Category Archives: Thoughts

What have we done?

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Newspapers are full of this, and yet no one seems to mind. There are a bunch of people celebrating, and another bunch lamenting this, however who I am worried about, are those in between. No I am not talking about Karnataka elections, and no I am not talking about RCB losing yet another year, I am not talking about the united front trying to fight the might of Mr Modi, nor the noisy unruly media trying to be senseless about all sensitive issues. I am talking about numerous board exams, and innumerable toppers shining in those exams.

I look at my 5 year old son, and I am worried. I hate the fact that we have bought him into an environment which reminds me of the novel Hunger Games. He is going to be one of the tributes in this dangerous game, and unfortunately this does not have just 2 from each district like the novel, but thousands of young kids cutting each other’s throat in an attempt to win a lottery called survival. He got the taste of it already, as he had to compete with age, religion, caste, money and lineage to make his first score, ‘admission’ into pre-kg. There used to be a time, when money was the biggest evil, the one holding the bight future away from many of the bright kids, and it was thought of, as the most evil thing that mankind has seen. Man, where we wrong.

I remember my father telling me, how an average student he was, and in his own sweet words trying to explain how being average is no longer enough. This was in the early 90s. I did not realise how difficult it would have been for him to expect and request his son to score a seat in the reputed college to make sure I make a decent living in the future. I did not see a big fuss in that, all my father was asking of me, was to make sure I score good enough to get a seat, my aim was much higher, I didnt care about scoring high, I wanted to score high enough to be able to go top school, the school closest to my house so that we don’t need to spend more on my living expenses. How outdated my struggle sounds.

What do I tell my son now?, let alone 10 years later when he is truly going to come to face the first big battle. Above average is going to make you a failure?, 95s are not enough?, your budget in terms of losing is 1 to 3 marks in the grand total and then hoping that all his competition slips a bit and looses 5-6 marks?. Getting marks is just a thing which he can control,  however he should also hope that his dad keeps his job and makes enough money to be able to pay for his college without having to sell his kidney?.

I have never been afraid of competition, infact it has always made me fight harder. The taste of every small win, has egged me on to make a bigger sash in trying to carve a bigger chunk of my share of the cheese. I really want our future generation to be able to breathe, and not really gasp all the time. I want my son to play his way through education, and not really run a marathon through this stampede. I would like him to believe that he is in a race, where he can win with pleasure, if and when he plays straight. I don’t want him to start seeing how this is a race where no one wins, and every one is here to lose.

I hope we abolish this hunger games. We don’t need our children to be tributes, no not in our capitol.

 

 

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Finding Faults

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I see this beautiful tree, stripped naked, just branches survive from what must once have been a luscious green. She stands there on my way to work, grabbing my attention with her appeal, and makes me wonder how many more are smitten by her bare naked looks.

Not far from her, stands this majestic tree. She is green throughout and with no traces of flower, she is far stretched with no hint of any pain. I let her musky smell entice me and leave me with a lingering picture of the vast green.

Next stands this yellow beauty, with no hit of brown or green, full of flowers is what she is. Bold, making a statement, and daring to say the least, no sense of shame whatsoever, she stands there spreading her delight to all the beholders.

Beauty is a really strange thing. Every day as I pass through the traffic junction with these trees, I get a taste of how different beauty can be.

We see this in nature all around us, in both god and man made things, and yet we fail to see the same in one another. We like to find faults, and we have become good at it.

 

That which remains

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Memories are always cherished. They are the only thing of your loved ones that remain long after they are gone. Still why is it that, after a period of time, we wish we had more memories of people we care about? How is it that our parents have a long list of memories from our childhood, and none from our recent past? Why is it that we end up having to think hard to relive a memory of our time with our parents?

Memories are moments of life which survive the test the time. For moments to survive, they need to have occurred in the first place. Having said that, moments do not occur, they transpire over time. You realize moments, a while after you have lived them. The key here is the time factor. Unless you “live” them, you wouldn’t realize your moments. Unless you have your moments, you won’t have the joy of memories.

I was thinking about ways we could fill our lives and our parents’ with memories, and here is a list of things which would add joy to our time with parents.

Be a part of their activities:

Parents have their own set of activities revolving around their interests. Your mom might prefer going to a nearby temple, over dining out. Your dad might like taking a walk to the neighborhood market or enjoy the simple joys of working on a crossword or a soduku. It may bring a smile to their faces, when you volunteer to be part of these day to day activities of theirs. The small time spent with them, doing things which they love to do, can surprise you with happiness which you may never look for in these activities.

Include them in your activities:

You could just be watching TV on a Sunday, [Yes,  watching TV is an activity, even though my wife disagrees], it’s nice to pull your parents along to watch a song which you know they love. They might be busy in their world, but I am sure, they wouldn’t mind dropping in to watch their favorite song, when its on TV. If you have plans for shopping, or even a visit to your favorite “chatwallah” round the corner, it would be nice to invite them to join you once in a while. It is possible they would want to avoid this intrusion into your life, but reassurance that they are invited whole-heartedly can work wonders. You would know many facets of their life, which I am sure you will treasure.

