Sunday, December 27, 2015

A World of Greys

As a kid, I loved mythological stories. They were so simple and informative. Every story gave you something to learn, something to take home. Every story had a purpose, and it was to highlight the difference between right and wrong. And, incidentally, to show that good deeds are rewarded and bad deeds are punished.

Then I grew up, and all of that went to hell!

Oh, was that a little too radical? I guess it’s all the testosterone and adrenaline that makes me a bit restless. Let us begin again. When we were kids, the world used to be a simple place. There was right, there was wrong, and they were so very easy to distinctly identify. The stories we loved and grew up with were all about happy endings and / or lessons about what happens to people who do malicious and evil deeds.

As we grew up, those stories started to get more twisted and complex. We started to realise that sometimes stories can end up on a bad note, the good guys won't necessarily always win. And then there was always reality, giving us all kinds of twisted stories to observe and experience. We soon found out that darkness and light are not two separate entities that divided men into distinct categories. No, every man held his own share of good and evil, and there was no way to know other than to judge him on the basis of his actions. A clear picture of reality soon started forming in our minds when we secretly (and then rather vocally) started rooting for The Joker as much as we rooted for Batman, when we started to like the bad guys more than the good ones, because let's face it – villains are so very cool. They get to blow up the town, they spend more time with the pretty girls, and they win for the larger portion of the act.

We live in a world where war makes headlines more often than peace, where violence sells more than sensibility (don't even think about mentioning love stories, I know you have all enjoyed the burning cars and flying goons that make up most of the screen time in Rohit Shetty movies), where video games are not complete without murder with no consequences.

But that's all what you already know. The bigger question is, what is right in today's world? There are so many fanatic groups that support the Hindus / Muslims, General Castes / STs / SCs / OBCs, socialists / communists / nationalists, democrats / republicans, seculars / non-seculars, the list has not even begun. According to the pundits of all known truth in the modern world, the media are liars, social-media is paid media, history is all but a lie fabricated around the whims of powerful people, and the law is up for sale, politics is corrupt, governments are all propaganda and bullshit. The question is, if everything is wrong, then what is right?

If you didn't close your browser so far, it means that you want answers rather than an increasing list of problems our society has. To answer your question, actually, there is only one problem. Our wishful desire to divide the world between good and evil, light and dark. We try a very mathematical approach to study humans, which is wrong. And then we extend those studies to cover ideas, which leads us to nowhere but endless discussions. It is said that reality is multifaceted. Then why can't there be several right ideas about how to lead our lives? The point is simple, you might be right about how you want to lead your life, but you have no right to interfere with someone else's lifestyle. Two men falling in love and getting married are not going to call God's wrath upon your house, a couple kissing in public won't destroy your heritage and culture, a Muslim following his traditions in a Hindu colony won't upset Lord Krishna, and a painter who paints naked Goddesses doesn't need to be punished by mortal men.

“Sarve bhavantu sukhinah, sarve santu niramayam, sarve bhadrani pashyanti, ma kaschitt dukhbhag bhavet.”
Let everybody be happy, let everybody be healthy, let everybody be good, let nobody suffer sadness. (That's a rough translation)

This Sanskrit shloka was the gift of our Indian culture to the world, and yet we forget its significance in our daily lives. The world is not made in black and white, so we should stop trying to paint it so. Let people choose their own religion, their own political views, their own choice of food and clothing, as long as they don't interfere with other people's right to freedom. It is that simple. One bad politician doesn't make politics bad, same goes for media, countries, and religions. Judge people on individual ideas, not universal interpretations of them. You will see colour return to this world of greys!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Osborne Principle

I assume all of us watched Toby Maguire play spiderman in our childhood days. And his Spiderman movie is what gave me the idea for this post. The Osborne Principle!

Today, you'll read how lack of confidence can jeopardise your career, your future, your life, and how a person who lacks confidence ends up being the reason behind everybody's success but his own.

Let's take a scene. Movie - Spiderman. Scene - The Museum. Peter Parker, the nerd, is charmed to be in the museum while his friend, Harry Osborne, is not quite interested.
"Did you know that this is the most advanced electron microscope in the state," Peter nudges Harry, who couldn't care less.
Enter Mary Jane Watson, the girl Peter secretly likes. Harry catches Peter staring at MJ and asks him to go talk to her. Peter doesn't.
"Hey MJ! Did you know that this is the most advanced electron microscope in the state?"

Do you know who said that? No, not Peter. This time it was Harry Osborne who said it!

And that brings me to the Osborne Principle. Its quite simple, actually. It says - 'If you don't have the confidence to use your knowledge and your ideas where they can make a difference, I assure you that somebody else will use them where you couldn't. And then they would be successful.'

Of course, it's unfair for anyone to steal your ideas. But what would you rather be - successful or pitiable? The world is unfair, and it works on a first-come-first-serve basis. If you don't use the weapons you have, someone else will steal them right before your eyes.

That is why confidence is so important. The backlash of failure is always hard, but it is nothing compared to the regret of someone who had a chance but didn't take it.

There is no point being a genius if you can't come out and show it. There is no use being a master if you don't have the guts to challenge even the novice. No, successful people these days are often the mediocre ones who behave like veterans. That's how crucial self-confidence is. It is not something to be taken lightly.

