Friday, October 06, 2006

When was the last time you did something for the first time........

We all watch ads on TV. And some ads stick with us more than others. Of the many ads I have seen, there is this airline commercial which I like a lot. It’s of a really old lady being taken for a helicopter ride by what I think is her son or grand son. The ad then closes by saying, when was the last time you did something for the first time. The expression on her face is to be seen to be believed.

I really love the caption and it came to my mind a couple months back and then again yesterday. A few months back my grand father, whom I adore a lot, celebrated his 84th birthday. My sister the resident motivator for parties, celebrations and gifts suggested we go out. So it was decided that we would all go out for dinner and get my grandfather vada...His favorite eat. But around noon on his birthday my grand dad called my mom and me and said he did not want to go out, but wanted to eat cake. My sis happened to mention to him that egg less cakes are available these days. My grandfather a strict vegetarian had never had cake before in his life because he assumed all cakes had egg. The idea of an egg less cake was something he couldn't resist.

So to fulfill his birthday wish with my sister in toe I went hunting for an egg less. After going to 3 or more bakers we finally found a cake which we got home. My grand fathers then blew candles and cut the cake and eat a piece. The expression of delight on his face was so gratifying, that the whole effort was worth it and there was a fulfillment in having made his birthday memorable

What astounded me about the whole incident was, he was 84 and not averse to trying something for the first time. And the commercial came rushing to my mind.

Yesterday I asked my grand father what colour shirt he wanted me to purchase for him for diwali. He said he had a lot of shirts and wanted the type my dad wore. And when I looked around I found my dad wearing a cotton t-shirt.

I am not sure if he has every worn a cotton t-shirt before but I am proud that I have a grand father who is not averse to trying new things. And I am delighted that he is ready to try something for the first time after 84 years.

It is said as we grow old we struggle to adopt to change. I would have to agree to that. Till date I would prefer curd rice and pickles to pizzas any day.

But then again we live in a very dynamic world where technology and things keep changing. Also the world has so many cultures, traditions and there are so many things to see and do. In our daily routine we tend to forget the delight that one gets when one does something for the first time. No matter how old we become the feeling we get when we do something for the first time is same as what we experienced when we were children. With doing things for the first time comes a feeling of ecstasy, delight and happiness that transports us to the pleasures of child hood.

If my grand father can be sportive enough to give it a try in his eighties... All us who are younger must try doing as many new things as possible because it gives us an opportunity to break from the daily routine and escape if only for a brief moment to the feeling we had as a child.

So when was the last time you did something for the first time?

Friday, September 22, 2006


I remember it as if it were yesterday. There he was screaming at his mom for having brought him idli when he had asked for dosa. His mom tried to make him understand that his dietary restrictions prohibited him from eating dosa. From what I could gauge he was all of 10 or 12 years old. He was lying down 2 beds away from me. The fact that he was undergoing dialysis and was having his blood purified told me he had kidney failure. And as I continued to observe him, he continued his tirade on his mom. He told her she didn’t let him do anything he liked. She did not let him play with his friends, go outside and have fun like the other kids in his class. He stopped short of telling her she didn’t love him. But to his mom what ever he said was extremely painful. She broke down. It was like somebody had hit a fish tank with a sledge hammer.

As the boy’s mom continued to weep, Sister Ajanta stepped in. She was the head nurse and a wonderful soul to boot. She also had a way with kids and needles. Somehow every time she injected a needle it seemed to pain far less than when the others did it. She calmed the boy down and promised him if he ate the idlis she would get him chocolates and it was only a matter of time before he could start playing with his friends again. On hearing this the boy had a twinkle in his eye. He put forth the most wonderful of smiles and on Sister Ajanta nudging him, the boy gave a hug to his mom. She forgot everything that happened and had a wide smile on her face.

I then turned to the nurse by my bed side and asked who the boy was. She said his name was kishore. She said he had kidney failure and needed a transplant. She then went on to narrate his story.

