Stained Footprints of Humanity?

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I can hardly control my surging thoughts, in the wake of recent developments in my beloved city, Delhi. The city of my childhood is witnessing a public health emergency and everyone is busy in passing the buck. Every year control measures are taken only after the fat is in the fire. Let’s accept that Pollution is a grave concern, not only for Delhi but for most of the tier 1 cities in India. Unbelievable? You can check for yourself at aqicn.org

What kind of development are we talking about friends? We are staring at a future where our children will be carrying oxygen cylinders instead of water bottles to schools. A future where pollution masks will be sold like accessories, to be paired up with the colour of your dress. Horrible it sounds. Isn’t it? But the way things are progressing , not only in India but in many parts of the world, this day is not far. Nature selects the fittest of the species for survival and in our case, we are pacing towards self-annihilation. The root cause of everything is our “Greed”. Our spending patterns are no longer governed by our needs but by our greed. Consumerism is the reality of our time and is pushing this planet to its limit. Earlier, there used to be “Summer Sale” and “Winter Sale”, but now “Sale” happens all throughout the year with intermittent periods of breathing time. Things are deliberately made not to last, so that repeat purchase can take place soon. Repair is for misers, Replace is the buzz-word.

Look around your surroundings. Is there a change? Vehicles are piling up. Solid waste lies strewn all over. Plastic bottles, plastic bags, plastic pens, plastic furniture and more plastic everywhere. Any clue, where this ever so convenient plastic is coming from? It comes from petrochemicals, produced from petroleum. Gallons of petroleum are processed in order to prepare that comfy chair on which you are sitting now. Plastic packaging is convenient and cheap, but imagine that how much it will add to our carbon footprint. A carbon footprint is historically defined as the total set of greenhouse gas emissions caused by an individual, event, organisation, or product, expressed as carbon dioxide equivalent (Source: @Wikipedia).

Everyone is well aware of the health consequences of soaring pollution levels. It is not strange that deadly diseases like cancers, heart troubles and respiratory illnesses are on the rise. Hospitals are mushrooming everywhere to cure our problems, whereas mass production of problems is going on. We are treating the symptoms, instead of working on the root cause. Today being diseased, popping in pills is not a big problem but not being able to drive a swanky car is a big problem. Millions dying due to hunger is not a big problem but not being able to dine out with family is a big problem. Actually, modern lifestyle has reduced some of our problems, by giving us multitude of other problems. Problem lies in the fact that we don’t know, where actually the problem lies.

Knowing this all, can we be a little more conscious while making the next super-market visit? Can we consciously choose products which are preferably not packed in plastic jars? Can we encourage our children to buy refills instead of buying use and throw stationary? Can we economize upon our frequent car trips? Can we convince our heart, to not follow the latest fashion trends blindly? Can we assure our spirit of the fact that god has enough for everyone and we needn’t hoard things mindlessly for bad time? The change needs to start from within. No government has ever solved the problem of any country. It’s the people only, who can be the torch-bearers and harbingers of change. Solution is in our hands. If we consume less, then they will produce less. Agreed, it will impede “Development” but at least we will be alive. Moreover, it will push everyone to look for cleaner and sustainable alternatives.

It’s ridiculous when experts say that Earth will become inhabitable in 600 years and it’s time to explore life beyond. I believe, me and my children have only this planet for many years to come. Let’s preserve it together by bringing in small but significant changes to our day-to-day approach.

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Trapped

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There I lay awake, after just being woken up from the most amazing sleep I ever had. Years of working hard was bound to take its toll on a life, a life less-lived. A life, which blossomed like a rainbow in the initial years, under the warmth and affection of my dear mother. It all started from unrestrained laughter, then school, then college and finally I got settled. I soon had a family of my own. Neelima, my wife, was seven years younger to me and was everything I ever wanted in a wife. She was mature, much beyond her years. Perhaps, the years of restrained upbringing had transformed her into a woman of strength and had given her a unique sober demeanour, which is deemed fit to be a part of Indian households. Days went by and soon parenthood knocked on our door. We were blessed with twins, a girl and a boy.