So, the next time someone asks you to sing a song and you feel that you're not on top of your game, someone asks you to go speak up on stage and you feel your knees shake, the next time you feel afraid in the face of an opportunity, just remember the Osborne Principle. If you don't go out and chase what you want, someone else will take it, and they are very likely to implement the same method that you were too nervous to use.

That's your lesson right there. Don't be confident, that's irrelevant. But always show that you are confident. Appearances play a lot of tricks, there is no harm in using a few for yourself. You may not be a genius, but you can always behave like one. That's what all successful people do!

Thursday, June 11, 2015


Consider a situation. You are on the Black Pearl with Captain Jack Sparrow (don't we all love him?), headed out for a memorable adventure in unknown seas. After passing through a storm, the navigator comes up and tells you that you are headed in the wrong direction. What will Jack Sparrow do?

"Well, he'll ask him what is the right direction then," you say? You are right. And then the navigator will say that you're off by, say, 5 degrees. The captain will adjust the heading and, Voilà! Back on track!

So, what's the point of making up this situation when its so damn simple? Well, anyone could solve this, its common sense!

But alas, when this kind of situation arrives in real life, most of us do not follow proper common sense and follow a very coarse, absurd course of action. And that is today's topic. The Curse of Overcorrection.

Let's go back to our example. What would you think if Captain Jack Sparrow, upon being told that the ship is headed the wrong way, would get up the mast and say - "Turn the ship backwards!"

"Are you freaking nuts," is that what you're thinking? But think about it again. Captain Jack Sparrow has just said something profoundly intellectual. Haven't we always been told that right is the opposite of wrong? So, considering that, the right way must be the opposite of the wrong way!

Downright stupid! The world was made in three dimensions. If you started walking backwards every time someone told you that you were going the wrong way, you'd end up absolutely nowhere. And yet, in practical life, that is what most of us do.

They say - "You're too emotional." You say- "Then I'll become more practical." They say - "You are naive." You say - "Then I'll stop trusting people." They say - "You speak too much." You say - "I'll keep quiet then." And there you are, painting this colourful world in the black and white drapes of right and wrong. There you are, walking backward and forward on a planet that's supposed to be spherical. That's overcorrection!

Think about it! What happened to ingenuity? What happened to originality? If all we have is a choice between two opposite roads, then why was the world map created with four directions? All our lives, we rebel to be free, and yet we remain slaves to the idea that right must be the opposite of wrong, that the two cannot be two very similar ideas, or even the same at times.

I'll come straight to the point. Whenever we try to do something out of character, like the polar opposite of who we generally are, just because someone told us that we had been behaving wrongly so far, we fall prey to the malpractice of overcorrection. In definition, overcorrection is the act of consciously defying one's fundamental nature because of the fear that it may cause them trouble, hurt or unnecessary confrontation. I'd like to extend this definition a bit. Overcorrection also includes consciously showing the exact opposite of what you're actually feeling because you think that your actual feelings might produce an annoying situation.

Come to think of it, we are all dabbling in overcorrection a lot. Which is unhealthy. Because even though you do it to avoid getting or inflicting hurt, that is exactly what will happen in the end.

I don't have any answers when it comes to this problem. You can think for yourselves how this habit affects our lives. Also, no matter how much I want to, I won't say that you should not do overcorrection in your life. After all, it was I who made the point that the right thing is not the opposite alternative of the wrong thing. No, it is a different alternative, that's all.

Hopefully, next time you catch yourself overcorrecting, you'll think about the cruise with Captain Jack Sparrow that I mentioned earlier, and you'll realise how unscientific and illogical it is as a solution.

Till then, drink me up yo hearties!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Censored To Fit - Modern Media

This post comes in response to a suggestion from my dear friend Aishwarya. Honestly, I thought you'd give me something related to feminism. But this works just fine. Hence, the topic for today is how media alters reality rather than exhibiting it, thanks to modern customs of censorship and favouritism.

Honestly, this topic is so obvious that it did cross my mind many times, but I never had any idea how to even begin approaching the horrors of the the stupid things our beloved media keeps doing. In our era, where we all look up to ideals like equality and freedom of expression, the very mascot of these fundamental rights is trashing them on a daily basis. And we are nothing but oblivious!

Ours is an era of publicity and endorsement. Everything needs to be sold in order for it to survive. And since everybody is doing business, truth itself has become a commodity that is bought and sold on a public portal. It doesn't matter if it is important or not, it must be glamorous or controversial. A very good example is a sting-survey conducted by a foreign journalist who promised to pay several leading national dailies to publish a fake news about himself on the front page. The price was steep, but the real issue is that many newspapers actually agreed. That's Indian media for you. You can actually buy it.

I don't really blame them, though. Even the media needs to pay it's employees and fill their stomachs. And there is simply too much competition. The result is a frantic, lunatic, pathetic struggle for attention between different channels, brands, national dailies.

Whose fault is it, then? Why is it that we are unable to rid ourselves of a meaningless circle of hypocrisy and exhibitionism? The answers lie in the very fabric of our society. Let's just go through them one by one.