The boy had kidney failure because of hyper tension and some congenital defect. His dad worked with the state bus service and did not have a lot of money. But since his employers, the state bus service came forward to bear all expenses kishore could get his treatment done at a private hospital. A couple of months back Kishore’s mom had been identified as a donor and his kidney transplant had been scheduled. But the night before the surgery the boy developed fits and while they tried to bring him under control, the boy broke a bone in his leg.

Because of the fracture in the leg kishore’s surgery had to be cancelled. The poor guy had been put back on dialysis till his leg healed and then the surgery would be rescheduled.

On hearing the story my heart sunk. My stomach turned in disgust on the sight of seeing a 10 year old having tubes inserted into his body to have blood taken out him and have it purified. I thought to myself, if I a third person who was living the same hell felt this was, I couldn’t but imagine how his parents felt.

After that day, when I saw Kishore for the first time, invariable kishore and I had the same schedule for dialysis. I never actually got around to speaking to him but observed him a lot. The gilt of his eyes and his charming others around him struck me as amazing. Every time I had a negative thought I would think of him and the trauma of his mom and dad, seeing their only child and beloved 10year old suffering and I would get this amazing courage. Kishore occasional cracked under frustration like the first time I saw him. But other than those occasional out bursts he was like any other boy. A bundle of energy and someone who brought joy to others around him. When he started talking he entertained the nurses in the ward and even those who were glued to the TV in the ward couldn’t help but over hear him.

My transplant was scheduled and was successfully completed. My trips to hospital became less frequent. But every time I went I would try enquiring on him.

Finally I went to Hyderabad to pursue my MBA and stopped visiting the hospital. A year later when I came to visit I asked a nurse about kishore. She said kishore had passed on.

She said they never got on to do the transplant as his leg never healed properly. And then he got an infection and required a special injection. The injection was too costly and his parents could not afford the same. And the government would not fund the same. A kind soul agreed to donate the injection but kishore passed before the injections arrived.

Ironically he passed on the birthday of his favorite Sister Ajanta.

I felt extremely dejected and sad for kishore's parents and Sister Ajanta. I was filled with grief and realized how cruel life could be. Being so close to surviving and yet so far. I could only imagine how kishore’s parents felt.

Now close to 3 years on when I introspect, I realize how grateful I am to kishore. The thought of a much younger boy suffering the same crisis as me helped me to garner courage and face the challenge head on.

I truly hope his soul rests in peace and his parents have found closure. I only now one thing for sure and that'’s he profoundly affected me without once directly speaking to me.

Today when I lecture to teens I keep it in mind that my actions might be speaking louder than my words to a few.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Mind It....

"Everything great that has ever happened to humanity since the beginning has begun as a single thought in some one's mind. And if any one of us is capable of such a great thought, then all of us have the same capacity, capability, because we are all the same." - Yanni, live at the acropolis.

The above quote has stuck with me for a number of years. I guess that's because its so true. Whenever a child is born into this world( no matter where and to whom), all children are born with a mind that's as pure and clear as a raw uncut diamond. Children of this world might differ physically from one another when they are born. But when they are all born, their mind is pure and hasn't experienced much.

As they grow, this mind which is inquisitive by nature, learns from its surroundings and gets moulded through its experience's. The thoughts and desires of this mind can be traced to the experiences that the mind is exposed to. So if a child is born to rich french parents, the child ( in turn the mind) will learn to speak french, probably learn to love art and enjoy the taste of wine and love the finer points of life. If the same child is born in Afghanistan the child( in turn the mind) will learn Urdu, believe in customs of Islam and grow up to hate the U.S.A.

Something that I have realised is when anyone of us has a thought there will be at least a 100 others in the whole world who have at some point of time had the same thought. This I have personal experienced numerous times. Every time I have what I believe is a brilliant business idea, I call my friends and discuss the pros and cons of the same. Then when I do some research I find others have thought of the same and many businesses are already in existence.