In the excitement of giving them the best names, we passed away four months and finally decided upon Radhika and Arjun, much to the dismay of our relatives, who found them to be quite run-of-the-mill. Our joy knew no bounds, on watching them grow from infancy to toddlerhood. Our life was progressing, very much in a set determined pattern, the way it is for everyone. The initial revelry of marriage and parenthood had started to fade away, and was being gradually replaced by the struggle to thrive and survive. In a race to procure the best of everything, life had been slipping away slowly. Better part of my married life and for a significant part of my children’s teenage years, I was away from them. I was busy making a life for them, realising little about the fragility of life and its transient nature. Love also has a track of its own. Love, ignored for long, transforms into anger. The years of anger and resentment soon give way to indifference. I saw it all happening, right in front of my eyes, for I had become the recipient of this indifference by my own family. Neelima’s initial attempts at cajoling me were soon turned into quick-witted sneers, and finally she was forced to find different pursuits to invest her time and energy. Children also, once they reached their teens, were completely immersed in their own world and I really had no complaints then.

Day after day when I reached home, I was welcomed by its eerie silence. Most of the times, they were either asleep or were away. Neelima had joined a social service club, and had a wide social circle of her own. Charities, fund collections and social functions were now her way of life. I had also happily reconciled with this new life and spent time with my pipe and rounds of liquor.

It was a usual day and an early winter morning for me. Years of practice had instilled in me, a strange knack of doing things mechanically, in the shortest possible time. My routine work used to be immaculate – the hair perfectly combed, the trousers perfectly creased and a clean shave with no cuts. But that day was unusual, for it had a strange smell of gloom. It really took quite a struggle for me, to get out of my cosy quilt. My bed tea was lying morose on the side table, for all its vapours had dissipated into the surroundings. The clock showed 5:30 AM and I had been late by exactly half an hour. The angst and frustration took over me, and I hurried towards the bathroom. My head had been aching severely but little did I care at that moment. The meeting with the client was scheduled at 8 AM and I couldn’t afford to be late. A myriad of images jostled through my mind and made me uneasy. I hurried through the daily chores and got a big cut from my shaving razor. Oddly enough, my dexterity that day was going for a toss. I somehow managed to get done with the shower and changed into a crisp business suit. Something was amiss – and it was an effort to drag myself out – but I couldn’t zero down on it. Neelima was, as usual, busy in the kitchen and yelled “Breakfast is ready”. Her customary morning yelling, laced with frustration, was enough to get me back to my senses. On the breakfast table, I mindlessly plodded through the screaming, yelling and laughing faces of my family and finally drove to work. Some goodbyes are forever, but scarcely ever do we realise when they come…

Sitting inside the conference room, the necktie was feeling like a noose and I was hyperventilating. Gasping for breath, I opened my laptop for the presentation. I started to present, but the words coming out of my mouth were incomprehensible gibberish. My last memory of vision is, going through an array of blurry images, amalgamating into a fusion of colours. I fell to the ground and everything thereafter was complete darkness, like a trance.

I would have been rushed to a hospital, which was to become my abode for months to come. So I was there, at the hospital, lying on a bed, in a vegetative state. I had just woken up from a long sleep. I knew that I had woken up but no one else could hear me. Though I had woken up but I couldn’t open up my eyes, move my limbs or utter a word. I could hear people around me, Neelima, Arjun, Radhika, my relatives and the hospital staff. What I initially mistook to be a sleep paralysis, turned out to be a nightmare. I heard doctors talking in their medical language and realisation struck me like a bolt, for I had suffered a stroke. I had been sleeping for over a month and the fact that I had woken up was not known to anyone. I was trapped within my own body and the same body which used to augment my spirit had become my limitation. The moment I tried hard to break loose, the very next moment I was forced back to dive deep into the darkest recesses of my mind. Having become the prisoner of one’s own mind and body could be a dreadful thing. It is difficult to control the remaining senses, when you have lost control over the others. I could hear, feel and smell but I couldn’t see, touch and respond.