Discuss a problem with them:

Parents have loads of experience and would have faced a whole lot of problems in their lifetime. Having solved all the problems for their kids over years, suddenly they are of not much use once the children grow up. Times have changed, and world has changed a lot, you might feel they are not of much help in the problem you are facing today, which might be true as well. However, there is nothing like the feeling of being needed by children, there is nothing like having the satisfaction of having helped your children. Why rob them of this pleasure?

Discuss the problem you are facing, they might have some great insight which might help you, even if they don’t, just talking about the problem, might ease your burden, and bring them joy. Discussing a problem does not mean complaining to them all the time, or forcing your problems on them.

Try to help them out in their problems:

Many of the new age parents are financially independent; this does not mean they do not have financial problems or that they do not have doubts and dilemmas. Introduce them to newer financial products which they may not have access to, and discuss your idea of finance and it management.

They might have many issues, which they would not know whom to contact, they may not even be able to identify their problems. Lending an ear, can help them figure out many of their problems and issues. Its very common for the old people to dismiss their children’s advice, or not be able to follow what the children are trying to convey. Just like your children, your parents too can come across as adamant, and stubborn. Please not that you are trying to solve their problem, and just like the way you let your children make mistakes, you may have to deal with letting your parents make mistakes too. The experience of being a part of their problems, is as rewarding as being able to solve their problems.

Go on a vacation:

Living with your parents, or visiting them often, helps in spending quality time with them. however, thats not enough. Taking time off, and heading to a vacation, however short in duration it may be, helps you to spend a relaxed time with them. Many a times, with the amount of pressure on individuals these days, the time spent with family is either an aftermath of a busy day of work, or in preparation of the things to come at work the next day, even weekends are spent in attempts to rewind from a busy week, or trying hard to relax before the madness of the coming week. A relaxed vacation can bring a much needed open mind when spending time with your parents. A vacation also usually brings out the youth in parents, giving them another reason to smile.

Gift them needful things:

People usually have lot of occasions to gift their parents; there are always birthdays and anniversary, and fathers and mothers day. The clichéd saree from your first salary to your mother still lingers around. It’s nice to gift them big, but its even better to have an eye for their smaller necessities. Be it a pen which needs a new refill or a worn out wallet of your dad, a soothing gel for your mothers cracked heals, or even refill of their prescription medicine. It is not that, they cannot afford these, or that they can’t do these chores on their own, this just gives them the satisfaction of being looked after, and provides you of the joy of taking care.

A family meal:

One shared meal with the family everyday is easiest way to build memories. Even most silent of the families open up over a dinner table. Dinner table conversation involves everyone in the table,  it can vary from discussing a cartoon character, to worrying about the country’s financial and political woos. Sharing a meal, provides a common ground for sharing opinions, and sharing each other’s highlights from the day. There are many a laughs and smiles which always remain long after the eaten meal has left your system.

Request a dish:

A family always knows each other’s likes and dislikes, and food has always been a big part of Indian households. Even today my uncle sends my favorite peda from Ahmedabad, whenever someone comes over. Why not make it a point to celebrate food once in a way. Why not request your mom to cook your favorite dish, amidst your busy week. Why not ask your dad to decide the menu for the Saturday’s lunch, believe me, even non foodies love to decide the menu.

A small get together:

Most of us do not share our social lifes with our parents. We never have time for people who are important to them. We do not consider it important to share people who are important to us with them. How many of our friends really know our parents, or have spent 10 minutes over coffee with our parents. It might be worth organizing a small get-together involving both worlds. You can keep it intimate with few of your best friends, and few of your parents friends.

Just because I have mentioned these points over here, does not mean I practice all of them. I may have followed some of them, and might have thought of trying some.

As I collect my memories of my parents, I would love to discover more things which I can do to earn them.

The story of loris.

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I was on my way to work today, listening to my ipod, and the song “surmayee ankhiyon mein” from the movie Sadma came on. Now don’t ask me why I listen to a lori [A song meant to induce sleep] on my way to work. I am definitely not the types who listen to peppy music in the mornings. As I was enjoying the tremendous song, and happily feeling the emotions it inspires in me, it struck me that in the past few years there has been no new lori song, nothing I can remember in movies, I don’t even want to get into the state of non filmi music in India.

I was thinking what could be the reason behind this change in the taste of music lovers [I assume the industry does work on supply demand basis].

How many of modern day mothers really put their babies to sleep by singing songs?, well to be frank how many of the mothers really put babies to sleep. With this fast paced world, where the ‘mom’ is usually more busier than the ‘dad’ running around the house and having to work, I do not think she would get enough time to put the baby to sleep, let alone spend a relaxed few minutes singing loris to the kid. Actually I find it a little sad.