So if we are all born with the same mind and if many of us think the same thoughts then what is that makes one of a mother Teresa and another a terrorist? The uncut diamond provides us with an answer. The diamond can be cut to be an ornament to adorn a beautiful woman or can be cut into a machine tool that can cut metal finer than a strand of hair.

If we sincerely attempt to mould our mind we could develop into better human beings. Once we start moulding our self, may be then we can do a better job of moulding others to follow us. If we live till the age of 65, then we would have lived around about 23725 days. Each day has 86,400 secs. If we have a thought a sec, that's close 200 core thoughts in our life. Each thought and experience moulds us and determines who we become. Some thoughts affect us more than others but in someway or the other they all contribute in who we are and who we become.

So lets try to make a majority of our thoughts positive and the experiences that others have when they meet or interact with us positive. Even if we don't become a mahatma, may be we can contribute a small part in making someone else a mahatma and prevent many more from becoming a George bush or Osama bin laden.

We all start the same and end the same, lets at least strive to have great thoughts and be great because if anyone of us , we all can since we are all the same.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

I turn to you!

We live in an age where we live busy lives, have deadlines to meet and don't get enough time for ourselves. So it is only natural for us to make friends at places where we spend most of our time. In most cases our friends are our co-workers, classmates from school and college and sometimes our neighbors or our room mates. Our friends share a major part of our lives with us. We go out to movies with them, we party with them and hang out with them just to while away time.

I consider myself to be extremely lucky to have a number of friends. There are others who might have a very few friends. But no matter who we are, all of us have friends. A lucky few have their parents as their friends or their siblings as friends.

But what strikes me as absurd is that though so many of us have friends and vouch for our friendship, very few amongst us actually turn to our friends in our time of need. We have all heard the saying 'a friend in need is a friend indeed'. But do we give our friends the opportunity to help us out. I think that happens very rarely. When we have small favors to ask we call our friends. But when something major comes up, we shut ourselves out. Many of us believe in dealing with the problem by ourselves. Sometimes the problem might be external and at other times it might be an emotional problem. But we choose to close ourselves to the world. Why is that? From my quarter of a century on this planet I can vouch for a fact that at most times we have some thing major happening in our lives. For some reason we choose only to share the positive with others and conceal the negative. We tend to have veil that covers a part of us to our friends.

Would discussing our real troubles with our friends and giving them a glimpse of our true selves really hurt us? How may of us show our true self to the world and to ones around us. I believe most of us project what we think people expect out of us. I consider myself an offender in this regard and many a time too.

We are told friendship is a relationship to be cherished as it is the one relationship we choose. All other relationships are pre defined when we are born. But then why aren't we willing to put it to the test. Why not give a chance to our friends to help us out. Why do we choose to show only our good to our friends? Would letting them see the vulnerable side to us be that bad a thing? May be we ought to open ourselves to our friends and I believe only then can we truly experience friendship.

Discussing my problems with my friends during the most traumatic periods of my life has helped me immensely. And I can testify that my friendship with people has only blossomed. Try it out. It may give a new dimension to your friendship.

Friday, August 25, 2006

I am a believer!

A week back I met a few college students aged between 17years and 20 years. During the course of our discussions I asked them how many of them believed in GOD. Most of them said they believed in GOD. However there were a few guys who emphatically said that they didn't believe in GOD. They said they believed in themselves and not in some supreme being. I left the discussion at that. But when I pondered further on the above question a few thoughts came to my mind which I would like to pen (or is that type) here.

We live in an age where the generation next appears to have immense self belief and lesser belief in a supreme being (I have nothing against that, being a believer is one's personal choice). Then I chanced upon a book which I then started reading (Me and reading a book...shocking isn't it). The book was "Wisdom for the New Millennium" by Sri Sri Ravishankar.

The book had a passage that I found to be very interesting. It reads and I quote

"... God is referred to in three persons. In the third person God is "He" or "She", in the second person God is "You", and in the first person God is "I"..."