Every morning, the nurse used to bring choicest of sweet smelling flowers, whose hues I longed so much to see. Colours were now a distant memory and I had to strain myself too much, to cling on to their memories. The lunch Neelima brought for Arjun, who had been waiting by my bedside, evoked countless memories. All these were the things that we take so much for granted. Life is so much easier for one who has never smelt or for one who has never seen. Once you have experienced them, and then you are bereft of some gifts, it’s only then that one comes to appreciate their significance. Very often, I felt droplets of tears on my body, which I could later make out to be of my wife’s. What a trauma this has been for her. Once I heard her say, “Wish we had more time together”. Her words filled me with an inescapable sense of remorse and gratitude towards her at the same time. Given the kind of life I had given her, I was hardly expecting such soothing words. I felt a strange longing surging through me, a longing to belong to my family, to my kith and kin. All of them had been the recipients of my neglect, when I was so busy in making a living for ourselves. Making a living, which probably I will never get to witness! Radhika often touched my feet and said, “Papa, please wake up”. If only I had realized the value of their childhood, then things could have been so different. Arjun, who used to be least interested in me, would spend hours waiting by my bedside. I wish we all had spent more time together, but not in the inhospitable environs of a hospital! I wish I could turn back the clock and bring the wheels of time to a stop. A time, where it all started. A time, when I was still a gawky young man, and knew how to live and laugh. I wish I could unlearn the vicious things which made my mind “worldly wise” and turned me into a rat. A rat, who tried to run a race too fast, oblivious to the fact that at the end of the day, a rat is just a rat – even if it wins.

So here I lie awake now, trapped in my body, with my soul shackled, with many a thought which will most probably die with me. Thoughts, which had the potential to become actions. Actions, which could have changed my world – our world – for the better. Probably destiny has other plans for me. Here I lie awake now, to decay and disintegrate – bit by bit, in my own web. The web, I myself had spun bit by bit, ever so deftly. I have no other option now but to wait, perhaps forever.

A Helpless Parent….

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Today is a usual day but with an unusual state of mind. Mornings have always been action-packed for mothers but they were seldom upsetting. Much has been spoken, written and discussed about the series of onslaughts, which have recently been unleashed on the children. The mother in me is really scared this time. I am an ordinary mother, like million others, who fret and worries incessantly about her kid. I vaccinate my kid, if any seasonal epidemic is spreading. I apply ounces of mosquito repellents to ward off mosquito nuisance and ailments it brings. I pick up a nasty argument every morning, with my kid, over the healthy foodstuff I pack in her lunch-box. But today I am scared because I am clueless, as to how to shield my little one from the predators, who are lurking in our society, in benign masks. Predators, who are lurking in human form and will leave no opportunity to tarnish the little souls.

It’s true that goodness still outweighs the evil, but the little evil that exists, is enough to send shock waves through our civilized world. Empathy is the biggest teacher in life. Had I not been a mother, i wouldn’t have felt the grief of the parents, who have recently been bereaved. It takes a lot, to bring a life into this world. It takes even more to raise a life, step by step. It pains my heart, even when I just imagine about magnitude of their loss. A loss, which no matter what we say, we do, is irreparable. Whether it’s a road accident due to carelessness of a bus driver or it’s a massacre of hundreds of children due to lack of oxygen or it is a well thought out murder of a seven year old in a school or it’s a rape of a five year old in the school premises or a teen succumbing to gaming addiction, the damage is lifelong.

The mother in me is not only scared but has also become more suspicious. Suspicious of everyone, who ever ventures near to her child. The friendly chit-chat of the kid with the servant or with the security-guard, never sent me on the verge of a panic attack. Never before had I eyed the school bus-driver with my detective eye. How badly such incidents effect the collective consciousness of parents, can only be understood, when one is blessed with a gift of little life.

No parent should ever be made to go through such a loss and live in such a fear. We will definitely fail as a society, if we will fail to protect our little ones from such perils. If only that bus-driver was more careful, if only that peon was more thoughtful, if only we parents were more careful of our children’s activities, then perhaps many innocent lives would have been saved. The law will take its time to put the offenders behind the bars, but that is not the lasting solution. We, as parents, as policymakers, as teachers, as school administration need to think collectively, what we can do?

But I wanted to fly……

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It was very late. Nilofar had just returned from her friend’s place. Once again the home was full of giggles and laughter. The once so morose Duffy had sprung to life and was incessantly wagging its tail. Shahal, finally gave his newspaper a break and came out hurriedly to receive his share of sunshine. Fatima, who was till then monotonously rolling the chapattis in the kitchen, came out of her reverie and rushed through her daily kitchen routine. So much she wanted to share, as much she wanted to listen, for Nilofar was quite a babbler. That day was also no exception and so were many days, that were to follow. The child had the exuberance of the world, strong will to conquer the odds and a unique ability to speak her mind. Little did she know, that she were to find her nemesis, in those innocuous attributes of hers.

She had barely entered her teens and was desperate to come out her cocooned existence.  A cocoon which every parent creates diligently for his/her kids, in the hope that one day , the child will take his much cherished flight of freedom and soar high into the endless sky. Her grit, spirit and determination had never been a secret from anyone. It was to be seen that how high would she fly.