The taste in the music too has changed over the years, with slow songs not finding many takers, and I don’t think any one would feel like sleeping listening to a “dinka Chika”. I remember one of my cousins, who has this habit of singing songs all throughout the day when she is doing her household work, in fact we had a nick name for her as “ATN” one of the old music channels which kept on playing hindi songs. When she got her baby, she continued to sing along throughout the day, and  one day we caught her trying to make the baby sleep by singing the song “Tu Cheez Badi Hain Mast Mast”. We actually couldn’t stop laughing and didnt stop teasing her for a while.

Is the concept of a lori too unrealistic and something which shows up only on screen. I always wondered about that. My mom never sang loris to put me to sleep, in fact she would be too tired by the end of the day to even talk to me, being a working mom, that too when my father used to be away all the time was not easy for her.

Frankly speaking I don’t see my wife putting our kids to sleep in future by singing songs. Have loris become outdated?. If they are, it adds on to a list of many things which I feel sad to have become extinct.

Since movies have been one of places where people want to run away from harsh realities of real life, its high time for some music directors to get back the lost glory of the loris back on screen.

A birth tree

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Recently I read about the idea of birth-trees. No , I am not talking, about the tree which matches your star sign. I say that because, you google for “birth-tree” and top 10 hits are about how to find your birth-tree. The birth tree I am talking about is an interesting concept in many communities, where in, they plant a tree when a baby is born. I read about two very different philosophies behind the same act [Ritual, if you want to term it that way].

Some communities in Kashmir have a practice of planting a tree in the name of the new born baby. Since birch is the most common variety in Kashmir, its usually a birch tree. The idea behind the tree planting, is to nurture the tree along with the baby. The children too are imbibed with a sense of ownership for that tree, thereby making them take care of it. This tree is considered as a financial investment, and when the child grows up, it can be sold and the money can be used in setting up of the person.

Few parsi communities too have a practice of planting a tree for the new born baby. The parents take atmost care of the tree. They believe that the soul of the baby stays with the tree. Even when the children grow up and have to physically move, parents still have a feeling that their children are still close to them in spirits.

One practice is financial and practical, where as the other tends more towards the spiritual sides. I liked both the ideas; firstly it results in people planting the tree. Secondly and most importantly, it makes people think trees are our future just like our kids.

Is memory going the appendix way

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I remember a conversation I had with my friend a couple of years back. He moved out of the country after our graduation, and has remained there ever since. Once,after a couple of drinks, when we were all nostalgic, and remembering our college days, he said that even today he remembered my home telephone number, and all he needs to do, is get to a telephone keypad and the numbers just come back to his mind. Strangely, I had his home number remembered, even though we haven’t dialed each other on that number for years now.
As I was taking my shower, where usually all my posts sprout from. I was just wondering that, today, if someone asks me my wife’s cell phone number, or my parents, I actually struggle. I depend so much on the address book on my phones that, I no longer care to remember the phone numbers. I am sure, my mind would not hesitate much, if I ask it to remember these numbers, it is just that I no longer care.
We seem to be dependent so much on these gadgets, have we begun to lose our abilities?.
Just like the hunting instinct which was once the primary weapon and the skill of the human beings which no longer seem to be seen, even in traces. [Salman Khan is an exception]. May be with this information age, we are making our memory obsolete.
There was a time when going to a reference library was a norm. People would spend hours together to find the information they wanted, in the process discover so many other things. The skill to find the right information, included ability to remember the author names, books, the racks and rows, Involved inter personal skills of interacting with a librarian, or a friend, or a professor who had a better skill then you. Today all that is replaced by a simple text box on google. All you need to know is, what you want to know about.
The influence of search engines is so much in our lives, that there are times when I am searching for a misplaced thing, and I wish if google could search through my belongings.
Do we call this technological advancement or laziness?.

One two many

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As I was reading my book on my way to work today, I realized something. I read only one book at a time. I might have multiple books on my stand, but I always choose one, and read it till the end, before I pick up another one. I know many people who read many books simultaneously, my own dad does that.

I was thinking of possible reasons, why I don’t do multiple books simultaneously.  Not that I don’t do multitasking, infact most of the times I am listening to music when I am reading books, so its strange I find it odd to read more than one  book at once.

I think it has to be with the attachment and passion towards the characters and the narrator. I usually develop this attachment which generates curiosity and the also ownership of the situations which unfold in the book. It becomes very difficult to come out of it, even when I am not reading. So may be its difficult to have the same level of involvement in multiple subjects.

Books are not like sitcoms which we watch an episode, followed by another episode from another sitcom and so on. We then wait for a week to get back to where we had left off. In fact, even sitcoms, I prefer to watch all episodes together over the DVD. The idea of continuity seems to attract me more than that of the novelty and variety.

If we term it as “thought space”, the dwellings of our mind which get transformed as we read a book, know the characters, their problems, their stories and their life. This thought space seems to handle only one set of people, and prefer to focus more on few, then less on many.

I was just wondering how much of this applies to our real life as well.

Some of us tend to have a large space, filled with many people, friends and family, people whom we just know, and end up not focusing on people who matter to us most. Some on the other hand have a very little people place, and end up focusing too much on them. I wouldn’t say one is better than the other.  Its just the way we are.

So what kind of reader are you?.