1. We Crave Controversy- They sell things as pointless as Bigg Boss and as terrible as the diorama of daily soaps. We buy it. Who would you blame? Would you blame the dog who shits in front of your house or yourself who collects that shit in a flower-vase and places it in your living room? We want controversy, so they create it. And it is a really simple thing to do. Step one - catch hold of some caustic comment by some politician or celebrity. Step two - assemble a few followers of the said celebrity or politician along with some opposing people, preferably people who are idle and have nothing to do. Step three - let them at each other. Step four - they will fight, first about the issue in question, then about their own personal grudges against each other. Step five - they'll start abusing each other on national television and make comments like 'tumhari aukaat kya hai' (who the hell are you and what is your social status). Step six - take a short break and repeat steps one through five.

2. We Ignore Whatever's Not Spicy Enough- So Deepika Padukone said some things about feminism and modern choices. We made a big issue out of it, because 'a celeb must be responsible enough to only say politically correct things on a public platform'. The AIB Roast surely stirred a lot of people up. My question is simple - why do we need to fight over what a few people did in their own gathering somewhere? I am pretty sure that those who attended the AIB Roast weren't dragged by terrorists. Then why do we have to fight about what they said there? The media does on a public broadcast what we do on our Facebook posts and in our three-page long comments there. We get a fight because we want a fight. And in the process, the useful headlines pass us by unnoticed.

3. We Are The Media- They don't come out of nowhere. They are people from our own ranks. The media is made up of people like us. If they are corrupt, and they seriously are, then we are corrupt as well. We make rotten news everyday by being rotten people everyday. Those who cover it are the ones we point out, though.

4. We Actually Believe Them- We gave them the power to control us by believing what they show us. That's why there is 'Saamna' in Maharashtra that spreads hatred in the commoners and yet people follow it. It is because we give them the power to make us dance to their tunes. We can't protect our families and society from this influence. That is why these days the winner of any election is the person the media highlights more - whether it is Modi for general elections or Kejriwal in Delhi elections - the winner is the one who gets more footage. I don't say they didn't deserve their respective victories, but I still mention that this conduct is unbecoming of a power that is meant to be unbiased.

5. We Fear Them- Fear is the root of evil, or sometimes the side-effect of it. We are not a truly honest set of people, whether you agree with it or not. But we have an irrational fear of the media's power to affect the society. To some extent, we worship it. But a big section of us is afraid to challenge the stand the media takes today. And trust me, the media takes a stand a lot - not by assertion, but by suggestion. And we are too weak to challenge even the points that they put forward shrouded in diplomacy.

In short, the story is that the media shows us only that side of the picture that is glamorous, controversial, or monetarily more profitable. That's the reign of censorship that rules us all today. It is high time that we made some efforts to break free.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Ashita's Dilemma

"You two should spend some time alone, get to know each other."

This story begins where most Indian marriages start. Yes, there are a good number of love marriages happening these days but arranged marriage still rules in most sections of the Indian society. And arranged marriage was what Ashita was fated for. She adjusted her blouse and smoothed the folds of her sari in front of the mirror, stroked her hair, and turned about. This wasn't her first time wearing a sari, but somehow she felt uneasy. She was suddenly embarrassed of how much of her petite belly was exposed by it. She would've preferred her usual jeans and top, at least it covered up her waistline pretty nicely. It was a funny feeling, she had never been so conscious about her body and how would someone else look at it before. Maybe this was just a general spell of nervousness, mother had said that it was absolutely normal.

Still, something within her gave her an uneasy itch. She had always thought of males as things to be feared and to stay away from. Okay, maybe not always. She had an affair or two in her college days but they had ended badly for her and she had stayed frosty towards men since. Even before, she used to get so frightened when the boys called out her name on the street that she'd start crying. With time, she became confident enough to handle them. And now she was going to marry one. No, too early to say that. It was just a meeting, that's all. It was a long shot from actually getting married.

"Ashita", her mother called out, "come dear. We are waiting for you."

Ashita staggered for a second. “Erm…coming”, she wailed out. Outside was the setup that made her go weak in the knees and shaky in the limbs even at a distance. She was about to enter a realm where she would be under a strange scrutiny of people who had once treated her like their own daughter.

“You look pretty as always, dear.” Rini Aunty was grinning ear to ear when she saw Ashita. Maybe it was time for Ashita to start practicing calling her mom. Right next to Rini sat Mohit, Ashita’s supposed prince-on-a-white-horse. He looked at her with soft interest, blatantly staring through the noisy conversation enveloping him. Ashita blushed for no reason. This was just another guy looking at her and it normally didn't mean anything. But the circumstances coerced her to act stupid. Part of her wanted to run back to her room and lock herself in, but her feet wouldn’t move an inch. She only swayed a little, shaking from the waist down. Her hands trembled their way up to her hair-locks and she made an attempt at a smile, reciprocated instantly by her prospective groom-to-be.

“We can have our chats later”, her mother was saying, “But let the kids get to know each other first. They are the ones getting married after all.”

Five minutes later, Ashita and Mohit were face to face with each other, disturbed only by a tray of tea and snacks. Mohit seemed to be enjoying his time, looking around Ashita’s room and smiling to himself. Ashita couldn't help but scowl. Sometimes, smiling at people can be a crime too. Mohit realized his mistake, and toned down apologetically.

“Uh, are you not going to ask me anything?” Ashita asked.