One day, a bunch of self-proclaimed well-wishers seeded a doubt in her mind. Daily she was fed the thought that how fragile her wings were compared to theirs and her flight of freedom shall always remain a flight of fantasy. So hurt was the girl, that she internalised the idea to the extent that when she finally tried to fly, she stumbled miserably. A single jibe, shattered  all her dreams, hopes and moreover, shook her confidence. A possibility had been wiped out, which had the potential to blossom and touch the countless struggling lives, with its magic.

Sounds familiar? Do you know or remember any Nilofar from your life? I spot countless Nilofars in my surroundings, in my classrooms and everywhere. Perhaps, you have guessed it right. I am talking about bullying, which is often pushed under the carpet or is given little importance in our society. The shortest  guy in the society is everyone’s  “chhotu”. The overweight girl in the class is casually called “moti”. The darkest child in the family is “kaalu”. The person with oriental features is plainly “chinki”. The seemingly light hearted banter is done for fun, but it’s not for the faint hearted. Only few braves can see through the day and rest all internalise the tagline for their lifetime. For a child, on whom this all is inflicted, this is not fun. Everytime a child tries to soar high, the very next moment his spirit is weighed down by the burden of these sneers. The child first denies it, then tries to rationalize it, accepts it and finally lives with it. Can you imagine the roller-coaster of emotions that the child is put through at such a tender age?

Many developed nations have stringent laws to prohibit and control bullying, but unfortunately in our country it’s taken as a part of growing up. Over the years, the damage that has been caused to generations, is difficult to evaluate and account for. As parents and guardians, we strive to raise healthy children, but the emotional health is often ignored. Do you think this is funny? Do you want this to happen to your child? Do we want to live with this feeling of making someone’s life less lived? Let’s save our children from bullying. I am determined to save my child and my students from bullying. Are you?

Let the Child Toil, in Soil

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Such luxuries are occasionally allowed by my busy schedule, but whenever I come home early, I try to take my daughter outdoors, to a park. Last week, we ventured out to a park and needless to mention that she was extremely happy. After exploring a few rides, she again got fascinated by her favorite friend, the soil. She asked me gleefully and I allowed her instantly. She baked many a cakes, made many a castles and what not. I was intrigued by her imagination and at the same time was feeling nostalgic, thinking about my own childhood. There used to be hardly any construction work in our locality, whose raw material wouldn’t have got baptized by our little feet and hands. I got drifted to a time, when I used to make castles in sand and not in air. I was brought out of my reverie, by the glance of a passing mother, who seemed to be confused at our behavior. She was carrying this look on her face as to how seemingly an educated person like me, can allow her daughter to get dirty in soil. What about the hygiene? What about the consequences of impending attack by pathogens?

I have seen in my friend circles and family that nowadays many people fret over excessive hygiene and super cleanliness, especially when kids are concerned. Advertising has further made us paranoid about cleanliness. While it’s good to maintain basic hygiene but excess of anything can be bad. Yes, you heard me right. Even excess hygiene can be bad for kids. Man was not created to sit indoors, in super clean surroundings. It is important to go outdoors, smell the air, bask in the warmth of sun, run after the dandelion, adopt a street pet and get smeared with mud.

Wonder, why soil is good? Well, following are few of the reasons-

  1. It’s important for child’s immune system to be exposed to a variety of microbes, so that, it will instigate body to produce valuable antibodies, which will last in the body, for a long time. It is a natural way to ward off infections. The obsession for cleanliness, will lead to an immune system in fragile and weak state.
  2. Frolicking in soil is a good way to ward off allergies and inflammation caused after wounds.
  3. Playing in soil, fosters creativity in child, which no plethora of creative stuff available in market can supplement. Remember, if we introspect deeply, then most of our creativity has come from nature only. A 2010 study done by Sage Colleges in Troy, New York, found that a bacterium naturally found in soil, Mycobacterium vaccae, can accelerate learning and brighten moods by stimulating neuron growth and raising serotonin levels. Serotonin is a natural mood stabilizer, combats depression and regulates sleep, appetite and digestion. You can read more about it in 5-reasons-let-your-kids-play-dirt.
  4. Children are often not very good at expressing things. Playing with water and soil can be good ways through which pent up emotions and frustration can come out.
  5. I know, this sounds philosophical but it’s equally true that from soil we come, and back to it we go. So, our connection with it, in the lifetime, keeps us happy and grounded. Some connections can soothe our mind at a subconscious level. I think this is one of it.