The above passage I found very enlightening. My understanding of the above is that the ‘person’ in which we refer to GOD would invariably show our understanding of GOD. When we refer to GOD in the third person it shows that we rever GOD and may be even fear Him (the fear of retribution for our actions). Also GOD to us becomes someone to whom we make requests that we want full filled. The request could be something as simple as a pass mark in the exams, to help in getting admissions into a good college, to something more important like a cure for a loved one inflicted with an ailment. Thus when we refer to GOD in the third person it becomes a reward response relationship. You pray to GOD put forth your wishes and you anticipate him to full fill the same.

When we refer to GOD in the second person, we start seeing GOD in others. We realize GOD acts through people. We come to the understanding that the love and affection that we see and receive from others are the actions of GOD. We start seeing well in others and start believing in others. In turn we are a lot more comfortable with GOD and have the maturity to better understand all that happens around us.

My guess is when we refer to GOD in the first person (“I”) that is when we are truly comfortable with GOD. My opinion is when you understand your soul, and start having immense belief in yourself and in your power to face any challenge you may encounter through your life, that’s when one is completely enlightened. It’s the point where one knows who they are and where they fit into the wider cosmos and the part they play in it.

The point I am trying to make is that while we grapple with what happens around us and start becoming increasingly comfortable with GOD, there could be a whole generation that is to follow us who have immense self belief in themselves and hence immense faith in the GOD within them. May be its just that their understanding of GOD is far greater than yours or mine. My only wish is they don't ever lose the faith in themselves.

One thing I know for sure is I am a believer, who is slowly trying to graduate from referring to GOD in third person asking him for small favors to seeing GOD in the people around me. I am not their yet, but I do hope a time will come when I can see GOD in me and can refer to GOD as "I".

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

why me....

why me.... its an ordinary question that is asked an extraordinary number of times by most people during the course of their lives. i sure have. a number of times. i have faced my share of challenges in life. i have had to deal with a childhood littered with frequent visits to hospitals, poor performance in exams( personal opinion they are irrelevant but we are told they are the key to our lives) and a life threatening disease. there have been numerous others, small and big, documenting of which would require a whole lot of time and space. but my point is at each and every time i have asked the aforementioned question. why me.. oh why me... the chain of thought goes a bit like this why me.. what did i do to deserve this.. what did my family do to deserve this. and i am sure everyone must at some point of time had these thoughts.

nothing wrong with them. hell they are absolutely natural. but each time one has such thoughts one has to deal with it. people find their own ways. i found my own. my method is something i learned from my loving family. it involves taking a step back from where you are in your personal life and looking at the bigger picture. look at what has happened in the bigger scheme of things, its something we tend to forget in the heat of the moment. when something is looked at from the bigger scheme of things that thing might not be too bad. for a school going kid a fail mark in the quarterly exam will be of least importance if looks at it as if he were looking at it as a middle aged person in the midst of a successful career.

also we should keep in mind that for everything that happens to us, there is someelse who is worse off. i visit hospitals frequently for my treatment. everytime i go there i start by thinking to myself about my wretched luck. but then i see a kid gleefully running around in the lobby with a urine bag attached to him and i stop wondering why me and start thinking why him? i think we would do a load of good to ourselves and our life in general if we start looking around and start appreciating other people's challenges. everytime you fail to close a sales deal and curse yourself, be grateful that your not the guy selling socks on the streat to earn a leaving to feed a family of 5. everytime you don't get that long desired promotion think of the guy who has a degree but no job and a desperate family situation. everytime you have a fight with your family thank yourself for having a family to fight with. and everytime you feel you had a rough childhood, think of all those who had no childhood at all.

what i am trying to get at is lets look at the positive of every situtatuion. sometimes that might require looking at what troubles other people are going through. we should look at all the things we have to be grateful for. win or loss in a negotiation for a big deal is nothing when compared to a situation where you life is on the line. there is no scope for negotiation at that point of time. believe me i have been there. done that.

why not live life as a trip where you know your starting point and your end destination. it the same for all of us. its how much you enjoy your journey that counts. so why not stop cribbing and start living. and in any case wouldn't life be a complete bore without its share of challenges.