Mohit shrugged. “I don't know what to ask. I know enough already. You were a great student, always top of your class, you excelled in co-curricular and cultural activities, you got a good job here, and you are good at all household chores. About me, I am an engineer, earn enough to call myself rich, just returned from Delhi to settle down here at home.”

Ashita took her time to be impressed.

“That's…nice but…is that all we need to know about each other?”

“Um…well…if there's anything you want to ask me…feel free.”

Ashita hadn't expected this. True, modern day arrangements weren't like old times when things were one-sided and only the boy got to ask questions. But she hadn't expected to run into a guy who had nothing to ask to her but was willing to answer whatever she wanted to know. Maybe her independent girl demeanour had rubbed off on him earlier and he thought that playing it humbly would be best. Either way, it was curious and needed further conversation.

“See, I don't approve of the men of this society. You people would stare at girls in micro-minis and jeans-top but want a girl in salwar-suit and sari, happily become studs by sleeping with many women but call a girl a slut first chance you get, no matter how normal that girl is. If I am online at 1 am in the night you'll ask who I am engrossed with but nobody will ask you why you stay up till 2. You get away with all the horrible things you do but we get trashed for everything. How do you expect me to marry a man if I don't approve of your kind?”

Mohit let a minute pass in silence.

“It’s a tough question”, he said. “And I thought marriages are easy. Stupid me.” He smiled again, defiantly this time. “As a man, I concede that you have all the right to be upset about how the society treats you and lets the boys get away with everything. But I don't represent all men here, and neither I am like all men. I am Mohit Singh, a person, an individual, and that is the only way I'd like to be judged. My being a man doesn't change the facts of my life, it doesn't change my character – it only changes your perception of me. If you can get over your general ‘disapproval’ of ‘my kind’, perhaps we can have a more fruitful conversation.”

“Oh, pardon me. Did I offend you, perhaps? Men get so riled up when a woman takes this kind of a stand. Maybe you'll come up with something like ‘all men aren't alike’ or ‘you shouldn't go about generalising people on the basis of what a few people do’. Don't worry. I am not interested in exposing you. I just want you to know what you're going to get if you marry a girl like me.”

Mohit displayed no signs of surprise, rather, he looked quite amused at the way the conversation was going. “I am not ‘riled up’, neither am I interested in defending mankind, in principle. I am just saying that it doesn't matter what you think about all, or most, men. What matters is what you think of me. Getting married to someone is a big deal, you know. We should utilize our time well.”

“Um, you're right. So allow me to start with the first question. Why are you going for an arranged marriage? You could very easily pull off a love marriage.”

“I could throw the question back at you. But I can imagine what your answer would be. In any case, I agreed for an arranged marriage because I think my parents would make a better choice than I would in this matter. It's a lame answer, but it is all I got.”

“You've never been in love before?”

“I don't know. I had a fling or two, but they were more like juvenile stupidity. Didn't really turn up into much, you know.”

“Are you virgin?”

“Excuse me?”

The pace of the conversation had suddenly come to a standstill. An awkward silence gripped them both as one struggled to find their words and the other observed quietly.

“I asked you”, Ashita continued, “Are you a virgin? Because I am not.”

“Oh. Pardon me. I was just not expecting you'd ask this. It's such an irrelevant thing.”

“Irrelevant? Do you really think someone's virginity is irrelevant?”

“Yes, as long as it is given away with true consent and after a proper age. If there is love in a relationship, or even if there's just a relationship, it's not very surprising if some physical dimension involved. After all, isn't sex something as normal as life and death?”

“So you wouldn't mind marrying a girl who's had a past?”

“As long as it stays in the past, there’s nothing for me to mind. In fact, to tell you the truth, I was actually hoping to marry someone who wasn't a virgin. That would give at least one experienced member to my couple.”

Ashita was dazed into silence. This man was either a maniac, or the most forward-thinking guy one could run into.

“And what about your family? Wouldn't they mind?”

“Well, they don't have to know everything. Though they are my family, but certain things between me and my wife are solely my business. I think you'll agree with me.”

“I don’t understand. How can you be so open about all these things?”

Mohit finished his tea and put down the cup. When did he start taking his tea? Ashita's cup had meanwhile already run cold. Mohit smiled to himself as he began answering her question.

“I am open about these things because it’s my secret wish to be the father to a daughter someday. And there’s no way I can be a good father if I can’t provide her a world where a man and a girl are treated as equals. The reason I am telling you all this is because I understand your bitterness towards me even though you know nothing about me. I know the cause behind this seemingly prejudiced anger. I can see the spirit that desires true freedom. And that’s what I want for the daughter I'll one day have.”

A lot of words came up in Ashita's mind but she had no sentences to put them in. She fiddled with her hair, blanked out.

“Something tells me that you don't want to get married at the moment”, Mohit was saying. “But still, I don't think that marriage is really an end to anything. It could very well be the beginning to new things. It all depends on how the two people involved get each other, reach out to each other, and comprehend each other.”

“You don't know how I…um…lost my virginity”, Ashita whispered. “You wouldn't like it. You wouldn't be so cool about it if you did.”

“Maybe some secrets are meant to be secrets forever, in that case. Or maybe you will tell me that incident as a long-forgotten story someday. Who knows? I personally think that life is what we choose to be at this moment in the present, what we plan for the future. I look forward to the future we have ahead, depending on what you say when we meet our respective parents outside.”