Today, we are paying a huge cost for our modern lifestyles, full of comfort and convenience. We are living in a time of commodification of everything. Packaged water is there as drinking water, summer camps are there for leisure, vacation packages are there for family time, video-games are replacing outdoor time. The trade flourishes due to our ignorance and makes us increasingly distant from the real and physical world. The age old wisdom of our parents and grand-parents mixed with a tinge of scientific thought, is all that we need, to judge the right from the wrong. As we age and mature in life, such things fall perfectly in perspective. Whatever they say, sometimes may not have logic, but a little research can find the logic, which must have been lost in the sands of time!

Antibiotics Misuse : A Sad Reality

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I ain’t any doctor though, but when it comes to my child, all my senses go in overdrive mode and i try to put all of my understanding and little knowledge, into action. I remember vividly, my daughter was about 8 months old and was down with high fever. It was difficult to wait, for the night to get over and we rushed to her doctor as soon as the day broke. Being first time parents, we were nervous and tense. It was difficult to watch our little bundle of happiness, going through such discomfort. As soon as the doctor arrived, he checked her thoroughly and asked us to admit her. She had acute bronchitis and according to doctor, that warranted 2-3 days of stay at the hospital. We were scared like hell, having little or no knowledge about the condition. The doctor also prescribed some antibiotics and some tests. Initially, i was a little reluctant in giving those antibiotics but had to succumb finally. She got well, in a day or two and we got back home.

Now, months later we sent her to a daycare. It meant more interaction with people and some compromise on hygiene. To add to it, the immunity of most of the kids is weak at this age. So, the frequency of mild to acute bronchitis increased and so does our visits to her pediatrician. Thankfully, this time he agreed that we can administer nebulizer to her, at home, as we were not at all willing to admit her. Again he wrote some antibiotics. I couldn’t comprehend his fixation with those medicines. Why was he, in such a great hurry to prescribe them? On one occasion, i couldn’t stop myself and asked him point blank whether the infection was bacterial or viral. He said that he couldn’t confirm without tests. I wondered, that how could he be then so sure about prescribing antibiotics. I asked him, if we could wait and watch for few days without them; and he agreed easily. We came back and gave her lots of fluids and anti-pyretics. She was fit and fine in 2-3 days.

Many of us must have faced this situation, at some point in our lives. I wonder, why we don’t ask? I agree, that we need to trust the doctor with our lives, but in today’s time, majority of them act like service-providers. Earlier, in good olden days, doctors used to take it slow. They advised to wait and watch, but today most of them are in an unexplained hurry. We live in dangerous times, when our food is poisoned with pesticides, our spaces are full of radiations, our bodies are full of medicines and our mind is full of tension. But at least, what can be avoided, should be given a try.

Every time my child falls sick, i get involved in an argument with my family members. I no longer want to rush to a doctor, immediately. I want to take it slow. It’s not that the mother in me doesn’t feel scared now, but i have figured out that in order to ensure long term health of my child, the mother in me needs to be brave now. Following are the general guidelines which i follow in case she falls sick:

1. Don’t be scared of fever. Fever is our body’s natural response to fight off infection. A little fever of around 100 degree Fahrenheit, is a sign,  that the immune function is active and fighting properly.  However, if it rises above 100 degrees then one may give anti-pyretics, in order to reduce discomfort caused by fever. If the fever lies in the range of 102-103 degrees, then cold swab treatment is necessary. Our initial response to fever, should not be of panic. If the fever lasts for more than 2 days, then it’s important to consult a doctor, just to rule out any major infection.

2. Most of the infections in children are viral. No antibiotic can work against viral infections. The treatment of viral infection lies within our body and that is our immune system. Taking a balanced diet, will keep immune function in robust condition. Ensure intake of lots of fluids and proper rest.

3. Antibiotics should be taken as a last resort. These drugs should be taken only when absolutely necessary. Even if they are to be taken, then the entire course should be completed religiously. Antibiotic misuse is a growing concern world-wide and leads to development of resistant bacterial strains, which are totally drug resistant. Problem lies in the fact that these strains really spread fast in a population and the so-called innocuous infections can also turn into lethal ones. Unfortunately, research and development in the field of antibiotics has not been able to keep up the pace with the rate of mutation in bacteria. It’s like a ticking time bomb, which can explode anytime and repercussions will have to be faced by the entire humanity.

