one with the deity himself. It gets vitiated when one seeks power than humility when praying. But none talks about it. We are more concerned with biological phenomenon because we have long back forgotten that connection with God is about mind and soul, physical presence and biological processes are just inconsequential incidences.

For that matter, even the Goddess bleeds. Kamakhya temple at Guwahati is based on this belief only self. It’s believed that the Goddess bleeds for 3-4 days a year. The waters of Brahmputra around the temple turns red, and strangely when She bleeds, She too is out of bounds for people, though the red water is distributed as Prasad. This exposes our hypocrisy, yet in the name of religion everything can be overlooked. This is direct measure of the kind of oppression we subject half the population of our society.

Allowing men to say talaq three times and divorce a woman and denying he same right to woman is another sign of oppression, and the argument that the men are wiser and will make fair judgement and the women can’t, shows how deeply the oppressionist mind-set has impacted us.

Ladies first, is another signal of deep rooted regressive mind set and has been accepted by all with gaiety.

The ‘wonders’ of oppression are just the tip of the iceberg.  Oppression happens in myriad ways. But the society isn’t going to move away from it till the time women don’t stand-up for themselves. Women have to shut every ogling eye, they have to refuse to accept torture in name of family honour and harmony.  Women have to enter the sanctum sanctorum of Sabarimala as they did enter Shani Shignapur.

Women will have to say talaq three times and end their miseries which the institution of oppressive marriages inflicts upon them. Women have to take pride in the biological cycles and not get maltreated due to them. But, before that the Bleeding Goddess has to herself get freed from oppression.

Religions and societies can’t be static, which will push both, religion and society to oblivion. Both have to be progressive, making way to new normal and shunning the old normal which personifies oppression.  How can a society be progressive and prosper where half its population is oppressed, abused, mistreated and ignored? How can a society be progressive where half the population refuses to stand up for itself?

56 Inch Ka Seena

56 Inch Ka Seena is proverbial to bigheartedness, more to do with bravery displayed by using muscle power.

Well, the news had just poured in, India had gone behind the enemy lines to destroy terror launch pads deep inside the POK (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir). Excitement quickly over took disbelief and in no time it broke into celebration.

Thumping my chest with my fist, I haughtily announced to my wife, “isse kehte hain 56 inch ka seena.” (that is what we call chest of 56 inches). While my wife was equally excited and shared the pride I took in the surgical strikes, yet, with lump in her throat, she pulled out a funny punch at me, “you weigh slightly more than 56 kgs, it’s ridiculous for you to talk about 56 inch ka seena.”

With bruised male ego I rushed to weighing machine and loudly announced I weighed 4 kgs more than the threshold. I pulled out measuring tape and measured my chest as well, it was miles behind the 56 inch mark, and I chose silence this time. I quickly downloaded few of Modi’s images and applied certain complex analytical tools and inferred he too had a chest which could not be called 56 inch ka seena

It was a sharp dagger which nudged me to think why at all we don’t have 56 inch ka seena. The answer was found deeply embedded in amphiboly, our political class, the intellectual class (self-professed) and the society which is deeply divided by political affiliations, religion, cast and creed practices.

We were written off as a soft state which did nothing to create threat perception for propagators of terrorism. Surgical strikes could have happened after the Parliament attack, 26/11 or Pathankot ( I predicted it on 25th Dec 15 and announced it through my FB post, attack happened on 2nd Jan 16, that’s how predictable Pakistan is).

capture

But, we always coated our indecisiveness and lack of political grit with the sugar of benevolence. Indus treaty has been around for many decades now, and we know since the beginning that we can dry out Pak remaining within the framework of treaty. Yet all those years we did not create the infrastructure which could have hurt Pakistan. We have built no canals and no dams to create threat perception.

Pakistan to my opinion is a nevus, can only be treated surgically.

We are too democratic to be united and to perform much needed surgery, we allow likes of Aakar Patel to write in newspapers, we allow Salman Khans to spit poison, we extend royal facilities to separatists and we allow Pakistan to do trade with us, while we can easily manage this all to our advantage. But, we need 56 inch ka seena to perform this surgery. Thumping chest does not help the cause, work on ground needs to be done.

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