And then, Mohit slid his teacup towards her, got up, and made for the door.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Criticism On Criticism

This post comes on the request of my dear friend cum senior Vikas Chandani. I wasn't very surprised by this idea because that's his favourite topic. I reckon he just wants to see how I approach this unexplored topic of criticism. So here it goes.

"I liked the surprises you pour into the plot", she says. "But why is there always a mythological connection to your stories? I mean, the way you approach myths is nice and all, but after a while people will get bored."
"And when they do, they'll read some book from some other genre", I grin. "When you get bored from the show, you change the channel."
"That's what I'd expect from anyone else, but you are not just anyone. You are special, you have to be. So why not make yourself so good that people never get bored."

And that's when I am left speechless. The critique, the discussion that follows, and then the wrap-up point that you just can't counter. My friend who appears in this scene is one person you'll never win an argument against.

"For all I know, you could make a better writer than me if you put your head into it", I concede. "You should try writing something, someday."
"Nah, I don't know. Maybe I am too lazy to do that. Even if I sit down to write, no ideas will come into my head."

I may motivate her to write something, easily. But she won't write anything, or maybe won't show me what she came up with. Some people are like that. They are better at judging than they are at performing.

Now you may have all kinds of opinion on such people, but my opinion is that of a writer. Every person I see is either a character or an idea. And there are no such things as bad ideas. There are ideas which are convenient to us and ideas that are troublesome. And the same goes to people.

In our society, critics are mostly seen as good-for-nothing folks who pass the time pissing people off. After all, anyone can criticize. Little kids who roam around spinning bicycle tyres with a stick become the experts when they see a cricket match ("Abe square cut lagana tha na" - as if the Dhoni will hear them on the field). Old, retired people talk about government policies all the time. Housewives talk about each other's behaviour in their free hours. In short, anyone and everyone who has wee hours with nothing to do becomes a critic. 

And they are treated no better. In our society at least, there is this notion that if you want to criticise someone about something, you must be better than them. Any other possibility leads to a serious abusive conflict where people take the fight to each other's status/power/money/respectability. The best examples are film and book critics. Every time a critic trashes a movie or a book, the stars get back at them with caustic remarks, unfailingly. After all, critics are a talentless species who scorn people to make a living, aren't they?

I say it depends on the attitude, both that of the critic and the one facing criticism. Sachin Tendulkar said - "People threw stones at me, I turned them into milestones". And he had his fair share of critics. Now it is understandable to get angry when someone criticises you without knowing what you face every day, but the difference between just about anyone and you is how you handle adversity. And not all critics are your enemies.

I believe that we learn only when we are criticised. It's the law of friction, you can't move forward as long as there is some force pulling you backwards. If someone tells you what to do, it's your choice whether to follow the advice or ignore it. But hating people for not minding their own business is a waste of your time and energy. It only makes you less efficient.

That is criticism. It's friction, or aerial drag. It seems to oppose you, but it stabilizes you as well. Depends on how you handle it.

If you like my blog please feel free to comment.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Wish I Had A Butler!

Dear readers, I am in no mood to write today. And because I am not in the mood to write, I am going to produce perhaps the most useful Simplified Life Lesson for you today. Today’s post is about doing what you DON’T want to do. Yes, there is so much in our lives that we’d rather avoid or let someone else handle. And those are the jobs that are almost always most mandatory. Most of us can’t bring ourselves to get out of bed every morning. In my case, I hate doing my laundry and cleaning my room. It’s not really a good trait, but it is a universal one. That is why we must learn to tackle it.

It doesn’t matter how simple or brief the task is – if you don’t like it you don’t like it. Why is it that most of us make our practical files on the date of submission? Why is it that our forms are filled on the very last day? Why is it that our studies are neglected until the night before the exam?

The problem is not just with you, it is the curse that runs in Indian blood. You don’t believe me? Take the example of Commonwealth Games. The construction of the Games Village and the stadiums had been so slow that the army was deployed in the last hour to finish up the work. They did it in six days flat, and produced a splendid result. But they would’ve had no need to step-in had our folks been a little more disciplined.

That’s our basic downfall. We lack discipline at a molecular level. And that results in troubles of all variety. What needs to be done is simple – we need to get more active. And we need to set an example for everyone else to follow. But it is the how that always poses problems.

So here are a few ideas on how to make yourself, and your team, more disciplined.