4. Always ask your doctor, if it’s really necessary to use antibiotics. Believe me, a competent doctor shall never feel offended by your concern. If he gets, then please change the doctor. At the end of the day, he/she is just a doctor and has no right to play with our health. I appreciate the valuable service being rendered by them but that shouldn’t keep us from making informed choices. Consumer rights are gaining momentum in every field but it’s sad that nothing concrete has so far been achieved in medical field.

5. No need to pay any heed to what society says. When in doubt, trust your intuition. It’s nature’s way of safeguarding the best interests of your child. As the bond between the two of you grows, so will your intuition. The umbilical cord has been snapped off, in physical sense but an invisible cord will continue to connect the two of you, life long.

At last, don’t let panic, take over the better of you. Trust your instincts and make informed choices.

What Will Be Your Legacy?

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Often we don’t acknowledge our deepest desires, while they inherently drive the basis of our existence. The hustle and bustle of life makes us so mad, that in a race to acquire means, we forget about the ends, the larger picture. I often wonder that what is the ultimate quest of human being, which often gets disguised behind the illusion created by materialism, relationships, rivalry etc.  Which force drives the human endeavour to scale new heights and push himself/herself to the limit.

Why do we work so hard? Is it just to acquire wealth? Is it just to ensure a comfortable life? Why do we procreate? Do we like to spend many a sleepless nights? Do we get out of our mind to create chaos in our otherwise peaceful life? To dig down further, ever wondered, why a vast majority of society favours a male child? Why society is going gung-ho about Y-chromosome, which anyway contributes less than 3% to our genetic material? Why so much importance is associated with after-death rituals (shraddhs)?

The answers to these questions are not very simple but one basic thing which is the guiding force behind all these, is the human’s innate desire to leave a legacy behind. This is the urge of our existence that we want to be remembered, even after our time has come. We want to hoard material comforts in the hope that our children will remember us and will feel gratitude towards us. We procreate because we want to leave a part of us behind, this is our way of gaining otherwise impossible immortality. People desire for a male child so that the family (“Vansh”) name will continue, it doesn’t matter if they themselves see the light of the day to witness this grand drama unfold. A child works hard to gather attention of his/her parents or teachers, as he/she wants to be remembered as a good student. A mother works 24 by 7 because she wants to be remembered as a good mother, a good wife. While living life, we all in a way are writing our own Obituaries as to how we want to be remembered as.

I often wonder, for what kind of traits, we mortals are remembered for? What kind of people i still remember from the memoirs of my life? I have so far succeeded in making an ambiguous list and perhaps i will add more as i progress further in this journey called life.

First and foremost, people are definitely remembered for their kindness. How someone makes you feel, that feeling is absolutely indelible and is always carried by the subconscious. I still remember fondly, some of the kindest souls, whom i was blessed to meet with. Some of them are my kind teachers, friends, bosses. If we are looking forward to leave behind a legacy, then definitely “Kindness” can be our biggest legacy.

The legacy which we can leave behind for our children and relations, is our love for them. Our children are surely going to remember our love in their darkest hour. Love, which they will carry in their hearts will keep their boat safely anchored during the time of harshest of  storms. Material wealth is volatile, it will get you mind-space as long as it lasts. Love, though subliminal, will evoke fond memories forever.

Our legacy for a complete stranger could be our compassion and empathy. Even if we can’t contribute with tangibles, these intangibles are surely going to strike a chord with many.

Money will be a short-term legacy. Mind-less parenting will accord remembrance until empty nest syndrome knocks at your door. After-death rituals will just be an yearly event, which is done by many just for the sake of it. The family name may continue but “You” from the family will dissappear. The pre-condition is set that we all want to leave a legacy behind or want to be remembered. So what is going to be your legacy?

Why Mediocrity Reigns Supreme?

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It’s been almost a year long sabbatical since i wrote last but it’s really difficult to take off the wandering thoughts out of one’s mind , especially about matters which you feel passionately about.

A trivial discussion today, led me to a pertinent question which otherwise must have been on my mind but was somehow obscure. Coming straightaway to the point, the question boggling my mind is that despite humans’ endeavour to achieve superior results, why majority of us end up accepting mediocrity? What breeds this mediocrity? Nobody aspires to be a mediocre then why this cognitive dissonance. Why the zeal to conquer the world transforms into, just making ends meet? What kills the spark and strangulates the dreams? What reduces us from an individual to a mere figure, on the ever growing population charts? What is the difference between us and some of the great mortals, who had once traversed the same physical realm as us? The questions are endless but my limited understanding has led me to some conclusions.