1.      Clear The Tables First – The first thing to do before you set out to solve a problem is to solve all the previous problems. Lack of discipline has only one possible result – truckloads of piled up work. And until you clear that first, you can’t set a proper routine. Now it’s up to you how you manage that. Take that big heap of stinky clothes and give them for dry-cleaning. Take all your dishes that haven’t been cleaned in ages and wash them with nitric acid if you have to (just kidding, don’t even think about trying that). Clean every nook and cranny of your room, pluck out all those spider-webs with your hands if you must, and wash it all over. The only way to change life is to begin from ground-zero. Do it today!
2.      Mix Work With Fun – A lot of people listen to music while they study. Or they leave the TV on. It’s not very uncommon to engage yourself with entertainment while you do the dull and dreary of everyday life. Find some innovative methods of your own while you toil away at the unpleasant chores. Music works well, or the TV, or the radio. Many housewives chat on the phone while doing their households. If you can afford the telephone bill, I don’t see that as a bad idea too. For college students who love to watch various TV series and seasons, a good technique would be to watch one episode after going through one chapter or unit. That would give you proper relaxation and freshen up your mind for another bout. Just make sure you don’t give too much time to the distractions, however. Mix your medicine in honey and it won’t taste that bitter. But it is the medicine that you really need, not the honey. Remember that.
3.      Reward Yourself – Deprivation works well most times, but we are more easily motivated by the positive inflictions. So reward yourself every time you achieve a set goal. A bar of chocolate every time you clean the room, an extra helping of dessert for doing the dishes, a day out to pamper yourself every time you score well. We tend to work harder when there are rewards attached to the job. The same goes with team issues as well. Another person won’t listen to you unless you can show them how they can benefit from you if they play along. Rewarding is a better motivator than punishment, I believe.
4.      Value Time – A minute spent is a minute lost, no matter how you see it. Now you can’t necessarily be a great and efficient person who utilizes every second of his/her time flawlessly, but you can sure as hell try. Just follow the simple rule – better be an hour early than a minute late. Make every meeting, every appointment, every date, every plan an examination hall where you suffer a big disadvantage if you don’t appear on time. Just being on time will affect things in your life to a great extent, the difference is breath-taking.
5.      Give Room To Your Indulgences – Many of us who try to get disciplined fail miserably and the only thing they blame is their utter laziness. That is, however, not true. Many times we fail not because we are flawed, we do because our plans are. When we try to fall into a routine, we always count out the most basic occurrences of human nature – discrepancies. You can’t wake up at 7 am flat, you’ll always spend some extra time in bed. You can’t study for 2 hours at a stretch, you’ll waste time procrastinating. You can’t go out for a half-an-hour walk, you’ll overshoot or undershoot your time-limit depending on who you meet in the park. The truth is, following a strict time-table with military efficiency is not for everyone. Your time-table, you plans, your calendar, should be flexible like your personality is. It should change with the circumstances and accommodate the changes in your surroundings. How can you think of adapting to all the challenges in your life if your time-table can’t adapt to a chance encounter or an unplanned event? No plans can work without contingencies.

Yeah, things would be so much easier if somebody could do our boring jobs for us and leave us to focus on the interesting things in life. But maybe the interesting things only appear interesting because they sit next to the boring ones. Life is all about contrast, after all. So enjoy your life as much as you can, but that enjoyment will only last if you shoulder your responsibilities and do the buzzkill stuff at time. Have fun!

When Everything Goes Wrong

Okay, you might see life as a big blob of jelly, its one unit in itself and you can’t really subdivide it, but I say life is a set of discrete experiences and you can turn it around anytime. This post is for those who think that the best years of their lives have been wasted and now they will have to just play by the rules set by destiny. Let me tell you this – there might be someone else out there who is writing your destiny, but the handwriting in which it is written is yours. No matter how you see it, life will never stop giving you options, possibilities, and chances. The next opportunity might not be as lucrative as the last one but I can bet you for all my money, there will always be a next opportunity.

You may be a college student who let go of his/her studies in the initial years and now sees a very bad future ahead, or you may be one who failed to realise that what you were studying wasn't what you were made for but can’t take the unconventional path now, or you may be a middle-aged man who realised far too late that your life had been on the wrong path and now there is nothing you can do about it. Its normal, it happens to all of us. We spend years and years of our lives trying to build something (a home, a family, a career) and then we realise that it isn't what we had dreamt of, it isn't even what we wanted in the first place. Now you can’t just throw it away and start afresh. Life is not MS Word where you can simply Delete a mistake and type it again.

This mentality is totally acceptable, and normal. But it won’t take you very far. Once you’ve understood the nature of your problem, human instinct doesn’t allow you to sit still and do nothing about it. Once you’ve realised that your life isn’t going in your desired direction, your instincts will revolt and you will break down. That burn-out will destroy a lot, but in that destruction you will comprehend that there is always the next fight to win.

This post is for those who want to change the course of their lives but feel powerless to do so.