I think the foremost enemy of excellence is self-doubt. The day we give in to our self-doubt , that day itself half  the battle is lost. Positivity breeds positivity and law of attraction (Gravitation) holds true in this sphere too. The framework of the society is such that it benefits from our self-doubt and propagates it, reinforces it. Tendency to find solutions outside, is a sure shot recipe for a disaster.

Secondly, being surrounded by mediocrity, we tend to project it on our self image and accept it as our reality. This further drives the point that it is better to be alone than to be surrounded by a bunch of idiots who are themselves full of self-doubt and spread mediocrity like an infectious ailment.

In our society, dreamers are often scoffed at but i would say that dreaming is the pre-requisite in order to actually achieve superior goals. It’s better to stay away from people who prohibit you from dreaming big.

Another factor for spreading mediocrity is conformity or a desire to fit. How one can think of breaking the glass ceiling by being trapped in that glasshouse, himself/herself? The world desparately needs more rebels, who can challenge the status quo. Rebels are always discouraged in present but are definitely remembered in history. Even the law of nature promotes diversity. If everyone would just aspire “To Fit” in the prevailing environment then what would be the consequences in the event of a sudden environment change? We need rebels to infuse diversity and break out of patterned thinking mold.

Fear is yet another important factor which shapes our behaviour. A mind full of fear will not even be half receptive to the external stimuli which life throws at us daily. The fear of losing out, the fear of lagging behind sometimes makes us compromise with our dreams. No person is born with fear in mind but it is developed as a response to the immediate surroundings. Many dreams are shattered midway as they are overcome by fear. Fear has the tendency to shift the mind from “what can we do today” to “what will happen tomorrow”. It triggers worry and worry is the biggest tormentor of today’s time.

Lucky are those people who never fall for above mentioned traps or who are surrounded by guarding angels who nurture their dreams, allay their fears, celebrate their eccentricities and wipe out their self-doubt. We, being parents, teachers, colleagues, friends can become the guarding angel of someone’s life. The more positivity we spread, better would be the collective gains of the society.

Winds of Change

 when the winds of change blow chinese proverb - Google Search:

 

Many years ago, before the advent of civilization, there lived a man (rather a primitive man) Bhikhu. He used to hunt and gather, but he was almost happy. Only problem was that, day by day he was growing tired of his nomadic existence. One day he met a group of others like him and they planned to live together. They settled down near a serene flowing river and started practicing agriculture. Gone were the days of wanderings. The stability of the structure attracted many others and gradually they formed, what is now called a village. They worked day in and day out and were able to grow enough, to meet their ends. The collaboration and teamwork had just started to show results, and now they were even left with the surplus. Nobody knew what to do with the surplus. Then some wise folks came up with an  idea that it was actually not necessary for all of them to be involved in cultivation. Some folks got the liberty to try out other avenues like crafts, pottery etc. There also emerged an opportunist class who volunteered to take the surplus to the newly formed markets, with the promise to return the exchange to the real custodians after keeping a commission for themselves. They were the service providers of those times or aptly called managers/administrators now. With the increase in the expanse of the civilization, it was time for someone to maintain and provide the public facilities. That led to the formation of primitive governing body or government. Question arose that who will pay the funds for the maintenance?

The likes of Bhikhu were waiting for their share to arrive. The manager now, even promised a percentage of sales(exchanged object) to the government as well. All were happy. Days went by, but little came. All this while the manager was stashing his godown with surplus and exchanged objects. Bhikhu was shocked and governor was furious. Bhikhu neither  got what was promised, nor was he able to see any progress in his surrounding paraphernalia(infrastructure).  The government then came up with the offer for the manager to transfer the surplus in its (government’s) treasury with a promise of future return, but the manager refused. The governor, a wise man as he was, warned the manager about a swarm of locusts inching towards his godown and tried to assure him about the safety of the state-of-the-art technology which governor had. The manager paid no heed. The swarm arrived and destroyed everything. Nothing remained and the civilization collapsed. Bhikhu and many others like him, got back to hunting and gathering.