1.       Live One Day At-A Time – Right, you lived the worst day of your life. You lost too much, and you gave up. I don’t blame you. The next day came, but you were too hopeless to fight back. I don’t judge you. That state of pathetic existence stayed on for years. I still believe in you. Why? Because when it’s going all wrong, all it takes is one good day to change it. It doesn’t matter what your past was, the future has never met the past you see. You lost, you gave up, repeat. That cycle went on for a long time. But winning or losing, fighting back or giving up, being awesome or being pathetic, these are everyday choices, not long term phenomena. You choose to win or lose every single day. One day, someday, you’ll decide to be awesome and then you will win where you had only known failure. You just need to know that inside. That’s the first thing you must do. Take the decision of fighting for your cause every day you can, and even if you fail one day, there will be another. You’ll be awestruck when you see how short-term decisions affect the long run.
2.      Greet People Nicely – A smile can work wonders! All you need to do is look lively. Research has shown that most of the time, how our entire day goes with a person depends on how that person behaves with us in the first three minutes. That’s right, three good minutes can change a bad date into a good one, a supposed fight into a settlement, a rejection into an acceptance, a lost deal into a sealed one. Besides, the more you smile, the happier you get. Seems like a good choice to me.
3.      Work With Spark – It doesn’t matter how bad the previous day was. What matters is how you make this current day. And you can make it great if you choose to be good at work. You don’t need to put good effort, or show self-discipline, just do things how you always do them, only with some enthusiasm. Just focus on being the best version of yourself and the results will come right at you.
4.      Make Today Different – Always ask yourself this question “What’s different about today?” The answer could be anything or nothing. Generally, there is nothing different about any day. It’s just another day of your life. There could be a holiday, or a weekend, or a festival, or some other special day that fills you with the energy to make the most out of it. But generally all days are alike. And that’s where you can turn your pessimism to your advantage. There is nothing about today that is different. Lead yourself to another question – “How do I make today different from yesterday?” The answer is simple. By being a different person today. Try to put something extra in your day today. You’ll see sparkling results in the long run.
5.      Challenge Life – Most of us are simply going where life is taking us. Change that. Be led by life, but always work methods to lead life in your way. Pick a hobby, develop it. Give it time. You’ll find out that you are capable of handling a lot more than just the few things you’ve been doing so far. Make plans for the future. Not plans like “I’ll finish college and get a job”. Make plans that say “I will study this chapter today and practice public speaking in front of the mirror at night”. Short-term plans are easier to follow and more fruitful. Besides, by adding your hobbies into your priorities, you open up new possibilities for yourself even though you are going where life is taking you.

As I said earlier, it is totally normal to feel defeated and swept away at times. But the problem is that even after we give up on ourselves there will be a next morning where we have to wake up and live. Even after we lose everything there will be people who expect us to succeed – friends, parents, and siblings. And even if everybody else gives up on us, we can’t live out our days in self-pity. One day or the other, you’ll get tired and try to make something of your life. So why not do it today? Why wait for a good-looking opportunity? Just be the best version of you in whatever you are doing at the moment. Whatever it is. That alone shall make your life ten times better than it is right now.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Stuck In The Wrong Place!

This post is basically career oriented, especially for those who have spent a good year or two in college or some particular course only to realize that it is not their calling but can't do anything about it now.

First things first, I am one of you. I got into an engineering college already knowing that it wasn't my thing. Three years into it, and the situation has gone from grouchy and bland to downright hopeless. Now there are people who are actually doing what they want to do, so my best wishes for you if you are one of those. But a big majority of our generation either hates their degree course or is simply putting up because that's what everybody's doing and they have no idea what they really want to do.

This post is for those who find themselves in that state where there is nothing to do that you want but so much to do that you'd rather avoid doing. Well, to be honest, even if you get the one thing that you really love to do, there will be times when you get burnt-out. So, everything's not over yet. Love for a person and love for a job or an academic subject are not very much unlike - they can be rekindled at will. 

However, academics are a little hard to catch up on. And once you lose interest, there is nearly nothing that you can do. Nearly - and that's the word that makes all the difference. There is always a possibility of bouncing back, it all depends on how strongly-willed and determined you are.

So, here are a few tips on how to tackle unfavourable academic studies and make it through.

1. Make Notes- The standard procedure is that you sit and sleep through classes and then run up to the class toppers or studious students for notes in the end. Cut this crap! There's no need to actually study. Just make notes on your own. You'll be surprised how much your mind can retain and how easy things become.

2. Make Time- Yeah, there's so much to do. You gotta watch that new movie, weekends are reserved for fun, there are those nasty files and reports to work up on, your girlfriend demands all your time and devotion, an so on... But if you make it a habit to simply devote one hour of your day to rewriting those notes you made in the class (no studies, just simple handwritten photocopying) you'll see your academics become much easier.

3. Find Your True Calling- Most of us are down because we are lazy. The only problem with us is that we have no idea what we actually want from life. What our aim is. I know my calling, I want to be a writer. I have many other interests too - I can sing, act, compose music, do poetry, become an average engineer, all at the same time - but my true calling is to be a writer. You can like many things but you have to decide what your first priority is. If you can do that, it will be much easier to find a meaning in all this chaos.

4. Plan Your Own Way- There will be a lot of pressure from peers, parents, teachers, relatives etc. but they won't step in and earn your bread for you; that is solely your job to do. Hence, you have all the right to plan your life as you want it. Yeah, I know what you're thinking. "I wanted to do fashion designing but my father coerced me into doing B.Sc in Physics. What planning do I do now?" Sometimes, we don't have the power to make certain choices and are swept by circumstances instead. But take a simple analogy for example. When you write an article for a competition, you have to keep to the word limit as well as the provided title. When you design a machine, you must meet certain parameters and not violate standard settings. When you perform a surgery, you have to exercise caution to avoid damaging vital parts. In short, circumstances will always block your way and you'll always have to compromise accordingly. But that's how life is, and you must've gotten used to it by now. Achieving certain targets while sticking under circumstantial limitations, that is what planning means after all.

5. Respect Your Work- Hating a certain person is okay, but elders say we must always respect our enemies. The same goes for academic courses and jobs as well. I don't claim that you'll start finding it interesting, but you'll be at peace with it if you respect it enough. You know, if you can't get the nuances of a subject through your brain, it only goes to prove how talented those are who excel at the subject. That demands for a good of respect, don't you think? After all, no job is too small or too inconsequential.

These are a few ideas that might help you get out of bed every day when you argue with yourself over whether it is even worth getting off to work. I can't claim that these pieces of advice will work, because I haven't been able to try them yet. But I sure think they'll work. Because I am pretty certain that my readers are strong people capable of guiding their own lives. Go on, prove me right. I worked pretty hard to be this smart, you know ;)  ...

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

For The Eternally Single

There's this girl that you like a lot. She seems to like you too. She's always complimenting you, she tells you that you are a nice, caring, eligible guy who is a great catch. When you met her, she was surprised - maybe even shocked - that someone like you could be single. But that's your truth, and you know somewhere deep down that it's not going to change in the near future.

Pardon me for the masculine point of view, but I think females generally don't get into this kind of bind. I personally feel - it's a pathetic prejudice but I can't help it - that women stay single by choice but men have to stay single by compulsion. Yeah, denial is a very nice way to go, but you know your truth.

So this post is for those who feel let down, or incomplete, or simply not good enough, because they can't break that stupid old curse of being single despite your best efforts to get paired up. Yeah, there are so many posts out there on Facebook, just to boost your ego, the 'Single and Happy' battle-cry that becomes the twig which keeps you afloat on the pool of your sorrows. I don't say that it's all but a hoax; there are people out there who are actually single and happy. But they aren't the ones who need this post. This post is for those who are like a graduated engineer who didn't get college placement - you keep looking for a job and appear in all kinds of exams but you're still unemployed.

Now I won't pepper you with the usual things that most of your friends must say to you. You know - 'Its better to be single, man. We committed people suffer all the time', or 'Your time will come, and trust me, one day you'll find someone so amazing and lovely, and that day you'll thank me', or 'This is such a stupid thing to be sad about, just focus on other goals of your life and your partner will automatically arrive when the time comes'. No, those people don't know your pain. They can't possibly understand why you fuss over something as trivial as this. But that's the point now, isn't it? The trivial things in life are the most vital after all. And love sure is a trivial thing these days.

Now you may be a person who never found the right person, or one who was deviously cheated on but never actually got into a relationship, or any sort of heartbroken, empty-feeling person (yeah, girls too, you people suffer a lot too). But the medicine remains the same, no matter who the patient is. So lets get to the good part, shall we?

Ten things for the eternally single to always remember:

1. No Pain, No Gain- All right, I give you a choice. Who do you want to be your life partner? Would you accept just about anybody, or should it be someone special, someone different, someone you have only seen in your dreams? Now you can, like a novice fisherman, hook a little fish and go home. But if you want a big catch, the catch of your dreams, I'd suggest you have the guts to wait up. It takes a special one to date a special one, you see?

2. Never Give Up- If you look all defeated and dragged out all day, do you really think you can find the one you're looking for? Even if you do, do you think they would like you all that much? Now I am not an expert, but I do know that a smile makes all kinds of faces look slightly better. And genuine smiles are a really attractive bait. Your fish might be crossing your hook every other day, lure her right in, go on.

3. Look Your Best- At all times, in all places, try to look as good as you possibly can. You know the rule - first impression is last impression. And who doesn't like good looking people? Besides, you get to admire yourself in the mirror. I am pretty sure that would help your mood, agree? Trust me, a good closet attracts not only prospective partners, but great friends as well.

4. Be Funny- When in pursuit of someone you don't know or maybe have never seen or met, the best course of action is to draw attention, positive attention. Best way, a tinge of humour. Now whatever you believe, nobody is born with zero sense of humour, this thing comes with the IQ. Be snappy, be happy, is all I say.

5. Keep Looking- We live in a world where love can strike from any direction. So why filter people out? Your perfect match could be anybody - a senior, a junior, a classmate, somebody from another college, anyone. Try to keep your options open. It's no crime to look, after all.

6. Everything's A Date- When you're single, everybody you meet is an option and there is no shame about it. So every time you head out with someone of the opposite sex, make it a date. Don't get too carried away, though. Tact should never be mixed with desperation. Just keep it light, a little hint of flirty. If you can spark enough interest, the other party will make things a whole lot easier.

7. Keep The Past In The Past- Nobody like glum people. I don't say that you should totally avoid talking about your past, but try to keep it to a minimum. And only do it when you feel it's very necessary. It's a simple theory, why talk about the past when you are planning about the future?

8. Feel Free To Move On- As I said, when you are single, everybody is an option. So if you follow up on a crush and it leads nowhere, I'd suggest you move on real quick and get on with the next one. If there are real feelings, then you'll stop reading or heeding advice by lonely writers like myself and act as your heart directs. But as long as it is fun and flirty, I'd say you are free to be a little clumsy.

9. Keep Your Friends Close- If you can't find your match, they'll try and find one for you. That's the deal, that's what friends are for in the first place (its just an expression, friends are precious and they serve many purposes). Besides, a true friend would only feel honoured if he/she is able to help you in any way possible.

10. Avoid Hooking-Up On Social-Network- It doesn't pay off. At least I've never seen it pay off. WhatsApp, Facebook, Hike etc are a nice place to chat with people and meet new people maybe, but you don't get to know them through text messages (or voice notes and picture messages). Avoid it. Real love with real people shouldn't be cultivated in the virtual world.