In the light of recent developments in India, the plight of a common man is no less than that of Bhikhu.  The bubble was to burst if status-quo was to be maintained. Instead of doubting the intentions, we can welcome change in the right direction. Instead of paying allegiance to any person or party, we should judge every individual idea in isolation. No person, no party is perfect. Likewise no person or party is absolutely bad. Won’t it be a better situation when we leave our ego aside and blind allegiance to camps and call right a right and wrong a wrong. A nearly perfect person can take wrong decisions, similarly, a not so good person can take a right decision at the right time. The person we saw yesterday, is not the same person today. People can change, their motivations and intentions can also change, maybe for the better or for the worse. A better way would be, to not judge the person but to judge his/her each step or intention in isolation. Blind trust doesn’t indicate a rational mind but it is very much driven by one’s ego.

Also, another issue which has been brought to the forefront is that this world is going to be very dynamic. Cash, gold, land etc may no longer be means to achieve security. A currency note ultimately is going to remain a piece of paper. Gold is just a piece of metal which is just valued for its supply-demand mismatch dynamics. A brief period of time was there in history, when aluminium gained immense value and gold was left useless. Land is just a vast expanse of mud on which we aim to build castles of our dreams.

The security for which everyone can aspire is to have knowledge and right education. Knowledge can be the only hope to tide over the dynamic environment,  and relevant education can act as a precursor before a person becomes really conscious to acquire that knowledge.  The role of deep and meaningful relationships can also never be understated in these times. Remember, alone we all are Bhikhu, the hunter/gatherer, together we are a family, a society and a civilization. People give us memories and memories are priceless, as they never become redundant. Last but not the least, we can derive a sense of security from our surroundings and environment. We need to be more aware, vigilant and sensitive towards our environment. It is changing fast in front of us and behind our backs. I studied about Beijing Smog is class 7th or 8th and could never imagine that we will face such a situation ever in our country in this lifetime. Inaction feeds either upon our ignorance or “it can never happen to me” attitude. In this fast changing world, both are nothing less than suicidal tendencies.

The winds of change are blowing, I can feel the freshness in me and in many others like me. Some say that it is utterly stupid to be over hopeful but what to do? The optimist in me is happy, atleast now, in viewing this beautiful world through rose coloured glasses.

” When the winds of change blow, some people build walls, others build windmills” ~Chinese Proverb

Karma and Holi-ness

goodness

Festive times have arrived again and are all set to cloak everything with their magic of joy, happiness and goodness. A decade back, perhaps festivities meant buying only a couple of brand new clothes and a chance to fulfill countless gastronomic fantasies at one go. With time, the essence of festivals settles in and one can see them in different light.

Festivals mean, awakening the goodness within and spread it to one and all. As debilitating summer passes on the baton to monsoon, it begins to cleanse off everything of its mirth. Festivals are perhaps human way of cleansing our emotions and thoughts. A way to cleanse off the evil and ill will we acquire with the passage of time.

Goodness comes from seeking it within and seeking it for others. Isn’t it? Can one be the source of it by outsourcing one’s grief to others? Is there a way to pass on one’s karmic burden upon others? Then why all of a sudden, the roads, major intersections and riversides are teeming with broken coconuts, lemons, pumpkins, vermilion and what not.

At this time of the year, isn’t this act of wishing bad for someone, not related to us remotely, a despicable act? Is it so so easy to come to terms with our wrong deeds and strike the balance by merely squeezing a lemon or putting a coconut on an intersection? For how long one can keep the demons of one’s past shut and prevent them from exorcising the present? To me, it appears like a public display of hatred scattered here and there. A grim reminder against the charade of goodness we have become accustomed to wear. Why our fortune can come, only with misfortune of others? Juxtaposing this scenario with larger scheme of things, ain’t this the way things are panning out globally?Like the glory of my religion can only be achieved by demeaning yours. The supremacy of a man, comes from subjugating a woman. The satisfaction of driving a Lamborghini comes, only when my neighbor drives a Nano.

Why goodness can’t be an absolute entity with nothing to compare it with; nothing superior to it and nothing inferior. The truth is, that our goal of seeking extreme goodness is becoming our sickness, because it is difficult to attain it, sense it with our limited senses and comprehend it, without comparing or bench-marking it. The moment we fall into this trap, we are bound to embrace its fallacy, for human mind has this inherent duality.

Can’t we just accept the status quo for once and wait and watch. The river of life is bound to chart its own trajectory and any attempt to change its path is an imbecile act of futility. I know it’s easier said than done. As far as i am concerned, i am also just a mortal with my share of flaws who is trying not to be too good:)